Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Joshua Jones

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@Joshua Jones --- as you said; your story did get several mentions and in my book that's a pretty good month. Votes are hard to come by especially when one story gets nearly a third of them.

I found your story hard to follow. First the title put me off. I don't know what I was dreaming about but it was not until I tried to understand what did not put your story up there for me that I realized 2157 was probably a date. I had it in my mind that it was somehow related to your story and could not imagine what that relation was. My bad! --- Second, I was confused by the terminology of "Obsolete." I first thought that it was a statement of being out of date, but then we came to the "Obsolete bandits" which might be a group name and so the term might be group designation. --- Third, this sentence didn't make sense to me. "Carl froze, but couldn't turn away from the pleas for help, the Osolete bandits, and spilt blood." What is "Obsolete bandits" doing in this sentence? Did Carl spill his own blood? That does not seem to make sense in the story, but that is the obvious way to read the sentence. Fourth, "illegal thought pattern" does not obviously make sense to me if we are talking about something that is "obsolete" now if the "Obsolete bandits" is some kind of gang, then it does. But since bandits is not capitalized I was not at all sure that it was a group. Finally, and perhaps as an overarching concern, I did not understand the context. Is everyone on a slideway (this was my thought)? Why is Obsolete a death offense? Where are the people going? What are they doing? I did not understand an answer to any of those questions.

Now that I've really concentrated on this story, I'm coming to the opinion that you attempted too much in this story to be able to carry it out in 85 words.
Ok, that is kind of what I was thinking too. What I was going for was that in the future, humanity is managed by AI and robotics, who have replaced humanity in most jobs. Carl is one of the few humans who are able to do a certain job better than a machine, but the rest are Obsoletes, who eke out a living any way possible. Compassion, in this case, is the same as rebellion from the "guiding" of the machines, and is punishable with death.

So, the way I saw the storyline going, Carl was on his way to work at the direction of his Guide, and saw his brother being attacked by a group of bandits. He wanted to intervene, but the Guide wouldn't allow this inefficiency. When he refused the Guide's direct order, he was in rebellion, and the Guide destroyed him and three Obsoletes who happened to be near him. But, yeah, if that is capable of being presented in 85 words, I don't think I did a particularly good job of doing it.
 

Luiglin

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@Joshua Jones i enjoyed it as a snippet of writing but didn't get enough context out of it to really understand. I suspect a 300 worder would have given you that wriggle room.
 

Shyrka

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If it's any consolation, I read it as you explained above and came close to voting for it. In the end, I had the same issues as Parson - the Obsolete bandits did sound like some sort of organisation which I found a little jarring. Also, this section:

Carl stepped off the lane and said, “Guide, my brother’s dying. I'm helping.”

“Ilegal thought pattern detected. Purging 02952819,” it said, firing its weapon system and reducing Carl and three nearby Obsoletes to red mist.
The 'it said' doesn't immediately follow. I can work out that it's the robot, but since the above sentence is about his brother, it made me expect the next line to be from one of the obsoletes. Something like

“Ilegal thought pattern detected. Purging 02952819,” the guide intoned, firing its weapon system and reducing Carl and three nearby Obsoletes to red mist.
would have helped the clarity and avoided a nasty 'bump' in the flow.

I also think the mention of the brother doesn't really stand on it's own. You'd either need to introduce that sooner (some sort of 'he heard a familiar voice' thing) or just have it be a random other human that he doesn't know. I don't think you'd lose much if it was just him showing compassion for a stranger.
 

chrispenycate

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Not even a mention this month, and I had thought the construction quite good. People seeing it as reality rather than fantasy? Or boredom with my eternal attempts at verse?


Raid

Meat and leather, sinew, bone,
Cornucopia,
Camel of the tundra.
Patriarch beside his own,
Suckling calves mill under 'er.

Night serenity intent is rent
Weapons groped for, bows are bent
Hooves and antlers face the frost-furred foe.

Pack caribous that carry booze,
Clothing, weapons, tents, domestic use,
Were-transformed to warriors, outer ring protection.
Landsnecht antlers threatening,
'Gainst lupine insurrection.

Pack decamping, casualties
Wolf, deer entrails and human wounds,
They lost combatants, we did also.

It wanted to be much longer - about a hundred words, in fact. When I cut down:

Raid

Meat and leather, sinew, bone,
Tribal cornucopia,
Camel of the tundra.
Patriarch beside his own,
Suckling calves mill under 'er.

Night's serenity intent is rent,
Embers kicked to blazing
Weapons groped for, bows are bent
Antlers, hooves face frost-furred foe,
Cowardice erasing.

Pack caribous that carry booze,
Clothing, weapons, tents, domestic use,
Were-transformed to warriors, outer ring protection.
Snarling death is on the loose
Landsnecht antlers threatening,
'Gainst lupine insurrection.

Pack decamping, casualties
Wolf, deer entrails and human wounds,
They lost combatants, we did also.
Life goes on, defying freeze,
Drinking losses to the lees
Sacrifices to appease
Ferocity-deranged hell-hounds

did I remove any critical, essential elements? I know that tinkering with anyone else's poem is not wise, but has anyone any better cuts?
 

M. Robert Gibson

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Peter V

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Hi all

I am not sure if this is even the right place to post this so apologise if it isn't.

During the 75 discussion I mentioned a friend had accused me of copying an idea, or at the very least being guilty of an inadvertent lack of originality. He did not come up with the source story it reminded him of so I thought I would put it here to see if anyone thinks they know it, as much to assuage my curiosity as anything else. Also I must admit to wondering if people would have liked it because the offering I eventually came up with was an utter failure in every respect - zero votes (not really a surprise) and zero mentions.

Anyway I am not going to go over what was wrong with my entry because I didn't even like it myself, even after about 20 drafts.

This is what I would have entered had my friend not sewn huge seed of doubt. Perhaps @dannymcg will recognize it...

In the Fall

The human vessel descended into the vast, planet-wide canopy, crushing hundreds of trees. Quickly its occupants started clearing vast tracts of ground, deaf to the pleas of the sentient forest. The city spread like cancer.

Desperately, roots delved deep, seeking dangerous deposits. Corrupting metals spread from root, to trunk, to leaf but the trespassers remained oblivious to the forest’s cries of self-inflicted anguish.

Long before winter’s bite, radioactive leaves fell.

And so too the invaders.
 

Phyrebrat

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The thing that comes to mind is Avatar but I wouldn't class your story as a copy.
I agree with Luiglin (I've only seen Avatar once and managed to forget it, so can't compare it to your story) but nothing jumps out at me as a rewrite of something else.

My friend says he read it years ago. His guess was 1960's or maybe even earlier.
I think you should steel yourself for the fact that over the years many people will see comparisons in your work that you can't. We've all been exposed to different things growing up and over the years, and some would even say genre writers dip into the same pool for their ideas and format of storytelling in terms of tropes. Maybe your friend isn't aware of the use of tropes in genre fiction, but man vs the wild/man destroying the wild, Nature getting back at man, etc etc etc are fertile starting points for many stories.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

As far as your story goes, you should have posted it seeing as you took the effort to write it. I would have perhaps asked for a greater sense of an 'ending' or perhaps intimation of a twist of fate when the reader finds out the outcome; the invaders could be the trees as opposed to the human vessel - something like that perhaps, to play with the reader's expectations.

I really liked the idea of corrupting metals being tapped, and would like to see how that panned out for the invaders.

pH
 

Luiglin

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My friend says he read it years ago. His guess was 1960's or maybe even earlier.
Blimey, that's stretching it back. To be truly original is difficult. Just think of the staple fantasy epic - character goes on quest with friends to defeat evil. How many times does that occur? More so with detective story - somebody gets murdered and somebody solves it.

I suspect most folks could find something in somebodies writing that reminds them of something else.
 

dannymcg

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I've read a similar story in some old sci fi anthology. (But can't recall title etc)

The world forest wants to fight back at the space invaders hacking at the trees, it move lots of radioactive particles through it's root system to surround the infected area.

Many plants sacrifice themselves to carry this out, the invaders blast off and the forest relaxes.

Up in the departing spacecraft the humans smile at how easy it is to get a valuable cargo of highly enriched radioactive elements and schedule a return trip to the planet in a couple of decades.


Maybe what your friend was thinking of
 

Peter V

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I've read a similar story in some old sci fi anthology. (But can't recall title etc)

The world forest wants to fight back at the space invaders hacking at the trees, it move lots of radioactive particles through it's root system to surround the infected area.

Many plants sacrifice themselves to carry this out, the invaders blast off and the forest relaxes.

Up in the departing spacecraft the humans smile at how easy it is to get a valuable cargo of highly enriched radioactive elements and schedule a return trip to the planet in a couple of decades.

Maybe what your friend was thinking of
Different ending, certainly but enough of a similarity to prompt his response. Thanks Danny.

I shall continue to look for it.
 

Peter V

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"Process" by van Vogt

And here it is:
Number 13 on this site (you have to scroll down forever):

Fifteen golden-age science-fiction stories by A. E. van Vogt - Prospero's Isle
Thank you. That must be what Danny read and proof that time travel exists because my 75 is clearly inspiration for Van Vogt's story.

I shall send the link to my friend - after I have phoned him to explain how to turn on his PC. I am confident the story will be somewhere in his huge collection.

Thanks for taking the time to find this and much as I actually like my little tale (and certainly a lot more than my entry) I can see where he is coming from. Inter-forest nuclear war... certainly different
 

Hugh

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Trouble is that in SF there is little new under the sun by around 1975...

My copy is in Bleiler/Dikty Best Science Fiction Stories
 

Stable

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I would love some feedback on my story this month:

It Contains Legions
Theodora fled through endless corridors. She glanced back, flickering plasma illuminated no pursuer. Had she escaped?

The robot burst through the bulkhead, its impossible strength demolishing the structure. It opened its arms.

“Oh my darling, come here,” said a feminine voice.

“Mother?” They embraced. The voice changed. Became cruel, masculine.

“Now you are mine.”

Theodora swooned over its shoulder. Then, unseen, slipped a spanner from her sleeve.

“Haunted robot, my foot. I’ll fix you.”

My self-criticism: It was maybe too cut down, I had to cut some fairly important details to fit it in the space. Either I missed some slack elsewhere or it might be a story crying out for 85 words at least. Secondly the structure reference was not organic enough... too mechanical.
 

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