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[2006: SEP-OCT] Feedback

Rocar Drawoh

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The Assembly by J. Vannini

What I liked on this was the set-up, the vivid descriptions of where Julio was, and the progression leading up to the contact with the Assembly, as well as the Assembly itself, which is vivid in its stark, somewhat gothic pathos.

Structurally, there's a couple of interesting elements that foreshadowed what was coming, first by the use of the thought, second by the absence of the name. It works well for the first couple of paragraphs, but a slight suggestion would be to experiment with ways to cement the reader's knowledge of the character we'll sympathize with. (*wink, nod*) The pronoun has an interesting effect.

I especially liked the confluence between the Assembly and Julio's wife, using the former to capture this month's theme of "city on the edge of forever" with the allegory to an eternal city of mind vs. a

loved one. I was left with the feeling it was rushed, and might have been interesting to spend a moment more to further establish the hold of the Assembly and its ability.

The final twist, of course, being the recovery through a transporter relay and a conversation on the effects of transport on the mind for context, with exposition dialogue to give us the base bones of the mission.

One suggestion might be write out the action of the scene, even if it doesn't make it into the actual story. I say this not as a criticism, but as a possibility to entwine richer visuals in areas that are heavy in both exposition and dialogue. :) You have a wonderful ability to craft some compelling visuals. I'd like to see more ("May I have some more, please?" – Oliver Twist).

Overall, nicely done. Although I'm not sure if they would just beam Julio up first and not the whole team… ;) Looks like the spell checker failed you too, eh? (*fails me all the time*) There's some grammar errors as well as some interesting word combinations. (He was not sure the his distance). The dialogue is believable, sounds a little forced here and there, but on par and not too "on the nose". Well under the word limit.

Great job!

Reviewed by LtCmdr Cody

xoet-xoette-h92o by Lt Xoet

I liked how you explored the trappings of infinite possibilities. Good imagery of the mirrors, makes one think back to the Original series with Spock, Kirk and McCoy and what they must have seen, but this time, how your character would have seen them, as he’s not human. It makes one ponder what is important and what isn’t, and why and to whom, and how not everyone sees the same thing the same way. The ending gives the reader the freedom to explore different possibilities of how the story will end.

These are just a few small points about what could have made your writing a bit better. I found that it was hard to follow the plot at times, due to the lack of punctuation which made the meaning of the sentences confusing. Perhaps for the next time, you could add a bit more of an intro instead of jumping into the middle of a situation. Otherwise, it was interesting to read.

Reviewed by Captain Y’Shirad.

Past Present Future by Nemitor

Nemitor's work is always an interesting read, for multiple reasons. I'm going to say this because he did an excellent job in the characterizations and the complexity of character development in short form, between Admiral Krammer, the Admiral's son, and Ritter. Temporal continuity loops are some of the hardest stories to write.

However (*grin*), the application of this month's theme has been broken into individualized parts… whereas the author here has seen fit to apply "forever" to a temporal (or continuity) cycle, "city" extrapolating to the Federation, and "edge" translated to annihilation / extinction… it's definitely one of the most creative twists I've seen. Let's try something: "The city on the edge of forever." = "The Federation being annihilated/extinguished by a temporal/continuity cycle."

Hmmm…. Interesting translation! LOL

I'm teasing a bit because with a piece like this, it's very hard to find suggestions for improvement. It's all there, arcing characters in a time travel piece that raises an existentialist question with an emotional rise and fall that gives a good solid pacing which is appropriate to the content. Only one grammar error in the entire story… okay, I'm nitpicking now. (*grins*)

Excellent work, Mr. Nemitor.

My only thought is clocking in at 2,269 words, you had room for one final twist I think could have driven home the theme and made it more concrete rather than relying on the reader to extrapolate your

interpretation. The application of this month's theme wasn't as clear as it could have been. Krammer's reaction to his son is appropriate (being a parent myself), but I think you could have heightened the

emotion tension of the moment and played with role of the parent/Admiral in the climax. I think my chief complaint is ships would not be reduced to 5 man crews under any circumstance... the believability factor is stretched there, my friend. Otherwise, excellent piece.

Reviewed by LtCmdr Cody

Eternal City by LtCmdr Ben Walker

This was a powerful short story which grew on me more and more each time I read it. Mr. Walker addresses a number of issues and ideas in this narrative, not least the “Star Trek Voyager” like notion of what route a Captain chooses for his crew once they are cut off from the Federation. Likewise, Walker examines the power of “superhumans” and how they might react to their development. But what I liked most about this story was a reading of it that I think is extremely important: Indeed, even if it was not wholly intended by the author he certain inspires one to consider the significance the notion of living a life inside a computer has to a UFoP reader. With this story provoked in me was the realisation that as a web-based community, where each of us maintains a character over the world wide web we sometimes have something stronger with one another (despite global distance) than we do with our own RL neighbours (eg strong friendships, shared interest and a development of our own abilities and skills : our writing skills improve, some of us may find our self-confidence improves, our knowledge of the Star Trek universe improves etc.) Our life with one another via the computer means we each develop (perhaps subtlety but no doubt for the best the best) in ways we might not without the world wide web or the lifestyle offered by our computer. Of course it is important to keep the boundary between RL and our character and we should try to avoid living solely through our “web-based Other.” This is something the crew of the USS Mariner failed to do Mr.Walker succeeds in demonstrating both the pros and cons of their plight in a style that is highly compelling.

Throughout this plight, the reader is drawn towards supporting Captain Collesh and her federation ideals (which run through our veins as readers and writers of Star Trek just as much as they do through those of a Starfleet Captain) and yet Walker offers a deep understanding of the choice the Mariner’s crew had to take for survival and the important leaps the crew’s computer-based evolution offers to the Federation. This really is an excellent Star Trek story, and yet it also works extremely well as a piece of “classical style” sci-fi short story. These are two styles that do not necessarily go together well (and have often been badly mixed by professional writers in my opinion) but really work well here in what is a thoroughly enjoyable read. We have the Sci-Fi concept of people surviving by entering and living inside a computer, but at the same time we have Star Trek’s people story and an exploration of the relationship and emotions between Collesh and her former CO. This too was extremely well done.

Ben… I would be interested in knowing if it is a coincidence that the lost starship that was rediscovered was called the USS Mariner? Or was this a subtle link to the rime of the ancient mariner by Coleridge in which some mariners encounter a ghost ship? Overall an excellent short story that was so well written it is hard to criticise or find negatives.

Reviewed by Captain Rocar.

The Spire by: Ensign Liam Hughes

This story was well written, it held true to the assigned theme. The story flowed, with nice back flashes to explain feelings and events that had lead to his predicament. What I enjoyed most was the vivid imagery shown in the writing, and the emotions he felt were easily conveyed to the reader. And the self-sacrifice for his fellow crewmates and wife was wonderful.

The main problem I had with the story was the “personality” that was given to the Vanguard. From my impressions, the writer gave it an attitude, more knowledgeable than us so it was better, which was fine but a little disheartening that an inanimate object could feel that way. One confusing part, something that could have been made clearer, was his dream caused by the Vanguard or happenstance?

Reviewed by Cmdr. Paul Diamond

Reality's edge Otherwise known as "One and the Same" by: Cara Maria

Once again Cara Maria has written a superb short story for this month’s competition. This piece builds up intrigue from the start and interprets the theme of the challenge in an original and fascinating way. Maria really captures the importance of space, time and place and interprets them in unique ways. The opening of this piece was enthralling and reminded me of Michael Marshall Smith (author of “Only Forward”) not only in writing style but in the narrative’s description of the city and its existence.

Maria makes narrative jumps indicated by “----“ which work well and are excellent for the very reason that not everything is overly explained from the start. As a writer she demonstrates a mastery of styles as the different sections are written in different ways (Zaragosa is very possessive for example : his card, his throat) yet throughout the descriptions are extensive and well done. I particularly like the writer’s social observations, particularly in the scene with “the girl” gazing out of the window and seeing a beauty that “the teacher” doesn’t notice. There is actually an X-Files episode guest staring Burt Reynolds where he is god and controls people by playing cards. This reminded me loosely of that, and of other stories where characters are controlled by actions in a game. This was something I like but, by making the characters places, I thought Cara Maria did an excellent job of interpreting this month’s theme. Again, this too was an excellent short story that was one of my absolute favourites and nearly impossible to criticise or find negatives.

Reviewed by Captain Rocar.

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