Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123
Results 51 to 59 of 59

Thread: Taxonomy of the Heart

  1. #51
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Training at Sootopolis City
    Posts
    1,702

    Default

    I have to admit, at first I was confused of the funeral scene. I was wondering if that was part of Michael's memory because I don't remember that scene in the past chapters. However, after you revealed it's just in Michael's mind, things got interesting. Yeah, would imaginge a scene like that would happen if that were to happen. XD

    Also, you said that Pokemon made their debut? Hm...

    And in the background I heard a miserable cacophony of tortured cries. They didn’t sound quite human, but they were deep and disturbed for sure. Indiscernible words made up of nonsensical syllables strung together in a moan of grief that reverberated inside the walls of my head. I looked around but no one’s face or mouth had moved from the neutral position. I looked behind me. Michelle and I hadn’t opened our mouths. Wherefrom did these burdened groans and echoing howls of grief originate?

    “Sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!”
    I guess that voice could be a Bulbasaur/Ivysaur/Venusaur?

    Also, this.

    ”heal my wounds”?, I thought. I must be at a hospital…of some sort. Looking around, the place didn’t quite strike me as sterile or remotely modern. Walls made of splintered wooden boards, sticks of hay laying about the floor…and, in the background of the immediate scent of cranberry tea, a harsh animal odor. A barnyard physician? How badly had I been hurt?

    “Barnyard physician, I suppose you could call me,” the old man spoke up after a few moments of silence. I looked in his direction for the first time. He was covered head-to-toe in a woolen olive-colored cloak and stood a diminutive 5 feet, I would guess. A long mustache hung almost to the floor from under his protracted hood.
    Banyard odor makes me think Pokemon are close by.

    I say, very interesting chapter. If my assumptions are correct, nice job on finally introducing the Pokemon. Can't wait for the next chapter and a possibility of their role in this story!


    Tumblr | FFnet | Author's Profile| Archive of Our Own | Banner: Umi Mizuno
    I'm still writing, but probably not much Pokemon stuff at the moment. HAM!


  2. #52
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    1,984

    Default

    Awesome. I love dream sequences and anything at all like them, what with the way that they can blend the ordinary and the surreal (and the downright impossible), and what ran through Michael's head prior to his returning to consciousness definitely did just that, I'd say.

    With regards to what happened after Michael regained consciousness... This Mustache-Man (yes, that's what I'll be calling him until such time [if such time comes] as I learn his actual name X3) intrigues me. I'm certainly interested in the matter of how he (or they; he said "we", and I think I know who--or rather, what--one of those working with him to heal Michael was) could have healed him. I suspect, to the point of actually being pretty certain about it (if not completely so) , that how it was possible had a pretty good amount to do with the one (or more than one--I've got a pretty strong suspicion that there is more than one, actually) who assisted Mustache-Man in healing him. After all, some Pokémon do possess healing or similarly beneficial abilities.

    That, I'm almost completely convinced, is the major element that has been introduced in this chapter: Pokémon are beginning to come into the picture and take on their roles in this at last. The voices in Michael's dream (or whatever else it perhaps ought to be called instead) that "didn’t sound quite human", uttering "indiscernible words made up of nonsensical syllables strung together in a moan of grief"--that's registering in my mind as "Pokémon" (and the fact that he was said to hear "voices" rather than a singular voice is what's making me think Mustache-Man's got more than one Pokémon with him). And with regards to this:

    “Sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!”
    That makes me see something green. Something with vines and, at the very least, a bulb on its back. Possibly a flower.

    Of course... seeing as how those things happened in the dream-or-whatever... theoretically, they could have actually been anything--or nothing. Still, my guess for now is that they did indeed represent Pokémon, that what Michael heard in that part was at least partly the result of sounds from the real world managing to seep into the dream-or-whatever. (That or something like it's happened to me before; alarm clocks have been set to play the radio, and I've just ended up dreaming about listening to the radio and not waking up right away. XD)

    There are two other reasons why I'm inclined to think that we've got Pokémon entering the picture. The first other thing making me think that that's what's going on is this:

    and, in the background of the immediate scent of cranberry tea, a harsh animal odor
    The second is this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Maze View Post
    IN THE NEXT CHAPTER, POKEMON MAKE THEIR DEBUT.
    Now, I did say that I was only almost completely convinced that the first hints of an actual Pokémon presence in this story is the major plot element of which you spoke, and I meant it. The reason for that "almost" is the fact that another possible candidate for that major element has occurred to me:

    Where did all the grief go, exactly? We don’t have it, but it’s too powerful and natural a thing to be destroyed by some synthetic drug. What had Redeal done with it all, I wondered. It made me feel uneasy.
    It's occurred to me that what's talked about there--more specifically, the question that's asked at the beginning of that excerpt--might be of particularly great importance to the plot--perhaps it rather than the arrival of Pokémon is the major plot element that this chapter brought.

    Heck, though, maybe both of those things are. Maybe there is, in fact, more than one correct answer to the question of what the major plot element was brought by this chapter was...

    Highlights:

    “I saw her programming some functions in her spreadsheet and I said ‘hey Amy, would you mind integrating my natural log?’”

    I almost spit out my drink.
    Had I been taking a sip at the time, I would have probably done the same. X3

    “Ah, you know. I do my best.” Nick’s drink arrived and he took a sip. “So what happened with the girl you met in the bar a few nights ago? I think a day or so before I got shot in the head?” he asked nonchalantly. And I replied in kind.
    That's something I love about scenes that occur under circumstances such as those that made this scene "happen": things of that particular brand of awesome--things such as a no-longer-living person being able to just casually mention being shot in the head like that--can happen.

    “Well, I don’t really know where we stand. We started to get closer than I’ve ever been with someone. We shared some truths and formed a real connection, you know?”

    “Yes, if ‘shared some truths’ and ‘formed a connection’ are euphemisms.
    I couldn't help but snicker at that. X3

    “Well, keep me posted, I gotta run. My funeral’s in a half an hour.” Nick left the bar in a hurry.
    That falls under the same category of awesomeness as Nick casually mentioning having been shot in the head.

    I’d met the most influential person in my life at a table in that bar, spent his last hours with one of my most fond acquaintances in that bar. I thought about it a little more as I stood by the doorway. In a better person’s heart, this place would hold some kind of immense sentimental value and maybe it would also be a monument to the heartache of lost love.
    I love the way that's written, especially that last line. ^^

    And so with the faint sound of mine and Nick’s laughter, the roaring noise of my belligerent meltdown clashing together, I slammed the door to Mckinzie’s behind me. The bells on the door rattled together and jingled one more time just before the place caught fire and exploded behind me. I felt a bit uneasy as I walked out into the street, rubble hitting the ground all around me, particulate dust and smoke whisking past my face.
    Whoa, cool. o.o And I liked the detail in that part, too, the dust and smoke in the air and the falling rubble. Those were nice touches, I thought. ^^

    Nick was in his casket, supporting his head with his hand and watching the audience. He looked a bit disappointed in the crowd’s reaction, but he couldn’t have expected it to go any other way.
    I LOVE THAT IMAGE. X3

    “Things will definitely be different without Nick. I’m sure the carpool schedule will have to be changed at work. I know there’ll be a void in his department. No one there currently can fill his job duties, so some recruitment will be necessary.”

    It was a warped funeral. The people in the audience nodded in agreement with the eulogist’s words as if those things are what you mean when you say that ‘things will be different’ after a person dies. Had we come so far, fallen so far down our abyss of happiness that we didn’t know, even in our minds what our hearts should feel, what was appropriate protocol, at least, for an occasion like this? White tissues replaced with white pill bottles, stylish black dresses worn by clueless women following a tradition they didn’t understand, people unashamedly eying their watches. Where did all the grief go, exactly? We don’t have it, but it’s too powerful and natural a thing to be destroyed by some synthetic drug. What had Redeal done with it all, I wondered. It made me feel uneasy.
    Ah, good ol' Dophinimine, stripping away all sentiment and leaving something twisted and very unnatural-seeming in its place--in this case, a funeral with a eulogy whose tone is more befitting a broken appliance of some kind and with attendees who really might as well be at any old place for how they're reacting. I love the effect of that, the contrast between what's to be expected from a bunch of Dophinimine pill-poppers and what one might expect from funeral attendees capable of actually giving a damn that someone's died. Great job of displaying and examining that contrast there, I thought.

    And I love the phrase "white tissues replaced with white pill bottles"; I thoguht that was a great choice of words. ^^

    We kept refusing. The whole thing made Nick and I smile a bit. I could imagine that turning into a favorite thing of ours, Michelle and I: going to funerals to be the only ones crying.
    XD

    “Oh Nick! It wasn’t your time! It wasn’t your time!” Michelle wept as she threw herself across the casket. Actual tears rolling down my face, I leaned over the casket as well.

    “Michelle, you didn’t even know him. Aren’t you laying it on a bit too thick? I feel like you’re having too much fun with this at my friend’s funeral.” Both laid over the casket, weeping as we spoke, she replied.

    “You’re right, it’s kind of turning into a mockery. I apologize for getting carried away.”

    “It’s fine.”
    And again, I say XD. (Never mind that I can't really "say" an emoticon. X3)

    I somehow heard their whispers as I watched us from my seat. Michelle and Michael were escorted back to their seats all the while firmly holding each other’s hands. They sat back down behind me and she leaned her head on his shoulder. They were seemingly the last two on earth able to cry at a funeral. It’s almost as if they were the last two alive, the last two who could experience the full gamut of emotions with which one could experience life.
    Loved that part, especially the bolded line. ^^
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
    (Or do. I don't actually mind.)
    The Origin of Storms | Communication

  3. #53
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Macross
    Posts
    132

    Default

    Sweet, a new season of Taxonomy of the Heart is about to start.
    Taxonomy of the Heart
    Another fic - Foresight

    "When you're in your final moment and your life flashes before your eyes, it isn't for your entertainment, it's your subconscious hurling every relevant and pseudo-relevant experience you've ever had up into consciousness. It's saying 'try this! or this! or this! does what we learned here help?! ****!!'. So don't sit back and relax, take your last stand. Take your brain's emergency alarm and do something.

  4. #54
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Macross
    Posts
    132

    Default

    RESONANCE


    I felt better now, better than someone who’d been at the brink of death twice in two days should. My head no longer ached and my body felt strong. I lifted myself and sat upright in the bed. Light poured in through the boarding cracks in my barnyard cove of convalescence. I got up, stretched my limbs and felt my bones crack and creak like the floor boards beneath my feet. The tattered shirt I wore was stained with my own blood and charred at the edges, but my skin was unscathed and un-punctured. My pant legs were flaps dangling from the waist band, also charred and hole-y, but not a hair on my legs had been so much as singed. And these things raised so many questions about the methods utilized by this strange physician: How had he healed me so quickly…and without even removing my burned and bloodied clothing?

    With not a single bandage, a full head of hair, all the strength I’d ever had, and a clear mind, I made my way to the doorway of the room.

    As I reached to nudge the door open, it pivoted on its hinges, creaked and whined before I even touched it.

    “Well, you’re feeling well,” the old man said from beneath his woolen hood.

    “Ah. Well, I am. Thank you so much for saving my life…whatever that is now,” I said this with an odd lightness and a reflexive smirk. “Listen, until I figure out where I need to go, can I stay here? I’ll help out, earn my keep.”

    “Where were you headed when you crashed?”

    “I really don’t know, I was just driving.”

    “Running away from something, someone?” I think he saw that the answer was yes.

    “Well, I can see that you’re troubled.” I smirked at this, wondering how. I was very familiar with this high I was experiencing, this Dophinimine-induced happiness was now a conscious thing, something I understood and could pay attention to; an insidious background noise, treacherous clockwork that you wouldn’t mind had you not been through the things I’d been through, suffered the losses I’d suffered, met the person I’d met. But now she’s gone, and now I can’t even embrace this false euphoria, but my body does. I still have that smirk on my face…so how does he know how troubled I am? “So, you can stay here as long as you want. I’ll have my assistant train you on the use of some farm equipment, familiarize you with the protocols for some other, small jobs. You can have a look around in the meantime.”

    “Thank you.”

    ---------------

    I made my way down the old wooden staircase leading to my second-floor room, being careful not to touch the railing, which was splintered and barely hanging together in one piece. “How did he make it up and down these steps without trouble?” I wondered. It’s amazing how I managed to traverse this splintered path life has lead me down. And I keep moving now, not knowing what it all is supposed to mean, what purpose and strength I’m supposed to glean from these experiences. I think I wanted to at once understand it all: why my parents had been killed, why I’m just now understanding what a tragedy it was, why I ever happened upon the girl who made me understand, why I destroyed that bond…One answer to sum it all up and explain to me why I was in burned and tattered clothing sleeping in a barn: with no one, just after dusk. And night is longest for those caught alone at dusk.

    But maybe it’s looking for the perfect answer that is the problem. You’ll never find it because you’re looking for ideals in reality, which is not where they reside. Maybe the best you can ask for is a splintered structure holding the fibers of your life experience together. Are you entitled to more? That’s a question of your faith. You could be entitled just as much to tragedy as triumph in a world of just a million variables, and occurrences with only statistical significance. Can I fit these recent happenings into some kind of framework that makes my life story into an attractive tale of revelation and redemption or have I passed the climax? Will I die here as a farmhand never to see Michelle again?

    You try to believe that doing the right thing entitles you to positive outcomes, results worthy of your righteousness, but all you’re doing is releasing enough good into the world in order to gain better odds. Better odds associated with whatever reciprocity coefficient there might be. I am kind to my neighbor, my neighbor’s a decent person, he is in turn kind to me. But it’s always possible that your neighbor is an ******* with no sense of justice, who follows no syntax, and he returns your kindness with rude gestures, defacing of property, or personal violence.

    I went to work, was honest, lived a life that offended no one and after all of that positive energy I put out into the world, I got spat back trauma, lost love, and near-death experiences.

    And as I reached the bottom of the stairs, all these thoughts were interrupted by a creaking of hinges on a large barn door and the scraping of gravel and dust beneath rough edges of wood.

    “Choke!” I heard a loud bellow from the bottom of the stairs. He stood in the wide-open first level of the barn on a floor of dirt, holding a bushel of hay.

    I looked at my own hands to see if they were blue, which was possible given the right temperature, but could they be that blue? What was I seeing? A hallucination? Was I having some kind of psychotropic side effect to taking Dophinimine after a failed relinquishing of the drug? Was it polite to simply ask the man what was wrong with his skin, why it was so blue? What the hell is going on? I started to breathe heavily.

    His biceps were the size of bowling balls, and it appeared that small red rips had formed in his blue skin where these gargantuan muscles had tried to break free. He was…human-esque, but decisively non-human. The reaction of my body and the reaction of my mind were out of phase. I stood there, gaping at this humanoid creature, motionless.

    “This is Machoke.” The old man spoke, also now coming into the barn through the large hinged door. “He helps me with the duties of running a small farm.”

    This was clearly not enough information for me.

    “And so, I guess your next question…or perhaps it was your first…is, ‘what is Machoke?’” I could sense his smile even though his face was masked by the shadow of his hood. “Machoke is a monster, quite simply.”

    I caught a wave of despondency from my place on the stairs and images flooded my mind: one after the other, like crests of a wave pushing me farther from shore. I couldn’t see the land anymore; I couldn’t see my desk job, my apartment, my routine. This was so far removed from the mundane, so beyond even the extraordinary. I was pushed out past my friend Nick’s death, Michelle’s turned back, and all of the incredible events of the past few days.

    They kept coming:

    Electrode, Diglett, Nidoran, Mankey
    Venusaur, Rattata, Fearow, Pidgey
    Seaking, Jolteon, Dragonite, Gastly
    Ponyta, Vaporeon, Polywrath, Butterfree!

    Catch 'em, catch 'em, gotta' catch 'em all!
    Gotta catch 'em all!
    Pokemon!

    I'll search across the land, look far and wide
    Release from my hand, the power that's inside!

    Venomoth, Poliwag, Nidorino, Golduck
    Ivysaur, Grimer, Victreebell, Moltres
    Nidoking, Farfetch'd, Abra,

    These images and the horrid sounds that accompanied them splashed up against the Dophinimine guarding my consciousness, seeped in through the cracks created by my heart’s anguish, and ruptured my delusion. It split down a fault line etched by experience and then I could hear the sound of my own heart, pumping rhythmically: THUD…THUD…THUD. The ebbs and flows of joy and pain were then accompanied by that same miserable cacophony of tortured cries heard in my dream.

    “Bulba…Sorrrrrrrrrrrrre!”

    My heart fluttered and my body was flooded with adrenaline, my eyes were locked open and my mind raced. With this overload of images and emotion, I fell unconscious.

    -----------------------

    MICHELLE

    What do you do when you’re caught at dusk alone? It had been a continuous night since Michael left. That sunburst of our emotional discovery had burned out and revealed the pitched skies, forever dark, thickly coated with the pessimism that rules my mind now. I would die alone. No one has the strength to make it to my lonely island. I can never undo this knowledge, never become a normal person again.

    I wonder if he knows how I felt when he left? Does he know the guilt that kept me from barricading the doorway? Did he know my body was paralyzed with it and not with disdain? If he knew these things, would he come back? Would he tell me that I’d made him a better person, or is he cursing my name right now?

    ------------------------

    THUD…THUD…THUD…

    In the quiet of my sleep, when my mind had had time to settle, I tuned in my ears. For the first time in a while, it was quiet enough in my head to hear the beat of my own heart. I wonder if it had always been operating at such a natural rhythm. Was it suppressed? These recent experiences, more heartache than most of the population will endure in their entire lives, over the past few days have amplified my heart’s natural rhythm. My life is finally resonating with who I am as a person, what capacities I have inside; to love, to fear, to care. Sometimes we operate so far above these things that we forget them, these emotions can’t peak out amidst the noise of our endless pursuit to be happy. But when you dial back the knobs of contentment, lust, and all the superficial things you fill your mind with, you get so low that you finally realize what should be driving it all, the natural beat of your heart.

    “Blissey!” This was a gleeful non-human cry, I could tell. It was accompanied by a full-body relaxation and comforting warmth. I opened my eyes on what appeared to me as the most soothing image one could imagine. It had sublimated physicality and become some kind of visible symbol of well-being and even just to see it was to experience bliss. What hope and health looked like, I didn’t know until I was in the care of a puffy pink mass wearing a smile and a nurse’s skirt.

    I had been moved to my bed.

    I sat up to see the old man in his cloak at the doorway. “Another Pokemon? This is how you saved my life, isn’t it? She healed me after the car accident.”

    “Yes.”

    “But her hands are stubby and she’s got an unwieldy egg in a pocket on her stomach.” Blissey looked down self-consciously at her egg and out of embarrassment tried to hide her face behind her hands…but her arms were just too stubby to reach.

    Oh my god, it’s true Blissey ran away.

    “So the big guy must have carried me here, then, right?”

    “Yes. So pokemon is the ‘one answer that sums up how you ended up in burned and tattered clothing and sleeping in a barn’.”

    I had never said that out loud, only thought it. Was he hearing my thoughts?

    “Well, son, you’re pretty deep into it now; the truth, I mean. It’s a slippery slope that starts with one choice to learn the answer to a smaller question. You keep searching for bigger and bigger truths, not looking back because nothing you knew before makes sense any more. But it’s always then that you have a choice to either accept what is true and ask the bigger questions, or stop your search and be complacent with a life of being the odd one out in a blinded society, discontent with the truth you know but unwilling to commit yourself one way or the other. Will you straddle the fence of complete truth and complete ignorance or will you let me tell you the whole story?”

    I had faced this choice before. That time I chose to straddle the fence and feel good while knowing better…

    “Here! Take them! Please…just stop hating me!”

    I saw a glimmer of truth and I opted to deny it…

    I motioned for the bottle of Dophinimine carefully and slowly, finally grasping it in my left hand before I just stood there, still. I was waiting for her to say something, to move at least, but she didn’t. Her head, her shoulders, her body stayed motionless.

    But not this time.

    “Yes. Tell me everything…”

    ------------------------------------






    I hope the season premier wasn’t disappointing. Hope you enjoyed this!

    Well, now we know for sure how Michelle felt about Michael leaving. He's completely wrong about not being able to go back to her!!! What tragedy! Maybe he'll find out one day that she still loves him...or maybe not.

    What else. Oh, props to those who guessed that the cries in his dream were pokemon. Now to find out why they're crying...

    Yes, that was the pokemon rap.
    Last edited by Maze; 26th December 2008 at 9:44 AM.
    Taxonomy of the Heart
    Another fic - Foresight

    "When you're in your final moment and your life flashes before your eyes, it isn't for your entertainment, it's your subconscious hurling every relevant and pseudo-relevant experience you've ever had up into consciousness. It's saying 'try this! or this! or this! does what we learned here help?! ****!!'. So don't sit back and relax, take your last stand. Take your brain's emergency alarm and do something.

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Training at Sootopolis City
    Posts
    1,702

    Default

    OMG, I love the Pokemon rap when I was very young! Brings back memories. XD; Next time put the Orange Islands theme song in there! XD; Kidding, kidding. In all seriousness though, interesting you incorporate that rap in the story, which I'll get to later.

    One other interesting thing is I like how Michael reflected how his life was while taking that pill and not taking that pill. Yeah, his life took a whole different time after he quits cold turkey! O_o

    One thing I wanna say is I'm kind confused though if Michael knows about Pokemon. There are some parts where it seems he doesn't know, and some parts where he does.

    Parts where it seems Michael knows about Pokemon:

    “Nah man, I’m pretty sure it’s just you,” I laughed. We conversed into the middle of the night so many times in that bar. It became almost a daily ritual for us to meet there. All the events of the day, the happenings in the Pokemon sports world, and our romance escapades were lined up and digested by our chatter over a glass. We’d double dated, taken trips, and hosted parties together. There was only a minor technicality that robbed us of being brothers. So my ears perked up when the boss approached Nick just now.
    From the beginning of the story, actually. "Pokemon sports world" makes me think either Pokemon races, Contests, or Tournaments. Whatever the case, he seems to know that there are sports with Pokemon in it.

    “Blissey!” This was a gleeful non-human cry, I could tell. It was accompanied by a full-body relaxation and comforting warmth. I opened my eyes on what appeared to me as the most soothing image one could imagine. It had sublimated physicality and become some kind of visible symbol of well-being and even just to see it was to experience bliss. What hope and health looked like, I didn’t know until I was in the care of a puffy pink mass wearing a smile and a nurse’s skirt.

    I had been moved to my bed.

    I sat up to see the old man in his cloak at the doorway. “Another Pokemon? This is how you saved my life, isn’t it? She healed me after the car accident.”
    Here, he instantly knows Blissey is a Pokemon.

    Parts where it seems Michael doesn't know about Pokemon

    From the last chapter, the cries. Makes it seem Michael doesn't know how each Pokemon cries. If he knows about Pokemon, he would know how a Nidoran cries, etc.

    “Choke!” I heard a loud bellow from the bottom of the stairs. He stood in the wide-open first level of the barn on a floor of dirt, holding a bushel of hay.

    I looked at my own hands to see if they were blue, which was possible given the right temperature, but could they be that blue? What was I seeing? A hallucination? Was I having some kind of psychotropic side effect to taking Dophinimine after a failed relinquishing of the drug? Was it polite to simply ask the man what was wrong with his skin, why it was so blue? What the hell is going on? I started to breathe heavily.
    In here, seems like he doesn't know what a Machoke is. He would have recognize it first hand.

    Another thing is the Pokemon rap (told you I'll get to it :P ). Seems to me when that song came to Michael's head, this is the first time he's even hearing about Pokemon and that revelation just rushes though him.

    Hm, I guess the only explaination as to why ther are some scenes like Machoke and the rap is Michael does actually knows about Pokemon, but is quite surprised how they're used to heal people and such. Sorry for asking, but I'm just a bit confused. ^^;

    Well, again I enjoyed this chapter a lot and can't wait for the next chapter!


    Tumblr | FFnet | Author's Profile| Archive of Our Own | Banner: Umi Mizuno
    I'm still writing, but probably not much Pokemon stuff at the moment. HAM!


  6. #56
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Macross
    Posts
    132

    Default

    Actually, that's an oversight. I'm glad you brought this out. I'm gonna go delete that earlier mention of Pokemon! whoops. Originally, Pokemon were going to be introduced a different way. Here's another quote that was deleted when I decided to introduce pokemon this way (this time, before I actually posted the chapter:

    “Well that’s too bad. It was awesome. The creatures that they’re using now are like the second generation of mutations. Their movements are faster, more fluid, their powers are stronger. It’s really a sight to see. Like, they’ve got ones now that can literally breathe fire. It’s soooooo sweet.”
    This is something Nick said before the change in plan. But apparently, I didn't catch everything. And nothing in this quote is true anymore.

    Thanks, Bay. Aside from the inconsistency that I'm about to go back and fix, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm happy that you're paying attention to detail!
    Last edited by Maze; 26th December 2008 at 7:33 PM.
    Taxonomy of the Heart
    Another fic - Foresight

    "When you're in your final moment and your life flashes before your eyes, it isn't for your entertainment, it's your subconscious hurling every relevant and pseudo-relevant experience you've ever had up into consciousness. It's saying 'try this! or this! or this! does what we learned here help?! ****!!'. So don't sit back and relax, take your last stand. Take your brain's emergency alarm and do something.

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    1,984

    Default

    Well, now I've got the Pokémon Rap stuck in my head, or the parts of it that I actually remember, at least. XD; You know... I can't help but wonder if there's any particular significance, specifically in the context of this story, to the fact that Michael apparently knows a real-world song (the aforementioned Pokémon Rap). o.o At any rate, I was amused to see that song appear in the story--even if it does mean that I'm going to be hearing random snippets of it pop up from the back of my mind every now and then for a while. Maybe it'll combine in my mind with bits of the Coheed and Cambria and AFI songs that have been stuck in my head lately to create some kind of bizarre medley... XD

    Highlights:

    But now she’s gone, and now I can’t even embrace this false euphoria, but my body does.
    I like the distinction made there between how Michael-the-conscious-mind feels about Dophinimine and how Michael-the-physical-body feels about it. ^^

    You try to believe that doing the right thing entitles you to positive outcomes, results worthy of your righteousness, but all you’re doing is releasing enough good into the world in order to gain better odds. Better odds associated with whatever reciprocity coefficient there might be. I am kind to my neighbor, my neighbor’s a decent person, he is in turn kind to me. But it’s always possible that your neighbor is an ******* with no sense of justice, who follows no syntax, and he returns your kindness with rude gestures, defacing of property, or personal violence.
    *nods in agreement* We really don't always reap what we sow.

    His biceps were the size of bowling balls, and it appeared that small red rips had formed in his blue skin where these gargantuan muscles had tried to break free.
    Very interesting way of describing that aspect of its appearance; I may never look at machoke the same way again.

    The reaction of my body and the reaction of my mind were out of phase.
    Again, I love seeing distinction between the body's reaction and the mind's reaction addressed. ^^

    What hope and health looked like, I didn’t know until I was in the care of a puffy pink mass wearing a smile and a nurse’s skirt.
    XD I love that line. There's another pokémon that I may never look at the same way again.

    “But her hands are stubby and she’s got an unwieldy egg in a pocket on her stomach.” Blissey looked down self-consciously at her egg and out of embarrassment tried to hide her face behind her hands…but her arms were just too stubby to reach.
    XD Aww. That was cute, I thought. ^^

    “Well, son, you’re pretty deep into it now; the truth, I mean. It’s a slippery slope that starts with one choice to learn the answer to a smaller question. You keep searching for bigger and bigger truths, not looking back because nothing you knew before makes sense any more. But it’s always then that you have a choice to either accept what is true and ask the bigger questions, or stop your search and be complacent with a life of being the odd one out in a blinded society, discontent with the truth you know but unwilling to commit yourself one way or the other. Will you straddle the fence of complete truth and complete ignorance or will you let me tell you the whole story?”
    I love this quote; it's one of those instances of a concept that I love to see actually put into words. ^^
    DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
    (Or do. I don't actually mind.)
    The Origin of Storms | Communication

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Lurking
    Posts
    815

    Default

    I'll break this down by chapter, then go over everything as a whole at the end. Also note that I read this once before starting the review, so sometimes things in later chapters are brought up earlier.

    Prologue

    When I was six, I saw through a crack in the door my dad bury his fists in my mother’s face.
    "Buried" is accompanied by "in," not "into." Not sure why.

    One punch after another, she cried for him to stop, and one punch later her face became more unrecognizable a bloody mess.
    I'm not sure what's up with the end of this sentence; is it supposed to be, "...her face became more unrecognizable, a bloody mess," or are some words missing?

    It was as if by demonic possession, my father had become host to this other persona, his face as well unrecognizable.
    What other persona? "Some" would work better here. Also, the end clause is phrased rather strangely; either "his face also unrecognizable" or "his face unrecognizable as well" flow better, yes?

    My mother, with her face a canvas smeared with blood, tears, and pain, used of her final breaths to utter that when they married, her life, her heart belonged to him.
    Either the "of" doesn't belong here, or you're missing a word or two.

    After a deluge of horrific events: increasingly deranged acts of violence, an outbreak of the most brazen theft, and a rash of teenage suicides that ravaged the hearts of this country’s people, Enjoyce’s drug was adopted at an increasing rate.
    There is only one rate that is increasing, and a colon better suits this sentence's syntax.

    Enjoyce is the fastest-growing and by far the most successful global company in the history of the entire world.
    Post-Dophinimine crime levels are almost infinitely smaller than before due to its wide adoption and prescription.
    I don't understand why the narrator speaks about this night in such cold and objective terms, with such constructions as "my ducts overflowed" instead of "cried" and the fact that "weeping" is in quotation marks. I don't know if this is because the prologue is intended as a reflection of the narrator upon the past, and since he can no longer feel remorse, he describes it that way. However, given that he went into the way his heart seemed to be writhing in his chest earlier in the paragraph, if that's the case, the portrayal of his emotion relative to the scene is a bit inconsistent. Also, even if he's looking back on the time from a Dophinimine-laced present, that doesn't explain why he should put the ironic tone on "weeping," as though the act were actually something else. Unless this paragraph is supposed to indicate that the narrator had serious emotional problems as a child.

    The state of the nation introduced by the Dophinimine advertisement is extreme to the point of being rather unrealistic; it doesn't seem necessary to introduce that kind of intense anomie in order to make a drug that keeps people from becoming sad or violent very popular. In a society that plagued by social ills, even granted a drug that would supposedly keep people from committing crimes, there would be other radical changes visible even after the Dophinimine had gone to work, which aren't evident in later narration.

    Heaven on Earth

    ...grabbed a day’s worth of Dophinimine...
    “Don’t worry, we’ll be together again soon enough, room 116,” I said as I shut the door tightly and locked it.
    ...has created is for me everyday to observe.
    ...something's wrong with the last clause, there. I don't know if you left out some words, or left in some after a correction, but "is for me everyday to observe" sounds like Babelfished Japanese. o_O

    “Are you all ready for school?” My mother ran her hands through my short brown hair and kissed me on the forehead all while I scooped up a spoonful of cheerios and carefully filled my mouth.
    You don't need the "all" in there, but if you want to keep it, there should be a comma in front of it.

    When I left that morning for school, I heard a high note of anxiety and anticipation of new things to come.
    I took a deep breath and exhaled some of those thoughts, and I continued on to work.
    Mr. Gowlman had been my boss for five years now, and I’d never seen him this discontent.
    This sentence and the one quoted above it are examples of compound sentences, where you have two independent clauses put together. Basically, they're two complete sentences combined into one. In the case of the first one, "I took a deep breath and exhaled some of those thoughts" and "I continued on to work" could both stand alone as complete sentences. In order to combine them into a single sentence, you need something stronger than the conjunction "and" alone--you need a comma before the conjunction, as inserted in the above quotes.

    It was partially true in the sense that I had been lost in thought.
    Because this story is written in the past tense, "had been" is used to indicate that the event in question happened earlier, because "was" just refers to the story's present.

    ...but I was happy regardless.
    ”Nice to meet you, Michael. My name is Nick.”
    The first set of quotation marks is backwards.

    “I don’t know what that is, sir,” Nicholas replied.
    This is a list of those we sold to last week.
    "Those" they sold last week? Maybe "what" they sold?

    “What causes a man to lose his control and lash out in this way?” I thought.
    It's best to mark thoughts differently than you would speech; usually, this is done either by making thoughts italic or not marking them at all.

    Sometimes I linger by my fire place, imagining what pictures would lay above it on the mantel.
    "Lay's" a rather strange word to use in this instance; "stand" or "sit" would be more normal, as they make the pictures sound upright, while "lay" suggests they'd be lying flat.

    ...and all manner of upstanding citizens.
    ...one that changes my demeanor and facial expression.
    "Demeanor" and "facial expression" are redundant.

    There was only an all-enveloping coldness for me to feel and darkness for me to see.
    "All" and "enveloping" are working together to form a single concept describing the coldness, thus the hyphen.

    That’s because the love a mother has for her child is more than something that results in humane treatment or humane regard.
    You're getting this, I think, out of the word "humanly," but the idea of "humane" is something different. This sentence doesn't follow from the previous one.

    I couldn’t think clearly, I was overcome and overwhelmed by increasing sensitivity to emotion.
    The comma here is incorrect. It's joining two independent clauses, and you need something stronger to do that. Either replacing the comma with a semicolon or adding a conjunction after it would work... or splitting this one sentence into two.

    This paragraph gave me a bit of trouble:

    When I left that morning for school, I heard I high note of anxiety and anticipation of new things to come. And my mother died just that week. The next school day, I left my foster home with a high note of anticipation of new things to be learned. And there was no deep, bellowing tone in between.
    The chronology of this paragraph is strange. So, the kid's mother was killed within his first week of school. By the next day, he was already in a foster home, on Dophinimine, and excited to be back to school? At most, that's two days after the murder, if we say that it happened on a Friday and the kid went back to school Monday. The thing is... murders are messy affairs. In the prologue it was implied that it was quite some time before anybody even discovered the body; hours, probably... and then there's all kinds of bureaucracy that needs to be slogged through. They'd get the kid placed in foster care as soon as possible, of course, but I'm not so sure they're going to be able to find him a place and enrolled in a new school within forty-eight hours, not to mention getting him a Dophinimine prescription (as the 'fic has it treated as a prescription drug rather than OTC). Further, here you say that "there was no deep, bellowing tone in between," but in the prologue it was mentioned that that was the last time he was sad... while this paragraph implies that he was prevented from being sad.

    The situation you've set up here seems a bit overblown. People snap and do crazy things at work, sure, but... trying to hold an entire room of people hostage in an attempt to get them to make just one more sale is strange. I'm sure something like it has happened, somewhere, but it doesn't seem like what a person in distress would do. Usually they'd be much more violent or irrational or just depressed. It's sort of like that thing in the prologue about how awful the national situation was; it's just a little too extreme to be believable.

    Also, I agree with duncan on the "****" followed by "goof" thing... I know you acknowledged that criticism, but it hasn't been changed yet.

    Exemplary Cases

    He panned back and forth, scanning each cubicle.
    Panning is a camera movement; it's not really something humans do. "Turning" back and forth, for example, would probably work better.

    ...and under the heat of those fluorescent tube lights...
    Fluorescent lights produce very little heat; I don't know of an office setting where the heat produced by the lights would actually be noticeable, anyway, whether it had fluorescent or incandescent lights.

    I'm sort of surprised that Dophinimine apparently doesn't interfere with fear the same way that it does with other emotions. After all, fear is definitely what most people would call a "negative" emotion, and it's the catalyst for many a crime. A fearful person isn't a happy person... but eh.

    In the Pursuit of Happiness

    “Nah man, I’m pretty sure it’s just you,” I laughed

    “With that, my good man, I bid you adieu. There’s a woman in the corner of the bar with my name written all over her,” I said naively.

    “Oh, I see,” he said, turning around to catch a glimpse. “Good luck.
    As mentioned before, rules of punctuation. There should always be punctuation inside the quotation marks, and when the text that comes after is dependent on the dialogue and neither a question mark or an exclamation point is appropriate, you use a comma. I'm not going to mark similar mistakes from this point on.

    The bartender sat her juice by her hand.
    I think you want "set" there.

    But don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it.
    Hmm, you weren't so presumptuous as to call me 'Elle'...
    The bullet whizzed through the air, tore through the cubicle wall and hit Nick right between the eyes. His blood splattered up and over the wall of my cubicle, landing on my lap, on my sleeves, on my face.
    Okay, so Mr. Gowlman shot Nick... through the cubicle wall? That'd be an incredibly difficult shot to make... trying to hit anybody through a solid object, even if you have a reasonably good idea of their location (I guess Mr. Gowlman must be able to see *something* of Nick, unless his accusation of calling the police was made at random), is real tough. And if Mr. Gowlman has a line of sight to Nick, why didn't he angle the gun so that it he didn't have to try and shoot through a wall? And finally, I'm no forensic scientist, but I know that that's *way* too much blood for a clean head shot. I mean, that's about as much blood as you'd get if the dude's head exploded, I think. There might be a little high-flying splatter that would make it over the cubicle wall, but it would be of no significant quantity.

    The best part of this chapter was definitely the conversation with Mrs. Rische, as I'll address in the final wrap-up. However, her dialogue (where she talks about how you can't make something less scary by making people unable to experience fear) suggests that people on Dophinimine shouldn't be able to feel fear, which I mentioned earlier and which Michael's reactions seem to contradict. Then there's the fact that he's absolutely terrified at the beginning of this post, but then he starts smiling right after his friend gets blown away. I mean, I get that he can't be sad about it, but if he was frightened before, he ought to be really freaked out at that point.

    Reaching Rische

    “My hand! Oh God, my hand!” he screamed in pain as different streams of blood ran down from his wrist, separating into different channels along their descent and falling to the floor along with his gun.
    I'm guessing the first "different" isn't supposed to be there. I don't believe it should be, anyway.

    And that’s when I knew we’d be plastered on the front page of every newspaper nationwide the next day. Man Loses Cool and Kills Employee.
    I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and rubbed the blood off of my face with a warm damp cloth.
    Wait, seriously? He walked home covered in blood, and nobody thought that a little strange? Further, he didn't even bother to wipe the blood off his face until now? That's not an issue of not being able to feel remorse--I mean, even if you consider that blood effectively has no more of a connotation than, say, paint, but if you got paint splashed on your face, you'd want it cleaned off right away, or at least as soon as possible, not hours later. Unless you put it there intentionally or didn't notice it.

    I could toss away my tragedy with a pop of a pill.
    The tense should be consistent with the previous sentence.

    But I didn’t have the bliss of being ignorant. I now knew that things should be different, and I couldn't help but think of Michelle and her cranberry juice on a day like this one.
    More tense shifts. You're trying pretty hard to break into the present tense, but you shift back to past in the next paragraph.

    Her home was small and painted a deep blue that complimented the night sky.
    Generally speaking, you should use "which" in instances where you'd use a comma, and "that" otherwise.

    I could hear her unlocking the door, preparing to let me in.
    After all, I was there to talk.
    You would only use "here" if speaking in the present tense.

    Sometimes you walk into a place and are greeted with a predominant color, some predominant sound or smell, but at once I was overwhelmed by the culmination of all things that made Michelle’s home what it was.
    I sat down on Michelle’s couch as she walked behind it and into the adjacent room, which was the kitchen.
    The ending clause is an appositive, which means that it exists only to give additional, nonessential information. Appositives are set off by commas.

    Wide Open Eyes

    You can never deny your humanity wholly.
    This sentence sounds strange because the adverb is so far from the verb it modifies. What about "You can never wholly deny your humanity"?

    The wall crumbles and the harsh winds of regret and remorse are free to grate the bare skin of their beating chest.
    Their... "beating" chest? I'm not sure what that means.

    They thought they were fine, but when they realized they weren’t, the weight of so much wasted time fell down on them like a pouring rain or any all-encompassing pressure.
    Compound sentence, as I talked about before. Compound-complex, actually, but the same rule applies.

    ...throw off your yoke and learn when to yield to your emotions, or you can hang your head and trod forward with the yoke on your shoulder forever.
    The "OR" thing is rather cheesy and makes the paragraph look like some cheap marketing ploy or a question on a test where they want to make sure you really, really don't pick two answers. If you want that much emphasis on a word, italics are more stylistically appealing and have largely the same effect.

    Also, "trod" is the past tense form of "tread," so it doesn't work in this sentence. You need the infinitive form, and "tread on" doesn't sound right. Plod would work, though.

    It led me to Michelle’s house, and it led me to this scenario.
    Another compound sentence. Again, the rule is when there are two independent clauses combined into one, both a comma and a conjunction are necessary to connect them. I'm not going to mark these from now on.

    And in moments of idle-mindedness I some times think back to that traumatic moment in my life.
    Sometimes is one word.

    And I felt myself at that moment beginning to slip into a depression so deep, and so dark.
    So deep and dark that what?

    It said to me, “B[/color]e still. Your life is not over, it’s not worthless, it’s just different now.”
    And when my withdrawal and my depression shouted
    This line should be in the next paragraph with the rest of the dialgue, not hanging where it is now.

    I clung to the whisper’s reassuring words amongst the constant pounding of negativity from every other neuron in my head.
    "Clang" is an onomatopoeia.

    This withdrawal sequence... it's very different from Michael's, which I don't have a problem with. Michael, after all, has much more violent memories that have been repressed, so it's natural that he would have respond more violently to the withdrawal process. However, Mrs. Rische's withdrawal seems to lack a real physical element. She has the initial feeling of cold, yes, and shivering, but she never really makes any real attempt to *find* her pills. She doesn't appear to have any real physical need for them, while if Dophinimine acts at all like advertised, it should have a very powerful physical component. It would expect to see some very serious physical response to a lack of the drug. I mean, just think of what people go through when they don't get coffee... twitchiness, headaches, appetite issues... and this is hardcore psychoactive stuff we're talking here. Detox would last *much* longer than forty-eight hours and involve some very real cravings and physical torments. I doubt Mrs. Rische would really be able to go through it just lying at the side of her bed. I feel that Michael's reaction to deprivation from the drug, as seen next chapter, is much truer to what the experience should be like.

    Conflict

    When you’ve carried a weight for so long, you’re likely to have forgotten it’s even there.
    "So long?" How long?

    I opened my eyes to the still-glowing bulbs in the kitchen[color=red,[/color] but all I could see was the absence of Dophinimine.
    I knew she heard me, she just wasn’t listening.
    Another instance where you can't glue two independent clauses together with just a comma.

    The rubbing didn’t work at all, I could feel their blood just beneath my eyelids, sloshing back and forth in my ducts.
    ...and same as the quoted sentence before. I'm going to stop mentioning these, too, unless I had already grabbed a sentence with one in it for a different reason.

    I’d’ve never done it had I known how pointless it all was.
    It'd look better if you wrote "I'd've" out partially rather than using a double contraction: "I'd never have done it..."

    At the fork in the road, I found myself tripping over my feet, stumbling, panting to get to the cowards’ way out, unashamedly and unabashedly admitting defeat.
    Why is this line italicized?

    But I wouldn’t have her standing over me, helpless, holding my eyes open.
    The placement of "helpless" in this sentence causes it to refer to Mrs. Rische, not Michael.

    And so this is what “rage” feels like. This is that emotion that drives someone to murder.
    A slip into the present tense.

    Twenty-five milligrams of pure falsehood
    It sounded like he’s spitting up blood.
    I landed on it and grasped the doorknob.
    But in no way sufficiently does knowing prepare you for understanding these things firsthand.
    The "sufficiently" in this sentence is very out of place, as it doesn't appear to be modifying something. If I understand what you were trying to say correctly, "In no sufficient way" would be the correct phrasing.

    The formatting in this chapter is a bit odd. The big, bolded "MRS. RISCHE" labeling the POV shifts is rather jarring in the midst of all the rest of the text. You can indicate what character you're moving to with their name, but centering it or something would be less intrusive than making it bold and allcaps. In truth, though, just a line breaker like the one you use between her POV and Michael's works and is much less jarring. I'm not sure why you go and label Mrs. Rische's stuff "Mrs. Rische" but don't bother to mark Michael's... neither is harder to discern than the other. In any case, the chapter wouldn't have come out looking as akward as it did if it weren't for the fact that there was just that little two-paragraph section separating the sections from Mrs. Rische's POV, which means that the bold name, plus the line, showed up on my screen all at once, making it look cluttered. I'm not sure why you just have that little bit in the middle there... it kind of looks tacked on. The formatting thing would be less obvious if it wasn't there, but either way there are more desirable means of handling the POV switches.

    The ending of the chapter surprised me a bit, but I like it overall. Too often you have characters in stories who are very larger-than-life and always manage to make the tough decision in the end. The fact that Mrs. Rische wasn't able to stick to her guns makes her seem much more human and fallible, and I think that her reaction was quite understandable in this situation.

    Past the Stage of Making Amends

    All the sacrifice associated with this is no more than fruitless punishment if at the end you can’t look back and say
    "This" in this sentence doesn't make a lot of sense, because it's singular and you mentioned multiple trials in the previous sentence.

    …but instead are forced to regretfully admit that you are where you are because someone made-you-make it.
    "Made-you-make" shouldn't be hyphenated.

    How could I have been so violent and so rude?
    ...he's worried about impropriety when he was threatening to do the woman serious physical harm? Seems like rude doesn't really cover it; maybe a different word.

    I motioned for the bottle of Dophinimine carefully and slowly, finally grasping it in my left hand before I just stood there, still.
    When you motion for something, it means that you're indicating that you want someone to get it for you. In this case, "reached for" would be better.

    I came here with strong conviction, the well-defined motive of discontinuing my dependence on Dophinimine.
    I’m afraid as I drive down this road that it’s too late to make amends with my former life.
    Another sentence that's in present tense. I'm going to stop noting them after this point... suffice to say, this is something you need to watch out for.

    I reached my hand up to clear my face, then-after drawing back a tear-stained sleeve.
    It should just be "then;" there's no such construction as then-after, and "thereafter" means "from that point forward."

    The chronology of the detox seems rather screwy here. Michael was starting to feel cravings for Dophinimine after about 22 hours, and went on his rampage after no more than thirty hours without the drug. However, when Michael is driving in this chapter, it's been well over twenty-four hours since his last dose of Dophinimine, and far from feeling cravings, he feels as though his previous dose is yet lingering.

    Phantasmagoria

    So what happened with the girl you met in the bar a few nights ago? I think a day or so before I got shot in the head?
    I realize that this is supposed to be a dream sequence and therefore Nick's sense of time might intentionally be distorted; if that's not supposed to be the case, though, I'm afraid that this quote flies in the face of the story's chronology as it's been laid out thus far.

    A quick scene of comradery followed by me coughing blood and stumbling through Michelle’s kitchen...
    Had we come so far, fallen so far down our abyss of happiness that we didn’t know, even in our minds, what our hearts should feel, what was appropriate protocol, at least, for an occasion like this?
    The appositive needs commas on both sides.

    Ma'am, sir, are you all without?
    It's a contraction of "madam." Most people would say "both" rather than "all" in this situation, too.

    Where did these burdened groans and echoing howls of grief originate?
    "Wherefrom" isn't a word.

    Just as one sorrowful cry reached a crescendo, I shut my eyes, bowed my head, and all went black.
    I mentioned the problem I had with using "crescendo" this way earlier; just pointing out that it appears here again.

    My mind, as if it had been waiting on my body to heal enough so that I could bear the pain while awake, snapped back to reality suddenly.
    That's if you want the word in the sense of "to withstand," which I think you do.

    It’s the first thing you do when you sense something with one of the other four: open your eyes!
    One of the other four what? This sentence doesn't have anything for "one of the other" to point to; although its meaning can be inferred from context, grammatically it makes no sense.

    Walls made of splintered wooden boards, sticks of hay laying about the floor…
    "Pieces of hay" is more the norm.

    He was covered head-to-toe in a woolen olive-colored cloak and stood a diminutive five feet...
    Numbers from one to a hundred should be written out in a narrative context.

    How did I survive this? What he described was a dead man…
    The injuries Michael was supposed to have had wouldn't kill you provided you got medical attention in a reasonable amount of time (i.e. before you bled out).

    If you meant for the "old man" in this chapter to be an alakazam, you need to indicate that Michael can't actually *see* that it's a man, but only assumes that it is. If it is an alakazam, then it's rather strange that it's able to "speak human," although I'm sure there must be some explanation. Right now, it's not clear that he can't see anything of the creature besides the moustache, if such is the case; "protracted hood" doesn't really mean anything, although I'm guessing that you meant that the hood was raised such that the creature's head wasn't actually visible. Even a hood wouldn't be able to hide how wrong the shape of its head is, either.

    I'm a bit mixed on this chapter. There were some genuinely good aspects to it--the conversation between Nick and Michael was very natural and pleasant to read, and the funeral scene had a couple good moments, notably Nick watching from his coffin and the "tissues replaced with pill bottles" thing. However, if this is supposed to be a dream sequence, it doesn't really work... it makes too much sense. I mean, think about it--have you ever had a dream in which someone made a joke that you were actually able to understand upon waking? And in dreams, do you ever actually have any revelations about life that you're able to relate to or even comprehend upon awakening? The "last living people on earth" line was nice, but again, do you think that way in a dream? Now, if this is some sort of vision and not, technically, a dream, then there's some possibility that it would be more coherent, depending on what caused it. It's just too lucid to be a dream, really. I haven't really had experience with hallucinations, but I don't think that they'd be much like that, either. Overall, I just feel like this sequence is meant to explicate lessons that Michael (or the readers) need to learn, rather than be true to how it would actually be expected to happen--but that's something I'll talk about more at the end.

    Resonance

    Light poured in through the boarding cracks in my barnyard cove of convalescence.
    "Boarding cracks" doesn't make any sense; "cracks in the boards" or something similar is what you want.

    My pant legs were flaps dangling from the waistband...
    “Ah. Well, I am. Thank you so much for saving my life…whatever that is now.” I said this with an odd lightness and a reflexive smirk.
    This piece of dialogue needs a period there instead of a comma because the text after it isn't an indication of how it was conveyed, but instead a reference to the sentence as it had already been spoken.

    It’s amazing how I had managed to traverse the splintered path life had led me down.
    "Lead" is an element (or a verb); "led" is the past tense of "lead." As you can see, this sentence also had tense issues and one of those things where you use "this" or "these" when the word doesn't have a real antecedent.

    One answer to sum it all up and explain to me why I was in burned and tattered clothing sleeping in a barn: with no one, just after dusk.
    I don't understand why there's a colon there... even a comma wouldn't really fit.

    You could be entitled just as much to tragedy as triumph in a world of just a million variables, and occurrences with only statistical significance.
    I don't understand this sentence. Why is it significant that there is "just" a million variables, and why does it matter that there are only statistically significant occurrences? Basically everything after the word "triumph" is obfuscated.

    In the quiet of my sleep, when my mind had had time to settle, I tuned in my ears.
    To say that he "tuned in" his ears doesn't mean anything; if you mean he started paying attention to them, that would be "tuned in to."

    Sometimes we operate so far above these things that we forget them; these emotions can’t peek out amidst the noise of our endless pursuit to be happy.
    It'd be "pursuit of happiness," or a different word than "pursuit"... "attempt," for example.

    It had sublimated physicality and become some kind of visible...
    ...sublimated? No... sublimation is the process of a solid becoming a gas. Did you maybe mean "surpassed?"

    Why is Michael referring to the blissey as a "Pokemon" if he's never heard the term before?

    The weird formatting makes a return this chapter; the first time I read it, I was way thrown off because I didn't realize Mrs. Rische's portion had ended and we were back with Michael for a bit. If you're going to label POV shifts to her side with her name, you should do the same for Michael.

    It's odd... by now, Michael should *definitely* be in detox hell, unless the alakazam gave him some pills at some point. I would alternately suggest that the blissey had managed to heal the neurological damage caused by the drug, but he goes on to reflect that he must still be drugged because he doesn't feel sad enough. Unless that's taken to be false and that Dophinimine's influence on him has actually ended, he shouldn't be at all coherent by this point.

    --

    Okay! So that's the chapters, and here's the full story.

    This is certainly a different concept than I've seen applied to pokémon fanfiction before. While there are plenty of dystopian approaches out there, the drugged "utopia" concept is one that I haven't run across before. While pokémon really haven't played a major role in the story thus far, I think that it will be interesting to see how they play into the world as a whole. Thus far, most of what's gone on has been more introducing the situation and characters than driving at the plot.

    It's also relatively uncommon to see chaptered 'fics written in first person. I'm afraid, though, that I don't think you're really using that POV to the best of its strengths. It gives you an opportunity to get into the main character's head and really explore what he's thinking as he goes through his life, yes... and the main characters in this 'fic certainly do a great deal of thinking. You run very heavy on the introspection in this 'fic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the way that you do introspection doesn't sit very well with me for a couple of reasons.

    First, most of Michael's thoughts are a lot more like narration than actual thought. Now, because everything's in the past, it's clear that he *is* narrating from some point in the future, but you get rather carried away with long paragraphs to illustrate a particular analogy ("plucking the strings" in an earlier chapter) or consisting of philosophical musings. This is not how people think. Whenever Michael goes into a stretch of thought-narration, it seems to be because he's got something profound to mull over and a poetic conclusion to draw. At times, things seem to happen simply so that he can think about them and reach a profound understanding of them or dispense plot-necessary information (such as the kid at the bus stop near the beginning). But, really, who, on a regular basis, is going to stumble on revelations like "I'm one of the last people on earth actually able to feel!" or "this splintered staircase totally represents my life!"

    Now, you're writing a story, so just like dialogue, you're going to pare thoughts down to their bare essentials and restructure them to be more clear--cut out the "umms," the stammering, and the mixing-up of words, if you would. But the way the story is now, Michael barely seems to have any "normal" thoughts, thoughts about what he's going to have for lunch, or that sports game he saw a couple of nights ago, or a joke he wants to share with Nick. He'll make observations (and then usually go off and contemplate them for a few sentences), but rarely is there the sense of his mind outside of his fixations on Mrs. Rische and the Dophinimine fixation/its associates (such as his parents' death). Dophinimine is supposed to make him a basically happy, carefree guy. Where are those carefree, happy thoughts of his? At one point he says that he thinks of his parents' death in the same way that he thinks of sports scores. Okay, but why is he mentally stating this? Why aren't we seeing it instead--Michael mulling over the big game, getting distracted and led into reflecting on his parents' murder, then going back to thinking about football as though the matter was of no consequence? Wouldn't that be more effective than stating that that should be the case?

    "Show, don't tell," isn't exactly one of my favorite phrases, but you do seem to have issues with it in this 'fic. Like I said, for a happy guy, Michael sure doesn't seem happy at any point in this 'fic. Whether it's questioning his addiction to Dophinimine or mulling over his relationship with Mrs. Rische, he feels at best detached, emotionless--not happy or even really "not sad." Unless, of course, the point is that Dophinimine doesn't actually make you happy, it just blocks really extreme emotions and people keep telling themselves that they're happy because they think that's how they "should" be, but the rest of the 'fic doesn't suggest that line of reasoning.

    Also, Michael's thoughts are always very definite. This is a massive shift in his life, a time of turmoil. It makes sense that he would be reflecting on his life, questioning the way he sees the world, searching for answers--but even though he takes on major issues again and again, there's little of that sense of confusion and loss in his thinking patterns. He's always very definite in his thoughts--there's little, "could Dophinimine be wrong?" and almost entirely, "Dophinimine is so wrong, I see that now!" There's no, "could I salvage this relationship" and lots of "omg she hates me forever!" Michael is always convinced, whether correctly ("Dophinimine is bad") or incorrectly ("Mrs. Rische doesn't love me"); there's not a lot of confusion or lack of conviction or flip-flopping from one opinion to another. This is a time when Michael's life essentially gets turned upside-down--don't you think he'd feel very lost?

    Finally, the way that Michael thinks about things doesn't feel right for him. For example, take that one stats passage I called out earlier. We're talking about a guy who answers phones for a living, here. That doesn't mean that he can't be a very intelligent person--but he's just not going to think about things in terms of math all the time. If he were a mathematician, sure, he would be expected to structure his thoughts that way. But sometimes Michael's narration makes rather technical analogies that seem wrong for his character.

    At times, this carries over into dialogue. In general, you do much better dialogue than you do thought/narration; you capture some of the frivolity of conversation and don't lay the revelation on as heavy. There are times where you slip, though. Take Mrs. Rische's comment about playing peek-a-boo with a child who hasn't learned the concept of Object Permanence. Object Permanence is a very technical term; most people probably don't even know what it means, and unless the speaker is a psychologist speaking to another psychologist, it's very unlikely to get brought up in conversation. It just doesn't make sense for an analogy because so few people understand it. Now, Mrs. Rische might be a psychologist for all I know, but it comes down to the fact that the analogy doesn't make sense for casual conversation. The same is true but far, far more so for the characters' reflections, but because there's so much more introspection than dialogue, it feels a lot worse.

    In general, I think you're laying things on too heavy with this 'fic. I've mentioned before that you're setting up situations that are so extreme that they feel contrived rather than intense? To an extent, I feel like this is an extension of wanting to spell the point out to readers rather than letting them infer it from the way the story actually plays out. Reading this, I felt like I was getting beat over the head with the idea that sorrow is a natural and integral part of life, that Mrs. Rische and Michael are totally in love, and so on. It's possible to explore these subjects without having Michael spell it out, sometimes repeatedly, in his thought-narration. If you were to set up a prologue with no thoughts at all, just Michael being all happy, going to work, taking his pills, and then watching his friend getting shot and just kind of being all smiles and getting on with his day, people are definitely going to understand that Dophinimine is awful. They'd be just as creeped out without Michael explaining that he's come to the realization that they should be creeped out. I think that, while spending time in a character's head can add a lot to the story, you kind of spend time in Michael's head to the expense of the atmosphere and impact of the story itself, simply because it belabors the point and kind of puts a gigantic flashing neon sign out telling readers how they should feel about the story's events, rather than letting them feel how they want to about those events and come to their own conclusions.

    In general, your prose style is decent. You have the most trouble with commas in sentence construction and dialogue punctuation--you do it right most of the time, but then there are times when you just stop for some reason. Tense changes, too, happen a lot. It feels like you really want to be writing this in present tense (but Michael's expository stuff would work even less in that format). The prose style doesn't particularly detract from the story, doesn't really add much to it; it's serviceable, I guess. Not much to say about it. You do a fine turn of phrase now and then, as I've said a couple of times before--the replacing tissues with pill bottles bit for example, or the introduction of Mrs. Rische. Your analogies can be nice, it's just that I feel they don't really belong.

    There are moments where things do really work in this. You really get a sense of who the characters are at times; when Michael's talking to his apartment like it's a person, for example, or Mrs. Rische's doing her littler percentage thing or Nick's making a stupid joke. You should be looking to have more of this sort of interaction in the 'fic; that's what makes character. When Michael was saying, "pleased to see you too" to his apartment, that gave me the picture of someone cheerful and carefree, sort of a joker and at peace with the world. Not much else in that chapter did much in terms of letting me in on what sort of person he really was. Profundity doesn't really do that for you; when Michael's in narrator-mode, he doesn't really come off as a person, but rather as some detached entity dispensing life's truths. Getting into a character's head can tell you a lot about them, sure, but seeing how they interact with the world and other people is just as important.

    I think that you've got a good idea here, provided that it doesn't somehow turn itself into a generic 'fic ("now that you have discovered the pokémon, you must go on a trainer journey to find yourself and experience true emotion!"). At the moment, though, I think that your approach robs the idea of some of its impact. Right now, I don't feel any particular empathy for any of the characters. If you can bring them to life, turn them into real people, then I think your story will be much more effective.
    Last edited by Negrek; 11th January 2009 at 8:18 AM.

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Macross
    Posts
    132

    Default

    Okay, so there's a new chapter coming out. I'll probably post it here within the next few days. I just spent a bit of time reading over the last chapter so that I could get back into the mindset I was in when I last wrote for this fic.

    Negrek's pointed out some flaws with the execution of the story. I think that I'll finish this, fixing as much as I can as I go along, but those comments (thanks Negrek!) will most likely be implemented more fully in my two new fics, Make Me Sick and Journey to Nowhere (tentative title).

    Here's a sneak peak at the new chapter!

    It's been a while, but maybe you'll remember that Michael has just been introduced to the concept of Pokemon (after a very good catch by Bay!) and a Machoke and Blissey. He found out that the old one in the barn used them to heal his wounds from the crash.

    Last time:

    “Well, son, you’re pretty deep into it now; the truth, I mean. It’s a slippery slope that starts with one choice to learn the answer to a smaller question. You keep searching for bigger and bigger truths, not looking back because nothing you knew before makes sense any more. But it’s always then that you have a choice to either accept what is true and ask the bigger questions, or stop your search and be complacent with a life of being the odd one out in a blinded society, discontent with the truth you know but unwilling to commit yourself one way or the other. Will you straddle the fence of complete truth and complete ignorance or will you let me tell you the whole story?”

    Upcoming chapter:

    AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

    The reality around you, like the ripples in a beverage just before the earthquake, is testament to the gravity of the truth. This twisted world we live in, where people don’t cry at funerals, where no one understands love, where a man’s best friend can die and he not shed a tear, is the indicator of how large the truth must be. Something so wrong can not have a simple answer. I could feel the weight of this old man’s secret in my own heart like I can now feel the weight of grief and regret. Was I really ready? Could I be ready? After having almost killed someone after a day off of Dophinimine, could I handle the truth behind the way the world works?

    This passage suggests no change in style from before Negrek's review, but that's not so. This part was written before I even posted the last chapter, so yeah.

    Also:

    Whether it's questioning his addiction to Dophinimine or mulling over his relationship with Mrs. Rische, he feels at best detached, emotionless--not happy or even really "not sad." Unless, of course, the point is that Dophinimine doesn't actually make you happy, it just blocks really extreme emotions and people keep telling themselves that they're happy because they think that's how they "should" be, but the rest of the 'fic doesn't suggest that line of reasoning.
    That's what I wanted to bring out: that true happiness can't be had without the other half. I guess I didn't do that great a job of supporting that with much else, though.

    The extreme actions taken by Mr. Gowlman and others will also be explained in the upcoming plot twist.
    Last edited by Maze; 27th July 2009 at 6:02 PM.
    Taxonomy of the Heart
    Another fic - Foresight

    "When you're in your final moment and your life flashes before your eyes, it isn't for your entertainment, it's your subconscious hurling every relevant and pseudo-relevant experience you've ever had up into consciousness. It's saying 'try this! or this! or this! does what we learned here help?! ****!!'. So don't sit back and relax, take your last stand. Take your brain's emergency alarm and do something.

Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •