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Fantasy Faction Writers => Monthly Writing Contest => [SEP 2020] - Steampunk => Topic started by: ScarletBea on October 04, 2020, 01:40:50 PM

Title: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 04, 2020, 01:40:50 PM
It's time to vote on the September Writing Contest: "Steampunk"

This time we got 6 entries - thanks to all who participated!

Please read through all of the entries in the submission thread and place your votes for your TWO favourite entries in this thread. You won't be able to see the vote breakdown until the vote closes, so spread the word for others to come and vote! We do ask that if you entered, to vote for someone else.

The key for the numbers of votes is this: 1-5 entries: 1 vote, 6-10 entries: 2 votes, 11-15 entries: 3 votes, 16-19: 4 votes, 20-25: 5 votes, 26+: 6 votes

Remember that the winning entry will be posted on the main Fantasy-Faction site in a few months (I'm still hopeful of getting the access to do this...)

Good luck to all our entrants and thank you for taking the time to read the stories and vote! :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Kindly on October 04, 2020, 03:53:32 PM
I'm glad there were enough stories to let us vote for two - I wouldn't have known how to choose between my favourites!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 04, 2020, 04:00:26 PM
Yes, last time we had 2 votes was in May, I really prefer that :D
(note, I moved your post to the Voting thread, it fits better)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Jake Baelish on October 05, 2020, 12:28:04 PM
Voted  :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Henry Dale on October 05, 2020, 12:31:46 PM
Voted. Was a really nice subject this month.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 05, 2020, 07:09:14 PM
Placed a vote for just one because I can't decide on a second one, but will re-read closer to end of month to see if I haven't changed my mind.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 09, 2020, 04:12:52 PM
Voted.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: JMack on October 18, 2020, 09:22:44 PM
Voted!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 20, 2020, 05:33:27 PM
Finally voted!
Of course, when I can vote for 2, you give me 3 great stories I could easily have voted for ::) ;D I went with my heart...

This month everything is very balanced, it can go in a number of ways - 5 days to go, 7 people voted so far!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 21, 2020, 02:10:50 AM
Might be time for me to re-read then, see if I can change my mind and tip the scales between the runner ups.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: bdcharles on October 21, 2020, 08:46:54 AM
Voted!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 21, 2020, 09:24:57 AM
Might be time for me to re-read then, see if I can change my mind and tip the scales between the runner ups.
It seems you're not the only one who only voted once, as we have 8 voters but only 14 votes.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 21, 2020, 01:23:31 PM
Yeah... I might keep it like this too. My two runner ups just have equal amounts of perks and drawbacks and it's unfair to pick one over the other. I'll make sure to let them know my cruel decision xD
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 21, 2020, 04:08:34 PM
That other solitary voter would be me.  :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 23, 2020, 10:40:57 AM
1 vote separating first and second place...
Will there be another person voting? Will they change the situation?
Under 3 days to go...
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: xiagan on October 23, 2020, 08:55:41 PM
I haven't yet and will hopefully manage tomorrow or sunday. :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Lady Ty on October 24, 2020, 05:53:07 AM
Voted for 2. Wonder if it made a difference?  ;)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 25, 2020, 05:05:51 PM
Congrats @Nora! A worthy winner.  :D
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 25, 2020, 05:15:06 PM
Yay @Nora, I loved your story :D

My second vote went to @Alex Hormann, I really liked the alternative history story, even if I didn't understand the welsh ;D


As usual, everyone please feel free to ask for comments/critiques/opinions, specifically from readers or from writers as you prefer :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: xiagan on October 25, 2020, 07:20:55 PM
Congrats, @Nora! :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Kindly on October 25, 2020, 07:24:37 PM
Congratulations, Nora!

I voted for Nora's and Alex Hormann's, really liked both stories. In Nora's story I especially liked the writing itself, it was beautiful, and in Alex's I thought the worldbuilding was fantastic.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Henry Dale on October 25, 2020, 08:05:26 PM
Nora's was definitely the deserved winner here. Very eloquent in style. It gave me steampunk vibes but also a bit of biopunk. So my vote obviously went there.

Second vote went to Kindly's The Engine. The alt-history with an aloof Leonardo Da Vinci was very fun to read.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 25, 2020, 08:42:00 PM
Whoo, thanks y'all!

I voted for @Henry Dale this month, because the story was short, cute, and very tongue in cheek. I enjoyed the Faire setting, and the granny stuck in her age changing her mind over tea. Made me chuckle IRL.
Glad you picked up a bit of bio-punk in my story, I was definitely going for it, thinking steam doesn't have to equate copper and big cogs everywhere and could have a more organic feel to it.
I very closely inspired myself from the short animated film Good Hunting, within the Love Death + Robots series on Netflix. It's one of my favs (sex and gore disclaimer...). It's about an increasingly steam-punkish Hong Kong where a talented local helps a Huli jing he knows from childhood. Very heavily anti colonialist, which I wasn't going for, but the idea of a person slowly turning into a steam powered machine while having a big ol' chip on her shoulder was very *chef kiss*.

The two I could absolutely not decide between were Alex and Kindly. They both had great atmosphere and cinched the theme, but each had just enough that didn't quite work out that I liked both equally and chosing one would have been unfair for the other. In exchange I'll happily do a detailed review if you want.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Jake Baelish on October 26, 2020, 03:04:51 AM
Congrats Nora, a well-deserved win! I almost voted for your story, but it was a tough month to choose from. In the end went for Alex's story and Henry's. I agree with Nora that Henry's was very cute and gave me a nice feeling inside  :) (although the use of the word 'cool' in this setting threw me a bit  ;) ).
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 26, 2020, 04:24:02 PM
Whoo, thanks y'all!

I voted for @Henry Dale this month, because the story was short, cute, and very tongue in cheek. I enjoyed the Faire setting, and the granny stuck in her age changing her mind over tea. Made me chuckle IRL.
Glad you picked up a bit of bio-punk in my story, I was definitely going for it, thinking steam doesn't have to equate copper and big cogs everywhere and could have a more organic feel to it.
I very closely inspired myself from the short animated film Good Hunting, within the Love Death + Robots series on Netflix. It's one of my favs (sex and gore disclaimer...). It's about an increasingly steam-punkish Hong Kong where a talented local helps a Huli jing he knows from childhood. Very heavily anti colonialist, which I wasn't going for, but the idea of a person slowly turning into a steam powered machine while having a big ol' chip on her shoulder was very *chef kiss*.

The two I could absolutely not decide between were Alex and Kindly. They both had great atmosphere and cinched the theme, but each had just enough that didn't quite work out that I liked both equally and chosing one would have been unfair for the other. In exchange I'll happily do a detailed review if you want.

I'd love feedback.  :)

Is Good Hunting the Ken Liu one? I've read the short story but it was a while ago.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 26, 2020, 07:06:56 PM
Will do then, though dinner first... And yeah, even though he doesn't get writer credit on IMDB I checked and you're right it's a short story by Ken Liu originally. I haven't read it!
The animation is great and the story takes a sharp twist from folk tale to gritty steampunk.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Kindly on October 26, 2020, 10:03:07 PM
 @Nora, feedback would be wonderful.  :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 27, 2020, 12:50:07 AM
@Alex Hormann so for your story :

Quote
“Mae’n bwrw glaw yn y fory,” he said, stumbling over the unfamiliar words. He gestured at the gloomy sky overhead.

Quote
“Saes,” the guard growled, spitting on the floor. He raised his rifle, intent clear. No other word was ever said with such hatred, and always followed by violence.

I wanted to love it, but sadly the foreign language elements were detrimental at the start of the story. I was confused and a little frustrated that sentences that I should understand – that I ought to be able to make sense of in context somehow – were completely obscure. Once I finished the entire story i guessed Saes might mean English?
I don't believe in popping up google translate to understand a story, particularly if the main character is English and struggles with the language : it was the perfect excuse to hint at meaning... But isn't Ieuan a Welsh name? This just puzzled me to no end, so I was basically frowning my way through this excellent prose and well crafted story... And then things turned out to be a really nice bit of espionage! But again as a drawback, the steampunk elements felt added on to replace real world solution : guard could be human, lock pick could be a lock pick.
In the end the whole story also had a faint air of prologue/first chapter to it. Not in a bad way, as I sometimes outright withhold likes because "it's not a short story".
That's not what was going on there, the issue I had was that I'd basically read an (initially confusing) spy incursion with light elements of steampunk that ended up hinting at a much more interesting steampunk world : A world where the Welsh took over the Brits through use of steam/coal technology? By the end that was the story I wanted to read the most.

> Senedd and Abertawe

When this came up, I got so confused I had to go back to the discussion part to confirm this was Welsh and not fantasy names. Again, I don't consider it a quality if I have to google it to make sure what's happening, and reaching out to the author also shouldn't happen in my opinion.

Quote
Rhys ap Cwnc was infamous across England as the mastermind behind the occupation. It came as no surprise to Ieuan that the papers on his desk were covered in handwritten annotations and corrections. Everything about the man was so precise, so functional.  Ashame he had been born on the wrong side. A man like that could have turned the war. Perhaps he still would.
The realisation RHYS AP CWNC was a personal name and not an office name came a tad too late again IMO.
Then I struggled over this "ashamed he had been born on the wrong side" thing. I wasn't managing to make sense of Rhys' birth and position. Is he Welsh? British? Which side is he ashamed of? Shouldn't the English side be the shameful one?
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks that it was "A shame", but that came on second reading. On my first one I gave up and moved on. Probably not a glowing review on my mental elasticity to have only mentally corrected things to "ashameD" and not "A shame"... but hey.
I don't think the typo is bad, I think it just highlights how confused I still was by the story at this stage. I still had no clue who Ieuan was and why he was in here or that there was a colony relationship with England going on.

Things made a lot more sense with insight on the second read, and the enjoyable prose and fun spy adventure and quick thinking of the main character then really shone! It is well written, well plotted, and even with the theme elements being a little on the cosmetic side, it's a very strong story imo. My final critic is that if refusing to give any help with the language within the text, a disclaimer over your story, or a single line intro/blurb would have helped me understand and be more patient. Even with a spoiler tag for people who want to go in blind?
So yeah, in the end this critic isn't really one you *have* to listen to, because you might believe the way you added the language and local elements works just fine, but it's what held me from being able to pick it over Kindly's.

In that regard Kindly came as a bit of unfair contrast, posting this italic intro line :
Quote
In the year 1506, Leonardo Da Vinci moved to Milan, then under French control, by invitation from the governor of the city.
That not only set the scene but brushed my French ego...  :P

The story was pretty fun. The prose was lighter, accommodating the pretty fun story. My issues were sort of... story related. Little tidbits made me overthink or pull out of the story.
The machine uses olive oil? A renaissance man has *perfect teeth glistening*? They can go to a zoo to know what 12 monkeys screaming sounds like? After the whale sound comparison I was getting the feeling the story was told by a contemporary of mine, to me, using references for the both of us, but meaningless to the characters.
Honestly there were some really brilliant bits of humour in there. The treacherous tomatoes (which are not vegetables but fruits lmao), the pink elephants (another non renaissance thing ahaha).

Quote
’A most volatile substance, Melzi. The most treacherous of vegetables, I’ve found.’
He looked up at Melzi, and his face lit up in a smile. ’Melzi! You’re here!’

While this scene was very funny overall, I still don't understand why he addresses Melzi, then looks up to him and goes "oh it's you" basically.
I re-read this several time, wondering if I was having a senior moment, and it sort of ruined the joke since I moved on without understanding.

Quote
They made their way to the demonstration tent in silence.

As the time of demonstration neared, Melzi became increasingly jittery.

Found this transition poorly managed.

Quote
This particular acorn was not content to stay a sapling; it was determined to do in one minute what another oak would be proud to accomplish in a hundred years.

That was very well written.

The end of the story left me a little flat though :

Quote
’My apprentice, fostered under my care here in France, was sent to… influence his majesty. Our British rivals spread their rumors, to really quite astonishing effect.’

Would a shady lady like this be explaining herself to someone who just crossed her and ruined her plans? If she were going to be this honest about it all, she probably should have done that sooner.
I was also unclear as to how she wanted to use the engine to "slowly" kill the councillors. I mean, literally bad oysters are a better plan : easier, more economical, and able to be put into place by loyal assassins and not a bunch of wild Milan lads.

But it was all pretty fun and the humour balanced with some very well written line.
What really brought it down in the end in such a way that I couldn't vote it over Alex's was the lack of steampunk. Calling a thing an engine and giving it a furnace doesn't qualify I think xD.
That's just normal engines. What yours did that was different used... a magic ruby, making this square fantasy, which felt like a shaaaaaaame, because Da Vinci wrote some WICKED diagrams of mad inventions and if you'd given him some (magic grade) steam powers to put them in actions, you could have him pioneer planes in 1506!!
I felt like the character felt like a bit of a missed opportunity in the end.
But the story was fun and sweet too.

So in the end I voted for the one that also had its flaws but took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud and went the cruel way... If I'd had three votes you'd all have had one though.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: xiagan on October 27, 2020, 10:47:31 AM
Quote
’A most volatile substance, Melzi. The most treacherous of vegetables, I’ve found.’
This threw me because there weren't Tomatoes in Europe in 1506. The first (seeds) arrived probably 20-40 years later in Spain, so we can add a few years until the pomo d'oro was available in Italy [France ;)].

The devil is in the details. ;)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Alex Hormann on October 27, 2020, 01:25:11 PM
Thanks @Nora, lots to think about here. I thought it would be the language that tripped people up, but I probably did push the alienation aspect too far. Glad you enjoyed the rest of it though.  :)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Nora on October 27, 2020, 01:50:23 PM
No worries. I honestly think you can make it work by shifting a couple of lines. Since this is a short story, I'd move the reveal of England vs Wales the conqueror a little higher, so we also understand the stakes, and a couple thoughts from the character to help us navigate the language without translation.
I don't think you'd have to reduce the amount of Welsh then. But stuff like 'rhys' room name being followed by something like 'here was the man' s office' or some such in your description of it being a real seat of power, would go a great way towards clearing confusion for me for example.

Honestly if you ever write further inside this world, I'd be keen to beta or read it.

And bear in mind plenty of people weren't that bothered or confused and gave you a vote, so you might want their feedback too!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: xiagan on October 28, 2020, 10:41:36 AM
Quote
’A most volatile substance, Melzi. The most treacherous of vegetables, I’ve found.’
This threw me because there weren't Tomatoes in Europe in 1506. The first (seeds) arrived probably 20-40 years later in Spain, so we can add a few years until the pomo d'oro was available in Italy [France ;)].

The devil is in the details. ;)
I did enjoy the story otherwise, sorry for not making that clear!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: bdcharles on October 28, 2020, 11:56:26 AM
A great story, well done Nora. My vote was for yours and Alex Hormann's, both excellent reads :)

And thank you, to whoever voted for mine!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Kindly on October 28, 2020, 01:37:41 PM
Thanks @Nora, great feedback! You're right about the anachronisms, some of them I didn't even notice while writing. And hm, yes, some things in the plot and character motivations probably don't really make sense. :) Anyway, I'm glad you liked it apart from the problems!
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Kindly on October 28, 2020, 01:46:53 PM
And thanks, @xiagan! Somewhere in my head I knew that tomatoes didn't come to Europe until later, but that fact was nowhere near my brain while writing. I totally missed that one! :) 

Oh, and by the way @Alex Hormann, reading Noras comments of your story I'm remembering something I meant to say: I think a novel set in a world where wales is a bigger world power than England could be interesting. It felt like a setting that could very well accommodate a story of larger scope.
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: ScarletBea on October 28, 2020, 02:41:49 PM
Oh, and by the way @Alex Hormann, reading Noras comments of your story I'm remembering something I meant to say: I think a novel set in a world where wales is a bigger world power than England could be interesting. It felt like a setting that could very well accommodate a story of larger scope.
Seconded!
(actually, thirded, after Nora too ;D)
Title: Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Voting Thread
Post by: Lady Ty on October 30, 2020, 05:18:57 AM
Congratulations @Nora, I did enjoy your rather alarming but fascinating story of a world with steamwrights.  It was smooth reading and  could almost have qualified for 'Dialogue' as well.   :)
You got one of my votes and the other went to @Henry Dale for a use of steam as far removed from Nora's as could be possible. Made me smile, loved it.
Steampunk not a genre I usually choose to read but all the stories made me think I should try harder. Thank you to all writers for reading enjoyment.