Ookla the Partitioner

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About Ookla the Partitioner

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  1. The good news is that I’m interested. The bad news is that I’m not sure what I’m interested in. I enjoy the prose you use here, I’m always in favor of a first person narrative with a running commentary like such on the side. But that’s a double-edged sword when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi. I remember reading Orson Scott Card talking about this – using metaphors in fantasy without clear guidelines make it such that the reader won’t be able to tell. Case in point, I’m kind of not sure what this story is about. Presumably, the protagonist can’t speak, so I don’t know how he got the cat to speak, unless magic, but you said there wasn’t magic. So now I think that it’s just he has problems talking to people, but there’s no indication of this in the story. And if there is magic, my brain goes wild, and I think the two thugs might actually be gorillas, and the main character is a mutant. I like the tone, but I just don't get what the story is about.
  2. Received, and not in the spam folder.
  3. Yes, that needs to be worked on. I'm currently outlining ways to have a larger divine and try to make it clear that Z's faith isn't based off Christianity. (It is based of a different real life religion, but very loosely based off it, and not very well if no one noticed.) It's somewhat annoying, as I want to make certain things more obvious, but I can't do that without making people blatantly start associating things with Christianity. Noted and acknowledge. The first step is making character not seem like they're doing 180-degree spins on their stated positions, and the second is altering a few of the details to make characters more consistent. This is actually a very good point. Part of the reason I decided to write this is because I feel the representation of religious characters in fantasy suffers, i.e. there's plenty of characters with the ability to invoke the wrath of God in the form of lightning bolts from the skies, but that not really faith, is it? And from there, the story expanded because it wouldn't work if the religious character with faith gained nothing by faith, and if his faith gave him something extra, then again, the purpose is defeated. Thus, T was born - a kind of malicious tempter who's powers only worked on emotions present in the environment, such that Z's faith could let him react to the environment around him in ways that other characters without faith couldn't. Overall, I think I'm happy with the actual event of faith within the story, just the lead up to it was more moral ambiguous then I originally intended, though certain things were fine. This story definitely needs a lot more work, but I the critique here will definitely help it.
  4. To answer your questions, no, yes, no, yes. There were a few intention in writing this piece, and I felt that this world was suited to do so. (Not to mention that I worldbuilt this a while back, so I had it lying around when I wanted to work on this story.) I feel that the setting does work with the theme if I was able to write on a larger scale, but as far as the short goes, it's really nothing more than a background. Your 'shark-eating' analogy is actually a pretty good one, though there's a few slight difference I had in mind. As far as 'distasteful protagonist who is still sympathetic', that's actually more or less where I wanted Z to end up for the majority of readers. As morality does play a key part in this, obviously people with different mindsets will draw different conclusions. The goal is not to make the reader agree with Z, it's to make the reader understand Z, and I haven't really done a good job of that. That's the bad news. The good news is that I can use your responses to change the story (and certain events in it!) to make it easier to make it to do so. T is a tool. Sorry. He wasn't designed to be anything but that. He has a few consistent traits, but he's susceptible to strong emotional overload, and I would lose a lot of my original intention if I fleshed out his character to the point where he would be wholly independent. That's fair. S definitely deserves to be fleshed out more, if his lack of morals is what sets P off. P for his part, by the way, had no intention of killing N until N tried to kill him. Take her in, yes. I feel like a didn't to a good job of fleshing out the moral stances, and that a lot more enunciation should have happened. (N has been experimenting on live humans, though.) From P's perspective, his desire to kill her was a result of escalation after he tried arresting her for doing something wrong. Z has a slightly different perspective, which was, more or less, either N stopped cold, or she died (though he wouldn't have interfered in P bringing N in alive once he defeated her). This is a good suggestion, except there's one small problem. I tried that. Remember the phrase that Z said in part 2? That was a psalm-like phrase (actually a paraphrase, but semantics). In fact, this entire piece has been littered with religious references, up to and including the title 'Stranger in a Foreign Land'. Z originally used a different phrase in place of 'valley of the shadow of death', but I swapped it back for this submission because I was worried that it'd go everyone's heads like that. And, so long as I'm talking about that, I might as well include Mandamon's point. Maybe. I'm not convinced of this In general, I agree with you - the responsibility is on the author to make sure that his words are clearly understood, and not on the reader to figure out that the author meant something which is completely contrary to what he's written. If I've written something which is being misinterpreted, that's my fault, not yours. The thing is, I gave this submission to a friend of mine to read, and he had no problem identifying that I was referring to religion and faith in general in this submission, rather than Christianity, which makes sense, as he's a bit more familiar with religion. But I'm not sure there's a way to get this message across here. What I'm worried about is that anything I say will either go under the radar because it's not explicit religious enough (parts of this story) or that it'll be so in-your-face that the reader associates it with Christianity (other parts of this story). I mean, I can also beat the reader over the head and say 'Look! This is a part of the Seeker faith, and not anything else! It's just religious faith!" at which point I've no guarantee the reader won't look at it and say 'Ah, so it's an allegory for Christianity.' Also I'd be beating the reader over the head with a point, and I prefer not doing that when possible, I do have to draw the line somewhere. The point here is faith, the kind of which is associated with organized religion, but without referring any organized religion specifically. Which I'm now not sure if that's even possible. This is why I'm engaging in conversation with you and industrialistDragon. I understand that this touched a nerve, and this is why I'm really glad you two gave me feedback (even though it can't have been easy), because I need this if I'm to figure out how to make this story function for a large audience, and it's very possible that I'll have to shift major elements to get out what I want the story to be. It's also why I'm glad that you're responding so we can have discussion about how best to right the mistakes and flaws in the piece. But I feel no need to talk to someone who refers to my protagonist's belief in Divine Providence as delusional. There's a certain minimum I expect for this discussion, and that includes a respect for religious belief.
  5. @Lightbearer Thank you for your comments as well. Some of your comments are good, and you've done a good job pointing to many of the flaws in this submission, which I definitely appreciate. However, a good portion of your critique was interlaced with your own personal commentary and feelings against the submission itself. It's very apparent from what you've commented that you're a staunch atheist, and what's more, you seem to harbor a dislike for the parts of a religion which you do not agree with. I would also hazard a guess that your knowledge of religion isn't that great, considering that you didn't pick up on any of the religious subtext up until now, and that you also went with Christianity with your go-to choice for a comparison religion. None of which is a problem if you were commenting on the story as you objectively saw it. However, you've let your personal feelings cloud your judgement, and what's more, you've been downright disdainful to what I would consider to be the core of the story I'm trying to tell. It's not my place to judge, but it does seem to be that your critique is biting enough to come close to violating the RE Code of Conduct. I don't care about the insults, personally, but this might not have gone without consequence if you had done it to someone else, so if nothing else, you might want to consider this a warning. What I do care about is the fact that, as I've mentioned, you let your feelings cloud your judgement, and it's difficult to separate mistakes I made with personal grievances you have in your critique. Unfortunately, as a result of this, I don't think there would be anything meaningful gained by having a further discussion over what you've commented. If you wish to discuss the difference of our opinion, I would have no problem doing that under the correct format, however as this is a discussion of a story I've written, this is not the correct format for such a discussion. Again, thank you for taking the time to read and critique my story.
  6. This might take me a while to get through. @Mandamon first. Overall, your comments are very helpful. I knew that this wasn't going to be where I wanted it to be because I haven't really done a story of this type before, and you've drawn a lot of things to my attention that really need fixing. There are a subset of problems that exist because of kind of a gap of understanding between us, so I'm going to try and go through the important points. It's not Christian faith, it's Seeker faith. I know the stereotype is to peg Christians as the religion of faith, but every religion has faith as a bedrock for said faith. Or, well, at least all those I'm knowledgeable about. It's also not exactly 'random introduction', Z. has been quoting Psalms for quite a while now. (Basically, every time he says something cryptic or unrelated, it's a Psalms quote.) I didn't want to be direct about it until the ending, which considering the length of the full short story seems to have backfired. But my original intention was to write this in about 10K words, so I think it could have worked if that had been the case. The idea of the 'faith shield' isn't exactly magic. Or, at the least, I wouldn't define it as magic. It's something everyone is capable of and does not violate any understanding of the laws of nature or entropy. The point is that anyone has the potential to do what he did without magic. To understand it as a different kind of magic would greatly weaken the story, but I don't mean for Z. to have any kind of magic ability with his faith. It's the same faith any one of us might have, just applied against induced rage, which is within the normal spectrum of rage, again something any one of us could have. That was my intention, the execution might have been off. 'Centipede-bedecked' makes me think of wedding cake for reasons I have no idea of, so now I have an image of one made out of centipedes. Centipede-filled? Centipede-jammed? Centipede-obstructed? The room's stink is based off formaldehyde, a disinfectant which is noticeable for not having a distinct smell, but instead just violates the nostrils. It's really nasty and gives me a terrible headache whenever I'm near the stuff. I've never found it to have a smell other than 'terrible', but some people find it smells like vinegar, apparently. And N. lost an eye and just popped in a fresh one. So, the scar actually runs under it. I suppose it should be 'thought the green eye, but didn't leave a mark on it, somehow'. Yes, the ethics of a witch should be very set up before this, especially considering that they're hunting one down. This seems like something that could be discussed during the tunnels when Z. is already discussing why he hates witches. Long story short, basically as long as the witch is using human corpses with the express permission of the person when they where still alive is generally fine (though depends on town to town), and animals are fine. (Though they are encouraged to keep their experiments away from small children.) N. is meant to represent the other side of the argument in regards to Z, and this is the reason I didn't want to lead with the 'she's been doing experiments of humans' bit. Based on your responses, you seem to be closer to N's perspective than Z's (though not in the killing-people sense, obviously). Though, given that Z is a religious fundamentalist and N stands a bit closer to utilitarianism (taken to an extreme), I would hazard a guess that most people would feel closer to N's side. Which is more or less what I expected, and also why Z is not permitted to walk over everyone else and have everyone agree that he's right. It's something that Z believes is a rule of the world, that all actions have impacts on the person who does them, and doing something like taking another human life for the wrong reasons will corrupt the person who did them. For reference, see the Dark Side in Star Wars, which I think is actually a pretty decent representation of the religious perspective of 'turning evil and redemption', though obviously speaking to a serious member of any faith and they'll point out all the flaws. (The point is that it's a way to think of how corruption works, not that Star Wars is definitive on religion. Except for Jediism.) 'The person most important to you' is a euphemism for 'yourself', in other words, P.'s first and foremost responsibility is to protect himself, and thus not corrupt himself my killing in anger. All this needs a bit more explanation. Z really should just drop a line saying that T's emotions overtook him at that point, and N. is just saying that out of conceit as a Witch, so that could be clearer. For what it's worth, most Witchbeasts are created with some kind of safeguard to stop them from killing Witches, so N. genuinely believed that T couldn't hurt her at all. Except T's a failed experiment, and that part of him was a bit faulty. (It's worth noting that T killed his Witch creator within five minutes of being created.) Oh, absolutely. It's a bit similar to the scene in Words of Radiance when Jasnah goes about at night in the dangerous part of town with all her jewelry on. Z knew full well what was likely going to happen. It would be a hard sell of 'self-defense' given that. I should point out that Z's not a pacifist, he is a religious fundamentalist. He's perfectly alright killing people while taking the high and mighty road. And this is where Z would argue with you on two aspects. He would say that while T's nature is adjust people's state, T cannot force them to do anything. Thus, any actions they make, even under T's influence, are still actions that they bear responsibility for. (Now I'm reminded of an argument between Ham and Breeze in Mistborn: Final Empire.) It's at this point that I, as the author, step in and say that, insofar as T's powers go, they will never fully incapacitate a person's ability to choose. That is, send a person into a rage, yes. Frothing berserker rage where they can't tell friend from foe, no. The story wouldn't work otherwise. But, yes, the Witch would not have necessarily made the choices she did if T wasn't present. The second thing Z would tell you is that his view on sanctity of life is fine. Believers in sanctity of life don't necessarily believe that life should be taken under no circumstances, only under very specific circumstances. N doing experiments on humans and her attempt to kill humans, i.e. Z and P stripped her of 'right to live', and thus there's a clear distinction between Z taking N's life and N's approach to her test subject. In Z's eyes, N deserves it. That's not to say that everyone agreed with him. P didn't, naturally, which is one of the reason that he exists in the story. I'm not saying that you would be wrong in viewing Z as a hypocrite, but I think that Z would be able to draw a line for himself with a clear divide. Overall, thank you very much for your comments! I was kind of worried about the reception this would get, seeing as its a topic that isn't usually submitted and you've given me a very helpful and different perspective on a lot of this. If you'd like to continue any of this as a discussion, I'd be more than willing to have it.
  7. This is the last part of 'Stranger in a Foreign Land'. It's a bit past midnight EST, and I'm not thoroughly satisfied with the ending, but everything else looks good to me, and judging from the comments, this would be decently received as a re-submission, so I'm going for it now. As this is the final part, I'm looking for critiques in general, but specifically as to how the story was wrapped up, any plot holes, and how you felt the overall tone of the story was. Character impressions would also be great, especially on everyone's favorite emotion-eating not-quite-dragon.
  8. Understood. Hopefully, I should be able to sift the information a bit better the next time around. I occasionally get carried away with worldbuilding, and I've kind of been feeding the habit at the Worldbuilding Stack Exchange lately. I'm going to need to figure out what to do with this quote. It seems like no one got the quote, which wasn't supposed to happen, and there's way too much context to summarize, so I'm going to need to find some alternative. (If you don't get the quote, it's not a problem, it just means that I'm applying the wrong source.) Thanks for the comments. I see you have also joined the rest of this site in finding T to be the most compelling character. That's good, I was worried about him. (Because, like I've said a few times, T scares me.) You'd be surprised! I mean, there's actually a trick to it that Z uses which will crop up in the next part, flat-out banning by hatred by itself isn't great, there needs to be a method alongside it, but I think it's within Z's character as such to behave like this. P did it because he hates the idea of being associated with Seekers. Z is not happy it, he spends half the next conversation trying to get back. Condense and clarify. I'll do my best. "A bucket of water was in another corner, with damp sticks of wood sticking out, brown looking flakes covering the exposed wood." - briefly mentioned in more detail on page three, though I can go into greater detail about them. Though I'm not sure it'd be in my best interest to monologue about fungi in a dark fantasy setting. There was kind of an implied transition between pages 10-11 which, given that it's composed of a line break between paragraphs on two separate pages would be very easy to miss. That would be my fault. There's supposed to be a transition to where they're in the tunnels from outside the clocktower. The 'more of these things' is referencing the rats, and they're walking through an underground sewer. Tempter can only increase emotions, not reduce them, so making it less confused is out. As for why Z wants to kill it ... that's complicated. Suffice to say, as I've written his background, it is consistent, but it'll take me maybe a thousand words to explain why he thinks trying to kill it is the correct option. Also, yes, I like giant centipedes. It's a horrifying image, walking down sewers, than to see the entire tunnel before you is blocked by a monstrous horrifying demon beast.
  9. Request to submit the final part of 'Stranger in a Foreign Land' next Monday.
  10. Can I ask you what you find naive about it? No, but that's actually a really good idea. Yes, that's it exactly! T's power aren't vampiric in nature, they're the opposite. He empowers the emotion he feeds on. Normally, this is only a mild effect, but if T really wants to, he can flare up emotions to almost absurd degrees. He is restricted to normal human emotions, but even normal humans can experience extreme moods. The world of Cieri is a dark fantasy setting where monstrous creatures roam freely and can form groups en masse. Its not unheard of for entire cities to be destroyed by monster attacks. (Generally, it's an attack by a giant creature, something akin to a dragon, a la Smaug) To allow for this, certain cities where established as 'Refuges', where displaced people would be able to quickly settle and rebuild their city. Now, since doing that would more or less obliterate the original town of several hundred, no one would want to live in them, so Refuges are kept hidden. The sewer system in question is part of that, and thus not used at all by the townspeople, who in fact, don't know about it. Clocktowers, being kind of a staple in any good medieval town of a decent enough size, is a great place to conceal many things, yet have anyone with the right knowledge be capable of finding it. (There's an old riddle: Let's say you and a friend want to meet in a city, but neither of you agreed on a meeting place ahead of time and have no way of getting into contact. Where should you go to have the most likely chance of meeting him? If you lived in the Middles Ages, it'd be the clocktower. It's always the most noticeable landmark in any given town.) Given that, I assumed the best place to hide the entrance to a secret would be the clocktower. Unfortunately, that was more or less a dedicated paragraph of exposition, and I was terrified of just dropping that on the reader, especially given that I've already been having issues with 'show, don't tell' in this submission. This is in line with a lot of other comments I've received. I'll put more of an emphasis on the clocktower certainly, and I'll see what I can do to give the sewers more of a sewer-y feel. There definitely should be some creepy echoes, at least. Both of those should be resolved next submission. Thank you for your comments.
  11. Yes. This is in no small part inspired by Witcher, though I'm more of a fan of the novels than the game. (Yes, that's an odd comment from someone with my profile picture, I just don't go for open-world that much). And I very much enjoy the irony that T seems to be the most well-received character I've ever had on this forum, and honestly, I'm really not a fan of T. I like him, but again, he's kind of a nightmare of mine. It's the foxfire torch he bought. Because the people are nocturnal, their eyes are much better than ours, and thus glowsticks are basically torches for them. And the equivalent of that would be glow-in-the-dark fungus. (I think it's become apparent that kais's gleeful enthusiasm for fungus has infected me.) Witches are the only one able to directly manipulate other life forms. Giant rats could only come about through a Witch's creation, and yes, they only use moon's light. It's just the way they use them which annoys Z. It's a quote, really, though I'm not sure that anyone here would recognize where its from. I may take it out, then. Yes. T can only eat and sense normal human emotions. This is a very important plot point. Glad to see that, overall, this was more engaging of a submission for you.
  12. Z's mannerisms are supposed to be unique. For instance, he does in fact identify himself as a Seeker at the end by wishing G. 'Godspeed', something only Seekers say. G just fails to notice. No, Z's just annoyed at P for complaining about the little amount he did speak, so he opted to not keep his mouth shut. Probably should put that in. I assume you mean 'telling as such', and not commenting on what the quality of my writing isn't. In general, I think you make some very good points here, though I think this might be a difference in our perceptions - I don't learn using visuals, I learn through descriptions and quantifying, so my first instinct is always to have precise description. In general, I think this is a good point and a large part of this (and Part 1 as well!) needs to be edited as such. This exact scenario, I'm going to have to disagree with you on. True, it would lend more for the vial to be mysteriously described, but it would be a very poor chemist to gesture to a table of different vials and just say 'that one'. G's character is such to describe the vial so there can be no mistaking it, and once that's done, it'd be redundant to describe it again in narrative, unless the bottle truly had a fantastic appearance (which it doesn't). What you described sounds like some kind of lightning enchantment potion. Relaxant is literally just something to completely depress extreme emotions. (Foreshadowing?) Hmm. It's not exactly a 'superpower' - T. can only replicate human emotions, he can't create 'super versions' of them. It's more akin to a single-minded focus on solving a problem, and the real deduction has nothing to do with the clock tower - it's the fact that the key a ) is a spare key stashed by S. and b ) unlocks somewhere nearby, neither of which required knowledge on Z's part that the clock tower was there. I can throw it in to a description earlier, if you think its necessary. The 'illegal' thing does need some more explaining. (The idea is that S. wouldn't have bolted for something legal.) I think I'd agree with this advice if I genuinely intended for the rats to be threatening. But they aren't supposed to be threatening, honestly, they're just a few mobs meant to let P. show off. The rats aren't supposed to be scary, just kind of a notice saying 'this is no longer safe territory'. But not like an 'in-your-face' notice. That's the centipede's job. Z. refers to them as 'abominations that should not exist', though looking back I suppose it could be inferred he was just talking about the rats. And I don't want the narrative to characterize them as dark, tainted creatures - the narrative is definitive and would determine which of the two of them is right, even if it was just thoughts. I'd have to do first person to give the narrative a definitive bias before I'd do something like that. About T and Z's relationship - it'll get brought up a bit more in the third part. (T's origin is very weird, if you think it'll help I can give you the condensed version.) Z's tolerance of him is a contradiction of sorts - he hates the process involved in creating T., but, as he says, that doesn't invalidate the fact that T. is a living, breathing, creature. It's a bit odd, yes, but weirder friendships have happened. (Just to clarify, they are friends, most of Z's lines about how he's stuck with T., while true, aren't said out of malice.) Choppier sentences, can do. His reaction of reading the situation and not panicking does makes a bit of sense. Z. is actually a combat veteran, as in he's seen a lot of battles, and was actually in a few, though his version of being in a battle is more or less 'stand around uselessly while competent people did stuff'. Also, like Z. said in Part 1, Seekers do not get scared. ("Hhh!") I'm kind of surprised by this, to be honest, T. seems to be liked by everyone. A creature that sense emotions and has pretty much no filter when it comes to talking about them is more or less a nightmare for me. That makes sense, I haven't really described them.
  13. This was meant to be a two-part submission, but the length got away from me. Not in the 'two thousand extra words so I can't cram it into one submission' sense, in the 'five thousand this week and possibly six thousand next week' sense. I'm still not quite sure how I managed that, I didn't think I was *that* bad at guessing story length. 'Stranger in a Foreign Land' is a low fantasy setting. I had a curious idea for a setting and protagonist, and this is my first attempt at it, recycling an old world to do it in. Another reminder in case you forgot - this world is set nocturnally. Include in that is nocturnal vision. Feedback I'm looking for is how the story progressed. There were also quite a few details embedded, so I'm also looking for feedback in regards to the worldbuilding here. Hopefully to be concluded in Part III. A note on Black Bane: The plant is known as (Black) Henbane, also known as Stinking Nightshade (yellow flower, back center), the official name is hyoscymaus niger. It's one of the less deadly members of the Nightshade family, but quite hallucinogenic. Historians believe this is the more likely hallucinogen consumed by Viking berserkers, rather than the traditionally accepted Fly Agaric (red cap with white spots) as the accounts are slightly better for the symptoms caused by Black Henbane.
  14. I'd like to submit again, if possible this Monday. Unfortunately, the length of 'Stranger in a Foreign Land' got away from me, and now I've just resigned myself to a three-parter. On the flip side, this also means I get to cut out less things.
  15. @kais Having it getting delayed a few days is kind of weird, but that means the problem isn't probably on your end. @SilkI'd guess there's some issue with the relay? Have you tried sending a test email and checking when everyone gets it to see what's happening? Anyway, I've sent kais a copy even though it seems the email might have gone through after all. @GoWibble, if you're suffering from the same problem (I sent it Monday night, 11:59 EST), then just send me a message or reply here, and I'll send you it directly. Now onto @Mandamon review! That does make sense it sounds like an RPG, I've been GM'ing quite a bit lately so it seemed natural to do that, when I probably didn't need to. I do want to make it feel like a stereotypical fantasy to some extent, but I was worried that I might have gone overboard in the exposition. The second half should be much better on that score. (The Guild, incidentally, is a bones-standard Adventurer's Guild.) "There's always a bigger fish." - Obi-Wan Kenobi. (And S isn't an apex. Technically, a darkwolf is stronger than he is.) I suppose I can switch it to something like 'First rule of the hunt - make sure you're always the hunter', but that seemed a bit stereotypical...except, as you also point out ... I see your point. S is really just a plot device though, so I'm not sure I want him to be anything more than a glorified stereotype. Still, I'd rather not raise eyebrows. (But at least I didn't get an eye roll.) The world of Cieri is nocturnal. Everyone uses moon-based powers (except for Z), so I figured that as long as I was doing that, I might as well just turn everyone nocturnal. Unfortunately, I never found a way to make it explicit in the text without it feeling like I was jabbing the reader in the eyes, so I was trying to swap in and out phases to indicate as such. That needs to be clearer. The vial is distilled which Z doesn't drink. But red ale is much lighter, around 4%. And it's not that Z is forbidden to drink, he just chooses not to touch hard stuff. The reason why he doesn't consider red ale to be alcohol is because (as befitting something which is based off 10th century Europe) something that light isn't considered to be drinking at all. Most of the other comments are pointing out times I told, not showed, or asking for clarification. I'll address them, but it seems like the story works well as a set-up for the second half. Thank you for your comments! Ah, last thing. There's an oft-attributed quote to Winston Churchill about making points and pile drivers (namely using the second to make the first). I've looked it over, and I can't find a reputable source which confirms he said it, but it's not among the quotes which have definitely been fabricated. As it stands, Churchill would have agreed with the quote in theory, so even if he never said it, I don't feel bad attributing it to him.