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Fic Pick of the Week - August 14

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IRC Channel Operator

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:07 pm    Post subject: Fic Pick of the Week - August 14 Reply with quote

Fan Fic Pick of the Week
~kabu style~

Before we get started, I’m going to politely remind you that you’ve got a bit more than a month left to write something for the Feet First Into Hell contest or I will tear your spleen out.  We’ve gotten plenty of really great combat stories, but we’d like to see a bit of variety.  Just because there aren’t explosions doesn’t mean it isn’t eligible.

Moving on...

We’ve got five pieces from three authors this week - some traditional, some off-beat, and a bunch of new(ish) authors!  I’ve been around here for a good chunk of time, but somehow I’ve never gotten around to writing one of these, so please be gentle.  It’s my first time.

Let’s get started by going through the list.  In no particular order, we have...

Halo: Seed of Orion (Part Two), by Wolverfrog
A man’s son is about to be kidnapped by ONI spooks for the SPARTAN program - but little do they know that David Hendel has a mysterious past, and he beats the crap out of them.
Wolverfrog has an easy, approachable writing style in this piece, but I feel like it just isn’t as good as Part One was.  There is no character development, and none of the interesting side-story with Dave that made Part One such a pleasure.  The plot is a bit cliché, but Wolverfrog makes it interesting.  A solid piece, but not his best.

Halo 3: Insurrection: Parts Three and Four, by Wolverfrog (again)

After Halo 3, the Chief is captured by the Elites - and not all of them are so friendly.  In this chapter, the political enemies of those who would help him make a few assassinations, and John is scheduled for his execution.  Also, Sergeant Johnson is alive and gets rescued by Mendicant Bias.

Another piece by Wolverfrog with a similar writing style, but again, not quite his best.  Another thousand words or so about the Elites would be welcome - everything feels a bit rushed.  The politics and infighting are very interesting but there just isn’t enough.  And that’s nothing to say of your... interesting interpretation of canon.  A lot of people get touchy about that sort of thing.

Halo: True Sangheili (Prologue and Part One), by Wolverfrog (again again)

Here’s a tip:  Wolverfrog, try to stick to at most two stories at a time.  It gets confusing.

Anyway, True Sangheili is definitely Wolverfrog’s best piece so far.  A young Elite is drafted into the Covenant army, when he’d really rather have his nose (do they have noses?) buried in a good book.  He butts up against a more traditional, religious soldier and is startled by the very different attitude that permeates the military.  Presumably, we’ll be hearing more about how he deals with his new life.

This is a fresh take on a classic idea - a young, reluctant soldier, but this time he’s an evil alien.  Portraying Elite culture as anything but cliché and overdone is tricky, but Wolverfrog does okay so far - it’s impossible to say so early in the series.  The characters are believable and nuanced, and their interactions are interesting.  Well written and with an eye for details, this is a very strong piece.

However, one thing drags the story down:  These guys are well written and believable - for humans.  It’s not so much that they slip into human-like dialogue, it’s that the dialogue swings between formal alien-speak and casual Marine buddies a lot.  I don’t think that Zharn would be so accepting about our protagonist either, but that’s your choice.

Se7en, by Vickt.

Vickt here has taken up UNSC Trooper’s favorite pastime - filling gaps in the Halo canon.  Se7en looks at the situation surrounding a young Lieutenant Miranda Keye’s rise through the ranks, and the difficulties that come from having a famous Commander as a dad.  Miranda is hassled by her fellows over her rapid promotions and has to deal with accusations of nepotism - as well as confronting her father.

Vickt here has crafted something wonderful.  In Se7en, Miranda is a painfully real character, filled with doubt and regret about her life, and Vickt conveys that to us through excellent use of dialogue and description.  Her dialogue with Jacob is especially great, as she splits between her thoughts as Lieutenant Keyes and her voice as “little ’Rand.”  Vickt’s descriptions are vivid, his characters are real, and his writing is fantastic.

Babylon High (The Worst Possible Social Experiment Ever) Prolouge, by Shurmanator

This is new (at least to HBOFF).  Years after the Covenant War, humans and Sangheili settle down to exchange culture and ideas... by building a co-species high school.  This is very much a prologue, so not much more can be said about the story per se.  This isn’t a true chapter in that it is very light on content and plot, but does serve it’s purpose as an introduction to a larger series.

Now, this is a very well written piece.  I’m a sucker for post-war stories, especially ones that don’t involve combat (shameless plug:  For those of you visiting HBOFF for the first time, read Arthur Wellsely’s fantastic post-H3 detective story, Vestal Sins.  It’s a massive chunk of prose, but well worth it).  Shurmanator’s narrator is likable and fun to read, with clever use of language and detail.  Babylon High is fast, witty, and fun.

Here’s what gets me nervous:  The entire story is one huge WTF.

This has potential.  This can be wonderful - choose any amount of black comedy, parody or absurdism and swirl it together with your weird concept, and you have a sure-fire hit.  But DO NOT try to write this the least bit seriously.  At all.  This can end up as a brilliant HBOFF classic of wonderful humor... or it can end up as a steaming pile of exudate.  Instead of handing out “Master Chief and the Wang Monster” awards, we could end up with a “Babylon High” awards in a few months.  Right now, based upon your writing skills, I’m optimistic.  I think this will end up as a really fun piece, maybe as one of my favorites.  You can definitely pull this off, but be careful.  Especially with the chocolate... thing.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

The Fan Fic Pick of the Week goes to...

Se7en, by Vickt.

This is an amazing piece - and by a new author, no less!  It’s difficult to write character pieces like this one, but it works.  Aside from what I mentioned above, I like the inclusion of Miranda’s “7” shaped scar, and her middle name “Catharine.”  Good work, and I can’t wait for your next piece

The Master Chief and the Wang Monster award goes to...

While we didn’t have any horrifyingly bad pieces this week, I still think Babylon High is weird enough that it deserves a mention.  Don’t worry, Shurmanator, this isn’t an insult - I’m recognizing your twisted, twisted imagination Razz.

Good job to all the authors!  This wasn’t an easy decision.  Wolverfrog, you just need to polish up your dialogue on True Sangheili (I wouldn’t say no to another thousand words, either) and Shurmanator, be careful...
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IRC Channel Operator

Joined: 09 May 2009
Posts: 77
Location: The Dark Tower of NW10

PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good work, kabu, and congratulations to Vickt. Se7en is amazing.
The Elitist Bastard | Writing is the business of professional turd-polishing.
"(don't take this review too seriously) If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS??"
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Arthur Wellesley

Joined: 30 Jun 2006
Posts: 306
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vickt definitely deserved the win. Se7en is an excellent piece.

Nice job, Kabu.

- Arthur
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever. - Napoleon
Current Project: Vestal Flame. Current Word Count: 27,017
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