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Nai Gor (chapter one): The Devil You Don't

 
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hboff
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 4:27 pm    Post subject: Nai Gor (chapter one): The Devil You Don't Reply with quote

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Nai Gor (chapter one): The Devil You Don't
Posted by Chuckles
11 December 2008, 10:06 pm

http://halosn.bungie.org/fanfic/?story=Chuckles1211082206441.html
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kabu
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like this. I haven't seen anything quite like this, and you're idea of a "subconscious" AI is really intriguing. The writing and dialogue doesn't seem forced, which is always a blessing around here, but I'll have to wait until I'm a bit more awake before I comb over the details and give a longer comment. Keep going with this one.
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Mark25
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow *searches for something con/destructive to add*... Wow.

Didn't like the end much but was gripped for the most part.
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Chuckles
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't posted or commented much in the last few months, so I didn't know how slow things had gotten. Anyway ...

kabu wrote:
Quote:
I like this. I haven't seen anything quite like this, and you're idea of a "subconscious" AI is really intriguing.

Glad you like it. The AI is not actually subconscious. Mike Donnadio is trying to find out who the smart AI originated from, since it bears no similarity to the brain scanned to make it. Nai Gor is telling him that the person/entity/whatever he is actually patterned after is mentioned in Jankman's dream journal. So the person/entity in the dream is not an AI. I hope that makes more sense. Thanks for the comment.

Mark25 wrote:
Quote:
Wow *searches for something con/destructive to add*... Wow.

Didn't like the end much but was gripped for the most part.

Thanks for the wows. I like the ending and it did a lot for me. It serves as exposition in a very unobtrusive way and draws the curtain back a little more on what is really going on. I wanted to show that some and possibly all of what Nai Gor had been saying about his affect on the Captain and Lieutenant (which he claimed was only a joke) was actually going on. Beyond that, I wanted to link the officers' behavior to that of the survivors of the Cameroon: the ship mentioned by Nai Gor that came out of the area that would later be quarantined. There are many ways to show that someone is not quite right in the head. My favorite method is showing the character(s) very naturally mixing the trivial with the bizarre. In this case, taking donuts at least as seriously as death and that other business they mentioned regarding Donnadio. Thanks for the read and the comment. Always appreciated.

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Spartan006
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uber-freakin'-awesome! Chuckles, it has been a long time since I've read anything this good. Is there a chapter before it, because it seemed as though some of the characters were already introduced. Nothing short of excellent, Chuckles.
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Arthur Wellesley
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was fantastic work, Chuckles. I felt as I read it that you didn't so much write this piece as you weaved it. You gave the unmistakable impression of an author who knows everything about his story. You know all the characters' backstories, you know what they look like, how they act, and you know exactly where everyone is going to end up. You know it so well that the reader comes to know it too, without beating us over the head with exposition. That's not easy to do. But congrats.

Your treatment of the titular character was the most outstanding aspect of this fic. The concept behind him is excellent in itself. I like how you harnessed canon - that is, the idea behind the creation of AIs based on a human brain - and turned it into a completely unique take on the horror genre. The mystery of Nai Gor's origin enhances both the creepiness and the urgency of Donnadio's chats with him. The mind games he plays on Donnadio are chilling. I am specifically reminded of when he talks of "ruining" the other two officers, convincing Donnadio - and me, the reader - of something that on second thought he clearly couldn't have known. The malicious laughter of Nai and the nervous frustration of Donnadio were both genuine and compelling.

This was really great stuff. A fascinating character study, and a brilliant platform for it. I liked the ending myself. My only complaint was going to be a lack of context, but the final segment cleared this up some, while still leaving plenty of room to explain more later. Very nicely done.

It is perhaps a good indication of the decline in activity of this community when a Chuckles fic gets only 4 reviews. But I would be fooling myself if I thought I wasn't part of the problem. In the end, I can only fall back on the perfectly legitimate but tiresomely trite refrain of "Life is busy." There it is.

I look forward to more.

- Arthur
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Mark25
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For shame that a fanfic of this calibre only receives 5 comments. I guess a bump involving questions and derogative comments won't hurt none.
Chuckles, you know I'm only good for negative shit, so let me try and shoot you down. Wink

Nai Gor is an excellent title, for those too lazy to google such an obscure name let me explain:

Nai Gor = A placeholder nomenclature for a group of people's name that has slipped your mind: Mr X, Mr Blue (on another job apparently Laughing ), Mr A etc. Whether you are losing said mind is another matter...

Sigmund Freud often spoke about the seemingly trivial issue of forgetting people's names, placing great emphasis on the theory that the problem originates as an insult to the person whose name you have forgotten: will this play a greater part in revealing the true nature of Nai Gor?

Since the straying into a quarantined section of space has been mentioned: will this have made an effect on our good A.I.? Was he already mentally 'cute by this point? I call him good because, ultimately, by showing Donnadio his son lying in state, he's actually helping him overcome his grief; a sort of catharsis, if you will.


Which leads me onto another thing: the one-up-manship began well, I loved the A.I.'s acerbic wit and deft cynicism: Donnadio's whole 'better coach'? Not so much, not at all in fact, it was the one thing that ran finger nails over the blackboard of my mind.
Man, was that sickly sweet.
Little tip from a guy that don't know shit but knows how to pull a whisky scowl like an old timer:
Keep that shit to a minimum!
It was so well-resolved I actually closed the link; it was only the sheer brilliance of the A.I. character that brought me back.
What were you thinking? I'd better give it some good vs evil resolve; you can do that later.

As for the last section, if you were going for surreal: I don't think it worked, not in my eyes. There was too much of a build-up and then boom, cakes from a funeral. I was left wanting more of a brain-bite.

I've ran through about two pages of your comments but still not found it; didn't you once mention something about disliking dream plot devices? I'm sure you did, I'm sure it was you. Maybe my mind is slipping... Arrow
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Chuckles
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spartan006 wrote:
Quote:
Uber-freakin'-awesome! Chuckles, it has been a long time since I've read anything this good. Is there a chapter before it, because it seemed as though some of the characters were already introduced. Nothing short of excellent, Chuckles.

Thanks, and good to see you on here again. This is the first chapter. I'm being a bit stingy in pulling back the curtain on my characters, but I hope it ends up suspenseful rather than confusing. Glad you liked it.

Arthur wrote:
Quote:
This was fantastic work, Chuckles. I felt as I read it that you didn't so much write this piece as you weaved it. You gave the unmistakable impression of an author who knows everything about his story. You know all the characters' backstories, you know what they look like, how they act, and you know exactly where everyone is going to end up. You know it so well that the reader comes to know it too, without beating us over the head with exposition.

Thanks, and good to hear from you again as well. This was supposed to be a single chapter story and a part of my Short Tales of Terror series. But it got too long and I had to split it up. But it is still short enough that—unlike my longer stories—I can see the end from where I'm standing. And that of course allows me to put in those details that make little or no sense in the first chapter but help to heighten the suspense and intrigue.
Quote:
Your treatment of the titular character was the most outstanding aspect of this fic. The concept behind him is excellent in itself. I like how you harnessed canon - that is, the idea behind the creation of AIs based on a human brain - and turned it into a completely unique take on the horror genre. The mystery of Nai Gor's origin enhances both the creepiness and the urgency of Donnadio's chats with him. The mind games he plays on Donnadio are chilling. I am specifically reminded of when he talks of "ruining" the other two officers, convincing Donnadio - and me, the reader - of something that on second thought he clearly couldn't have known. The malicious laughter of Nai and the nervous frustration of Donnadio were both genuine and compelling.
Glad to here that it struck you as intended. I found that it was fairly easy to make an AI come across as mysterious and eerie, but another thing altogether to make him seem dangerous and disquieting. What I ended up with worked for me, but you never know. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a detailed comment, Arthur.

Mark25 raised several interesting questions and criticisms that I have been looking forward to answering, but this post is getting over-long and I am over-tired, so I will get to them tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this and especially to those of you who commented. Good to be back ... again.

C.T. Clown
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Chuckles
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay. Apologies for another post on my thread. I was going to answer you last night Mark25, but I was too tired do it justice. Here we go.

Mark25 wrote:
Quote:
Nai Gor is an excellent title, for those too lazy to google such an obscure name let me explain:

Nai Gor = A placeholder nomenclature for a group of people's name that has slipped your mind
Thanks for pointing that out. In some places in the far east, Nai Gor is used like we use John Doe in the United States. Nice catch, Mark.

Quote:
Since the straying into a quarantined section of space has been mentioned: will this have made an effect on our good A.I.? Was he already mentally 'cute by this point? I call him good because, ultimately, by showing Donnadio his son lying in state, he's actually helping him overcome his grief; a sort of catharsis, if you will.
Hmmm. As you might have suspected, you'll have to wait for chapter two to get these answers. And, btw, I'm ninety-nine percent sure that this is only a two-part story. It was going to be a one-part story, but it got too long.

Quote:
Which leads me onto another thing: the one-up-manship began well, I loved the A.I.'s acerbic wit and deft cynicism: Donnadio's whole 'better coach'? Not so much, not at all in fact, it was the one thing that ran finger nails over the blackboard of my mind.
Man, was that sickly sweet.
I never liked it much myself, to be honest. Fact is, I needed it. Mike and the reader had to think that he'd played the AI, and I had to have Mike feeling good about it so that the impact is sufficient when the AI turns the tables. Could I have done it better? I think I could have. I never liked the way it sounded, but I had edited this thing (and especially that specific part) so much already that I decided to leave it alone and move on. It doesn't bother me as much as it apparently bothered you (what, with the chalkboard and the fingernails) but I get your point.

Quote:
As for the last section, if you were going for surreal: I don't think it worked, not in my eyes. There was too much of a build-up and then boom, cakes from a funeral. I was left wanting more of a brain-bite.
If I'm reading your comment right, you understood it exactly as I intended (build-up and then boom, cakes from a funeral) but it simply did not work for you. I can accept that. I'm not going to try and convince someone that it really should work for them when it obviously didn't. But after re-reading it several times, I still couldn't be happier with the ending just as it is.

Quote:
I've ran through about two pages of your comments but still not found it; didn't you once mention something about disliking dream plot devices? I'm sure you did, I'm sure it was you. Maybe my mind is slipping...
I'm not sure what you're referring to, but I doubt that I would reject something like "dream plot devices" completely, especially since I've used dreams in my own fics several times. When it comes to such things, it is all in how and when they are used. For example, after Fight Club there were many movies made where we found out at the end that the protagonist had multiple personalities and was in fact the one responsible for the evil perpetrated in the flick. I got pretty sick of that device. Sure, it could be used creatively, but enough is enough. There comes a time when you have to either find a fresh angle or use something else entirely. Too many times writers use such things as a catch-all to explain an otherwise unexplainable plot.

Back to dreams. For me they are more than a nice plot device. I have suffered from a sleep disorder since I was in Jr. High. One of the by-products of my condition (narcolepsy) is something called sleep paralysis. This can happen to anyone, but it happens much more frequently with people like me. It goes something like this: I'll be in a dream, usually a nightmare of some sort, and something will be coming at me in the dark, or about to come through my door, or approaching menacingly in one way or another, but I'll be unable to move or, sometimes even open my eyes. Up until now, this probably seems common enough. But then I wake up, and even though I'm awake I'm still paralyzed and often still seeing things that aren't there. Looking back, it always seems harmless enough, but at the time it is happening it is pure terror. Sometimes, however, it is much worse than that. Sometimes I'll lay awake, barely able to breathe as my body shudders uncontrollably as if something unseen is swooping down on me and attacking me over and over. Thankfully, that sort of thing doesn't happen much now that I'm on medication for the disorder (maybe once or twice a year) but before I got help it happened nearly every night. But the other stuff is still quite common. Happened a little after I went to sleep last night, in fact. Therefore, when I write about dreams and terror, I write what I've known and experienced firsthand. When Captain Richards is woken up by Lieutenant Hooks near the end, he is going through something that I experienced hundreds of times, although I don't have him paralyzed when he wakes up, so really I let him off easy.

Now, just because I've went through all of that doesn't mean I can't screw up my fic by using dreams in a dumb or unjustifiable way. I think I use them correctly. Once the final chapter is posted, you can judge for yourself.

Thanks for the comments, Mark.

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Mark25
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
For example, after Fight Club there were many movies made where we found out at the end that the protagonist had multiple personalities and was in fact the one responsible for the evil perpetrated in the flick.


I'm assuming this is one of the guilty films in the dock?
But you're missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Wink
Maybe even the greatest American contribution to the idea...
...Damn those non-writeable Incredible Hulk links!
and double-damn the word damn when I write it with a capital D.

And I disagree, it's simply a post-modern twist on the dual nature of an archetype: the Jekyll and Hyde morale. Which in turn I think stems from the whole chaos and order enterprise a'la Romulus and Remus*.
Thinking about it, the whole subconscious dream state could also imply a dual nature; Freud hit it on the head for me with his Ego, Id and Superego theory. A mind constantly struggling with emotional and carnal urges expressed through a dream state, sometimes against the prevailing notions of the free world.
Jung does his best with the whole symbolism theory but I just don't buy into something so spiritual. And it's a shame about the whole Nazi crap that blighted his later years; let's be honest, you cannot be responsible for the people that take your idea and run with it.

Quote:
I never liked it much myself, to be honest. Fact is, I needed it. Mike and the reader had to think that he'd played the AI, and I had to have Mike feeling good about it so that the impact is sufficient when the AI turns the tables


Nai Gor was always in control for me, I suspect that whole system purge fear was a bluff as well. Wink
C'mon, you're looking at one intelligent, sadistic mofo here; I know it wouldn't leave its plans to chance.
If you felt that you needed it then ask the people that read teh piece whether they needed it; or whether it just looked like a contrived story arc. Which is how it looked from this angle. But without getting bogged down in an argument...

Quote:
And, btw, I'm ninety-nine percent sure that this is only a two-part story.


Little on the tight side, wouldn't you say?

Quote:
I'm not sure what you're referring to, but I doubt that I would reject something like "dream plot devices" completely, especially since I've used dreams in my own fics several times.


It was just an inkling, nothing major: I know I piss about but sometimes I do actually listen to what people say. I'm sure you've mentioned something about disliking the whole 'it turned out to be just a dream' a derivative on the dream plot device. Again, can't find a quote (you got like 65 pages of comments Chuckles!), so it's just anecdotal.

On another note -and I've sang his praises a few times: Lovecraft has done some fine dream state fiction, most notable are:
Hypnos
Polaris
and maybe via some mediation:
Dreams in the Witch House

Polaris is a personal favourite, the whole shebang just comes together nicely. You got this guy mesmerised as the enemy come marching in, on the other hand, you got him wondering which is dream and which is reality. Quality.

I figure with your chosen style and theme, you'd like Lovecraft; admittedly the whole latin exposition-loving thing either works for you or it doesn't. Give it a shot though, you can find the books here; there are three volumes.

... thinking about it, you may already have these. LOL.

*Ignore this anecdote, it seems I have my history wrong. I could have sworn that Remus was a lazy bastard and that Romulus did all the work to build Rome, and then, in an effort to set order in motion and after a quarrel, Romulus twatted his feral brother. My bad. Crying or Very sad I should really double my efforts with my history.

P.S.: Twatted is English for bitch-slapped; sorry for any confusion.
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eIpoIIoguapo
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This really blew me away. First, the reveal of it being an AI - I was getting more and more disturbed as the first few paragraphs progressed, thinking perhaps he was talking to a ship's commander, then we see he's addressing an AI, and everything makes sense. The second reveal, that he is the hockey coach, is an even better reveal, but I don't think it's quite as flawless in its execution. I had a tiny bit of skepticism afterwards that Mike's son never would have referred to him as "dad" in the journal. But that wasn't really a big issue, and if I weren't looking for things that could potentially be improved while reading I doubt I would have given it a second thought. The only other thing that wasn't really admirably well-written in the first section there was Mike getting angrier. The whole process wasn't totally convincing, and it wasn't 100% clear afterwards whether he was pretending (my interpretation was that he was mostly pretending, but not completely, but it wasn't defined as such in the text).

The dream journal was really amazing. I was even more gripped by it than any other part. As for the parts after it, Nai flexing his manipulative muscle was great, I'm really starting to loathe (but also respect) him. The epilogue bit left me wanting the next installment, too, so I think you've done an excellent job on all fronts.

The one thing I think you should be careful about is your dramatic reveals. You're great at writing them convincingly and all the ones here are very well-written, but I'd be cautious about having too many of them. This is a first chapter, so it's understandable that there might be several as you introduce the characters, but having as many in future chapters as you do here might end up sucking the drama out of them and making them less convincing.

On the whole, though, wow. Great job.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I like to think of that brilliant device as weapons-grade liposuction.



Laughing

Nai-Gor is a wicked piece of work. He's sadistic, cunning, and hilarious--a demonic presence on page, he stalks from paragraph to paragraph and I always had this suspicion that Donnadio is already crazy, and that this conversation with the Devil is his trip through insanity, much like Jankman's lucid dreaming.

Also, probably the first story I read here that I looked up the different names in order to find any clues about where the story may be headed--Cameroon? Blackshift? First is plagued by high mortality rates due to the widespread HIV infection; Blackshift is apparently some sort of a freeware puzzle game.

Donnadio=gift from God?

I'm also wondering about the significance of his son being buried in a red hockey jersey. On one hand, you could say that it's a sign of vitality, and that him being buried in it symbolizes that vitality being buried as well. On the other hand, red is the color of death; but then, that would mean the same thing, right?

You always have been the best writer here, and Nai Gor is looking sexier by the minute. Looking forward to the next installment, hope it doesn't take too long.
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Chuckles
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eIpoIIoguapo wrote
Quote:
This really blew me away. First, the reveal of it being an AI - I was getting more and more disturbed as the first few paragraphs progressed, thinking perhaps he was talking to a ship's commander, then we see he's addressing an AI, and everything makes sense. The second reveal, that he is the hockey coach, is an even better reveal, but I don't think it's quite as flawless in its execution.
Yes, far from flawless. The more I look at it, the more I agree with Mark25: sort of like fingernails down a chalkboard. I rewrote it many times but I think I could have done that better.

Quote:
I had a tiny bit of skepticism afterwards that Mike's son never would have referred to him as "dad" in the journal. But that wasn't really a big issue, and if I weren't looking for things that could potentially be improved while reading I doubt I would have given it a second thought.
In all my fics I have much larger back stories than I can actually fit into the writing. There is an explanation for this, but as you said, it's hardly worth bringing up. If anyone is still interested I'll spill the details when the story is complete.

Quote:
The only other thing that wasn't really admirably well-written in the first section there was Mike getting angrier. The whole process wasn't totally convincing, and it wasn't 100% clear afterwards whether he was pretending (my interpretation was that he was mostly pretending, but not completely, but it wasn't defined as such in the text).
That scene changed several times. Not completely, but I rewrote it until I believed his anger, even if it wasn't intended to be sincere on his part. As for it being clear if he was pretending, look at this excerpt:
Quote:
Deep inside his soul, beneath the red face and the clenched fists, Mike smiled. It wasn't the first time he'd outsmarted a "smart" AI, but this was definitely one of his better performances.
To me, that is pretty clear. Especially since I go on to reveal that he was the hockey coach his kid spoke so highly of.

Quote:
The one thing I think you should be careful about is your dramatic reveals. You're great at writing them convincingly and all the ones here are very well-written, but I'd be cautious about having too many of them. This is a first chapter, so it's understandable that there might be several as you introduce the characters, but having as many in future chapters as you do here might end up sucking the drama out of them and making them less convincing.
This is a very good point. I don't think that I over did it, especially given the nature of this fic, but it is a problem I spot in most of my first drafts. Going for the quick and easy punch over and over again will greatly lessen the final payoff and drive the reader crazy. Thanks for the reminder.

Thanks for the read and the generous review, eIpoIIoguapo. I started reading your latest just before signing up to do the Fic Pick. I'll finish it and drop a review for you within a few days.

Severian wrote:
Quote:
Nai-Gor is a wicked piece of work. He's sadistic, cunning, and hilarious--a demonic presence on page, he stalks from paragraph to paragraph ...
Ooh, you got him just as I intended. Nice.

Quote:
Donnadio=gift from God?
The scene on the Sistine Chapel where God creates Adam is called The Donnadio. It's a reference to the fact that Mike Donnadio helps create smart AI's and therefore has sort of a creator to creature relationship with Nai Gor.

Quote:
I'm also wondering about the significance of his son being buried in a red hockey jersey.
Red was simply for visual consideration. And the fact that I'm a Red Wings fan.

Quote:
Looking forward to the next installment, hope it doesn't take too long.
I'll be working on it this weekend. And, btw, I am about 3300 words into my final chapter of Court of Darkness.
I was trying to hold off starting another fic until I was done with it, but I've had this and two other horror/thrillers knocking around in my brain for a while and I just had to.

Thanks for the comments. Always appreciated.

C.T. Clown
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