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The Triumphant Return of the Fic Pick of the Week (11 June)

 
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eb4642
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:20 am    Post subject: The Triumphant Return of the Fic Pick of the Week (11 June) Reply with quote

We've had a massive thirteen submissions this week, so, given the time that's elapsed since the last Pick, now's as good a time as any to give it a kick-start back into a regular cycle.

(tl;dr - skip down to where it says "and now, the winners")

To aid with the processing of such a large number of submissions, I've devised a complex, yet elegant, solution to the problem of non-subjective reviews. It's called the Norris-Nighy Index (NNI), and it looks like this:



Of course, such a function is incredibly difficult for me to handle, particularly as my calculator can't manage integration and I have an aversion to all sorts of maths since probably failing an exam on Wednesday. With this in mind, I've handed off the responsibility of calculating the NNI to my mathematically-gifted, yet slightly more electronically-minded friend, RoboBastard.


(artistic rendering)

RoboBastard is equipped with the latest and greatest in Language Analytical Cross-Talk Inspection Vector (LAXTIV) technology, along with a high-speed electromechanical decision engine and five-speed transmission. It can also print free bus tickets.

So, with this in mind, I'll start RoboBastard and the analysis will begin.

$ /boot/init.sh
>>STARTING INITIALISATION PROCEDURES... done.
WELCOME TO RoboBastard 2.0

READY
_


This Week's Slush Pile

For simplicity (and to aid with RoboBastard's processing) multi-part stories where more than one part was submitted this week shall be classed as one story. Stories that have been continued this week will be judged on the merit of the submitted parts alone.

Noble Team: Origins by Flugel Meister

BioBastard: There are many things I like about this. Its premise is interesting (and somewhat brave, considering that most of it may end up being wiped out once Reach gets released.)

The characters are well-defined, and you've also formatted it well (with the exception of the to be continued...s which, we all agree, are mostly superfluous.) Your grammar, spelling and punctuation is also very good.

What I'm not very fond of is the sentence construction, nor the writing style in general. You seem a bit too heavy with paragraphs that go on for lines and lines and lines, and too often you break into long passages of description or background exposé.

Also, you used the word "then" on the front of a sentence. I don't like this at all. It comes across as a lazy segué. Consider this:

Quote:
Jake and Jen had slowly made their way towards the encampment without incident and identified the chieftain. Then ONI gave the order.


I could easily change "ONI gave the order" to anything I liked.

Quote:
Jake and Jen had slowly made their way towards the encampment without incident and identified the chieftain. Then a cow shat in a nearby field.

Jake and Jen had slowly made their way towards the encampment without incident and identified the chieftain. Then God created a giant talking leopard and forgot all about us.

Jake and Jen had slowly made their way towards the encampment without incident and identified the chieftain. Then an old gothic man flew in on a bromstik in a black robe dat said avril lavigne on da back.


It just comes across as nasty, in my opinion. I suggest purging these bits, and also working on varying your sentence construction a little more. It just seems a little monotonous at present: this isn't a disaster, it's still a good piece, it just stops it from being a great one.

RoboBastard:

>>ACTIVATING LAXTIV HARDWARE CO-PROCESSOR UNIT
...reading
...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

NORRIS-NIGHY IN'X: 14983.6


~~

Ascension: Chapter 5 by Dragonclaws

BioBastard: This strikes me as a little odd, being a resurrection of a series last added to no less than four years ago. To keep things fair and quick for me, I'm therefore going to judge it only based upon what I see here.

This is OK, I suppose. The grammar and spelling are decent, and I suppose the pacing is decent.

However, I have three major complaints. The first is that it seems very detached and boring in places, too impersonal and too much like a historical account. It's a bit like reading The Silmarillion after The Hobbit: the two are very different beasts.

Second, it very regularly comes across as rather clumsy, with isolated run-on sentences that don't really make any sense unless you read them out loud.

Third, and most importantly, I'm of the firm belief that Elites, and aliens in general, are exceptionally hard to pull off in the Haloverse. They're too poorly-defined in canon to write properly without veering into cliché: the only real option is to reinvent them entirely.

So, in short, it's not bad, but it's not executed particularly well and regularly treading on the already-beaten path.

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

NORRIS-NIGHY IN'X: 8025.1 + 2π


~~

Fort Underworld by K. Beitzel & J.B.

BioBastard: Hmm. Mmmhmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

This is interesting. It's not the most polished thing I've ever seen, with a few grammatical errors (mostly to do with punctuation at the end of a block of dialogue) making it look a teensy bit unprofessional.

On the other hand, you've taken the time to format this correctly, which is very good indeed. Also, your characters are good, and the plot, whilst simplistic, is easy to digest and approachable.

So, it's a lot better than what first meets the eye: it's certainly better than the majority of stuff that comes from RP forums and other fiction birthing pools. Well done. Smile

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

NORRIS-NIGHY IN'X: 148√9525


~~

Created and Consumed (ch 6 - 7) by Zyrra-Chylde-Aisha

BioBastard: Maybe it's because I haven't read any of this series before, but I really can't get into it. It just seems boring, and suffers from many of the problems I raised with Ascension - a rather too human description of the Jackals. Couple this to mediocre spelling, characterisation and sentence construction, and we have, unfortunately, a rather uncompelling result.

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
WARNING
Whitespace reserves running low
Reading at reduced speed of 0.23 telephone books/minute
PLEASE INSERT WALNUT OIL INTO ROBOFUNNEL TO RECOMMENCE PROCESSING

...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

NORRIS-NIGHY IN'X: 2153 + 8i


~~

HALO: by Nickolas J Stevenson

BioBastard: The author opens this piece by explaining that it's a screenplay, and apologising for the formatting. Well, an apology's all well and good, but fixing the formatting would be a lot better.

From a screenwriting point of view (which, since you asked, I'm a huge, self-appointed expert on) this isn't very good at all. Scene headers are inconsistent, formatting is awful, and this is before we even begin to get on to the punctuation, the grammar, the spelling, and the story itself.

Some of the dialogue is pure ham. Really, mind-numbingly poorly-thought out.

Quote:
MIRANDA KEYES

My father sacrificed his life for you, your just one meaning less Spartan to me. What could you alone, do to save us from the Covenant?

Miranda slams her fist down on the glass.

LORD HOOD

That Spartan can do many great things.

General Hood takes his hat off and steps forward. He approaches the tube.

LORD HOOD

Its ability and endurance is far greater then any human being, they're Bred for combat, bred for war. I've seen a single spartan take down four elites in less then five seconds. Where a marine would die in less then two. This meaningless Spartan could one day save your life, Miranda.


So, unfortunately, this isn't very good. At all. (Also, note that Hood seems to have, for one line, been mysteriously demoted to "General" and had his peerage revoked.)

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

NORRIS-NIGHY IN'X: 43


~~

HALO: Project by Nickolas J Stevenson

BioBastard: See above, really. The formatting is slightly less atrocious, but a nonsensical plot, awful dialogue, a Mary-Sue more visible than Lady Gaga in a hi-vi jacket, and more GSP errors than you can shake a stick at make this really, really dreadful.

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS: OUT OF LOWER BOUNDS
Request hand-off to PhaeBot
PLACED IN QUEUE AWAITING PHAEBOT ACTIVATION


~~

Blake by ShroudedCloud

BioBastard: Incontinent ODSTs, excellent characterisation, and good formatting and grammar. What's not to like?

I can think of two major points. First, the sentence and paragraph construction seems, in various points, rather static and dull. Varying this helps add texture to the narrative: for example, short, choppy paragraphs with make things flow faster.

The second is a slightly more personal complaint, and it's a minor one. Shroud is very good at writing fucked-up, absolutely mental people. My only complaint here is that he's not as good as Sev. Yet.

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading

MATH ERROR
Divide by zero
SYSTEM RESTARTING


~~

Vestal Flame: Concerning Vesta... by Arthur Wellesley

BioBastard: Arthur's one of the most consistently brilliant authors to grace this hole, and this new story, expanding upon the colony of Vesta that he created in the superb Vestal Sins, is no exception.

On the other hand, so far, to call it a "story" is stretching the truth. The first chapter is essentially a dossier, and usually I'm unkind towards this method of world-building. In most cases, it comes across as lazy and unimaginative: a case of telling as opposed to showing, if you will.

However, I can easily make an exception for this. The attention to detail that Arthur has paid to Vesta is simply superb, even (if you look at the illustrated version - warning large page) generating physical and political maps of his world. It's truly stunning.

Unfortunately, I'm going to say this technically doesn't count for the Fic Pick, as it's not something I can look at and say "it's a great piece of fiction" (hopefully this will start next week. Smile) However, I'm extremely pleased to instate a special World Building Award for Arthur, simply because this is a brilliant exercise in creating a fictional universe. The benchmark is now set - topping it will be an incredibly mean feat.

RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading

...READING
...READING
...READING
...BRAIN ASPLODE
...
ROBOBASTARD REQUIRES INTERNAL REBUILD


~~

Scrambler (Part 2 of 3) by The Meep

BioBastard: This is very good. It's fast-paced, it's well-narrated, well-formatted, the grammar and punctuation are mostly correct (apart from one misplaced apostrophe) and - at last - we see some intelligent playing around with the sentence construction.

This instinctively makes me want to read the fast bits faster, and although I think you could have perhaps had a bit more fun with paragraph breaks, that's a minor complaint. This is very good work indeed.

RoboBastard:
*steam*
*steam*
*steam*

And now, the winners

Well, that experiment went well... sort-of. Well. No, it didn't, really. Back to the drawing board with RoboBastard it is.

Anyway, the rankings are as follows:

An honourable mention goes to Fort Underworld for a bloody good story - not without its flaws, but still a great first attempt.

Second place goes to Shroud's Blake, for a well-executed one-shot that might well have come first any other week.

And therefore, this week's runaway Fan Fic Pick of the Week is the speedy, action-packed Scrambler by The Meep. For once, it's action done right - and, sadly, that's a rare thing on this site, and in general.

So, congratulations to the winners, and with that, I'm off to find my spanner. Please, comment on every piece you read - or I'll send RoboBastard Mk. II to hunt you down to your front door and spray you with lighter fluid until you drown. Razz

EB out.
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Harbringer352
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. You clearly worked long and hard on this. I particularly appreciate the 'artistic rendering'.
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(ENS) Rabid_Gallagher
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job, eb.

If you don't mind, I'll draw RoboBastard fanart? Very Happy
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The Meep
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is *steam* a good thing? Also, I want my NNI! Stupid Vesta breaking BastardBot before it read my piece.

*muttering*
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eb4642
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(ENS) Rabid_Gallagher wrote:
Great job, eb.

If you don't mind, I'll draw RoboBastard fanart? Very Happy


Of course. As long as you comment on the other pieces. NOW. DOIT. DOITDOITDOIT Smile

The Meep wrote:
Is *steam* a good thing? Also, I want my NNI! Stupid Vesta breaking BastardBot before it read my piece.

*muttering*


Due to some extensive scribbling on my part and a speedy repair of RoboBastard's mathematical functions, I can report your NNI to be (1/(218^76) * Graham's Number).

Appropriate, since Graham's Number ends in a seven. Razz
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kr1
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent job on the Fic Pick, eb, and congrats to everyone. I laughed out loud at the RoboBastard drawing.

And I'll get to commenting, I'm slowly slogging through Arthur's timeline and maps before I start his new series.
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Arthur Wellesley
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, eb. That was quite a fic pick. Love the Robobastard.

Thanks for the comment. I'll have to get to reading some of the other (13!) submissions, especially the Meep's.

- Arthur
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Zyrra
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the review on Fort Underworld. The errors are probably my fault, I'm not as strong a writer as J.B. is. Still, we're both very happy to have gotten an honourable mention in the Fic Pick Very Happy

Thank you very much!
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Phædrus
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 10:19 pm    Post subject: Re: The Triumphant Return of the Fic Pick of the Week (11 Ju Reply with quote

eb4642 wrote:


RoboBastard:

...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading
...reading
ANALYSIS: OUT OF LOWER BOUNDS
Request hand-off to PhaeBot
PLACED IN QUEUE AWAITING PHAEBOT ACTIVATION





PHAEBOT

IS NOT PLEASED
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