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Avernite

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It has indeed gone a little quiet, although I must take my share of the responsibility as I’ve been fairly absent of late. Anyone have anything left to say, or shall I reveal our authors ?
I think I'll post. Sometime coming week.
 
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DensleyBlair

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In that case I will leave this open until Monday 19th, which is practically a month since the entries were posted so in-keeping with recent tradition.
 

El Pip

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#1 - This is very techy, it has got all the lingo and concepts, the author even picked a system which might or might not be a binary (if one believes wikipedia anyway). It has an atmosphere to it, if reads like an email between friends and Sam's' uncertainty comes through. I did wonder if he should be a bit more panicked about it, but then anything that might happen would be decades in the future so that made sense. It did feel like the set up for a story rather than something in it's own right, the missed chance warning before the storm, so I'd have preferred less chatting and more things happening. But that clearly wasn't what was being aimed at, so on it's own terms it worked.

Why break a pattern, let me join those guessing it was @Avernite

#2 At the other extreme this is the whole story, there might be a backstory as to how the hell Patterson ever got that job or why the High Commissioners trusted Molby to work unsupervised, but there is a start and an end to this one. It hit the brief well and the author tried to do comedy so I am naturally well disposed towards them for that reason alone.

On to who. Normally I'd guess TBC but this is not quite his style - he'd have broken the 4th wall for starters. @GangsterSynod why not.

#3 I also noticed the repeat of the title through out and it did seem a bit on the nose, perhaps it was just Zegaf's favourite phrase. He certainly seemed far too calm for the disasters that he experienced, though again he had a lot of plot to get through and not many words so the author only had space for one real reaction and that was being tempted by time travel, which is a solid enough choice I suppose.

I'm struggling to explain this, but it was the least techy sci-fi of the three space ones. It has lightspeed and time travel and all that, but there was no detail in them and maybe it would have helped with the world building/atmosphere a bit if there had been?

It is very character and spacey, so I will guess @Macavity116 for this one.

#4 In this, as in so many other things, I am the opposite of Coz. No idea what was was not where it was supposed to be, but the poetry fans seem keen so I'm prepared to believe it hit the brief despite the lack of evidence. My basic position is that if you are relying on the reader doing all the leg work to understand what is going on, then you probably should redraft your work properly. But apparently that sort of thing is encouraged in poetry, so by that standard this is indeed a wonderful poem.

I was going to say Coz1 but calling your own work excellent and your favourite is a bit much, so it is probably someone else. I could copy someone else's guess but that seems cheating, so I randomly selected @Cora Giantkiller . Apologies for accusing you of poetry if you are in fact innocent.
 

Avernite

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Author #4


Ode to Victory

Seen has he all, and made known to the lands,
He taught of the descent of mices and men,
Looked at the finches, discovered the hidden,
Published from antediluvian ken.

Talk of the wrath of the nephew of Boney,
Dark and abiding, France’s great bane,
Who threw into hell so many thousands,
Through giving to Helmuth his final great gain.

Answer me fuses, of the many-flowing currents,
That many a light has been burned by throughout,
After the workshop of Ed’s son begun them,
And markets had rendered them hardly real stout.

Speak of the men and machineguns,
Felled there too early, met fate,
who came to the mudlands of Flanders,
at ever a much higher rate.

Right at the start time the revolutions and darkness,
Were crafted to tell us these many great tales,
But in this last octade, the pipeline is rough and is empty,
Taken no form and brought no newer sales.

!The whole of this tale is thus bounded; separate from the all and the iron,
By the revolutions of the Rhone and Danubia,
And from stars and kings by mutual years.
Because I don't want to forget entirely, and this one's shorter, I skip 3 and do 4 first ;)

So first off: what isn't where it's supposed to be?
Well. Ode to victory seems to refer to an ode to Victoria. So ia isn't there, replaced by y. But that seems lame.
Victoria 3 isn't where it's supposed to be either, which is a bit better but still... (also I am getting paranoid from thinking Peter wrote this).

But... I think I found a deeper layer or two.

Deeper layer 1: I think? all the pieces are some kind of ancient writing. Nr. 4 gave me the clearest hint (Aeneid - starts with 'arma virumque cano - of the weapons and man/men speak), which makes 3 a shoe-in for the Odyssey so fuse is a rework of Muse (andra moi ennepe mousa polutropon - man me tell Muse many-strategems, i.e. Speak to me Muse of the many-tricksy man?). 2 then is prolly the Illiad, starting with wrath and all. So all of them are old stories reworked. 4 is tricky... maybe more-reworked Genesis? That's not too poetic in most translations so a need for more rework makes some sense. Stumped on 1 and 5. Some Greek tragedies maybe?

Deeper layer 2: so... initially I thought the ! at the start of the last paragraph was a typo. But if not... then it's probably 'a clue'. All the first signs read 'STASR!' which is weird. But ALL the other pieces are about something out among the stars. So I suspect Densley agreed on a secret extra theme with the authors, stars, and this author went 'I can combine that with something not being where it should be'. Stasr! to Stars!.

I think this last one is probably what the author (Peter, in my guess) intended to be the obvious answer in hindsight, but who knows, maybe there's yet another secret in there I haven't found...
 

Cora Giantkiller

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El Pip

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Deeper layer 2: so... initially I thought the ! at the start of the last paragraph was a typo. But if not... then it's probably 'a clue'. All the first signs read 'STASR!' which is weird. But ALL the other pieces are about something out among the stars. So I suspect Densley agreed on a secret extra theme with the authors, stars, and this author went 'I can combine that with something not being where it should be'. Stasr! to Stars!.
Oh dear, things have reached the point of acrostics. Dark times in poetry corner.
 
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Avernite

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Author #3
As promised, some more in depth response.

I reiterate it feels very hitchikers-guide-y. It focuses purely on human life, so that's a bit different, but apart from that - an experimental spaceship, time travel is no big deal? Yup, fits.

I wuld say what struck me about this piece is that the final reveal... jars. The story had 99% set-up to explain the guy was out of time. Had he gone to Terra and been shot to bits by the Imperial Space Police that would've seemed fitting. The asteroids would almost seem fitting if some human empire had spotted him. But who in his mind would write sentences in a human-readable tongue using asteroids (okay, can't call it right mind. Writing with asteroids would be HARD), if not humans?

In some sense, of course, that's in-theme. The Guide also jumps like crazy and makes it sort of work, but the essential element is that it uses time to explain that. Time this piece lacks, because the words ran out. Ok so he's in a different 'dimension', now what? No idea.

That said, the piece is technically good. Sentences flow well, wording seems appropriate, and I completely followed the story and was invested until the reveal threw me off. So definitely a great story, but the punchline is not to my taste.
 

DensleyBlair

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Thanks for more critique, Avernite. Really great to see things coming in. :)

But who in his mind would write sentences in a human-readable tongue using asteroids (okay, can't call it right mind. Writing with asteroids would be HARD), if not humans?
One thing that strikes me as possible on this is that the author could have imagined a Doctor Who style ‘automatic translation’ mechanism.
 

Avernite

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One thing that strikes me as possible on this is that the author could have imagined a Doctor Who style ‘automatic translation’ mechanism.
And I could buy that, as being deployed throughout a vaguely known set of parameters. But a reality where humans literally don't exist? It seems a bit much :p
 

El Pip

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And I could buy that, as being deployed throughout a vaguely known set of parameters. But a reality where humans literally don't exist? It seems a bit much :p
I had assumed it was so unlikely /difficult that it was the main character imagining it. Seeing a pattern that wasn't there, because of the stress driving them a bit crazy.
 

DensleyBlair

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Apologies, all. Not been on here as much as usual this past week so quite forgot I'd said I'd close things up last week. Anyway, looks like all critique that's to be reasonably expected has come in. Would anyone object if I were to reveal our authors at long last?
 

Wyvern

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Apologies, all. Not been on here as much as usual this past week so quite forgot I'd said I'd close things up last week. Anyway, looks like all critique that's to be reasonably expected has come in. Would anyone object if I were to reveal our authors at long last?
Yep go for it. Sorry I didn't get around to giving critique this round. Read all the pieces and thought the standard was pretty good across the board.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Alright then, here are our authors.

#1@GangsterSynod
#2@El Pip
#3@HistoryDude
#4@Avernite

Many congratulations to all of you on what I'd say was a very good quality round. Very glad once again to have had a full slate of entries, and it's heartening to see some diversity among the people wanting to write. Not bad for an initiative that's been plugging away for near enough two decades.

Our most successful guesser this time around, and winner of the coveted GtA Guesser's Trophy is…

Well, it's @Swuul. Again. But this was a very poor round, and Swuul was in fact the only person who registered a single correct guess, astutely pinning #4 on Avernite. All of our other authors evaded detection, which I suppose means that you should all receive trophies as well. Or maybe a medal. Or a pat on the back.

If there's interest (writing and critiquing), I'm happy to go again hosting another round. Let me know below, and also feel free to bicker with each other about all your incorrect guesses and successful deceptions.
 
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Avernite

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Well, Swuul, I have just one question - HOW???

That said, I am somewhat happy to note noone else guessed me for piece 4, and very happy with the comments on my piece :)
 
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coz1

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I told you I don't write anything! Why did know one believe me? :p

And, of course, I picked none right (which I knew would be the case) but at least I picked 3 of the 4 writers. So a moral victory of sorts.

Excellent work all and thanks for writing these pieces. A truly enjoyable round (even with all the Stellaris themed entries.) Looking forward to the next round.
 
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GangsterSynod

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Thanks to everybody for their critiques!
Author #1:

This first piece is a fine bit of writing, using humor and snark in certain ways. Always fine. I’m not sure what it gets to outside of the goal at hand, but it does get there. So kudos. Not much character made/created as we’ve no idea who Jen is, nor do we really know who Sam may be. The conceit, as I understand it, as that a star is lost. A lot of jargon is used to confuse the reader in a humorous way. We all know the confusing emails and/or texts we might get at work. But truthfully, it leaves me cold. I do not mean to be harsh, but the piece reads as something written quickly, but with much talent. The word limit may cause some of this (and I applaud you using it DB) and thus the task was brief and so was this.

My guess is @Avernite
It was certainly written very quickly; I think I got the final version to Densley about 24 hours after they announced the topic and the word limit. I'm not surprised it seemed a little confusing. First of all, I really have to stop writing so quickly and get into the habit of revising things. Second of all, well, it's from someone who's baffled and probably a little hyper and panicked late at night, and maybe not the most organized person in general, so a little of that was intended. But it was probably more confusing then it needed to be, and I really need to take more time to write.
So, my commentary on piece 1: Guessing now that it was @coz1 who did it ;) Don't know if he is a scientist, but eh, he's commented so he's obviously written something (right? ;) ).

To be clear: the story works for me. Presupposing anything eats stars, and supposing we'd know - this is how it'd go, in my mind. You see it, noone believes it. Of course if anything was munching stars it'd probably munch on the one right next to it too, making it possible someone would look into it later, but well.

It also read a bit Lovecraftian - in the sense of the disaster log. You can almost hear the author being dragged off to abyssal depths for his (her?) forbidden knowledge.

The random digression on Dr. Champlain, while feeling true to live, does add nothing except atmosphere. But as the piece manages to finish within the word limit, that atmosphere is part of the charm (though I, for one, know no places where the Dr. would be added; I'd talk about 'when Champlain was running things' not 'When Dr. Champlain was running things' - stereotypically that should mean a German wrote this)

If there's a thing to criticize - in the modern era I think noone would put the social greetings into the end. They may think of it way at the end, but in e-mail, you have a cut-and-paste option.
Yes, the whole doctor thing was another artifact of writing very quickly and not stopping to review what I wrote properly. The digression was intended to convey that Sam was rambling a bit, and, again, maybe not the most organized at the best of times, but the doctor thing was silly. I know people with advanced degrees! They use first names! What on earth was I thinking? And the social greeting would have made more sense at the beginning, yes. I really need to learn to revise.
#1 - This is very techy, it has got all the lingo and concepts, the author even picked a system which might or might not be a binary (if one believes wikipedia anyway). It has an atmosphere to it, if reads like an email between friends and Sam's' uncertainty comes through. I did wonder if he should be a bit more panicked about it, but then anything that might happen would be decades in the future so that made sense. It did feel like the set up for a story rather than something in it's own right, the missed chance warning before the storm, so I'd have preferred less chatting and more things happening. But that clearly wasn't what was being aimed at, so on it's own terms it worked.

Why break a pattern, let me join those guessing it was @Avernite
"The missed chance warning before the storm" was actually pretty much what I was going for. I was sort of thinking of this as a prologue to an imaginary Stellaris AAR told entirely through memoranda and archival documents of various kinds. I'm very pleased I managed to get everyone pinning it on Avernite. You've also spotted another thing I want to brag about. 55 Cancri is, according to Wikipedia, a real system and 55 Cancri B is a real star which may or may not actually be binary. It also got sent a SETI signal in 2003, which will get there in 2044. 55 Cancri A also does have a lot of metal in it, which may indeed have implications for a bunch of computational models that I can't pretend to understand at all, and the planets in the system do indeed have the names I said they had.
 
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Macavity116

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Now that the authors have been revealed, I would just like to chime in: I had no freakin' idea what was going on in this thread until very recently.

Please laugh with schadenfreude in the knowledge that when people started mentioning my name and guessing me for work #3, I was straight-up panicking in confusion for about a day. You all threw me for a total loop. Kudos. :p
 
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Swuul

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Well, Swuul, I have just one question - HOW???
That was the only one I was pretty certain on, the others were just some random name-dropping.

As for "how", well, it was pretty obvious, wasn't it? In the various games I have played with you over the years, I have learned this: You have a tendency of putting others in the focus while you try to hide in the shadows. #4 gives very much the feeling somebody was putting the marking arrow on Peter, which was why I was pretty sure it was Avernite behind the text.
 

Avernite

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That was the only one I was pretty certain on, the others were just some random name-dropping.

As for "how", well, it was pretty obvious, wasn't it? In the various games I have played with you over the years, I have learned this: You have a tendency of putting others in the focus while you try to hide in the shadows. #4 gives very much the feeling somebody was putting the marking arrow on Peter, which was why I was pretty sure it was Avernite behind the text.
I need a new hobby. That of course was partly the plan, but noone was supposed to spot it - and apart from you noone did indeed :D
 
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