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El Pip

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I've decided to believe that it is because I'm not a regular on this that no-one guessed me, as that is far more reassuring than the alternatives.

#2: Definitely not me. Makes me think TBC for some reason.
TBC has definitely nicked stylistic elements of me it is true.
DYAEiOu.gif


Author #2

This piece is exactly 1000 words (I checked, because it seemed more.) Excellent use of time and space allowed to get in the story. Not much of a story, but what can one do in 1000 words? Given the constraints and limit, it uses both humor and theme, to get across the notion of our topic at hand. That said, it very much uses a similar conceit from the first piece. Something has been lost in space (why didn’t anyone else think of that? Hmm.)

I very much like the descending order of reports, especially the rote “night is dark and stormy” motif. This is a writer that wants to move beyond that (and perhaps make fun of it.) Yet with the limited time allowed, there is little one can do other than that. It’s a joke, a bit of humor. A solid piece, to be sure. Solid, but may be improved by moving beyond the joke.

My guess is @Peter Ebbesen
I absolutely wanted to play with the dark and stormy night trope and I'm glad that came across. With more words you could do more, but as I hinted at in my 'guess' I think a solid joke piece is worthy on it's own terms. You can use humour to make points, push forward a plot and do all sort of things. But sometimes just writing something that is funny is enough.

So my belated commentary on entry #2:

This reads like terraforming meets bad management practices.

It works, at that, though I have my doubt anyone would be THIS repeatedly numb to the real requirements of the job. But who knows? And in any case the story wouldn't work if they 'only' dropped every comet at the exact same spot and broke the planet that way... which would be the kind of mess-up that is slightly believable.

I do, of course, wonder if a couple dozen comets can really destroy a planet. I doubt it. Earth, at least, has 10 orders of magnitude more mass than Halley's comet or Temple 1.

And the use of 'quantum modelling' sounds completely gratuitous. But well.

Overall it works as soft-core sci-fi. I don't believe it could ever really work in a complex organization setting up the terraforming of a whole planet, but as a light-hearted criticism of corporate culture, it does work.
It was very much not hard sci-fi, the 'gratuitous' quantum modelling was a tip of the hat to that. On the destruction, well if the planet was small enough (say Mercury sized) and the comets big enough then... it probably doesn't work either, but it wasn't that sort of story. I was aiming for the Star Trek end of the sci-fi spectrum, where you are using sci-fi elements to tell a story (or make a joke in this case), as opposed to the Clarke/Asimov end.

There probably are very good 1,000 word hard sci-fi story about a terraforming disaster, of the top of my head a Three Laws robot and Terraforming has potential, but it would be very different and certainly less fun.

My guesses (don't have time for analysis, so going purely what my guts tell me)
2 Wyvern

Also, I quite like all the entries :)
The Britishness clearly shone through. Also, glad you liked it.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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I've decided to believe that it is because I'm not a regular on this that no-one guessed me, as that is far more reassuring than the alternatives.
We should have known when you mysteriously popped up and stuck around for guesses...
TBC has definitely nicked stylistic elements of me it is true.
Perfected.
 

DensleyBlair

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I don’t think this will impact anyone’s plans too greatly, but just to say I’ve been called away from the forums for family reasons, so I’ll likely not have a new prompt for a week or so. Obviously still feel free to declare interest/chat about the round just gone/muse on possible future topics. I’ll check back in at the end of the week.
 

Avernite

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I don’t think this will impact anyone’s plans too greatly, but just to say I’ve been called away from the forums for family reasons, so I’ll likely not have a new prompt for a week or so. Obviously still feel free to declare interest/chat about the round just gone/muse on possible future topics. I’ll check back in at the end of the week.
I hope all is well, and I really should write more extensive comments :)
 
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DensleyBlair

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Apologies for the much longer than anticipated delay, everyone. Turns out May was quite the month! Anyway, back now – and with what I think could be quite a fun challenge of a prompt.

I've just spent my evening watching the original Alien film, and it got me thinking about what I suppose could be called fatal curiosity. Curiosity killing the cat is an extremely fertile trope in fiction, and for good reason: pushing fearlessly (or foolishly) into the unknown is the essence of any adventure, and adventure always makes for a good story.

But what about the inverse? What about all those times when people choose to err on the side of caution; to stick with what they know? Can these still make for interesting stories?

My challenge to you is to tell the story of someone declining to act on their curiosity. How you handle it – whether tragic, comic, ironic, horrific or something else entirely – I leave to you. Does a character end up wracked by regret for the adventure not taken? Does a missed opportunity lead to a dramatic change in fortunes, good or ill? Does someone inadvertently avoid their fate and spark the creation of a whole alternate dimension? It's up to you. You are totally free to interpret the challenge and explore its implications as you like, but what I am interested in is to see the old trope of curiosity=doom subverted.

I appreciate this is not the snappiest of prompts, but I'm intrigued by it so hopefully there will be those of you enthusiastic about taking it on. Like usual, I'm always on hand to answer questions here or by PM should you desire further clarification. As a guide, I would say entries should be 1,000–1,500 words in length, in any form. If you'd like to enter, let me know by PM over the next week or so. I'll give a provisional submission deadline of July 4th.

Happy writing!
 

Avernite

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Booh! Not even poetic licence justifies the use of "mices" as the plural of mouse. One mouse, two mice. That 's' is NOT where it should be. :p
So to start off my serious responses to criticism of last round's piece (I know, slow...): I needed two syllables, mice is 1. Meter>language.
#4: Poetry, done in a similar style to the last one, which was Peter's. I'm tempted to say that it is again, but I'm not super satisfied with that. I'm getting the gut feeling that someone's having a lot of fun leading us down a blind alley. But, in the absence of any better ideas, I'll guess Peter. For now.
Well Swuul already remarked on it - yeah of course it was a deliberate attempt to pin it on Peter ;)
Author #4:

Finally! Of the 4 pieces, this is my favorite. It attempted something different and not just the easy “lost in space” theme. It makes my guesses above less likely as I know them all to be great writers, but I really loved the prose here. (Note: please don’t all start to write in poetic form. Surest way not to please me unless you really know how to do it. Yet who gives a what about pleasing me?)

Name drops to Napoleon and Edison, clearly to the 20th century. And while never named, it is clear what did not (or may not) have belonged here. And in truth, what is no longer here (if I have negative critique, it is that – in such short space it is difficult to say WHY they would not be where they should be even though attempted in the prose. Not enough room.)

Plaudits to this excellent poem.

My guess is @HistoryDude
You may have to expand on WHAT does not belong, according to you. The poem is about Victoria 3 (and didn't that prove prescient? :eek: ) not being there, when it was 'supposed' to be somewhere in the line between CK2/EU4/HoI4 ;) And of course, see below on my own tricks.
#4. Not sure. Pinning it on you Coz1 :p
Victory at least :)
#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.
Well the explanation is later. Which is, I agree, very poetry-like: needing the author to explain ;)
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...
So all of the above is true, of course.

The ancient stories abused were:
The epic of Gilgamesh
The Illiad
The Odyssey
The Aeneid
Genesis
and last Germania by Tacitus

Now this order is wonky - but sorted by time of writing (approximately), Genesis moves, and the whole poem's first letters do indeed spell STARS!
But I didn't know everyone else was gonna write a star-themed story when I chose that, it was a secret hint because Peter once accused me of always writing about stars ;)