The Machine by ~elGallifrey The suggester writes, "A solid sci-fi yarn from a promising young author, with good pacing, strong world-building, and novel ideas." (
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Am I the only one extremely bothed by the fact that a Caelipsychus lives inside Merlin? It's parent showed up at the end, and didn't kill the humans. If they value life why the heck would they ruin one by leeching off a person? "Naturally, even after they are fully grown, they wait until the end of their host’s natural life span to separate.” What? Why? If they're fully grown and no longer need a host, leave it. Let the host finally live a normal life. Bleh, humans took their home, and that was wrong. But Caelipsychus's seem like assholes to me.
That aside... this is a really good story. And it's nice to see a story that's a bit long for once rather than three paragraphs.
I had read this some time ago and thought I had faved it then. So I'm glad I found it again. Really nice job creating an intriguing story. Quite enjoyable.
I have to agree with another comment that the section numbering is a little unappealing to me. Visually there's no clear break between them, but that's just a formatting option, while the flow of the story works well over all.
RisingWolveFeatured By OwnerJan 14, 2013Hobbyist General Artist
This was great! Every little piece fit in perfectly well for me. I really liked how Terric summed it all up at the end as well, as traumatized and broken as he felt... I did notice a few grammatical errors. The only one I can really remember though is when I read "They trust their gray, bony branches high into the air, silent and somber." and that I thought that that should probably be thrust instead of trust. I also read Monstroooo's comments and agree that it's not very clear that the caelipsychus Terric could see wasn't the one inside Merlin. Nevertheless, this was a great read and I hope to even become half as good as you as time goes on.
I note from below that you've already tidied a few things in the revised version, so I just wanted to point out a couple of parts that I especially enjoyed.
"And so the government fought a war, very quietly, while the people slept." Although I agree with *monstroooo on its lead-in, this is a powerful sentiment well placed in the story.
"He was floating through space, unfeeling and unable to control his speed or direction..." The whole section was a good introduction to the Caelipsychus, without being too explicit on what is happening and why (which would have detracted from the surreality of it), and I approve similar descriptions being used later in the story to tie them together.
On the whole it was engaging and thought-provoking. Well worth the read.
There's an interesting irony that, although this is a story set on a distant planet in the distant future, it actually reads a lot like a straight fantasy novel. I like that - it makes it all the more engaging.
I have a few criticisms - but before I get into that, allow me to say that I thought this was really good. It's well written, has an original plotline and some really interesting themes.
I don't like structure of short, numbered paragraphs. It's distracting, and doesn't add anything that I can discern. I think part of the problem is that it encourages you to end the sections with some kind of dramatic statement like "Merlin's time had run out". You have a lot of these bombastic little sentences, which lend the piece an unfortunate air of melodrama. The story itself is so mature and tangible, it seems a shame to me that the tone occasionally undermines that.
And perhaps inevitably for such a long piece, there are some inelegant or untidy turns of phrase which could use editing through. For example:
he stared out somewhere beyond the world, gaze unfixed on any tangible item
His hands curled into fight, furious firsts, fingernails digging into his palms.
And so the government fought a war, very quietly, while the people slept. (you go a bit biblical here)
He was fully expecting to encounter “trouble” today – and, he could tell, so was the Colonel.
He took a long drag of air, closed his eyes, and let out a shaky exhale.
I also don't like your tendency to desctibe Terric as "the teen": it strikes me as a horribly awkward turn of phrase.
My final criticism is the caelipsychus itself: I didn't really understand the physics of its movements in the final sections. If it's a creature living inside Merlin, how come it was able to lift and wave around the snipers? The initial implication is that it's a small creature (it would have to be to live inside someone), but its actions and movements later on seem to imply that it's a lot bigger. I just found that whole scene a little confusing
This comment is coming out overly negative - which isn't really my intention. This is a very high quality piece of work with an awful lot to commend it. The prose very occasionally lets it down a little, but that's only my nitpicking. You should be proud of this
Points well taken, and the structure of the story and some of those awkward phrases and typos (fight furious fists? oops) have already been changes in the revised version of this story, which is going to be a bit different from this one I do think I'll try to take out "the teen", it does seem weird.
As for the last point, I think you've misunderstood - though, that's entirely my fault! - the caelipsychus that appears is supposed to be the parent, and the child (which was in a larval form) is dead. I definitely have to rewrite that bit for clarity. I see now that it is a bit confusing.
Thank you for such a thorough and thoughtful criticism, it is very much appreciated!
Ok - I'd not understood that it was the parent who emerged at the end! I think clarity is needed there. I'd also consider re-thinking the role of the snipers, and Terric's ability to asses the situation before his escort does. That whole scene in the woods is a little difficult to swallow.
I'm glad you've got a second revision in the works though - that's a very good sign
I'd be interested in reading the next draft, once it's completed!
I'm not planning on posting it online, for the next couple of months at least, because I'm using it for an application; but, if you'd like to read it, you can send me your e-mail in a note or something.
hi i know you said you werent going to upload the next draft of it but im really interested in reading this, especially with an amended scene of the fight since that was kinda hazy for me... anyway awesome job! congrats on the DD!
This was a really engaging piece, all through. I love the setting you built and the sad revelations towards the end. Terry's character felt a little underdeveloped, but honestly I didn't care much - the world he was in was much more interesting anyway