Hi all! It’s been awhile, but I’m finally ready to announce the winners of the contest! I absolutely loved reading all of your stories! They were all very creative and interesting--just the kind of stuff I like to look for in a story. For those of you who placed, remember that I would love to tip you and that you should email Michaelson in order to receive your prize (I’m sure if you tell him that someone wants to tip you for placing in this contest, he will unlock it for you). I will give you until the 27th to get your ink unlocked, if you get it unlocked earlier, please notify me. If you don’t get it unlocked by the due date, I will give it to a runner-up! I also did an honorable mentions for the contest.
Without further adieu, here are the winners!
1st place goes to @IsoRen with their story, Deeper Meaning!
Review: This story is familiar, yet very new and interesting. We’ve all seen stories where building sentient robots ends up in a dystopia like in Terminator, but this story has a nice twist. The robot in this story was created to be a therapist and not like… A robot soldier or something, which is a fantastic concept. I love the slow pace of the story and the chapters leading up to Cain’s (our robot therapist’s) creation. The scientists are all incredibly excited to be taking part in the creation of such useful, new technology, but they’re also a little bit on edge about what it could mean for humanity’s future. The company isn’t just building a therapist robot, after all, they’re building a lot of other robots that perform other functions as well such as medbots. A lot of the worry surrounding these robots is that they might put people out of work, and I really like this practical worry. Once Cain is finally created, things get even more interesting when he starts asking philosophical questions about memories and concepts that even we humans are unsure how to explain. The thing I really loved about this story is that it incorporates what I love most about the sci-fi genre; an exploration of the ramifications of future technology and what it could mean for humans and the things we create, alike. I don’t know whether the story is headed for a dystopia or not which is really great. There is this kind of cold tension in the story while reading it, too, that really kept me on edge. I really love Cain as a character, but there was this fear in my stomach while reading it that he could snap at any time. This story feels very adult which I really like, too, after this excellent genre was bombarded by corny teen-girl fictions like Hunger Games and Divergent, it was great to read a pristine sci-fi story again. I don’t really have too many critiques for this one; there are some typos and grammatical errors, but they should be easy to fix with a comb-through of the story. Amazing job, IsoRen!
2nd place goes to Jade Kingdoms by @surenlicious!
Review: This is another creative story. The characters are all really strong—as in interesting-- particularly our main character, Suren, and there are a lot of neat concepts and lore in it. I really like how there haven’t been any real info dumps in the story despite the fact that the world in the story is very different world from our own. The characters in the story are also not humans, which I really enjoy (I love fantasies where the main characters are not human) and our main character is like a cool dragon lady, too. As someone who loves dragons, this is awesome. The characters that are introduced play really well off each other: For example, our main character is something of a shy wallflower whereas her cousin is incredibly abrasive and outspoken. There’s also a cool knight character named Maehara who plays really well off of Suren and her… Rude cousin. XD There’s also some wicked politicians playing around with power in the story (the king, the queen, and the queen’s sister) which is always a joy to read about. There’s a lot of corruption spread throughout royalty in the story, and much of it seems due to the fact that the species (Vrita) live so long. I got the sense while reading it that some of the royal characters were once good people, but they’ve lived for so long that they’ve become trash people which is really cool. I also love the fact that the species has an elevated databank that they can sift through for information. It’s great stuff!
I think something that could be improved about the story is the tightening of definitions and explanations of what things are. There are a lot of things in the story that have really alien names and it’s hard to remember what all of them are because they also have similar names. For example, I’m not exactly sure what Jade Constructs or Jade veins are. A clearer definition of what they are may be present further than I read in the story, but it may be a good idea to explain what they are (in a natural way) earlier on. An additional thing to look out for is the age of the characters; because all of them are so old, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for naivety or lack of knowledge among the characters. Personality traits (such as being trusting and kind) are hard to change no matter how old a person gets, so it’s fine if a character is more of a wallflower like Suren, but because she’s so old, she shouldn’t have many gaps in knowledge about the way the world works (which I don’t think she’s displayed so far, so good work). It’s still early on in the story, but I would definitely encourage the author to play around with the age of the characters (for example, describe any huge changes the world has had during their lifetimes and any horrific/interesting events the characters have witnessed). I think one final bit of criticism is that the narration is a little colloquial for my tastes at times which took me out of it at points. For example, there are curse words present in the narration of certain chapters which I’m not a fan of unless the story is written in the 1st person. Otherwise, the story has fantastic characters and worldbuilding and could shine even more with a little editing! Fantastic work!
3rd place goes to Curse of the Immortals: Tempestatem by @LostSpirit
Review: Another very creative story! This story uses really beautiful (and sometimes wonderfully unexpected) language to convey scenery, emotions, and events. The concept is fantastic; I love the idea of a talented gymnast having their career (and self-esteem) ripped away from them after suffering a tragic event. I love how there is only one main character to follow in the story so far; it makes the story very easy to understand and gives us really good insight into who the character is and makes us root for him like no tomorrow. I think our main character (Daiden’s) desire to leave a mark on the world is a desire we can all relate to, which makes him all-the-more likable. This story is incredibly strong so far and I wouldn’t change much. I think my one critique would be adding in a little bit more buildup before Daiden dies. I think the author does a fantastic job making us understand Daiden’s pain about losing his career early on, but I think that if a little bit more time was spent earlier on exploring Daiden’s limitations (and the tension between him and his family) due to his injury before he dies, the story would have been that much more powerful. Otherwise, I think the beauty of language in this story was probably the strongest out of all the entries, the concept is amazing, and I love how the story is easy to understand, yet complex at the same time. Amazing work!
Honorable mentions go to Linaket, SarahMassey, and EterPaladin!
Mini review for @linaket: I think your characters and worldbuilding are both very strong. Your characters have good chemistry and your descriptions are very powerful (I still think about how you described the sky as a bruise to this day. It was brilliant). However, I think the story might be a little stronger if you consistently stayed with our main character for the first few chapters of the story without switching perspectives to a different character. That way, we can really latch onto a single character and grow to care about her before switching to a different character. I think this will also make the story easier to understand because it will slow it down a bit and we can learn about the world and the people in it through one character’s eyes. There were some terms in this story that were a little bit confusing to me, similar to the Jade Kingdoms. I thought a loa, for example, was a race or a species at first, but I think they are actually magic users? Just something to think about. Otherwise, you have a really strong foundation and characters here. I think you just need to slow down a little bit and build out each character’s motivations and situation more before they get into wild situations. I think my favorite chapter so far was the one where our main character breaks into Yassen’s room and he patches her up. The character interactions were really strong in this chapter, and I think you have a great talent for building endearing characters who contrast well.
Mini review for @sarahmassey998: I absolutely adore your incorporation of Lovecraft into the story and how well you’re building up the mystery and atmosphere. This is another really cool concept; I love the contrasts between Gears and Graves (one’s a real optimist and the other is kind of a downer) and how well you doled out information about the Society; it was really understandable. I think the only critique I have for this one is to up the horror factor. Right now, the story has a great mood of uneasiness and some pretty vivid descriptions of monster attacks, but I think it could use a little bit more tension when leading up to our monster. Since Graves and Gears know about the existence of monsters, they aren’t so scared of them anymore and aren’t that apprehensive about meeting up with one, which makes the audience less scared of them, too. If you briefly switched perspectives to a would-be-victim of the monster attack before it happens, I think it would up the terror of the audience and give the audience an even greater reason to care about the attacks since they would somewhat get to know one of the victims before it happens.
Mini review for @EterPaladin: Similar to Lost Spirit’s story, I think this story has some of the most beautiful language of the bunch I read. I like how simple and easy to understand the story is and how there are only a few characters to follow early on. It makes their motivations crystal clear. The chemistry between the two main characters is really well done, too. I think the biggest critique I have for this one is that it’s missing a little… Oomph, so far. It’s still early on, but something to keep in mind as you go is adding in some twists and turns to keep the story fresh. Otherwise this story is very well edited and written. Awesome work!