A Dodge, A Twist, and a Tobacconist, by Sophronia Belle Lyon (24:17)

IOD-DodgeTwistToday we see that readers want time to anticipate big scenes before they happen, and then to savor them afterward.

What I gleaned about the story: The teenaged King of Bohemia is deposed by his uncle/regent and forced to flee to Victorian England from where he will no doubt mount a successful campaign to return himself to the throne. And you know there’s going to be some dirigibles and clockwork servants, because, um, steampunk.

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Note: I love the title. It’s definitely not ladled from the usual genre-soup that supplies titles to most of indie fiction. This one has a bit of poetry, a bit of character, and clearly signals a throwback to Victorian sensibilities, which is perfect for a steampunk adventure of this nature.

WTF #1: “You sound like you oughter to stand up for Parliament, old bean.” Trevor broke in on my depressing musings. “You inspire me to stand up for parliament.”

Analysis: The word “oughter” is a corruption of “ought to,” so the “to” after it is redundant, and breaks the flow of a natural sounding patois. Also, I was confused by the intended meanings of the inconsistent capitalization of “Parliament.” Perhaps something subtle is being conveyed, like one is a real Parliament, while the other is just informal or a mockery, but the distinction is never properly explained, and it ends up just being a confusing inconsistency that I spent too long trying to explain away. On the other hand, it may have just been an editing gaffe. But either way, it distracted me from the story.

Note: The confrontation with Rudolfo comes rather abruptly, with insufficient indication that it was coming. As a result, Florrie comes across as petulant and impulsive, which I think is contrary to the noble bearing the author has otherwise been striving for with him. As a general rule, I think readers prefer to see these kinds of confrontations coming from afar, so they can relish in it as it draws nearer. Springing such important scenes on us without prior signalling weakens them of their essential juices.

WTF #2: I struck him in the face with my gloves. My royal signet ring cut him on the cheek…

Analysis: Huh? The ring was attached to his glove instead of on his finger? Or did he strike with a gloved hand instead of just the gloves? But in that case, the glove would have protected him from the scratch. Either way, this passage makes no sense, and should have been spotted during edits. Trying to reconcile the confusing imagery popped me out of the story to re-examine the text, so immersion was broken.

WTF #3: I determined to be ready to receive it and these good men, my father’s comrades in arms, his advisors, and his closest friends, promised to stand by me and teach me what I needed to know to be the kind of king my father had planned to be himself.

Analysis: This unfortunate sentence is trying to do too much at once, and as a result, slams head on into itself in the middle. He received a thing and some good men? No, that doesn’t parse. At the very least, a comma after “receive it” would be an improvement, but breaking it into two sentences there would have done even more. After three tries to reparse it, I finally figured out what had happened, but by then, immersion had long since broken.

Note: It’s a shame that we never get to see any of the scenes in which the boy-king emerges from his years of isolation and seeks out these patient advisers of old. Imagine how eager they must have been for that moment to finally come. How fearful they would be for the young prince and the dangerous course he had charted. Imagine how he would react to their counsel now, feeling his oats and being advised to caution. I think missing that scene was a tragic omission.

Silvana: The Greening, by Belinda Mellor (40:00)
Savage Dawn, by Inge Moore (16:22)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.