The Cestus Concern, by Mat Nastos (2:58)

IOD-CestusConcernToday we see that head-hopping can sometimes happen, even if you don’t change heads.

What I gleaned about the story: Mal is in the process of waking up, unclear what has happened. It will probably turn out that he’s been rejuvenated, or maybe resuscitated after having been killed in combat. But he might just be hung over.

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Note: Great cover. The title text might be a tad uncontrasty for thumbnail sizes, but I quite like the composition and the overall effect.

WTF #1: Comma drought

Analysis: The first thing Mal noticed as the warm, floating feeling only an especially heavy dose of morphine can give started to fade was the telltale itch in all ten of his toes and the balls of his feet. Please, sir, can I have another comma? Just one more? Maybe two? It’s just that I want to parse this sentence into clauses without having to get out my protractor. Or maybe this would be a good one to tear down and rebuild.

WTF #2: Strange shifts in intimacy

Analysis: Here’s an example: Panic and worry struck with the force of a hammer between his eyes as the man realized he couldn’t remember anything at all. Mal had no idea where he was or how he got there. That’s two successive sentences. In the first, he’s described as “the man” and in the second, he’s referenced more intimately as “Mal.” But in the previous paragraphs, we were right inside his head, feeling Mal’s pain as he awoke from rejuvenation. And in the very next sentence after the quote, he’s referred to quite distantly again, as “the soldier.” So even with the POV locked onto this one character, it still feels like headhopping. I’m just jumping in and out of Mal’s head, rather than between two different characters.

WTF #3: Mal-punctuation

Analysis: Near the bottom of page 1, I read: Where am I, thought Mal, as his darkness seemed to suddenly swirl with chaos and terror? It can be difficult learning how to properly punctuate different kinds of quoted text, and internal thoughts can be particularly tricky, but it is just plain wrong to put the question mark at the end of the declarative sentence. Regardless of whether you use italics, quotes, or some other typographic device to denote the uttered thought, the question mark is part of that clause, not part of the sentence describing it.

Starf*cker, by Ian Thomas Healy (40:00)
The Boy who Lit up the Sky, by J. Naomi Ay (9:40)

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 underqualified in just about everything. That’s why he writes.