Rogue Cosmos by Theo Taylor (3:11)

IOD-RogueCosmosToday we see that when the narrator suppresses relevant facts for no good reason, the reader loses faith.

What I gleaned about the stories: Sometimes people don’t pay attention or listen to others.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

WTF #1: Logical redundancy

Analysis: The foreword ends with:

Maybe I’m wrong.

Or I’m right.

“Maybe” implies a possibility, which already suggests the author could be right instead. So when I read that second paragraph, I stumbled over why it was there. And not just there, but set out in a separate paragraph, giving a sense of greater significance. After a few seconds of trying to find a hidden message, I decided there wasn’t one.

The possibility of flick-flacking description now raised, I moved on.

WTF #2: Misleading capitalization

Analysis: The first story opens with two people discussing letting someone go. Despite both of them knowing their ages and the identity of the prisoner, it isn’t clear they are two children talking about a pet ferret until a few paragraphs in. While this withholding information seemed slightly annoying it didn’t quite push me out.

However, a little way into a story one accuses the other of being cruel. An adult comments I do not believe master Lockette will be pleased…

Master is his title, so is part of a proper noun and therefore should be capitalized. As it isn’t, my unconscious parsed it as a common noun, so I expected it to be a moral comment such as I do not believe mastery comes from…

It was only a misstep, but the opening had already distanced me enough that I was aware I was focusing to unravel rather than experiencing events.

WTF #3: Unlikely situation

Analysis: The second story opens with the Prime Minister’s private estate under attack. Before we get any information beyond it looking like a ‘warzone’, the Prime Minister asks if it’s a serious threat. None of his security staff answer because they are watching their terminals, absorbed in their own worlds.

I could believe that some of them were watching the video monitors closely enough not to hear, but their job is to protect the Prime Minister, so having none of them paying attention to him seemed too out of character.

If there had been enough description to know what the threat was – or even if the Prime Minister hadn’t taken away the impact of warzone by asking if it was a serious threat – then I might have accepted exceptional circumstances. But without it, the oddity was too much of a stretch not to cause me pause.

In addition, the previous WTFs had already primed me not to trust my mental pictures or the apparent rhetorical emphasis. So, scene gone flat, I pulled the plug.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

Beyond the Plains, by Travis Bughi (9:08)
Running Into Time, by Douglas R. Black (5:03)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction.

He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.