The Stolen Guardian, by R.A. Meenan (4:49)

IOD-FinalGuardianToday we are reminded that having characters explain things to a character who should already know about it strains credibility.

What I gleaned about the story: Ouranos is a young porcupine-man and prince, chafing under his father’s rule on an alien planet. But now they’ve refurbished an ancient space ship, so you just know Junior’s about to take a little joy ride.

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WTF #1: Unanchored pronouns

Analysis: There are a number of pronoun uses on the first page for which the referent is not clear. Take this example:

The Vasilefs glared at him and twitched his snout. He waved a hand at him.

Now, when I tell you that “Vasilefs” is a title of nobility, referring to the protagonist’s father, my confusion should become clear. There’s no way to know who waved at whom in this excerpt. This is the second or third time I’ve had to backtrack a sentence to unpack it and I’m only in the third paragraph.

WTF #2: Sloppy copy edit

Analysis: Consider this passage, also from the first page: his body gave into the Vasilefs’ physical control.

The verb in that excerpt is the verb phrase “gave in.” Consequently, the “in” is not a free preposition that can be joined with “to.” The correct phrase is, “his body gave in to the Vasilefs’ physical control.” When the preposition “into” is used, it usually connotes for me a sense of physical movement or a transformation. But that was not the case here, so again I had to stop and re-read. And again, since it’s on the first page, the flag got raised.

WTF #3: Illogical exposition

Analysis: The protag and his father arrive at an ancient space ship in the forest which we are told they have visited many times together while refurbishing it. When they arrive, the father points and says “There!” – apparently telling his son where the ship is. But why would he do that if they’ve been here many times before? I suspect it’s intended to amplify the drama for the reader, who has not been here before, but it struck me as out of place – the hand of the author attempting to manipulate.

But worse, then the father begins to recount the history of this craft and the family’s stewardship over it for many generations. Again, this is entirely for the benefit of the reader, because both characters present already know all this. And these multiple flashes of Deus Ex popped me out of the story.

Death of a Hero, by C.B. Wright (16:22)
Stellar Cloud, by Charity Bradford (3:59)

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.