What I gleaned about the stories: Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.
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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 onto the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.
Analysis: The first story opens with:
Growing pain in my shoulders. Itchy crawling sensation all over my face and scalp. The pilot of the antique space freighter mumbled something about a problem with pressurization.
The first two sentences took me deep into a present visceral experience, so the shift into past tense in sentence three didn’t sit right. After a moment, I overcame the niggle, but by then I’d lost immersion. So I moved on.
Analysis: A few paragraphs into the second story, I encountered: Roman greets me the way s/he always does. “Fascist Butcher.” The combination of gender/sex options different from those currently common with the ambivalence of a regular brutal insult painted a very intriguing picture, so I wanted to read on.
Analysis: Sometimes fine prose is layered over an average idea, but here the stories and worlds described were as interesting as the choice of language.
Analysis: Two paragraphs into the third story, I hit: This is blasphemy, but I am probably going to hell for what I do for a living, no matter what Father Andrews’ says. That rogue apostrophe got into my eye like grit, so I moved on.
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.