Fancy Free, by Pam Uphoff (10:00)

IOD-FancyFreeToday we see that opening in tell mode still keeps early immersion from forming.

What I gleaned about the story: One AI works for the government – or maybe a research institute – hunting down rogue AIs. And now a virtual celebrity chef is about to go rogue.

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Kudos: I have a soft spot for faux commercials and merchandising from the future. Especially when there’s a bit of tongue in that cheek. The whole thing starts out as a sort of cozy SF, complete with a television cooking show from the future. I enjoyed a couple of the product references.

WTF #1: Two characters discuss their virtual video character, named Fancy.

“Speaking of which, did you see the quarterly royalties for that program?”
“Yep. Impressive, isn’t it? Fancy’s popularity is still growing…”

Analysis: This is just a brief excerpt from the dialogue exchange, but the whole exchange kept me from immersing. It wasn’t two characters talking about something that revealed anything about them. It’s two guys talking for the sole purpose of conveying backstory. As a result, it comes across as stilted and unnatural.

WTF #2: pronoun confusion

Analysis: In some of the narration about the computer, the phrases “it” and “the computer” are used, while in other places, “Fancy,” and “she” are used, but I couldn’t find a logic behind these changes. It seems that the POV narrating character can’t decide whether Fancy is an it or a she, and this indecision kept popping me out of the story.

WTF #3: Ten-minute buzzer.

Analysis: Again we have a piece that kept me at a distance until the 10:00 buzzer sounded. And since immersion hadn’t really settled in yet, the treadmill stopped here.

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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.