The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby, by Angela Castillo (14:56)

IOD-TobyTrilbyToday we see that impassioned religious debates from logical mathematicians are a hard pill to swallow.

What I gleaned about the story: A hobbit-like young boy who has lived his entire life underground yearns for freedom, for exploration, and for religious enlightenment.

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Note: I love the cover art. Very atmospheric and gives a great sense of what’s inside.

Note: My initial impressions are of a cavern dwelling hobbit-like race, long since isolated from the surface and the ways of whoever their people might once have been. But a casual reference to rocks that looked like soft-serve ice-cream, and to denim pants, and movies, left me wondering whether the world really is more human-based than it appears, or whether the author simply didn’t notice that the references were anachronistic anaculturistic. I didn’t charge a WTF for it, but I thought I’d mention it, just in case.

WTF #1: ‘Gramble’ was his own word; a combination of ‘grandparent’ and ‘grumble.’ His six caretakers became fond of the term, so it stuck.

Analysis: This is an explanation of how he had coined the new term, in his infancy. Which is to say, in the deeper past. So it should read that his caretakers had become fond of it. There were a couple of other past-perfect mashups, so I lumped them together and charged them as one.

Kudo: I quite like the invented honorific, “Gramble.”

WTF #2: Each team member had been chosen for the cavern because of his or her intense passion for science and relied on mathematical equations and logic reasoning to explain most of the mysteries of life.

Analysis: There are several grammatical errors here. When listing things this way, they should be of the same grammatical class. But the list in the first sentence is of a ‘passion’ and a ‘relied.’ One is a noun and the other is a verb. This kind of change-up throws a monkey wrench into the well-oiled machinery of the reader’s structural expectations. And when the reader is abruptly halted, immersion breaks. If that wasn’t intended to be a list, but rather two independent clauses, then it should have been punctuated differently or rephrased to make that clear.

(Also ‘logic’ is a noun. It should have been “logical reasoning.”)

WTF #3: Wildly different (and often hotly debated) religious theories were brought forth by each one, but none of these ideas truly felt right for Toby.

Analysis: What? After explaining how only the brightest, most analytical and logical people were chosen to live there, the very next sentence is about how varied their religious theories are and how fervently they argue them? That flies directly in the face of the previous claim. Placid, logical mathematician types who foam at the mouth debating the number of angels who can dance on a pin-head?

I don’t for a moment suggest that logical people are incapable of setting their logic aside and choosing to have beliefs to which they choose not to apply their logic. But if that’s the case, you actually have to say that, because without it, the statements seem entirely contradictory. And glaring contradictions in the world exposition always break immersion for me when I notice them.

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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.