Pariah’s Moon, by Ian Thomas Healy (2:13)

IOD-PariahsMoonToday we see that if not even the author can keep the details straight, the reader hasn’t got a chance.

What I gleaned about the story: A lusty common soldier bludgeons a princess with the passion of his love and loses everything. Sooner or later. Maybe.

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WTF #1: Confusing timeline

Analysis: The story opens with: A forbidden act of love forever sealed his fate. Because of his audacity, Giele Stillwater lost everything that ever meant anything to him: his name, his commission, his king, his country. So that kind of leads you to believe that this act was in the past, and that the repercussions have all come home to roost, right? But the very next paragraph appears to be him, still tangled in the sheets of that “forbidden love.” I spent way too much time trying to reconcile how the narrator could be talking about the past sense, but then be witnessing it in the present. If it had been an epigraph, a quote from some future journal entry, then that would have been fine. But this was presented as simple narration, the beginning of the story, and I just can’t make it work. So immersion was clearly busted.

Note: The adjectives are coming fast and steady, but perhaps that will calm down once things are moving.

WTF #2: Detail mismatch

Analysis: Remember that opening bit about losing everything, including his commission? Well now I read: How fortunate was he, a common soldier in the King’s Army… But common soldiers don’t have commissions to lose. That’s more or less what “common soldier” means. So which is it?

WTF #3: Another detail mismatch

Analysis: First we have: Her almond-shaped eyes, flecked with green and gold, shimmered as he sprawled beside her, wearied from his exertions. And then in the next paragraph: He leaned down and kissed her full, soft lips. So he’s sprawled on the bed and still manages to lean down? Where is she? Did he fling her onto the floor with his passion? No, that can’t be it. His sprawling was “beside her.” This is already too many continuity errors for an entire chapter, and I’m still only the first page.

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.

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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.