Cold Hands, by Matt Perkins (29:42)

IOD-ColdHandsToday we see that a strong story can hold a reader, even over the bumpy patches.

What I gleaned about the story: In a world where almost everybody hibernates through the brutal winter months, a daring few stay awake to keep the lights on and the systems humming. But this winter will not be like the others. This winter, something strange is going to happen. I can just feel it.

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WTF #1: Declarative sentence parade

Analysis: I’m near the bottom of the first page, and the declarative sentences are already starting to trudge. This happened. That happened. Some other thing happened. A thing was thus. Another thing was so. Statements of narrative fact are a necessity, but by themselves they are not enough to immerse a reader. For that we need something more. Something to think about. Something that speaks beyond simple facts and reels in our attention.

Kudos #1: Interesting introductory scene

Details: The execution is a bit spare of emotion or color, but the premise of the opening scene is an intriguing one, and it gives us a great flavor of the world we’re about to inhabit.

WTF #2: Echoing headwords

Analysis: I’ve encountered about seven pairs of them so far. It’s happening just often enough that my sensitivity never quite dies away. So I’m charging the WTF and moving on. Hopefully, now that I’ve pulled the trigger, I’ll be able to ignore the rest of them and enjoy the story. Because it really is unfolding nicely.

Note: I’m perplexed by the world setting. We’re in a reality where 99% of the population hibernates during the brutal, resource-deprived winter, leaving a skeleton crew of “Winterwakers” behind to keep the lights on and the systems running. The language is entirely from the here and now, with declarations like, “That’s awesome, dude!” But the only thing I can be certain of, with respect to the milieu, is that it is definitely not set on the Earth of today. So I’m pretty sure this is a case of what I’ve previously called anaculturism, but without definitive proof in the text itself, I’ll hold my quibble in check. For now.

WTF #3: Bored

Analysis: This doesn’t happen to me often, but I’ve hit a long scene of dialogue that is just striking me as tedious. I can see that dinner with the folks is illluminating Sarah’s baggage so that we’ll understand her behaviors and motivations once winter sets in, but it’s done in such a stereotypical way that I just can’t stay engaged. When I caught myself skimming ahead looking for something interesting to happen, I realized that I was no longer immersed.

Note: This one went farther than I expected it to. I had a few issues early on, but for the most part they didn’t become invasive enough to trip me up. And despite that steady current of little things, there was a compelling story unfolding over top that was strong enough to keep me distracted.


Mind Me Milady, by Hicks and Rothman-Hicks (12:05)
Call of the Kaiju, by E. Stuart Marlowe (8:17)

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.