After: The Shock, by Scott Nicholson (38:03)

IOD-AfterTheShockToday we see that even with the goal-posts looming in sight, a short clump of awkwardness can still trip a reader up before they get there.

What I gleaned about the story: A week ago, everything worked. The world was normal. That was the Before. Now it’s the After. And in the After, nothing makes sense. Rotting babies crawl from the wreckage and anyone you meet might be trying to eat you. Have a nice day.

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WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The scene has me quite intrigued, but then we ran into a spot of echo trouble. Three consecutive paragraphs echoing on “The,” then a pair echoing on “She,” along with a pair of “The”-sentences.

Kudos #1: Riveting start

Details: I find the writing a touch uneven. A bit jerky. But the scenario is certainly filled with tension. A young woman is hiding in an abandoned pharmacy, waiting for Chain Guy and The Beard to finish the last steps of their dance on the sidewalk out front. But those are just her quick labels for them. They’re zombies. If she plays her cards right, she might be able to slip away in the confusion. But wait a minute. Is this pharmacy really abandoned? Oh crap.

Note: The story moves along with good pace, but I’m finding the paragraphing a bit odd. Very short paragraphs, often several in a row that I think should have been kept together as one. And at times I can hear the distant trudge-trudge-trudge of declarative sentences in a zombie-shuffle. But despite all that, and the occasional omission of past perfect, I’m still thoroughly engrossed.

WTF #2: More echoes

Analysis: This time, a pair of “The”-sentences, a pair of “The”-paragraphs, a triple sequence of “She”-sentences, a pair of “She”-paragraphs and then a final pair of “The”-sentences. When they come as thickly as this, all on a single page, it pretty much forces me to throw a flag.

WTF #3: Dammit, another dense cluster of echoes

Analysis: But rules are rules. Five different echo sets on the same page, and just two minutes from the wire. So the ref has blown the whistle, but this story is still engrossing me completely, so that’s not so bad.

Note: I will definitely be putting this on my “read more” list. Hopefully, I’ll be able to read past the echoes and see where this one’s going. It’s pretty standard fare in the zombie-verse, but the writing manages to convey tension and despair in appropriate measures, so I’m along more for the mood than the originality of the plot. But the important thing is that I’m still reading.


Shiftless, by Aimee Easterling (8:31)
The Game, by Terry Schott (2:05)

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.