Extensis Vitae, by Gregory Mattix (10:00)

IOD-ExtensisVitaeToday we see that if the narrator isn’t involved in the story he’s telling, the reader won’t be either.

What I gleaned about the story: Reznik got shot in a firefight. Reznik woke up in a hospital. It’s a strange hospital. And from the title, I’m guessing that it’s more than just a few days later.

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WTF #1: POV violation

Analysis: Paragraph three begins with: The comatose man slowly began to gain awareness. Unfortunately, paragraphs one and two had been descriptions of the things he could hear, and the passage of time. So how can a man be aware of the sounds around him, but not yet have gained awareness? This cognitive conflict popped me out of the story.

WTF #2: Unengaged voice

Analysis: The protagonist has awakened in an unfamiliar hospital with no recollection of what happened. Yet even as the narrator is telling us this, there is no sense of the man’s panic coming through. Then in the second scene—when he is either dreaming, remembering, or hallucinating—we see him in a firefight against some jihadists, where he gets shot. Yet again, there is no sense of emotional chonnection ot the events. It’s all in tell mode, and it’s almost all ringing with the steady trudge of declarative sentences—focusing on the events of the scene rather than on the character’s internal reactions to them.

WTF #3: 10-minute buzzer

Analysis: And then the ten minute buzzer sounded, allowing me to invoke a rule I haven’t employed in a long time. IOD is a measure of how well a book holds my attention. But to do that, it first must draw me in. So if I haven’t formed any sort of immersive connection to a book by the ten-minute mark, I pull the plug, and that’s what happened here.

Unfortunately, the oddly distant voice continues, even after the hero came back to consciousness and started talking to the doctors around him. And if he can’t make me feel anything about his confusion, his disorientation, or even is basic aches and pains, then it’s just not working for me.

Last Flight for Craggy, by Gary Weston (3:11)
Nano Contestant, by Leif Sterling (2:47)

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.