Glass Within Glass: Three End of the World Stories, by Nathan Kuzack (1:24)

IOD-GlassWithinGlassToday we see that awkward prose can come in many forms. And many places in the book, too.

What I gleaned about the stories: Manifest destiny is a lot more fun for the destined than the other.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

WTF #1: Convoluted expression

Analysis: The front matter contains a disclaimer that the author doesn’t agree with all the actions the characters take in the second story. Part way through, I encountered: These descriptions exist only due to the context provided by the story’s fictional premise. I immediately ground to a halt. I parsed the overall sentiment as, “This book is fiction,” but it seemed a verbose way to say so (assuming it even needed to be said in the first place).

With a strong premonition that the remainder of the book would be similarly overwrought, I moved on.

WTF #2: Subtly wrong word choice

Analysis: The first story is told from the perspective of some sort of interstellar traveller. A few paragraphs in this being narrates: My subconsciousness has already arranged the more prominent emissions for my attention. The individual part of a specific mind not actively thinking is commonly called the subconscious, so I tripped over the extra letters. “Subconsciousness” refers to a trait differentiating some minds (i.e. possessing processes neither conscious nor autonomic), but I’ve never encountered it as a synonym for subconscious. (Checking several dictionaries while writing this report, not all of them even include subconsciousness.)

My faith in smooth prose further shaken, I moved on.

WTF #3: Conga-line of events and subjects

Analysis: A couple of paragraphs into the second story I discovered: For half an hour she had been stalking the kitchen like a caged lioness, feeling tense and fearful without clear reason, until the first warning cries had come echoing down the street outside, stark and lonely in the still morning air, their familiar urgency loud enough to filter through all the boards and barricades and into their fortress home.

The effort of holding the clauses in memory started to tell around stark, when the subject of the verb changed for the first time. The final straw came with their fortress home; my mind considered and rejected it relating to the warning cries then glitched again when it didn’t fit the her of the first clause either.

A moment later, I reassembled the sentence into several separate descriptions and my mental image stabilised. However, with a third issue less accessible than the previous two, I felt as if previously the shin-deep marsh had suddenly reached my waist. Lacking motivation to forge on, I pulled the plug.

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.

Age of Torridan, by Kai Herbertz (7:52)
Allies & Enemies, by Cheryl S. Mackey (2:51)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction. He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.