The Storm Fishers and Other Stories, by Everitt Foster (1:44)

iod-stormfishersToday we see that tangled comparisons can bust immersion.

What I gleaned about the stories: Contrary to what science-fiction series might suggest, other planets tend to be purple rather than green.

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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: Overloaded sentence.

Analysis: A few paragraphs into the first story, I encountered: His father, the garden’s herpetologist, Master Albert Futter the third, wore a suit colored like the navy-violet crown lighting the skyline at sunset. There is a – potentially apocryphal – theory about cognition that humans can hold three things in their memory at the same time. Whether that’s true or not, discovering the name of the protagonist’s father, his job, his manner of dress, and the way the sky looked at sunset all in the space of a single sentence left me with the parsing equivalent of holding jelly: which bits of the sentence were important to know? Which were flavour?

To make matters worse, all of the previous paragraphs had been a slowly constructed image of the protagonist using events rather than reportage, so I’d been programmed not to expect dense factual descriptions.

Deciding that it either needed to be two sentences, or to have the facts that weren’t relevant trimmed out for later, I moved on.

WTF #2: Un-punctated splurge

Analysis: The first line of the second story is: From the full sized starboard windows of The Flower of Kent a cascade of starlight fell like gold and crimson leaves caught in a September wind across the tinted glass illuminating the entire pod. Without punctuation to signal where the chunks were, my mind started holding the sentence in buffer and just kept going until it ran out of space. Which left me sputtering for mental breath part way through.

I’d noticed a few missing commas and hyphens in the first story; but they hadn’t affected my comprehension, so I didn’t score a WTF for them. However, having bounced off the first sentence of a story, those ignored niggles rose up again to add to the sense that I might not find even basic punctuation going forward.

Purging my buffer again, I moved on.

WTF #3: Confusing description

Analysis: The first sentence of the third story is: The Titan sky had a violet crown hovering above the scarlet horizon, and from the surface the Exploration and Research Vessel Lomonosov’s Drift appeared suspended in a firmament and geosynchronous orbit. My instinctive image based on it being a single sentence was that the violet crown was how people saw the Lomonosov’s Drift; however, an instant later, I remembered the suit from the first story was the colour of the skyline so wasn’t sure if this was two things in the sky or one. Still struggling to resolve that, my mind tripped on the end of the sentence: why was it a firmament rather than the firmament? Were there two skies? And why did it appear to be in geosynchronous orbit? If it wasn’t, surely surface dwellers would know because it moved across the sky, so what did “appearing to be” mean?

Unsure what I was supposed to be picturing, 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.

Demoniac Dance, by Jaq D. Hawkins (3:26)
The Butterfly and the Sea Dragon, by Tyree Campbell (2:20)

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.