Cosmic Seasoning: A collection of short stories by L. G. Keltner (2:32)

IOD score cardToday we see that if you tell readers they might not like your work, they may take your advice.

What I gleaned about the stories: Robots make terrible storytellers.

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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: Over deprecation

Analysis: A couple of paragraphs into the introduction, the author suggests that the reader might or might not enjoy the stories, then goes on to describe at length the ways that a reader might express their dislike depending on which format they are reading. While part of me was aware that the author intended humour, after a few paragraphs my unconscious was whispering that – if the author themselves didn’t utterly love the stories – then the chances are that I wouldn’t either.

After musing for a moment on whether the joke would have worked better had I already been familiar with the author’s work, I moved on.

WTF #2: Formatting issues

Analysis: The introduction is formatted in the usual fiction style of first line indented and no gap between paragraphs. However, the first story is formatted without indents and a very narrow gap between paragraphs. This change in formatting immediately triggered a concern that inconsistent layout indicated a pervasive lack of proof-reading.

As the story opened with a letter, I decided to assume it was a deliberate choice and continued. Almost immediately, I encountered a ship name that hadn’t been italicised. On its own this might not have thrown a flag; but with concern about lack of proofing already in the front of my mind, the balance tilted toward distrust of the formatting. So, I moved on.

WTF #3: Lack of conflict

Analysis: The second story opens with the protagonist telling the reader about his forthcoming trip into space, the fact that they are different from ordinary humans, and the contents of their ship. Then the protagonist shares a little about how they came to be, and what they might do in the future. Then the story ends.

With all the build up about a new variant of life potentially defying expectations and possibly encountering aliens, I felt cheated by the lack of any action or challenge.

No longer trusting that the author would reward my interest in the hooks dangled before me, 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.

Book Simulator, by Chris Yee (40:00)
The Chained Adept, by Karen Myers (4:50)

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.