Above Ground, by A.M. Harte (5:50)

IOD score cardToday we see that when a problem recurs so often that instances start singing to you in mocking tones, it’s time to close the book.

What I gleaned about the story: Emma and Lilith live in some post-apocalyptic underground bunker, but today they get to visit the surface. And guess what? They’re going to see some real, live infected! (If you happen to believe the infected are actually living.) But something tells me this trip is not going to end pleasantly.

Find this book on Amazon.

WTF #1: Echoing headwords

Analysis: The needle, The vaccine, The hourglass, The photo, The door, The passageway, The computer… So many sentences and paragraphs on the first half-page begin this way. And some of them occur more than once. There’s nothing wrong with any particular sentence, but this stylistic echo keeps dripping on my consciousness like some kind of literary water torture.

WTF #2: More echoing, same headwords

Analysis: I’m onto page two now and it’s still happening. The door, The lights, The man, The Bottom Ring, The glass box, The spotlight. On and on it goes, to the point where I’m even flinching over the soft murmurs in the middle of a sentence. And now I’ve become so sensitized that other phrases are triggering flinches as well, especially the few sentences that begin with “They” or “Then.” These are false echoes, certainly, but the interruptions they trigger are no less real.

And the worst part is that the story is trying to do something interesting here, but these damned echoes keep yanking my attention away from it.

WTF #3: Trifecta of echoes

Analysis: Dammit! We just got to the meat of the opening scene, with our narrator watching a bizarre theatrical presentation involving vampires and some kind of post-apocalyptic were-creatures. But can I take all that in and share in Emma’s thrill at the strangeness of it all? No. Because while she’s watching the parade of weirdos on stage, all I can see are the five successive paragraphs parading down the left-hand side of the page: The compere, The vampires, The werekin, The leader, and The lead.

Each phrase sings to me, daring me to try to concentrate, and mocking me when I fail. “You want to read the story but we won’t let you. Woo-hoo! Jefferson! Look at us! Don’t you wish you could look away? Na-na na-na naaah naaah.”

And it’s frustrating, because I really was intrigued by the scenario that was shaping up here.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Try the free sample on one of my books or short stories and decide for yourself.

Maladaptation, by Adan Ramie (40:00)
Stories From Social Media, by Ray Daley (0:55)

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.