Reviews for The Beacon
Cole Culain chapter 1 . 1/31/2012
My review for the January WCC. I'm sorry, this is so very late.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this piece is the affection the captain feels for his ship, and her personified incarnation. The kinds of emotions and empathy they share allows the reader to forget that Atalanta is a robot, if only for a brief moment.

It also shows the power of the human spirit when the captain decides to sacrifice precious oxygen and Atalanta's power so that they can converse together. He seems to come to terms with his mortality, and accepts it. But he wants to spend his last moments with her, and that's fairly beautiful.

Atalanta herself is a compelling character in and of herself. As the story progresses, she becomes less and less a machine and more and more human. She shares concern with her human counterpart, quite unlike cold, unfeeling machines so popular in modern fiction.

The ending too, is also very bittersweet. One can see how much their lives were intertwined, not just for that brief period, but for a time long enough for the captain to genuinely grieve her loss more than his own.
Laoch chapter 1 . 1/1/2012
Congratulation on the WCC!

I particularily enjoyed the opening to this; it was strong and powerful. There's very little hint at what has happened, yet the character already draws you in. His voice is strong and believable. As soon as I finished the first paragraph, I wanted to read onward, so great hook as well.

Interestingly enough, the dialogue itself was cool. At points, you forget that there is only one person and a robot. The concept for who/what Atalanta is was unusual and you can't help but be drawn to it. As the two interact, she becomes more and more focused, and sucks you in.

I loved your use of the prompt. Despite how different it is, it follows the prompt perfectly. Because you realize who the siren is and yet you don't see her as the siren. I did find it slightly confusing as to how Atalanta became deadly, but that's perhaps because I miss a lot of things when I read...

I did note a few tiny punctuation errors, but just two or three. Watch for them.

The setting suits the scene to the letter. A fatal explosion, one sole survivor and an automated voice the only light remaining? Awesome. It just highlights how strong and how flawed the characters need for any source of comfort is. And it provides much fun to write and describe (good but perhaps it could give more details to Atalanta).

TheSilentWitness chapter 1 . 12/20/2011
Some of the grammar, diction, and sentence structure I found to be somewhat objectionable though overall it was not at all problematic; the read was still smooth and enjoyable, I just felt as though some areas, particularly the opening were sometimes awkwardly worded or organized.

"She's made of plastic, you see. Transparent colonial red plastic, the lightest, the thinnest, the strongest plastic available. No expense was spared in her creation.

Atalanta, the S47-E : the jewel of the fleet. She was the empire's elite scout ship, the fastest ship in the corps and, arguably, the fastest ship in the galaxy. Like her namesake, none could catch her in a chase or a race. She could speed past any danger, outrun any pursuer, and quickly relay vital information back to the empire on the status of the warring border systems."

This set of sentences in particular irked me; it was spattered with a shower of commas many of which I felt were unnecessary and made the flow of the words rather jerky and disjointed; though not crippling to the execution of the piece I felt they detracted from what could otherwise have been a smooth and quite enjoyable opening.

The character of Atlanta I found in particular to be rather intriguing in spite of her lack of dialogue; there seems to be a rather human depiction of her though she is all but a voice and a flashing beacon. Her seeming humanness to the protagonist as her final companion apart from the desolate void of barren space would seem to me to be a representation of how people can personify even the most inhuman of objects when they're looking for something to cling to, as a drowning man clings to a life raft. Though not the most original or exciting depiction of a shipboard A.I, the execution in the creation of Atlanta's character to me was none the less crisp and well thought out.

The ending is well executed, and close to the heart with a theme and idea that identifies with feelings of loneliness and despair close to the heart that come with having given up. The deadening silence and all that really help to establish the atmosphere as well and give it an air of finality culminating in a tragic death that is filled with a swirl of emotion. I loved it really, to be honest.

Overall, I felt it was an excellent short read in which you really managed to establish a connection with traits of the human persona despite your relatively mechanical and little described characters; by discarding most of the physical descriptions and leaving much of the appearances to the reader you really allowed the reader to focus in on the emotional turmoil and conflict in a good example of story telling at it's finest.

I wish you good luck in the competition

lookingwest chapter 1 . 12/19/2011
Opening- Great opening, I think you described everything that needed to be explained well and in a concise manner. You didn't give us too little or too much. It all made sense and set up the whole story perfectly. Also liked how you introduced your characters and everything.

Characters- With the, I wasn't really a fan of Atalanta. I kept seeing Atlanta-that's how I was reading it for a long time. The extra "a" you add doesn't do much, I don't think. If you ever revise maybe consider changing it just because the words are so close together and I think everyone goes with Atlanta. Or maybe I'm the only one. I of course, love how you create her into a character and give an AI a voice like that. Also thought it was interesting she had the capacity to be somewhat human, etc. It added a good twist to everything.

Setting- Wonderfully creative. We don't get a whole lot of it, but I love the cave-like feeling and the way the setting presses in on the characters. You use the space well, and I think it's interesting that the Captain dies inside of Atalanta. Kind of like returning to the womb or something.

Ending- I loved the ending. Everything about this piece was fantastically written and it definitely deserved the win, but this ending was really amazing. I really loved the tone of despair and everything, and I think it shows guts to do something like that and thought it was also sad. Everything came together perfectly.

Congratulations on winning the WCC, Lyra! This piece definitely deserved it!
Boreeeed chapter 1 . 12/14/2011
This is a wonderfully touching piece that reaches the readers heart. The atmosphere is sad yet hopeful with a tinge of love mixed together perfectly. The descrpitions you use paint a picture in my head and doesn't keep the reader bored with the story. The only suggestion is to be more clear in the dialogue. I know that she is a robot but when the captian and her are talking, I sometimes have a hard time following their conversation. Otherwise, the way you wove your words together made simple descripitions, to gasp inducing moments and the idea you had here was creative and new. This story is a piece of art and I enjoyed reading it very much.
Stephanie M. Moore chapter 1 . 12/14/2011
Oh. This is really good.

I really like the way you blend science fiction and mythology with a lot of the nautical language. It captures the spirit of the prompt really well.

The way you used the countdown, the beacon, and its slowing pace really helps build the suspense. Also, being in the first person immerses us in his despair- the darkness and the cold that surround him.

And it's interesting the way he humanizes Atalanta as he's dying. She becomes so much to him to the point he's dependent on her. He pushes all of these human things onto her- trying to initiate conversation, asking her about the weather. And she reminds him that she is only a machine, and he really is alone.

I thought you might save him in the end when she tells him about the other ship. But in the end, I think this is the better conclusion.

Sorry it took me so long to review, but this is truly a fantastic piece. Good luck!
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 12/11/2011
This was a very interesting story, and I found the relationship between the captain and Atalanta to be the most compelling part. I felt almost like the captain had feelings for her, and if he didn't before this crash, then he developed some while sitting there listening to her and watching her red light. The counting gives this a nice edge of suspense - I kept waiting for either help to arrive or for the narrator to die.

I like how you address the darkness and the cold. It all feels very realistic, even though this is taking place on a ship in outer space. The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of would maybe be some closure as to where exactly the captain is on the ship (I'm assuming he's in the cockpit). Also, is he injured? I know there's a mine mentioned and an explosion that killed all his crew, and he pulls himself out from underneath the rubble, but aside from him saying he's been better, I didn't notice any details on his physical condition. Considering it killed everyone else, I'm just wondering how bad off it left him and if the injuries were a contributing factor to his eventual death.

Good luck in the WCC!
P.A.W.07 chapter 1 . 12/11/2011
Oh wow... and here I thought this was going to be hard to read. Its always refreshing when I'm wrong. Anyway, to the review.

First off, since I can't think of a dislike except that the first sentence doesn't have a grab effect to attract readers, I like the countdown for this. Its haunting. At first I was just trying to get to the end to see if you were going to off the protagonist, but then you easily pulled me into the tale. I could feel my chest grown tight as if the air was thinning in the room and my mind kept counting down with his, the time slowing down like my brain was suffocating off and dying. A great effect. I loved it. My chest still feels tight.

I also liked your take on first person. Generally, I dislike first person perspectives because it is usually used for amateur writers, but you pulled it off so well. Personally, I think that you used it to its full potential, physiological effect. The red button feels like a heart beat, count down to death and like a dying person he just wants to be reminded that he's alive. The want to hear a voice, the simple joy that there is a sound to be heard and remind oneself that there is more then that red blinking.
Who Is This Girl Anyway chapter 1 . 12/11/2011
You use personification really well in this story- I was quite surprised when I realised Atalanta wasn't actually human. There's a real sense of loneliness through this- all the narrator has is her.

The countdown was really effective as it added a sense of urgency to the ending. You did a brilliant job with the pacing of this, and the ending was really effective. You didn't overdo it or drag it out, and the death was very well-done- beautifully emotive. The only mistakes I noticed are that the names of numbers should usually be written down, e.g. "fifty nine" instead of "59", and I think "Hell" is meant to be capitalised, but I'm nitpicking. This was a really good piece, and you're clearly a talented writer. I'm quite curious to see what your other stuff is like now.

Glissoning Raven chapter 1 . 12/9/2011
'Atalanta is dead. My hope, my mind, my everything died with her.' My absolute favorite line of the piece. A very chilling end. You kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting for that last minute rescue. I love how you ended it. The counting down at the end adds to the suspense as the reader waits for that response that never comes.

I like how you make Atalanta seem so human. So many sci-fi writers miss the human element in their writing. They get so caught up in all the technology and robots that they forget the human element that makes it so much more powerful. Your word choice too was refreshing. Not the same old dull descriptions. I absolutely loved it. Keep up the great work!

Dragon made me do it chapter 1 . 12/8/2011
Okay one sentence in and I'm already hooked. Just loving the lyrical language, the subterfuge of meaning (i.e. at first we don't know Atlanta means a spaceship, not a city or a woman), the red light bathing everything.

Often stories involving spaceships and what-not can be so bloody dry in their language it puts you to sleep, but you have made it so beautiful and poetic that it bathes the genre in a whole new light. A red one, tehe. Suppose it's the human brain driving Atlanta that makes the story more vivid and 3-dimensional. Some sci-fi I really like, and some is just dead to me, and I think it's about whether this human element is there or not. Robots are all good and well but if there's no humanity then it's all just a hunk of metal. Okay sorry, wild tangent...

'I could still hear her true voice at that point, however.' wasn't sure what you meant by 'true voice', does this mean her human voice? I also think it sounds better without the 'however'.

'"Do you know any music, Atalanta?' - Atlanta not Atalanta unless this was a funny accent or something you were doing.

I like this concept of checking in every hour for some levity at the expense of overall power. Suppose it parallels decisions in life about whether to have more quality of life in exchange for less years.

What a great interpretation of the prompt, and what an awfully chilling ending! Running out of air must be a horrible way to die. I had thought they ...I keep thinking of Atlanta as a real person... might be rescued at the last minute, so I was quite surprised to see this ending and it literally gave me a chill.

Great story.
Siochana chapter 1 . 12/8/2011
A perfect use of the prompt if I do say so myself.

At first glance, this almost appears hopeful. As if good parts will come of it. The slow decent is amazing. You slowly get pulled in and wait on the edge of your seat as you read. Awesome.

I did find that the constant reference to time was a bit overused. Even though I know it's a main part to the story, I feel as though you could try to find a better way to integrate some bits mentioning time. But that's just me.

Good luck in the WCC.
jinx1764 chapter 1 . 12/7/2011
What an interesting take on the silence, though it does remind of Macaffery's 'The Ship who Sang' with the human brains inside the ship. I wasn't sure where you were going at first with that. A sad ending which had me freezing along with him. I wanted to tell him to suck it up, but that long in cold, dark silence is a long time until you realize you've just sealed your fate. When you had the rescue ship out at 18 hours and he kept checking I he would run the power down. Unfortunate...but fitting ending for the story.