Reviews for Inevitability of Death in the Mind of the Living
m. b. whitlock chapter 1 . 12/5/2015
It’s so cool to read another piece of yours. Hope to see more work in the near future. :)

Like your other story, ‘The Harvesting’, this is saturated with vivid details that hint at the emotional state of the main character. Also like ‘The Harvesting’ this is a story about an intense relationship (I’m assuming it’s another relationship between a female narrator and a man). Pyr certainly appears to be a more mature and loving person than Jann in ‘The Harvesting’, but the two men do have similar aspects. They are both outsiders, out of step with the greater culture/society (to a larger degree than the protagonist/narrators with whom they are involved). Both stories also end with the dissolution of the relationship.

Some other commonalities I like include the ‘dying world’ character of the setting. In ‘The Harvesting’ you portray a community that harvests its young to feed a war with an unknown, unseen enemy. In this world it seems like the infrastructure, foundations/support systems of the society are breaking down due to lack of innovation and neglect. You use the word ‘old’ a lot in this, perhaps a bit too much. The fact that Pyr is an older person who has deep knowledge of the old stories and myths of the past resonates well and ties in with the theme of a dying world. In order to live the narrator must leave the old world that is dying as well as her old lover who clings to an aging, irrelevant past.

I really like how much setting and world building you pack into this piece. Every sentence reads like the tip of an iceberg with many layers and levels below the surface. I would have liked more information about the narrator though. At the end I know nothing really about her (not even her sex, she’s possibly a him). This makes the story a bit unbalanced character-wise in my opinion, lopsided I suppose you could say.

Okay, here are some notes:

“An airship crawling over the sun-bleached salt flats”
Very effective opening. Like the ominous feel of an airship ‘crawling’ over barren salt flats.

“An Old World nightmare clawing into the lingering spindle-thin daydreams of a skull-faced love.”
Here you weave in the themes of a dying world and the narrator’s dying relationship. Also like the ’skull-faced’ image and how you later bring up the image again with ‘the face’ of the receiver screen.

“Anywhere these days is limbo. Mind-numbing hours waiting in the airship terminal while comms spooled from century's old satellites.”
Like how the comms spool. It creates images of great spools of copper wire, 19th century telegraph signals, ancient outmoded technologies. I do start to feel a bit numbed by your constant use of ‘old’ here though. You could rework the end of the sentence, something like ‘while comms spooled from satellites launched a century ago’. :)

“The cold light wanes from the receiver screen and I brush my fingers against the face.”
As I said above, I really like how the ‘face’ of the screen ties back to the “skull-faced love” earlier in the piece.

“Sometimes it's only a few minutes. Other times, hours. Days. Weeks.”
I would work on your punctuation/formatting here. It seems inconsistent to not capitalize ‘hours’. Also I think using commas or maybe semicolons might work better than single word sentences…?

“The farther the airship *traveled* away from the Drammen outpost, the longer the spools.”
It seems strange to me that you switch to past tense here with “traveled” instead of remaining consistent by keeping your verbs in the present tense, i.e., ‘The farther the airship travels away…’

“Pursed-mouthed pulls off a half smoked cigarette, we both know he only says that because he's only cruised the moon, never got past the rings of space junk and ancient government protected satellites. *A man a generation apart.*”
Love the imagery of “pursed-mouthed pulls off a half smoked cigarette”! The last ** marked section is a fragment. Maybe use an em dash (–) instead? Or say ‘He is a generation apart’ or something.

“Boarding will ** in ten minutes.”
Missing a word ** here I think.

Some verb tense issues/missing words here too:
“It had been four weeks since then, and Pyr's echoes *become blurred* with ** interference—business of every day life, the barren dust kicked up in pursuit of other dreams.”

“The way he kept coming back, I should have turned him around in the airship terminal.”
I have to say I am confused by your ending. Did Pyr physically appear in the terminal before the narrator boarded?

Overall, I think this a compelling piece. The glimpse you give us of this dying world is intense and I am definitely interested in finding out more about the characters, especially the narrator. If you choose to revise this (and I hope you will!) I recommend clarification and development of the story, specifically more information about the narrator’s past and how her/his relationship with Pyr began (would love a scene or two of them together in the past) and some work on the language here and there, fixing those format/punctuation and verb tense irregularities.

I really enjoyed the story.

Very best!

lookingwest chapter 1 . 11/30/2015
Well, surprise! I'm super glad this won, heh. I voted for it because it's incredible. You do it again! You should try to submit this to Shimmer, Strange Horizons, or Lightspeed. It's a really great sci-fi piece.

Of course, I'm digging the writing. There are so many poetic turns of phrase in here that are much like what I imagine a poet would come up with. Very strong imagery. You know me, I eat that stuff up :) I really liked the way you balanced the /message in transit/ bit towards the end when you started to work it into the paragraphs, too. It was a cool technique weaving into the line-level sentence stuff.

While we get a very unfamiliar setting, and I'd almost perhaps request a little more from it in revision, I actually didn't mind because I think you're dealing with a familiar sci-fi set up. I get what the Old World things are, and I can imagine the terminals and the space port kind of things from other fiction I've read in the genre, so I do like that there's nodding going on - and just enough to build me a picture. I also think this piece does a really cool thing with setting/situation where it's a familiar sort of story we've seen told again and again - this broken love story, but it's put into an unfamiliar place.

The only part where I got slightly confused was the "Are you sure?" transmission echo - I think starting it with a question made me wonder if they were speaking to each other in real time when the narrator continues speaking and I kind of had to backtrack and figure out what was going on through context clues. Like that the next line isn't a response to that - if that makes sense. Anyway, besides that, there were many things I loved in this. I think my favorite image of all was the half-smoked cigarette and the gov satellites and trash in orbit around Earth from earlier space travel, etc. Such a lasting image!

Congrats on winning WCC! And again - I think you should make the rounds with this on the sci-fi mags!
Solemn Coyote chapter 1 . 11/14/2015

The only thing I want from this is a longer, more spelled out setting.

The tinges of Lovecraftiana are great. The post-humanism fits it well. Everything goes together like squamous chocolate and techno-sentient peanutbutter, but the formatting threw me a little bit. I couldn't quite tell how much of the narrative was the narrator talking to herself, and if less than 100%, who the other participants in that conversation were.

Your word choices were lovely and evocative. You moved easily back and forth between sweeping visuals and punchy statements. I'd love to read more of this, if there's more forthcoming. As is, it's a solid snapshot of emotion and culture.
LittleAlchemist chapter 1 . 11/8/2015
This was very well done! A lot of colourful words. I suppose so much colourful words might be daunting to some but it didn't fracture the illusion of creativity and immersiveness. Great job!