Reviews for Thirteen truths about the end of the world
Chronic Guardian chapter 1 . 8/29/2018
Okay! Been looking forward to reading this one for a while now. Let's see if there's anything good I can offer in return for the wait...

Four person team! Good idea. It keeps the cast from feeling cluttered but still gives you room to work with a variety of archetypes. I know this is edging on 11K worth of words, but I still appreciate the boundaries you set for yourself. They help frame the story and set the focus.

Hmmm... the dialog just out of the cave feels just a tad off. Like... on the cusp of feeling natural but still noticably affected for expositional purposes. I know you're trying to move the story along at this point, but consider adding a little bit to some of these so we can 1)get a better feel for our team and 2)better disguise the exposition. I know less is often more, but this one feels like an exception to that rule.

"While Minho is video-chatting his distraught family and Annelie is writing periodic updates to her mom, [Riya] scours..."

Good job with the encroaching state of decay going on! I dn't have much experience in post apocalyptic literatur (Mostly Naught Dog's "The Last of Us" and our own Aviantei's "I Go Around"), but it's always interesting to see what particular pillars of a system collapse are missed the most poignantly in practical terms. I almost wish one of these kids was an Econ major, but that would more serve my personal interests than the story.

Speaking of, I kind of wish we got a little more establishment on where these kids come from. Like, what are their majors/nationalities/intersecting interests? Are they all part of a social science club or did they just get bundled together in a study abroad program? I imagine Riya's an undecided major (like, she may have a declared major, but if I'm judging by thematic intuition then I'd say she doesn't actually know what she's studying for) and Dax strikes me as a pure academic who expects the world to run the same as it does on paper. Anellie seems more grounded (maybe she had parents in the field?) while Minho (sounds Korean, maybe?) really carries the air of a sports scholarship student who actually cares about his education. I mean, yes, the story functions well enough without all the background, but it's the sort of thing that I think would help flesh out the realism.

I really like how you handle the tension and moral dilemmas regarding what to do with the infected. You get away with a lot of wonderful thought shadows that show just enough without feeling like spoon feeding. This is the kind of stuff I wish I could write...

The reveal of the cure is interesting, but it makes sense to my sci-fi mind in a Metroid Fusion sort of manner (for context, Metroid Fusion is a later entry in the Metroid series wherein after the Metroids have been erradicated, a parasite from their home planet becomes ecologically unchecked and proceeds to run rampant against anything that doesn't have Metroid DNA spliced into it). Having the cure be near the source of the outbreak makes me wonder if this was the sort of thing that only happened because industrial powers cut into the fungi population that was naturally containing the plague up to that point.

Following that, I feel like there's a kind of stone-age deterioration that goes on in the months(?) since society's collapse. Speech becomes more archaic for all parties and this group of raiders seems almost like they were planning out their apocalypse society before things went south. Are these bush people? Rural farmers? How did they escape the original wave of infections and why are they so quick to abandon the scientific explanation? Given that it hasn't even been a year yet since the apocalypse, I feel like there's a missing line of logic on why this group developed the way they did. I'm not saying they can't have this end point, just that they feel like they don't have a logical pre-apocalypse past living somehwere beneath the surface. If nothing else, maybe have the characters acknowledge that much.

Ooooh, shoot. And then Riya has to go and start a cult of personality. Definitely not a history major, I can tell you that much.

And then, at this point, I feel my personal skepticism eating into Riya's narrative. How is central power maintained with only three people on the inside? I don't buy that there's a genuine peace, I'm more willing to believe that Riya has become an unreliable narrator and she's only seeing what she wants to see. Don't get me wrong, people can become incredibly cooperative when their survival is at stake, but especially when the population is growing with immigrants, I feel the logistics of accompanying such growth logically entails a certain amount of frustration. Never underestimate a human's capacity for being unreasonable.

"She has seen so many people revive from the brink of death that by now, she knows she wouldn't rather be doing anything else."
This line comes off as particularly clunky. Maybe revise the last part to "there is nothing else she would rather be doing." to eliminate the awkward "wouldn't rather"

Oh... poor Minho's return. Not even those he saved came to help his cause. "In the end, you saved no one". Haruhi knows how you feel, Minho...

Ah, and then that ending. That ending where Riya is consumed by her own conceit. Man. I mean, it's dark, but it's also logical. It's this point of collapse where the idea Riya relied on for power outgrows her frail human capacity and takes on a life of its own. "The end of the world abolished law, but it was her own selfishness that abolished logic, and cast her into the abyss."

...Makes me wonder if there's anyone Dax of Annelie told. I mean, not likely, but still... I'm the kind to hold out that kind of hope, y'know?

All in all, I feel like this story bears a lot of your classic hallmarks but doesn't quite have the grace of a lot of predecessors. Now, naturally, this is a modern day story so it asks for a different tone than most of your fantasy writing. What constitutes grace there becomes clunky here because it clashes with my preconceived notion of how people are supposed to be talking. Does that make me prejudiced and irrational? Yeah, probably. But it's still what happened, so I thought it worth articulating.

Don't get me wrong, though, the line of thought and character interplay is strong enough to carry the story to its conclusion. I still got an emotional and intellectual response out of the story and it sparked my imagination on the possibilities of what I'd write for a similar scenario. I just feel like there's a past that gets erased along the way when it should have been buried instead.

Still... you done good, kid.

Your snobbiest critic,
-CG
Aviantei chapter 1 . 8/6/2018
Greetings to L! This was certainly a ride, I’ll tell you that. I very much liked the use of the thirteen truths to help break this up in easily readable section. Really helped the pacing through 10k words.

Riyah and Minho are definitely the most memorable characters here, as the story focuses on them, but I feel I would’ve liked a little bit more characterization on their part. Also character descriptions, to give a clearer picture. You had some great notes at the beginning that started to bring it out (plus gave character in the process), but a little more would super bring out the details.

I like how this subverts a lot of “end of the world” tropes while also playing with others. Our heroes manage to find a cure, but rescuing humanity is a bit harder than you’d expect. Well, at the end it’s gonna come bite this cult in the ass, tho. Sucks to be, well, everything.

Thanks much for an intriguing play on this genre, L! I’m looking forward to seeing what you have in store for the “Scherezade” piece. Until then,

Avi out!