The Mechanical and the Strange by Andrew Reichard


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Post August 08, 2014, 01:05:08 AM

The Mechanical and the Strange by Andrew Reichard

I was some way into this story before I paused to notice that there were a lot of things in the setting with weird names (and sometimes equally weird descriptions), but that not a one of 'em was explained in any way. This makes me feel like I've been hearing a lot of inside jokes. I don't need a lot of details, but I could use something that would tie all these confusing features together so that they'd make sense to me.

Of course, the MC knows all this stuff and assumes his audience does, too. That lends a kind of reality of its own to the whole thing, but it still doesn't help me, as a first-time visitor to this world, which could very well be on an alien planet or in some alternate universe.

The dialog was decent enough, but the characterization seemed a bit incomprehensible at times, mostly when the MC was talking with his partner early on. His character was most consistent and understandable in the context of his relationship with Clare.

Even with the first-person POV, I didn't feel much involved, especially when it was important, like the fight scene in the tunnels.

I'm mostly unfamiliar with noir, but the character and setup seem like a stereotype, maybe a cliche. Formulaic. The good news about this is the same as the bad news: readers know what to expect. Fans of this stuff can say, "Oh, goody, here we go." Those who aren't fans (once they figure out what this is) might say, "Nothing to see here; move along." So, it's most likely to be fresh and surprising to non-fans of the genre, but even with my scant familiarity, I could pretty well guess what was coming, and the bizarre window-dressing was just that.

Overall, it's solid, but bumpy.
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Post August 12, 2014, 12:47:52 AM

Re: The Mechanical and the Strange by Andrew Reichard

Doing Sci Fi noir is risky. You are basically always up against Blade Runner. If you are going to go all six degrees off of reality and morose you have to make sure you bring your reader with you. I felt the vibe come through here perfectly. The tone was set correctly. It was dark and harsh you brought that through. I have to agree with Lester though I felt a touch uninformed. There were too many references to things that I did not know and could not guess on context. It interrupted my flow and I had to puzzle out what you meant by some of them. PKD and Effinger are two of my favorites. Unfortunately both are tragic tales unto themselves. Keep up the good work with some tightening up this would be exceptional work.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman

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