Post August 20, 2007, 09:11:03 AM

Phantasmagoria by Daniel William Gonzales

You can often sense when a lot of effort has been put into a story. It’s an intuitive assessment and difficult to quantify, but I believe that effort exists here. That said, you can also sense when the author is relatively green. The technique and fundamentals are lacking in some aspects.

Here are some things I think need rework:
  • At the beginning, we have the POV of Gregory. However, Greg isn’t the main character. It’s actually Calvin, which we don’t realize until a good way into the story. During that opening sequence, the POV shifts amongst Greg, Eddie, and Calvin. This gives the reader a somewhat muddled view.
  • Eddie’s death was a bit confusing. I assumed he would have died fairly quickly when exposed to the vacuum of space. Once dead, he would no longer be subjected to aging. Unless I misread the reason he disintegrated, in which case that needs to be clarified.
  • When Calvin awakens, he is told he was given a synthetic arm. He should have been immediately aware of the incompatibility of that statement with the primitive society he confronts.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed Calvin to live when they prophesized that he would be their downfall. Or at the very least, they should have “infected” him at the beginning.
  • The relationship between the remaining humans and the aliens is not a parasitic one. It’s a symbiotic one. Both species benefit from each other. For the aliens, it’s a place to live. For the humans, it’s immortality.
  • It’s a bit trite to mock a substandard human as a “monkey” or “ape”. It also made the “evolved” humans seem petty.
  • When Lyandra states she’s “26 moons”, she means 26 years. A moon, however, reflects a month (lunar) period.
  • It seems odd that Calvin didn’t notice the alien pressing against Lyandra’s skin when they were making love, especially when there was a lot of caressing involved.
  • This part was particularly jarring (my additions in bold italic):
    He felt like an anthropologist investigating a foreign land, only it was his home, a home that had long transformed into something new and yet archaic. Talking with Lyandra.

    “Can you show me where I fit in?” Calvin asked Edic. Talking with Edic who wasn’t present with Lyandra. We figure out it’s a completely different conversation.

Hopefully, this feedback is helpful and not discouraging. The author needs to work on POV management and avoiding plot holes. On a plus side, I thought the pacing well done. The story seemed the right length for the topic.
"Even the straight arrow needs a crooked bow."
- Samani

jaimie l. elliott

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