Wanderling by Benjamin Taylor Jr.

Tell us what you thought of the February 2010 issue.

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Post February 20, 2010, 09:21:46 PM

Wanderling by Benjamin Taylor Jr.

There are some very nice pieces of description in this story such as:

Wild brushstrokes of delicate crimson swept across an endless azure canvas. Stars slowly emerged, the brighter ones first, then all the others as the heavens deepened to a rich sapphire. Soon, there were no colors, only infinite blackness pierced with glittering pinpricks.

The author should be commended on his style. And I like the reveal at the end of the story. While this is a common device in sci fi stories I think it works well in this case.

If I have a constructive criticism of this story it would be that very little happens in the course of the story and we have a lot of dialogue in the middle of the story that is functioning to tell us how the characters are, particularly the captain and the first mate. I think the story would be more effective if there were some more instances where the particular traits of the captain and the first mate, namely the captain's skepticism and the first mate's faith in the 'supernatural' could be revealed through their actions rather than the two of them just discussing their traits. I think this might serve to make the ending of the story a little more impactful.

I hope these comments are constructive. I enjoyed the read though.

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Post February 21, 2010, 12:50:43 AM

And I like the reveal at the end of the story. While this is a common device in sci fi stories I think it works well in this case.
I disagree; I felt that almost ruined the thing for me, harkening too strongly back to an old Twilight Zone formula. Up until that point, I liked it quite a bit, although it was a little bit of a stretch that the captain should suddenly have such a change of heart about these phenomena -- and then I saw that ending and said, "oh, not again . . . "

To me, the better surprise was that the ship didn't turn out to just be a seafaring vessel, which I had gotten to thinking it was.

The descriptive language was impressively beautiful, btw.

I really feel that this device has been way overused, and should be avoided, maybe even included on the List Of Things Not To Be Done.
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Post February 24, 2010, 12:15:59 PM

Lester Curtis wrote:I really feel that this device has been way overused, and should be avoided, maybe even included on the List Of Things Not To Be Done.

Beautiful language in this one. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the vessel cutting though the sea and just about everything else. It’s one of the tougher things authors have to do, and this was great. Really.

Though some of the descriptions bordered upon hyperbole, they were consistent and evoked the imagery, as they should.

Though the plot is a little tried-and-true, with Earth being the planet under consideration, it was saved by its absolute lack of hints, that this was so. Nicely done, Mr. Taylor.

No problems with structure or grammar, that I could see.

This one will stick with me for a while.

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Post February 27, 2010, 10:49:52 AM

My only criticism about this story is that the Captain, the First and the Chief biologist have no real names.

Referring to them as Captain and First makes them impersonal and a little artificial.

If during the beginning of the story the author gave them real concrete names, then referred to them by their ranks as the story progressed, well that would have added some more dimension to the characters.

I understand why no names were mentioned. That author wanted to conceal to the reader that the ship was alien. And with no names mentioned except Captain and First, the author attempted to conceal that fact. I knew something was up when no names were mentioned at the beginning, yet I didn’t figure out what it was. Possibly, with no names, the author knew that some reader would pick up on that and really try to figure out why no names were used!! I don't know, but not using names in this story wasn't any critical error or failure in judgment with character development. It was just a small point that I thought should be brought up.

Very good description, dialogue sounded natural and the characters did come alive. But I still think that names would have helped in character development.

Good one :D
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Post February 27, 2010, 11:30:10 AM

The story is stylistically sound, with good pacing and nice description. I thought the dialogue done well, although the Chief Biologist seemed a tad too shallow for my taste. A couple science-minded people I know would be more awed by the phenomena than the sailors themselves, even though they understand it. The display of nature is what draws them to the discipline. It's not about numbers and formulas.

I do have a problem with the twist ending. It cheapened the story for me. The characters were too human with too many occurrences of human terminology. There was nothing alien about them. The sudden shift reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan who tries too hard to insert a twist where one really isn't needed. I do appreciate the attempt though. I like writers who take risks. This one just didn't happen to work for me.
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