Second Suicide by Tim Britto


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Post April 20, 2012, 07:41:58 PM

Second Suicide by Tim Britto

The thing that bothers me the most about this story is its air of preachiness, despite the truth of its message. Maybe that could have been handled with a bit more subtlety.

Big plot hole: the Valash, being without any arts or even the concept of art, are truly alien, but then I have to wonder, why do they respond at all to our art? They've met other species as well; were they not exposed to art from those other cultures? Why, all of a sudden, do they think we've got something wonderful that they've never experienced before?

I'm at least glad the story didn't end with some Valash officer pushing the Big Red Button -- or being told not to. And the presence of Sutu Lamat next to Wes in the very last moments seems to indicate hope, which then would mean that Wes may have killed himself for nothing. Kind of a let-down.

The whole package was less than satisfying. I choked a little on the notion of a rock star being buddies with the President. Quite a stretch, and I had to consciously accept that, but it took me out of the story. The style of the piece was rather flat, and Mr. Britto needs to look to his punctuation, too; a missing comma here and there made me have to backtrack in a few spots.

I think this could have been an enjoyable story; it did show some good work in the way the different nations were portrayed, such as the Chinese. Maybe stereotyped, but it worked in context. Also, the way individuals bickered over recognition for the works (artistic ego; we know what that
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Post April 20, 2012, 09:48:38 PM

Re: Second Suicide by Tim Britto

Lester Curtis wrote:The thing that bothers me the most about this story is its air of preachiness, despite the truth of its message. Maybe that could have been handled with a bit more subtlety.

Big plot hole: the Valash, being without any arts or even the concept of art, are truly alien, but then I have to wonder, why do they respond at all to our art? They've met other species as well; were they not exposed to art from those other cultures? Why, all of a sudden, do they think we've got something wonderful that they've never experienced before?

I'm at least glad the story didn't end with some Valash officer pushing the Big Red Button -- or being told not to. And the presence of Sutu Lamat next to Wes in the very last moments seems to indicate hope, which then would mean that Wes may have killed himself for nothing. Kind of a let-down.

The whole package was less than satisfying. I choked a little on the notion of a rock star being buddies with the President. Quite a stretch, and I had to consciously accept that, but it took me out of the story. The style of the piece was rather flat, and Mr. Britto needs to look to his punctuation, too; a missing comma here and there made me have to backtrack in a few spots.

I think this could have been an enjoyable story; it did show some good work in the way the different nations were portrayed, such as the Chinese. Maybe stereotyped, but it worked in context. Also, the way individuals bickered over recognition for the works (artistic ego; we know what that
is).

Wow, you're developing quite a critiquing style! A lot of good assessments and insight, Lester.

About the preachiness through letting the message dominate the story and by using heavy handed narratives; yeah, I burned most of that out of me in writing my first two hundred stories. Unfortunately, it took about that long to learn to express my perspective by painting a scene ripe to challenge my own views and let the characters fight it out. I've learned from those experiences. I've picked up from Rob and Nate to "infer" and let everyone decide for themselves.

However, you can use your fire and or passion about a particular thing to inspire you to create.

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Post April 27, 2012, 03:11:02 PM

Re: Second Suicide by Tim Britto

I try to be careful when I judge a story as “preachy”. That’s usually an indication that I personally don’t agree with the message of the writer that may have nothing to do with the actual writing itself. Someone else may call the story “insightful”. Same idea, other side of the coin. There are times when I don’t like the theme and I’ll try to be honest upfront so I can get to critiquing the writing itself.

I don’t like the theme of this story.

Now that’s out of the way, let me add some observations. I think the scope is a bit too large for a short story. The pacing seems a bit rushed, as the sections are too abrupt. Although I like the internal struggles and thought the characterizations were okay, there’s a serious lack of description. What does Wes look like? What does anyone look like (except tired, and that doesn’t really count)? There’s a need to engage the other senses, something tactile, something olfactory. Show vs. tell.

I didn’t enjoy the ending. It’s such a downer. But that’s my personal preference. I didn’t like the conclusion of Se7en of Mystic River either. However, I think the author may have missed a good opportunity here to use the protagonist in a more direct way. Could you imagine if Wes was about to commit suicide and composes a song for his daughter? What if the aliens heard the song and it was enough to change their minds? I think the writer could have been more creative here.

As for plot holes, the aliens, being so advanced, would have to understand “why” humans are the way they are. There’s been enough research by humanity itself, especially if they reviewed how primates evolved. Also, I don’t understand why no one argued that humanity was going in the right direction. Sure, we have problems, but democracy is spreading overall. We are figuring out the damage we’re causing the planet, and realize the need to change. The Internet has allowed us to become more connected, and despite the shortcomings of Homo Sapiens, there is a growing realization that we are more alike than we are different. By the way, did I tell you I didn’t care for the theme?

One final item. There were a number of spelling errors. I don’t normally harp on that, but the author is an English major.
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Post May 04, 2012, 11:19:16 PM

Re: Second Suicide by Tim Britto

I like negative/nebulous endings. Sci/fi is often too upbeat. Unrealistically upbeat. I don't mind the preachiness either. Almost every work of fiction takes a point of view about something. Very often, it is a point of view that conflicts with the majority, and that is why some artists feels compelled ytp express it.

Two things about the story bother me. One, the hero is only down for a second before he is back up again. This one would be more satisfying if the hero had been done a long, long time---as in washed up, has-been, used to have a fan base but no one has listened to him for years until some tiny radio station dusts off one of his LPs and plays it right as the aliens are invading. Think the anime series Black Heaven" (highly recommended adult anime about peple over the age of 16)

Second, since the aliens are highly rational beings, I would expect them to analyze art, not just enjoy it. And if they analyze it they will see that a lot of art has its origins in conflicts within a sociel group. At which point they might begin to question their assumption that no conflict is the best and only viable way for societies to progress.

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Post May 06, 2012, 03:00:56 AM

Re: Second Suicide by Tim Britto

Jaimie wrote:I didn’t enjoy the ending. It’s such a downer. But that’s my personal preference.

I did like the ending - mainly, I think, because after all the high morals of the story the author has refrained from passing final judgement on humanity.

Jaimie wrote: Could you imagine if Wes was about to commit suicide and composes a song for his daughter? What if the aliens heard the song and it was enough to change their minds?

One man to earn grace before the aliens? Yes, I can imaine. I already see Wes turn into Noah. Also, he could be a little less successful and the story could turn into that of Ziusudra.

Not what you meant? Let me try again:

One song by one man to turn the minds of then aliens? After all the emphasis the story puts on the merits of cooperation that would certainly qualify as a surprise ending. Also, I believe, it would be quite contrary to the authors intentions.
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Post May 06, 2012, 02:01:03 PM

Re: Second Suicide by Tim Britto

vates wrote:
Jaimie wrote:I didn’t enjoy the ending. It’s such a downer. But that’s my personal preference.

I did like the ending - mainly, I think, because after all the high morals of the story the author has refrained from passing final judgement on humanity.

Jaimie wrote: Could you imagine if Wes was about to commit suicide and composes a song for his daughter? What if the aliens heard the song and it was enough to change their minds?

One man to earn grace before the aliens? Yes, I can imaine. I already see Wes turn into Noah. Also, he could be a little less successful and the story could turn into that of Ziusudra.

Not what you meant? Let me try again:

One song by one man to turn the minds of then aliens? After all the emphasis the story puts on the merits of cooperation that would certainly qualify as a surprise ending. Also, I believe, it would be quite contrary to the authors intentions.


A friend of mine has stated that he dislikes movies like "2012", not only because of their SFX-dependent over-the-top plots, but because the audience is supposed to be happy that a select few survive while everyone else dies horribly. (Any resemblance to the Rapture, or the Heaven's Gate cult, is purely coincidental.)

Another point of comparison for this story: the Twilight Zone (or was it Outer Limits) episode, "A Small Talent for War". Same idea, with a twist.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

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