Atraxes the bold


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DT

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Post May 24, 2005, 04:10:34 PM

Re: Atraxes the bold

I had a few comments but then they were all swept away by the ending.  An interesting blend of SF and F.  Kids are so troublesome!<br><br>The last sentence prods at us, leaves us wondering are they or are they not human?  Was the first 3/4 of the story a metaphorical representation of arthropod culture or a de facto medievalish realm?  A few anachronisms did bother me though like "neurotoxin."  What's this pegan sorcery you speak of??<br><br>By the way, I read in a certain submission guideline that you're NOT supposed to have a story which can be figured out if you were physically there.  This is one of those stories that proves there are no rules in writing.
Last edited by DT on May 24, 2005, 04:11:27 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post May 25, 2005, 06:08:45 PM

Re: Atraxes the bold


I never heard of this particular guideline, either.  
<br>It was from Strange Horizons.  Farsector also has a strong set of guidelines. Atraxes the Bold broke rules 9a and 9c.  LOL.<br><br><br>http://www.farsector.com/about.htm#submissions1<br><br>http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml
Last edited by DT on May 25, 2005, 06:10:47 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post May 26, 2005, 07:26:15 PM

Re: Atraxes the bold

... I agree some kind of description of the beast from the perspective[s] of our main characters would've been nice...

Dan E.
<br><br>"Turning around, Atraxes saw the enormous figure of the creature, its massive frame blocking out the sun.<br><br>I must move quickly, the lone warrior thought as he moved forward.<br><br>The creature's hide seemed tough and cratered. It was so high that Atraxes could not see its visage clearly. It did not seem to be moving however, so running swiftly and keeping in the shadows, Atraxes approached the Leviathan.<br><br>Must make this count! He readied the toxin-filled lance and charged. Luck was with him, and he reached the Leviathan unnoticed. Climbing onto the creature's appendage, walking now on its clammy, dirt covered skin, Atraxes plunged the toxin deep into the Leviathan's hide."<br><br>Lessee now -- from Atraxes's viewpoint, the Leviathan was a enormous, backlit thing, so big that its upper end was a blur. The parts he could see had hide that seemed 'tough and cratered'. In other words, the Leviathan was so big to Atraxes that it verged on being a PLACE rather than a creature. The Leviathan was many times larger (relative to Atraxes's size) than Godzilla would be to a human. Hence we get the 'elephant described by blind men' scenario -- Atraxes couldn't describe the Leviathan in a meaningful way because he was by nature incapable of perceiving it as a whole.<br><br>Robert M.
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Post May 27, 2005, 09:44:22 AM

Re: Atraxes the bold

Spoilers.....


Those are some visuals, Robert, but ants have highly developed senses of smell (and taste) that they tend to rely more on (and yes, there is the possibility that we are dealing with something other than ants).

What might the Leviathan smell like? Clammy and dirty as it was.

What might the Leviathan sound like? What might the aimless murmelings of a lone child exploring his backyard sound like to an ant?

That's what I was suggesting.

Dan E.
<br>Hmm. Your point re: insects' chemical / tactile senses are very interesting. I'm pretty sure that ants can see (certainly light vs. dark, probably shapes and motion; dunno how detailed an image they could process, particularly for Really Enormous Things), but they probably rely more on chemical traces and vibration for both communication and perception of their environment. Dunno about 'sound' per se; 'Mothra' and 'Them' and 'The Giant Mantis' aside, I can't recall hearing much about their, er, hearing.<br><br>Would an ant-sized creature (allowing for the possibility that Atraxes and his fellow City-dwellers aren't actually ants) experience a human voice as sound, or as vibration / pressure waves? Certainly human movement would generate microtremors in the ground ... causing dust to fall like powdered sugar on a Queen who would be Not Amused, for example.<br><br>Sohrab, time to Google some insect research before rewriting this for other markets (there's some threshold -- minimum of 20% in new/different content? -- to qualify something as 'previously unpublished' ...)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post May 27, 2005, 09:01:05 PM

Re: Atraxes the bold

Those are some visuals, Robert, but ants have highly developed senses of smell (and taste) that they tend to rely more on (and yes, there is the possibility that we are dealing with something other than ants).

What might the Leviathan smell like? Clammy and dirty as it was.

What might the Leviathan sound like? What might the aimless murmelings of a lone child exploring his backyard sound like to an ant?
<br>Careful. They'll start calling you Me Jr. (Mini-Me?) if you keep talking like that. :)<br><br><br>Unless I miss my guess, the vibe I get from the other critiques is that people like this story, but there's something not quite right about it, something no one has been able to put their finger on yet.<br><br>Generally, people seem to see this as a fairy tale, because it has a lot of those elements. The blurb sells it as a tale of Atraxes, and his bid to have history notice him--but that's not really what it's about. It begins then as if this were a legend, perhaps being retold about Atraxes. As a fairy tale, it really would be about Atraxes and his bid for glory, but it would follow him throughout. We'd see his weakness that the has to overcome or his folly that would be his downfall, ala a morality play.<br><br>Instead of a fairy tale, I say this is a long flash piece. That is, in a good flash piece (at least, to my way of thinking) the author sets up a situation, then reveals a surprise twist ending which causes the reader to reach a sudden realization wherein he or she connects the underlying, often hidden details of the text, with the new reality at the end. For example, suddenly we know why the dust is falling all around the throne room. Billy is stomping around the ant hill. We know why the Leviathan was so big, and why it wouldn't leave them alone for long.<br><br>I say if you view this tale from that perspective, it's a better story than not. It does the twist well--suddenly, the tumblers click in our minds, and we get it.<br><br>Setting is difficult in a flash piece. You can't say too much, or the audience guesses the ending. In this regard, it's hard to know when to apply more or less of the sensory input I love and Dan E. called for in his message. I think the best rule in this kind of story is to use those kind of descriptives mostly to show character or establish mood.<br><br>In terms of characterization, I'd have started with Atraxes failing to stand out in some attempt to do so, and not have centered on the political interplay between the general & prime minister. They're secondary to the goal of getting Atraxes out against the Leviathan. Plus, you establish sympathy for the hero so that when he is facing the "monster", the audience feels for him. You want them to be rooting for Atraxes, worried that he might die, and hopeful that history will remember him. The only way I know to do this is by establishing a rapport by showing the main character's flaws and other endearing traits early on.<br><br>The plot is ok. Nameless guard tries to break out of anonymity by volunteering when the rest of the court is playing games and currying favor, then the monster turns out to be as it was. It works, save that I thought the first part should have centered on Atraxes.<br><br>Like others, I thought the POV jumped all over the place instead of staying with a logical lead character.<br><br>I thought dialogue worked. The different characters sounded like themselves: the blustery general, the quick-witted politician, the crackpot inventor, timid guard, small child and annoyed mother. However, DT's note on neurotoxin was spot on. You have to match the lexicon to the source.<br><br>So, in general, I thought it was much better than Exile, but that there was still room for improvement.<br><br>Nate
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Post June 05, 2005, 11:11:50 AM

Re: Atraxes the bold

<br> As with most stories published here, this one<br> was enjoyable. The ending surprised me and I was <br> lost for a few seconds. That's a nice touch! The author<br> made you think! <br><br> If a story is enjoyable, that's what counts! The time<br> spend reading must pass in limbo in which time<br> does exist for the reader. That is the mark of<br> excellence in story telling.<br> <br> <br><br>
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