You think you've got it bad? I'm even more interested, since it involves my story, AND, since I'm at my parent's house, I only get to check for updates roughly once a day... No worries about the wait, Arwink, but the suspense is killing me!
My email is hanging. When it does this, it usually sorts itself out within a few hours. Arwink, if I haven't posted the results by the time you're up, please PM me. I expect it'll be up by then, though.
Macbeths story is funny, with a sulking god, a repentive Casanova, and an over-intense Archangel.
Mythago gives us a story with Nazis, special agents and weird tech.
My vote goes for Macbeth, it's just fantastic story! "Thank you"
Mythago vs Macbeth
Macbeth – My God
Macbeth has a stylish opening – the complete understatement a perfect contrast with the grandeur of the idea he’s presenting. That the character of Michael just gets smarmier and smarmier as the story progresses is great – he’s instantly dislikable, but somehow fascinating to read about. This is a great idea, and while the execution is a little awkward in places it carries through well. Once again, this is the kind of piece that is worth polishing up for later use after the stress of the competition is over.
The key problem here tends to be one of pacing – this is a big idea, and as the story progresses it starts to feel more and more rushed as Macbeth tries to crush everything he wants to include into length. Some elements, which should have more space to breath within the context of the story, get rushed through with little explanation. Other elements, such as the summoning of the Japanese warrior-woman and Gabriel’s casual dismissal of “It’s an angel thing” break the style of the piece pretty badly – the first because of the contrast between godly/Christian ideals and the warrior code of the samurai, the latter because the story suddenly swings from a fairly serious but odd story to a bad buddy-cop movie in tone.
The ending, while a great idea, just doesn’t play out effectively given the pacing problems mentioned above – it seems less like an inevitable ending and more like a cheesy way to finish the story before it’s done. The idea is great, it just doesn’t fit the story as it stands. Get the story to the point where this does seem inevitable, and this will be a great satirical piece.
Mythago – World Enough and Time
I was sold the moment I came across the line about anger and guffaws in the second paragraph. A great opening, a nice sense of style, the ever-so-addictive German style of the piece – to put it simply, as an opening, this rocks my world. Pulp science, clockworks, cattle ranchers and style – this has it all and it handles it with panache.
My only real complaint about the story is the handling of Li Mie – she’s built up as an important part of the story, something that intrigues the reader and hooks them into the story, and when she finally arrives her sole purpose seems to be as a sacrificial lamb to the plot. Li is a great idea, but she needs to be tied to the story a little more strongly.
I feel like I should be saying more to this, especially after so long a wait, but my sole response is “Wow.” I love a good pulp-influenced story, and this is one of the best I’ve come across in a long while.
Macbeth has style, concept and some impressive bones of a story on his side, but ultimately this round goes to Mythago on the strength of a wow.
The pictures seem to flow into the background of her tale, and it oozes so much style that it grabs the reader and refuses to let go.
Macbeth: My God.
What a cool idea.
The idea that someone might have God sitting around in their living room is utterly audacious and very, very interesting. Making the protagonist be fundamentally sleazy and yet interesting is another bold move. The core of the narrative - the setup, the reason behind God's presence there, and the consequences thereof - drives a nice story.
I had some problems with it, though. My biggest concern was that the characters didn't consistently ring true. Michael got inexplicably less smarmy as the story went on, Gabriel's personality and dialogue disrupted the tone of the piece, and Grandma ends up being more a deux ex machina than I suspect Macbeth meant her to be. I'd like to see more of Michael's emotions and feelings from his own point of view, instead of just being told them, and I'd like to see more consistency within the character studies.
For instance, Gabriel has this cool ability to borrow souls. I loved the concept -- but he only does it once in a non-plot-essential way, so it becomes a (very cool) "I have to use this photo" moment instead of the defining characteristic it deserves to be. And I must admit to some confusion as to how he managed to borrow a buddhist spirit.
I felt the same way with the photo use of the relics: incredibly cool imagination, but they never show up again in the story. In a tale this short, everything has to have a purpose if it's going to be mentioned. In comparison, the central tenet of God crouching in the living room was superb photo use. The sacrifice illustration helped advance the plot, Gabriel's entrance helped define his character, and the nun helped solve the mystery: all good. I liked the line about every wrinkle in the old woman's face being a secret, although this suggests that she always knew how to release God -- and that obviously opens up a huge and gaping plot hole.
This story needs some refinement to work out the logical inconsistencies in character, and the illustrations need to be tied more tightly into the progressing plot. It's a fun story, and will be even better with some editing.
-- o --
Mythago: World Enough and Time.
One of the things that Mythago does well is to take your assumptions and twist them. You see this throughout the story: the huge Texan is the brains of the operation, not the brawn, the lithe Brit is the unexpected assassin, the evil genius is a scared kid. Taking expected characterizations and altering them unexpectedly is a great way to differentiate a story. It works well here.
I liked the POV movement around the globe, the scenes in the chapel and the hospital and the dormitory. All good and quite cinematic. I had trouble keeping track of which character was which for the first half of the story, though, so greater differentiation on their names may need to be done.
The pacing also needs some adjustment. Even with the constraints on story length, I think that Jakob's presence at the end will have more impact if we see more of him beforehand. Despite his initial humanization and establishment as a tragic figure, we never have much time to understand how he has changed in the intervening years, and so his inevitable death means less to us. The same could be said for Li Mei. I'd rather see her sacrifice mean something, or see her injured but not dead.
The use of the cowering boy (actually a photo of a wax sculpture in a museum, incidentally, not of a real person) with two animated dolls near him was very clever. Tying each of the items in the "mystery" collage into the ongoing plot line was elegantly done; this was an especially difficult illustration, and making each of the pieces fit into a story wasn't intended to be easy. I wasn't thrilled with using "grief" in a flashback, especially because the description didn't carry the emotional weight of the illustration. Blur was well used (except for my regret about Li Mei's short-lived fragility noted above), and "one step" was decently but not extraordinarily used.
The story needs some tightening, evening out the pace somewhat without reducing the entertaining byplay between the characters. It's wonderful nevertheless.
-- o --
My judgment is for Mythago. With greater internal consistency behind her characters' motives and better overall picture use, her story trumps a strong entry by Macbeth.
FINAL JUDGMENT: 2 out of 3 for Mythago, who for the second time is crowned CERAMIC DM!
As much as I loved the challenge of choosing pictures, my favorite part was getting to read all the stories that you folks based on them. Thanks for letting me lead the team this time. It was a delight.