Reviews for The Future Starts Slow
Hawki chapter 5 . 3/30/2014
-"I have failed," F'tha said, abandoning the corpse. "My sorrow is great."

Normally I’d call this out as telling rather than showing, but instead I’m giving kudos as the style of speech feels very s’pht’ish. That, and I’m not sure how one could show s’pht sorrow anyway. 0_0

-To be honest, this chapter feels quite anti-climactic. Chapters 1-2 had buildup/worldbuilding, chapters 3-4 was action and exploration, this…kinda just fizzles out. They leave, Mark’s in his room. Yay.

-But on that note, it’s nice scenebuilding/character building in the act in itself, with the cyborg trying to make a home for himself or whatnot. That, and the dialogue with Durandal and presence of the s’pht kinda gives it a ‘warm’ feeling as well, the type of ship comraderie between characters present in stuff like ‘Star Trek’, ‘Farscape’, ‘Firefly’, etc. But the end of the planet action is so abrupt it doesn’t feel as…rewarding, as it might have been. As if the One Ring was just tossed into Mount Doom by an eagle rather than going through three books/films before the happy ending, for example.

-Chapter’s otherwise fine. Further comments mostly have to be made in the context of the story as a whole though, so on that note:

-IMO, I think this might have worked better had the first section of this chapter been its own chapter, and the rest of this chapter been a chapter 6. The first section just…kinda sticks out like a sore thumb for me, personally. Everything else is well developed, but it just feels too short, too anti-climactic, and too at odds with the rest of the chapter.

-Story as a whole…I mentioned in my review of ch. 1 that there was a potential caveat that this is set up prior to ‘The Iirian Adventure’ and ‘A Marriage of Untrue Minds’ (minor point, might not be idea to have a recommended reading order on your profile page). Posting time aside, I ended up reading this after them, despite this taking place before them. Still, credit where credit is due, at the least, I do feel this adds more to TIA, in that if this is the proverbial ‘pilot episode’, then it makes TIA able to stand more on its own. As in, I can take a simple adventure knowing it’s part of something larger.

-Structurally speaking, it’s well written. It has a distinct beginning (chapters 1-2), middle (3-4) and end. While my comments about the first part of this chapter still stand, as a whole, the story definitely works.

-I mentioned in a past few reviews about the characterization of Durandal. As a whole, it works. He starts out quite cold and abrasive, mellows out a bit in middle chapters, and in the previous chapter, as per my last review, has distinct dialogue that applies to the situation. I didn’t bring up his characterization (arc) then too much as I felt his dialogue/characterization there was more based on the situation than something to really be considered in the larger arc. But in the context of this chapter, the arc definitely feels fulfilled. Still Durandal, but closer to TIA and other fics than he is at the start. Which both story-wise and character-wise, works well.

So yeah. All in all, very good job. A well written and well structured story. It's earnt a spot on my favourites.
Hawki chapter 4 . 3/29/2014
-Chapter has a slower feel than the previous one. Fits the context I guess, what with less gunfire and more exploration, though still retains a ‘gamey’ feel in a way.

(Minor point – for what it’s worth on the whole ‘gamey’ feel, I might be reading too much into this, but in hindsight, ch. 3 felt akin to the first game with its run and gun feel, this one akin to the second, given the focus on exploration. Make of that what you will.)

-Like the font/alignment of the terminal text. Kind of a minor point to bring up, but it does feel akin to the games as to how the terminal text is presented, and in a good way.

-"Okay, it's official," Mark told Seshat. "I got a bad feeling about you."

Heh. Though maybe Mark should quit his bellyaching – bad feelings are kinda par for the course nowadays. ;)

-Random comment about spiderborgs feeling something else out of ‘Doom’, as per the gamey feel. But for what it’s worth, I’m over the previous chapter rant thing. :)

-Moving away from demons, I think it’s worth mentioning Durandal’s dialogue and his interaction with Mark. I feel fine to say it’s “good” again, because it’s…I dunno, maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s the feeling/narrative of the chapter (as distinct from dialogue), maybe it’s the use of the terminals, but there’s something…different, about it. I mean, he’s still snarky and in character, yet it feels…I dunno, restrained? Uneasy? Reserved?

Like I said, I dunno. Maybe it’s the whole girlfriend thing (how would Leela feel Durandal? HOWWW?!), maybe it’s the ‘feeling’ of the chapter shaping my interpretation of the dialogue/character interaction. But under the assumption that it’s an intentional deviation, it’s one that’s noticeable and, IMO, adds to the chapter.

-Like F’tha. While I’ve enjoyed the whole s’pht translation thing of previous chapters, his use of simple English here works well in the context of the chapter. Adds to his character, and prevents the narrative from being bogged down.

-“He jumped a little.”

Huh. So the cyborg CAN jump. Who knew?

-Final part feels a bit anti-climactic. That Mark can’t understand Seshat might pay off later, and the “abomination” comment kinda hints at him being a battleroid, using jirajo technology. However, it still comes off as telling rather than showing. The lack of actual spoken words kinda gives me the sense of being told what is happening rather than shown it, if that makes sense.

-That aside, quite a good chapter. Taking it on its own, it flows well, dialogue is good, and it has a definite atmosphere. Under the gaming paradigm, it earns extra brownie points – it has a gamey feel that’s separate from the previous chapter, but the presence of such ‘gaminess’ doesn’t take away from the writing, and if anything, adds to it.
Hawki chapter 3 . 3/14/2014
-Like the mention of the plants. Goes into the whole ‘techbuilding’ aspect of sci-fi writing.

-Ah, “fuck.” The miracle word of the English language. Can be used as both a noun and an adjective. Welcome to the wonderful world of human linguistics, s’pht friends. It’s a small galaxy after all. XD

-Interaction between Durandal and Mark…kinda weird, but it feels like a midpoint between chapters 1 and 2, under the paradigm of relations thawing between the two over the story. Maybe it’s the combat. Certainly Durandal’s been a bit vocal about inconceniences in the chapter, but I figure that at this point in time for him, his personality can allow for that.

-I figure that after the intro of ‘Marathon 2’, Mark should be used to being teleported into the middle of combat. Just saying. ;)

-More brownie points for upgrading the armour. Dunno why exactly, could be channeling ‘Halo’ into this. Least it makes more sense than Cortana using nanites. 0_0

-Combat scenes are…interesting, for me, psychologically. I say this because they read a lot like game mechanics – Mark goes through, pfhor shot up, insert the mechanics of a FPS game where a single character can be a force of death. I say “interesting” because usually I find writing mimicking game mechanics a bad idea and a breaker of immerssion, and having seen this attempted in the first of the original ‘Doom’ novels, somewhat obviously being in the same era/sub-genre of FPS as ‘Marathon’,* and seeing it UTTERLY FAIL there, it’s weird that it works here.

So, at the least, congratulations, you’re officially better in writing combat scenes for a FPS than published authors as far as I’m concerned, and not just in regards to using ‘Doom’ as a comparison. Or at the least it’s because it flows well here. And I don’t have to read every detail of every demon that aren’t really demons but…ugh.**

-Anyway, moving back to the 21st century, I think another reason it works is that Mark at least has dialogue to bounce off Durandal, whereas Flynn Taggart was left alone with his own thoughts most of the time. Durandal’s noticeably colder, so I’m again inclined to bring up the notion of his personality reacting to stress, such as what combat might bring. Maybe he cares about Mark, maybe he’s like a RTS/RTT player – micromanagement and all that. But game references aside, if that’s indeed the case, to show his personality shift in accordance with the situation, then it’s conveyed well.

-All in all, decent chapter. Lest I forget to not include every piece of criticism I have, I’ll say that while this was heavy on action, it did feel comparatively light on plot (but not character development, as discussed above). But in a way, it was a welcome reprieve. Bringing up the title again, “the future starts slow,” it appears the story has exited the “slow” part of that title and has begun speeding up. So in that sense, it works – had the set-up established in previous chapters, now we’re in some kind of ‘Marathon 3’ territory (not ‘Infinity’), given how the combat is written. Not that that’s a bad thing.

*As in, the use of maze-like levels, no-regenerating health, lack of realism, etc. I prefer to think of it as a sub-genre of FPS in the same way I would consider modern military shooters (e.g. ‘Call of Duty’) another sub-genre (MMS). Course the likes of 'Doom' encompass the first type of FPS to be sure, but I think of it the same way as, say, “RPG” can be divided into various sub-genres as well, regardless of time of introduction (WRPG, JRPG, ARPG, etc.)

**If it isn’t clear, I REALLY hate the first ‘Doom’ novel. So much that I can’t help but get it out here. Hopefully by ch. 2 the bile will be gone. :(
Hawki chapter 2 . 3/14/2014
-“Whatever time it was, it was too early to look at Pfhor interior design.”

I disagree – found the pfhor interior design a welcome respite from the ‘Marathon’ personally. Hostile aliens notwithstanding. ;)

-So, opening paragraphs – a bit slow, but, well, I suppose the future does start slow (according to the title), and I wouldn’t call it bad. It picks up slightly when Mark starts wandering the interior, and works well for it – good visual description, and the increase in pace makes the opening paragraphs fit in well.

-Moving a bit further down, as per the interaction between Mark and Durandal…in light of the previous review and the response to said review, under the assumption that this is a case of point x to point y for characterization (as in, getting closer to the character dynamic portrayed in fics set after this), it’s so far on a good path. At least what I took from it is that Durandal is treating Mark as a curiosity/toy, but it’s not as ‘cold’ as it was back in the previous chapter. I suppose I have to ask what changed between the two, but it’s early days yet. Plus he seems to regard the s’pht in the same way, so the characterization works in that sense as well.

-“It was an armory. Hundreds of Pfhor shock staffs lined the walls, with rows of Enforcer flamethrowers and Trooper assault rifles lined up in orderly ranks below them.”

Huh. So in the ‘Marathon’ universe pfhor weapons CAN be used by the cyborg. Who knew?

-Comments on the same area…well, it’s been Mark wandering around, bit of snark, etc. Kinda losing its punch/pacing, but got more of the chapter to turn that around.

-Like Mark’s introspection on Blake and co., along with Durandal’s comments on them.

-(Insert witty comment about Mn’rhi here because “lol” feels too generic.)

-Moving on from “lol,” I’ll give kudos for the concept, in terms of the communication issue. At the end of the day, it’s standard I guess – learning languages is a pain, learning alien languages might very well be impossible based on physiology, but it conveys the concept well and realistically. Brownie points for the gender and linguistic drift issues, and how that factors into their language(s).

-So, speaking of this chapter overall. I’m kind mixed in one key area, and that’s character interaction between Durandal and Mark. On one hand, I like it, because it’s more akin to how they’ve been portrayed in other stories, and has more warmth to it. On the other, under the premise of character development, it does feel like a sudden shift from chapter 1, and I’m left to ask how the next three chapters will cover it, as to whether the dynamic will feel any different from this chapter.

Yet that aside, this is still a good chapter (yeah, there’s that word again). It is ‘slow,’ for lack of a better word, but not bad because of it, as the characterization (above comment aside) and the thought that went into it (e.g. the language) makes it read very well. That, and while it’s still ‘slow,’ it doesn’t do that in a bad sense. After the pandemonium of L’howon in the previous chapter and whatnot, I figure a breather serves the story well.
Hawki chapter 1 . 3/10/2014
So, if this was meant to set up the listed fics in the author’s note, I guess I kinda did myself a disservice by reading it after them. Oh well. Hopefully it’ll still work out. Anyway:

-So, starting off…going by the dialogue and circumstances I’m assuming this begins at the end of ‘Durandal,’ though I’m left to wonder what about ‘Infinity’? I kinda got the impression that while the timeline was effectively restored to normal the cyborg was left in a slightly different position (with the s’pht ‘releasing’ the cyborg), but…well, your fanfic I guess.

Also noticed that the cyborg hasn’t been called “Mark” yet and…oh. So he is called Mark. And more. Um…think I’ll just stick with Mark. 0_0

-I’m tempted to call it meta that Durandal never found out the cyborg’s name till now but considering this is Durandal, I guess it kinda works.

-May be reading too much into it, but the S’pht’Kr not moving for Mark…reference to game mechanics perhaps? As in, the s’pht seem intent on blocking the player at EVERY FRICKING OPPORTUNITY?!

-So, speaking overall…um…yeah…

There’s something about this story that got to me, and to be honest, not really in a good way, yet not really in a bad one per se either. Subjective, and it could be me setting a double-standard, but the characterization of Mark and Durandal felt…rawer…somehow. There’s less sense of warmth than in, say, ‘The Irinian Adventure’. Yeah, they were trading verbal barbs here too, but there’s no sense of that warmth here, and the amount of Mark’s swearing felt like overload. It’s just less…pleasant, to read somehow. Not a chore, but, well…”colder,” if that makes sense. No lava parody intended.

There is, however, a caveat I could see. You mention this was written as a set-up for TIA and ‘A Marriage of Untrue Minds’, despite them both being posted on this site beforehand. If this is meant to work as a ‘personality precursor,’ as in, show the two before reaching the ‘buddy status’ of the affrorementioned fics, then it’s done really well there. Yeah, it’s “raw,” and didn’t read as pleasantly as those fics, but if that’s the point, then it’s done really well.

Maybe I’m overanalysing, and after all, there’s four more chapters to go. So in conclusion, I’ll call this chapter “fine.” Not “good,” because of the mentioned gripes, but it may have the potential to reach “excellent” territory depending on characterization and/or character development. Well, the future starts slow, as the title says. Some point in the future I’ll see what the future of this fic holds.
supercode chapter 1 . 10/17/2013
Great story! Quick question, are you operating under the theory that the security officer is NOT

potential spoiler alert!...

one of the ten cyborgs that were stationed on the colony, because there are some things about that character in this story which could be interpreted that way?