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STONE BURNERS

Not Your Momma’s… WebFic?

By Billy Higgins Peery, author of A Bad Idea

May 25, 2015: Stone Burners is strange.

Before we say anything else, we should get that out of the way. It has an amnesiac dragon, a techno-despot, and a gang centered around Aztec myth.

It’s a distinctly superheroic tale, but while many superheroic tales feature a sort of science fantasy melange (e.g. The Avengers, which features a Norse god and several mad scientists—fantasy and science fiction, respectively), Stone Burners takes it to the next level. It doesn’t trade on the tropes of superheroes nearly as much as it trades on the tropes of science fantasy.

The opening is by far the weakest part: a character wakes up with amnesia, trying to figure out who they are. Even then things aren’t quite as cliche as they seem, because the character is a dragon who has to learn to scavenge for food in a semi-dystopian city.

Things get stranger from there, in a good way. Olivia the dragon finds a group of other superheroes, and they end up getting into all sorts of trouble. These lead to many action scenes, which are a highlight: they feature a non-confusing viscerality which you don’t see many other places.

The POV is third person, which works well, because the narrative jumps from chapter to chapter. As opposed to a lot of POV jumping, this feels like it works, because not so much attention is drawn to it. This isn’t some story where the POV-switching is the point. We just get a bunch of different perspectives on the strange characters who live in this strange world.

All of this probably makes it obvious that I’ve enjoyed this serial. But as much as I want to convince you to read it, I also want to point something out.

The Internet is the only place you could ever find something like Stone Burners.

“Obviously that’s true,” I hear some random heckler saying. “It was written on the Internet!”

But the thing is, Stone Burner’s has a style that’s uniquely webfic-esque. It has a million quirks (instead of “Olivia said,” the author always writes, “said Olivia”), few of which you’d be likely to find in a regular book.

The pacing is one-off, with intense, several-chapter-long fight scenes that get broken up by several chapters of banter. The story never feels slow, yet the main arc is always slowly building. We’re given a trickle of information about this world, delivered at a pace that regular books—which often have much shorter lengths—just wouldn’t be able to afford.

Stone Burners isn’t quite a series of books, it’s not modeled on the format of TV or comics, it doesn’t follow the Wildbow Interlude format, and it doesn’t feel Dickensian. It’s its own thing.

Stone Burners is quintessential web fiction: probably not the best, but certainly the web fiction-iest.

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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STONE BURNERS

Aside from having NO idea where the title came from…

By Oniwasabi, author of The Monster They Deserve

Feb 13, 2014: An excellent read! I found this to be a very engaging story. The characters are all unique, interesting, and most importantly HUMAN. Even the antagonist characters that we don’t get much point of view from are more than cardboard badguy cutouts (there’s one generic lunatic, but even that character copout serves a secondary purpose!) The pacing is a little hit or miss in some chapters, and there are a couple of points where the shifting point of view (chapters tend to be from a single character’s POV and it varies between the main characters) was a bit jarring (like I said, the characters are UNIQUE from each other)

I highly recommend this serial, and hope the author decides to increase his update schedule from twice a week so I can read more faster ^_^

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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STONE BURNERS

Olivia, your friendly neighborhood half-dragon

By Farmerbob1, author of Set In Stone

Feb 5, 2014: The idea of the "ugly duckling" hero, or the character with tendencies towards good that is forced into vigilantism due to how they operate or what they look like is not uncommon, however I like the way the author manages to do something a little different here.

Olivia just pops into the world with no backstory. Some backstory has been included since the start, but Olivia has no knowledge of it. What we know of her past is just a wee bit tossed to the reader to let them know about Olivia "before". Maybe it will tie in later

So, no memory of self or popular culture. Some memory of society in terms of how society itself functions. Oh, and she’s a harpy. Or a half-dragon, or however you want to describe a nearly indestructible bipedal creature with lots of claws, scales, and teeth.

In that universe, she’s considered a "feral". Problem is that most ferals don’t have much, if any, intelligence. Olivia has a human level intelligence, but her appearance is fearful. Oh, and when the adrenaline gets pumping, she starts to lose some higher brain functions, forgetting names, tendency to attack without thinking through consequences, etc.

Unfortunately, in the first case of her being exposed to the public after hiding from people for several days post popping-into-existence, she is exposed to the presence of an area effect mind controller who incites mindless rage in people near him. Reduced intelligence, damage resistant, super strong feral with predatory instincts and the teeth and claws to back it up, thrown into a pack of rioting, insane humans? The results are predictable.

Olivia is a conflicted character. A powerful character in this universe. Her toughness is extraordinary and so is her strength. She has powered friends. A couple ex-official heroes, a vigilante, and a small time crook who got captured and experimented on.

The characters feel different from one another as well, to a greater degree than normal in most fiction.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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