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THE NEW HUMANS

Superpowered children and emotional abuse

By Rhythm, author of Touch

Nov 13, 2017: The first thing I will say, that I need you all to be aware of before you hear my not insignificant criticisms, is that this is an excellent story, and one that carries my recommendations. That being said, it is far from perfect.

The premise is, at a glance, a deconstruction of the silver age comic tropes of old. And while this is certainly present, it is by no means the point of the New Humans. If I were to ascribe a genre to it, I would likely choose to label it conceptual sci-fi in the vein of the old, genuinely imaginative episodes of doctor who. It seems less focused on the plot than the exploration of a new, densely intriguing concept every thousand words or so, and while there certainly is an overarching plot line, the writer seems to be in no hurry to get there. It kicks off about nine chapters in, and while the eight chapters before it are interesting in their own right, it’s a bit of a slog to get there.

Reading this story feels like peeking into the mind of a genius with ADHD. It regularly deviates from the main thrust of a given chapter with little tangents, side notes, and anecdotes, but every one of them that is explored is complex and fascinating enough in its own right to base an entire story on. This is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, it means that the reader is likely never to be bored on a moment to moment basis reading The New Humans. On the other hand, however, it also means that the very act of reading it is debilitating; a fact that is in no way helped by the individual lengths of each chapter. The New Humans is, at present, comprised of thirteen chapters, and that may seem rather short, until one realizes that each chapter is roughly two to five times the length of a standard format chapter. I say this without even a shred of hyperbole. Chapter six is over twelve thousand words long. When I copied that chapter into Microsoft word for the purposes of an accurate word count, I discovered that it was forty two pages on its own. While I can say wholeheartedly that it is worth the effort, it is worth noting that an effort is quite definitively what it requires.

This is not a story for binge-reading, and I caution that any attempt to do so may well be unpleasant for anyone who tries it. This is very much a story for people to subscribe to and enjoy update to update. Said updates occur about once every two weeks, and that is more than enough. Individual chapters, consumed on their own, are highly enjoyable, but any density greater than a chapter or two in a single day will likely be highly fatiguing.

All the above aside, there are a few things a prospective reader may be well advised of if they have any curiosity towards this story. The author is possessed of a very dry wit, and demonstrates it in spades with mid-story cut-aways to interesting little factoids at the bottom of every chapter, a narrative tool very reminiscent of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. The vast majority of these are rather amusing, and well worth a look, some are layered with redundancy. Secondly, while the story is very well written from a technical standpoint, it is glaringly obvious that several drafts were made, and the editing run failed to pick up on all of the formatting errors. This seems to be a largely temporary flaw, however, as the writer seems to be currently going through and fixing these errors in large part. Thirdly, if you are perceptive, you will likely find that a few of the aspects of this story don’t sit well with you, and may be inclined to stop reading because of it. I advise you to stay the course, as I found the majority of these aspects to be intentional, and eventually integral to the story. Fourth, trigger warnings. This story gets darker than you’d expect.

Plus sides: An excellently written, darkly compelling narrative that only becomes more layered as you progress. An abundance of new ideas that never fail to arouse a conceptual interest. A number of well thought out characters, the majority of whom are remarkably well characterised. A capacity to change tones evenly enough that it never feels exclusively dark or lighthearted.

Down sides: Longwinded, with overly slow pacing in the initial chapters, although that improves with time. It is worth noting that almost every flaw I can find with this work could be remedied by subdivision of chapters. This is a thirty chapter story, in a thirteen chapter format.

Conclusion: It is an exceptional work of speculative and thriller fiction, and is well worth a look, but don’t be fooled into trying to read it in a single sitting, and be prepared for one or two road bumps as the writer comes into his own.

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NATURE'S KINGDOM

Modern High Fantasy Shenanigans

By TanaNari, author of Price

Nov 7, 2017: Note: As of this review, there are only 13 chapters to the story and it’s nowhere near completion. This is a preliminary review, and it may change a great deal as it progresses.

I’d say without hesitation that the author’s greatest strength is bringing the characters to life. They have their own unique voices and personalities which shine through from the moment they’re introduced. Our main character is in over her head, but she keeps some semblance of goals in mind and can still think despite the chaos, while also avoiding the old ‘instantly awesome’ power fantasy that such stories often produce.

As a fan of modern supernatural story archetypes, Mercy lives up to her name as a breath of fresh air in a genre where main characters have become stale. To the point where I have to wonder if she’s not based on an actual person. The other major characters manage to be equally complex and interesting.

If you stick with Nature’s Kingdom, it will almost certainly be out of love for the characters, because they’re perfect. Everything else . . . is imaginative and ambitious, but that ambition is often of a scope greater than the author can deliver on.

The story bills itself as a superhero setting on the face of it, but once you get beneath the surface it becomes an eclectic high fantasy (complete with angels, sorcery, gods, and kitsune) story, which serves as a bit of a blessing and a curse.

The setting is incredibly thought out, with its own spin on many a place and being that is mythology in our world. It’s fun to see Moonfeather’s take on these old staples, both novel and traditional in equal frequency. It steps through genre boundaries like they’re not there, going from dark to lighthearted and from mundane to mystical in the blink of an eye.

This is both a strength, and a weakness. This story tends toward the ‘schizophrenic’ at times. Like it can’t seem to make up its mind what sort of tale it’s meant to be. Now, personally, I like those sorts of stories- they feel truer to life than stories limited to one theme or tone, but they take a great deal of skill to pull off well, and even when done right they alienate readers who want one thing and feel cheated when a story changes tone partway through. You’ll have to decide for yourself which side of this debate you fall.

The first chapter (not including the prelude) involved an interrupted drunken liaison of . . . let us say ‘dubious consent’. Fortunately, the author didn’t make it into this huge melodramatic thing, once again averting genre norms and showing a real talent for finding unique, interesting, and most importantly real voices for the characters. They act like people, not caricatures.

Three chapters later, the same character is having a conversation (exposition dump) about the nature of the universe with what is essentially Gaea. Along with some vague predictions of the future, as is tradition of the genre the first time a character meets a god.

Which leads us into a second problem with the story. Pacing. While Nature’s Kingdom presents an interesting story from the onset, along with a promise of deep and complex mysteries in the background, it front-loads the exposition. The story effectively changes genres twice in the first three chapters, as we see Moonfeather trying to show us far more of this world she’s created than is necessary.

We’re introduced to multiple supernatural species, magic, gods, and superheroes, and over a dozen characters I am convinced are going to be essential in the long run, all in the first few chapters.

Including all the supernatural terminology and alien species names which bog down the early part of the story while also throwing in fight sequences and even a glimpse into paranormal politics. To say nothing of learning tidbits about the universe from one of its Creators.

Now, once it gets past this hurdle, the pacing stabilizes some, though a clean balance between Action and Exposition is never really found. At the same time, it never made me quit reading the story. As I said . . . the characters are brilliant, the setting is fascinating, and the plot (when it’s on point) is compelling and enjoyable.

Therefor, I’m giving it a solid 8 out of 10.

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REVERIE FLIGHT

No title

By JohnCalliganWrites, member

Nov 4, 2017: The writing has some elements that are classic. Some of the prose is flowery and the dialog is formal. I was turned off at first glance, but after I kept reading, the whole thing sort of worked together to give me this feeling of watching a play.

It was vivid in its own way. The prose isn’t invisible, but it isn’t bad to look at.

I think "artistic" is a good way of describing it, and it’s worth reading if you want to see something that was written authentically. I like it.

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