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Web Fiction Sketch Comedy

By revfitz, author of Existential Terror and Breakfast

Jun 24, 2017: Denham’s Dentrifice is totally anachronistic and overly silly. The constant irreverent humor is either a product of stubborn integrity or of a particularly productive form of madness. If these things sounded more like a warning to you than odd praise, turn back now! There is nothing here for you. If, however, the idea of Monty Python’s Flying Circus put to pen and prose sounds appealing, god’s speed, you just found your new home.

Denham’s Dentrifice is written by Phineas Clockword, and honestly the title and the author’s name should tell you everything you need to know about the sense of humor in store for you. The website is not a single serial or concept (outside of the very silly humor shared throughout), but instead is a collection of short stories. As of this writing I have read “Goatlegs”, “The Intermediates”, “The Blooms of Perennial Wisdom”, and “Of Wood, Voodooand Llama”. For the purpose of this review I will be focusing on Phineas Clockword’s prose and writing style instead of any one story.

Phineas Clockword’s writing style often flirts with purple prose. This is done entirely tongue-in-check, however, and the effect is often comical. The styling is often reminiscent of late nineteenth century literature, and, depending on the story, can be either very tight and minimalist, or extraordinarily verbose and meandering. It is hard to get grounded when reading these short stories, as the writing can be very anachronistic and can feel confusing. The author does not allow for any kind of footing on the readers part until a punchline is delivered, which I found to be immensely clever. The punchlines then become revelatory, the reader not only gets the satisfaction of a completed joke, but they also gain a sense of clarity about the story that feels earned. Making “the twist” in his stories,(where the reader’s expectations are turned on their heads) the punchline is a strategy that is well executed and it is one that I admire.

Not every joke lands, and though my opinion on what I have read is mostly positive I do have some criticisms. The style of writing can be too confusing at times, and sometimes the style does more than flirt with purple prose. Though most of the time I found the nineteenth century like musings to be pleasant, it does act as an occasional stop gap and reader flow was sometimes hard to obtain. Updating is sporadic, with nothing posted this month as of this writing. This is a small objection as it only annoys me because I find myself thirsty for more, but it is still worth noting.

Though I know better, it is very hard for me to imagine these short stories written on anything other than an old Underwood typewriter next to a rubber duck that is somehow NECESSARY to the process. Phineas Clockwood has worked very hard to create a sense of silliness that is as witty as it is obligatory. This sort of things vibes very well for me, but I can easily see it being off putting to others. I do not suggest binge reading Denham’s Dentrifice (that might actually be bad for one’s sanity) but the site is perfect for a quick stop a day.

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Whimsical supergirl vigilante, with cats

By Fiona Gregory, editor

May 25, 2017: Ok, it was probably the promise of cats that drew me in, though to be honest, in the part I read they are present but not particularly strong characters. More could be done with this idea, and perhaps is in later chapters.

The story is built around the purposeful wanderings of a girl, or some kind of being in the form of a girl, with teleportation and other powers, in the company of a herd of cats that follow her around and tell her things. Her mission is to bring happiness and random acts of kindness to worthy folks she encounters, but this also involves casually knocking off some bad guys, which she does in a naive and whimsical way. Even her cat followers are slightly horrified by this.

I found the writing a bit stilted, but the language was simple so the reading went quickly enough. I read the first three chapter vignette; there are several others that I didn’t read so I’m just assuming they went in a similar vein. The story didn’t particularly sell me, but it is distinctive enough to recommend as worth a look.

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No title

By Is_Generally_Hostile, author of The Comatose Girl

Oct 6, 2016: Contrarion is very interesting.

At the time of this review, it sits at 18 fairly short posts and makes for a mostly easy read. The narrative is done in the style of the main characters journal as he navigates his way through a post apocalyptic world at the mercy of Cthulhu esque monstrosities.

The "bad"

The individual entries are named as numbers, but some of them aren’t numbers, but a month the entry was written in, in universe, and some of them are part of the writers incoherent babbling. This is well within the theme and setting and not a big deal. It also shouldn’t detract from the reading at all if you start from part one and just navigate forward one entry at a time.

There’s one hand written entry. It’s pretty legible, I just don’t care for the mixed media approach, but again, it’s well within the theme and setting and doesn’t detract from the reading.

Some of the writing is a little hard to follow, but the whole thing is the journal of a man battling with the erosion of his own sanity, so that’s to be expected.

I think there’s one entry that seems to be events happening out of order, but I’m not sure if I misinterpreted the text, if it’s a continuity error, or if it’s part of the narrator losing his mind.

There’s a handful, honestly a very small amount, of what I assume to be minor typos, but nothing major.

The Good

Some of the writing is absolutely amazing. This line specifically really did it for me – "Mother Nature was killed and her blood use in profane sacrifice to bring about the abominations that stalk the world, mutated from the leavings of the Invaders."

The whole narrative is really, really weird – there’s an eyeball spider companion!

Even if you don’t care for this sort of setting or method of writing, it’s a very short read so it won’t take you long to work through it and have experienced something new and truly interesting.

Overall, this piece is absolutely worth a read and I’d be very excited to read more of the authors work in a different setting.

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