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Reality Shift

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  • Reality Shift

    This is the story that almost didn't happen. I came up with this concept very early on, but I could never quite figure out how to make it work. The digital world was too perfect- wouldn't boredom set in almost instantly? Is there even a need for currency? And what about the real world? Is anyone still there? Is it just a small group of stragglers? If so, why would they care about the servers? Is it an entirely separate civilization? If so, why would they be entering the servers? It took me a long time to hammer out all of these details. I'm not sure how many of them made it into the story, but... at least I know the answers.

    I was pretty excited, until I realized I was staring at a story which was depressingly identical to Rentyre. How many body swap stories can a guy write, anyway? Is there even a conflict here? It took several drafts before I included two real/server people, instead of just Trent. And what about the complete freedom of the server world? There are an unlimited number of choices that Isaac could make in between the story's start, and the moment he gets uploaded. It's a CYOA- I have to include some of those options. But on the other hand, they completely derail the plot and I absolutely didn't want to write them. I developed another story. And then, I came up with the idea of the cranky narrator. Suddenly, the entire story clicked into place. The tone lightened in a few places, and the whole thing just... worked. I think it also helped that I wrote the story into the text field, instead of writing it in Word and pasting it in. My grammar suffered a bit, but the writer's blocks were severly lessened.

    Writing: 10, You've written the story well, either there was no mistakes, or I just missed them.

    Plot: 10, Far as I know, original, there should be more rooms.

    Enjoyment*: 9, Needs more rooms.

    Themes: 6, The only Theme I could see was virtual reality.
    ...You're an idiot. No, really, you're an idiot. Not that I'm complaining, but... I'm getting that many points for 'needs more rooms'? You can't even say anything else about it? And let's not even start talking about the themes. I don't know how managed to miss the other... actually, nevermind. It makes sense. You're an idiot. Do you recall how the characters exist in virtual reality? They were born there. That means they weren't human. Non-human protagonist was one of the themes. (A protagonist is a main character of a story.) The other two themes used were Utopia and Dystopia. You'll learn more about those in high school, so I won't spoil your fun.

    Writing Style - 9
    Plot/Creativity - 10
    * Enjoyment - 8
    Theme - 9

    “quaint reconstructionist habits of the old ways helped past the time.” (pass the time)
    Door==#Isaac's_Bitchin_Sweet_House_Hell_Yeah hahaha. Awesome. I love how you never got around to explaining how the door portal and code thing worked but still managed to make sure that the reader understood how it worked. Very nicely done.
    While berating the reader (nice touch by the way, very classy) you manage to screw it up. “Why on earth would Isaac chose to delete him on a whim?” Don’t you mean “choose,” you dickhole. You’re slipping sucki.

    Vince dialogue = gay; funniest shit ever. I read that room twice. Great stuff. The tutu on the other one was ‘meh’ on a 1-10 scale.

    Your inter character dialogue is nice. Isaac and Vince seem to have a keen familiarity with each other. The commands from Isaac once he’s ‘awake’ was well written, amusing with a slight edge of tension.

    Interestingly, when I read the name “AL” I read it as “ai”. Hard to distinguish the two in caps in this font.

    Usucki, you have a knack for putting complete asshats into difficult situations. I think it’s easier to bond with jackoff characters anyway, so this is definitely a good thing.
    There were parts, like the Trent/Alistiar/Vince argument/conversation that felt like it just went on for too long. It was confusing for a bit, which I’m sure was quite by design. But it just seemed to drag on.
    This was an interesting tale, for sure. You managed to make the real world seem foreign and the digital world seem natural. No small task. Another well written story.
    I'm glad the coding language made sense. I pretty much had to include it, but there really wasn't any way to have the characters explain something which was such a basic part of their lives, so it had to be simple enough to understand on its own. I based it off of the vague details I remember from a C++ class I took, so I briefly wondered if it might be too complicated. I'm also a big fan of how it doesn't work in the real world- I'm glad someone else appreciated it.

    I will freely admit the whole Trent/Alistair scene is kinda weird. I wanted the reader to be able to solve the puzzle on their own, which meant I had enough to have enough details that a solution was even possible. Add that to the time it took to set everything up... yeah, it was awkward.

    I... didn't realize that Isaac and Vince were asshats? Well, they definitely have their quirks and flaws. I'd never be able to write dialogue for them otherwise.

    Writing Style: 9
    Plot/Creativity: 8
    ***Enjoyment: 7
    Theme: 9

    The rooms were very well-written (not surprisingly, really) and there were some quite humorous moments in the story. The pranks Isaac can play on Vince are fairly amusing, although I have the feeling that one of them was included just to add a bit of vulgarity to the story.

    The storyline is a very unique one, although it took me a little while to realise that everyone was stored online. It made everything make a lot more sense, although it also gives the opportunity for abuse of the system (which I suppose is part of the point. No society is perfect, no matter how hard it tries to be).

    The themes were used very well and it seems that more than three were used in ways that worked and made sense. I did get quite a lot of enjoyment out of reading this story and I really should (when I have more time) read more of this user's stories.
    It's funny you say that- the pranks are definitely on opposite parts of the spectrum for a reason. For that choice, Isaac really could have done anything, so it was a bit hard trying to decide which pranks to include. Is it vulgar for vulgar's sake? Well, yes. But so are teenagers. I think it works.

    Writing - 10/10
    *Plot/Creativity - 19/20
    Enjoyment - 8/10
    Theme - 8/10

    I also liked this story and read all of it. I liked that it was sort of a light and less threatening version of the Matrix. Deep into the rabbit hole they may go. It definitely utilized the whole high technology aspect of Scifi and I liked that. Unfortunately, there is very little choice in the story. While I did like and horribly abuse the options I wasn't supposed to choose, that left the only real choices to Vince in tuutuu or gay or Fantasy game or war game, which didn't affect the story at all. So, in short, it was a good story but lacked in the 'choose your own' category.
    I'll freely admit that the first half of the story is fairly linear. But, really- it's all happening inside of a server. Why should it affect anything? And I'm a big fan of stories where the character's choices are limited. No matter what Isaac does, Trent will always crash the server, and Alistair will always try and take Trent's body. Isaac might be able to change some of the outcomes, but he'll never be able to affect the other characters' free will.
    Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
    Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
    And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.

  • #2
    Writing Style: 10/10

    You sir are full of comedic gold. I was laughing a lot during this story; you have a witty style to your writing which is just incredibly enjoyable. Spelling/grammar was a non issue, so kudos on that. I love how there is a secret ending if you keep trying to deviate from the main path. If someone else was writing this I probably would have taken points off for lacking true choice and a branching adventure, yet how you did it was so clever and hilarious that I can’t harm you at all in this category. Damn fine job sir. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

    *Plot/Creativity: 9/10

    I’d say this is the most unique contest entry. You used a trope no one else used (Virtual Reality) so well that it put everyone else’s robots, androids, aliens and spaceships to shame. Well not really to shame, but your story was the most creative. The plot is simple and short but this is not a bad thing when written so well. We are taken through an odd day in the life of Isaac. This day in fact changes his life through the events that occur and he comes to discover some amazing revelations about the world around him. Your vivid descriptions of the virtual reality world really add to the story. A single point is deduced due to the fact that the story is, in essence, a linear tale. You seem like a creative enough person that you could have come up with a separate branching path where something crazy happens to Isaac and friends. Overall though, really good effort.

    Enjoyment: 8/10

    This tale of a virtual reality dweller is an entertaining romp from start to finish. I highly enjoyed it. This is more of a personal category than anything else so the points removed are only because the story lacked some things I usually love in sci-fi stories. I like spaceship battles, strange weaponry and kooky time travel in my sci-fi. The main thing though I feel this story lacks is a bit more action. Someone should have had their intestines ripped out of their throats or because the main characters are virtual, some sort of mass deletion genocide. Or a virus attacks and makes them all do crazy things. With a virtual reality world there are so many options, but I understand you had a specific story you wanted to tell and you told it well. Despite my unquenchable need for horrible violence, this is probably my favorite story from the contest.

    Theme: 9/10

    Again I applaud you for using virtual reality. I really didn’t think anyone would use that one, and I’m so happy you did. Perfect job integrating it, as it even extends to the next theme you used which was non human main character. Isaac is essentially a computer program in a virtual world. You combined the two themes which I thought was impressive. The last themes I noticed were Utopia and Dystopia. The virtual Reality world is the utopia; as being able to do anything inside your house, running simulations is pretty much the coolest thing ever. You make it seem like just an awesome place to be; I’m jealous of these virtual reality people with their ultimate fantasies coming to life by a simple programming command. Dystopia is the physical world, but it’s not really explained much. Someone has to run the servers and it seems it’s a bunch of poor schmucks who don’t get to spend all their time prancing in a virtual forest. I wish more of the virtual reality world was explored, I don’t know if you plan to but I would love to read a sequel to this story to see what happens to Isaac and Vince. Do they become famous? Does it have any negative consequences for them? I think this concept is a treasure trove that warrants another story. Great job.
    I'm glad someone specifically mentioned the secret ending- I kinda wonder how many people will ever find it. I mean, I had to double the room count to make it, so I hope it was worth it. I was a bit surprised that no one else used Virtual Reality- to me, it's a pretty common staple of SciFi works, because it can do anything. And that was a bit tricky to deal with. I wanted to give the illusion of choice, without having the story spin wildly out of control. As far as the lack of hard-core action... I'm terrible at writing that sort of thing. Or at least, I think so. Mass deletion and viruses would be interesting things... but it would completely kill the humorous mood of the work, and that would send up an entire series of writer's blocks.

    See, I can't help but think that the Virtual World would almost get tedious after a few years. Especially if there wasn't any reason to exist or put forth effort into things. I eventually settled on a sort of communist system- by working civil jobs, or jobs inside of other people's simulations, you gain currency that you can use to buy server space that you can use for your house, or to make simulations of your own. I'm not sure how death works. It might be voluntary. Come to think of it, I'm not sure about procreation, either... does a computer simply make a child out of bits of the parent's programming? Do souls factor in anywhere?

    The real world definitely seems like a Dystopia by comparison, although I'm really not sure it's all that bad. It's no server, but it's not exactly a third world country, either. In the beginning, I suspect only the rich could afford to be digitized. By this point, though, the value lies in having real flesh. In a world where robots and computers could do all of the hard labor, overpopulation becomes a serious issue. What do you do with the worthless lower classes of society? By storing them in a computer somewhere, you can clear vast amounts of room, clean up civilization, and you can be humane about it. There are no Welfare payments. You just get shoved into a server somewhere. It just happens that Trent and Alistair work in server maintenance. Outside of that building, the world looks pretty similar to ours- just a bit more technological.

    Writing Style: 9*
    Plot/Creativity: 9
    Enjoyment: 8
    Theme: 9

    I didn't meet this charming fellow named Usoki the Narrator until I went back to read the other paths that I hadn't initially chosen. I think this speaks volumes about my intelligence and ability to understand the intentions of the author. It might also attest to my physical beauty, ephemeral spirit and preternatural wisdom which breaks all barriers of time, space and server limits. What's that you say? I'm supposed to be writing about you and your story? Well fine, be that way. Selfish shit.

    Speaking of shit, I noticed that those boys employed a goodly quantity of profanity. Sometimes it felt just a tad overdone, like innocent little Usoki the Hermaphroditic Midget was trying very hard to prove that he was made of the tuff' stuff. I know you're a big boy. You don't have to prove it to me. You also don't have to give your story a Mature rating for a little bit of low-brow banter. Chaucer wrote about fair maidens farting out of windows directly into people's faces, and he gets read in high schools throughout the nation. Unless I missed that page featuring all the hot computer-on-swivel chair action, then I really think the R rating would do just fine.

    So, it's Reality Shift, is it? You mean, like Paradigm Shift? Has someone been reading his Thomas Kuhn? I'm glad you decided to tackle some philosophical quandaries here. What's real and how do we know it's real? and so on and so forth. I don't want to go quoting all those metaphysics and epistemology texts, but I'm really glad to see glimmers of them here in your story, and so well integrated too! I love the line about comparing Chaucer with Lolcats--indeed that's what it will come to, won't it? What will be the truly seminal moments in our modern history? I think it is a piece of Nostradamus-worthy insight that you suggest people will retreat into their technology rather than venture out into physical space. You get major plot and mental masturbation points for this!

    Although you already visited the ideas of body-occupation in Rentyre and fourth-wall breaking in Teatime of Infinity, this was a truly original bit of inspiration that stood out both from your previous work and from the other contest entries. You made a few lamentable grammar boo-boos which knocked you down from a 10 to a 9. When I saw three mistakes in your first three paragraphs, I began to fret mightily. Luckily, my worries were quickly assuaged by the augmenting quality and involved-y-ness of the rest of your story. Fuck you, that is so a word.

    The story also had your signature quirk and off-beat humor, without which I would surely perish. Oh god, this is beginning to get disgusting. I'm supposed to rip a story to shreds, not laud the shit out of it. Ok, so here's something I didn't like: I found some of the explanations of situations to be a bit contrived and not really germane to the dialogue between these two guys. I realize that some exposition was necessary in order for the reader to make any sense whatsoever of what was going on; but perhaps it could have been broken up a bit between characters' thoughts, narrative description, indirect suggestion and then of course the dialogue. And to end on a high note: this is coolness in a little gift-wrapped box. You could easily expand this into an even bigger story, either linear or CYOA, just make sure you don't overload those servers.
    Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
    Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
    And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.


    • #3
      Once again, I'm glad the fourth wall break went over well. It's the reason I was able to write the story without having a massive chunk of linearity. I mean, granted, it's still pretty linear since the narrator forces you back on the railroad tracks, but... y'know.

      See, as far as their dialogue goes... I find that pretty natural. That's how my friends and I talk. It's very relaxed and comfortable, because we throw around all sorts of profanity that we don't actually need. I can see how it might seem excessive, but I also hope it creates a sense that Isaac and Vince are close friends. That's really what needed to be established. Because I have no idea how they met. They live on entirely different servers.

      As far as the rating goes... I rated it up front, without having any idea what I would be writing. It was entirely possible that I could have put in some awkward sex scenes- maybe Isaac turns Vince into a hot chick, or Vince decides to visit a porn simulation. Both of those things were possible... I just didn't end up doing it. That's why my grammar took a hit as well. I was writing this entire thing on the fly. I am curious which parts you found to be awkward- other than the scenes with Vince and Alistair, I thought I did a pretty good job of blending the exposition into small pieces.

      I have not been reading my Thomas Kuhn, but I'm glad you enjoyed the philosophical debates all the same. Really, those are my favorite parts of these settings. Especially in the early drafts, when Alistair didn't exist, and the body swap was just a minor inconvenience to Trent yet a huge life-altering moment to Isaac and Vince. I do love thinking about how much of our history the future generations will have to learn. I mean, seriously, that stuff just stacks up year over year. If we don't cut bunches of it out, our grandchilden will have three extra generations of stuff to learn. And their grandchildren will have six extra generations... when does it end? At what point do you start lumping crap and classics in the same unit? I mean, seriously, I already have no idea what happened in Europe in between the Renaissance and pre-WWI. I digress. I really do think we're more likely to burrow inward than explore outward. It's so much easier and safer that way. Better yet, it eliminates the possibility of having to deal with strangers. How can humanity resist?

      I'm glad this story was well received. It really does make me want to keep writing in it. I'd have to figure out another conflict, though, curse it all. I don't think I'd reuse any of these characters... maybe Trent or Evan have more stories worth exploring, but... Vince and Isaac are pretty much done. Cameo appearances at best.

      Stupid character limits... XD
      Originally posted by Ryan_DuBois
      Usoki, you're the crankiest asshole we know. Not that it's a bad thing, it just means that you smell funny and are best left hidden in darkness.
      And it's embarrassing when you make any noise at all.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Usoki View Post
        You can't even say anything else about it?
        I thought we took down the "Aspergers 'Я Us" sign!
        My sanity, my soul, or my life.


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