Posted Nov 19 2012 - 01:03 AM
Hey there, Jovan2! I'm reviewing your piece The Great and Noble History of the Hero Factory as part of the Epic Critic's Club charity initiative. In the exceedingly likely event you've never seen my reviews, I generally follow a pretty simple format; the first portion of the review will have to do with issues to do with prose, while the latter half will have to do with the content of the story itself (characters, plot, setting, etc.) I'm also not a fan of nitpicking every tiny issue; instead, I think it's more helpful to ID trends with examples and let you work from there. So without further ado, let's dive right in!So you've opted for a sort of historical/encyclopaedic approach here, which I find quite an interesting take on things, but I'll get to that in the latter part - first, I'd like to look at how your style matches up with that idea. I think one thing that's kind of rubbing me the wrong way here is that you've got a more personal, almost fable-like topic for the first piece and a far more encyclopaedic one for the second, and your style seems to be somewhere between what you'd expect for the two. In the former chapter, for instance, you take the time to actually show us the thoughts of the unnamed creator, which is something you'd expect more from a narrative than a history. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it sort of clashes with the more sterile tone you've got throughout the piece; to give a concrete example, you describe the man as "the last organic creature in the universe", an almost clinical description. A bit later, you describe the things Makuro knows as a simple, orderly list, distancing the reader from much of an emotional reaction to them. It makes us wonder: are we being told a story, or are we reading a textbook? Either works fine on their own, but mixing them is a tricky business.A similar thing happens in the second, far more textbook-like entry. Here you've switched away from the storytelling perspective to provide us with an analysis and explanation of the minds of the robotic denizens of the universe. For the most part, you keep that sort of clinical, detached tone, even with the slightly warmer use of describing things in terms of "good" or "bad", but the example you provide at the end slips back more into a casual, story-telling style, with interjections of "But nope," and "KABOOM!" Now, don't get me wrong; you can tell a history or a textbook subject interestingly - if you couldn't, nobody would ever bother going to lecture at university - but this sort of casual dialogue peppered about serves to make things feel sort of contradictory.You also seem to have some issues with parentheses; remember that a parenthetical statement has spaces both before and after it, unless followed by punctuation (like so). I also have to question a pair of parentheticals you've used - namely, your early comment that "(besides immobile things, such as plants, but without living things to pollinate them, they too, would die)" and your later one of "HFU(Hero Factory Universe)". The former feels sort of unnecessary and even a little inaccurate; there are plenty of plants that can get by without larger organisms pollinating them. It may have worked better to spend a little extra time to explain that anything we consider 'animals' had died, or something along those lines, rather than put this slightly awkward qualification in a parenthetical. As for the latter, this is partially a case of personal style, but it seems much nicer to me to write, say, "the Hero Factory Universe (HFU for short)". In this case that's still a little messy, since you follow use it as a possessive (eg. follow it with 's); parenthetical can look weird in that situation, so I'd recommend introducing the term elsewhere.All this said, for the most part, you don't really have many spelling or grammar errors, which is particularly important in a more 'formal' piece such as this. And while I was critical above of your style's tendency towards casualness when formality is expected and vice-versa, a good balance of the two could make for an excellent read.This lets me segue nicely into my thoughts on the concept and content of this piece. First off, let me say, I find it a very interesting idea; sci-fi geek that I am, I'm always up for a look at things like a robotic society. It's also interesting to consider how the denizens of the HFU might differ in their thought processes, culture, and physiology from the elephant in the HF room that is Bionicle, and it gives a chance for you to explore one-off historical incidents that provide some more texture to the universe but might not work for a whole fic on their own. That said, at the moment you've only got two chapters (entries?), which means there hasn't been much for me to really dig my teeth into here.One thing I'd like to recommend - and this ties into what I was saying above - is to consider what topics you're going to tackle in what order. Starting us with Mr. Makuro's origin is a natural starting place, but it's a little jarring to jump from there to the Psychology of Robots in an established society. It might make a little better sense structurally to follow up Makuro's origin with a few 'historical' chapters on how things went from a lone robot in a pod to a full-fledged society. Once that's in place, I think it'd be a bit more natural to start looking at other aspects such as psychology and society (though issues of physiology you might be able to look at during the telling of Makuro's creating other robots.) I also think you glossed over the circumstances that led to Makuro's creation a little quickly; that's of course not the story that's being told here, but a quick mention of war or plague or something would've helped to ground things in reality a bit more. The idea that nobody knows what happened to the prior society doesn't really fly when you show us the inner thoughts of one of its members in the same chapter.Other than that, I'm afraid there's not much else for me to go off of here at the moment; like I said above, I love the idea of the piece, but at the moment it's largely a case of potential. I enjoyed the two small entries you provided and the ideas you put forth in them (programming cycles ultimately coming to prioritize 'bad' deeds, etc.), but I'm afraid at only a few hundred words each there's not much else I can say about them.I suppose I'll wrap things up hereabouts, then. Like I said, this is a really cool idea, and it offers you some more freedom to look at various aspects of the HF world than a traditional epic would. I'd just make sure to keep an eye on style and structure to make sure things are reading the way you want them to be (be that folklorish or encyclopaedic) and that your reader gets a natural, overarching view of the history that you want to tell. As for the rest, well, it's your history to tell. Make it a fun one, eh?...Okay, one last thing completely unrelated to the story, because I found this interesting: I stopped to think over how you'd write "Akiyama Makuro" in Japanese since you mentioned it in the story and came up with (as far as I know) realistic kanji for his name. For Akiyama, there's kanji meaning "Bright Mountain" (aki = bright, yama = mountain) and ones meaning "Autumn Mountain" (aki = autumn, yama = mountain), and for Makuro, there's a pair meaning "Utterly Dark" (ma = extremely, utterly, kuro = dark, black). I'd post said kanji, but apparently IPB doesn't like Japanese characters.Sorry for the digression. It just came to mind and I couldn't exactly work it into the review, now could I?