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5/19/2011 c8 1Michigan Jack
Okay, we're at the end. Chapter Eight. This is it.

Well, not really, just as much as has been written so far, way back in 2007. It's a shame that there isn't any more, because this is a story with a lot going for it. Contrary to any criticism I may make, this story does at least appear to have a clear idea of where it's going. That's more than I can say for most (if not all) of mine.

Anyway, onto the final thoughts...

Well, I said there'd be an action sequence, and I was right. Er, well, actually, not so much of an action sequence as a ninja going all ninja on three people in a flash. I was kind of disappointed that we essentially didn't get to see it, but I suppose in a way that's kind of the point: "Redfield" wouldn't be much of a ninja if he let everybody see what he was doing, right? We knew a ninja was coming, though it was nice of the story to give him his own introduction instead of having him show up at Andrew's apartment with the genie. Rosie would've stood there and said, "This is the ninja." I suspect, if this story were to keep going, he would have at least done that for the genie.

Although, story wise, I have some of the same "issues" that I did back in chapter three. Killing all the attackers means that Andrew is no closer to finding Cromwell's location, which is kind of stupid. And why exactly does Andrew give the Ninja an earful about unnecessary killing when, two minutes later, he sneaks up behind some guy and goes all Jedi on his ass?

"Oh, well, when HE does it, it's unnecessary. Because, you know, there's so much blood. And that's...dark...not to mention ew."

I'd also hoped to meet Cromwell and what his personality was like before the big story cuts off, but I suppose some things just aren't meant to be. This story needed a real villain. All we got to see so far were minions. But, what are you going to do? This is as far as the story goes.

There's not much I can say as a final send-off, a wave into the distance as we ride into the sunset. While I personally think that first-person is not nearly as challenging as third-person, I'd say that for this story it works most of the time. The language of the narration is fun and engaging, conversational, as most first-person stories are. And with the exception of the content delving occasionally into how awesome p0rn is, there was great fun to be had all around, and that's to be commended.

I found almost no problems with the writing itself. Grammar was always a solid A. Some minor slip-ups here and there, but those were minor and very rare. (Just so I don't sound full of it, here's an example from Chapter Eight: "Yeah, we saved me, but he wouldn't have known..." It should be "Yeah, he saved me...")

The problems, at least from my perspective, seemed to be more with story and less with writing ability. The frustrating part of these reviews, and probably of continuing or discontinuing the story, was that the author in the author's notes was so "locked into it" that rewriting seemed out of the question. But there's a good premise in there with the threat of the Codex Manuscript: an all powerful demon about to be released unto Earth. Cromwell wanted to bring this demon to life and we should've have met him at some point—not super early, mind you, but early enough to establish his personality as the main antagonist, and personality can't really come through when other characters talk about him. I'd also say to not clutter the story or the scenes with too many different fantasy elements. Those of us who are stupid will get lost, and unless you like cleaning up the pieces of my skull from my head having exploded... scale it down please. I suspect that it can work, but these types of fantasy creatures tend to be overly complicated and in my opinion far more trouble than they are worth. It might be easier to limit the story to just a few of them: werewolf, vampire, and mage. Okay, I guess the Ninja's fine. But No Vikings!

Looking back, maybe it was a problem starting with Seyla. I understand why you did: her presence there essentially is what starts the whole plot. It's technically not the inciting incident, however, because we don't really learn that her showing up means until she explains it in chapter three. However, here's what I think is the problem: for most people, especially us fools who don't follow fantasy all that often, a fairy (or, as you assert, a faerie) is so strange and difficult and weird and foreign that it's an odd creature to use as our introduction to the world. I mean, seriously, how many times did I have to remind myself that Seyla was more like Arwen and less like FernGully? It's because when people think fairies, they think of the small ones. Vampires, werewolves, those things are easier to grasp right off the bat because popular culture has used them more often. Again, there's an easier way to draw us in.

My time is starting to run short, so I'll wrap this up.

To the author, I've always respected you as a writer, and I apologize for not getting to this story sooner. I really regret not having read this back 07 when it was being posted, because then maybe I could have said something so that it might have continued. You have some big ideas, an obvious passion for writing, and writing well, and you sure do love fantasy. Sir, I give you a much deserved salute.

And I guess, with that... I'll say goodbye to "Strange and Senseless Wars." Until your next project hits fiction press...

Thank you for sharing!
5/19/2011 c7 Michigan Jack
Only two chapters left. This one and Chapter Eight. Let's get to it.

Andrew's going it alone again in this chapter, talking about general B.S. and traversing around a mall. Doing what? The greatest threat humanity will ever face is about to happen any time now and Andrew is...shopping at a mall. Shopping for what, we don't really know. Probably a new alarm clock.

The first few paragraphs are relatively pointless, aside from the general theme of "I'm different! Accept me!" when people stare at Andrew and his trench coat. And no skateboarding allowed? Lame! Yet his apparent loathing and mistrust towards people doesn't extend to a happy-go-lucky blond girl who wants him to fix her car. Either this has "trap" written all over it, or we're being pulled through one of the most pointless scenes ever to appear in a supernatural fic. If you're reading this, you should already know. It doesn't really come as a surprise.

This chapter was basically the catalyst, the part of the story where the conflict is escalated so that the plot (the good stuff, usually) can get rolling. Andrew is taken hostage and he'll be needing his friends to come and save him. Or he'll spring himself free and run back to tell them all about it. Either way, I smell an action sequence brewing.
5/19/2011 c6 Michigan Jack
Chapter Six.

Looks like we're back to the same kind of stuff as chapters three and four. The character chapter of Five was a nice break, a nice entry, a nice steady piece of character development and intimacy, but now it's gone. You could argue that Chapter Six is much like Chapter Five, except that it isn't. We now see what happens when Andrew is given a chapter where he's entirely alone. What happens is nothing. He rouses awake, finds Seyla missing (because she had to run home for a sec), and checks his message machine. Rosie's left one, and you won't be happy to hear what he has to say. Well, I wasn't.

Here's why. If the goal of this story is to cram as many fantasy beings and creatures into the same room, it's sure on its way to getting there. We've had artificers, vampires, werewolves, fairies, mages, Vikings (almost), and now we're going to get ninjas and genies. Holy crap. Some people may find this awesome ("It's like a fantasy convention!"), and I think that it could work in film or comic books, which have the benefit of visual representation—which, as most people, speaks volumes. In fiction, however, all we have to go on are the words on the page, and it's just not the same. In my opinion, it's too much.

It's become clear that one of the supreme pleasures that the author gets from writing this story is describing the history behind each of the creatures, how they came to be, where they are today, and what they can and can't do. Couple that with endless sarcasm, popular culture references, a dastardly threat to end the world, a horny fairy, tricked out video game guns, and you've got some steady momentum to keep going. But does it have substance?

Well, yes and no. My biggest criticism of the story so far is that there is far too much going on in the way of fantasy elements. My puny brain can't take it all. But I would be wrong to say that this story has nothing going for it. It has a clear understanding of conflict and making characters different rather than interchangeable. It gives each of the characters a differing dynamic or relationship with the other ones. Seyla and Tanya. Rosie and Andrew. Andrew and Seyla. Andrew and Tanya. And so on. While some might say that this is to be expected of fiction writers, in my opinion it's something that's too often overlooked. The narrative's also easy to follow. While it's not perfect (it is clunky at times), the general feeling of the narration is smooth and entertaining. As a narrator, Andrew wants to entertain and even teach us. There's also something else that we can glean about his character: he wants us to accept and like him. He works for a p0rn filmmaker, and he wants us to tell him that's okay, even cool. He likes beer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, cosplay, trench coats, video games, and video games guns, and he wants us like those things too.

Is Andrew Kincaid a Marty Stu? Perhaps. It doesn't really matter to me. There are plenty of Mary Sues and Marty Stus that I like. He's certainly badass enough to be one, powerful enough, and I would even suspect that he's enough like the author to rack up some wish fulfillment points. (Either that, or the author has a fantastic ability to write a character's voice that is radically different from his own—in which case, kudos.) But Andrew Kincaid is not really as shallow or as pointless as typical Marty Stus. There have been glimpses of humanity which Marty Stus usually don't have. There's depth.

The story has been moving relatively slow so far largely because we haven't seen a real villain yet. We've seen a lieutenant or underling in earlier chapters (but that doesn't really count), and we've heard about the big bad guys. We just haven't seen them yet. I suspect that we'll be meeting them very soon in the next couple chapters.
5/19/2011 c5 Michigan Jack
Before I get started, I need to address something from my review of chapter four.

I made a glaring error in relating the plot: the big bad demon about to be unleashed is actually "Koschey the Deathless," not Cromwell. From what I gather, Cromwell is actually the bloke who wants to do the unleashing, and very likely the first person Koschey will decapitate when he gets sprung loose. I just realized my mistake while reading chapter five. Unfortunately, Fiction Press will not allow me to go back and edit my review of chapter four. So, I'm forced to correct the mistake here. My apologies to anyone who read that and went WTF!

That being said, I am pleased to move on to my review of chapter five.

Don't worry, it's not as negative or critical as my review of chapter four, and that's mainly because this chapter was a whole lot better.

What we've got here is something I would describe as a "Character Chapter." This installment is all about getting us to know Andrew a little better, and frankly it's some of the best writing I've seen from this story so far. Though this chapter has about as much action as the last one (i.e. none), and all Andrew and Seyla do in this chapter is lie in bed, it doesn’t really matter because the character development makes up for it.

We learn that Andrew has a connection to the master villain. Yes, as admitted in the author's note, this dangerously walks the line of becoming a Mary Sue story and all about how Andrew is the Chosen One. However, I will say that these stories tend to be more interesting because it raises the stakes for Andrew personally. (The stakes were already pretty high in the last chapter.) There's also a chilling prediction that Andrew and Seyla's relationship will be put to the test: if Andrew succumbs to Koschey's influence and is taken over by him, Seyla will have to make the agonizing decision to kill Andrew, who has become her lover and who would, by that point, possibly be more than that.

We also learn that Andrew has some self-doubts and may have a drinking problem. True, as he says, it's not anything that has caused him any kind of real trouble, but it could certainly go that way in the future. Again, it might even be another thing that would test Seyla's affections for him. Foreboding Conflict? You betcha. However, I should note that if nothing becomes of all this talk about alcoholism, then I would have to hate it as much as the author claims to. Having a drinking problem in the story for no reason at all is certainly beyond pointless, and it leaves the audience to wonder if it was added simply to garner sympathy for the protagonist. Probably not the case, though.

Despite Andrew's praising of the p0rn industry in earlier chapters, here we see that he may actually have the soul of a romantic. His intercourse with Seyla is not just about meaningless physical gratification, it is about having a genuine connection that sex only amplifies. Which is probably why Andrew constantly expresses his love for her. It might actually be love he's feeling. Although, to be fair, he did just meet her this morning, so let's not go the way of 27 Dresses just yet. What I'm surprised to see is how different his take on sex is when it becomes personal. He had previously made har-har sex jokes with Serge on the film set and now he goes into describing how beautiful Seyla and the experience were.

Probably what I was most impressed with about this chapter was how it took its time. Sure, as I said, nothing really happens, but it's scaled back to where we can enjoy the ride. There aren't four to six characters cluttering the scene, nor is there seven paragraphs of exposition vomit. Okay, yeah, Seyla has to move the plot along a little bit ("You do know you're the Chosen One, right?") so that we feel that we've gotten something out of this in terms of the plot, but it's done in a very character-driven way. Seyla's explanation of Andrew's Chosen One Destiny is not at random. It is in response to a weird dream Andrew had.

If there was an odd point in Andrew's character chapter, it was the bit on his parents. It seemed somewhat scattered and out of place. Still, it did serve to explain how Andrew's lineage meant that he would have powers, as well as that his father had used powers to do something not involving vampires or monsters.

Maybe Andrew could too, when this is all over.
5/19/2011 c4 Michigan Jack
It's been far too long since I last reviewed, but I'm back. I took a bit of an extended break on reading and reviewing this story because the author was a little thrown by my use of sarcasm and smarm. Was it supposed to be criticism? Or was I just pointlessly making fun of his story? Hearing that, I didn't really know how to proceed. To be honest, I don't think my smarm was that bad, but in all fairness, I should take these things a little more seriously. So, I'm back, and the sarcasm is toned down. If you came to read a flame-war inducing commentary, look elsewhere.

That said, and while I'll try to keep this review as positive as possible, I will also be pointing out things that I didn't like or didn't make sense. So, no, it won't be a hug-fest. (Seriously, no more sarcasm now. Or, rather, it shall be toned down.)

I'll start by saying that the narration is still solid. Though this chapter is somewhat exposition heavy (more on that in a bit), Seyla and the gang did lay out pretty clearly what exactly the stakes are. The Codex Manuscript will revive a big, bad demon named Cromwell, who will destroy the world. They must stop him. I'd like to know why specifically Cromwell hates humanity so much—that part isn't explained just yet, so I'm assuming we'll be finding it out later. It could be that he's simply your token "rawr" bad guy, who just hates mankind because he's bad and that's part of the job description. However, given how intricately this story attempts to flesh out its characters, I can't help but suspect that there's something more to Cromwell's motive. Again, though, nothing I can do at this point other than speculate.

I also understand the need to make Andrew a bit of a "reluctant hero," but given the circumstances, it seems kind of moronic for him to have reservations. It's not like he's being asked to stop day-to-day crime in the vein of Spider-Man, where the decision to take action is actually a major, long-term commitment for very little reward and where the stakes are by nature much lower. No, this is arguably a one time thing that is drastically more immediate and for much higher stakes. This is not stopping a bank robber. This is saving the world from a demon that will kill everyone and likely Andrew as well. Simply put, because of these circumstances, whether or not he feels a call to arms, there really is no alternative. Andrew sitting at home munching on pizza while his friends are off fighting the Mother of All Battles? That's not much of a story.

The point: the fact that he's reluctant to commit to this cause would make sense if the stakes were lower, but because they are so immeasurably high, it doesn't really make sense, no matter how flawed his character might attempt to be.

Okay, moving on. I'm pleased with the length. Though I have no problem reading stuff over five thousand words, I prefer to read something short and sweet when there's nothing going on with the plot. Well, there is a great deal going on with the plot, but it's mainly all talking. All the characters do in this chapter is talk and then decide to take a break from talking. Then, they'll come back tomorrow and talk some more. Keep in mind, this is only chapter four. I sort of already made this complaint, but why not have the story take its time and slowly reveal the mystery to us? It's a little too early to be dropping all of this information in our lap. But, see, here's the most frustrating part of it all: in the author's note, it's been made clear that once a path has been started on, there is no turning back. There shall be no rewriting. So, what's the point of criticizing?

I had great difficulty getting through this chapter—and really, this story as a whole so far—and I think I've figured out why. There's so much going on, and it's a little too much for my mind to handle all at once. We've got vampires, werewolves, mages, artificers, fairies, demons, and we almost had Vikings. (Side note: thank you for not including Drake the "Viking"; we did not need another member of the main cast at this point.) Is this all really too much? Imagine if Bram Stoker, in "Dracula," had included werewolves, witches, wizards, elves, Vikings, and everything else. My head would have exploded. Yours, probably, would have too.

Maybe it's just me, though. Maybe I can't handle all these different types of creatures stumbling over each other in one scene and one story. I'd say it's Double Mumbo Jumbo times one thousand, but maybe I'm wrong. I don't read Kelley Armstrong or other supernatural writers. Maybe this is a common thing. If it is, then I'm clearly the wrong person to be criticizing this, and so please disregard everything I have said about it.

I think that in all this negativity there was lost one important fact. This is a pretty good story. Even though I have some aversions to how much the story is throwing at me, I still can attest that we have a story that definitely cares enough to stay entertaining. "Strange and Senseless Wars" is remarkably self-aware of its frequent idiosyncrasies. I personally liked how Tanya called out Seyla's apparent incompetence: if this is such a dire situation, and the situation needs to be solved now, why did Seyla wait to tell him all about it? When Seyla explains that she's here to deal with the situation because she's the most qualified, Tanya puts forth plainly, "Qualified how?"

Thank you, Tanya. That needed to be said.

We also finally learn (through the dialogue) why Serge is in this story at all: not only is he Andrew's boss, he's also a werewolf like Tanya who leads her wolf pack. This answers my earlier question of how Tanya got mixed up in p0rn. Serge, her leader, offered her the job, and werewolves, I'm guessing, are obsessed with sex, so it all evens out. Here's another note on p0rn in this story, one that I may have already addressed: while I respect that people are going to like and enjoy what they like and enjoy, I personally find it unpleasant to read. Here p0rn is seen not only as respectable and awesome, but normal and everywhere. Like I said, that's fine when it's your own private interest. Go nuts. But in a story that's trying to reach a general audience, and with the way it's been presented here, all it does (at least, for me) is hold the story back and make it appear as the opposite of classy. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't oppose sex in fiction. It sells and it excites. But let's not go crazy, and let's not be disgusting about it.

The same goes for beer. In a story that claims to be rated T for Teen, the presence of beer seems odd. Beer, like any other alcohol, is an explicitly adult. Though I'm sure some teens out there would love for the drinking age to be as low as fourteen, there are still some teens who aren't in the same boat. Let's not forget that teens are the majority audience that loves Harry Potter and Twilight and Batman, none of which embraces beer and p0rnography the way this story has. This story contends decidedly adult content and adult language. I would even argue that it is written for an adult audience—albeit a very limited one.

There's plenty to like about this story, as I've already mentioned. It's got a narrative style that's relatively easy to read, it's clear about what the conflict is, and each of the characters has distinct and different voices, tones, and personalities. Though I might not consider Andrew "the everyman" by any means, he's still a solid protagonist and narrator. If I haven't mentioned this before I'll do so now: he's also got a reasonably unique set of abilities and, aside from the fact that I don't understand at all what the guns are, I'd say it falls into the general realm of cool. Well done.

There's also a really good romantic triangle developing. While I might roll my eyes at the fact that the two main beautiful women consider Andrew to be the cosplay equivalent to Brad Pitt, it does make for some interesting banter. Of course, Seyla's the main one, who's still "foreign" enough not to realize that inviting Andrew into a shower is awkward but does it anyway. If this story is as good as it has been so far, then I suspect that Tanya will be making a pass at Andrew soon. Either that, or she'll pair up with Rosie, and Andrew will have to accept their romance with a begrudging respect. It shouldn't be too difficult, since he's got Seyla. Unless, of course, she gets bored with him or he gets bored with her.

Either way, it sounds like good fun.
4/12/2010 c1 2J.R. Musgrave
Dude! Holy shit man o.O I mean, I knew you were smart, but DAMN! You're effin amazing!


I've been hooked.

We need to hang out sometime so I can tell you how awesome this shit is in person
7/20/2009 c3 1Michigan Jack
Well, I took a mild break from this story, but now I'm back. Here's my review/analysis of "Strange and Senseless Wars", Chapter Three:

After a long and laborious explanation on the oh-so-relevant topic of first-person shooter games, we get back to the action. Where we left off: Andrew Kincaid and p0rn-star Tanya were facing off against three vampires, and Tanya's pinned down. Andrew finally engages in the fight by whipping out two huge guns (named Bastille Day or something; I'm way off in remembering) and he just tears those bloodsuckers up—don't worry, though: Tanya isn't meant to be a damsel in distress, since she throws in a good crotch-kick before the fight's done. Apparently there aren't any bystanders around to tell the news crews about it later, so the supernatural species has once again lucked out of being discovered, yes. Tanya and Andrew walk away from the scene but remember to by Hungry Howie's to pick up pizza. I'm sure Howie will appreciate the little product-placement given.

Having effectively neutralized the situation, the two take Andrew's car as their transportation (leaving Tanya's, I guess) and engage in a little Q and A. There's little mystery left about Andrew's powers once he vomits all the expositional dialogue into Tanya's lap. Don't worry, Tanya; we know what it feels like: we just experienced it a few paragraphs ago with the FPS. We get a long speech on what is essentially the origin of magic (say "chi's"), and also we learn a little about Tanya (i.e. how she got here but not how she got mixed up in p0rn). Then, I realize something: why exactly did Andrew shoot the vampires in the face without even asking them who they worked for? For a while I thought Tanya had the answer and would eventually share it with us in the car, since we're having this Q-and-A and all. I thought maybe she's encountered these vamps before and can shed a little light on the plot. But she doesn't! And I'm left again staring at my computer screen saying those three magical letters (You know them: W, T, and F, all in sequence). Don't worry, though: it all works out in the end.

Still in the car, Tanya suddenly realizes that she has to call her "pack" (of wolves, I imagine) and let them know what just went down. She makes it seem like they'd kill her if she didn't. Unfortunately, the one payphone they stop at is out of order and, rather than find another one or drop her off at her place or ANY place (Heck, I'm sure Hungry Howie's has a phone), they drive back to Andrew's apartment. He foresees conflict when they arrive but surprisingly there isn't any. Seyla isn't at all threatened by Tanya, but that doesn't mean she won't make a move on Andrew once she's got him alone in the bathroom. She starts playing magic nurse with him once he's finished puking his guts out. We still have no idea why she's here, but I'm becoming increasingly convinced that her interest in Andrew is partially romantic, if not solely romantic.

Rosie's returned as well. Apparently he rushed over when Andrew didn't answer the phone. (Rosie's take on their relationship is something I won't care to speculate.) He also managed to keep Seyla entertained, and her grasp of card games reminds me of Starfire from Teen Titans and how foreign she was ("I wish to... go the fish?"). At this point I'd given up on any hope of plot development, but then we get a Hail Mary pass. While everyone else is simply content with their beer, Rosie is the only one who thinks to ask the big question we've all been wondering since Chapter Two, and it's Seyla who fires back the answer. It's a little irritating that the answer she poses is one that Andrew could've found out through interrogation of the leader vampire, or one that Tanya could've told him during the ride home, so I don't really see why Seyla had to be the one with the big moment.

I mean, I guess it perpetuates the notion that fairies are all-knowing, or that it "solidifies" Seyla's role as being more than just flighty, but it's weird all the same. The way she divulges such a random but huge chunk of information also comes off as premature: this is, after all, the FIRST mention of the "Codex Manuscript" thing (the name sounds like a computer manual, but it's not) and she's already told us the history behind it. It's like we get five plot twists in one bite. This seems like something that should've been drawn out slowly, over the course of a few chapters, where we'd gradually get answers to increasingly darker questions (What is the manuscript? Who wants it? Why do they want it? What happens if they get it? Etc.), and the story could've gone to a very dark place. But instead of getting what would be the potential for a VERY creepy conspiracy, we get it all at once. In a single spasm of dialogue, she killed the mystery. Thanks, Seyla.

As a side-note, Andrew's character has made some developments in this chapter. Little hints are dropped about his past, his family line, and whatnot, but not enough to let us know what he used to do with his powers before the events of this story. And as for actually commenting on his magic skills: Andrew explains quite simply that he is a badass. His powers are designed to make him look like a badass; besides, he can't do anything except make himself look like a badass; so he's pretty much stuck with being a badass. Yet it's odd that he seems to walk the line between being a badass and being a b*tch. He's clearly not intimidated by supernatural beings—vampires, fairies, and mages don't faze him a bit—but he's afraid to scam clients (mortals?) with his vanishing guns because they might hunt him down like the Mafia. Why does he seem more afraid of humans than he is of vampires? (Yeah, what makes him think the friends of the vampires he just slaughtered won't kill him in his sleep?) Second, I don't really understand why he cries about being "all-too-human". Didn't he just protect himself with a Shield Sphere that'll "stop anything from a bullet to a truck"? Why can't he use that against other humans?

Andrew's narration is between a rock and a hard place. On one end, it's complex enough to throw off any stupid people, eliminating them as would-be readers. At the same time, almost as though he's trying to cater to the stupid audience, Andrew takes pains to explain everything twice, making all the smart readers bang their heads against the wall from the redundancy. Fortunately, as a reader, I'm a mixture of both: stupid enough to not understand what the f**k Andrew is talking about, but smart enough to notice that he's saying it all twice. As an example, he says that he need a head-start from any clients he's scammed because (here's the repeat) they'd hunt him down. As another example, after Tanya flips out at the payphone, we're told that it's out of order. No sh*t. I'd throw in a last example (probably Andrew's genius "Fish + Cards = Go Fish" deduction), but for now I'll spare you.

Instead, I'll end on this note: I find it ironic that the stuff listed in the author's note as the stuff to come (i.e. more weird guns) is the stuff that I don't want to see. I want to see pistols, shotguns, and sniper rifles: sh*t that I actually understand. And it's also ironic that the stuff that Andrew doesn't want to talk about (i.e. the "deep truth" and seeing the moment of intimacy) was, in my opinion, the single best part of the chapter.
7/15/2009 c2 Michigan Jack
To all those checking out the reviews before reading, don't be fooled by the "T" rating: it should be full-on "M", if only for the sex stuff. To the author, who in a note at the bottom of the chapter page mused whether or not to up the rating, I will tell you this: the story walked the line in chapter one, sure, with vivid descriptions of Seyla's upper hemisphere, but here in chapter two it's definitely crossed the line. Don't get me wrong; this isn't a bad story, it's just one that shouldn't be labeled "Teen". And when you talk about "contemporary novels", they're still considered adult. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the cussing alone puts you in the red.

Okay, that's enough out of me. "Strange and Senseless Wars" continues in another three-part chapter, and we're introduced to a number of characters. Our trenchcoat-wearing protagonist, the knowledgeable Andrew Kincaid, takes us to a customer-phobic bookstore where we meet Rosarik Black. "Rosie" sits with steepled fingers, has black pony-tailed hair, and appears to be more of a future sidekick than an actual friend or certainly partner—that is, if he happens to play a bigger part in the story later. But for right now, in a very sidekick manner, he shares a lengthy conversation with Andrew and offers three logical solutions to Andrew's "problem": with Seyla hold up in his apartment, Andrew has to figure out what to do when he returns home. As Andrew instead opts to wing it, his said response comes off as someone who's decided to "go commando". The future, then, is up for grabs. Yes, this provides us with some much-desired conflict that seems promising in its own right, but oddly enough the rest of the chapter doesn't follow the venture with the fairy. I'm left to assume that the story will return to her eventually.

Instead, we're blessed with meeting some of the other people in Andrew's life: most notably, the people that he works with. At the moment it seems like an acceptable alternative. His boss, Sir Gay Romanov, has been eagerly waiting for Andrew to arrive with what seems to be the only camera equipment available for their film shoot. Despite being well ahead of schedule, Romanov nevertheless wants his crew to hit the ground running. However, their relationship isn't what I'd call a tense one. He and Andrew find each other absolutely hilarious, and between them rests a strange sense of mutual admiration. This is somewhat odd because, in the first chapter, Andrew made Romanov seem like a selfish taskmaster ("number of takes and hours of sleep be damned"), not the sort of lighthearted it'll-work-out-because-we're-awesome father figure he is in the second chapter. What's even weirder is that he drops it all and becomes completely serious, saying a line strikes me as anything but (e.g. "the grievous sins" and "we can be done with this and move on to better and darker things"). It's almost as if the content of his dialogue is being tempered by Andrew's narration.

Then there's Buffy Velour (a.k.a. Tanya), another drop-dead gorgeous woman in Andrew's life, but one who he's filmed naked. While ordinary men can only imagine what it's like to know a p0rnographic actress on and off the set, Andrew has the rare fortune of knowing one personally. She's surprisingly real and not at all affected by what she does: it might as well be any other job. And, like the other characters, she finds stuff about Andrew that she admires, and Andrew seems to be interested in her (romantically, if applicable) despite the fact that that she's probably sporting more venereal diseases than a sewage sponge. After the shoot, they bump into each other again at a local pizzeria, where Andrew is set to buy several pizzas for the fairy waiting back home. Then the plot takes an unexpected turn. I was half expecting Seyla to burst in on the two of them, but instead we get something a bit more random. And it involves an unnamed midget (sorry—magus) who dies less than a minute after appearing. We're met again with the "Urban Fantasy" part, only this time stumbling into a feud between vampires and werewolves. The leader vampire, currently unnamed, has black pony-tailed hair just like Rosie (but no other connection), and likes to feign emotion. He teases Buffy (who's now more than a p0rnographic actress in the plot), and Andrew makes sure to end the narration on a cliffhanger when he suddenly shows a propensity for magic.

This, of course, raises some questions. I'd ask what the fcuk was the midget doing there, but something tells me I better let that one go. What I will ask is this: if Andrew had these powers, why did he establish himself in California through such meager means? Well, I suppose one possibility is that he wanted to stay below the radar. I mean, there's the fact that he's now found a job that he repeatedly claims he loves (Hey, Andrew, who you trying to convince?), but what I find interesting is that the day job is separate from whatever else he's clearly doing (i.e. Urban Fantasy stuff). Rosie's got the same thing going on: sitting in a book shop all day while occasionally selling the magic-related texts. It seems like magic is a dying art—as Andrew puts it, masters didn't trust their apprentices and would've rather let the information die with them—but monsters don't seem worried about attacking each other in public, inside and outside of a pizzeria. Anyway, the second possibility of Andrew's restraint of his powers is that actually using them seems unpleasant for him. (By the way, the single funniest moment in the whole chapter was him uttering the lame phrase "sixth sense", and him trying to fcuking serious about it!) And of course I won't go into the Freudian implications of all the female names so far having a "y" tacked on (e.g. Seyla and Tanya).

Overall, the narration was solid, as usual. Grammar's clean, too. And I'll end on this note: the secret to doing the one-eyebrow thing is actually pretty simple. Pretend you have a fish-hook tugging upwards under your eyebrow, and then pretend you like it.
7/12/2009 c1 Michigan Jack
I can't believe I haven't reviewed this sooner. Well, here's my long-overdue review of "Strange and Senseless Wars: The First Andrew Kincaid Adventure", Chapter 1, parts 1, 2, and 3. (For those of you new to the story or just glancing at the review page to see what's up, let me just say this: it's probably not the best idea to listen to Kelly Clarkson while reading this story, not even just the instrumentals. Fun, yes, but not the best idea.)

I admit I was a little fazed by the first chapter, having taken one or two attempts to get started, but I eventually got into it. Although it starts as a sarcastic brood of mediocrity, the narrative becomes high in what I would label as "Urban Fantasy". In the past I used to think of that as the genre for Disney's "Gargoyles" (or possibly even "X-Men"), but no one could tell me definitively what "Urban Fantasy" was. Now I think we can say that "Strange and Senseless Wars" is a prime example of it: the more-or-less real world with human-sized fairies, reality-warping powers and all. No, they're not the fairies from "FernGully" or some other obscure popular culture reference that you might care to name. They're more like Elves from "Lord of the Rings" rather than like Pixies from "The Fairly Odd Parents".

If it seems like I have no idea what I'm talking about, it's because I don't. I'm not a fairy aficionado, so coming to terms with this story's material was a little new for me, and a lot of research on my part had to accompany this reading. I had to look up almost every reference the narrator made; I think I spent five minutes on "otaku" alone, and I still don't really understand what it means.

Anyway, onto some actual reviewing: serious kudos are due for the style of the narrative, especially in the first several opening paragraphs. I particularly enjoyed the moment when the narrative dipped into the flashback of the bar scene. It ties in a good pace, intellect, and humor all at the same time. And while it does slow down a bit towards the more descriptive part of the chapter ("speakers over here, breakfast nook over there"), it doesn't detract from the interesting normalcy the narrative seems like it wants to convey. And that, in some odd way, makes the setting much more believable. I mean, there are moments when the narrator does seem to make a mountain out of a molehill ("New food in the fridge? WTF! Well, I'm used to weirdness."), and while it might seem to the untrained eye that the story so far isn't carrying any more plot development than the exciting thrills of breakfast, with what's practically a feast for two, it instead offers what the narrative has done so far and continues to do: namely, it allows for some mental commentary on the situation, society, and what's around. Simply put, it's a much-needed excuse to be descriptive. As a writer, those opportunities don't come cheap.

The principal character is Andrew Kincaid, 27, the narrator and unofficial color commentator of popular nerd culture, somewhat in arrested development given his familiarity with cosplay ("Costume Roleplay" for us newbies), but who has a job and an apartment to call his own. With his love of beer and trench coats, he stands opposite of Seyla, an exquisitely beautiful life-size fairy, who's come to share this morning with him, though we don't yet know why. I'm guessing it has something to do with Andrew's unusual knowledge of all-things-Fairy: that they're the reason for unexplained phenomena, that screwing with one could get you into a world of hurt, and that they're just so darn cute with those pointy ears. Andrew remains surprisingly stoic (almost like a sarcastic Keanu Reeves) throughout most of his encounter with Seyla (whose appearance reminds me of that princess in "The Legend of Zelda"), and though he opts to pass on being the epitome of Mr. Nice Guy ("Nobody eats in my damned bed!"), Andrew doesn't do anything to piss her off, and vice versa. This isn't necessarily a problem, since I'm sure there's conflict to come; for right now, we're just settling in.

Overall, this is a good beginning because it does what any good beginning should—leave you with a lot of questions. The biggest one, of course, is why has Seyla gracefully landed in Andrew's life? What is her interest in him? What is HIS interest in HER? Is it just a passing encounter that in the future holds only more breakfasts, or is there some exciting adventure set for after they have dinner? Such a dizzying array of questions can't easily be answered all at once, but I imagine the story will at least go in one direction or the other.
11/15/2007 c8 21Faith Adeline
Aha, the past 3 chapters were great! I was so glad to see you updated! I love the action in this story, amazing job. Fight scenes HAVE to be written well in order to sound good, and you pull it off so props to you. Update soon with more, I'm loving where this is going. Oh, and the bands you named were awesome. Rock on.

11/15/2007 c1 13DNekura
Ok, I've only read half of the first chapter but already I'm completely drawn in by your characters wit and your sassy way of writing.

I'm loving it so far ^_^
11/5/2007 c3 8Sabraeal
You know, I read this chapter maybe two weeks ago (you know, when I said I would review) but I put off reviewing because I do agree with you - the first part of this chapter drops the ball a bit for you, and I was *stumped* on why I thought that. I think I may actually be able to put it into words now.

1.) I like the FPS sort of analogy, but my problem is that you wax rhapsodic on it. It feels like you have stopped the story to explain the part that you possibly feel the least comfortable with. I don't find the Artificer or the weapons a problem to believe - one walk past a Gamestop would give him a lifetime of ideas. But where I feel the story goes off the tracks is the actual FPS explanation, which slows the first part of the story to a stop.

2.) A main point - while men my age (~college age) have grown up with such things, I feel as if Kincaid is slightly older, which actually makes him mostly outside the range of the glory days of FPS - he probably had to start his adult life before things like the modern FPS planted itself in the conscious of every male from age 9-20. His explanation almost seems out of character, which makes it arresting. That being said, that's basically my only problem - I do like the first line, but the rest of the exposition needs to be tailored more towards a man of Kincaid's age.

3.) Uh, yeah. The gun is cool (technically, it transcends cool, but you know).

4.) "He had been an asshole; Fuck that guy." I personally love Kincaid's narrative because of his casual asides. Also, i think possibly what makes this the best sentence ever is the properly used semi-colon.

5.) AHAHAH, the pizzas. And Tanya being like "uh, is this really the time to be thinking about food? i mean, REALLY?"

6.) "I was trying to operate a motor vehicle; I didn't need that kind of distraction." This whole part just made me laugh and go "oh, boys"

7.) Tanya threatening his safety is pretty awesome, as well as her rationalizing it with "and it's too far to walk to my condo." Also, the description of how magic works is really pretty awesome (I'm a sucker for magic theory)

8.) The explanation of Artificers and Werewolves were really good (finally someone thought of the shifting problem!)

9.) I do love Seyla, with all her melting of alarm clocks and the bespelling of people. Also, I like how Andrew has a very human reaction to the fight, which is obviously to throw up.

Overall, I enjoyed this chapter - Andrew's power is pretty awesome, and I don't think there's really a problem with keeping it the way it is.
10/12/2007 c1 9Aleksy The Flying Onion
Wow wow wow!

AMAZING! =0 I can honestly, without a doubt, say that this story is publishable. Jeepers!

What a great job you've done here. You're skills are very graceful. I should elaborate: You've weaved the supernatural element of this story so so so so well. I can't imagine it having been done better. Fantastic descriptions as well. Not only was it fun and entertaining, but I could visual everything without struggling with insipid vocabulary or jumbled sentences. Smooth, fluid, witty, and intelligent!


One complaint. You didn't mention CCR in Andrew's song preferences. Sacrilege! I'm sending a team of ninjas now...
10/3/2007 c2 8Sabraeal
1.) I personally love the point about magic books - probably a lot more trouble and effort to write than they're worth

2.)"Commit what you know to paper (or parchment, papyrus, or flayed human skin, as the case may be)" - I gotta say, "flayed human skin" is just the only way to go with your dark grimoire

3.) Oh Rhode Island, dealing in crocodiles and magic books (and all driving badly to work)

4.)I always know Beowulf and Grendel's Mom had something going on.

5.)"Although I've never known him to have any sense of humor, I chose to believe he was ragging on me" I have to say, I'm always impressed by your narrative. I'm generally not someone who laughs out loud at something I've read, but I tend to do it a lot while I'm reading this

6.)"Number one, yes," I said, holding up a finger. I raised another, "Number two, that isn't the issue. And number three, yes." - hahaha, yep. Addressing the important issue straight off the bat :P

7.)"And if it sounds like there's no way I should have been able to get the two confused... Fuck you. You didn't see it." I'm glad my roommates aren't here, otherwise I already would have been getting weird looks from how loud I laughed

8.) I enjoy that he's stuck in town because he owes her a...pizza

9.)And now he's worrying about the stains. On his carpet (he's not getting his security deposit back when his lease is up, I'm telling you...)

10.)Oh, and the gay bar. I think Andrew's backstory just gets more and more interesting (and hysterical). Man, and then working for PORN. It just gets better.

11.) Gotta love the porn star werewolf. I'm still not sure if I'm fond of the romantic undertones (just a gut reaction from biology - the number of STD's passed around in that business, really, it's astounding)

Really good chapter, I don't have many critiques, but as for your note at the end - I'd say that most of the content is okay; you might wanna nudge it up into M, just to be safe, and if you do that I think you have a lot more play with what Kincaid can say (I personally think he comes off as more blunt than the kind who would use so many innuendos, but it's really not a problem either way)
9/3/2007 c1 Sabraeal
1.) I think I agree with SC about the first line - I think you can do without the "I thought", but otherwise the beginning is solid and I think the continuing narrative anchors it pretty firmly in the first person.

2.) Props for using first person - its probably the hardest to get right (besides 2nd person), and generally its done all wrong by lots of people who don't write so well (or are new to putting word-things together). So thanks for actually being good at it :P

3.)"But I've always harbored a deep seated dread that some day, some how, some one is going to make the mistake of hooking an alarm clock into Something Important, and the little bastard will seize it's chance to blow mankind all to hell and claim the planet for it's brethren." I have to say, this made me laugh right out loud (and I can read Discworld with a straight face, so that says something). I harbor a great love for strategic capital use, and this was perfect

4.)I really love the description in the first portion of this chapter - it's really descriptive without being heavy or trite or some such. I enjoy the originality of it (and anyway, i kinda
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