The rules of the first page critique game are in detail on the Electric Spec blog, and it basically boils down to ‘send in the first 200 words (ish) of a story that you want some feedback on and they’ll comment publically on their blog’.
The comment is always erudite and helpful and I shall be digging out a first page as soon as I get home.
I’ve just seen the announcement on the Electric Spec blog that Volume 4, Issue 2 is out. And so is Issue 8 of Crossed Genres.
Hopefully I’ll get around to reading them soon.
I haven’t reviewed Electric Spec before. I first heard of them via the first page contest they were holding on their blog. The editors’ comments on the work submitted to them were very thoughtful and interesting. They publish quarterly and are a paying market.
The first issue of this year came out on February 28. It contains six stories, the first of which is A Crowd of Possibilities by Eric Del Carlo. It starts slowly but it’s worth persevering with. At the beginning I found the staccato style of writing irritating. This was the point I think, as the author gradually builds a sense of dislocation. At the end it all makes sense and works up into a good story.
The Boogie-Woogie, Time-Traveling, Cyborg Blues by Barton Paul Levenson is really good. The tension of the story is set up very quickly and maintained all the way through. Backstory is nicely handled through dialogue, raising some interesting questions about the possible future. I liked this.
RepFix by K.P. Graham is also very good. It’s really well written and presents a plausible world without stopping to explain the details. It shows confidence. What I didn’t like about this is that it was a little coy with the details. We are told characters swear and use bad language, we are told that the main character is a depraved criminal. I find it irritating to have these things hidden behind a veil. If they are important enough to mention at all, then they are important enough to show.
Story number four is Kitsune-tsuki by Justin A. Williams. I love the way this starts by dropping you right into the action. The later action scene is also good; it’s exciting, well paced and dramatic. The bits inbetween are a bit slow and saggy. I struggled to keep reading. The ending was a bit cliched for my taste as well.
The next story, Hair and Hearts by Alison J. Littlewood, was wonderful. As it went along it really drew me in. It made me laugh although it’s not humourous story. If I’m being pedantic, I might say it suffers from an over-use of commas. That seems to have been a theme in this collection of stories. The effect is to make the narrative feel breathless and jumpy. Sometimes this is appropriate and sometimes it works against a story.
The last tale in this issue, The Girl Door by Jennifer Linnaea, doesn’t suffer from an over-use of commas. This is the best of the issue. The writing is excellent and the fantasy is multi-layered and symbolic. Linnaea is saying an awful lot beyond the simple story of a father protecting his child.