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Wednesday Meeting: October 12th

We had a big old turnout this week with four pieces to get through. It was a pleasure to welcome Ezeiyoke and Marc to their first meeting. It’s great to see our little (or now not so little) group continue to grow.

Chris Ovenden:

Chris presented the second part of his novel the knight of never rest:

Like the previous chapter, I think everyone really enjoyed this piece. There were lots of positive comments about the setting, and the dialogue was a real pleasure to read. There was a bit of confusion around whether the protagonist already knew the witch or not. Perhaps the author could make this a bit clearer? As with previous chapters, there were some calls for the language to be more uniform. At times the language feels very old world, where at others it felt quite modern.

Everyone is looking forward to the next chapter!

knight-of-never-rest

Hans:

Hans presented the first part of a novel called Boys.

I think everyone enjoyed the narrative here, and there was praise for the interesting ideas on show. Most group members liked the idea of a government death department (although if it was really a department it was perhaps giving away a little too much). Some found the prose a little too cinematic, especially the chase/chess scene. This kind of approach would be great for a film, but it didn’t quite hit the mark here. There were some calls for more visualisation of the surroundings and calls for more characterization.

chess

Tom:

Tom presented the second chapter of a piece called The Fabled Winds.

I think everyone enjoyed the descriptions in this piece. The world building came across as fantastical and sophisticated, while the flora and fauna of the planet showed great creativity on the author’s part. There were some questions over how clear the protagonist’s thought processes were when she was in a life or death situation, and some felt that the injury was a little too serious for her to be moving around as freely as she was. A few members wanted to see a more authentic narrative voice, and there were some comments that piece was a little ‘told’ at times.

Everyone is looking forward to seeing what other wonders await in the next chapter.

alien-landscape

Bryn:

Bryn presented the second part of a short story called An End To Forever

Lots of positive comments for the quality of the prose in this piece. There were some fantastic turns of phrase that really showcased the author’s talents. Some members felt that the story felt like two ideas crunched together. Does the first half fit with the second half? There were a few comments that the fight scene went on a bit long, and there were a few too many nameless meatshields.

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Afterwards, we scooted off to the pub for a spot of libation and a chinwag.

Remember, we are currently accepting submissions for our next anthology REVOLUTIONS 2, so get writing and get submitting people!

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Tuesday 27th September 2016

Another top meeting to round off September. We had 7 members in attendance with 3 pieces to crit in the drobox (two from new members, good job guys!)

Eric presented part 12 of his novel Hellbound. Everyone was agreed that this was a very easy read with some top writing. There was a great deal of praise for Diane’s character with members enjoying her characterization (and that she is finally breaking free!). Her troubles were very believable. Some questions raised over whether some of this chapter and the previous one with Kim could be condensed into one. Calls to not draw too much attention to Oscar’s powers and to stretch out Diane’s character transition a little more over the preceding chapters

Tom presented the first chapter of his novel The Pilgrim’s Storm. It was clear that there was a very large and interesting world behind this and members really enjoyed the interesting nautical/spacefare crossover, the tension between the alien races, and the bad-ass bat monster that is Heryst! Some questions over whether we perhaps need a more relatable human-like character to get us into the story. Also, how big is a Jarsen? And is this is a prologue (boo! hiss!) do we really need so much of Alius’ backstory? Calls for a little more clarity over the species we encounter and for us to see these characters again soon! (Gief moar Heryst!)

Finally, Bryn presented the first part to a two part short story called An End to Forever. A lot of members felt this was reminiscent of Ian Banks and all enjoyed the poetic themes and the imagery (Superman approves your ice palace!). Some questions over whether we need the initial ‘prologue’ section and whether it wouldn’t be better to drip feed this throughout the story. Also, questions raised about whether the strong poetic element of this piece could be turned into a standalone piece of flash (no prizes for guessing who said this!). Calls for a little less info-dumping and a bit more characterization of our POV character: what does an eternal ice overlord look like?

That’s all for now. Our next meeting is Wednesday the 12th. See you then!

Pip pip.

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Wednesday Meeting: 14th September

With a healthy turnout of members, we only had time to get through three of the four submitted pieces this week. But hey ho, what we lacked in crit quantity we made up for in crit quality.

We’d also like to offer a hearty welcome to Tom and Bryn who joined us for the first time. We look forward to reading something from you both in the future.

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Chris:

Chris presented the first part of a novel called Knight of Never Rest.

Everyone loved the atmospherics in this piece and felt like the idea of a world with naturalised necromancy was quite unique. There were lots of comparisons to The Witcher and Dark Souls. Some felt there was so much going on that they were left with too many unanswered questions. Could the world building be spread out amongst other chapters? Others disagreed with this and were happy to read on in ignorance until more details get revealed.

Some members felt that there was an incongruence between the post-technological, far future society and the extremely archaic language. Would language devolve this way? Some  notable precedents were mentioned, particularly Gene Wolfe’s Book Of The New Sun. Some commented that the protags internal voice was very different from the more archaic dialogue she used. Stylistics aside, I think everyone thought the dialogue seemed natural and engaging.

Everyone is eager to read the second instalment.

knight-of-never-rest

Bronwin:

Bronwin presented a chapter from her novel Green.

As usual, I think everyone found the imagery very satisfying, especially the first couple of pages.

There are still calls for more clarity, with a few members not really knowing where the story is heading. There were even a few questions raised over the necessity of the chapter.

The multiple Reginas scenario was a real source of confusion for many. Is it important to the story? Calls to have just one Regina. Some felt the father was a bit unbelievable. He is awful to his daughter then seems to change his mind for no reason. There were Some calls for the author to do away with the father’s current approach to his daughter’s mutism. Either that or the father’s treatment of his daughter should lead to a lasting rift in the family.

Some members felt Sally was crowbarred in at the end. Could she be introduced earlier?

Everyone is looking forward to the next Chapter!

triple-regina

TRIPLE REGINA!

Melissa:

Melissa presented a short story called A Short History Of Foole

There were lots of positive comments about the humour in this piece, with particular praise for the surrealness. There was healthy discussion over the meaning of the piece. Some members felt that the piece was a fairy tale missing a moral whereas others had their own idea about what the moral might be.

I think everyone found the piece to be very heavy on the telling, and there were calls for a more shown approach to the overall arc. Some members felt that the piece lacked well fleshed out characters,  and struggled to emotionally resonate with the reader. This was a symptom of the strong omniscient viewpoint. There were a few calls for the story to be retold from a third person omniscient perspective.

Telling aside, I think everyone really enjoyed some of the imagery in the piece, which for the most part hit the nail on the head.

Everyone is hoping to read more from Melissa in the future!

village-idiot

 

After the meeting, we all headed over to Common to snarf down some pale ale. The main topic of conversation was James’ recent foray into writing copy for the Brexit biscuit (You think I’m kidding?)

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Tuesday Meeting 23rd August 2016

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Last night several of us once again endured high temperatures to attend the Tuesday meeting. No doubt the sunshine contributed to the slight reduction in our usual numbers! Also, a warm welcome to Melissa, who attended her first meeting last night. We look forward to reading her fiction soon!

On with the critiques:

 

mars

“Matt…Damon!”

 

Kate presented the first chapter of an untitled YA sci-fi novel set on Mars.

Everybody liked the great detailed descriptions and the Martian setting (seriously, who doesn’t like Mars?) There was praise for the funny moments in the story and the character of “Magic”, the cut-price Martian tour operator. However, some felt that the secondary characters of Minty and Sapphire were introduced too early. Also, the protagonist’s brother is yet to come across as a character in his own right. But people liked the murder mystery plot and the double (!) cliffhanger ending of this first chapter.

 

funny-redneck-spaceship

 

Peter submitted a short story titled “Mid-Space”.

People praised the nice writing of this piece. The protagonist’s conversation with his incompetent ship’s A.I. was generally thought to be very funny. Some logic questions: exactly how fast is light speed? Would Apple computers exist in the far future? Would a futuristic A.I. really be that incompetent? Some calls to raise the stakes and to turn the “down ending” into an “up ending”. But there was universal praise for the theme and that by the end of the story Duncan just wants to be friends with his A.I. Awww.

 

zombies

 

Rob submitted the first chapter of his fantasy novel, “Necropolis”.

Everybody liked this piece. There was universal praise for the idea of mixing zombies with fantasy. Defoe and Romanitas were alluded to. Some minor anachronisms were pointed out. People also had mixed emotions toward the protagonist. Some felt she was too mean and unsympathetic. Others felt that she was interesting enough and that she will (hopefully) grow as the story continues. Some also liked the reversal of gender expectations. There was a little less enthusiasm for Heimel, who was felt to be a much weaker character. Everyone praised the horrible, bleak setting. Although maybe being based in Manchester had something to do with that!

 

Finally, Eric submitted three short flash fiction pieces.

People thought the “Eyes of Hera” was funny, but the punchline was a bit too convoluted and difficult to grasp. Some difference of opinion over felt the one-sided conversation of the narrator. Some suggested the writer go full-on Tweedpunk.  More people liked “Little Green Men” and the really mean last line ! Finally, “How the Ghost of You Clings” got the most praise, although some wanted more backstory for the protagonist, and there were calls to drop the line “Inconceivable” with its callbacks to The Princess Bride. Fair enough.

 

inconceivable

 

Afterwards we all went to Common, which was unusually quiet (until we got there) and talked about Literary Festivals, Finland, fistfights and, of course, our upcoming anthology!

Next meeting: Wednesday 14th September. So, thanks to the quirkiness of our calendar, there’s plenty of time to get your subs in!

 

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Wednesday Meeting: 10th August

A Bit of a quiet one this Wednesday with only seven people in attendance. What we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality.

Tammy

Tammy presented a story called Procession.

Lots of nice comments about the dreamlike strangeness in this piece and I think everyone enjoyed the 1st person voice. There were some calls for an ending that is less told and more subtle, perhaps by playing up to the dreamlike strangeness more. Some members wanted to see the plot expanded while some felt that the story could maintain the same length if the author went with a ‘make your own mind up’ ending. As always members found the descriptions fantastic and the prose slick.

Eric:

Eric presented the 13th chapter from his horror novel ‘Hellbound’.

Lots of positive comments about this chapter. Most enjoyed the metamorphosis scene. Some felt that Kim might come across as a bit of a stereotypical Hollywood starlet, but that this was tempered when her past is revealed. Many felt that contrary to her outward behaviour, there was a lot of depth to Kim as a character. Some members are still finding there to be too many characters in the plot and would like to see a more direct approach to advancing the story. Perhaps a case of kill your darlings?

Chris:

Chris presented a comedy short story called Call of C’schoolu.

Everyone enjoyed the humour in this piece and there were lots of nice comments about the blending of Lovecraft with high school drama. The voice of the protagonist was a particular highlight for some, although there some comments that it could at times be a little more sophisticated than the tone of the piece or the protagonists age suited. Some of the more Lovecraft literate members pointed out a conflation of certain mythos elements. Lots of praise for the feel-good ending. Who knew Cthulhu could be so paternal?

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We nipped across to Common afterwards for a few jars of grog. The main topics of conversation ranged from how violent cartoons used to be and the submissions for our Second Anthology: Revolutions 2.

Next meeting is Tuesday the 23rd of August. See you all there!

Luke

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REVOLUTIONS 2!

Following the success of REVOLUTIONS, the speculative fiction anthology produced by the Manchester Speculative Fiction Group, we have decided to produce a sequel, titled (you guessed it) REVOLUTIONS 2!

We want your sci-fi, horror and fantasy stories! Payment rates have also gone up, so see the guidelines below and get submitting!

 

REVOLUTIONS!

 

REVOLUTIONS 2

Call for Submissions:

The theme will be the same as for the first anthology, which is that all stories must be speculative fiction and be linked to Manchester, England in some way.

REVOLUTIONS 2 will be available in e-book and print formats later this year.

Submissions are open to anyone who is aged over 18 from anywhere in the world.

Deadline now extended to November 15th.

Please read ALL of the guidelines BEFORE you submit.

 

GUIDELINES

What We Want

Stories must contain speculative fiction elements. This includes: science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, urban/contemporary fantasy, and dark fantasy.

Stories must be between 1,500 and 6,000 words in length.

All stories must be associated with Manchester or the Greater Manchester area in some meaningful way. For example, a story set aboard an orbiting space station that just happens to be called Manchester in the Alpha Proxima star system will probably be rejected. Having said that, we are flexible on this. The editors all have different tastes in fiction. If in doubt, submit!

Be creative. We want stories that are fresh, smart, entertaining, and emotionally satisfying. We want stories that surprise us, horrify us or offer us a glimpse of something we never imagined. You can be ultra-realistic or far removed from reality. The only thing is that your story must be set in Manchester or its suburbs.

You can find out about Manchester right here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester

Stories should be attached to an email and sent to: msfantho[at]gmail.com

In the subject line of your email write: “Submission [STORY TITLE] – [YOUR NAME]”

Please also give us a few lines of biographical information about yourself.

Stories should be in Times New Roman or Courier font, 12 point, double spaced. The following file formats are acceptable: rtf, .doc, .docx

Submissions must be in English.

What We Don’t Want

We do NOT want novels, pictures books, illustrations, non-fiction articles or photographs. We only publish short fiction.

We will NOT publish anything that depicts child abuse or bestiality.

NO multiple submissions. This means you can submit only one story until you receive a decision from us. You may then submit another story and so on.

For a taste of the kind of things we like, it would certainly be an advantage to read the first REVOLUTIONS anthology, available here: http://amzn.to/2aPakpq

Feel free to ask any questions to our self-aware Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/revolutionsanthology

Did we mention it has to have some connection to Manchester?

What We Give You:

REVOLUTIONS 2 is a paying market.

We pay each author that we publish a single payment of £15 Sterling.

What We Ask For:

First Print and Electronic Publishing Rights, exclusive for 12 months. After that, you are free to publish your material elsewhere.

Bear in mind that most publications will not publish pieces that have been published in print, eBooks, or on the web, so for all intents and purposes after your work is published by us it can only be marketed as a reprint, which severely limits the number of markets that will accept it, and drastically reduces the pay rate it can receive. It is up to you to decide if publishing your work in print and eBook formats and on the web, giving up your First Publishing Right for the above token payment, is really what you want to do.

We also reserve the right to place short (1 page or less) excerpts of stories online indefinitely for advertising purposes.

 That’s it!

Tentative publication date early 2018.

We look forward to reading your work!

The Editors.

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Meeting: Tuesday 26th July

Another top meeting last week with 9 members in attendance. To the crits:

Arthur presented the first chapter of Wendigo Water, a novelization of his radio play of the same name. A lot of members were well up for some wendigo madness. Praise here for good character interaction, an interesting opening and the last line cliff-hanger. There were some questions raised about the accuracy of the portrayal of the US legal system, and whether some of the characters/infodumps could be cut. Also, is the tone right for horror? Some members felt there was a comedic lilt to the righting. Calls for more showing, less telling… and more wendigo!

Eliza presented the second part to her short story, ‘More than one zodiac in school’. A lot of praise here for the elegant writing, with some members enjoying this more than the first part. Universal praise for the fantastic mother character and the conflict of bringing a friend round for tea for the first time. Members also enjoyed the twist with Tegan, though wondered about what her motives might be for her actions. Also, where the hell are Tegan’s parents? Finally, is the solution to Tegan’s problems a bit too easy? Lots of questions from members about what the message is with feeding your spirit/zodiac animal. Calls, also, for a bit more insight into Tegan’s scar (is this a product of her ‘separation’), and for some more on the powers the other spirit animals possess.

James presented the first part of a piece, working title: ‘the Grand Buffet’. Praise here for the great interaction between the mother and Alex, the dramatic conflict throughout and the general characterization of Alex. Some members found the piece reminiscent of Dexter (the serial killer, not the guy with the lab!) and Donnie Darko. Questions over what is going on with the personification of the tumour. Also, is there actually such a thing as 100-year-old malt? Calls to cut the names in dialogue, give a bit more characterisation for Alex’s sister, and perhaps hint more towards the overall narrative of the piece.

Last, but by no means least, Kate presented the second part of her hard-boiled noir ‘The Sad Bird’. A few members found this reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, with a lot of praise for the great writing, horror imagery (phantom beaks are, frankly, terrifying!), and Dave’s eventual comeuppance. There were quite a few questions raised over the final scenes: does the protagonist get away with things a little too easily?  There were calls to develop Dave’s character more and for harpy’s sake let us see the action scene!

That’s all for now. I should close by saying that this will be Arthur’s last session for a little while. I’m sure we’d all like to thank him for some great pieces and critiques and wish him the best of luck in Preston.

Till next time!

Next meeting Wednesday 10th.

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