It's "I Come Anon"

Age 26
Northern Virginia
Seen 4 Weeks Ago
Posted May 26th, 2018
1,184 posts
11.7 Years
There are a lot of interesting ideas going on here. I love the amount of thought you've put into the question of what a genderless, single Pokemon species would mean in a realistic setting. Your explanation both fits existing canon, and gets extra points for allowing there to be a super-cute baby Ho-Oh. Excellent use of the "magic" prompt, too. I like stories where the mysteriousness and wonder of the universe is just so darn persistent despite our attempts to pin it down with science.

The most effective scene to me was where Trent tries to take Nix. Because we know this is a story, we also know what a dolt he's being and that it can't end well, but it's so fun to wonder how it will go wrong. Will itty-bitty Ho-Oh be (un)surprisingly strong? Or is Mommy/Daddy Ho-Oh nearby? The way you revealed the answer with the wind and fire was nicely done. Good job on depicting the adult male Ho-Oh, too. He's convincing as both a living bird and as a creature of myth.

But Trent puzzles me. I get the impression that you want him to stand in for the skeptical/scientific viewpoint, but his emotional reactions to the things he sees are so erratic and unpredictable that it's hard for me to picture him as a skeptic or a scientist. I'd figure that finding a Ho-Oh chick (or even an unknown pokemon that looks like a Ho-Oh chick) would be a joyous, career-defining discovery, not something to get in a huff over. And if, as he suspects, Ho-Oh was a non-supernatural but long-lived bird-thing that was smart enough to trick humans into worshiping him, wouldn't that be fascinating to a biologist instead of infuriating? Things fall into a pattern were something scientifically fascinating is revealed, Trent gets mad about it, and it takes me a little while to understand what's going through his head to make him angry. As you point out in the narration, it boils down to that he's a man-child.

So here's where I'm at a loss when it comes to Trent: he's actually very consistent in the way he acts given how you've wired his brain, and he's convincing as a flawed human being; but the way he's characterized makes it difficult to see him as being representative of skepticism/science. The story feels more like a critique of Trent himself than of skepticism, if you meant to illustrate deficiencies in the method of skepticism that is. Maybe I'm reading this the wrong way.

Oh, and this:

"That is outside my capability,” Ho-Oh crooned. “It seems in your anger you have killed it.


He stood up and shoot a mean look at the Ho-Oh. “You did something! I- I couldn’t have!” He swung his free arm, losing his patience. “It was alive. I felt it!
I get the reference, but for the life of me I can't tell if you wanted the readers to laugh here or not. It's not really played like a joke, but maybe like an inside joke?

If I can compare this story to your SWC entry last year, I think you do a much better job of integrating your deep worldbuilding ideas with the story itself here. In As They Were I thought the segments in the present felt extraneous, but here the present-story actively draws from the past and uses it to move itself forward. The worldbuilding fits like a glove, so good job in that regard.

So yeah, great worldbuilding as I've come to expect from you, and it comes in the form of an entertaining story that stands well on its own. Congrats on landing second place! Looking forward to seeing what you cook up next year. :)
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