Selecting content for a short story collection

So I think I've mentioned a few times that the next thing I want to publish is a book of short stories. Due to [gestures at the world] all of this, and some other things, progress on this has been extremely slow over the course of 2021. Currently I am hung up on selecting content.

At present, the book will definitely contain:

This is, I would say, enough content to fill about half of a book. In total it comes to around 25,000 words. This would be a good book, I think, but too short. There's a floor on how much I can charge for a book, and I also want to give people their money's worth, which means I would like to put more content in.

Other than this, I have re-read all of my published fiction... and... I am very uncertain about what else, if anything, to include.

A lot of my older stuff from pre-2010, say, doesn't come up to my current-day standards — usually the concept is thin or a little juvenile, or the joke isn't all that funny. Whatever the issue, the prospect of trying to bring any one of these older works "up to code" invariably fills me with a weird revulsion. I just want to leave them as is, and I don't feel happy about exposing them to a new audience alongside relatively mature works like "Lena".

Among my more recent work... well, there aren't actually too many standalone short stories from after 2010, because I've spent most of my recent years working on longer-form serials which are already self-published. "cripes does anybody remember Google People" likely isn't going to make it in, because the story doesn't really work outside of the medium of Twitter. I'm also not going to be including any of my fan fiction, mainly due to legal quandaries. Other than that, there's only 30 More First Drafts, which I think might have a few bits and pieces which might be worth exploring further...

Anyway, rather than fret uselessly about this for months longer, I am reaching out to you readers. Which old short fiction of mine do you think should be included, if any? And which drafts of mine would you like to see refined into a finished piece? And is there anything else which I'm forgetting? Please explain your reasoning. The more articulate you can be the better. I reserve the right to ignore everything you say, naturally. In any case, I look forward to hearing from you.

Update, 2022-11-01

You can buy Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories now!

Contrary to what I mentioned above...

  • "I Don't Know, Timmy, Being God Is a Big Responsibility" was given a very thorough rewrite and in my opinion is much improved
  • "The Difference" was modified a fair bit
  • "28 Millennia Later" never made it in, as I couldn't get the rewrite to really work
  • I did include "cripes does anybody remember Google People"
  • On the advice of my editor, I included a completed version of "A Powerful Culture".

Discussion (54)

2021-12-19 17:45:00 by Lalaithion:

“The Death of Batman” is a story I would like to see in a collection.

2021-12-19 18:21:23 by Lucas:

I know it's already published in Fine Structure, but Crushed Underground is a great standalone. (And was originally posted as a standalone before we all figured out who that "Calrus" guy was, right?)

2021-12-19 18:33:49 by Josh:

I would love to see the Time of Vontus; short and meaningful, in that it averts a standard trope by doing what a sensible person *should* do. I would also love to see God Mode, which I found quite engrossing. And there's a story I can't seem to find, about explorers finding a planet of nanotech and not realizing what it is at first, and sending a probe down. That one was chilling.

2021-12-19 18:34:46 by ebenezer:

“A Robot Must Conceal Its Own Existence”, I know you had issues with, but I think could still be good fun if presented somewhat differently. “Wavefront” is fascinating, I should like to see it polished / finished, but it may also be mighty complex to comfortably work out in a single story (the original draft feels quite densely packed with explanation and the story itself gets less time). I’d like to see “Where He Belongs” included, too.

2021-12-19 18:36:20 by ebenezer:

@Josh, I think the story you’re recalling is “Gorge”, which it looks like will be included in the collection.

2021-12-19 18:48:51 by Josh:

@ebenezer Well don't I feel silly. I followed the links at the end of the post to the short stories, didn't find it there, and didn't remember it by name.

2021-12-19 20:34:14 by Ian:

I really enjoy Film Maker and think it fits nicely with Gorge.

2021-12-19 21:25:11 by zarawesome:

Google People, as i've prodded you on Twitter. From 3M1D, i like these: * You Guys Want To See Something Cool * The Frame-By-Frame * CryptoMatter

2021-12-19 22:36:28 by Literallymechanical:

I think it would be fun to include First Contact: A Retrospective as either the first or last story in the collection.

2021-12-20 00:33:58 by David:

Stories which would be worth major rewrites: * Artwar * Centurion * Tyro (if it's short enough to count as a short story) Stories which would be worth minor rewrites: * God Mode * Business Model Stories which are fine, standalone, as-is: * Asteroid McAlmont * Where He Belongs * Ryan McAdamis saves the world

2021-12-20 00:53:23 by qntm:

Incidentally if anyone's reading this and your pick has already been mentioned, mention it again. More votes are more likely to sway my opinion.

2021-12-20 01:59:14 by Johntology:

Another vote for Google People, although I don't know how to pull it off as a short story... maybe print in a way that's really aggressively "twitter-formatted" - timestamps, usernames, etc? I felt (and, re-reading, feel) that there's a little more to do that could make Causal Noose really fun. A few more artifacts, that give just a little more sense of how future history develops, and that either foreshadow or explain what happens to Bob at the end.

2021-12-20 08:18:13 by FerrousJack:

I think I first read Artwar something like 10 years ago, and I still think about it on a regular basis. It's actually been a pretty significant influence on my approach to tabletop gaming. I understand why you might feel it's not worth the effort to edit to your current standards, though. On the other hand, I'd love to see more in the vein of Kill While One, or A Robot Must Conceal Its Own Existence.

2021-12-20 12:22:18 by Hope:

Definitely doubling down on First Contact: A Retrospective, that's one of my favorites.

2021-12-20 14:35:34 by BillMann:

Personally, I'm a big fan of terminally online, which I haven't seen mentioned yet. Honestly a re-edited version of that would probably get me to buy the book.

2021-12-20 14:56:36 by allgebrah:

Asteroid McAlmont will always have a place in my heart. If You Are Reading This is also something I return to occasionally.

2021-12-20 14:59:41 by Boter:

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library" is wonderful and would be my top pick to be included (aside from those you're including already). "The Last-But-One Question" is one I enjoy - I hadn't read the original story it's riffing off, but it does a good job of it and while clearly connected to more, I enjoyed it. Though it may count as fanfiction, now that I think about it. I wouldn't have thought of it but since it's been mentioned, I'll second "A Robot Must Conceal its Own Existence...". From First Drafts, I think Non-Contact and Optimæ have promise, but admit they'd need some rewriting to get up to snuff. And I like Elevate but agree with the assessment that it'd be better served as a game concept, either video game or tabletop RPG. And if you come up short, "Opinions From 10⁵⁰⁰ CE" makes for great filler.

2021-12-20 15:00:53 by Boter:

Oh, and since someone else mentioned Tyro, I'd love to see that come back to light, though it may not fit for this collection.

2021-12-20 22:02:39 by ambral:

I like Causal Noose. The idea is memorable, and the title hints at time-travel, which worked for me since it was one of the first of your stories I decided to read when I started browsing this site.

2021-12-20 22:17:08 by qntm:

As much as I would like to, I can't include "Opinions From 10⁵⁰⁰ CE" in the book because KDP has a prohibition on having multiple consecutive blank pages in the manuscript. (Also, I'm still not certain about the title.)

2021-12-20 22:51:48 by qwertystop:

McAlmont is good as-is. Hepht is interesting to explore.

2021-12-20 23:34:15 by ahiijny:

(apologies in advance for the wall of text) Okay to be completely honest when I first discovered this site when I was in middle school I was really into time travel sci-fi :P so a lot of my favourite fics from back then would be just the stories that explore interesting time travel mechanics. It's interesting to see how much my tastes have changed since then lol e.g. When I first came to this site in middle school, "Valuable Humans in Transit" was kinda like a wall of text to me so I initially skipped it. But when I came back a few years later and read it, it was actually so good??? it was really exciting and tense, especially the way the POV character had to make all those enormous improvisation decisions on the timescale of milliseconds. why did I skip it earlier??? Anyway. Here are some rambling thoughts on your fics, in descending order by priority (so most liked ones on top). === VERY MUCH PLEASE INCLUDE === 1. God Mode Seconded!!! YES, please include this one. It got me into Tetris :P I really love the concept, and the little mystery twist at the ending. Did the player ascend to some kind of Super Tetris space? or did he just die of a blood clot or something from sitting too long :P There's one typo in this one I think. There's a mention of "half a million <i>points</i>" that I think should be "half a million <i>lines</i>" instead, because half a million points doesn't sound like much. Nowadays, even without level scaling, ppl can get to half a million points in less than 6 minutes (the 2 minute Jstris Ultra world record rn is 180k points). Lines makes more sense, since even at 4 pps, it'd take nearly 87 hours to clear 500k lines. And the player is supposedly playing much faster than that. 2. Asteroid McAlmont I just like the vibes of this one. And it paints a very vivid mental picture. Also someone in comments lead me discover the minus webcomic, which is very cool. 3. Lonely Photographer <i>Sad space probe sounds<i>. 4. Film Maker Spaaaaaaaace :P Could be a good companion fic with Gorge. 5. I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library Hi I just like the mental image of an endlessly large library. And thinking about how they would organize all of it. It's the kind of concept that sticks in my mind even after reading it. 6. You Guys Want To See Something Cool Watching a speedrunner from the POV of the NPC characters XD It's so silly I love it === Pretty cool, maybe worth including after some polish === 7. A Robot Must Conceal Its Own Existence As Long As Such Concealment Does Not Conflict With The First Or Second Law Always love another take on the Laws of Robotics, especially ones that kind of has various actors trying to outsmart each other. The idea of a robot constructing a network of social media accounts to get a credit card and bought shares and created a botnet to manipulate information, all these little details that feel like they could happen in real life are very fascinating :P Gives me the same vibes of L vs. Light. (tbh the recent a-Kira Death Note one-shot WAS mostly people just talking to each other, reacting to news and social media posts and announcements on TV, but I still found it really interesting to read :P) 8. Terminally Online I love me some memetic hazard creepypasta fics 9. Kill While One An cool cautionary tale about programming and safety measures. I really like the mystery angle of trying to debug/figure out how this happened, all with the imminent threat of INSTA ROBOT KNIFE DEATH looming over you. Debugging under pressure lol 10. Wavefront Kind of a weird concept. But it's time-travel related, so that plays right into my interests Also I LOVE how randomly the mouse just starts talking LOL The surrealness and bizarreness of this is just a vibe :P 11. The Vending Machine Murders I love this one just because of how silly and absurd but simultaneously serious it is LOL. And it has a good takeaway lesson too :P 12. A Powerful Culture I love me some multidimensional boreholes :3 This is just an interesting concept, one that you can mull over for a long time even after reading. 13. CryptoMatter Concepts that break the universe are fun concepts! It's fun seeing characters finding exploits in systems :P 14. Business Model This one is great for "what would you do in this situation" kind of hypotheticals. Also relevant to discussions about ethics in business practices etc., and is just an interesting thought experiment in general. 15. The Only Good Billionaire I would actually be kind of interested in the kind of escalation that these billionaires have in their ramping up of countermeasures against spooky assassin meteorites. e.g. esp. the fourth billionaire, who has that whole thing with the bunker and underground stuff. It's kind of a hook because now you're wondering how the meteorite can outsmart THAT tbh I'm kind of a sucker for "I outsmarted your outsmarting" kind of stories lol. what's causing the meteorites isn't actually that important or interesting. The interesting part is how society as a whole reacts to it. === Other fics that are fine I guess and you can include them if you want I'll just give my thoughts on them === 16. Time Loop Very straightforward causal time loop concept. It was new to me when I first read it. I'm probably slightly biased by nostalgia but I always like quippy time travel vignettes like this :P 17. The Time Of Vontus (TMV) Another interesting time travel concept. Kinda lowkey horror tbh o.o I like the little trope defying "ok we are not going to get into that mess" decision at the end lol 18. Causal Noose Another interesting time travel concept + lowkey horror (highkey horror?) Opposite in tone to Time of Vontus. Here, it's "it can't be helped, we gotta do it, it's not <i>our</i> fault". Probably some takeaways about complacency/deflection of blame/the Milgram experiments etc. 19. The Last-But-One Question In vibe this is a bit more lighthearted/casual/quippy than the original that this is parodying. When I first read this I didn't really get the joke so I had to read the comments for the explanation :P 20. The Four-And-A-Halfth Planet Another interesting time travel structure :P 21. Forgotten things in space The thought experiment is interesting. The name Calrus is a red herring (I assume this pre-dates Fine Structure :P). Half the experience is just reading the theories in comments tho :P 22. The Message Cryptic :p and I can see where the idea in Ed Stories came from. To be completely honest I didn't really know how to read the message text at the bottom until I screenshotted it into powerpoint and tried shrinking and rotating and flipping the image :P 23. Some particles just shouldn't be accelerated Partical physics and an oopsie :P I can see the overlap in ideas with Ed Stories tho. 24. sam513 In media res, absolutely no context provided :P A fun little in-the-moment scene I guess. 25. First Contact: a retrospective Feels more like a rambling stream of thought than narrative prose. The scenario that it paints is interesting though.

2021-12-20 23:47:59 by ahiijny:

8.5 WAIT I FORGOT NON-CONTACT I mean silly "haha bureaucracy destroys wonder and common sense" fics are always fun to read lol Reminds me a bit of my breadboard/arduino days in high school :3 And could lead you down a rabbithole wikiwalk of how FCC spectrum allocations work :P

2021-12-21 11:18:34 by perosteck:

Have you considered including The Jesus Machine? It stands alone just fine.

2021-12-21 21:01:16 by uuid:

In addition to the ones that are already on your list, I also really liked "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library". While not technically in that category, "To destroy the Earth" is also a thing I keep coming back to.

2021-12-21 23:42:36 by Toph:

A vote for "God Mode". It was the first of your stories that I ever read, it got me interested enough to read more of your work, and it still holds up after all these years. A vote for for "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library" - it's a really cool concept that should be quoted alongside Borges. If you're putting both I Don't Know Timmy and The Difference in this collection, I think it fits the pattern to have more of your high-concept stuff. And a vote for "A Powerful Culture". I just like it.

2021-12-22 07:26:13 by bjis:

Huge votes for "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library". I think it was the first short story of yours I ever read more than a decade and a half ago! Aside from that, probably Casual Noose.

2021-12-22 07:28:49 by Tmkr:

"Valuable Humans In Transit", "Gorge", "I Don't Know, Timmy, Being God Is A Big Responsibility", and "Lena" would certainly be among my first picks. Was "Some Particles Just Shouldn't be Accelerated" already published in Ed Stories? If not, consider this a vote for it.

2021-12-22 12:23:45 by jonas:

“I don't know, Timmy” is definitely worth, but you say they're already in. The Ed stories (minus “Turn on, tune in, drop out” and ”Free, standing”) are my favorite, possibly out of nostalgic reasons, but you already published them in a separate book. Perhaps you could change that book to add the seven stories that you list here at its beginning? If that's not an option, you could use the entire “The Four-And-A-Halfth Planet” as the second half of the book.

2021-12-22 14:50:25 by MadcapPomposity:

I've always had a soft spot for "No car chases in books, are there?" Particularly the line "a fatal red light lights up fatal red on the dashboard." Fucking perfect. If I find more suggestions upon rereading I'll be back with them, of course.

2021-12-22 14:54:14 by MadcapPomposity:

Oh, and I understand the reasons for not including it, but I'd still like to say how much I loved "Where He Belongs." Beautiful.

2021-12-22 23:16:18 by Aegeus:

Asteroid McAlmont is a brilliant image, even if it doesn't exactly go anywhere. No Car Chases in Books, Are There? was an excellent one-shot action scene. Define "Chosen One" is another good one-shot with funny dialog, although it could maybe use a punchier ending? Terminally Online was incredibly horrifying in a good way. Lastly, opinions from 10^500 CE is technically only a four-word story, but it's funny and could easily fill a page or two in print.

2021-12-23 06:52:47 by yaw-man:

PLEASE REWORK AND ADD Terminally Online! I like this approach to sf. You take some problem we already have, then imagine what would happen if it suddenly got much worse due to the introduction of some new disruptive technology. The causes and ramifications of this real issue are then illustrated by the details of society's hypothetical indifference to its exacerbation. You completely nailed it with Lena, I think this one does the same thing well enough to warrant inclusion. There are so many very compelling ideas in this story. To name a few: - Social media addiction with grotty physical consequences. - Lethal memes fine-tuned and reworked into wild contagions. - The impact of a supernatural emergency on some on-call software engineer. - An infinite hierarchy of incrementally more subtle posthypnotic suggestions, implanted as a vector for spreading harmful ideas at the very bottom of that hierarchy. - An agent with completely unknowable motivations suddenly, possibly unknowingly, putting hundreds of people in a vegetative state by completely unknowable means. - Quantifying the value of human life in the attention economy. This story is brimming with really neat ideas, and deserves an ending. PLEASE ADD Film Maker! - I usually start reading any short story collection with the very shortest story. This is a strong first story to whet the appetite, and one may then proceed to 'Gorge'. - The voice isn't flippant, goofy, or self-indulgent. It matches the later fiction well. - The imagery is striking. It would make for a very cool dust jacket illustration. I think you often go overboard with 'special effects' in other stories, but here, the 300-word limit led to something imaginative but restrained. - The worldbuilding is the bare minimum necessary to contrive that situation, but nevertheless very interesting. It says a lot with very little.

2021-12-23 19:14:08 by thp:

In addition to the ones you already have on your list, I'm particularly fond of "Time of Vontus (TMV)" and "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library". The former is a really pithy and entertaining little loop story, and the latter is a lovely little make-you-think piece that has stuck with me since the first time I read it. Among the first drafts, from the 2010 batch I always really liked "S-Hell", "No car chases in books, are there?" and both "Ill Hero" and "Define 'Chosen One'". I understand if you feel some of those aren't up to your modern-day standards, and I definitely understand the sickening reluctance to go back and "polish up" old work-- I have multiple old works myself that I've been dragging my feet for years on revisiting-- but I've always loved those stories, and I come back fairly regularly to reread them. I like the creepiness of S-Hell, I like the contextless, in medias res action sequence of NCCIBAT, and I still would love to see Lio show up again sometime in your works in a more polished form, even if it's not a redux of those particular stories. From the 2020 batch, I really liked "You Guys Want to See Something Cool"-- it has a fun little gimmick to it and although you didn't feel it measured up to your expectations, I really enjoyed it. I also am a fan of "Urbane In Urbana" and "Where He Belongs", but I suppose they both might fall a little too far on the fanfiction side of things for this context.

2021-12-24 11:46:21 by skztr:

"It's Simple. We Steal The Statue Of Liberty" continues to feel like it could use expansion, though perhaps just being used as a seed for a completely new story. I like "programmable matter" as a concept, as well as the idea of a comic-book-villain being completely aware that they are operating on a different level from everyone else. eg (and this is reaching back a bit): it always bothers me that in the first episode of "Lois and Clark", Lex Luthor reveals viable holographic projector technology, as an afterthought. It's never mentioned again, despite being a technology that would be world-changing if we had it "in real life"

2021-12-24 19:19:43 by Tim McCormack:

Aside from the ones you have already mentioned as "definite", I've previously saved off copies of: - The Last-But-One Question (could be a little tricky to format) - Artwar - S-Hell - cripes does anybody remember Google People - Where He Belongs Others mentioned in the comments that I'd like to echo: - The Time Of Vontus - The Death of Batman - Asteroid McAlmont - Kill While One - A Robot Must Conceal Its Own Existence As Long As Such Concealment Does Not Conflict With The First Or Second Law - Business Model - Lonely Photographer <3 - Forgotten things in space (expand slightly/rework maybe?) - The Four-And-A-Halfth Planet Maybe also The Cycle, although I think it needs a little more development. (Well. It was a first draft, after all.) Some more to consider: - Ground Effect - Agile + Cake - sam513 - God Mode

2021-12-28 00:57:55 by Z:

Additional votes for: God Mode A Better Monster Laura Ferno And The Bomb / The Self-Reliant Heroine (presumably slightly rewritten) Kill While One Casual Noose The Last-But-One Question Mirror Borg Obergefell v. Hodges: the database engineering perspective

2021-12-28 04:45:52 by Eli:

I've yet to read all of them, but I definitely +1 Business Model and The Time Of Vontus (TMV)

2021-12-28 22:41:15 by kb:

I’m no literary expert but “A Powerful Culture” always grabbed me. I think the cruelty of Earth 1 is just on this side of believable but what grabbed me was the idea of unionised Earths/class action lawsuit, which is very funny. I also like how it highlights the absurdity of, like, “legality”. Some Hitchhikers’ Guide space Highway vibes.

2021-12-29 00:37:15 by cube:

I'd find it really interesting if you could somehow bookend the collection with [How to Destroy the Earth] as the first chapter, and [To Destroy the Earth] as the last. Though, I have a feeling that in order to make this work, [How to Destroy the Earth] would need to be cut down and heavily reworked into some other format. Maybe write it like a textbook chapter or some corporate whitepaper. I keep coming back to [To Destroy the Earth]. Certainly I would rate it as one of the most lucid examinations of the scales at which one must operate to truly bring certain superscience concepts into reality.

2021-12-29 18:57:52 by qntm:

> Laura Ferno And The Bomb / The Self-Reliant Heroine (presumably slightly rewritten) Did you just completely miss my book Ra?

2021-12-30 21:44:24 by qntm:

Some suggestions which definitely won't make it in, and reasons why: "How To Destroy The Earth", "Mirror Borg" and "Obergefell vs. Hodges: the database engineering perspective" are all non-fiction and so unsuitable for this collection, although I might consider "To Destroy The Earth". "Laura Ferno And The Bomb" and "The Self-Reliant Heroine" have already been adapted as my full-length novel, Ra. "Google People" and "Opinions From 10^500 CE" are both out due to formatting constraints, as mentioned above. "The Time Of Vontus (TMV)" is a very cheap Star Trek parody. "The Bird" is highly derivative of a comic book issue, Animal Man #5. "Asteroid McAlmont" is unfortunately far too similar in subject matter to a particular scene from FLCL and another from the webcomic Minus to pass muster. Asteroid baseball has just been done. Anybody suggesting "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library" should read Jorge Luis Borges' "The Library Of Babel", of which my work is a pitiful, plainly derivative shadow. "Where He Belongs" and "Urbane In Urbana" are fan fiction which I feel uncomfortable putting in a collection of what should be entirely original work. "Film Maker" is too confusingly similar in subject matter to "Gorge", which is already in. I feel like I can have one or the other of these, not both.

2022-01-02 05:12:54 by Infinity:

I'd cast my vote for Causal Noose and The Vending Machine murders. Both are great stories that I reread from time to time!

2022-01-03 20:20:39 by MadcapPomposity:

I'm glad The Frame-By-Frame made the cut. Artwar is only mentioned by a few other people and I don't get why. It's one of the strongest contenders that isn't already on your own shortlist. You Guys Want To See Something Cool seems like it could be re-written into publishable shape. Maybe you could play up the existential horror angle David mentioned in the comments. Maybe Elevate, too? Not If You Were The Last One In The Universe also seems like it's close. The King Of The Fountain is just plain fun. It's Simple. We Steal The Statue Of Liberty has just enough science shenanigans along with the regular shenanigans that it might fit in too. And I think "convoluted heist" falls just this side of fanfiction. There were some cool ideas in Hepht, AVOID EARTH, TURN ON RADIO, and Wavefront, but those seem like they'd need more work.

2022-01-03 21:54:54 by aselker:

+1 vote for Artwar. I don't know any other work that evokes the feelings it does, and it's short.

2022-01-04 16:26:28 by thp:

To be clear about my vote for "I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library", I was already well aware of "The Library of Babel" when I read IHAITPWBAKOL, but I never saw it as "a pitiful, plainly derivative shadow" of Borges's work-- I liked it exactly because it took that same core concept and went in a very different direction with it. Now, you mentioned that "Urbane In Urbana" and "Where He Belongs" both fall into the "fanfiction" space and you don't want to include them for that reason. That definitely makes sense, and if you feel "paradise" is too close to being "Borges fanfiction" for your taste, then that's a perfectly good reason not to include it in your collection. But I strongly disagree with your claim that it's a "pitiful" piece of work-- I've always very much liked your particular execution of that thought.

2022-01-06 00:54:37 by Felipe:

A Powerful Culture is the one that keeps resonating with me after all this time. I feel like any collection would be incomplete without it.

2022-01-07 10:50:58 by Heliotrope:

I came here solely to cast my vote for A Powerful Culture. It's every story of humans treating each other badly writ large. A group of humans arbitrarily elevates their needs and desires over other groups of humans? Everyone has encountered that somewhere in their own lives. Everyone has seen that on the news and in history books. And then the punchline is the ultimate catharsis, a hero arises to deliver vengeance. On a dimensional scale. It's practically an UR-story. On top of being a funny twist on the "alternate earths" trope. It's the only one out of 30 More First Drafts that I still remember the entire plot of.

2022-01-07 11:32:57 by Heliotrope:

... I thought I was saying something important but after hitting "submit" I realize I've described every single villain ever. So let me try that again - Earth 1 decided that its circle of empathy ends at dimensional boundaries, and Earth 1 is lucid and aware of the immense damage they cause. They underline the difference between hatred and dismissal. The story doesn't start with a war, it starts with "someone else's problem". Multiversal negligence. That's relatable and interesting.

2022-01-07 23:58:32 by qntm:

The main issue with A Powerful Culture is that it doesn't really have a conclusion as such. It's one of several of those drafts which is really just act 1 of a longer story. If anybody wants to suggest a conclusion then I might go for it, but right now it would just be incomplete.

2022-01-08 03:58:55 by Felipe:

I think the conclusion of A Powerful Culture works perfectly well as a cliffhanger. It's one of those "whatever the reader can imagine is better than what the author might come up with." I've never thought it was complete, "I'm taking the fight to Earth One, join me," is already a chills-inducing ending.

2022-01-09 04:48:09 by Kai:

"The Difference" is already in so I'm content - though I'd like to toss a vote for "To destroy the Earth".

2022-01-12 06:44:40 by Tux1:

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library" should most definitely be included, it's an instant classic.

2022-05-16 09:13:52 by leo:

I like sam513

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