2064: Mass Vexations Retrospective – Mass Vexations and the Missing Deconstruction

Title: Mass Vexations
Author: Herr Wozzeck
Media: Video Games
Topic: Mass Effect, with a dash of Heavy Rain, Dead Space, Dragon Age, and other assorted properties
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
URL: Mass Vexations 1, Mass Vexations 2, and Mass Vexations 3. Also, the TVTropes Page.
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to this retrospective on Mass Vexations. I’m your host Herr Wozzeck, and we’re getting back into the thick of it.

And this time, we’re going to talk about a particular story element that playes most of the trilogy. And actually, this is something that kind of has a preface in something I brought up in ErtTheKing’s Subject 23 snarking, so it’s not going to be a totally new thing for any of the Librarians to hear about.

So without further ado, let’s get into it!

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2051: Mass Vexations Retrospective – Gontermanesque: A Tale of Stu Aspects

Title: Mass Vexations
Author: Herr Wozzeck
Media: Video Games
Topic: Mass Effect, with a dash of Heavy Rain, Dead Space, Dragon Age, and other assorted properties
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
URL: Mass Vexations 1, Mass Vexations 2, and Mass Vexations 3. Also, the TVTropes Page.
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck

Hey guys, it’s your friendly Neighborhood Herr Wozzeck here, and… well, we’re gonna do something a little bit different with these installments of snark that I’m gonna be writing over the next couple of weeks. Let’s call it a hindsight commentary.

See, y’all probably have seen that it’s Mass Vexations on the snark block today. Issue is, I have no desire to snark the entire thing. And that’s for one very simple reason: word count. The whole trilogy is just too damn long for me to sustain any kind of full-length line-by-line snark, and it would be a fool’s errand to try to do the whole thing.

‘Cause let’s be real: Mass Vexations is wordy. I mean real wordy. And let’s break that down for a second: Mass Vexations, if we look purely at the fanfiction.net word count function (which admittedly includes A/Ns in this, but one set of variables at a time), the word count comes to just under 188K words. The median average of most novels is about half that, at 99K words. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse, because then Mass Vexations 2 and Mass Vexations 3 both boast a word count that totals at about 607K and 603K words, respectively. For reference, that means that both MV2 and MV3 individually are longer than Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that the entire trilogy’s wordcount eclipses the entire Harry Potter series by about 300K words, and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (which is the current Guinness World Record holder for the longest novel) by about 100K words.

You are crazy if you expect me to sit here snarking that entire mass of words line by line for any amount of time. I do not have that much time in the world to dedicate to such an insane project, and I say this as the guy who wrote the thing on the snarking block. Even a summary snark wouldn’t exactly work here.

But… well, let’s face it. It’s still a fairly problematic series in a lot of ways, and looking back… well, while I wouldn’t totally call it an old shame, there are a lot of things I would change about the series knowing what I’ve written now. So this time, I’m gonna go ahead and take the gloves off.

*takes gloves off*

Oh, it’s not because I’m about to go hard-core on myself: this is admittedly going to be a more serious affair than what you normally see at the Library, mostly because I think I’m going to go in deep with real critical self-analysis here, with more of a critic’s eye than a jokey-joke eye than usual. I’ll crack a joke or two here, but expect this to be more in the style of, say, a Lindsay Ellis video essay.

Also, I’m not really going to plan on tackling this thing in chronological order. I think, for me, discussing this particular previous work of mine is going to involve going at it and talking about the broader issues of narrative. We can nitpick individual typos and silly lines of dialogue all day long (and trust me, that’s in the cards, too), but for me, it makes more sense to talk about this from a standpoint of “here’s an aspect folks criticize/I think was a problem, let’s talk about it more”.

And if you’re wondering why I’m doing this? Eh, I felt it was time. I’ve been thinking a lot about these things for the past few years, across the time I’ve done FBA fiction and also these Library of the Damned snarks, some of which were written in conjunction with the writing of MV3. And… well, in the interest of full disclosure, I also discovered recently that there’s a line-by-line snark of the trilogy elsewhere on the world wide web that got started in September. While those of you who know one of my previous snarks know I normally wouldn’t mind that happening, in this case it’s written by someone who, in Hannity-esque fashion, failed to disclose that not only is he a former “friend” with whom I had a vicious falling-out, but that he made some contributions to the Mass Vexations universe that got excised (more on that later). Also, as best as I can tell given his past behavior regarding Mass Vexations and me as a person, he’s doing it to spite me.

You’re probably going to call this a product of bruised ego, and honestly, I can understand why you might think that given what I just disclosed. But here’s the thing: snarking things out of spite means that you lose a certain objectivity when you critique it, and doubly so when you fail to disclose your previous relationship with the fiction. Thus, I’m hoping that hearing some of these criticisms straight from the horse’s mouth proves to be an exercise in greater objectivity.

So yeah. Without any further ado, let’s get started!

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2005: A Thorned Rose Chapters 4-7

Title: A Thorned Rose (re-write)
Author:  Mercs2Girl
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mercenaries Franchise
Genre: Adventure/Romance
URL: Chapter 4 ; Chapter 5 ; Chapter 6 ; Chapter 7
Critiqued by: ME-Iron-Maiden

*enters the reading room, clad in green and black Mandalorian armor, the soft suit and trim of my helmet’s visor a dark olive drab with the plates, boots, main helmet sections, and gloves finished in a simple flat black paint*

Hello, everyone. Me-Iron-Maiden here and welcome back to the snarking of “A Thorned Rose”. Just give me a few moments to get set up and we’ll get started.

*pulls out a bottle of Gorilla Glue given to me by Bifocals, reads the instructions for use, and dumps it haphazardly over the room*

Alright, let’s see if I’m forgetting anything.

*pulls out a datapad and references the checklist I have typed up on it*

Ok, it looks like we’re just about ready.

*quickly inspects my weapons; an E-11 blaster carbine, a DL-18 blaster pistol, and a Stokhli spray stick before sitting down at the fic viewer*

You might be wondering why I’m geared up. That’s for several reasons.

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1981: Ash and Arceus: Ash’s Revenge

Title: Ash and Arceus
Author: terminalvelocityrunner
Media: Video Games
Topic: Pokemon
Genre: Adventure/Drama
URL: Ash and Arceus: Chapter 1
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck

DISCLAIMER: The fanfic being snarked contains a scene of sexual intercourse: thus, this snarking is rated Not Safe For Work. Read at your own discretion!

Hey guys! It’s your boy Herr Wozzeck, and I am back from another brief hiatus that was spent figuring out my next career moves! Now that I’m mostly out of the real thick of it, though, I can concentrate on other things. Like writing. And riffing. And maybe wondering what in the hell some people were thinking trying to give us shit.

See, we got a comment on one of our older riffs recently: this one, to be precise. And in this comment, they said this:

I’m pretty damn sure I can’t find this because of you. Nice job. Now maybe I should go and criticize some of your own fics. Fanfiction is just people trying to live out personal fantasies or wishes for a series in the only way they know how. They aren’t here so you can make rude coments on the author or their work that they took time out of their life to write and post for others to see and enjoy. Sure it’s funny…but it might just be painful for the one who wrote it.

And they decided to log themselves in as “An anonymous writer on Fanfiction.net”. So, you know, you would think “hm, maybe the author decided to hop in and leave an anonymous bitchy comment because reasons”. I mean, it seems to fill in all the check boxes, right? The timing is about right, the tone is about right… everything about it seems to make sense. So in our author’s mind, “anonymous writer” would make sense to hide their identity, right? Because why risk outing yourself as someone when you can come up with a new username? Hey, it worked for Jedi Qui-Gon, why not here?

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Sunday Special: Semper Vigilo

Title: Semper Vigilo
Author: CunkToad
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mass Effect
Genre: Adventure/Sci-Fi.
URL: Chapter One

Hello hello all you patrons! We haven’t had a special or feature around here in ages, and with the lingering aroma of Special Task and my being on kind of a Mass Effect kick in general over the next several riffs I figured I’d give a shout-out to a project I’ve been following pretty closely for the last few months.

Semper Vigilo bills itself as an alternate first-contact ‘fic:

What happens when humanity enters the galactic stage not as the race that got attacked by the turians for breaking a law they weren’t aware of, but as the race that saved a turian platoon from certain death?

That does indeed occur, and the strong alliance that develops between the humans and the Turian Hierarchy is a central element of later events. But I think a better way to describe the story would just be “What if the Alliance weren’t expansionist dicks to everybody for no reason, and were instead actually smart?”

Most of the ‘fic as it currently stands is dedicated to political maneuvering within the Alliance and with the other Citadel powers, with a hefty dose of black-ops shenanigans assisting the process. However, as things progress we get to see more and more of the Reapers, and that’s where the story really shines- imagine the cosmic immensity H. P. Lovecraft always tried to shoot for but slightly missed, threaded through with Andrew Hussie’s multi-limbed conspiracy theories, all told through a very clear, immediate, militarily and scientifically professional lens. It’s not clear how much of the previous politicking was the Reapers’ doing, directly or indirectly, but even before ME1 there’s this wonderful sense of the entire galaxy pitching forward to something big.

We also have Liara doing actual science, batarians who actually have a reason for doing what they do, Saren Arterius not being a dick, and the various Citadel races actually having complex politics and policies beyond just “WE HATE ALL THE HUMENS”.

As of this posting, Semper Vigilo has just completed the Eden Prime mission at the start of Mass Effect 1.


1938: A Special Task — Chapters 3, 4, and 5

Title: A Special Task
Author: Generatedname
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mass Effect
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
URL: Chapter 3Chapter 4, and Chapter 5
Critiqued by: AdmiralSakai and Senior Cabalist-Lieutenant Rijus Ta’nin

Hello hello all you patrons! I trust you had a wonderful Christmas (or lack thereof), so let’s dive right back into A Special Task.

Last time we encountered a ship full of STG agents, only one of whom – Morlan (or possibly Morvan) – actually got a name, being sent to Earth in the late 2030s to bring about the uplifting of humanity to Council technological levels. They got shot down on approach due to a combination of Mor(l/v)an being stupid and the human jet fighters sent after them being stupidly overpowered, and the only interesting part of the ‘fic happened where it was revealed that the salarians had sent a previous probe to Earth which had crashed at Roswell in 1947 and as a result the humans had known they had an interest in Earth for near-on a century. This revelation went… well, nowhere, really, and the rest of the chapter was just a bunch of infodumping about the Citadel Council and engine technologies.

Chapter Three, then, is still part of the ‘prologue’, in this case ‘Part 3- The Final Frontier’.”

Goddammit, ‘fic, stop reminding me of better things! Read the rest of this entry »


1933: A Special Task — Chapters 1 and 2

Title: A Special Task
Author: Generatedname
Media: Video Game
Topic: Mass Effect
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
URL: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
Critiqued by: AdmiralSakai and Senior Cabalist-Lieutenant Rijus Ta’nin

Hello hello all you patrons!

So, umm, I was going to do some sort of a Christmas-themed ‘fic since it is indeed that time of the year, but the only thing I looked at that I had any interest at all in riffing was ten chapters long, so it’s just not going to happen. There’s also another chapter of Lone Wolf out but nothing fucking happens in it so instead I have decided to present to you with a very rare find: a Mass Effect Gary Stumanity ‘fic that doesn’t have a massive throbbing hateboner for the Turian Hierarchy.

No, instead this particular Mass Effect Gary Stumanity ‘fic has a massive throbbing hateboner for the Salarian Union.

Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out how the fuck this even happened.

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