Posted by: Matt Y | 06/11/2015

Review: Journeyman: In The Stone House

Journeyman: In The Stone House is part two of a story featuring Teodorq and Sammi and their journeys.

Early Immersion – The story opens explaining that the world this takes place in has a dividing line between the East and West and the only way to travel between the two is a bottleneck with a castle set to stop travelers between the two.  The beginning is kind of awkward, the world is called The World, the separation of land between east and west is the Great Escarpment, while one of the characters is named Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironhand.  The former titles sound generic and unimaginative but then the character name is like 300 Scrabble points.

Immersion is maintained – Personally I found the dialogue immersion breaking, which is sad because the back and forth between Teo and Sammi is often funny and clever.  It’s just the dialogue is all over the place.  Regardless of the dialect they switch to and from Teo and Sammi speak the same way and Sammi is shown to be an intellegent character who appears to choose to speak like cliche Native American stereotype.  When talking about the castle Sammi says. “Big magic, pile rocks so high.”

Then there’s the content of the dialogue between the two characters, it’s some weird mish-mash of fantasy and generic college-Brospeak.  Frequent use of “Hey babe,” and the use of “No skin off of my nose” “We gave you the straight skinny” “Duh” and so on.  There’s terminology for the sword fighting such as batter’s stance which doesn’t make sense unless baseball or cricket is a common past-time.  I mentally tripped over these lines every time I came across them because the setting and characters are set so far apart from our world and society that the familiar use of slang, idioms and terms felt out of place.

There is a plot – Kind of?  The story takes place with Teo traveling to get away from tribesmen that want to behead him and Sammi who is the Journeyman and is a traveler.  The conflict is when they get captured and find out one of the main warriors who wants to kill Teo is also captured.  While the plot would appear to be between these two warriors, most of the story takes place with Teo and Sammi recalling earlier events that took place before this section, namely with a spaceship they found and an AI hologram named Jamly who appeared and asked the two to help her, that they were her only hope.  Some time is taken to make a joke to the reader about a door panel that is considered a religious artifact.  It doesn’t get back to building tension between the two warriors for a while, and when it does it’s because they’re both being conscripted suddenly into the King’s scouts and are being trained in swordfighting.  I wish the transition from prisoners to conscripted warriors was given as much time as the bathroom door.

There are characters – I liked Sammi and Teo although they start and end the story as a couple of wisecracking guys.  Out of being tough Bros who make jokes we don’t learn more about them.  The King could be considered the antagonist but he’s barely a part of the story. Karakalan sunna Vikeram of clan Serpentine, aka Kal, is whom Teo fights and he’s given some clear motivations on why he wants Teo dead though.

There is foreshadowing and it doesn’t suck – Nope.

There are no gaping plot holes – None, but there’s also barely any plot.  Most of the story is world building and set up for later stories.

Pacing is appropriate – Drags in the beginning and then there’s a sword fight at the end that takes up a significant portion of the story.

The piece has an emotional payoff – Nope.  The only tension built was between the two warriors, who do finally fight but Teo convinces Kal that there’s better honor to be had protecting the clans from a bigger threat than their fight, so it’s mostly for show, and then Kal becomes convinced that the King through a loyalty oath has now shifted his responsibility from killing Teo to the King.

Like Championship B’Tok this story feels more like set up for a larger story and does not stand on its own well.  I did like the back and forth banter and the sword fight so it was at the very least one of the more entertaining of the slated works.  The repeated use of modern lingo in it I felt hurt the tale, the conscription portion feels like it came out of nowhere, we spend more time in the story reading a joke to the reader about a door than being given any reason to care about what is going on, and the fight between the two warriors is anti-climatic.

One Puppy Metric of Judgement: Unworthy.

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Responses

  1. Apologies for responding here, but I’m not finding another point of contact and didn’t want to have another round of the usual over at 770. There’s a few people making reasonable statements and questions, and a whole lot who seem only interested in the usual Internet tribalism. It makes tracking conversations on a linear blog very difficult and I keep missing people.

    “I am still amazed that GamerGaters wouldn’t be demanding why the Sad/Rabids didn’t provide disclosure of their direct financial interests while attempting to to convince people to vote for awards on those works. While we could argue culture war bullshit and about GG itself, but the cries for disclosure and accusations of nepotism and cronyism seems like a frequent talking point among GG so you’d think they’d be against that sort of thing.”

    We’re about ethics in journalism, more specifically games journalism but that focus has been expanding towards the more general scope since MSM outlets have decided to blindly repeat talking-points from the gaming press without checking anything. Authors are not journalists, who have specific and separate codes of ethics… in writing, no less. It’s not law, but it’s the industry standard. Journalists who throw that under the bus are a problem even when they don’t have financial ties to the people who benefit.

    In the case of journalism, the ethical failure to disclose is due to it being an indicator of favoritism, meaning that while the journo is convincing you that this is news, it may in fact just be advertising. It goes to matters of quid pro quo. For example, in the original case which sparked #GamerGate, the journalist in question had been listed in the credits of a game he then touted highly in a subsequent article. He was already known to be close friends with the game developer. Within a week of the article, their relationship went sexual.

    Quid pro quo.

    Compare this to the Hugos. Any author is going to have a vested financial interest in promoting their book for an award in any way at all. However, I’ve seen even such persons as GRRM say self-promotion is perfectly fine. This means the dividing line is whether or not quid pro quo exists, and even then it’s not a journalistic line — just a generically moral one.

    In the case of the Hugos, the only real quid pro quo question has to do with whether or not someone who is doing someone else a favor is getting anything out of it themselves. Vox, maybe, but his involvement is clearly shoehorning and neither Larry nor Brad appear to appreciate it despite the influx of extra numbers. Vox’s personal toxicity subsequently made recruitment for Puppies more difficult, possibly explaining the extreme focus on “Vox Vox Vox” in the anti-Puppy camps. His involvement is a ready source for demonization ammo against Larry and Brad.

    Larry pulled from the noms, so he gets nothing of substance. Nick Mamatas recently alleged a “network of favors owed”, but any such theory one way or the other is pure speculation, and falls flat if Larry is genuine in his own moral convictions.

    So whether or not there actually IS quid pro quo here devolves to calling Larry’s character into question, which is a highly subjective process in any case. Not so much with Vox. I expect that reading his work will be a difficult process for me, as I will have to tamp down my negative opinions of him in order to be a fair judge.

    Personally speaking, as a victim of serial child abuse and rape dating to my days in the California group home system, I’m not conducive towards any politics which rely on abusive assumptions. Nor do I appreciate conspiracy theories, not by or against the Pups. Thus, I’ve thoroughly ignored the back-and-forth personal sniping people have done, because to my experience even when some matters are at least technically true, no one really cares except in terms of magnifying molehills to entire mountain ranges. I’ve heard plenty about Scalzi, and about May, and these roll off my back… if someone wants to convince me of their utter evil, they will have to stop trying to throw me into a pot of boiling water in the process.

    If you wish to repost this to File 770, that’s fine, but frankly I don’t see many people there interested in open discussion — just in terms of defining someone as a troll in order to dismiss them as quickly as possible. I don’t know what they expect to achieve with that, strategically speaking.

    • No worries, I’m cool with carrying on the discussion wherever. I’m not going to repost it, if you wanted to continue there you would’ve responded there 🙂

      I understand that authors aren’t journalists, I just figured nepotism and not ethically disclaiming financial or personal connections would be something that folks who wave the GG flag would be against in general.

      As far as quid pro quo goes Correia stated the Evil League of Evil author group made the Sad Puppies slate list. Those members include Wright and Day. Initially it also included work from Correia on the slate as well. If the ELoE made the slate and Day is a member of that group, his involvement would be obviously more than just from people trying to shoehorn him in.

      Torgersen has stated it was 100% transparent but has never answered anyone who has questioned this.

      Mamatas’s list doesn’t fall flat when many of the authors are involved with Torgersen as colleagues in other ways such as Analog, etc.

      There’s nothing by VD in the Hugo list except for what he’s edited so you shouldn’t have to worry there. But it’s worth keeping in mind as you read the Castalia House entries.

      I agree there’s been a lot of personal sniping and I disagree with many of the knee jerk articles written like the EW one, and I find the slates, Brad Torgersen’s accusations of prior award winners, and the nepotism involved with SP/RP to be reprehensible enough without whatever culture war narrative people want to put on top of it.

      As someone who went through Child Protective Services as a kid myself I get where you might be coming from with that. However I do find what Torgersen and Correia have said about the Hugo awards to be insulting and unsubstantiated so I also understand the anger headed in their direction as well. Some folks get a little too deep into it and hyperbolic though.

      Thanks your answer as I really was curious because the nepotism I see with the creation of the Sad Puppies slate. We might not agree on that or GG but I appreciate you clarifying your point of view and how you reached it. I’ve been reading the Fan Writing and Related but your entry on Sex Criminals makes me look forward to the Graphic Novel portion. I’ll check that out next as I really need something positive to read after Fan Writing.


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