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“The latest polls indicate that this year’s elections in the Wasteland will be the closest since The Deracinator squeaked by The Overlord for the 8th council district back in the controversial race of Post-Year 4.” The expert whispered this nugget to a colleague in the front row of the Hemitron where this year's debate was scheduled to take place in mere moments.

The future of the election, and of the Wasteland itself, may hang on the outcome of this evening’s debate, according to staff members in both camps who have been religiously crunching poll data. Keen observers have noted the electorate’s dissatisfaction with negative campaigning has its lowered the tone of political discourse.

“Speaking first, Lord Apokalypsis, who has a strong following with the inhabitants of the dunes, the marauders of the outer zone and the creatures inhabiting the wrecks,” the broadcaster whispered.

Lord Apokalypsis’s flatbed truck rolled to a stop with a crunch before the eager audience. He lifted his cyborg-arm, which was fitted with a gun attachment, and pulsed a fireball in the air. He pressed a red button on a control panel and a megaphone raised before his steel-plated head. He glanced at his notes, looked in to the teleprompter and growled in a booming voice:

“Subjagation. Confusion. Terror. Vanquish the innocent. Whirlwinds of fury! Decimation. Fire, pestilence and more fire! Extermination! Dark clouds of foreboding. Thunderclaps of devastation. Torrential downpour of blood…”

The light plugged in to the moderator’s desk flashed and emitted a high–pitched buzzing noise indicating the Lord Apokalypsis’s time was up.

“Drown the weak in their own tears. Civilization crushed. Tyranny! Arrrghhhhhh,” Lord Apokalypsis finished with a hurried flourish, triumphantly pumping his arms in the air.

“Viceroy of Carnage, your rebuttal,” the moderator said leaning into his microphone.

The Viceroy of Carnage, a hulking mass of negritude, floated to the front of the stage in a hover-pad, adjusted his pinstriped blazer, took a sip of water and began: “Haven’t we heard enough of these bizarre ravings from the likes of my opponent? That’s backward thinking, people. Isn’t it time to stop – stop the mindless bickering, the self-destructive fear of the other. And time to start -- start looking at what we share, start considering what brings us together? From the ruins of the Forgotten City to the derelict stretch of No Man’s Land -- we need to put away these tired labels and look to a better future. I can’t do it alone. I can only do it with you."

The expert was right. It turned out to be an incredibly tight election, with record voter turnout in the Wasteland’s Post-History. Lord Apokalypsis won by the narrowest of margins drawing on the marauder and mutant vote. But he did not have a mandate. As for The Viceroy, the people just weren’t accustomed to his brand of populist politics, nor were they ready to elect a black candidate.

Date Written: July 23, 2004
Author: scoop
Average Vote: 4

07/29/2004 qualcomm: shouldn't the second graf begin in quotes? asshole?
07/29/2004 anonymous: No "asshole."
07/29/2004 qualcomm: in that case, you switched tenses. (asshole)
07/29/2004 anonymous: It should be obvious that its the narrator, Feral Child, who has grown up to become a saavy political pundit, leading the reader through the complicated world of Wasteland politics. As for the tense shift, necessary. The dude had just "whispered" before we stumble on to story. Debates about to happen -- thus the shift tense. [(asshole)].
07/29/2004 qualcomm: okay, then why the shift to past tense in the subsequent grafs, most glaringly the last two? Asshole?!
07/29/2004 qualcomm: (not to mention graf 4)
07/29/2004 qualcomm: don't get me wrong, guy. i like the short and i don't want to shift focus to a drawn-out technical debate on tense, but the tenses are fucked up. the only graf in present tense is 2. what the fuck?
07/29/2004 Ewan Snow (4): This is a great idea for a short and there a several funny gags throughout. The writing, however, is chock full of infelicities that bring this otherwise 5-star short perilously close to a three. But that would be too harsh a toke. Hence... 4 stars! (If you're interested in what I see as the problems, let me know. Otherwise, I won't bother you with them.)
07/29/2004 qualcomm: i'm interested. i'm sure the author's interested. and this is the appropriate forum to discuss craft.
07/29/2004 qualcomm (4): i think this is a 4.3. despite its splendid idea and solid execution, i think it suffers from length. we all know the archetypes the author is playing with here, so there's just no need for all this padding. not only is there no need, but the padding actually stifles what would have been a more visceral reaction to the humor (laughter).
07/29/2004 Benny Maniacs (4): The craft. Asshole.
07/29/2004 Mr. Pony: I don't think it's that kind of joke (the laffy ha-ha kind), and I think the author had to flesh out the stereotypes rather than just reference them, as the absurd comparison relies heavily upon seeing each in action. As for the tense shift, the author is wrong. The second paragraph should be in quotes.
07/29/2004 Mr. Pony (4): !
07/29/2004 Ewan Snow: I disagree, pony. This is the "ha-ha" kind of joke and could have easily been condensed. Many of the details here are not needed and detract from the punch of the joke.
07/29/2004 Mr. Pony: I agree that it could be made into that sort of joke.
07/29/2004 Ewan Snow: Not to be petty, Pony, but "should" is spelled with an "SH"; you spelled it "could" by mistake.
07/29/2004 Mr. Pony: Either way.
07/29/2004 anonymous: Sorry. I was away uncovering certain truths. If you are still up for it, Snow, I would like to hear your thoughts on the problems with this thing.
07/29/2004 Ewan Snow: Well, there were just a bunch of little things. I offer them as mere suggestions. The first graf is quite fine. In order to increase verisimilitude, however, I wouldn’t have said “in the Wasteland” just as commentators in US elections wouldn’t say “this year’s elections in the United States.” In other words, it’s nice to create a world where the details are obvious to the characters even though it’s very foreign to the reader. So maybe “this year’s Wasteland elections” or “Dictatorial Elections” or whatever. Also, I’d cut the repeat “this year’s” from the last sentence of the graf and replace it with “the”. These are quibbles, but as they are now they give this short the feel of “I am the author and I am making up these weird things that I will now explain to you”, rather than “here are various details of my world; it seems regular to me; what’s your prob, bub?”

The second graf should be in quotes if it is further commentary, or else it should be in past tense if it is the narrator’s voice. The last sentence in the second graph makes no sense, and isn’t even a sentence I guess. Also, it has too many “how”s. I’d simplify it to “Keen observers have noted that the electorate is fed up with negative ads, which have coarsened the tone of political discourse.” Or something.

Third graph is a little confusing. The title “Lord Apokalypsis” (which is an excellent name), is set off in commas in a way that suggests that another clause (the verb clause) is coming at the end of the sentence and saying what LA is doing. Here’s how I would rewrite it, maybe. “Speaking first is Lord Apokalypsis. He has a strong following...”

In the forth graf, you have “a megaphone raised before his steel-plated head.” This is a great line and steel-plated head is a nice detail, but I kept thinking about the fact that it said “raised” rather than “rose”, which was distracting. Raise/raised is a transitive verb, meaning it has to take an object. For example “raise your hand” or “raised hell” or “raised the dead”. Rise/rose/risen is an intransitive verb and takes no object. “I rise each morning”, “the megaphone rose”, the “dead have risen”.

Graf 5 is cruc. Graf 6 is longer than needed and a little awkward. “In to” should be “into”, but I think it should be removed in any case. Who cares where the light is plugged into? How about just “A light flashed and a buzzer went off indicating the Lord Apokalypsis’s time was up.”

Grafs 7 is cruc. And the rest is good.

Also, depending on what you were going for with this (as Pony and I were just discussing), I think you could have cut it way down and made a very funny hundred or so word short. That’s more a question of what you’re into, though. The comments above all assume you’re going for the mid-to long short style which this is written in.
07/29/2004 TheBuyer (4):
07/29/2004 Ewan Snow: What the F? I thought we were going to discuss craft, as OSS would say.
07/29/2004 Mr. Pony: Perhaps the author has reached his State-Imposed Comment Limit.
07/29/2004 anonymous: Thanks Snow.
07/29/2004 anonymous: I agree with youir comments. I had tried to write this shorter but couldn't. And I thought dragging out the comparison would in its own right be funny. Your point about the strange details being regular in this world is a good one. I'm a little pissed because I think maybe I blew this idea with inconsistent execution.
07/29/2004 Ewan Snow: That's no fun! Don't you want to argue, or call me a cunt or something? What's wrong with this F-in site today? Pony, you dumb cunt, why don't you learn to draw?! Scoop, who I guess probably wrote this, I'm one starring your next piece of crap. If you think you're gonna be tied with me without some F-in blood on the floor you've got another thing coming! FUCK!!!! Kill!!!! FUCK!!!!
07/29/2004 anonymous: It's just that kind of high faluting rhetoric and political acumen that won Lord Apokalypsis the elction Snow.
07/29/2004 anonymous: I fear this is one of those shorts that mysteriously wards off votes.
07/29/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan (4): Heyy this is pretty good!
07/29/2004 anonymous: Fuck you Snow. My next short is a fucking gem, your one star will refelct the intellectually dishonest retarded gaybob you really are. As for the tie - we settle it tonight at the abandoned air strip. Be there or be square.