IF Comp ’16 – Andy Joel’s The God Device!

October 11, 2016

“The God Device” is a pretty good title. Also, I really, really, really want to know what’s in the blood-stained envelope the archaeologist gave Tanya just before she died.

…it’s probably nothing.

[spoilers begin here]

I’m kind of fascinated by this art. There’s an intentionality it gives off, as though someone spent time on it & thought about the decisions they were making, and yet — I’m gonna try real hard to not be a dick about this — it’s got visible compression artefacts, the font choice is weirdly mod given the tone of the blurb, there are three or four too many gradients than strictly necessary, and the color palette is busy as fuck.

That’s not what we’re here to judge, of course, I’m just a tiny bit mesmerized by it.

The doors slid shut, and the transit unit rapidly accelerated, leaving Base 42, and heading out across the great desert. As Tanya settled back in her seat, she glanced at the woman opposite. Some professor from the dig, she guessed; probably in her fifties, and dressed in a pale grey suit that might have been fashionable a decade ago.

The in-medias-resness of the opening is a good choice, but I feel like this story would be better served by a bit more description; we appear to be on an alien planet, but we’re not really introduced to it before the action starts. Usually the standard writing advice is to start your story later, because you’re starting it way too early, but I think this paragraph could have used a small recap of Tanya’s day, how she felt about being on this train, and most importantly, who the fuck is Tanya? Who is Tanya and why do we care?

…I just ate like a quarter brick of cheese fudge so I’m sorry if all the sugar is turning me into more of an asshole than usual. I’m gonna eat more cheese fudge now.

Now she looked just like a student. She glanced in the mirror. Well, a mature student anyway.

this is me every time I have to go to my face-to-face class ;_;

I’m gonna open this mysterious package myself, because who knows if the other… professors, am I a professor? are in on the… whatever the conspiracy is that caused the nice archaeologist to get shot?

Inside there was a note and a metallic cylinder. The note just said “Jamal was right!” which told her exactly nothing.

Well, I mean, it told her Jamal was right.

The package was addressed to Prof. Jenssen in the Xenoarchaeology Department, and according to the sign, that was the large glass building in the centre of the campus.

You know what is always, always boss as fuck? XENOARCHAEOLOGY!

‘Maybe I should hang on to it for now.’
‘I really think you should leave it here, miss. I appreciate the trouble you went to, so please don’t make me call security.’
‘Maybe you’re right, I don’t want to end up like your professor, with my face blown off.’
The secretary went visibly pale. ‘Perhaps you should keep it for now.’

Wait, what? I just arrived at the professor’s office, asked for him, was told he was out, the secretary tried to threaten me into leaving the package, then I said… am I implying that blew his face off? But then why would I be in his office asking for him? I don’t understand anything about this exchange.

Okay, here comes the most delightful moment of the comp for me thus far:

Tanya was about to say something, when he said: ‘Pretend you’re a chicken.’
‘What?’ she started to say, then stopped. He was different, glowing with power and majesty. Holy. She was nothing before him, and yet he had noticed her – and he wanted her to be a chicken. She would willingly do anything for this immense being. ‘Cluck, cluck, cluck,’ she said, arms akimbo, flapping.

Jamal-senpai noticed me! Senpai, please, collect my eggs and make them into quiches; I lay them just for you.

‘Hell, yes. Look, you better take it. I… I’m not sure I should. You would’ve done anything for me.’
Tanya took the cylinder gingerly. ‘I… don’t know what to say. Thanks for the demo. I think. I guess I better go.’

Pretty sure Jamal just implied he shouldn’t keep the cylinder because he didn’t trust himself not to do creepy shi– hey wait a minute, he’s just going to trust Tanya with it? don’t even know who the hell Tanya is and I am Tanya!

‘Hi,’ he said., ‘can I get you a drink?’ Why did guys always assume a woman on her own was just after a one-night stand? Sometimes a girl just wanted a quiet drink.

More to the point, why does Tanya not assume every single person she encounters from this point is an assassin looking for the God Device? I MEAN SERIOUSLY TANYA

Instead, I have successfully picked up the waitress. Tanya got game.

They spent a few hours listening to tracks mostly from the twenty-second century, then headed back to Tanya’s hotel room.
In the morning Rochelle had to go; she was doing a xenohistory course at the university.

Look, xenohistory is cool and like that, but do you see that space between sentences where all the sex went?! Oh well, I’ll just play Ladykiller In A Bind later.

Guess what Tanya is doing right now: listening to her one-night stand give a brief lecture on the ancient alien race that used to inhabit the planet while she (Rochelle) puts her waitress uniform back on.

Okay wait so I guess the ancient race manufactured perfect moral beings to rule over them using the God Device?

Tanya quite enjoyed many concerns of the flesh, and doubted humans would give them up unanimously.

Concerns of the flesh are pretty good. Cheese fudge is a concern of the flesh, right?

I should probably get off-planet, but instead I’m going to take the cylinder to a pyramid, because that is what people do with mysterious cylinders. I’m pretty sure I read that in Cosmo.

Oh. Taking the device to the pyramid inevitably gets you captured, while going off-planet pretty quickly gets you the best ending. This makes sense — I mean, going off-planet does seem like the best choice logically — but it feels abrupt, and as though the story’s big confrontation/revelation scene is missing.

Overall, the writing and the story could have used some punching up, but I wasn’t bored while that was happening, so, not the worst game by any means.

I still have no idea who the hell Tanya is.

One comment

  1. “Jamal-senpai noticed me! Senpai, please, collect my eggs and make them into quiches; I lay them just for you.”

    And that’s the most delightful moment of the comp for me so far. I made Pace read it out loud in an obsequious anime schoolgirl voice, yes I did.

    Your commentary, as usual, is on point.

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