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Where I Read: Worm - Thread 2: Taylor, You Brilliant Dumbass

sun_tzu

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Hm. I see I forgot to mention Oracle among the fanfics I'm following. It's yet another "Taylor becomes an Exalt" fic, though it has a bit more crossover elements than, say, Memoirs of a Human Flashlight or Conquest Quest. Also, it has Taylor turning into a Sidereal, and mostly doing behind-the-scenes work.

I've also started my own fic (Sufficient Velocity link for those so inclined). It's intended to be yet another shameless fix fic, but hey, we've already seen there's an audience for them. ;)
 

sun_tzu

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A new challenger appears: The oddly-titled Head Over Heels.
Technically, it's another "Taylor gets an overpowered ability" story, but... there's actually been surprisingly little overpowering and curbstomping so far. It's mostly been interactions with the Wards and Protectorate, and Taylor exploring a rather interesting powerset.
 

Wolfgang

New member
A new challenger appears: The oddly-titled Head Over Heels.
Technically, it's another "Taylor gets an overpowered ability" story, but... there's actually been surprisingly little overpowering and curbstomping so far. It's mostly been interactions with the Wards and Protectorate, and Taylor exploring a rather interesting powerset.
This is one of those - what I consider - typical spacebattles stories. There is very little story going on. Mostly just explaining and exploring all the powers that Taylor gets. What's worse; the Triumvirate immediately show up to test her powers and everyone is very impressed.
Don't they have anything better to do than test new capes with interesting abilities? In canon it doesn't look like they care that much. There are abilities that could potentially help against Endbringers/Scion all over the place in Brockton Bay alone, but nobody comes by to check them out and to do testing.

All this power-testing and applying ratings seems like the new Diagon Alley shopping trip. I wish they just skipped that.
 

Wildbow

Retired User
Not to mention that I've repeatedly said that the ratings of classifications aren't a gauge of raw power. They're a gauge of threat. A parahuman that loses every fight can have a higher rating than a parahuman that wins 90% of their fights without batting an eye, if that parahuman has a power that poses a threat to the city or public at large (ie. lingering radiation).

People who want to pleasure themselves over Taylor getting new powers are going to find ways to do it, and that seems like the natural route to go for that.
 

Shay Guy

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This is one of those - what I consider - typical spacebattles stories. There is very little story going on. Mostly just explaining and exploring all the powers that Taylor gets. What's worse; the Triumvirate immediately show up to test her powers and everyone is very impressed.
Don't they have anything better to do than test new capes with interesting abilities? In canon it doesn't look like they care that much. There are abilities that could potentially help against Endbringers/Scion all over the place in Brockton Bay alone, but nobody comes by to check them out and to do testing.

All this power-testing and applying ratings seems like the new Diagon Alley shopping trip. I wish they just skipped that.
If the primary duty of the storyteller is evocation, as I've come to suspect, there are at least two things SpaceBattles writers seem disproportionately inclined to try to evoke. One is "domination". The other is "ooh, cool toy!" Head Over Heels fits on both counts.

To be fair, this one is a neat toy, and it has added Homestuck-like "combinatoric" value. That's probably a bad way to describe it, but the idea is that by its nature, any number of briefly interesting things can happen with it, piggybacking on the many powers other characters have in canon. That can be fun for a while. The story also has a novel take on the Sophia problem.

Come to think of it, though, the stories SB hates most are also meant to evoke "domination".

Athene ♠ Tom Kratman OTP

Not to mention that I've repeatedly said that the ratings of classifications aren't a gauge of raw power. They're a gauge of threat. A parahuman that loses every fight can have a higher rating than a parahuman that wins 90% of their fights without batting an eye, if that parahuman has a power that poses a threat to the city or public at large (ie. lingering radiation).
And a gauge metered by people, at that, not a scouter (which is how ratings change as more about the parahuman becomes apparent). People in an institution, with all that implies about what influences their decisions. And people in a specific institution, meaning the unaffiliated aren't going to be using the same terminology very often -- IIRC, the only mention of any of the classifications prior to right after the Leviathan fight is when Armsmaster mentions Bakuda's "tinker" label to Taylor in Arc 1.
 

notes

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People like to read, and write, awesome. Power levels over 9000 are awesome.

They're not subtle, and such stories destabilize into self-parody pretty easily, but there's a reason that iconic superheroes spend so much of their time lifting heavy things. ('It's like what I can do... turned up to eleven!' Or eleventy-million.) You get similarly crude scaling up issues with intelligence: the careers of Nikola Tesla and Alan Turing suggest that remarkable genius isn't a straight path to being Lex Luthor, nor even a Lex Luthor scaled down to realistic levels; the career of Richard Feynman suggests that remarkable intelligence joined to high social function isn't nearly enough either. You do get Edison, Howard Hughes, and Elon Musk, keeping the scientist-industrialist dream alive, but it's observable that intelligence ceases to be the prime driver of business success long before people stop thinking it should be (see also LTCM or CMBS or, well, almost any story involving anyone hailed at one point as 'smartest'), and the case on political pull is even easier to make.

On a technical writing level, the power-testing scenes might be considered an example of why writers are sometimes advised to kill their darlings: string together a list of neat ideas to use magic better, without context, motivation, or character, and you do have an overdone Diagon Alley shopping trip, and the author misses that fact because the ideas are so very neat.

More generally, I tend to be (and would argue for being) very forgiving of even bad fics. Reading them isn't obligatory; some real fraction of those writers are trying to improve and will do so with exercise; and besides, there's almost always something worth studying in even the bad fics (if only a clearer demonstration of why or how some idea fails to work). Looked at over time, rather than in a frozen instant, it isn't so much Sturgeon's Law as Sturgeon's Ladder.

And on that note, there are many more good short fics (if only because there are more short fics period), particularly on the humorous side (there, I think it's that humor gets harder as the length increases).
 

Axiomatic

I mix a coat
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When it comes to power levels over 9000, the ability to summon puppies is just hilarious as a Trump.
 
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