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Across These Days like Deserts by Vailkagami - T - Terminator

Discussion in 'Other Fandoms Review Board' started by CrackedMind, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. CrackedMind

    CrackedMind Death Eater

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Messages:
    967
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Title: Across These Days Like Deserts
    By: Vailkagami
    Rating: T
    Genre: Gen/AU
    Fandom: Terminator
    Status: Complete
    Pairings: John Connor/Kate Brewster, but romance isn't a part of this story
    Summary: In 1997, the world ends right on schedule. In 2029, the war is won.
    In between those events are 32 years, and both the fear and the hope that the future is not written in stone.
    Link: AO3

    So, this is an AU where Judgement Day happens when it's originally scheduled to. It's about John trying to rally an army, Kate trying to keep the civilians together, and Kyle trying to survive. It's long as hell, almost 330K words.

    So there's a lot of good and bad here. I think the idea is one i've never seen implemented before, and even in stories that are similar and about John dealing with a post-Judgement Day world it stands above the rest. While it's an incredibly depressing read in parts, it never feels like it's wallowing in self pity or too angsty. It's more like The Road- bad shit happens and they deal with it with minimal grief.

    Downside- it can be a very depressing read. The early Kyle segments wore me down, too- he's in a kill camp for a looooooong time. There's a tag/warning for rape too, which I feel like I have to point out, but it's never explicitly mentioned and just sort of implied in the background. Which, again, it's a post apocalyptic world so it doesn't seem unreasonable that it'd turn some people into animals.

    I also think that the author might not be a native English speaker, because there are a lot of small errors throughout- spelling or words that are close but not quite right in a given situation. It didn't bother me too much, because they're spread out throughout the work- its just after 330K it adds up. There's also a fair bit of telling where there should be showing and I could feel myself skimming through parts.

    Overall though, I enjoyed it. I'd say it's up there for me in terms of the best Terminator fic I've read (not that it has much competition), and if nothing else it was a great timewaster. I'd say a solid 3/5 for me.
     
  2. Nefar

    Nefar Seventh Year

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Messages:
    285
    It's easier to criticize than to compliment, so I'll spend most of this post doing the former.

    The story is too long for what it is, and could be edited down to at least half its length. The tragedies that befall the characters are repeated too often and descend from horrifying to monotonous. Although the length did have some positive effects on my immersion in the story (the story, like the war it described, felt like it would never end), eventually it overstayed its welcome and I began to feel more bored than engaged when the inevitable next terrible event occurred.

    The character of John Connor is a weak point. Its a classic case of it being much easier to tell readers that someone is inspiring than to show them being inspiring. Most of the John Connor POV sections involve him bemoaning his inability to change the future or spend time with his family. As a reader it was difficult to reconcile his alleged leadership abilities with the fact that he spends most of the story feeling sad about his powerlessness. "Inability to change the future" is probably unavoidable given the story's central theme about the inevitability of fate, but "unable to spend time with family" showed the hand of the author too much. No matter how often the story emphasized how busy Connor was and so couldn't spend time with his wife and children, "being such a good leader that I need to spend all of my time leading because I don't delegate" is in fact the sign of a bad leader. The contradiction made the situation less plausible and therefore less emotionally effective.

    The part at the end where Kyle Reese enters the time machine was also weak. It became clear that the author needed no timeline changes to occur for his theme to work and so Connor was prevented from giving Reese information that could have changed the past by an extremely transparent appeal to Connor suddenly being needed to oversee the final attack on Skynet. But this overseeing happens over radio and the story doesn't come even remotely close to selling this as anything but an obvious authorial ploy. Worse, as a reader it was entirely predictable and obvious that it was going to happen.

    With all that said - 5/5, easily. Stunningly good story. I stayed up to 2am two nights in a row to finish it and I'm still enjoying the feeling of despair and hopelessness a day later. If this isn't a 5/5, what is?