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Complete Ward by Wildbow - T - Parahumans 2

Discussion in 'Original Fiction' started by Nemrut, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. Zombie

    Zombie Tegridy Moderator DLP Supporter

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    I remain doubtful that wildbow will ever write anything better than worm 1.
     
  2. Innomine

    Innomine Chief Warlock ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I'll ask the age old question, has there been any mention of his revision of Worm 1? I've been holding off on a reread for so long... thing it's just time to go for it.
     
  3. Zombie

    Zombie Tegridy Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Don't know honestly. Fell out of touch with the community a long time ago and therefore haven't talked to him in a long time.
     
  4. cucio

    cucio Slug Club Member

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    Ward was finished on May 2, 2020, so I guess it is time to switch the WIP marker to Complete.

    Since no one has said anything in a couple of weeks, and given the amount of participation this thread has, you may guess this sequel isn't as captivating as the original, at least for DLP tastes.

    However, it has kept consistently at the top of topwebfiction.com ranking, together with A Practical Guide to Evil. That doesn't really mean a lot to me, since I dropped PGE when the previous arc ended (should have done it before) and I only finished Ward because completionism, I guess. But YMMV.

    If you haven't started Ward and are wondering whether it is worth tackling, ask yourself if you really liked Worm after the time skip. If you did, maybe you can give it a try. If, however, you found it lacking the interest of the first part, just don't bother with Ward.

    First the good things: it will be no surprise to anyone that Wildbow keeps having a vivid imagination and a real knack for thrilling, frantic fight scenes and cosmic horror mindfuckery. Action chapters are, for the most part, great entertainment.

    Ward is also totally consistent with the ending of Worm, it is a logical, coherent follow-up. However, consistent doesn't necessarily mean interesting to read about. I felt something similar regarding the fifth book of the Alexandra Quick series.

    In the negative column, I couldn't relate much to the characters and found the setting overly bloated and disjointed.

    I found the MC's inner monologue boring and cringey, and all the psycho-therapy ramblings the author throws around didn't help. This also happened to me with The Inevitability of Oversight SW fanfiction. My guess is these authors underwent therapy themselves at some point and felt the need to reflect that experience in their fiction writing, in excruciating detail. I see how it could possibly work, since psychic states are relevant for their respective worlds mechanics, but both hamfisted it badly. I found my eyes crossing many times.

    About the bloating, it may be somehow justified. The story is, after all, about a multiverse in shambles after a catastrophic event. But after some point it gets too difficult to follow, many threads are left dangling, etc.

    My overall conclusion is that I'd like the time I invested in Ward back. Not a sequel worthy of Worm. But I won't begrudge Wildbow my disappointment, since he has provided me with a lot of quality entertainment through the years, and I consider the first part of Worm a great piece. I will keep looking forward to however he comes up with next, although I will probably be more wary and ready to jump ship next time. He has a great talent and an enviable work ethic. Maybe if he finds an editor that can curtail his tendency to ramble and bloat he can produce some truly amazing stuff.

    Edited for grammar. English prepositions are the root of all evil and should all be destroyed.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  5. Garden

    Garden Chief Warlock

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    The therapy talk was extremely annoying and definitely detracted from the work. It's like the author has never met anybody with above-average mental health.
     
  6. Dresden11

    Dresden11 Fourth Year

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    @Garden You have read Worm and Ward right? Not a single character with above-average mental health sounds just about right for these two works.
     
  7. Garden

    Garden Chief Warlock

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    Worm characters felt more functional, but more importantly, not nearly as many therapy sessions.
     
  8. fire

    fire Unspeakable

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    Does Ward suffer from the same key problem Worm had where characters often sound like the same person down to their literal exact vocabulary (e.g. copacetic)?
     
  9. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    IMO, it suffers from the worst manifestation of that problem possible. Victoria, who I remember being quite different to Taylor, now sounds very similar to Taylor in her internal monologue. I didn’t make it past arc 6, but I found it a big feel and problem

    That said, regarding copacetic specifically: copacetic was meant to be a product of world building. Alexandria said it in one of her big, early interviews and all the girls of the world started saying it instead of cool, until it was the word cool essentially, which is why all the Worm characters said it.
     
  10. cucio

    cucio Slug Club Member

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    Well, I'll have Ward forever associated to the expression "touch base". I remember I thought at some point you could make a drinking game out of it.
     
  11. fire

    fire Unspeakable

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    With respect to the former - that's unfortunate.

    Of course, it's not easy making characters have powerfully distinct voices, but from my own experience at writing, I find that even a mild degree of effort to make the important characters' voices have their own unique qualities goes a long way. For example, perhaps the protagonist speaks in the manner you yourself would default to, for the sake of simplicity, but then you can make the deuteragonist more formal, or the antagonist more theatrical. If you want to be more overt, you can simply have characters adopt a particular accent or dialect (e.g. old working class man and his "yall 'young 'uns git away from me field") or have particular catchphrases (e.g. a young schoolgirl might like to greet her friends with a "hello hello!"). Or, if you want to be more subtle, you can have a very prideful character tend to default to the imperative form, or this character meant to be gallant will mind their pleases and thank yous and tend to use questions ("It's late. Shall we perhaps make a move...") over the imperative ("It's late. Let's go."). And so on and so forth.

    Wildbow's problem, I suppose, is not just having a lot of characters, but writing a serialized story which gives no time to go back and sharpen dialogue. But the end result is exactly what you see - stuff that wouldn't make it past a professional editor's table.

    This isn't a minor thing. You could get away with bland all-sounds-the-same dialogue in TV or movies or games where you can see and (even with incompetent voice actors) hear the different characters. On a page, however, you have only the words to distinguish your creations, and bland shite make them all sound like sockpuppets rather than real people.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
  12. Quick Ben

    Quick Ben In ur docs, stealin ur werds.

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    Thanks for the review.

    I really tried to like this story in the beginning but Wildbow dialed up one of my biggest pet peeves from Worm in this story to 100, the dialogue.

    My god, I hated the therapy dialogue. Every character conversed as if they were in a therapy session. That shit just really threw me out of the story.
    I stopped reading after the raid on the Mathers Property but Victoria was just not an interesting character, no matter how much Wildbow tried to tell us she's a "warrior monk".

    One of the most interesting things about Worm was Taylor's internal conflict in regards to how much horrible shit she was willing to do, if she believed the ends were justified. That was interesting. Victoria is just a hero doing hero stuff and having therapy sessions all the time, when she is not fighting.

    The supporting cast was also boring. Sveta, The kid that transforms, and Rain were all bland and uninteresting. The only interesting ones were Bonesaw's clone, the little kid and the the guys sharing a body.

    It seems none of these problems were ever resolved. Its unfortunate. I don't think I will waste my time reading it, now that its over.

    But I am curious about his next project.

    He should pickup the Biopunk story he had written after finishing Pact.
     
  13. Bernd

    Bernd First Year

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    I started eye-twitching early on every time a character used the term "reach out", instead of other words like "contact", "message", "cooperate", or "invite". Every time a word could be used for someone who wanted to talk to an off-screen character, it was "reach out". Multiple times a chapter. Once you see you cannot unsee.

    That and other LoOk HoW SeRiOuS aNd AdUlT i SoUnD corporate buzzwords like "touch base" made the long, boring tracts of therapy character dialogue feel as if I was reading an office worker's email chain. Other buzzwords of this type are things like "heads up", "revisit", "take-away", "push-back", and "optics". Dunno if it's just me, but teenaged kids using this language in dialogue makes my skin crawl. Not to mention how ridiculous it is when literally everyone speaks the same way.

    Worm had more immersive dialogue imho.
     
  14. cucio

    cucio Slug Club Member

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  15. fire

    fire Unspeakable

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    That's interesting. I'm very sympathetic to the idea that an author should not cave to reader pressure - while a good author accepts criticisms about how they're failing to achieve their ends (e.g. how their writing isn't conveying a multi-dimensional realistic character, even though that is presumably something the writer seeks), that shouldn't extend to pandering on what the story is even trying to achieve in the first place (e.g. its major themes). If you let the reader call the shots there, you're no long saying anything meaningful or being true to your own vision - you're just pandering to your readers, and basically wanking them off.

    Wildbow's problem, it seems to me, isn't that all that therapy stuff is included, but that it isn't done well. I mean, characters talking about their feelings is the bread and butter of literature, and good authors make them interesting. I've read stories that featured counselling sessions, and they were riveting - if Wildbow can't achieve that, it's no one else's failing.
     
  16. Quiddity

    Quiddity Headmaster

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    I mean, personally, I enjoyed the therapy sessions. They weren't extraordinary or standout sections, but I really didn't have a problem with them.

    I dropped Ward several times (and haven't caught up from ~Arc 11), but never during those - I just always find the dedication needed to keep up with Wildbow's writing speed difficult, and it's hard to read a webserial when you're not up to date.
     
  17. Innomine

    Innomine Chief Warlock ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    What was the word count of this all up? Just wondering how it compares to Worm, as this seemed to end a lot quicker than I expected.

    I only ever read worm once. Kept putting off rereading while waiting for the promised edited version of it, but even if it does come out now, I doubt I'll ever actually get around to reading it.
     
  18. Golgar

    Golgar Second Year DLP Supporter

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    I lost interest at some point during the Fallen arc. I cannot even really say why. I liked worm a lot and read it religiously. I was waiting for update days. Here, not so much. It starts interesting. The hook is great. Victoria is an interesting choice for a protagonist.

    To name one of the annoyances that come to mind, it seems that every interaction is so full of nuances. Except they aren't subtle, they are shoehorned into everything. Oh no Character A reacted slightly wrong, therefore terrible things happen.

    That could be the theme anyway, terrible things happen for byzantine reasons. It's been some time so I don't remember much, but some "highlights": Kenzie destroying careers by walking into a bathroom, because of the implication. I get this might happen, but only if everybody has a zero tolerance policy on steroids and no capability for reason at all.

    In similar ways, everybody is super messed up. I know it's "Team Therapy" for a reason, but the whole story has the feeling of a performance review by an annoying supervisor that tries to make up bullshit reasons for not promoting somebody.

    The grey area is so grey it's just a fog, and nothing matters. All villains are forgiven. OK. But some are under some sort of probation? Right. Then there is some sort of legal system that is run by students because no actual professionals survived? Fine? And nothing is defined, everything is shady. Some shady committee decides the fate of this or that character. Again, nuances, nothing real, nothing tangible. Perhaps something philosophical about power being only real insofar it is permitted is hiding in there, but I am too annoyed to buy it.

    The politics, who gets to be ruling the city (I forgot the title), are in the same vein. As is the "diplomacy" with Earth of the Relicious Fanatics.

    The whole story is a kafkaesque nightmare. That does not make it bad, perhaps it was meant to be that way. Maybe I am doing it injustice. But a story should, in my opinion, entertain somewhat. It does not. If I want to read tedious stuff I have enough of it at work.

    But in summary, unlike in Worm, I did not look forward to updates in Ward.

    I'm not rating it as of yet. It is already in the library anyway. I will try to finish it at some point.
     
  19. Aekiel

    Aekiel Angle of Mispeling ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I got past the Teacher arc before dropping it and I doubt I'll pick it back up. The major issue I had was that pretty much every character started to feel the same after a while. It's like all of them had had the same lessons on therapy and respecting each others' boundaries, even when it made no sense for the character in question. Sure, they'd have their verbal quirks, but style of speech was very samey.
     
  20. Jarizok

    Jarizok High Inquisitor

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    I finished Ward last week. Like most of you, I dropped it a few times. I'm glad I finished it though, if only just for some great moments.

    Thematically, Ward is great. Plotwise, it's hit or miss, but it's just so fucking many words that the bad parts get dragged out over sometimes literally hundreds of thousands of words.

    For me, Kenzie carries the entire story. Pretty much all the plot focused around her was at the very least interesting, peaking with some plain awesome scenes that are going to stick with me for a long time.

    I didn't mind the therapy focus. I'll take even forced dialogue over most action scenes though, so that's very much personal preference.

    It's not Worm. It's not particularly close either. It's 100% library worthy though.
     
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