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Warning: This is going to be a bit meandering! Sorry; writing it at work / as I read.


First things first: I'm definitely recommending you take a glance over spikebrennan's 4k contest entry, if only because it's a historiography piece that delivers on the language, vernacular, and grammar of the period I think you're trying to evoke. Not that you're failing to do that yourself — I just think it's a great example to take a look at.


A few immediate thoughts regarding formatting:

  • That initial scan/kill thing is brazen and ballsy, which makes me like it. It also strikes me as hokey and cheesy, which makes me not-like it. Definitely get more feedback on that — my call would be to cut it — but at the same time, I do like how novel the visual setup is.
  • I think the audio transcripts/commentary from the O5 members — if you keep them — ought to have a formatting specific to them (via div style, maybe) to differentiate them from all the other documents. This could help them 'leap out' and feel like what they are — asides/commentary being made as we comb through first-hand documents depicting the Foundation's history.
  • I think a lot of this could benefit from changes in formatting. For example: Wherever you use monotext, I would also recommend using bolded monotext — this makes it far more legible for readers (this is something I learned when writing Murphy Law >_>). For reference, here's a div style header that will allow you to do bolded monospaced text without using {{ }} or ** **:

[[div style="font-family: Courier; font-weight: bold"]]
text
[[/div]]

Which results in:

text


Conceptually, I like the idea that the Foundation created a bunch of anomalies through their attempts to pursue immortality; I also like the idea that they ultimately reverse their position and focus on containment of these anomalies (and others) and now consider death/degradation to be a Thaumiel-style anomaly. I think you could do more along the lines of having many of the index cards describing these effects connected tentatively to pre-existing anomalies (I caught the one that's referring to SCP-008, though!).

I actually kind of like that you never qualify/specify which anomalies are which.


So, I'm finished — let me go through it again, and mention my issues with bits and pieces as I go:


OFFSET 1

That first 'introduction' with the skull/memetic kill agent still feels hokey to me. I'm not sure what it adds to the piece; is there something I'm missing/some special twist, here? I like the association of the skull with death (since SCP-001 is, in this case, literally death), but I feel like that connection could be made another way more subtly.


OFFSET 2

Given where you're going with this, I'm not sure whether or not this offset legitimately contributes to the piece. The story we're told by O5-1 is solid (and intimate), but in a lot of ways, this feels like it's more an info-dump trying to get across certain key-points. I'm tempted to say you should cut it down to that initial index card (describing death as an anomaly) — or possibly cut the whole thing at all.

(That latter ideal appeals to me the most; if you don't tell us this is the Foundation fighting death, but let us infer it from second-hand information — or even the next offset — I think we'll get more out of it. As soon as you basically say "SCP-001 is death", some of your readers are going to roll their eyes — you'll have already lost them. If you let the implication 'sink in' more subtly, you won't have that same effect)


OFFSET 3

This letter is the main reason I linked spikebrennan's skip: It doesn't feel 'authentic' to me. Now, keep in mind, that might just be a wad of bullshit — it might be perfectly authentic. But it doesn't 'feel' like it belongs to the period.

(This is hard to balance, because if you go too far over the top, it starts feeling like it's trying too hard to be part of the period; that being said, I would recommend you read through letters from the period — 1910s, 1920s — and try to reproduce their aesthetic. Grammar is a bit more fluid; there's alternative spelling and more esoteric word choices)

The footnote at the end of this letter makes it feel a little too much like "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". To offset this (but still have the delight of referring to 'heroic' historical figures), I'd exempt Mark Twain (who isn't a scientist anyway), keep Houdini (because this implies that maybe there's more to the magician who meets the eye) and Curie, and add in a few scientists that aren't commonly known from the period (lead with at least one scientist who's name the reader probably won't recognize).

Reading through the O5 commentary on this offset, I'm becoming increasingly of the mind that you could do without it — something that would serve your purpose far better might be a document here that represents a formalized, official 'provision' or 'statement of purpose' passed by the Keen meeting that effectively conveys the same thing (that the Foundation focused their efforts on confronting death in the wake of the Great War and Spanish Influenza).

The mention of Keter — and the alternate 'esoteric' definitions of the various designations — is a cool touch. I still kind of fall on the side of 'No O5 commentary' here, but I admit that would lose the whole story about how Keter came about (which would be regrettable).


OFFSET 4

I like the declaration/document at the top; not so crazy about the O5 commentary again (though I like the Foundation history that it gets across — but I feel like the interview itself gets some of this across without it having to be explicitly stated, especially the mention that Lewis is part of the Red Hand).

Sidenote: You're using the last lines of the O5 commentary as a sort of dramatic 'hook' here, a lot ("Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked"). It's really noticeable to me, and to the detriment of the piece; that's part of the reason I'd cut the O5 commentary track. That being said, others might really like it, and it does add a lot of historical flavor to the skip.

The interview is great — one thing I'd comment on is the bit with <pause - 8 seconds> — I always find it weird when people specify specific amounts of time for a pause, especially when it's not relevant. Plenty of irrelevant things get cut from these logs; the amount of time behind a pause would be one of them. I'd just say <pause>.

One last thing I'll comment on — I'd consider cutting the final line:

Let me tell you about Research Substance "Amrita".

Because, again, this makes it feel like another "Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked". I'd consider making the final line more nebulous. Something like:

Lewis: I don't know how to live out there, sir. I don't want to. I've been part of a bigger plan my whole life. Tell me about the test.

O5-1: All right. Let's take a walk.

Which explains why we don't hear the rest of the conversation — and also manages to deliver a similar level of gravitas without feeling like it's name-dropping something that's clearly just a segue into the next part.


OFFSET 5

These index cards are a great way to introduce Amrita, and I don't think there's anything I'd say or add to them — beyond maybe you want to consider some alternative formatting strategies just to make them more presentable/clarify what they are.

I think the brackets around the introduction might be unnecessary, too.


OFFSET 6

The decision to put the interview in the middle of these cards feels odd; kind of breaks an element of verisimilitude, I think? It should probably be at the end. If this screws up the pacing for the reveal of the symptoms (via the cards), you can probably displace those later cards to the start of the next document? Hm.


OFFSET 7

This commentary is one of the few ones I don't think you could convey outside of the commentary itself, so I'm leery of saying 'cut it'. The idea that GOIs are all attacking the Foundation because they think the Foundation has the secret to immortality is a neat one, and tying all those GOIs to attempts to escape the implacability of death is interesting/cool.

Re: the interview — I think it goes on too long. You could probably cut it at <glass breaking> without losing anything — maybe some mention of the rest of the audio being indecipherable/damaged. At the very least, you don't need to have the characters on the audio log explain to us why the audio log persists (that felt kind of like a forced wink to the reader, to me). We'll just buy that they didn't care enough to destroy it or whatever.


OFFSET 8

Connecting this to the Chaos Insurgency (without ever saying the words 'Chaos Insurgency') was a nice touch, and kind of hints at what the insurgency wants in a credible way (to use anomalies to attain immortality/defeat death itself). I like the narrative thread between 'The Foundation nearly attained immortality, realized the price was too high, and the Chaos Insurgency broke away — formed from those who didn't think it was too high'.

Ending it on the note of SCP-001 being designated as death itself (which is Thaumiel — also serving as the first explanation of what Thaumiel is) is a nice touch, too. The line about 'we cannot shut death in a box' is great — you use a variation of it elsewhere, I think, but here is where I think it's strongest (and here is where I think should be the only place where it actually occurs, to heighten its kick).


SUMMARY

All in all, I like this quite a lot; I think it needs some tightening/reformatting and maybe shifting around the elements for presentation purposes, but the core story here is a compelling one — and the idea (a Foundation pursuing immortality, realizing the cost, and ultimately abandoning it) is fun. The historical exploration of the Foundation and its anomalies is compelling, too.

One thing — you might want to address the Fountain of Youth skip, somehow (maybe it's just a lie?). Maybe not; I don't think it's critical for this to work.

(Oh, also, I'm not 100% sold on having to divide this into 8+ offsets for this to work — I suspect it could work with just one page, or maybe two/three pages if you really want the scanner bit. But tastes may vary!)

I hope some of this helps — good luck with the article!

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