Scalenex Imparts some late reviews One thing that surprised me was that three out of four of these stories took the contest theme metaphorically and only one took the contest theme literally....the one by me. Usually the majority of the entries take the contest theme literally and a minority take the contest figuratively and usually I'm the one who bends the contest theme. It was not a coincidence my piece was the odd one out. I wrote my piece after the other three were in. I wanted the pad the contest numbers and after reading the preceding three and all my ideas were literal parasites. I wrote it pretty quickly and I delayed the contest entry deadline a day or two so I could edit my own piece. What corruption displayed by a stalwart of L-O! But because I wanted more contest entries, it was for the greater good. Another commonality is that all four of the pieces had a relatively concise word count and good pacing (even mine!). None of them were pushing the ceiling of the word count limit which is fairly uncommon in these contests. But I have noticed that the average word counts of story contests have been trending down the last couple years. Don't get me wrong, short does not always equal good. there are some longer pieces I really enjoyed and there are longer pieces that won contests. Still it's a matter of skill to do more with less. Anyway, this way I don't have to say well paced with concise word choices four times. The Tale of the Lizards and the Vermin: Per usual TD4 was the first entry. Thedarkfourth has one of the highest winning records in percentage terms. A few others have more short story contest wins, but given TD4 doesn't enter as regularly as some, he is leading the pack in percentage wins, (I think). Without knowing that I suspected this piece was going to win as soon as I read it. Very clever, very funny, and with a unique structure. A very clever unorthodox take on the theme. I usually say something constructive that could have been better. That's hard to do with this piece, so my misgiving is pretty minor. But one thing did pop out at me immediately. This piece is trying to capture four different view points: Lizardmen, skaven, Grimm's fairy tales, and the Empire. That's a lot for a short story. The piece overly focused on the skaven a little bit and I barely got any hint of the Empire in the narrative and word choice at all. It could have a used a little bit more on the Lizardmen point of view. Throw Caution to the Wind: Awww, a Kroxigor with a kitty! I'm not used to @Imrahil being this heart warming. A lot of good characterization and heart in this piece. Sure a lot of the exposition had nothing to do with the core plot but that sort of misdirection is needed to set up a satisfying twist ending. The piece took some different creative directions with how daily life for a Seraphon looks, but it works for what the writer was trying to do. I'm not usually a stickler for adherance to contest theme, but this barely qualifies. I'm not 100% if the cat was a fake out for a parasite scare, the cat was a metaphorical parasite, or if this is because cats have parasites that literally trick humans into loving them. Murder Under the Nile: It was a tough choice for me to not vote for this piece. I ultimately voted for Story One, but it was a difficult choice. I like parodies and this was a very well done parody. I especially I like that an unwanted animal on board the ship slowly eating the food and harming occupants is a type of parasite of the sort. My misgiving was the ending. I think the piece would have been stronger if there was just one Chameleon Skink on board rather than a troupe, maybe two. I don't mixing a Scooby Doo reference with a parody of Hercule Paroit was the best decision. In my opinion, this feels like the literary equivalent of a great athlete dominating the race then tripping at the finish line. Also kudos to @Lizards of Renown for writing a story with a significantly different style than I've ever seen him do before. Poisoned Water Supply: Okay this was my piece, and because I'm writing this after the authors were revealed, I don't have to dance around that I didn't write. I didn't expect or want to win this contest, I mostly wanted to pad the contest entries. I'm going immodestly to pat myself on the back for this one at least for personal improvement given the circumstances. I wrote this quickly at the last minute. Usually when I make last minute entries, my pacing is terrible and my pieces are clunky and full of typos. This was free of all my usual problems. I wrote three short stories set in Westhammer beforehand, all featuring Yuqal'Cho-ax and Kai'ax. I left them out and wrote about someone else both to hide my scent from people guessing my authorship and also to branch out the Westhammer universe a bit. I also wanted to test out Sauruses in Westhammer. I made the two Saurus characters female to see anyone who notice and comment on it, but no one did. I'm still not sure whether Rangos should reproduce from spawning pools, hatch from eggs or something else and I was testing the waters for sexual reproduction with eggs. As for misgivings about my own pieces. First, I wasn't able to insert near as many Western colloquialisms as I would have liked to include. Second, I wish I could have fleshed out the Wild West version of the Order of the Silver Hammer (aka witch hunters) in more detail.