Critics from Planet review alien books

Planet does not have nearly as central a government as most of these alien worlds. They don't even really have countries, exactly. What they do have is a lot of different competing organizations, often doing the same sorts of things as each other with small twists. One of the groups reading through any alien literature that happens to be shared to them is The First-Glance Readers, a well regarded critic service that makes its money with a small government subsidy (that can be taken away if they stop being a public good) and donations from readers, or from whoever will pay to have a work added to the top of the stack (sometimes authors and sometimes fans).

They rate fiction from 0 to 10 along four dimensions. Almost nothing ever scores a zero or a ten, most follow a bell curve. The four ratings allow different readers to look for different things depending on their mood. Sometimes you want a power fantasy, and sometimes you want a more detailed drama. They are shallow-uncomplicated-fun (Flash), Meaningful-thoughtprovoking (Deep), compellingness-to-read-general-sensemaking (Flow), and verisimilitude-and-technical-detail (Learn).

One of those critics, Veloran, who used to be an office worker but now mostly just lives on savings and the world tax disbursement, takes themselves to a carefully neutral and bland room without any decoration and a white noise generator, clears their mind, and tries to read each incoming submission as naively as possible so they can provide accurate impressions of it.

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There were some issues with format conversation, but the translators did the best they could manage with the lack of pheromones and emotion-taste! Folks await the reviews with baited breath.


A tale for young workers about a new mushroom farmer who is very unhappy with her job and desperately wants to change it and become an explorer, but feels like she must stay in her current job for the good of her hive! The story details her becoming less happy and satisfied, until she eventually makes new friends in her fiction-reading group who encourage her to tell the hive-manager that she’s unhappy and wants to switch jobs. She does this, and becomes much happier, and finds a new valuable type of fungus for the colony, that is eventually used to make a new kind of antibacterial. It is clearly written with a moral lesson to tell people about your problems and not just tough them out.


A very complicated political novel with around 600,000 words, featuring nine diplomats from three different hives navigating a tension-filled debate about the morality of executions, while also trying to make the most advantageous trade deals, with several backroom discussions between every combination of hives at different points, embarrassing interpersonal drama, and a tremendous amount of dramatic irony.


A rules and lore book for a tabletop RPG, featuring several books of additional content based on other series, and a wide variety of different powersets. Nearly three hundred different personality traits are listed in the original alone, all with various mechanical benefits and downsides. 


An collection including seven novels, three books of short stories, four series about the most popular alternate universes, a collection of poetry, half a dozen epistolary books, and an annotated book of music scores. An additional eight powersets, 412 character traits, and new faction-loyalty and relationship mechanics for the RPG above are included, all inspired by this series. The base series is about a worker, named Halru, who is taken as a war-prisoner by a rival hive as slave labor and is forced to care for their grubs. Two of her limbs are cut off, and she generally has a terrible time doing awful labor under threat of death. Her best friend, Terilu, sets off on an extremely dangerous and ill-advised quest to rescue her, which at various points includes having a riddling contest with a dragon to gain fire breathing, bargaining with a Fairy Queen to gain wings, fighting a variety of creatures, secretly training under five separate rival hives to become a master of all five styles of spearfighting, and generally becoming a really powerful and dangerous warrior. She then rescues her best friend, and they return home, only to find themselves dealing with complex social dynamics now that Halru is maimed, which means that she is lower status in Semi-Generic!Fantasy!Past world. They cuddle a lot, talk about their feelings, play around with various power dynamics, and become lifepartners.

An included note says that while slavery and treating maimed people worse is something that happened in the past, they definitely don’t do it in the modern era, because that’s horrendously unethical.



An epic poem about an ancient king, presented in the original with extensive annotations. Full translations are going to be legitimately tricky; it's long, it's gorgeous, and the poetic form is pretty strict and doesn't adapt well to the rhythms of other languages, but the writer keeps doing this thing where the rhyme scheme and meter highlight underlying thematic connections between different lines—anyway. The plot begins with an introductory section where the king is going around doing atrocities in a very badass ancient-legendary-figure sort of way, right up until a random peasant girl lights him on fire with her magic powers and he immediately falls madly in love and drops everything to beg her to marry him, then spends the next two-thirds of the poem gradually lightening up on the atrocities front, partly because he has now realized that peasants are people and partly because his wife keeps arguing with him and occasionally threatening to light him on fire again, which he always responds to with a confused mix of fear, adoration, and occasionally anger. The queen's power to set fire to her husband is depicted very obviously and straightforwardly, discussed in the text and the dialogue; the king's reciprocal power to have his wife executed is left completely to subtext and implication, only barely hinted at by means such as using epithets for her that emphasize her fearlessness whenever he gets angry. Accompanying notes explain that the poem is an allegory for real historical events, with the queen standing in for the entire Phoenix archetype, which did appear during that approximate historical era and did have those approximate powers and did have approximately that effect on ancient kings' tendency to oppress people although the exact mechanism was obviously very different.

Extremely well-researched historical fiction detailing the life of a high priestess of the River Kingdom who, by contrast to most high priestesses of the River Kingdom, did actual politics instead of spending all her time managing the movement of water. One gets the impression that the author wishes they could spend all their time managing the movement of water; lovingly detailed descriptions of River Kingdom plumbing and water management take up a solid third of the book, intermingled with plenty of inner monologue from the high priestess and lots of interactions with very well-fleshed-out side characters. An appendix carefully distinguishes side characters for whom there is historical evidence (and what that evidence covered) from side characters the author made up (and the census data and contemporary sources from which they extrapolated those characters' likely traits). An additional appendix tries to explain the context of the Ondine archetype so the aliens can properly appreciate it, but the author admits that they're not very good at explaining this sort of thing and recommends some other reference material to interested reader.

Porn about masochists with access to magical healing is its own entire genre but here is a widely acclaimed example, in which a [sadist who lives by themself in a castle they designed and built using magic] (this is a two-word phrase in the author's native language) gets an unexpected visitor and falls in love with them despite being sort of shaky on this whole 'human interaction' concept. Neither of them has much of a clue how to pursue a healthy relationship, but they are both highly motivated to figure it out, and they make it to the end of the book having successfully reinvented most of the basics from scratch and settling into a life together full of art and luxury and wholesome, loving, extremely gory sex. The climactic scene involves the introverted-sadist-architect breaking into tears about how much they love their partner and needing to be wrapped in blankets and snuggled until they calm down. The two of them are the only characters in the entire book, unless you count the introverted-sadist-architect's house as a third character, which you very well might given how much screentime it gets. The back of the book has a collection of author-approved fanart of the castle, added so the aliens can get a sense of the architectural styles involved that words alone would have trouble conveying.

A duology of very long fantasy novels, which turn out to be collectively about 40% appendix by pagecount. The appendices cover worldbuilding, conlangs, and a set of six different detailed maps of the world, each from the perspective of one of the major nations involved in the plot, all of which have subtle disagreements with each other on matters such as which landmarks are important, what they are called, and who owns them. The plot consists of a ragtag yet lovable ensemble cast, thrown together by circumstances beyond their control which accidentally leave them the only people in the world capable of saving it from a cataclysmic threat, having breakdowns about how they're not ready for this and then going ahead and doing their best anyway. In the end, they pull it off by the skin of their teeth and with rather more casualties than any of them are comfortable with. The second volume has a long denouement consisting mostly of our heroes leaning on each other and their friends and loved ones to help them cope with all their realistically-described trauma once the crisis is over; the last chapter concludes when they're all psychologically stable again and leading healthy, thriving lives, and the epilogue shows a bittersweet scene of the six of them holding a private memorial ceremony together ten years later, after which they are going to attend a massive celebration being held in their honour on the anniversary of their success.

A work of interactive fiction, in which the player's character appears wandering in a starlit desert with no memory of where they came from or how they got here. After finding and exploring a nearby ruin, you eventually stumble upon a talking statue of a beautiful winged person, and although the statue is very shy at first, eventually you can coax enough information out of them to realize that they're some sort of powerful magical being who has been horribly abused by people using them for personal gain. You, too, can horribly abuse them and use them for personal gain; or you can use them for personal gain in less gratuitously awful ways that they still pretty clearly find traumatizing; or you can try to befriend them; or you can try to befriend them but in a sex way; or you can ignore them and try to figure out a way to escape the mysterious magical ruins by yourself. The descriptions of the statue's reactions to trauma are uncompromisingly realistic; the descriptions of the statue's reactions to genuine friendship and love are heartbreakingly sweet. The story has multiple possible endings, depending on your relationship with the statue and on whether you choose to escape the mysterious ruin or not, plus the implicit non-ending of simply never deciding to take an ending option; it is only possible to remove the statue from the ruins by force or with maximum trust levels, and if you do it by force the statue crumbles to dust as soon as they cross the outer wall.


Watchmaker's Heart is considered the genre-ending book in the "creative angst" category.

It is about a young Sky* woman named Amethyst and her craft watchmaking business, which is barely profitable in the modern age despite the level of fine dexterity and mechanical knowledge involved. Watchmaking is Amethyst's lifepath, her passion; however, it doesn't help to support her polycule. Instead the majority of its income is maintained by her Earth, Violet, who works a boring but necessary clerical job in the civil service. Amethyst is sorrowful that she cannot ease Violet's burden of responsibility despite all her skills, and contemplates abandoning watchmaking for a more practical pursuit; however, Violet's other Sky, Oak, who is an archaeologist, encourages Amethyst to continue in her work to honor the past and keep the traditions of watchmaking alive. There is a flint-knapping scene where Amethyst tries and fails to make a stone tool out of chert; this is treated as both a spiritual challenge and a practical one. Most of the events of the book are colored heavily by Amethyst's sense of what is "proper" and "correct", which blurs the line between neurodiversity and spirituality; Amethyst speaks both to a secular therapist and a spiritual leader, and the accounts she gives of her reasoning and motivations differ significantly between the two professionals, neither one able to give a full accounting of the why or what of her condition. Ultimately, Amethyst comes to agree with Oak that the task of preserving the past must fall to someone, and talks to Violet about her worries and her feeling that she's failing her; Violet reassures Amethyst that as an Earth, she loves to come back from work each day to see a smile on Amethyst's face and a disassembled watch on her desk. Amethyst springs back into work, in a sudden creative frenzy that overlays a spiritual montage of significant moments from earlier in the work, and makes a pair of custom watches specifically for her and her Earth. She mounts them on long necklaces, and bashfully presents one to Violet, and asks to be her Kept.** Violet accepts; they kiss, and the novel fades to black. There is an official erotica patch which intersperses several key sex scenes into the novel (between all three members of the polycule, separately and together) and includes the implied sex scene after Violet and Amethyst exchange necklaces. All the erotica is realistic, detailed, and built into the spiritual and emotional journey of the protagonists, though relatively vanilla as this is not primarily a kink work.


*Skies, on Heart, are the majority; they are those who work on passion projects, cannot deal with boring mundane work easily, and are generally supported by their polycule's Earth until their passions mature.

**Heart's population are generally polyamorous, but particularly deep relationships, especially ones with a high degree of commitment and trust, are sometimes recognized as a Keeper and Kept by the exchanging of necklaces. This is generally an unequal but reciprocal relationship, with the Keeper pledging to look after and protect the Kept, who pledges loyalty and service. Most polycules center on a central Keeper/Kept pair.


A tale for young workers about a new mushroom farmer... This seems like an interestingly alien personally-focused journey-of-understanding. The moral is group reliance and proper workplace fit, which is fine. There's a surprising lack of focus on the new antibacterial and the fungus's properties? Maybe the writer was too young to do proper research. Or just didn't care that much about fungus, but then why make fungus the focus achievement of the story?? Anyway, Flash 6, Deep 7, Flow 5, Learn 4*.

*Pending someone else who is going to go over alien daily life and explorer work to see if it's accurate-ish.



The complicated political novel takes a long time to read through, he does it in several sittings, while taking notes. It seems like an interesting and complex depiction of alien politics and also kind of disgusts him a little bit, but loyalty to hives seems to be an important feature of the Antsfolk mindset so he tries to ignore it. The intricate tracking of different motivations and states of knowledge between the diplomats is fun. He finds himself looking forward to the conclusion of the trade deals by the end. Flash 3, Deep 7, Flow 7, Learn 5*.

Again, pending some light double-checking. Actually, just assume all Learn ratings are tentative.



As for the RPG lore book, First-Glance Readers unfortunately does not usually review games that are more than very lightly gamified interactive fiction. They know they're specialized. They recommend this be submitted to Blind Play or similar organizations for that. (Blind Play starts poking around with the RPG, building people they know in real life, and famous people from books, and entirely random collections of traits, and seeing how strongly the mechanics affects the play)



Once again Veloran will ignore the RPG portions and take a while to read this one. Slavery, a daring and fantastical quest to become a badass-toughguy and rescue a friend, and the actual rescue. Seems pretty straightforward. He would have dinged it a lot if the series ended upon the rescue, but looking at social dynamics of dealing with trauma and disability makes him approve of the whole thing much more. The romance is nice, but he feels like he's missing large amounts of subtext due to unfamiliarity. Flash 7 (It lost an 8 for being kind of long), Deep 6, Flow 7, Learn 3. Overall quite good if you're not looking to learn things!

(The note about slavery being a thing of the past barely gets a glance. Some authors don't like including those but some do, it's a personal preference.)


A working group has been put together to curate a collection of some the Union's most significant or impressive works. These are some of the selections they've made for fiction. (The form of the submission is a box containing paper books, naturally.) Excepting the book of lies, all are certified for accuracy*.

A fantasy novel in which people have physical 'souls' which record their memories, instincts, and parts of their personalities. Moreover, it is possible to 'eat' the soul of a dead person and gain some of their memories and instincts. Since this is transitive, and most souls are eaten after death, some small part of most people lives on for hundreds or thousands of years after their death, although transmission is lossy. The story who follows a young monk and his life in a monastery (which is equal parts academic and spiritual). One day, returning from an errand, he discovers that the entire monastery has been slaughtered by an errant monster. Alarmed, he hastily eats as many of the souls of the dead that he can before they expire, almost one hundred in total. This is many more than most people ever consume, and for the rest of the story he is afflicted by mysterious visions and impulses. In the aftermath of the massacre, he travels to the nearest military outpost to report the attack, only to discover that they too have been overrun. Soon learning that a large group of monsters have penetrated civilization's defensive lines and are now heading inwards, towards populated areas, he sets off for the nearby large city to warn them. Along the way, the intuition borne of the souls he consumed helps him narrowly avert disaster several times, and he comes to trust it. After reaching the city, he helps organize its defense, and distinguishes himself. After the crisis is resolved, he is recognized as an exceptionally wise and resourceful leader, and accepts a position on the city's ruling council.

A memoir written by a woman who grew up as a member of one of the last isolated primitive tribes of the great river forest. When she is a young woman, a group of Hadarite missionaries arrive, bearing gifts. Once they learn the language, they tell stories of faraway lands, vast cities, great wealth, and an incredible amount of knowledge about the natural world. Most of her tribe is skeptical, but she, ever curious, listens to them with rapt attention. After a year, they depart. She chooses to accompany them to the city, leaving her old life and family behind. Over the next several years, she attends a school, and learns a great number of things---the knowledge of more than a thousand years of civilization—very, very fast. The book describes in detail her thoughts and inner experience, and what it was like for her life and view of the world change so much so quickly. She seems to have found it both overwhelming and exhilarating. During her time in the city, she also comes to grips with an entirely foreign culture, and the book recounts various stories of misunderstandings or confusions on her part or on the part of others, not used to people with her background. These events are not only humorous, but also offer a deep look into both cultures, and the unstated assumptions and beliefs that underlie them. (This book is popular in the Union for its rare perspective on Hadarite culture, and the curators expect that, for similar reasons, it will be useful to help other worlds understand that culture.) The increased comfort and security available to her in her new life is also a significant change, although she seems to find this less important than what she's learning. After studying for several years, she returns home to visit. After so long, and dressed in foreign clothing, they do not recognize her at first. When they do, they welcome her back, and ask her about her travels. She struggles to recount the most magnificent things she's seen or learned, but finds it difficult to communicate why they mean so much to her when her audience lacks the background knowledge to understand. In her time away, she has grown accustomed to Hadarite culture, and must make an effort to remember what it was like to be so different, to know so little. Realizing that she cannot go back to the life she once had, she departs for good. It is a bittersweet farewell. She returns to the city, begins a career as a biologist, and (as described by the afterword) eventually makes several significant discoveries and is acclaimed as one of the greatest minds of her era.

This book isn't fiction, precisely, but it's definitely not nonfiction either. The most common religion on Olam, called Hadar, is centrally about truth. A fringe sect (allegedly) believes that the best way to learn truth is to be exposed to lies—the trickier the better—examine them, and learn from them how to overcome illusions. This book, written by a member of that sect, is one of the most acclaimed examples of what are known as 'books of lies'. Not everything is a lie, of course, or else you would be able to reverse them and consistently discover what the author really thinks. Instead, the book is a careful mixture of truths and falsehoods, some more obvious than others. It combines various arguments about philosophy, psychology, sociology, and history into a strangely persuasive theory of everything. This book is clearly labeled as not-reliably-true, and the included advice recommends reading this carefully, treating it as a challenge to discern which parts of it are true and which are false, and avoiding drawing any strong conclusions from the text, even if you're pretty sure you've got it right. The curators have included an 'answer sheet', containing the priesthood's best judgments about which parts are true and where the deceptions lie (although it is strongly cautioned that they could have missed something). It is strongly recommended not to distribute these answers, except to a small group of sanity-checkers who will be in a position to notice if your extra-dimensional civilization has a special vulnerability to any of the deceptions contained herein. If used in accordance with the provided instructions, the curators expect this book to be much more valuable as a learning exercise than it is dangerous.

(There are other books of lies, designed to be deceptive taking into account that you expect to be deceived, those are much more dangerous and the curators thought it best not to send any to other worlds just yet.)

A book of post-post-apocalyptic speculative fiction (set on Olam) in which, in the aftermath of an improbably dangerous plague that killed most of the population, the survivors rebuild civilization. It follows seven characters from all around the world, of various ages, genders, and social roles, over a period of several decades. In this period, substantial recovery and reconstruction takes place, and isolated lands come back into contact with one another. Many decades of separation—and varying consequences of and reactions to the plague and its aftermath—cause the already distinct cultures of these various lands to diverge further. When characters from these separate populations meet, they are struck by the differences between them, and seek to understand each other and draw together despite those differences. The book focuses most on its examination of the cultural and economic consequences of the plague, and contains several appendixes detailing the timeline of events, how the economic and cultural conditions changed over time, and why they changed in those ways. The plot, in comparison, is rather straightforward and unsurprising.

*'Accuracy' in this context, seems to be related to how safe it is to draw conclusions about the world from a work. In the case of fiction, it mainly has to do if the work's implicit or explicit models of psychology, sociology, economics, biology, etc. are accurate.


They're right. The epic poem really doesn't translate well. He ends up reading a non-rhyming version that tries to preserve some of the lyrical/thematic flow, to reduce his headache. As an ancient historical adventurestory it works pretty well? This is probably like... An insight into this particular kind of aliens. There are so many weird minds out there, it's awesome but kind of intimidating. The powerful king is hard to understand and very difficult to empathize with, what with the constant atrocities. He doesn't miss the subtext. If the king really wanted his wife dead, she would be. He earns a sort of redemption by the end, that's nice though. The review paints it as kind of confusing and not really living up to potential, but it's presented as distinctly not a review of the original work, only of this particular translation. Flash 4, Deep 6, Flow 7, Learn 5.

Now this is the sort of book he's used to! The River Kingdom water management is deliciously technical and fascinating, and woven well with the character's thoughts and motivations. It even has historical research notes! And alien politics, which continues to be weird and alien and probably important to understand! This could have been written by a local. Except it still has an intriguing alien bent to it, different sets of assumptions and personality types in the characters. And they're interesting characters, too. Flash 6, Deep 8, Flow 7, Learn 8. It goes on the editor's pick list.

Veloran is pretty quickly squicked out by the gory porn and makes a game attempt to flip past the sex scenes and evaluate the rest of it, but gets frustrated and skips this one.

The fantasy novel is an amazing dedication to worldbuilding and serious thought about different societies. It may not actually be historical exactly, but this is the sort of detail people love anyway. He gets lost in comparing them as well. The plot of a bunch of ordinary people in a race against time. The denouement showing the long-term aftermath is very moving. Good stuff. It's very long, which means a lot of people will drop it before they get to the satisfying end, though. Flash 5, Deep 8, Flow 6, Learn 6.

The interactive fiction is close enough to the edges of 'games' that they'll allow it- Veloran plays it twice, trying to get a sense of the space without spending too much time. A sweet route (including sex) and a middle of the road but not entirely evil route, backing off when the statueperson is too hurt. He feels... Kind of uncomfortable being abusive to the statueperson, even if it's just words on a screen. The writing is very good, there. That earns it a good rating for Deep out of - interpersonal realism more than anything else. In both playthroughs he escapes the ruins; In neither does he bring the statue with. He didn't get full trust levels. Flash 5, Deep 8, Flow 6, Learn 5 (the puzzles are decent but nothing special).


Watchmaker's Heart is a lot to unpack. The notion of working at a barely-profitable specialized craft that the world has forgotten cuts kind of deep. The usual answer in Planet is to work a more ordinary job and pursue it as a hobby, but apparently the answer here is to lean on your romantic partners. The deep relationships shown here tug at Veloran's heart. He never had a stable long-lasting relationship of any kind, but Amethyst seems to have - several. He's extremely relieved when the Earth - personality archetypes, strange but alright - is so supportive. Amethyst is overall very sympathetic, putting into words things that are - pretty difficult to put into words. The sense of there being a correct order of the universe, a structure of pride and compassion and understanding and kinship for other people. Though he actually identifies more with Violet. It's nice to be relied on, if the other person truly appreciates you and isn't just taking advantage or going with the flow.  He honestly can't bring himself to read the erotica sections, it feels like it would taint the experience. (Which means he's obviously failing at being objective enough of a first-glance reader, but possibly that just speaks to the novel's quality.)

Flash 6, it's a slowish burn. Deep 9, books rarely get 9s in anything. Flow 8, Learn 8. Gold seal, editor's pick list. Because it got a 9, a rare event for the reviewer group, someone else reviews it too before the review goes public, to make sure it's not unreasonably high- And the rating stands.


A Basillian coalition has assembled and distributed a collection of novels to share with aliens! It also includes a note, which clarifies the following:


-that each of these works has been chosen for both being popular and being a central example of a popular genre,


-that derivative fiction and alternate timelines are welcome,


-that if the aliens would like a copy of the setting bible for the shared settings they'd be happy to send one over, 


-that they appreciate comments of all sorts


A fantasy novel about an extremely convoluted civil war. It begins with the government, framed as the good guys, in an ongoing conflict with a group trying to overthrow them. The protagonists are not initially particularly affiliated with the government but all have personal issues with the group trying to overthrow them, and are talking about how to best oppose that group, with "joining the military/law enforcement" only one option being considered. They discover a ~vigilante group trying to oppose the anti-government side somewhat extra-legally, and join up with them. As the story goes on, more and more groups, defined primarily by which group they hate, emerge, as does more and more information about the motives and aims of the various groups. Eventually the protagonists conclude that while the original bad guys are not potential allies, their aims are morally better than the aims of the government and the group they joined up with. They create their own secret group, which primarily infiltrates the other groups and recruits from their membership. They then manage to assassinate, or persuade other groups to assassinate, and otherwise pull strings such that the leaders of most of the other groups are dead, and their agents are in control of most of the groups, at which point they reveal themselves, and restructure the government to align with their aims. The people they are at the end of the story would be morally abhorrent to the people they were at the beginning of the story, but the government they instantiate aligns with their aims at the time of creating their secret group.


This story takes place in a world with a very complicated magical system. The magic system has several different forms of magic, many of which have sub-forms. They are culturally and legal classed into "dark" and "light", with use of "dark" magic being seen as Evil and socially unacceptable. While a large portion of magic types classed as "dark" are harmful or exceedingly dangerous, many others have been classed as such due to a variety of cultural and legal influences. The protagonist begins as a young mage apprentice, learning from a Wise Older Mage who treats these categories as absolute and as a magical truth. Because non-Mages don't know much about magic, he accepts what he is told, and does not dabble in dark magic. Over time, as he learns magic and goes on various small adventures, he starts to meet other mages and realize that some of them dabble in dark magic without succumbing to evil. Eventually, he is sent alone to a great magical library to find and make a copy of a book for his master. While he is in the magical library, he takes the opportunity to read various other books on magic, and quickly learns that the classification is not an innate magical truth but instead a judgement made by mages based off of various things. Thus disillusioned, he decides to learn more about dark magic, and in addition to the book he was sent to get, he secretly makes himself a copy of a how-to book on one of the more harmless types of dark magic. He takes the book home with him, and studies it in secret, taking great care to never let his master see it. Eventually he reaches the point where in order to learn more he must begin to apply his magic practically, and begins to sneak out to practice.  One night while he is out practicing, he is seen by a passing mage, who instead of turning him in, offers to help teach him. The mage happens to live nearby, and begins to teach him ongoingly. The mage does not stop with the contents of the book the protagonist had found, but continues to teach him more and more dark magic, though he sticks to the more innocuous stuff at first. They enter into a romantic and sexual relationship, and slowly the other mage pushes him to be more and more self-interested. Meanwhile, the protagonist is often tired during the day, due to being up all night training, and is evasive and distracted with his master, leading to tension between them, and eventually the master mage tells the protagonist to take the rest of the season, and the season after, for himself, and to come back to resume his training afterwards, as it is clear he cannot learn more at this time. The protagonist, thus released, moves in with the dark mage, and steadily delves deeper and deeper into dark magic. The dark mage encourages him to practice his magic on nearby townsfolk, and to focus on taking what he wants and not on good and evil, and the protagonist quickly finds this comes far more naturally to him. He eventually learns enough to be considered the other mages equal, and suggests they go off travelling, and the story concludes with the protagonist and the dark mage travelling the continent as evil dark wizards, feeling happy and fulfilled.


A novel set in a popular shared soft sci-fi setting, which features aliens and spaceflight and very little concern for the scientific possibility of these things, but no magical powers, nor magical powers by some other name- all of the impossibility lives in the tech. The novel clearly expects the reader to be existingly familiar with the setting. The novel focuses on a young woman who lives with her girlfriend, and does not seem to have other friends and datemates. She's clearly dependent on her girlfriend in a few ways, living in an area with no public transportation despite being frequently unable to drive, and cannot afford housing on her own. Over the first half of the story it becomes increasingly apparent that the girlfriend is emotionally abusive, frequently cancelling plans with the protagonist in favor of other friends or datemates, and never cancelling in favor of the protagonist, lying to the protagonist about all sorts of things, making promises she never intends to keep, and, several times throughout the story, begging the protagonist to promise to never leave her shortly before confessing to gradually worse and worse atrocities. Throughout the same time the sex scenes gradually become less and less consensual, culminating with the protagonist physically shoving her girlfriend off her, after which her girlfriend claims she didn't realize the protagonist wasn't into it.  Up until this point the girlfriend had been employed and the protagonist had not, instead living off of her savings. Shortly after, this dynamic switches, with no reason given, and the protagonist slowly begins to make friends at her new work. She spends more and more time away from the house, which enrages her girlfriend, and eventually begins dating another girl at her work. This relationship is much healthier and allows her to realize her existing relationship is abusive, and she begins the tedious work of figuring out how to move out of her and her girlfriends shared house. At the end of the story she lives in a small apartment alone in a city, still dating the girl from work, though it's now long-distance, and has friends and other datemates in her new city.


Another novel from the same setting as the relationship fic, but during a different time period. At this time, the setting is ruled by an archetypal Evil Empire, with the Evil Empress passing down all sorts of laws allowing for slavery of various alien species, censoring all sorts of content, banning criticism of the government, and sanctioning multiple genocides. The protagonist, a 15 year old boy, starts the story as a member of the Imperial Navy, but quickly realizes that the Empire are the bad guys, and drops out to join the Plucky Rebels. The Rebellion generally have good values and good aims, opposing slavery, censorship, genocide, and large states- a set of things which the narrative treats as a completely natural and obvious set. The Rebels suffer a large number of setbacks, and several lesser protagonists die, but they win the day and overthrow the Evil Empire, killing the Evil Empress. There is a minor romance sub-plot, featuring 4 characters, at least 2 of which are dating at any given point, ending with all 4 in a happy relationship.

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