03/10/2016
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Under the Microscope extra

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Read the draft version of subscriber Annie Percik's novel intro below, along with James McCreet's suggested rewrite. The full critique features in the November issue of Writing Magazine

To the Mana Born

Abelard knew it was going to be one of those days when an unexpected mana surge set his breakfast on fire.
The Chron-E-Fact next to his bed propelled him into wakefulness with its insistent buzzing and he blearily made his way into the kitchen in his pyjamas.  Opening the Cool-E-Fact, he was presented with a choice of eggs, or eggs, for breakfast.  Only on closing the Cool-E-Fact’s door did he notice the piece of paper stuck to it that read, “Go food shopping”.
He was frying his eggs on the Cook-E-Fact when he spotted an ominous blue glow emanating from the artefact’s interface crystal.  He reached out a hand to disconnect the mana supply, then immediately snatched it back as the blue light burst outwards, igniting the oil in the frying pan.  Abelard yelped as droplets of hot oil spattered across his arm.  He felt a moment of unreasoning panic, before he remembered the fire blanket he kept attached to the wall and grabbed it from its holder.  He threw the blanket over the pan with one hand while cutting the mana supply to the Cook-E-Fact with the other.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t reach the switches for all his other artefacts as the mana surge raced around the kitchen, causing multiple interface crystals to hiss or crackle.  It culminated in a loud bang from the Wash-E-Fact in the corner, along with a thick plume of smoke that quickly filled the small room.
Undecided between shutting the door and opening the window, Abelard didn’t manage either fast enough, and the smoke billowed out into the hallway, where it immediately set off the Alarm-E-Fact in the ceiling.
“Perfect,” Abelard muttered to himself as the shrill siren filled the air, setting his teeth on edge.

 

McCredited version

Abelard knew it was going to be one of those days when an unexpected mana surge set his breakfast on fire.
The Chron-E-Fact next to his bed jolted him awake with its insistent buzzing and he blearily made his way into the kitchen in his pyjamas. Opening the Cool-E-Fact, he was presented with his options for breakfast: eggs – or eggs. A note on the closing door reminded him: “Go food shopping”.
He was frying his eggs on the Cook-E-Fact when he saw the tell-tale blue glow around the interface crystal.  He reached to shut off the mana supply but the blue light flashed, igniting the oil in the frying pan.  
Abelard hissed an expletive as hot oil spattered across his arm. Panic gripped him for a second before he hit the Flam-E-Fact button, triggering a gust of freezing gas to smother the flames. He cut the mana supply to the Cook-E-Fact, but it was too late for all the other artefacts.
The mana surge raced around the kitchen, crackling and sparking at various interface crystals. A loud bang erupted within the Wash-E-Fact and smoke bloomed from behind it in the corner.
Shut the door or open the window? Abelard didn’t manage either before the smoke swelled and rolled out into the hallway, setting off the Shrill-E-Fact in the ceiling.
“Perfect,” Abelard muttered to himself as he covered his ears with oily palms.

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