Earth Day Out-of-the-Gate Reviewbysr71plt©
Of all of the Literotica contests, the Earth Day Contest is probably the hardest to connect to theme in any meaningful and/or fresh way. There seem to be few new and interesting ways to connect the theme with erotica, with the most winning approaches seeming to be humor/satire and/or science fiction/fantasy. The first two day's worth of entries in this year's Earth Day contest don't seem to have solved this dilemma, with only one entry beyond a couple of humorous approaches to theme showing glimmers of providing a fresh perspective—or at least one that didn't seem to just tack on references to the theme to qualify for the contest. The theme may be played out as an annual contest with perhaps not much more promise than a Ground Hog Day or Memorial Day theme.
This review provides one reader's assessment of the best reads in the initial Earth Day offerings. This is the first of at least three reviews to be posted within the contest voting period. I have read and voted on fifteen of the initial twenty entries posted, covering the posting dates of 28 and 29 March. Five of the entries on these first two days are chapters from longer works. If the longer works are completed and posted to the contest within the contest period, I will include them in later assessments too. But I will consider only completed works—after they've been completed—in my reviews.
I used the range of scores from 3 to 5 overall in rating the first fifteen stories. The criteria for ranking of story entries (in descending order of importance) was/will be (1) Use of/relevance to the Earth Day topic (clever or particularly strong affinity to the topic will get extra credit; merely convenient or cursory linking—or hackneyed application—might get negative marks); (2) story line/storytelling; (3) writing proficiency; (4) technical presentation. I personally think that, this being an erotica site, stroke quotient should be a criteria too—but there seems to be some disagreement on that as a requirement, so I haven't assessed on that criteria. That won't stop me from noting at the bottom of the review which stories I found the erotic.
The spread in overall scores for the fifteen 28 and 29 March stories reviewed was two 5s, six 4s, and seven 3s. I purposely attempted to stay within stringent bounds—with the Web site criteria assessing "3" as a perfectly satisfactory story. What pulled down the scores in the lower end were tertiary or just-slapped-on theme connections and/or the lack of any real story. Overall, the writing proficiency was rather good and none of the stories fell short on technical presentation. All of the stories were assessed in how well they represented their designated category rather than on how well I liked the category they were in. All of the categories seemed appropriate except one (I don't see how PrincessErin's "The Apple Tree" fits in exhibitionism/voyeur).
I thought that only one of the stories was excellent across the board of rating criteria, but most of them had a strong showing in at least one category. "Woodn't ya know," by Anthonybthomas; "The Greening of America—2021," by Jenny_Jackson; and "Shag the VEEP, Save the World," by MarshAlien seemed the most connected to theme. (The one showing the most promise in this left me with unfulfilled expectations, which will be discussed later.) The most complete/developed stories were "Woodn't ya know," by Anthonybthomas; "Lost," by Varian P; "The Greening of America—2021," by Jenny_Jackson; and "Shag the VEEP, Save the World," by MarshAlien. For the most elegant writing, I recommend "Lost," by Varian P.; "Rites," by Tovey; "Woodn't ya know," by Anthonybthomas; and "The Tree House," by warmAmber.
In terms of best overall reads, I recommend two stories I thought were excellent and two more I thought were very good across the board.
My favorite by a nose of the 28/29 March completed entries (remembering that initial chapters of longer works aren't being assessed until they are completed), was "Woodn't y know" by Anthonybthomas. This one was excellent on nearly all counts—and in the most important criteria. This story takes a combined humor and fantasy take on the theme, which is fully integrated into a storyline that is actually a completed story, in contrast, unfortunately, to a good many of the entries in the contest thus far. I particularly liked the loose, breezy, lightly humorous style in which it is written, which is a demonstrated skill that is not nearly as easy to accomplish as it appears. The theme connection wasn't all that clever, but it was fresher than that of nearly all of the rest of the entries.
The story that would have been my favorite if I hadn't gotten the feeling of the theme and storyline being dropped or not completely developed was Varian P's "Lost." This was, by the far, the most elegantly written of the stories. It also was the best attempt, I thought, of a mature use of the theme. I thought I could see where the theme was going—to me it was a retreat from civilization in response to isolation from civilization, back to the primeval. But, if this was what was intended, I don't think it was fully developed. In the same vein, I thought this was the best story plot—and certainly the best researched and developed—but I didn't feel it was completed. I thought the progression within the family was natural and inevitable in a good story (in contrast to at least one public comment I saw appended to the story), but I thought the story, in conjunction to the theme just wasn't finished off. I end up conflicted, because this was the most creative and ambition story of the lot, but it ends up leaving a slight disappoint aftertaste in missed attainment that a less ambitious undertaking didn't provide.
The two stories I found to be also-definitely-worth-a-look-see from this initial offering were the two nonsense ones, "The Greening of America—2021," by Jenny_Jackson, and "Shag the VEEP, Save the World," by MarshAlien. Although light stories not pretending to be more than they are, both delivered at a good level across the criteria spectrum. They both were solidly focused on the theme. In contrast to a good half of the others, they appeared to have been developed from the theme rather than stories that the theme was slapped onto to qualify for the contest. Thus, they get extra points in my assessment for this contest. Both also were completed stories, which, again, a good half of the entries are not. And they both were competently written; both authors do humor well.
Entries not otherwise mentioned but that I thought were done by writers exhibiting proficiency and skill included those by furryfan, molly_hunter28, PrincessErin, and LesLumens.
If you are only interested in stroke value, I recommend "Lost," by Varian P; "Rhonda's Garden," by furryfan; or "The Tree House," by warmAmber.