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Fiction Contest - Comments on & amp;quot;At the Gates of Happy & amp;quot; 

by Holly Doering & r & I applaud this story for the risks it takes, the greatest one in my opinion being the experimental form of having the main character and his ego/id/superego -- whatever -- interrupting the narrative to talk among themselves. This technique actually works, and it gets better as it goes along. "At the Gates of Happy " was by far the most complex of the eight stories, layering as it does the narrative threads of Roper's dating life, his mathematical background and his internal bickering. The tension created by using clinical, cold, mathematical terms to describe the character's passions works well in the story, and it is impressive that the writer was able to extract the maximum emotional value from terms like "algorithms," "variables " and "singularity." Any time you can force a word to work on two different levels, you are doing your job as a wordsmith.

Also, the story avoided predictability by incorporating a small surprise at the end -- and did not commit the cardinal sin of tying up all the loose ends in one big happy unbelievable package. Roper is presented realistically with lots of faults and foibles, and yet we end up loving him. And I laughed out loud when his date with Kristin turned subtly sour and he began "wringing his hands." Let's face it -- we've all been there. If I had to describe this story in just two words it would be these: comic romp. And this one is a romp to remember.

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