Tuesday, 8 May 2012

AHAIRQL Recruitment Stories

Okay, now I’m sure someone’s just messing with me. There is no possible reason for me to be posted three documents describing the recruitment of teams for some game or other. None at all. But they just came! I’m going to have to have a word with the Marquis de Sod one of these days. But until then, a hobby is a hobby…

Reports: AHAIRQL Season Two Recruitment Stories Two, Three and Four
Agents: Too many to count
Continuum: None. PPC HQ

Story Two: Team BOTB

(I don’t know why I didn’t get ‘Story’ One. Maybe there isn’t one. This is HQ, after all)

I’m quite taken by the recruitment method adopted by Team BOTB; the poster described in the story definitely makes an impression, and I’m glad it makes a second appearance (with a joke thrown in, thank you, Doc). I also find the interactions of the agents amusing – even the ones who do not end up on the team. I have no idea who Miah and, ah, Maria are, but they entertain me, which is the purpose of this whole exercise.

One thing that does strike me about this work is the sheer number of agents involved; it can be hard to keep track of them. Indeed, I think the chronicler had the same problem – Agent Vania vanishes from the narrative completely. Did she leave the room, or was she still testing her bat? It’s impossible to say, but she seems the sort who would normally have spoken up.

However, that is a very minor detail in a highly enjoyable story. If the Powers That Be choose to send them my way, I would be quite happy to read more about these agents – particularly all together.

Story Three: Team Nevermind

I confess to being rather confused by this report, as it clearly has two authors. It is evident from the very beginning that there is a certain lack of… shall we say flair in some lines. Four agents in a row are given lines with very little emotion in them – it feels as though all four are speaking in a dull monotone (including the one who ‘comments’ an exclamation – very strange). This is not to say that there is a technical problem with the writing – it is perfectly sound – but it does not grab my attention, as it were.

But then, just as I’m about to give up hope, I come to our first team-member, Agent Earwig (I think that’s right). He is, to put it bluntly, hilarious: his internal monologue (brief though it may be) caught my eye, and I was hooked.

This strange dichotomy continues to the next section. Compare, if you will, these paragraphs:

"Hi," he said. "I'm Earwig Slugthrower and I wanted to know if you would be interested in joining my Something Something Australian Quidditch thing!"


"Six players? Quidditch has seven positions." She shrugged. "Must be an Australian variant." Decima tried to think of who might be interested in team sports. Mirrad didn't seem the type, and it might be weird playing on a team with her therapist. She had no idea where Phobos had gotten off to…

Earwig has a manic energy that captivates me – and, clearly, does the same to Decima, since she agrees to join his team with barely a second’s thought. But when her thoughts do come, they are… well, boring. She doesn’t question the difference in the game, and her list of potential players is just that: a list, with no real emotion (it might ‘be weird’ – but what about ‘feel weird’?). I’m positive she has emotions – most people do – but she’s clearly suppressing them heavily. This continues throughout the narrative – I won’t keep citing.

As often happens, the appearance of other characters offsets the dissatisfaction I feel. Ilraen and Nume are highly amusing together, and Ilraen seems to have a rare ability to bounce lines off anyone and everyone – I get the impression that, whoever he ends up spending time with, he is always worth watching. The four agents who appear at the end are also entertaining, although this may be somewhat due to their non-human personalities (and, bizarrely, Earwig seems to succumb to Decima’s lack of emotive writing). I find Kur’nak and his smelting almost endearing – even if he is an Orc.

Story Four: Team... Blast Hardcheese?

At last, a name I recognise! The (in)famous Agent Suicide, HQ's onetime biggest heartthrob, makes an appearance, and he and his faintly alcohol-scented new teammates are very entertaining. This story maintains temporal and locational continuity - it is a single flowing scene, not broken up like the other two - and it does it well. I really felt the barroom setting here - the close, intimate space where everyone's elbow is halfway to someone else's drink. What happens in the report feels like exactly the sort of thing that would happen there - right down to the team name (at least I think that's the team name).

The main problem I have with this story (insofar as I have any) is that some of the minor characters get lost in the shuffle. Derik and Gall I feel I know, and Suicide, and to some extent Gremlin, but... well, I'm having to check back to see who the others are. Saline comes and goes from the page in a flash, and Noir has only a little more screentime. Surprisingly, Unger's personality comes through very clearly, and he's only a mascot. And perhaps the neglect of two of their teammates comes simply from the length of the tale - a single scene can only be stretched so far, and some things always have to be cut.

The tale is told mostly through dialogue, and it works. Those agents who are shown in full are very well defined - and funny, too. Suicide and Diocletian's discussion of civilisation ("You know, that thing the Greeks invented?") is an instant classic, and there are other lines to match. This story was a wonderful read, and I applaud the team.

Whatever their name might be.

-T. Ryan, Dept. of Personnel, DOGA Archivist