Project Thaumiel Series 2: A Critical First Impression
by Harmony B
Oh, Project Thaumiel, a tale series near and dear to my heart. Project Thaumiel, for those uninitiated, is an anthology tale series which has a series of unconnected stories based on the different SCP-001 proposals. The first set was written by notable author TroyL, noted as one of the best writers and most influential creators ever associated with the SCP Wiki. The name itself, Thaumiel, was preserving an esoteric object class which had been lost to time and would later be resurrected by and then popularized by SCP-2000.
But before it was used in any of that, it was used here. But we will not be talking about those stories today. Instead, we will be going over the second set of articles created later by other authors admiring what TroyL had done. They are as numerous as the originals now so it’s worth seeing how they stack up next to said originals. Now the first series by TroyL, all bangers, if you’re going to take a look at any of them go read Pila. It's one of the best pieces of original fiction produced by anyone on the SCP Wiki. It rocks the socks and I’m not talking about the cat.
This is going to be done in a rapid-fire style, as I have either not read these stories or it has been multiple years since I last saw them so it will largely be first impressions. While I am going to be taking a critical eye, it should be noted that this is not just examining the stories on their own merits but holding them up to that which came before. That’s a tall hill for any author to climb but these authors put themselves there to be compared, so it is not outside the realm of fairness to do so.
Speaking of fairness, I think it’s only fair to look at my own entry, Serus. It’s nothing terrible and has some great illustration work but its very existence is proof that I was a coward, hack, and a fraud. The entire original point had been to have a bold statement stated in thirty-six words but the second anyone said they didn’t like my words I folded like an accordion, disappointing people who thought I had artistic integrity, then came back with the same crowd-pleasing text and pretty pictures made by someone else. I was actually called out for this in the discussion of the original page, a fact that would be memory holed if I didn’t mention it now because that original discussion page was deleted. By me. I know I’m being hard on myself but I’m going to go hard on everyone else too so it’s only fair.
Capitis is trying so hard to be Pila and it’s just not cutting the mustard. Kirby’s proposal is an intricately crafted story where repetition is used to reinforce the narrative, this is the same paragraph structure repeated ad nauseum. The dialogue is also really bland and the whole thing lacks any sort of real punch. It’s like asking for Diet Coke and getting… Tab.
Examinis! This is the most dull retelling of Frankenstein I’ve ever read. There’s just no creativity, no flair on display. None of the personality one would expect to see after reading the first set of Project Thaumiel stories. It’s also missing the connection to the actual Project Thaumiel hub page so maybe it’s been disowned.
Flos has a single line that infuriated me, “(The weight of a million things left unsaid dissipates.)” which could be a great line if this had done anything to earn it, but there’s no real tension between characters that could be gleaned from earlier which might then give us some ability to use our own minds and fill in the blanks. You don’t have to say anything but the parameters weren’t ever set. The use of secure contain protect lines is uncreative and really underscores the low-effort feeling this one has. The pics in this one are also pretty.
Iliac is rambly, glass houses I know, but it has some nice descriptive prose. It loses me when it name-drops Project Thaumiel in the story itself. To me that’s kind of missing the whole anthology-like point of these stories, but counterpoint: Maybe grandma needs to stop shaking her fist and yelling at clouds. This one has some light image work but that’s three times now we’ve seen images in Project Thaumiel 2 and I think it’s becoming a pattern.
Numerus also name-drops Thaumiel so I think I’m just going to have to let that one go. The second-person perspective definitely got my attention and kept me interested to the end of the short piece. It’s not bad. Not mind-blowing but definitely the best piece I have read in this second series so far.
Ending with a whimper on Umbra. It’s another one that wants to have the same feel as Pila, that same desperate energy, but it doesn’t succeed. I know I’m harping on that one story and ignoring the rest of the original Project Thaumiel run but that’s the breakout story from that whole set, the one without which there would not be anyone coming back to add more. At least, not in my opinion.
Even when comparing these to the other Project Thaumiel stories they are so gray and boring when compared to what came before. Not a single line in these new stories assaults the reader like Three glanced up, his face ashen. “I… Do any of you remember me… being Hitler?” or Do you know when I realized I wasn't playing God, Everett? I'll tell you. It was when they wouldn't let me bring my son back.
None of them inspire the same horror of anticipation as Lux, or the sensory vibrance of Rota. The strongest of the new set are definitely Iliac and Numerus and even they hardly hold a candle to even the weakest stories in the original run. It’s a sad-sack sequel set that fails to meet any bars set by its precursors. Also looking back these original stories definitely referenced Project Thaumiel so we can confirm, I am in fact a grandma yelling at clouds.