Frameshift - Magic, Math, and Not Enough Context

Frameshift - Magic, Math, and Not Enough Context

by Pastafarian

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Content

Two months ago, I was a wormhole navigator, ripping open a hole in the universe to save a ship of people who only vaguely tolerated me. Two weeks ago, long story short, I threaded an impossible path through the void between dimensions to crash-land into a dungeon. You know the kind: monsters to defeat, corridors full of traps to avoid, and magical powers to earn.

I'm not ashamed to admit that it's been two weeks of loneliness, fear, adrenaline, and constant injury. But I'll make it out of here by myself if I have to, or my name isn't Adam Leviathan James.

... too bad the Levi doesn't stand for Leviathan, huh.

AN: Expectations should include in medias res, violence, smut, friendship, and powers/progression systems with absolutely an insufficiency of context and (at least at first) no definitions or explanations, and magic-as-programming/engineering (with something of an emphasis on "what if magical runework were an analogue to circuit diagrams").

This story used to be called "Yet Another Godsforsaken Isekai".

Updates, for now, at 6AM PST every morning. Cover by the amazing Daedalus of The Way Ahead.

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Pastafarian

Pastafarian

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1 - A New Party Member ago
Chapter 2 - I Was Used to Being Alone ago
Chapter 3 - Paladins Aren’t Just Pretty Faces ago
Chapter 4 - Orcs Are Not Just Ugly Faces ago
Chapter 5 - Forfeit (NSFW) ago
Chapter 6 - Taking Out The Chaff ago
Chapter 7 - Doyle Wept ago
Chapter 8 - Runework ago
Chapter 9 - Magical Items Are Mostly A Terrible Idea ago
Chapter 10 - Giving Respect to the Trash ago
Chapter 11 - The MC Is Never Late, Only Fashionably On Time ago
Chapter 12 - Deimatic Behavior Through Sartorial Splendor ago
Chapter 13 - We’re At A Party; Shall We Dance? ago
Chapter 14 - An Imperfect Prison ago
Chapter 15 - Shatter ago
Chapter 16 - Victory ago
Chapter 17 - Aftermath ago
Chapter 18 - Finite Simple Group of Order (n+1) ago
Chapter 19 - A Child of the Void ago
Chapter 20 - Too Precious to Leave to Chance ago
Chapter 21 - Keyhome ago
Chapter 22 - Runework II ago
Chapter 23 - Remedial Glyphs ago
Chapter 24 - Connection (NSFW) ago
Chapter 25 - Lunch And A Little Strategy ago
Chapter 26 - Tactics And A Nap ago
Chapter 27 - Rise And Shine ago
Chapter 28 - Arrival in the Sky Kingdom ago
Chapter 29 - A Toothsome Welcome ago
Chapter 30 - Parsimony ago
Chapter 31 - Survey ago
Chapter 32 - Dynamic Entry ago
Chapter 33 - Avoidant ago
Chapter 34 - Descent ago
Chapter 35 - Reunion ago
Chapter 36 - Break-in ago
Chapter 37 - Guardhouse ago
Chapter 38 - Plan ago
Chapter 39 - Traversal ago
Chapter 40 - Encounter ago
Chapter 41 - Introductions ago
Chapter 42 - Methods ago
Chapter 43 - Varied Definitions of Obvious ago
Chapter 44 - Not Much of a Plan ago
Chapter 45 - A Path Defines a Wilderness ago
Chapter 46 - An Alternative Path to Victory ago
Chapter 47 - Negation Cascade ago
Chapter 48 - Arrival in Conflicted Space ago
Chapter 49 - Anticlimax ago
Chapter 50 - Rewards ago
Chapter 51 - Formalities ago
Chapter 52 - Decompilation ago
Chapter 53 - Wind-down ago
Chapter 54 - Rise (NSFW) ago
Chapter 55 - Reintroductions ago
Chapter 56 - Gear Check ago
Chapter 57 - Inefficient Travels ago

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Oceanflex
Overall

Sci-fi disguised as a harem isekai

Reviewed at: Chapter 39 - Traversal

There's a lot of jargon, ogling, hard-to-follow logic, arcane speach, references to things we don't have the context of, wish fulfilment, and generally a lot of roughness. 

It takes a few chapters for the MC to recover from his feuge state of doing the grueling work of solo clearing half a dungeon designed for parties of five, but there's a lot of interesting sci-fi moral quandaries along the way.

And also, worldbuilding for three separate worlds all being built at once (MC's origin, the litRPG he landed in, and the scenarios the dungeon keeps weaving for them to conquer.)

Summercat
Overall

Okay so the writing is good. I had issues with a character and the nsfw chapter but then the MC actually vocalizes the concerns I had. 

 

This is a very much "skipped the start" of the Isekai, which some might not like, and drops is in the middle of a dungeon with little explanation.

We get some as the chapters go on.

I have no idea where this story is headed.

Five stars because anything less than that is negative due to how RR's rating system works, but it's more of a 4/5.

Vebyast
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Intriguing, if you can tolerate a wild ride

Reviewed at: Chapter 21 - Keyhome

TL;DR some hiccups, but more than enough other wins to make up for them. I'm excited to see where this goes.

This story has style coming out its ears, even if that style may not be for everyone. The word choice, setting, and framing remind me of the better parts of Greg Egan; there are ideas and questions here that are worth thinking about and are exciting to read about. And calling the story's technobabble "babble" is doing it a disservice; the magic and tech here are just :chefskiss:, all those math-words are being used right and in clear service to a "magic is for solving problems" system per Sanderson's Laws.

The grammar is pristine. As I mentioned above, this goes well beyond the basic English - even the mathematics are right. It's astounding.

The story is... highly opinionated, I might say. It starts off with a hardcore in media res and then prefers to move forward aggressively rather than spending time on exposition. For example, we're 17 chapters in and I think but still can't confirm that the MC was isekai'd one foot inside the entrance to a dungeon and has been in the world for approximately two days; things that aren't immediately relevant just don't get explained. That said, while this leaves the reader flailing for things to hold on to and (as I'll get into later) introduces some characterization problems, in some ways it greatly heightens the worldbuilding and the impact of the story's style. I found myself reading every sentence trying to tease out hints of the setting and the backstory. If the story ended here or continued in this vein indefinitely (see Lost) I'd probably give it a 3/5, but it's already tailing off so I'm giving it at least a 4 and not letting the sub-score affect my overall rating - I think that I wouldn't have even have registered this as a problem if I'd picked the work up as a thick paperback instead of a web serial.

Characterization is great. Characters have extremely distinct and consistent diction, knowledge, style, and values. Their personalities are consistent with their histories and their settings. Their behaviors are consistent with their personalities and values. They're complex and they raise a lot of interesting questions, both in the sense of "I want to learn more about this character" and "huh, that's an interesting point about ." It's at times difficult to relate to the characters, mostly at the start when the MC's unexplained backstory makes some of his behaviors appear inconsistent or unreal, but that's starting to clear up.

Overall, I like this story's ideas and I would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

deus vult
Overall

incoherent short chapters,non-logical plot. jargon

Reviewed at: Chapter 10 - Giving Respect to the Trash

you start to read the book and you're like "hmm, that's a nice preview. might give it a shot" sure, it's not the best. but a guy from a futuristic intergalaxical void empire landing through a spaceship on somebodies medieval magic fantasy home planet sounds like a nice preview.

then it starts off with some romance. romance that makes no sense. in the actualy beginning. since the girl immediately pops into existance then falls in love with him. with things happening that make no sense. with protagonist abilities that we have no idea about,  WHICH MAKES NO SENSE. for now, the story is centered around.... "romance?" what? I know more about the paladin he summoned than the main character. and they both know more about what's going on than I do. definitely.

we don't know what abilities mc has, what to expect from him. his personailty, or how any of this works. we don't know where magic is coming from. is it the system? or is it mc? we don't know his stats, skill or class or even if any of those exist. we don't know why some skills are better than others, or entirely unusable, so mc could just pull a skill straight from the nether, and just tell us "oh, I could've done this all along, of course" just without any cliff or anything. as if it's entirely obvious he could've done it. we don't know what the hell is going on, and it's never explained to us. ever.

it's about not knowing what the hell the magical system is doing, how did he get there, and there are twofold of jargon I'm not expected to understand even remotely. since one concerns stats and abilities we haven't seen any details of or in action, and the other concerns the details of an intergalaxical space empire. TWO FOLDS OF JARGON. we're not supposed to understand. it's not just "hmmm, ok, I can deduce what's mc is talking about. that's nice, because I know what to expect from magic. or I know what to expect from the void empire" it's more like: you know the flipaflop? it goes into the dingading because of TIME TRAVEL!?

like, jargon could have it's own charm. but it's not professional jargon. it's something that's built over a fantasy world the author created, THEN made jargon for it, THEN made another piece of jargon for a background for it, FINALLY using one to express the other to explain how the fantasy world works. bravo. author, you've just manage to make the most incoherent piece of magical exposition ever.

and even that's okay, if mc just goes in through the rythemn, we could mildly understand what he can do in combat given enough time. if it's introduced properly. what author did here was like taking a picture, maybe it was pretty, maybe it was not, of crazy space astroid guy with magical abilities summoning a female knight and falling in love with her. it had a ton of background. and he goes like.... hmmm.... that's too much background. so he slices everything but the two fold, then sticks it into a black background, and gives it to you. nice isn't it? what a nice photo? no! why is the guy smiling like an idiot and making a weird pose?!

the main problem is that after cutting it apart.... author doesn't go into any length to reel you into the story. he expects you to know what happens, because he does. there's no new background or setting. he doesn't repaint the information. he genuinely expects you to just pick it up from the middle. he doesn't know how to deliver information to the reader from a limited setting. it's just there, and because author already "explained" it, he forgot to tell you more about it. more about what?! that's right! I HAVE NO IDEA! all I picked up is that he fell unconcious, has some dangerous abilities I do not know how they work. or where they come from. their names. or even if he knew magic from before. he accidentally summoned a female knight. he kissed the knight. "fought" some orks. I'm pretty sure he just got beat up. and I have no clue where the orks even came from. then.... something else? I have no idea. the beginning NEEDS a re-write. author needs to either remove all of the fight scenes, and those that have nothing to do with magic or the dungeon, then slowly tell us from the prespective of someone who just stumbled upon the story, who is mc. what is he doing. how can he do it. and where is he going forward. before starting with plot and stuff. stories need exposition! I'm not expected to know what's going on! this is just a mess.

there are plenty of books with sequals. and they do a wonderful job at delivering a quick exposition and giving the reader information when he needs it. such that even people who haven't read the previous books could see what's happening. maybe we haven't learned to appreciate those books. because this is the opposite of what's happening here. without the previous novel to tell you what's happening too. maybe because it was TOO information heavy and author didn't like it. I don't know.

luda305
Overall

Heady Philosophical Shit (In a Good Sense)

Reviewed at: Chapter 33 - Avoidant

G********, this is some heavy shit. It's a friggin' opus of life, love, and science. I.... I had a lot to say about this.  Started drafting the review in my head--about whether this was satire of the harem genre, about its perspective on emotional masculinity, about whether or not it qualifies as a romance--but at this point, should I bother? 

Oh what do I rate it? It's really well written from a technical perspective, the story is captivating, the world is wildly thought-provoking.  5/5 for sure.  It's extremely niche though. For starters, this isn't Fantasy 101; it's like Fantasy 437 + you need a STEM background to even understand a good portion of it.  And, some of the subject matter is distasteful, both to me personally and to a wider audience (albeit relatively well executed). 

Shadow Prism
Overall

I am only as far as chapter 8 but I got to say I am enjoying this story. Some of it reminds me of games I played back in the day (Table top RPGs) and I for one think there is a good amount of context, just got to be patent(?) in finding it.

I came in after seeing the Title 'Another Godforsaken Isekia' but part way through the title changed.

I kind of like the Sci Fi protagonist being dropped in to a magical fantasy world. Ifs a bit different and gives a nice varient veiwpoint.

I give you 5 stars, and joined at the point of being your 200th follower.

NetiZen
Overall

Ok, let's start off with that the author got the smut warning but missed out on two, slave and harem.  Now, the story develops in a more interesting way from there, particularly with the slave, since it's also not slave, but is... I'm not going to ruin it kukuku... But it's a twist I haven't seen in a while and it brings up drama, oh the drama.  But in a good way, not some terrible thirdrate soap drama(Yes, I know some people like thirdrate soaps, there's a reason they still exist... but it isn't because of their 'excellent' writing).  There's also the epic clash of future science tech universe and magic science universe, with the third perspective (the reader's) being somewhere inbetween... And it is delicious the counterplay between the three.  All and all a nice read if you can handle it, yes it has been a bit of OP self fulfilment in it, but still enjoyable and not on a terrabad level.  Even the brick MC is getting lucky!  So it isn't super frustrating in that respect.

some total kretin
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

TL;DR: If you can tolerate that this story is so far out there it is not a story, but a diary of a "super mathematical genius" talking to himself, then ya, it's an interesting magic isekai. Oh and it's a white box.

The style is atrocious, but as an unmitigated log of ramblings, it works. It is just pretty hard to navigate and easy to get lost in. And the ramblings are just a veneer over the most atrocious of tropes. The best veneer I've seen used like that - may be so far - but a veneer.

Story? In medias res super genius equivalent of navigators from dune or Warhammer gets thrown into magical dimension and proceeds to unwittingly gather a harem. All that while straining and exploiting the system, but not in the way you'd expect.

Grammar. Like the story, the ramblings are incoherent. I'm no expert, but a lot of it is (or seems) grammatically off.

Characters? Oh yeah, the MC is the star of the show, everyone else has a decidedly supporting role. And even though a lot of it is trying to be obscure and seem deep, it just devolves into the power of friendship trump cards taken out of whatever self-serving mumbo-jumbo encrusted ass is available.