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Old 07-20-2018, 05:11 PM
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Hi, this is a long one, if you do not make it, tell me where you gave up, or whatever. I am off to eat a banana.

Chapter I

Sara’s room mate was sleeping. An inhuman hand curled from beneath the sheet, an intricacy of concentric muscle and cartilage that curled around the hem and pulled the thin cloth tighter. There must be strength in those hands, like an octopus tentacle or an elephant trunk. It was inky black.

Sara fought her own sheet, which was clinging uncomfortably to her lower body. The room was so hot that she could smell it, like sulphur. That smell intimated the rising sun as it stripped the caustic dew from the prairie. Early morning. There were no clocks. Sara had asked for one, but had yet to receive a response.

Her room mate stirred. The sheet slipped from the reposing form. The chest heaved. Beneath translucent skin, a network of veins, arteries and capillaries spread from the obsidian heart and pulsed constantly. A glint of light hinted that her room mate’s lids had opened to reveal the dark orbs beneath. “Can’t sleep?” Metallic teeth between thinly parted lips.

Sara threw her head against her pillow. “Too hot.”

Her room mate curled from the bed onto the floor, a dancer’s move. Like the hands, the feet were of dexterous muscle and cartilage, unencumbered by bone, and they seemed to grasp at the flagstones with each step. Her room mate drew the thin curtains aside and stepped onto the balcony.

Her room mate’s name was unpronounceable. Sara avoided using it, but it was proving increasingly difficult. “What time is it?”

“Early. Join me.” It was not a command, yet it was irresistible.

Sara clambered from her bed, narrowly avoiding tripping in the knot of her sheets. There stood her room mate in her unblemished birthday suit, arcing over the stone balustrade. Sara stepped hesitantly onto the balcony. “I still can’t pronounce your name,” she said stupidly. Her, she had thought her. Sara’s room mate was female, yes, Sara had always known she was, why else would they have been paired?

“Roommate is fine,” said her room mate, and beckoned Sara with a deft hand, “come and watch the sunrise.”

The balcony faced inland obliquely, with a sliver of sea seen over the cliff edge. The sun was popping over the horizon and casting long shadows.

Why was Sara so comfortable here in the presence of this alien? It was as if she had known her for the longest time, yet she did not know her at all. She did not even know her name other than Roommate. “How do I know you?” she asked.

Those dark eyes turned on her. “Would you like to wake up?”

“Not a fucking dream?” said Sara. Was it? Was this a dream? Was Roommate an invention? Her invention?

Chapter II

Her name was*Thermopylae; it was stencilled on her side. She shortened it to Thally. She was a small polycarbonate canister spinning behind a vast sail of gossamer aluminium.

She would be the first to enter the light of the laser array. Innumerable photons would hit the sail and their minute but manifold radiation pressure would bring her to a near halt, if everything went to plan. Once she had decelerated sufficiently she would leave the laser beam and jettison the sail.

After one hundred days*Cutty Sark*would follow her into the laser, and one hundred days later, or thereabouts, another craft would do the same, and then another and so on; ten in total. She did not know*Cutty Sark. All she knew is that they looked similar, but for the lettering on their flanks.

Thally studied her orientation and trajectory. It was a compulsion she was powerless to resist. It was complex, but she had been told to simplify it to its constituent parts. If she missed the laser she would have no means of stopping and she would sail on into eternity. The formulae vanished, and in their place, she saw a representation of her path and of that beam of light jutting into the night. They were due to intersect obliquely. The realignment would be bumpy.

Only when the calculations were checked and verified did the compulsion ebb away.

She was informed that her metabolism would slowly increase and her muscles would be exercised in her sleep. A cocktail of drugs and stimulants would be administered to counteract so many years of hibernation.

Why a polycarbonate canister required such attention she did not know.

The answer dawned slowly. She was one of the humans at the centre of the craft. The view changed. A motionless figure lay on an amalgamation of a medical gurney and a reclined pilot chair within what resembled an acrylic bath tub. She was covered by a thin sheet. Drips were inserted into veins and tubes into orifices and cables into her shaved head. Her eyelids fluttered. But for that small movement she might have been a corpse on a platter. She was so much younger than expected.

She starred at herself for some time. Were these her thoughts, or those of the machine? Such clarity and simplicity. It was unnatural; yet, it was captivating.

The scene threatened to fade to black. She willed its conclusion away. Behind her,*Cutty Sark*was too distant and too small to be seen. The stars were popping brilliantly. Those making up the Big Dipper were amongst the brightest. It did not match her memory. There was an eighth, dimmer star at the bottom of the cup. This was Sol about which orbited Earth; home. It was now over eleven light years distant and counting.

She lamented that remote star until the image faded.

Nothing.

Thally was approaching the furthest limits of the laser beam before its integrity was lost to the depths of interstellar space.

She realigned her sail minutely. The screech of grinding metal resonated through her. Then there was silence but for a lingering harmony in the deeper titanium struts.

She waited. The pressure differential should shift her*sideways into the laser beam. The myriad photons hit her sail. She started trembling uncontrollably. The trembling became a shudder and then there was stillness.

The cold of deep space receded, and in its place warmth spread through her extremities.

Wake up.

She did not recognise the voice.

Sara, it’s time to get up.

It must be time for her training. The regimen was exhausting and half of the subjects were beyond her comprehension. She struggled with them late into the night and cursed her brain for its deficiencies. She did not want to struggle with them anymore. How she hated her alarm clock. What she would give for another half an hour in bed.

I’m not your alarm clock, Sara.

Who*is*Sara? She wanted to lift her hand to her face, to wipe away her sleep and massage her pounding forehead, but she could barely move. Her entire body was at the mercy of a chronic weariness. Her bed was hard, quite unlike the mattress she remembered; it had the firmness of a car seat or a dentist’s chair. Rather than a pillow under her head there was a half collar of pliable material wrapped around her neck. It held her resolutely in place.

Something pulled away from her temple, easily, like a wet plaster.

Her eyes would not open. She manipulated her muscles to prise them apart without success. Then she drifted back into a stupor on the cusp of sleep.

Wake up, Sara.

The alarm clock was insistent. For the life of her she could not remember why she needed to get up. She had been mistaken. It was not her training, she had finished with that some time ago.

Her eyes came apart a fraction and she looked through the blur of her lashes. The brightness hurt and she had to resist the urge to close them. An inordinate period passed before she could see.

The light trickled from softly glowing lamps at the perimeter of the room. This was not her bedroom. Above her there was a ladder affixed to a corrugated ceiling. Beneath the ladder there was a robotic arm with a grabbing utensil hovering over her head. Both were painted in matt grey but for the pincers, which were stainless steel and dressed in reflected light. It moved away from her in silence and folded against a metal bulkhead.

Welcome back, Sara.*The voice was even and crisp, and strangely androgynous. She could not see its owner.

She tried to speak but the words would not come. She swallowed laboriously. “Why’d you keep calling me that?” A croak.

The robotic arm descended towards her. She tried to turn her head away but it was held by the brace around her neck. She cringed against the headrest. A droplet of water landed on her cheek and rolled down to her lips. The intensity of it shocked her. A straw descended from the grapples towards her mouth. She had never tasted anything so sweet.

It’s your name.*The robotic arm retreated again.

The words came more easily now. “No. I’m*Thermopylae, Thally for short.”

Really?

She was uncertain.*Thermopylae*suddenly seemed a*strange name for a person. It came to her in a rush. She was in a space craft. She had been in hibernation. The feeding tube had been withdrawn from her stomach, together with the various other cables, drips and medical devices. Her confusion vexed her and for a moment she was resolute, “yes, it is. Well it has been for, how long?”

Sixty years. ‘Thermopylae’ is my name, but you are welcome to ‘Thally’.

Thally moved her feet to and fro to test her strength. “Can you put the back up?” Her voice was steady.

The chair rotated towards a seated position. It caught and jolted along the way. It seemed that not even*Thermopylae*had survived the journey unscathed. In front of her were banks of dials and switches. They acted as a backup to the curved monitor on its adjustable mount at their centre.

She experimentally lifted her arm and grasped at it. Her hand floated peculiarly in front of her face in antithesis to her intentions, and it took several attempts to judge the distance accurately. It felt heavy. She knocked the monitor away. “Gravity is wrong.”

It is 1G. It will take a little time to adjust to it. The craft was making a regular clanking noise with the steady expansion of metal in the heat of the laser beam. It sounded like the ticking of a clock.

She ran her hand over her head, enjoying the sensation of sharp bristles against her palm. Cool air was flowing from a vent above the console. It was playing through the hair on her arms and raising goose bumps.

Thally arched her back from the seat and listened to the cracking of vertebrae. She fastened the sheet around her chest, grasped her ankles and jerked them over the edge of the tub in which she sat. Her feet swung unchecked over its rim like pendulum weights. For the first time in sixty years she intended to walk.

Something thumped against the chequer plate behind her. She craned her neck and immediately snatched her eyes away from a naked man.

“Give me some trousers.” A guttural voice followed by the clicking of fingers.

Thally ventured another glance. He was kicking his foot through the trouser leg and fastening the waist. A name occurred to her; Talisker. He stretched his arms and yawned copiously.

“That was rough. Who the hell made those calculations?” He must be referring to the alignment with the laser.

I did. But you all verified them.

Talisker grumbled something. He then swung his head around. “Where’s my top?” The question was not aimed at anyone.

Thally pressed her hands against the edge of the tub and attempted to lever herself up. She felt insurmountably weak. She toppled forward and landed on her hands and knees with a clatter.
In the periphery of her vision a figure slipped through a doorway in the far wall.

“I’ve got your clothes here, Sigma.” The voice belonged to an older woman. Adalene. She was holding a bundle in an outstretched hand. A second hand emerged beyond the doorway; keen fingers dressed in intricate tattoos, and snatched the clothes away. Thally blinked. Her head was heavy with sleep.

Adalene glanced over and swept her hand across her forehead as if expecting to find a fringe there. A perplexed expression crossed her face. Her features were sharp without the usual mane of hair to soften them. “Are you okay, Sarah?”

“Who?” Thally asked.

“Hold still.” Talisker was close to her ear, he smelled of stale sweat. There was a sharp pin-prick in her neck followed by a hiss.

She swatted at his hand and grasped the wound. “What was that?”

“Synaptic enhancer.” Talisker wandered away spinning the epipen in his palm.

She turned on Adalene. “I prefer ‘Thally’.”

“Fine, whatever. Go and find out what Sigma’s up to, would you?” Adalene strode after Talisker. “What are you doing? Leave the medicine to the medics.”

Thally rolled onto her haunches. She willed her legs to bend and they did so. She rotated her feet. She then mimed walking and her legs followed the motions easily enough.

She grasped the ladder that ran along the fuselage for the purposes of movement in weightlessness. She then clambered upright and shuffled first one foot and then the other forward. The ability returned to her quickly and soon she was taking her first unaided steps, since waking, backwards and forwards along the gangway.

Her clothes were in the locker at the side of her pod. Linen slacks and a linen vest. She retrieved them and pulled them on beneath her sheet, allowing the sheet to drop once she was dressed.
The occupants of the remaining tubs were stirring, as if in the grips of a lucid dream.

Wake up Simril. Wake up Santa.*said that androgynous voice simultaneously from two separate speakers.

Thally left through the doorway from which the hand had emerged some moments earlier. The corridor beyond was a dimly lit tube. She felt her way along the ribbed walls and emerged in another module. Raised lettering on the bulkhead read*Bridge.

Sigma was reclining in the Captain’s chair with one leg hooked over the armrest. She was not the Captain. She watched Thally lazily. Her eyes were of reflective silver and dressed in leaves of dark ink from which intricate stems were tattooed down her cheek and over her neck. Her hand swept over a monitor, which ignited into colour. “Did Adalene send you?”

Thally nodded. She approached slowly. Her feet were leaden. She balled the clothe of her trousers in her palm.

“She wants to know what I’m doing?” It was neither a question nor a statement.

Thally nodded again. She climbed onto the pilot’s chair and lifted her legs up, embracing her knees.
Sigma placed her hand on Thally’s arm. It was patterned with an elaborate double helix which extended to the nub of each digit. It followed the contours of muscle and ridges of bone in swirling patterns.

“You’re supposed to be good with languages, yes?”

Thally’s first response was to nod. She stilled her head, and instead said “apparently, but I think my talent has been exaggerated.”

Sigma removed her hand and waved it dismissively. “Maybe, maybe not. Here, take a look at this.” She manipulated the monitor.

Sigma wore a linen one piece comprising of a combined vest and shorts in a muddle of rust and off-white. It was cinched at the waist with a worn leather belt. She wore nothing on her feet and tattoos decorated the dorsals and extended up the lower leg and thigh. They seemed a living part of her, never appearing the same way twice. The intricate strands merged and parted organically and dissipated ephemerally on occasion.

Thally was starring. She looked away, embarrassed, and instead settled her gaze upon the monitor. It darkened and rekindled. Swirling patterns danced intricately in a series of parallel vertical bands. At their centre they entered a concentricity of circles, which framed an image with the appearance of a blooming flower. A ring of petals coyly parted to reveal the stigma beneath. “What’s this?” asked Thally.

“Something I’ve been dreaming about for nearly sixty years now.”

Thally dragged her gaze from the screen. She saw only the warped reflection of the lighting tubes in Sigma’s eyes. “This is your dream?”

“No. Just something I dream about. It was sent to us.”

“From here?” Thally pointed vaguely in the direction of the sun they were approaching. It was not the first packet of information to have been transmitted from here, not by a long shot.

“Yes,” said Sigma.

“The schematics looked like this?” Thally peered closer at the screen. The flower bloomed cyclically, an optical illusion that was at once just a bud and blossoming.

“No. Everything else used a common mathematical language. This seems more of a colloquialism.”

“I don’t know. I can look at it if you want, but I don’t get the theory. I just pick languages up quickly. I mean, if you don’t understand it, then I don’t know how I’m supposed to. You’re one of them, at least in part.”

Sigma dragged the image into a folder and the screen defaulted to various schematics. “Did you dream?”

Thally considered the question. “Only what I was told to dream. But it feels like I’m still there. It was more real than any of this.”

Sigma ran her hand over Thally’s shaved head. It was tender, delicate. “Still stuck in that pod, are you? It*is*a strange experience; being connected to a machine so intimately. You can tell Adalene that I’ll be with her shortly.”


Chapter III

The circumnavigation of the system’s central star was a lengthy affair. Thermopylae had dipped into its gravity well some days ago. The arduous climb back out would allow it to decelerate sufficiently to enter orbit around the second planet, much like a ball rolling uphill.

Thally used the time to exercise solidly over the following weeks, working one muscle group to exhaustion on the resistance cables before moving on to the next. She ate copious quantities of the protein and nutrient enriched swill that passed for food. She ran on the treadmill until her legs burned and her heart thumped in her chest.

“You’re spending a lot of time in here,” said Talisker one morning. He perched on the exercise bench and smoothed his training trousers. “Is everything okay?”

Thally could not answer truthfully. She was suffering a creeping uncertainty. She was unable to translate the transmissions, and that was her sole purpose. Moreover, she was young and inexperienced. Her skill was insubstantial, next to useless. She had a penchant to learn languages quickly, but the mathematical communications transmitted from this solar system meant nothing to her. They were better translated by the computer or by Santa with his mathematical proclivity, or Sigma with her alien genetic sequencing. Thally was an impediment, and she was not going to add physical weakness to it. “I just want to prepare for the surface.”

The resistance cables whined against the guide wheels as Talisker’s triceps clenched and released. “Don’t you worry about the surface. No-one would have gone to so much trouble to bring us here if they meant us harm. You have to wonder what they do want, though.”

No-one was a peculiar word choice, as if Talisker expected to find some off-shoot of humanity awaiting their arrival. He probably even imagined that the handguns and assault rifles in the supply pod were going to be of some use.

She put such thoughts to one side. “Did you ever find yourself looking back towards Earth, when you were plugged into the ship?”

Talisker released the resistance cables and the handles clunked into their stays. He rested his elbows on his knees. “Regularly.”

Thally considered her next question. “Did you ever wish you were back there?”

Talisker grazed his hand over the stubble at his chin. “Also, regularly. It has a strange effect, being out here. Survival seems so tenuous. There are so many things that could go wrong and all that stands between us and the abyss is this thin polycarbonate shell and the atmosphere it contains.” He thumped the wall for emphasis and the inner skin wobbled. “It’s hard not to crave firm ground beneath your feet, sometimes.” He snatched up the resistance cables and dragged them over his head. “You should join us this evening, Thally. Sigma and I’ll be enjoying some of the alcohol from the supply pod. You should let your hair down, what little’s grown back.”

None of Talisker’s hair had grown back; a razor had seen to that. Thally turned up the treadmill and padded out several more kilometres.

That evening Thally found herself on the bridge starring at one of the monitors. She had spent countless hours here. The flower bloomed and folded in on itself cyclically. She could read no further meaning into it. Were there hieroglyphics hidden away in the detail, or was it something altogether simpler? Was the blossoming flower a metaphor for a blossoming relationship, or was its withdrawal back into a bud an indication of friendship withdrawn?

Thally had interrogated the computer on the mathematical language repeatedly, hoping to find some inspiration, but it was too complex. Tonight, as so many previous nights, she stood in frustration and entered the counter-clockwise tunnel.

Thally arrived at the relaxation pod and poked her head tentatively around the doorway. Sigma and Talisker were slumped on the settee. Sigma’s tattooed arm hung loosely about his shoulders. Her silver eyes lifted, “Thally. Come and sit down.” She created a space between them.

Thally entered sheepishly. A bottle of alcohol stood on the table. It drew her inexorably. She had not realised how the stress had played on her over the last few weeks, and the blissful apathy of inebriation was more than she could resist. Sigma slung her arm around Thally’s shoulders. It had a strange density, as if there were more muscle than the volume should allow, and it weighed heavily. Yet she felt her concerns drifting away on the light breeze that circulated the spinning decagon of modules.

Talisker rattled a glass onto the table and poured a thick measure. “You have some catching up to do.”

“Don’t ply the poor girl with alcohol,” said Sigma. Her inscrutable eyes turned on Thally, “you’ve been looking at that communication, haven’t you?” The leaves of inky blackness in which they were dressed seemed to alter, almost like the petals of the flower Thally had watched for so long. The adjustment was almost indiscernible, but Thally was sure she saw it.

“Yes.” Thally supped at her drink. It was surprisingly pleasant. She drained the glass.

Talisker filled all three.
“What did you see?” asked Sigma.

Talisker scoffed. His broad arm swept over the backrest. He swallowed his own drink and pressed the glass onto the table. “You and that bloody image, Sigma. You’ve been starring at it almost as much as Thally. What do you expect to find?”

Sigma’s tattoos flashed a deeper shade of black. Her hand grasped Thally’s shoulder in a momentary demonstration of strength that was immediately relinquished.

“I’ve been trying to apply the Pareto principle,” said Thally, remembering the painstaking work with a grimace.

Talisker drained his glass and crossed one foot over his other knee. “In words of English, Thally.”
“Twenty percent of words tend to be used eighty percent of the time, so I’ve been concentrating on the recurring symbols. The computer’s been ranking them by frequency. The most common words in English are the likes of the, to, and, of, I; prepositions, pronouns and conjunctions.” Thally took a pad and pen from under the desk. She drew one of the symbols that appeared commonly in the swirling mosaic around the blooming flower; it comprised three underscored dots. “Using Zipf’s Law-”
Talisker raised his eyebrows.

Thally waved his question away, “the details don’t matter, but this symbol corresponds with the, and this symbol-” Thally jotted two vertical lines “-corresponds with with. I translated each of the symbols this way-”

“And?” Talisker refilled his glass.

Thally dropped the pen on the table, “gobbledygook. I’m no closer to deciphering the language.” She supped her own drink.

Sigma threw her head back and laughed, a rich sound that filled the small pod.

Talisker raised his glass with a smile, “I think that deserves a toast. Here’s to blissful ignorance.”

As the drink flowed, Adalene pressed her sharp features around the doorway. Her eyes settled on the bottle of alcohol. Momentarily she looked fit to deliver admonishment, but she held her tongue and withdrew in the direction of the Bridge. Neither Sigma nor Talisker noticed her, or perhaps they pretended not to.

Chapter IV

“Where am I?”

A dark heart pulsed beneath ivory skin. “You are with Roommate.”

Roommate’s hand unwound revealing three dexterous fingers. They pressed against Sara’s forehead. “Are you okay?”

Sara was momentarily compelled to shake them away. Instead she lay back, somewhat soothed. The bed was comfortable, yet somewhere distantly there was the smell of sulphur and a slowly rising heat. This was not the Thermopylae. “Am I dreaming?”


WOW, you made it, allow me to buy you a congratulatory glass of sod all, with a topping of "how the hell did you get through it?"

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  #2  
Old 07-20-2018, 08:36 PM
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Hmm... thank you. The “sod all” is lovely. Your own brew?

I remember some of these pieces from before but they’re woven into a richer overall story here. I would still like to see Tally and Sigma... well, you probably remember what I’d like to see.

You use the omnipotent POV here to your disadvantage somewhat (imo), in that there is someone telling the story, but we only really see what’s in tally’s head. We get glimpses of things she wouldn’t know, but no definition. It’s like walking the line between close third and omnipotent. This has the affect of reminding the reader (occasionally) that there is an author writing the story and doesn’t allow full immersion. You could easily change to close third.

On the positive side, this does create a certain... hmm... mystery, I guess is the word. I’m not totally sure what’s going on, but the characters and world you’ve created are interesting enough for me to keep reading.

So it might be a toss-up.

Just a warning: if Sweet Tally fucks the “meat-head” I’m out.

Btw, I went to a restaurant specializing in English food last weekend with my wife. I don’t know how you fuckers survive, much less remain a global power.

Can I get another glass of that... what did you call it?
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:48 AM
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This piece made me go smoke a cig and chew on it... Very nice. The characters are good, and the world you have built comes through.

I agree with BP, center the POV. Unless, you use the moments of omniescence to symbolize Sara's near singulation with the ship. Which is a really nice touch by the way, but could use a bit of clarity.

The syntax flows nicely, but I could not help but get the feeling the writing was a bit rushed. I would suggest when editing to slow it down, and add some details to ground the reader completely into the environment. Work on transitions as well, one sentence added at the end of a paragraph can do wonders for flow.

Logistics, not sure about how small an impact the adrenaline shot does on Sara. I have had to give a friend an epipen after they went into anaphylactic shock. Shit is instant crack.

Loved the linguistics part, but since you have Earth featured in it why not use current linguistics? Noam Chomsky's Universal Grammar, principles and parameters etc. Would be lovely, but that is just my nerd side.

Is the ship using solar sail tech or particle propulsion?

I enjoyed getting lost in this, would like to read more, and will definitely read the edited version.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 07-26-2018, 11:13 PM
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I read the whole lot. Not sure I'd be much help with criticism. This is right up my alley in terms of genre though and to my unpracticed eye it appears well written. Hope you post more.

Last edited by Nox; 07-26-2018 at 11:24 PM..
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Nox View Post
I read the whole lot. Not sure I'd be much help with criticism. This is right up my alley in terms of genre though and to my unpracticed eye it appears well written. Hope you post more.
TYVM for reading. Telling me what doesn't work is always helpful (untrained is fine, you still know what you like and what you don't like).

Last edited by Chinspinner; 07-28-2018 at 02:03 AM..
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
This piece made me go smoke a cig and chew on it... Very nice. The characters are good, and the world you have built comes through.

I agree with BP, center the POV. Unless, you use the moments of omniescence to symbolize Sara's near singulation with the ship. Which is a really nice touch by the way, but could use a bit of clarity.

The syntax flows nicely, but I could not help but get the feeling the writing was a bit rushed. I would suggest when editing to slow it down, and add some details to ground the reader completely into the environment. Work on transitions as well, one sentence added at the end of a paragraph can do wonders for flow.

Logistics, not sure about how small an impact the adrenaline shot does on Sara. I have had to give a friend an epipen after they went into anaphylactic shock. Shit is instant crack.

Loved the linguistics part, but since you have Earth featured in it why not use current linguistics? Noam Chomsky's Universal Grammar, principles and parameters etc. Would be lovely, but that is just my nerd side.

Is the ship using solar sail tech or particle propulsion?

I enjoyed getting lost in this, would like to read more, and will definitely read the edited version.

Thanks for sharing.
TYVM for reading. You are welcome to rip it up more, would prefer that to polite.

EDIT: Agreed, I need to work on POV.

Epipan- yeah, do not want a sudden return to reality x10. Is this a breaker?

Will check detail and flow.

Good heads up on linguistic texts.

Solar sails/ lazer/ both.

Last edited by Chinspinner; 07-28-2018 at 03:15 AM..
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Old 07-28-2018, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
Hmm... thank you. The “sod all” is lovely. Your own brew?

I remember some of these pieces from before but they’re woven into a richer overall story here. I would still like to see Tally and Sigma... well, you probably remember what I’d like to see.

You use the omnipotent POV here to your disadvantage somewhat (imo), in that there is someone telling the story, but we only really see what’s in tally’s head. We get glimpses of things she wouldn’t know, but no definition. It’s like walking the line between close third and omnipotent. This has the affect of reminding the reader (occasionally) that there is an author writing the story and doesn’t allow full immersion. You could easily change to close third.

On the positive side, this does create a certain... hmm... mystery, I guess is the word. I’m not totally sure what’s going on, but the characters and world you’ve created are interesting enough for me to keep reading.

So it might be a toss-up.

Just a warning: if Sweet Tally fucks the “meat-head” I’m out.

Btw, I went to a restaurant specializing in English food last weekend with my wife. I don’t know how you fuckers survive, much less remain a global power.

Can I get another glass of that... what did you call it?
Thx very much, (trying to respond while sober, which given that it is the weekend is probably a short slot of time). Thanks on POV comments. I struggle because I have a proclivity for omniscient, even though it is a no-no these days, so I will amend it all to close.

FYI, Thally does not get it on with Meat-head, but Meat-head is a selfless good guy who will help her significantly to his own - erm - detriment.

Is their such a thing as English food? We eat a bit of everything. I suppose English food is pies and Shepherd's pie and stodgy cheap food.
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Old 07-28-2018, 05:05 AM
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Spotted dick
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Chinspinner View Post
TYVM for reading. You are welcome to rip it up more, would prefer that to polite.
Sign of a real writer. Give me a couple days and I will give you a real critique. Very refreshing to hear this.

Still, my compliments remain. I have been perusing sci-fi a lot lately and even trying to write something of my own. I may not be very well versed in the genre, but I will try and make you cry haha

Edit,
This is sci fi. Fuck saying adrenaline. Use science. Just explain it is something to stave off the effects of excessive melatonin, or Google a drug used to stabilize people after comas
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Chinspinner View Post
Thx very much, (trying to respond while sober, which given that it is the weekend is probably a short slot of time). Thanks on POV comments. I struggle because I have a proclivity for omniscient, even though it is a no-no these days, so I will amend it all to close.



FYI, Thally does not get it on with Meat-head, but Meat-head is a selfless good guy who will help her significantly to his own - erm - detriment.



Is their such a thing as English food? We eat a bit of everything. I suppose English food is pies and Shepherd's pie and stodgy cheap food.


Omniscient is NOT a no-no these days if you can master it like Steinbeck, or Voltaire. Impossible, you say? Maybe.

I would still try if it is what I “did.”

Otherwise... try shagging a sheep. There are sheep in London, no?
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Old 08-02-2018, 02:55 PM
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Dont do line edits its a waste of both of our times. I do suggestions from a reader who thinks he knows something...

Dream/Roommate: Not sure what you have planned for this section in the whole bit, but avoid false suspense with your reader. Make it a little more obvious the allusion or intent, which could easily be done in the second bit. Yeah, fuck you for just putting one simple bit and not letting it end or anything for my read hahaha.

You are doing either an amazing thing or very dangerous with the ship beyond Turing, Sara beyond humanity. This is what you need to capitalize on. The beginning of it works well enough, but then it is lost. I say concentrate the POV and rewrite with the full character of Sara/Thally and their pathology in mind.

Pathology is tricky, do not spiral down into archetype. The character needs to spiral not the execution.

So far from what I can see the story is pretty basic, and the characters are archetypes. Change that. Hint at a different story than some rehashed Rama. If no reader wonders why they are going off in space it is a problem. If no reader wonders what the character desires its a problem. You gotta make it pop, give it some damn jazz hands. Or at least something that shows it is different. Be it story or character.

A story is about one of two things, either someone protecting what they most desire, or trying to achieve it. That is what extends fiction into literary, that and character.

And always remember the Marines acronym KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Write this for beyond sci fi. Science fiction is just the genre not the story.
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
Omniscient is NOT a no-no these days if you can master it like Steinbeck, or Voltaire. Impossible, you say? Maybe.

I would still try if it is what I “did.”

Otherwise... try shagging a sheep. There are sheep in London, no?
Funny you mention Steinbeck, because he is perhaps my favourite author (apart from Dostoyevsky). But he was a journalist by training and has a journalist's sensibilities when it comes to writing. I guess I meant that omniscient is no longer marketable.
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
Dont do line edits its a waste of both of our times. I do suggestions from a reader who thinks he knows something...

Dream/Roommate: Not sure what you have planned for this section in the whole bit, but avoid false suspense with your reader. Make it a little more obvious the allusion or intent, which could easily be done in the second bit. Yeah, fuck you for just putting one simple bit and not letting it end or anything for my read hahaha.

You are doing either an amazing thing or very dangerous with the ship beyond Turing, Sara beyond humanity. This is what you need to capitalize on. The beginning of it works well enough, but then it is lost. I say concentrate the POV and rewrite with the full character of Sara/Thally and their pathology in mind.

Pathology is tricky, do not spiral down into archetype. The character needs to spiral not the execution.

So far from what I can see the story is pretty basic, and the characters are archetypes. Change that. Hint at a different story than some rehashed Rama. If no reader wonders why they are going off in space it is a problem. If no reader wonders what the character desires its a problem. You gotta make it pop, give it some damn jazz hands. Or at least something that shows it is different. Be it story or character.

A story is about one of two things, either someone protecting what they most desire, or trying to achieve it. That is what extends fiction into literary, that and character.

And always remember the Marines acronym KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Write this for beyond sci fi. Science fiction is just the genre not the story.
I subscribe to the idea that some tropes have a purpose, in that they are shorthand for readers. I find them acceptable at times, even if to paint secondary characters with a broad brush. Once you set up a trope, you also have the delicious opportunity to subvert said trope.

The other thing you allude to is the mystery box. I agree that a mystery box without a satisfying resolution is just cock-swinging of the worst variety. I hope to pay it off.

Useful comments as always, I will try a straighter arrow when setting up certain situations.
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Old 08-03-2018, 08:29 PM
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Cartilage is being overused.
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Old 08-03-2018, 08:37 PM
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I think it needs "thinned" out. It may be a personal choice to me, but it was hard to read through, especially in one pass.
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Old 08-04-2018, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Mohican View Post
I think it needs "thinned" out. It may be a personal choice to me, but it was hard to read through, especially in one pass.
Thanks, "hard to read" is always a red flag. What bored you?
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:01 AM
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Had no problem making it to the end. But then I got there and... where's the payoff?

One of the challenges I have with writing (and writing science fiction especially) is getting what's in my head onto the page in a way that lets a reader know as much about the story as I do. I think this story suffers from a similar problem - an overall lack of context.

Here's the story I read:

Girl wakes up. Possibly dreaming. Mystery roommate. Female ship going through space - Thally. Girl is ship; Sara = Thally? Adjustment after hibernation. Other guy been there, done that. Girl meets with captain. Needs translation - girl can't help. Rebuilding after hibernation. Dinner with crew - still can't solve translation. Back to square one - is she dreaming?

We don't really know who these people are, where they're going, why they're going there, or what they want. Makes it hard for a reader to care. Sure, you don't need to spell everything out, but a little context can go a long way.

You introduce plot points but don't pay them off in any significant way by the end. For instance: the translation. What's all that about? You had a moment of great characterization with the girl - she can't do the one thing she's on this ship for, so she's busting her balls to get in shape and not be completely physically useless - but no follow up.

Thally/Sara and Talisker have fine characterization, but everyone else feels like set pieces.

The plot is so hazy that so much of the writing focuses on character action and scene-setting. The quality of the writing is fine, you put together some great descriptors and sentences, but as I was reading I kept wondering what was happening in the story. The story is what's lacking here - conflict/resolution.

My suggestion is either double the length or cut it in half, and reevaluate what story you're telling. Is it the Sara/Thally relationship? Is it the search for the translation? Is it dream/reality? Whatever it is, make sure you're furthering that story in every paragraph.

Thank you for sharing.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:07 AM
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haha Jesse, a lovely synopsis. Remember we are in chapter 1.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:26 PM
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I don’t read much science fiction anymore. I used to be a big fan. I still like Heinlein’s sentences, his flow, rhythm. And I like how fucked-up Philip K Dick is; he’s maybe unclassifiable.

Anyway, there is always some confusion when starting a good sci-fi. Yeah, we should get some sense of what’s going on (we do here), but this is a completely different reality than the one we live in. This is planning to be a psychological mind-fuck as far as I can see and should then naturally be a bit confusing at this point.

The sentences are clean and It’s only the context I have a little trouble with, but again, seems right to me so far.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:35 PM
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Ahhh, well that makes a hell of a lot more sense.

Journey on. I'll be reading.
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
I don’t read much science fiction anymore. I used to be a big fan. I still like Heinlein’s sentences, his flow, rhythm. And I like how fucked-up Philip K Dick is; he’s maybe unclassifiable.

Anyway, there is always some confusion when starting a good sci-fi. Yeah, we should get some sense of what’s going on (we do here), but this is a completely different reality than the one we live in. This is planning to be a psychological mind-fuck as far as I can see and should then naturally be a bit confusing at this point.

The sentences are clean and It’s only the context I have a little trouble with, but again, seems right to me so far.
Thanks, I think
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
This piece made me go smoke a cig and chew on it... Very nice. The characters are good, and the world you have built comes through.

I agree with BP, center the POV. Unless, you use the moments of omniescence to symbolize Sara's near singulation with the ship. Which is a really nice touch by the way, but could use a bit of clarity.

The syntax flows nicely, but I could not help but get the feeling the writing was a bit rushed. I would suggest when editing to slow it down, and add some details to ground the reader completely into the environment. Work on transitions as well, one sentence added at the end of a paragraph can do wonders for flow.

Logistics, not sure about how small an impact the adrenaline shot does on Sara. I have had to give a friend an epipen after they went into anaphylactic shock. Shit is instant crack.

Loved the linguistics part, but since you have Earth featured in it why not use current linguistics? Noam Chomsky's Universal Grammar, principles and parameters etc. Would be lovely, but that is just my nerd side.

Is the ship using solar sail tech or particle propulsion?

I enjoyed getting lost in this, would like to read more, and will definitely read the edited version.

Thanks for sharing.
This is one of the prettiest comments.
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:02 PM
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Been enamored with Herbert lately. I want to suggest something I did not before.... As well as POV (point of view, we all know this) is POD (Point of detail).What factors hint at the mundane in this realm? What are the inane etc b.s.. Where are the seashells for wiping their asses (demolition man reference)?

Think not only Herbert but Orwell as well... Too often sci-fi is inundated with info dumps and overt science... The greats relied upon detail, thrusting the reader in.

Yeah, yeah, trope, antitrope etc, even a short story,

Problem is I liked this, the beyond Turing and manifest humanity spoke to me. I want to read this. But if you are serious about making something gleam above the rest, ya gotta rise above. Make this more than a story, because it sure fucking can be, and i would like to see it.

Too often we see people spin fantasy and sci-fi that have worlds half developed or just halfassed in general, I see more in this. You know your genre, but it plays too heavily in it. Character above all else, even that of the ship.

You hace the world I believe, but the characters are DnD paper and pencil builds.

Blah blah blah, I'm drunk. Get in their heads. I suggest changing POV per section to help understand your characters and then revuilding centralized POV.

Edit:
Raymond Feist "Magicians apprentice," is probably one of the best examples of POD in the beginning. Reread Herbert when he is speaking of the fish that controls everything on the wall, or Martin first chapter when he speaks of "20 in all rode out," you can see the detail. That is what I mean
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
Been enamored with Herbert lately. I want to suggest something I did not before.... As well as POV (point of view, we all know this) is POD (Point of detail).What factors hint at the mundane in this realm? What are the inane etc b.s.. Where are the seashells for wiping their asses (demolition man reference)?

Think not only Herbert but Orwell as well... Too often sci-fi is inundated with info dumps and overt science... The greats relied upon detail, thrusting the reader in.

Yeah, yeah, trope, antitrope etc, even a short story,

Problem is I liked this, the beyond Turing and manifest humanity spoke to me. I want to read this. But if you are serious about making something gleam above the rest, ya gotta rise above. Make this more than a story, because it sure fucking can be, and i would like to see it.

Too often we see people spin fantasy and sci-fi that have worlds half developed or just halfassed in general, I see more in this. You know your genre, but it plays too heavily in it. Character above all else, even that of the ship.

You hace the world I believe, but the characters are DnD paper and pencil builds.

Blah blah blah, I'm drunk. Get in their heads. I suggest changing POV per section to help understand your characters and then revuilding centralized POV.

Edit:
Raymond Feist "Magicians apprentice," is probably one of the best examples of POD in the beginning. Reread Herbert when he is speaking of the fish that controls everything on the wall, or Martin first chapter when he speaks of "20 in all rode out," you can see the detail. That is what I mean
Sorry, was busy elsewhere. Yes, seashells did not need a reference, all of us tired old fools recognise it. But I get your point, it does not feel lived-in because of an absence of everyday mundanity (showing as a typo, is it? Odd).

Characters are 2D- yes, I agree, they need work. Me will sculpt them better, help, me stroke.

Thanks very much for taking the time.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:47 AM
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Saving this to go with wine at 9....
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:58 AM
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I gotta quit commenting when I'm drunk. The fuck was I even on hahaha.

POD bah!
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by daes13 View Post
I gotta quit commenting when I'm drunk. The fuck was I even on hahaha.

POD bah!
Drunk posting is the best kind fellah. Do not worry about offence, it is like water off a hooded guantanamo prisoner's face.

EDIT: Plus your comments were useful.

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Old 09-04-2018, 01:33 PM
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I thought Chapter 1 was excellent - beautiful description and something palpably threatening about Thally - both alluring and repugnant. You created a perceivable chemistry between the two characters - quite intense.

Small suggestions: ...clinging comfortably to her lower half (rather than lower body)
and ...the smell evoking the rising sun...

Chapter 11:

Different vibe completely. After the intensity of Sara and Thally - this seemed suddenly chaotic - so much visual description and other characters to get to grips with. Felt I was having to concentrate rather than being carried by the same magical narrative of chapter 1.

I think it would be worth cutting down the description so the focus is on dialogue and characters. After such a rich description of Thally, the others have got short shrift.

Little is needed to get across that its a spaceship - the pods are the most significant detail at this point. The other detailed description can be filtered in as the story unfolds.

Chapter III and the start of 1V were good - nice detail and a comfortable, trip-free read.

I like your writing style very much and Chapter 1 is good enough to be a stand alone piece.

My feeling was that the only real ammendments to be made would be to change the ratio of scene description and new characters so that the lion's share of attention goes to the characters.


Really nice work Chin x
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Grace Gabriel View Post
I thought Chapter 1 was excellent - beautiful description and something palpably threatening about Thally - both alluring and repugnant. You created a perceivable chemistry between the two characters - quite intense.

Small suggestions: ...clinging comfortably to her lower half (rather than lower body)
and ...the smell evoking the rising sun...

Chapter 11:

Different vibe completely. After the intensity of Sara and Thally - this seemed suddenly chaotic - so much visual description and other characters to get to grips with. Felt I was having to concentrate rather than being carried by the same magical narrative of chapter 1.

I think it would be worth cutting down the description so the focus is on dialogue and characters. After such a rich description of Thally, the others have got short shrift.

Little is needed to get across that its a spaceship - the pods are the most significant detail at this point. The other detailed description can be filtered in as the story unfolds.

Chapter III and the start of 1V were good - nice detail and a comfortable, trip-free read.

I like your writing style very much and Chapter 1 is good enough to be a stand alone piece.

My feeling was that the only real ammendments to be made would be to change the ratio of scene description and new characters so that the lion's share of attention goes to the characters.


Really nice work Chin x
Yes thank you, chapter 11, or 2 as us normals call it, is an old piece and I have tried to rework it, but it never quite suited my current sensibilities. It needs work, thanks for taking the time.
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Chinspinner View Post
Yes thank you, chapter 11, or 2 as us normals call it, is an old piece and I have tried to rework it, but it never quite suited my current sensibilities. It needs work, thanks for taking the time.
You're welcome.

The same amount of detailed description for Sigma and the same creation of aura around him as you did with Thally - he didn't make me feel anything towards him.
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