I am a Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I recently wrote my first short story and would appreciate some feedback if any would be so generous as to read it. Here is the link, for convenience's sake: http://www.sffworld.com/authors/c/cajacob_dan/fiction/binaryborn1.html Thank you very much for your time, sir or ma'am.
February 6th, 2002, 06:59 AM
Do we call you Jacob?
I can't offer you any specific advice, but just general encouragement. I read your story a while ago when it was first posted.
I find reading long (anything more than a few screenfuls at a time) texts from screen quite uncomfortable. Though I've started reading several of the short stories posted here, yours is the only one that I've read through to its end. So you must be doing something right.
February 6th, 2002, 08:33 AM
***Possible spoilers below ***
The concept of the story is good. I rather liked it. It’s a rather nice story, meaning all ages can enjoy it.
I did notice a few things that you might want to consider.
The story feels like a first or second draft. It told me (the reader) what happened, but didn’t exactly elicit an emotional response. Much of the information is important to you as the author, but not so much to me. Do I really need to know all the details about how Quinn was created? If so, why?
There were a few plot points that could use more “fleshing out”. I noticed that Quinn referred to the Dr. Evans as Father. Was that perhaps due to an emotional attachment Quinn felt for the doctor? If so, perhaps you could expand on that. His departure would then be a little more poignant. Also, Quinn’s extreme boredom was only mentioned. I think Quinn’s boredom is a pivotal aspect of the story. There are several options you could use to subtly emphasize his boredom. This is a great place to foreshadow and hint at the ending.
Lastly the dialogue. There was very little of this and that’s fine. This story doesn’t really call for a lot of dialogue. I didn’t realize at first why the dialogue was hitting me wrong. Upon second look, I noticed that the dialogue is somewhat inconsistent. For instance, at one point you have Quinn saying such phrases as “What’s up?”. In that same conversation he later says, “Yes, please.”. One is very informal and the other is not.
The only other thing about the dialogue is that you use it as an information dump. And although this is fine for occasional use, overusing this technique can bore the reader.
However, for the most part the dialogue was good.
Honestly, I think with a little more work, this could be an excellent short story.
February 6th, 2002, 10:00 AM
I completely agree with you, KATS. I felt like the story needed revision, but some of my friends advised me to keep it as is and to submit it. It is a third draft, but I think I will do some tweaking, when I get some free time. Right now, we freshman at the Academy are getting the **** kicked out of us, so I'll be lucky to get some work done on it in the next month or so.
Thanks again for all the helpful comments.
February 6th, 2002, 11:19 AM
I liked your story too.
I think it contained some good ideas, especially I liked your approach to the creation of artificial intelligence. Although I can follow KATS to a certain degree regarding the infodump thing, I feel at the same time that the 'less art, more nature' approach to creating AI was one of the big strengths of the story. Therefore I hope that you will keep this aspect, in some form or another, even if you decide to re-write the story.
One thing that troubled me a bit, however, was the 'turn on' effect of Quinns consciousness. It seemed to me as if, at one moment, he was non-conscious and then suddenly his consciousness was 'turned on' by the scientists and he could recognise them and talk to them instantly. That bothered me a bit. I think that maybe you could have used the 'less art, more nature' idea more effectively here by letting the reader perceive his growth and his learning phase, even though these perhaps were 'accelerated' to fill a very short span of real-time. By showing how the AI came into consciousness, almost as a kind of birth, you could also play a bit on the title of your story.
Also, I agree with KATS about the emotions. A little more emphasis on the feelings of Quinn would be nice. As KATS says, his boredom seems important to the story, but nevertheless it is only told briefly that Quinn is bored. In particulary I think it could be interesting if you tried to describe the feelings that prompted him to start creating other AIs and the moments leading up to that decision.
But all in all, I think it was a very good story. Keep writing!
February 10th, 2002, 07:14 PM
Wow! Not bad! http://www.sffworld.com/ubb/smile.gif
First of all, the nitpicks. As mentioned below, there were some problems with the info-dump in the first part (Quin's creation) but the latter half moved along okay since it was part of the story.
Also, the formality-informality transition of Quin's dialogue was a bit awkward since you're not exactly sure about the reader's perception of the AI. Is he like HAL? Or like the kid in the AI movie?
My own main complaint in addition to above is the use of human idioms and phrases by Quin even though he's just been turned on. Granted he learns fast, still, when he says 's**t-eating' grin, the possibility of belief on his status as a newly-born AI gets the equivalent kick in the nuts.
But aside from that, a VERY good sci-fi story. Took my by surprise in that, something that normally doesn't happen...