View Full Version : Critique: The Opposite of Blind
February 3rd, 2006, 09:05 AM
I have a new story posted in the community section: www.sffworld.com/community/story/1228p0.html
I would appreciate any comments, editing notes, help whatever. I am somewhat nervous about the setting, somehow I don't think watching british sitcoms qualifies me as an expert. But one of my characters insisted on being from London. (Besides, I don't think the story would work as well in Arizona.)
Do the characters breathe? Does the story flow? Does the solution make sense? Did I misspell "the" and put, commas, in the, wrong places? How about that ending?
I look forward to the discussion.
February 3rd, 2006, 09:54 AM
a. I want to know the answer to Sharpe's question to the Professor.
b. You could always use stagecoaches in Arizona.
c. I think the supporting cast needs work. They follow Sharpe around as if they have no life of their of their own yet they were "heading to meet the parents."
d. The solution sort of solved one part of the mystery, the coinage, but I did not understand how it solved the title problem.
Increased permeability = reduced filtering? Why wouldn't internal organs perform like the coins?
The 'sort of" comes from the fact the tracer ought to be on the train's chair - in the bank they fell to the floor - and not in the pocket of a crook a couple of kilometers back.
February 3rd, 2006, 12:58 PM
I find parts of your story unbelievable. How does a person steal coins, or any money, from a bank and not get noticed before they reach the door of the bank? Why would the police begin an investigation concerning a man on a train that has some sort of seizure and is then admitted to the hospital? There was no obvious criminal act to justify an investigation by the police.
You say the doctor is arrogant. But up until then all I read indicated a caring physician that wants to know who Sharpe is to be questioning and examining his patient. And the hospital lawyer calls in Sharpe to consult on the case without even confering with the primary care physician?
Doctors will usually follow-up the orders they give to the nursing staff to ensure the orders are being carried out, but it takes Sharpe to notice an improperly adjusted IV drip? And then concludes the nurse a thief?????? Wow!
I think the story is well written and flows just fine, but I kept coming across parts that didn't make sense. Have you ever laid in a hospital bed for days?Personally, I become impatient, sarcastic, bored, difficult to get along with and just generally surly. Yet your patient is cooperative. Even after many doctors, specialists, nurses, police, and even the hospital lawyer have examined him or questioned him. Is it necessary to keep the patient asleep, can't he just wear a blindfold? Or are the images he sees not dependent upon light entering the eyeball?
I think the story is interesting in a "technological Sherlock Holmes problem solver" sort of way. And the idea has great potential. Good Luck!
BTW, this is my first post on this site, excuse me if I am too judgemental. But I like your story enough to want to help. Mond.
February 3rd, 2006, 06:21 PM
See, this is why I ask for advice. I have some pretty big blind spots sometimes.
HE--a. I have no idea. Does make a person wonder though.
b. Stagecoaches don't go fast enough for money to fly out the window as the car passes an energy field at high speed--yeah I know, needs work.
c. Yeah, I agree. Erick and Miraelle need a bit more filling out. They were a later addition, Sharpe needed to talk, not think.
d. Also needs more explanation, obviously.
mondauthor--welcome. The trials on line were set up obviously. When my brother worked at a bank, someone walked out with $100 worth of nickles, it could not have been easy.
There was an investigation of the man on the train because the circumstances were unusual--I will adjust how I explain that. I'm thinking the investigation was more medical than criminal. The IV drip does need to be better thought out, I don't know a lot about the medical field. As for the patient, maybe the drugs made him happy? Let me think on that as well.
Thanks for the comments so far,
February 3rd, 2006, 07:42 PM
Ok, the thing I don't like about this story is the device.
Not only does the 'unauthorized coin' not make sense (as was pointed out), you're cheating the reader by holding onto a crucial bit of information they don't have, the device's existance.
One way you can introduce it to the reader without giving things away is announcing early on in the story how a security audit of the manufacturer's r&d records discovered tampering but were not able to show records were stolen.
Another use for your device would be precious metals recycling, identifying what's valuable by attracting it towards a chute like an electromagnet. You might even be able to work it in as one of the devices was supposively destroyed (actually stolen) during 'vandalism' at a pilot metals-recycling line. (maybe there's a news story about how the line's been repaired and back up?)
As for your characters, have you ever thought of giving Sharpe a love interest with a clearly infatuated Miraelle? Erick aware (why else did he get augmented?) and perhaps a little jealous/possessive but reluctantly giving in, to make her happy? I take it her parents have a good-sized place.
Oh, and have the phone call first, bringing him to London.
February 5th, 2006, 01:43 AM
Wow! I sense a major rewrite coming up. I guess I was spending too much time with the setting and forgot some of the finer points, you know, like a situation which makes sense.
Spoilers, kind of, if you intend to read the story don't read this....
Ex, you are right. How can it be fair if Sharpe knows all about this machine but the reader does not. Perhaps it would be fair if Sharpe doesn't know anything about it either. --It will take a few more pages, but it may be worth it. Imagine, our heroes sitting in the train trying to figure out what might have happened to this guy and then realize the money in their pockets has disappeared.
For that matter, I'm just thinking on my feet here (except I'm sitting down), maybe Rorinson shows Sharpe the patient, he is in a machine which is extracting traces of metal from his brain--no clue why it's there, that's why he called Sharpe. Would a strong electro-whatever field combined with traces of whatever kind of metal is used in coins cause a neuro condition which would allow me to keep the title to my story? (Note to self---research)
And maybe Poole shows up earlier, and just happens to be in on it because she is part of the family, not because this is in any way a police matter.
I am still kicking around the idea of starting with a first person scene with the patient to start the story--that's when the story really starts. He finished a normal day of work and lays down on the tube, then cut to Sharpe on his way to London... I'll have to try it, see if it works.
Oh, and as to why the professor's watch is set 62 minutes ahead, I gave it some thought. The most obvious answer would be that he set his watch ahead to see whether any of his new students would be observant enough to notice.
But in these kind of situations the answer is rarely the most obvious.
Time to go, :)
February 5th, 2006, 07:20 AM
I think starting with the patient's great - and maybe he's just the latest?
Many people sleep on the tub - especially young children, sometimes resting their heads on their mother's laps. (although maybe not as extreme).
And I don't think it would be hospital calling - it would be the Underground or the train manufacturer. A strange illness, no causes but victims found on new trains? Doctors unable to explain it? Ridership falling off, lawsuits....
February 7th, 2006, 11:37 PM
Obviously I'm still working on the rewrite, and my life keeps getting in the way. (sigh)
I did want to make sure I said thank you to those who were willing to read and respond. (I am still open to suggestions.)
HE--If you're still around, I wrote this last night. After a bit of editing and polishing, I think it may find a place at the end of the story...
“You are the generalist,” The professor said. “You tell me why I’m sixty-two minutes ahead.”
“Well,” Sharpe said, standing. “It could be you set your watch ahead to see if any of us would notice. But it could also be, since this is the first day of classes, you recently arrived in town from a different time zone and haven’t thought to change your watch yet. People who are chronically late will often set their watch ahead between two and ten minutes to offset their lateness. On the other hand, on your way to this class you could have run across a ripple in time, sending you one hour and two minutes into the past. You could have believed you were arriving an hour early to put your classroom in order. Since the physics building is between your office and this classroom, we cannot totally discount that possibility.”
“Well,” The professor said. “Mr. Sharpe Mallory. I am currently looking for a student assistant. I would be interested in seeing your application.”
“Fair enough,” Sharpe said, and sat down.
“Wait,” A voice called from the back of the classroom. “Which one was it?”
February 8th, 2006, 12:09 PM
Now, that satisifes all my objections. Particularly like the last line.
If it were my story, I'd probably insert the clip at the end of the action as a wrap-up. Fits my bent for shaggy dog tales, the end comes only in the last line and then, all too often, not as expected.
February 9th, 2006, 09:04 PM
I usually can't stand Sci fi but I make an exception for this story. I like it. (except for the gaps mentioned above) I found two nit-pics that tripped me up.
From her reaction, and his, Sharpe realized they were in the midst of a courtship ritual: the meeting of the parents. He wondered how it had gone with Miraelle had met Erick's family, if that had happened yet.
The wording or phrasing is a bit messed up, as though you are trying to say something 2 different ways at the same time.
Were you trying to say...He wondered how it had gone with Miraelle, if she had met Erick's family already...?
"That in itself is unusual," Erick said. "Most of the doctors I know can find an answer anything, whether they can or not."...an answer TO anything...
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