View Full Version : Critique and Feedback- Dream, a sci-fi short story
April 13th, 2006, 05:45 PM
I'm new here to the site, and I have to say that I like what I see. I posted one of my first short stories here, and I was wondering if someone here could read it and tell me what they think. Thanks in advance to everyone.
April 14th, 2006, 11:56 AM
I had to force myself to continue reading. It lacks conciseness. I always refer back to the saying "Just like a mechanical drawing has no lines serving no purpose and an engine has no parts serving no function, a story has no unnecessary words. It is concise."
"A nurse, a young woman, held a small light in his left eye, watching the Persian blue iris expand against the pupil."
", a young woman," is not needed. You soon refer to the nurse as "she", so the reader knows the nurse is female. This sentence is all tell concerning the actions of the nurse, moving the story along, so the fact that 2327 has a "Persian blue iris" seems to indicate a slight addiction to adjectives. When someone shines a light into your eye the iris closes down, it doesn't expand. Also, if anyone ever holds a small light IN my left eye, they should have really good health insurance because I'm going to knock them INTO next week!
"The bright lights activated, and the alarm blared the ultrasonic notes that inescapably awoke the man laying on the bed."
While the word "inescapably" helps define the darkness of the story, I would have chosen another word. People lie on things, objects lay.
Ultrasonic - having a frequency above the human ear's audibility limit of about 20,000 hertz. How does something I can't even hear, blare?
"Dealing with Kinsington was like...playing with an ant. Entertaining, but eventually, somewhere down the line, you began to pity it for being so foolish and so small. Then the game grew sad, and it had to end."
I like this analogy. But what purpose do the three periods serve? They seem to indicate a pause in the narrator's thinking. "eventually" and ",somewhere down the line," are synonymous and unnecessarily repetitious.
You are good at "showing", better than I actually, but it seems like you attempt to "show" for inanimate objects and passages where "telling" would suffice. Other than "some dreams don't turn out all that great and are better left as dreams" just what are you trying to say with this story? 2327 is the only level-headed character in this story, yet he becomes a murderer. I don't get it.
Criticism is like a basket of fruit, take what you want and leave the rest.
April 14th, 2006, 12:28 PM
Thanks for being honest though, and your review made me think a little bit about my style and how I can improve it.
As for 2327 being level-headed, he's not- he's naive. This is probably my fault for not showing, or telling, this, but he looks upon the Director as a god giving him something everyone of his kind wants. And yet when he reaches the hangar, he realizes he means nothing to his god, and that his god betrayed him.
Thanks again, though, for replying. It's nice to have someone to show me where I can improve.
Lastly, there's a method to my madness about the show/tell thing- I was hoping it would create tone, atmosphere, to better define and expand the world without inserting dialouge of history or economics or culture, which would've slowed down the story even more.
What I was trying to say with the story? Well, part of it I suppose is about hope and what you're willing to do for them. 2327 was willing to kill for his ideal vision of freedom, while Cain had completely given up and was chosen only because Kinsington thought he could be molded for his own use- exactly like Abdul with 2327.
April 14th, 2006, 05:01 PM
Your story has potential but it seems a little out of focus.
On one hand, we've got 2327, a friendly genetically altered soldier, a very good main character. Then we've got Cain who doesn't like Mondays, doesn't like mornings. You could cut Cain completely out of this story and nobody'll notice. All he does is complain, do a dull little job and gets a dull little promotion for no reason we can see - his contribution to the story is minor.
She smelled different today. The nurse moved to his right eye and he took another whiff. Different...but nice, kind of like the colorful plants he saw when the game's holoprojectors were set to forest.
Do these holographic plants smell?
What was Christmas? It sounded important...and for that matter, what was a mother? Wasn't a weapon, obviously. A person, maybe? The nurses squad leader? But why would a squad leader get a subordinate something that aided the enemy in detecting her? Weird.
...and as he walked out the room, he wondered for a moment if he could have a mother.
Why does he want a mother if he thinks one is a squad leader who's trying to get him killed?
The plan really was clever, Abdul would be the first to admit that. He would remove Kinsington, place himself in greater power, and increase the United World's ability to survive a galactic war all in one fell stroke.
Is there a war? If you're fighting on a galatic stage, why is the facility on Mars and not some other planet out there?
Of course, there was the problem of who to send, but Abdul had solved that one too. In fact, the solution was on its way now. Sometimes, Abdul had to admit that he really was quite brilliant.
Abdul is an idiot. Sending a hybrid from Mars to Earth to kill the general would point directly at the Director as being responsible. There's nothing in your story that would suggest the General ever met 2327 so what would be 2327's motivation in killing some general he never met?
Wouldn't the best subject assassinating the General be enough to scrap the project, suggesting the hybrids are too unstable to be useful?
I'm sorry to tell you this - you really need to sit down and rethink this story. You're actually going to have to expand it and take full use of the opportunity to show us 2327's life, fighting in your holographic battlefield and actually becoming a soldier rather than the naive test subject you have shown us.
April 15th, 2006, 12:39 AM
Thanks for the review, and it seems I've got my second bad one of the day :p .
Okay, first, Cain is there because the story needs the face of 'average joe human' and neither Abdul nor 2327 fit that bill. Also, Cain's character will be expanded in later stories (one of which will be here soon).
Second, you make a vaild point about the mother thing- but the reason it's there is to show the reader how inhuman 2327 is- and perhaps I could show that with just the Christmas thing- but remember not everyone celebrates that holiday or has any emotional attachment to it, so overall the mother thing is more effective. As for why 2327 wants a mother- basic horomones: he likes the nurses new smell, learns that a mother gave it to her, and so naturally wants some for himself. That parts in there because it shows how human 2327 is.
It's more of a cold war mixed with a rise in terrorism. As for why it's on Mars, think about it for a second. Where else would you put a hyper-vital military base than the world right next to Earth?
I guess I didn't stress this enough, but in the story it's both said and implied that Kinsington is the face of project, not Abdul. First thing is the implication- Kinsington flat out refused Abdul's request to speak to the Council. Second was flat out saying it when Abdul described the plan.
Another thing I do need to show more, though, is that by the time of this story, Humanzees are not experimental in any way, shape, or form- they're the backbone of the Human military, being both it's footsoldiers and special forces operatives.
As for showing more of 2327's life at the base- wait until I post the next part, and you'll see why the training itself is unimportant; it's the effect it has on him.
April 15th, 2006, 03:17 PM
Thanks for the review, and it seems I've got my second bad one of the day :p
Bad reviews can help you too. They hurt, but what's important is listening to what they're saying. You can always reject them. None of us is perfect.
April 15th, 2006, 08:25 PM
Good point. But I usually listen to bad reviews, unless they're full-out flames, and I've seen no evidense of that anywhere on this site.
Plus, by doing my best to take an honest look at the bad reviews, it makes my skin thicker when I'm trying to get something published, and I'm getting rejections.
April 16th, 2006, 10:13 AM
My bad. The iris does expand against the pupil. From the pupil's POV. Interesting way of writing it.
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