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July 23rd, 2007, 03:22 PM
Yes, some of the fans of my general approach and charm are being offered what is known as a "free shot".

In addition to general commentary (please keep my mother out of it) I'm interested in whether this fits into current SF modes or breaks tabboos.

Benito and his buddies are young Mexican border toughs who have hijacked a means of transporting between planets and are using to ply their old trades or dealing drugs and smuggling illegal aliens.

Everybody in the place had flat, blue-black skin, slitted eyes, and heads shaved bald except for elaborately lacquered topknots that added almost a foot to their height. They were also uniformly roughneck scoundrels. Even here in Minius, the most rugged ratnest of rascals they’d happened on yet, this bar stood out as degenerate and dangerous. Even the wall art advertised the general orientation of the place. Lots of bars have paintings of naked women, but usually not being sliced bloody with knives.

Ben and Monke held firearms cocked in their laps, ugly revolvers with huge cylinders and bamboo handles. The other partiers at their table were sleek black local drug fiends, laughing with pointed yellow teeth as they tossed off odd liquors and smoked from stubby blue pipes like clay kazoos.

Nabo stood squarely behind them, making no secret of what he held under the bright blue brocade ceremonial robe. His counterpart stood opposite, also advertising being armed, vigilant, and a hair from going off. He scowled at Nabo, a ghastly display of ridges and teeth that would have intimidated many a strong man. Nabo flashed him a friendly grin. The counterpart blinked, thought it over, then returned a merry smile, marred only slightly by his collection of welts and scars.

A drug fiend with a white rosette pattern etched into his face passed Monke a bottle of pinkish liquid with some vaguely aquatic creature moving inside it. Monke tipped it up and knocked back a swig. He handed the bottle, carefully masking his disgust in order to set Ben up. Ben took it, squinted at the struggling mollusk, and tilted it up for a deep draught. He masked his reaction, but Monke had been watching and caught the flutter of his throat muscles. Ben kissed the glass outside the imprint of the suction pseudopod and passed the bottle on. Meanwhile the tattooed fiend was examining the low stone bowl of golden herb. He sniffed at it, examined some on his finger. He spoke laconically to Ben in the lilting local jive.

“No way,” Ben told him. “Totally organic. Look at this.”

He reached into his robe, drawing a flicker of attention from Nabo’s counterpart, and slowly drew out a large, golden marijuana leaf, which he passed to the fiend.

“See. It’s all herbs and spices, Tats.”

The leaf was sniffed, stroked, nibbled, and tugged at by the tattooed fiend and his circle of attendant fiends. Ben took out another whole leaf and ground it between his palms. He dusted the crushed herb into the bowl of a huge Max Ernst hookah in the middle of the table, motioned the Tattooed Man to the ivory mouthpiece beside him, and leaned over to light the weed up.

The smoking tube passed from mouth to mouth with mellowing results and smiling nods. Nothing too crazy. Good for mellowing out or having some nice, violent sex. The lead fiend looked at the leaf again, stroked it, scrutinized the contents of the bowl. He jabbered again, cat cries in the night.

“Michoacan”, Ben said, drawing a blank.

The tattoos clumped together as the local tried to place the name. He spoke again.

“Hell, no,” Ben replied indignantly. “We’re from the Distrito Federal.”

Finally hearing words he understood, Nabo chimed in, “Damn straight. Red-boned chilangos, that's us.”

The fiend nodded judiciously, now understanding all. He held the bowl up in one hand, waved at it with the other as though trying to make it disappear in a puff of smoke, and yowled more jive at Ben.

“We’ve got a buttload of it,” Ben said. “Actually, three buttloads.”

Grinning, the fiend flashed a role of bright blue banknotes, raising his eyebrows to redraw the white lines of his forehead. Ben shook his head. What these worlds needed was a central bank. The fiend clapped his hands twice and a very snaky dancing girl undulated over to the table and showed her wares to the boys. Not too bad, Nabo thought. Except for the badly healed knife cuts.

Ben smiled at the dancer, but politely shook his head at TatMan. Frowning, the fiend pulled a finely worked leather pouch from his robe and let it roll out on the table. Inside were a bundle of what looked like large porcupine quills. He mimed stabbing one of the quills into his forearm, then held it up close to Ben’s face. He squeezed it lightly and a tiny drop of green fluid appeared, quivering on the needle-sharp point.

“Oh, no. Not that **** again,” Nabo groaned.

“We know where we can double up on it,” Monke told Ben. “Take it.”

“You test the sample,” Nabo snarled. “I’m not touching that psycho cagada.”

“What a puss,” Ben said, offhandedly.

“**** it,” Nabo snapped. “If I have wetdreams I want them to be human. At least mammals.”

“A bigot, as well,” Monke intoned sorrowfully. “Sad.”

July 23rd, 2007, 04:34 PM
I liked some of the writing (especially the alliteration), but overall it felt like it was trying to hard to be "edgy". Us SF fans may be simple souls, but i don't need every paragraph to tell me about weapons and violence and drugs in order to feel the atmosphere.

Was drug fiend meant to indicate they were nasty drug dealers? or is the name of the alien species? or is a fantasy-crossover, so they were actual demonic fiends? It was used so often, i felt it should mean something, maybe a the context is given elsewhere.

So far i'd say it is pretty typical SF (not meaning that as criticism or praise). Dwelling on unrealistic amounts of violence may have been shocking before the new wave, but now is just a stylistic choice amoungst many.

Unfortunatly in some cases here, the violence seemed to unrealistic to me - i've known drug-dealers, they are no more interested in violent sex than anyone else, and i doubt any would hang around a bar showing torture-porn. Again, maybe it works in a wider story context, but not in this extract.

Oh, another thing i thought, is an interplanetary drug-den not dependant on the old-fashioned assumption that aliens would be just like humans? Why do the aliens need to smuggle? They have Christian style morality? and a legal systm based on English/Roman common law? Not necessarily a problem, but certainly not breaking boundaries.

July 23rd, 2007, 08:04 PM
Typical's good. But I'm puzzled by all your references to violence. There's plenty of violence in this book, but I don't see any in this scene.
Am I overlooking cues that lead people to that perception?

July 24th, 2007, 07:09 PM
The idea seems alright, Im not going to go into that aspect.

But the actual writing seemed like it was describing the scene for a set designer to make in a movie production. It didnt seem like an excerpt from a novel. If I was you, I would take a look at my favourite writer, see how he did it, then rewrite the book.

Physics Knight
July 24th, 2007, 08:40 PM
I think you need to establish the POV a bit more blatantly. Well, maybe because it's an excerpt a reader who's read your whole novel may get the POV. One other thing: are there humans and aliens/other species in this drug-dealing circle? If that is so, drugs would affect the species differently, and this may change the whole drug-dealing dynamic. Just something to think about (if you haven't already).

July 25th, 2007, 01:48 AM
I thought it was pretty decent.

The only thing worth mentioning, is early on you use the description..............
"A rugged ratnest of rascals"

the use of rascals doesn't seem to fit with the rest for me personally. When I hear rascals I think of the the little rascals, I think of pranksters and such, not rough drugdealers, thugs and criminals.

The fact that that is the only thing worth mentioning is a good thing though, keep it up

July 25th, 2007, 12:11 PM
I think I'm a little confused as to how a drug that mellows people out can open the door for "some nice, violent sex," as violence is sort of the opposite of being mellow.

I can't really commet on the science fiction aspects. Mostly because they aren't that apparant. Though I will say that if this novel is going to touch on any sort of political commentary in dealing with immigration in the US, then having Mexicans smuggling illegal 'aliens' (of whom I imagine are going to be of the ET sort) is sort of obvious, and is sort of going to get some eye rolls and forehead smacking going.

Aside from that, you used the word fiend, a lot. Find something else to call them, on top of "fiend."

There's probably more to say, but I'm not really sure what you're looking for as far as criticism, so I'll keep the majority of my issues with this to myself for now.

July 25th, 2007, 12:59 PM
I think I'm a little confused as to how a drug that mellows people out can open the door for "some nice, violent sex," as violence is sort of the opposite of being mellow.

That confused me too, back when I used to hang around with motorcycle gang guys. :p

Thanks for comments so far people.

I guess my main question here, Shane and others, is if this is "over the top" or "taboo" for the contemporary scifi market.

Davis Ashura
July 25th, 2007, 01:05 PM
I guess my main question here, Shane and others, is if this is "over the top" or "taboo" for the contemporary scifi market.

Not even close to over-the-top or taboo.

July 25th, 2007, 02:38 PM
Yeah, not by a long shot.