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Douglas
January 6th, 2014, 06:07 PM
Hi,

I would very much appreciate any feedback on this. (I am from the UK so some of my words fail you US spell checker.)

CHAPTER 1

A gentle hiss marked the opening of the stasis pod door. Grey vapours emerged from inside as the hinged lid slowly opened. The reclined occupant, dimly lit, stirred as the noise ceased. With the mist almost dissipated, the figure within became clearly visible. A tall humanoid male with black hair, an anchor beard and bronze tanned skin lay naked in the pod. His perfectly toned muscular physique complimented his handsome, square-jawed features.

Gradually he sat up and carefully got out of the pod. Standing, he stretched both arms to their full extent, flicked his long hair, and walked towards a cylindrical area in the room. He entered the area and proceeded to rub his hands all over his body as if cleansing it, but there was no water. This action continued for a short while. Finally he walked to a well lit area where a tall mirror smoothly appeared from the floor. He looked intently into it and met a pair of solid silver eyes staring back.

Moving in a graceful flowing manner, he grabbed a small black disc, some 7cm in diameter, from an adjacent smooth flat surface. Placing the disc near his sternum, it 'locked in' to his body proximity yet did not touch his flesh. Closing his eyes briefly, a short bright flash emanated from the disc and his body became clothed. He wore a lengthy white robe with intricate gold patterns and trimming. A gold fabric belt was fastened around his slim waist and a pair of gold strapped sandals adorned his feet.

At that moment, a figure walked seamlessly through the wall and into his room. A bright white shiny surface completely covered their body and head. It tightly hugged the body structure which was obviously female and very shapely. The head was completely smooth with no features, rather like a large up-turned egg. After a brief flash, the face became partially visible. An attractive young woman with black hair and silver eyes moved closer to the robed man.

"The Council of Elders are awaiting your presence," she announced.

He turned, calmly nodded and they both strode purposefully through the wall, as if it wasn't there, and out of the room.


The corridor, although dark with obsidian floor and walls, was illuminated by neon blue carvings depicting various historic moments of an 'Ancient Star Race'. Some were static, others moving and cinematic in nature. They walked briskly, each awaiting the other to break the silence first.

"Let me introduce myself. I am Commander Lerana and I will be working for you during this assignment." Her soft voice belied her forceful and direct nature.

"Commander." acknowledged the man with a nod. "My name is Eod and you know the role I play here." A brief yet nervous smile was her response.

Ahead, the passage opened out into a lofty chamber with a 15m high statue forming the centrepiece of attention. It depicted a female 'Elder' with right arm uplifted overhead and holding a large scintillating sphere of purple and blue energy. She was gazing at the vast hemispheric chamber roof, teeming with moving holographic stars and galaxies. It was like some enormous advanced planetarium. At the base of the statue stood two shiny white body-suited men who turned to face the others as they approached.

Lerana commenced the introductions with a graceful arm gesture. "This is Aran, Chief Liberation Coordinator...," mutual nods of acknowledgement, "... and this is Vadi, Master of Dark Light Operations.", again more nodding.

"It is a pleasure to serve." said Aran and Vadi in unison.

"Indeed. My name is Eod, yet I can see by your expressions that this is already known to you." Turning to his side, he addressed Lerana, "I am correct in assuming a discourse with the 'Council of Elders' requires full battle-dress attire as a matter of protocol."

"You are correct, as always." she replied.

After a brief flash, all four were now wearing full battle-dress. Each wore an armoured suit of obsidian with gold edging. It was angular, intimidating, solid and substantial. It had minimal ornamentation with maximum flexibility and power. Each had the courtesy of not wearing the head armour that sent chills down the spine when observed. A long flowing black cape with unique decorative gold emblems and sigils finished the appearance.

With haste they proceeded to a tall curved archway that marked the opening to the 'Hall of Elders'. Eod turned to his entourage and signaled for them to stay put, using the palm of his right hand. After a short pause, composing himself, Eod strode majestically into the hall.


Before him stood a raised C-shaped structure, a large table of some sort, tilted down towards the entrance where its opening aligned with the archway. The hall itself was a vast hemispherical chamber permeated with subdued yet sufficient lighting. Seated around the table, each with an illuminated spotlight, were the thirty-seven Elders resplendent in their official regalia. Eod was close enough, however, to observe their golden eyes staring directly at him. These eyes, together with their pure white hair, unmistakably denoted the mark of their stature.

Eod moved a few steps closer, stopped and bowed lowly with both arms extended straight and pointed behind. He arose slowly and noticed a slight increase in his pulse and a few beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead. "Curious..." he thought, "...just to be in their presence was enough to produce a physical affect."

"Welcome, please approach," came a calm female voice from the apex of the table.

He did as requested and a circular section of the obsidian floor arose, a metre or so, where Eod stood atop. A moving holographic image faded into view and formed within the centre of the table area. It was clearly a representation of a star system with one of the planets highlighted.

"This is the Felis star system in sector 14.2. It contains an inhabited planet called Antini Prime. They are an emerging race with limited inter-planetary travel and an assessed technology level of 6.7." She paused briefly, ensuring that Eod had absorbed the information, then continued. "We have been monitoring their progress for an extended time period. It seems now is an opportune moment for us. They need our help Eod." She finished with a raised eyebrow and a wry smile.

"As the Council requests." replied Eod.

The elevated section lowered, he bowed again, then swiftly departed from the hall.

He strode past his entourage, turned back to Lerana and said, "Assemble a small liberation force onto the star cruiser 'Leviathan', and meet me on the bridge." She acknowledged his order.

Then he shouted to Aran and Vadi, as they scampered to keep up, and commanded, "Ensure the reception facilities here on Herata are manned and fully functional."



Many thanks and kind regards,
Douglas

thepancreas11
January 8th, 2014, 09:04 PM
Douglas,

Good start. You paint a beautiful picture of Eod's world. The setting and the costumes accentuate the feel of the novel. Even the dialogue is concise and serves you well; I already have a good understanding of Eod's culture and character. I also have to commend you: too often, especially in science fiction, the first chapter suffers from data-dumping (I believe the phrase is), where the author tries to throw as much information as they can at the reader to set the scene. This excerpt is really pared down and direct, which is refreshing. I've only read maybe the first three pages, and I'm already revved up for adventure.

Unfortunately, one or two of the other pitfalls of Sci-Fi appear to have snagged you. The biggest fault that new sciency writers tend to have is over-exuberance when it comes to adjectives. Several times, you include two words when describing a situation that essentially mean the same thing (ex. "brief flash", "tightly hugged", "illuminated spotlight", etc.), and then, there are times when you string a few too many descriptors together, which impedes your momentum (ex. "bright white shiny surface", "dark with obsidian floors and walls", "centerpiece of attention", etc.). "Shiny, white surface" is enough. "With obsidian floors and walls" is enough (and once you say this, you don't have to tell anyone that the floors are obsidian again). We can get the picture from there. You should also be wary of including verbs that either don't fit the rhythm or the situation correctly simply because they are more descriptive (ex. "permeated with subdued and sufficient lighting", "arose slowly", "each awaiting the other to", etc.). "Permeated" is more for a convection style radiation like body heat, for example. Try something like "lit just sufficient enough to see they were there but not enough to see their faces", or "rose slowly", or "each waiting for the other to". They make more sense in the situation. In the end, include only enough to get the point across and let the reader create from there.

I have a pet peeve when it comes to made up numbers too. It's so common in science fiction that most people ignore it, and it can make the piece sound more technical, but what does a technology level of 6.7 mean? Where is sector 14.2? How do these fit into your story? If you're going to include them, make them count.

Good luck with the rest of your story. If you want to post more in this thread, I would gladly read it. It's got a lot of promise.

Regards,
the pancreas

InS_ght
January 13th, 2014, 05:57 AM
Good start, the premise is fairly clear and the characters personalities are displayed through their formal dialogue and physical description. If I may dole out some constructive criticism though.

For a first chapter, it offers an extremely small amount of setting. As a reader I felt thrown into the middle of nowhere, the only hard details explaining the characters I am seeing. I suggest a stronger start, introducing the facility that the stasis pod is staying in, maybe even a history of what the elders do and why. (I am unaware if these details will be upcoming in your next chapters, but they are good to get out of the way so that the reader is orientated with what is going on.)

As well you distance the reader with the line: "My name is Eod and you know the role I play here". Sure, his counterpart does know of his back story, but the reader does not. It implies that his deeds are worth noting, that your main character is an important man. However we are left with no details explaining why he is important. Even a quick reply from Commander Lerana stating a few facts about his deeds that she knows about would help. Ex: "Indeed sir, you are known throughout the system for __________."

Those are the main points I see. I have some more technical details I would like to suggest, but they are strictly from the perspective of my own writing style and you should take them with a grain of salt.

The line "It was like some enormous advanced planetarium" made me stumble a little, and brought me out of the immersion of your story. A much stronger writing position would simply be "It was an enormous advanced planetarium" Any combination of the words "like some sort of" in my opinion display a weak way of defining something. It feels soft. Give me strong details, make it stand out and wow me as I'm reading.

As well, the line "Each had the courtesy of not wearing the head armour that sent chills down the spine when observed" is a little choppy. If you want to bring attention to the chilling nature of the helmets, it is easier to actually include them in the story. You bring attention to a piece of the armour that they are not actually wearing, making the reader take a step back before continuing on. Perhaps each member of the council had their helmets at their side, or at their feet. This way you could describe the item and its terrifying nature without reducing the immersion of your story.


In conclusion, I simply would love more detail. Blast me with information about your world. The sights, the facility, why they exist and where they are. One of the most important factors of sci-fi is the wow effect of a distant reality. You indeed captured this essence with your technology, the stasis pod and the holographic clothes being changed in the blink of an eye. But beyond their gadgets, immerse me deeply into the emotional and visual aspects of the settings.

I hope this was helpful, I mean my criticism only for your benefit and I do not wish to insult or trash your work. Cheers mate, I look forward to reading more!

Byz
January 20th, 2014, 01:38 PM
Hey Douglas - your story sucked me right in. Very cool. My 'critiques' are similar to thepancreas11's observations, so I'll just echo that you don't need to over-describe. The things that caught me and brought me out of your story a little were the extra descriptors - for example "subdued yet sufficient lighting". The ONLY thing that brought me completely out of your world was your description of the "15m high statue". I always have to stop and think "is that miles, meters millimeters...." My mind doesn't work mathematically. It just doesn't. LOL! Fifteen meters, right? You're writing, not doing math, so it needs to be spelled out. :)

I love this story, and can't wait to read more of it. :)

DanO
January 21st, 2014, 12:10 AM
You write very well with good detail. But I feel that you are not really emotionally grabbing the reader, you need to get the reader tied up emotionally with the characters and their situations and this is not the case so far. The better the sooner is usually the best. How to grab the reader usually requires a strong situation, a murder, a suicide, a accident, a explosion with a emotional tie, like a old friend is caught in a explosion on planet X, ,,, etc. The best situations are those that get the reader thinking I would do this or that in the situation you put your characters if you get the reader thinking about this then you have them hooked for the whole novel.

Jared77
February 14th, 2014, 05:42 PM
Nice little story opening. Like others have said, the main issue is that it's just too "wordy." Very often, Less is More. Here's one example:

"He entered the area and proceeded to rub his hands all over his body as if cleansing it, but there was no water."

Why not cut the "proceeded" and go with: "He rubbed his hands all over his body..."

Douglas
February 15th, 2014, 01:03 PM
I can't thank all of you enough for spending the time to provide feedback to me regarding this. It really means a lot to me.

I have PM'd most of you with a reply but I feel it would be appropriate to formally respond here.

The story has a complex plot and this piece is meant to introduce the villain in a manner that makes it difficult for the reader to determine if Eod is benevolent of malevolent. This is a key part to the plot as a whole. In retrospect I think this would be more fitting as a prologue, since Chapter 1 should be introducing the hero and his world etc.

To address specific points raised...


thepancreas11

Over-exuberant adjectives - I agree and have revised the piece accordingly with this in mind.

Numbers in the story - I agree and these have been removed/replaced.


InS_ght

Small amount of setting - I made this intentionally short and sharp as it introduces the villain and 'plants some seeds' that will be 'nurtured' later in the book.

Distancing the reader - I wanted Eod's comment to be vague at this point as I do not want to reveal the level of his malevolence at this stage (i.e. a figurehead for invading and conquering worlds).

Bringing the reader out of immersion - I agree and have revised the planetarium part, however, I have left the 'chilling helm' part as it is since the full details will be revealed in an epic fight scene between hero and villain near the end of the story.



Byz

Over-describing things - I agree and it has been revised.

Numbers - I agree, they have been addressed too.


DanO

Emotionally grabbing the reader - I agree, however, this piece makes more sense as a prologue detailing the villain (who is clinical, efficient, ruthless and emotionless as the story will reveal). I hope to make Chapter 1 and the introduction to the hero, emotionally grabbing.


Jared77

Just too wordy - I agree and this has been revised.



Just as a general comment, I was also aware of too much repetition ("black hair", "turn/turning", "body" etc) and used a neat piece of software (on trial) to address this. It is called 'Repetition Detector 2".

I have also put this through two online grammar checkers ("After the Deadline" and "Paper Rater") and the MS Word spelling and grammar checker. This highlighted several things which I have hopefully taken on-board and applied to the re-write (although it does raise some questions regarding 'passive voice' and 'complex wording' relating to my writing style).


Once again, thank you all for your help. I will re-post the revised text after this reply. Hopefully it reads a lot better.

Kind regards,
Douglas

Douglas
February 15th, 2014, 01:15 PM
PROLOGUE

A gentle hiss marked the opening of the stasis pod door. Grey vapours emerged from inside as the hinged lid slowly rose. The reclined occupant, dimly lit, stirred as the noise ceased. With the mist almost dissipated, a figure became clearly visible. A tall humanoid male with black hair, an anchor beard and bronze tanned skin lay naked in the pod. His perfectly toned muscular physique complimented his handsome, square-jawed features.

Gradually he sat up and carefully got out of the pod. Standing, he outstretched both arms, flicked his long hair, and walked towards a cylindrical area in the room. He entered, and began to rub his hands all over his body as if cleansing it, but there was no water. This action continued for a short while. Finally he proceeded to a well-lit section where a tall mirror smoothly appeared from the floor. He looked intently into it and met a pair of solid silver eyes staring back.

Moving in a graceful manner, he grabbed a small red disc from an adjacent flat surface. Placing it near his sternum, it 'locked in' to his physical proximity yet did not touch his flesh. Closing his eyes briefly, a bright flash emanated and his body became clothed. He wore a lengthy white robe with intricate gold patterns and trimming. Around his slim waist was a matching fabric belt and a pair of golden strapped sandals adorned his feet.

At that moment, someone walked seamlessly through the wall and into his room. They were totally covered in a glossy white surface. It hugged their form, which was obviously female and very shapely. The head was completely smooth with no features, rather like a large inverted egg. After a flash, the face became partially visible. An attractive young woman with raven hair and chrome-coloured eyes, moved closer to the robed man.

"'The Council of Elders' are awaiting your presence," she announced.

He turned, calmly nodded and they both strode purposefully through the wall, as if it wasn't there, and out of the room.

The corridor, with black shiny floor and walls, was illuminated with neon blue carvings depicting various historic moments of an ancient stellar race. Some were static, several moving and cinematic. They walked briskly, each waiting for the other to break the silence first.

"Let me introduce myself. I am Commander Lerana and I will be working for you during this assignment." Her soft voice belied her forceful and direct nature.

"Commander." acknowledged the man with a nod. "My name is Eod and you know the role I play here." A brief yet nervous smile was her response.

Ahead, the passage opened out into a lofty chamber with a huge statue forming the main focal point. It depicted a female 'Elder' with right arm uplifted overhead and holding a large scintillating sphere of purple and blue energy. She was gazing at the vast hemispheric chamber roof, teeming with holographic stars and galaxies. It was like staring directly into the night sky. At its base stood two white body-suited men who presented themselves to the others as they approached.

Lerana commenced the introductions with a flowing arm gesture. "This is Aran, Chief Liberation Coordinator...," mutual nods of acknowledgement, "... and this is Vadi, Master of Dark-Light Operations.", again more nodding.

"It is a pleasure to serve." said Aran and Vadi in unison.

"Indeed. My name is Eod, yet I can see by your expressions that this is already known to you." He addressed Lerana, "I am correct in assuming a discourse with 'The Council of Elders' requires full battle-dress attire as a matter of protocol."

"You are correct, as always." she replied.

A flash, and all four wore full battle-dress. They were clothed in an armoured suit of obsidian with gilt edging. It was angular, intimidating, solid and substantial. It had minimal ornamentation with maximum flexibility and power. Each had the courtesy of not wearing the head armour that sent chills down the spine when viewed. A long flowing black cape with unique decorative emblems and sigils finished the appearance.

With haste they proceeded to a tall curved archway that marked the opening to the 'Hall of Elders'. Eod faced his entourage and signalled for them to stay put, using the palm of his right hand. After a momentary pause, composing himself, Eod strode majestically into the hall.

Before him stood a tall C-shaped structure, a large table of some sort, tilted down towards the entrance where its opening aligned with the archway. The hall itself was a vast hemispherical chamber dimly lit. Seated around the table, each spot-lit, were the thirty-seven elders resplendent in their official regalia. Eod was close enough, however, to observe their golden eyes staring directly at him. These, together with their pure white hair, unmistakably denoted the mark of their stature.

Eod moved a few steps closer, stopped and bowed lowly with both arms extended straight and pointed behind. He straightened slowly and noticed a slight increase in his pulse and a few beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead. "Curious..." he thought, "...just to be in their presence was enough to produce a physical effect."

"Welcome, please approach," said a calm female voice from the apex of the table.

He did as requested and a circular section of the floor arose, a metre or so, where Eod stood atop. A moving holographic image faded into view and formed within the centre of the table area. It clearly represented a solar system with one of the planets highlighted.

"This is the Felis star system in the outer rim. It contains an inhabited planet called Antini Prime. They are an emerging race with limited inter-planetary travel, valuable mineral resources and a moderate level of technology." She paused briefly, ensuring that Eod had absorbed the information, and then continued. "We have been monitoring their progress for an extended time period. It seems now is an opportune moment for us. They need our help Eod." She finished with a raised eyebrow and a wry smile.

"As the Council requests." replied Eod.

The raised section lowered, he bowed again, and then swiftly departed from the hall.

He strode past his entourage, turned back to Lerana and said, "Assemble a small liberation force on-board the star cruiser 'Leviathan', and meet me on the bridge." She acknowledged his order.

Then he shouted to Aran and Vadi, as they scampered to keep up, and commanded, "Ensure the reception facilities here on Herata are manned and fully functional."

gill woods
February 15th, 2014, 09:30 PM
hi, love the story opening! On the whole i liked it i just felt that you are over describing a touch, but it is a very good start and will be interesting to see how the story pans out,

thepancreas11
February 16th, 2014, 01:48 PM
Douglas,

You did a better job creating flow, but you're still using too many adjectives/adverbs. You qualify almost every verb that you put in the piece. Let's take the first four paragraphs:

A gentle hiss marked the opening of the stasis pod door. Grey vapours emerged from inside as the hinged lid slowly rose. The reclined occupant, dimly lit, stirred as the noise ceased. With the mist almost dissipated, a figure became clearly visible. A tall humanoid male with black hair, an anchor beard and bronze tanned skin lay naked in the pod. His perfectly toned muscular physique complimented his handsome, square-jawed features.

Gradually he sat up and carefully got out of the pod. Standing, he outstretched both arms, flicked his long hair, and walked towards a cylindrical area in the room. He entered, and began to rub his hands all over his body as if cleansing it, but there was no water. This action continued for a short while. Finally he proceeded to a well-lit section where a tall mirror smoothly appeared from the floor. He looked intently into it and met a pair of solid silver eyes staring back.

Moving in a graceful manner, he grabbed a small red disc from an adjacent flat surface. Placing it near his sternum, it 'locked in' to his physical proximity yet did not touch his flesh. Closing his eyes briefly, a bright flash emanated and his body became clothed. He wore a lengthy white robe with intricate gold patterns and trimming. Around his slim waist was a matching fabric belt and a pair of golden strapped sandals adorned his feet.

At that moment, someone walked seamlessly through the wall and into his room. They were totally covered in a glossy white surface. It hugged their form, which was obviously female and very shapely. The head was completely smooth with no features, rather like a large inverted egg. After a flash, the face became partially visible. An attractive young woman with raven hair and chrome-coloured eyes, moved closer to the robed man.

You have approximately one adverb for every verb, and at least a one to one ratio of adverbs to sentences. Now, an adverb becomes necessary when an adjective won't suffice. "After a flash, the face became PARTIALLY visible," is in my opinion, a viable use of an adverb. "The head was COMPLETELY smooth with no features, rather like an inverted egg," is not so much. Why not just say she wore an egg-shapped helmet? We know what eggs look like. We would know it's completely smooth. Let your adjectives do the work.

You do a strange thing with your tenses too. "A figure became clearly visible." "The face became partially visible." "...his body became clothed." This is where you use your descriptive, linguistic talents. Find a verb that better accentuates the action. "A figure emerges from the mist." "The helmet flashed, and her eyes appeared beneath the tinted visor" (also, if the face is partially visible, how can we see most of it, like her hair and her eyes?). "The disc sprang to life, clothing him in..." Try replacing all your verb qualifiers with verbs that stand alone on their own.

Be careful with the verb choice though because there are some words in here that don't quite fit in the sentence. "A bright flash emanated" kind of rubs me the wrong way (especially because a flash is already bright). "White light flashed..." better suits that situation. Emanated gives it the tone of something slow moving, something spreading, which is not the case.

One more little personal preference thing: I'd say forty percent of your sentences have an indirect structure, meaning (basically) that there's a comma in the middle of it. "Moving in a graceful manner, he..." "With the mist almost dissipated, he..." "Closing his eyes briefly, he..." This sentence structure makes it easy to slip in qualifiers and more words than the sentence needs. I used it a lot myself, but consider being more direct: subject, action, thing acted upon. "He closed his eyes and then..." "He moved gracefully..." (Consider a better verb). "The mist dissipated and..."

I didn't mean to write so much, but I'm think this has SUCH potential, and it really is SO close. If you can just tighten everything up a little bit, then you've got the makings of a novel worth publishing. Great edit. One more time!

Cheers,
thepancreas11

Zeynith
February 19th, 2014, 10:27 AM
Hey Douglas,

I like what you have so far. I was a bit confused about a couple parts, but mostly
He entered, and began to rub his hands all over his body as if cleansing it, but there was no water. This action continued for a short while.
What was he doing if he wasn't cleaning himself? If he is cleaning himself with some future waterless shower probably would be good to be a bit more clear. I am not really sure these lines are necessary at all since it does not play any great roll in what is happening and just slows things down. Could probably just skip it and have him put on the robe so you can get the plot moving.

Hope that was at all helpful, keep up the good work.

Douglas
February 19th, 2014, 11:29 AM
Thanks for the additional comments, much appreciated.

gill woods,

Problem echoed (in more detail) by thepancreas11.


thepancreas11,

Great feedback and rewrite is in progress.


Zeynith,

He is actually cleansing himself (after being in stasis) using a high-tech method (not sonic shower, too low-tech for him).
I will reword to something like...

He entered and began to rub his hands all over his body, cleansing it, but there was no water.

... or possibly remove it altogether.

Kind regards,
Douglas

cosmictide
March 15th, 2014, 12:04 AM
I enjoyed reading your piece, though one minor thing you could consider changing is perhaps merging your sentences together in the first few paragraphs. They all seem to be of generally the same length, which after time I found made reading slightly stilted, and possibly mixing up the lengths may help with that. Also I am not too sure why you would bother having walls that are actually exits when everyone seems to know that they are there. Yes, maybe they are a sort of defence mechanism, but right now they seem unnecessary. Focusing your descriptive work on things like his clothing appearing on him - which in contrast was glossed over in a short line - that are more central could be more useful.

stormageddon
March 15th, 2014, 12:38 AM
I don't have much to add, except to comment on your description of the characters.
They all seem to be very attractive, which I find alienating (no pun intended) as a reader. Not because I am hideously deformed, but because it is unrealistic, gives the story the air of a personal fantasy on the part of the writer, and is very Twilightesque. This may be your intention, it may not, but your description of Eod is (I cringe in typing this) very sexualized. Like something I would expect to find in a rip off of fifty shades of grey.
That may sound harsh, but it is one of my pet peeves in novels to have all the characters apparently sexualized from the get go, and if that was not what you were trying to get across, it might be something to bear in mind. If it was, then it was well done, just not my cup of tea. But speaking of tea, awkward sexualness aside, I would drink this ;)

erinranning
March 15th, 2014, 07:05 PM
Hi Douglas!

I'm partially in agreement with other comments and, (on some major points) not so much. Brace yourself for a direct critique and some quite random thoughts. Please ignore my observations at will, of course! It's all in the name of improvement, which I think can be done without too much effort:

I don't think it's refreshing at all for a reader to know so little. In fact, if you combine the lack of emotional connection with the lack of information and the distinct lack of suspense/stakes/intrigue of any kind in this opening, there is literally no reason to read yet. This same voice POV chosen to relay the story seems to disregard urgency but have a very strong opinion on how beautiful the guy is. Why on earth does it care about this of all things over anything else?

The hook needs to be driven right up in my opinion. As far as I'm concerned a guy casually got out of a stasis pod in order for a bunch of guys to spend a very long period introducing themselves to each other, with the intention of finally getting to the point, which was... hey, we need you to go help some guys with some stuff over on planet xyx18duedo28snvlie922hsk. Oh yeah, the technology level there is 37.1G.

None of that meant anything to me. (I know this is a bit blunt, sorry!)

I'd suggest making a much bigger event of bringing him out of stasis - perhaps in terms of urgency, danger (he's brought out earlier, later or more quickly than planned) or importance (creating intrigue around his character). If it's a crisis, cut the very long introductions to one line in much the same way that in a crisis meeting in a war room, world leaders don't make idle chitchat over tea and biscuits, they get to the point very fast:

"Commander, welcome back. Please accept my apologies for the rush out of stasis. You're in the Supreme Senate of the Universe. This is Supreme Leader Steve."

The Supreme Leader gave a grave nod. "Commander, we're in a state of crisis." Explains...

If it's not a crisis, the intros can go on a little longer, but not much. This isn't real life.

Then tell us something about that planet, what the figures and names relate to and why it's important that he intervene. Set a ticking clock perhaps. Anything to get the stakes up and drive intrigue, such as inexplicable events produced by an unknown enemy or natural force etc.

The idea that Commander Lerana's soft voice stood in contrast to her demeanour was very inspiring to me, but you told us about her character rather than demonstrating it. I found the idea hugely interesting because I'd have her speak softly but have the tension begin to mount immediately. Before long (when they're alone in the corridor, walking) have her spin, corner him and softly tell him (to avoid the others hearing) that she doesn't care what she's heard about him - this is her mission. Then have him respond by slamming her against a wall and (softly) telling her it's his now, or whatever. This would be one quick way of driving the tension between two lead characters from the first page. Or take it any other way you feel like. Or not.

I found the writing style very much detached from the MC and all other characters, which may be what you want, but keep in mind that it leaves us with even less connection to the story.

I found you described every single object and action in a very matter-of-fact way, eg. bland colours or "or he picked up a shiny, light thing off a dull flat thing", all of which is heavy description which doesn't actually say anything at all. I'd choose three or four key focal points for the senses in any given environment, which give a frame of character for the setting upon which the reader will fill in their own canvas. Relate these sensory items through the opinionated POV of the character experiencing them if you want, so we live through their senses. I've just invented the following random example in an attempt to make my point, if it works. It's not at all sci-fi, but you get the point:

A bell rang as Mr. Jones entered Harvey's Smoke Grill. Weird for a restaurant to have a bell on the door, he thought and scanned the bar - Is anyone here? Apparently someone had forgotten to take down the christmas lights. In June.

A country song blared out from a radio somewhere in the back and he turned, the flicker from the log fire catching him off-guard for a second. Nice touch, reminds me of my grandma's house. You'll have to do a lot better than that, though, if you're gonna keep this place open.

The stench of filthy grease clogged the air and some harpy of a waitress shoved her head around the kitchen door, barking at him in Chinese. Maybe it was Japanese.

Whatever she was frying made him want to vomit and he trailed his fingers over the dried sauce on the table next to him. Disgusting.

Whatever effect this example has, it gives you something in terms of character for the place through details picked by the senses of the MC, thereby giving us an insight into his values and characteristics too.

If you decide to write this from anyone's close POV, using opinions, senses etc, the first few lines could be loaded with intriguing information about the stasis-pod guy. We'd probably get an opinion about the thing used for cleansing, we'd know if this was the POV character's first time coming out of stasis or his/her thousandth. Maybe the female commander is watching him come out and we're in her POV. How many times has she done it? Never? How does it feel to come out of a ten-year stasis etc? If the room is that metallic and bland, bolster the intrigue with an opinion about it - have him reflect on how lifeless/ruthless all this metal and technology is and how this reflects the race / class of people the MC's interacting with. Show us how he/she misses home and why, then, he's still away from it (which hints at core values and motivations that are going to drive him as the protagonist). A world of information could be painted in the opening lines. Remember, you carefully choose the focal details that will frame character (both people and places), the reader fills it in from there own imagination, as we love to do.

Romana Drew
March 17th, 2014, 06:54 AM
Douglas,

I enjoyed reading this chapter and hope my comments are helpful. I am not an expert.

I think you have a very clear picture of the world you are trying to create, but are a bit over enthusiastic in describing it. We all strive for glorious prose, and in SciFi, a bit of tech, but simplicity is often much more effective than complexity.

The three things that bothered me were an overuse of adverbs - words ending in ly - the use of repetitive descriptions, and the obvious attempt to show off tech.

Adverbs are not inherently bad, but they can be a bit of a crutch. If your need one, use it, however, if you can avoid adverbs, it is best to do so.

"It tightly hugged the body structure which was obviously female and very shapely."
In this sentence 'tightly' and 'obviously' are adverbs and 'very' sounds like you couldn't think of a better word.

Glossy white fabric defined the feminine curves of her body. Or something like that.

Many times two or more words meaning roughly the same things are used to describe something.

'Moving in a graceful flowing manner, he grabbed a small black disc, some 7cm in diameter, from an adjacent smooth flat surface.'

'Graceful' and 'flowing' are close to the same and seem at odds with the use of grabbed. 'Small disk' and '7cm in diameter' are also saying pretty much the same thing.

Forced tech is making things sound high tech when they are not or when they are unnecessary. The 'adjacent smooth flat surface' seems to over do it a bit. Using the old adage, "if it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, call it a duck." Why not call the surface a shelf?

With the grace of a dancer, he strode across the room and retrieved a small disk from a shelf. Or something like that.

Last, I think the characters are going to mount some kind of rescue or interference with another world, that is a good way to start, but I would like a few more hints as to who the characters are. Not the whole story but just a bit more.

This is a good start. Good luck.

iron_aufschlag
March 23rd, 2014, 05:43 PM
Hi,
I wrote a sci-fi book too, and I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who struggles with some themes.
The major problem you have here is humor. When I wrote my book I thought it was going to be serious and dark. But as I wrote and wrote, the story became more fantastical and I knew that being serious would seen as ludicrous. I took a more lighthearted approach and it become much more enjoyable. You must give this Eod more of a personality. He seems to be like a robot. But maybe he is? That's fine, but he better have some thoughts about the incredible situation he is in. You're British, so make him a witty Brit. He should make fun of these silver haired people in his thoughts.
That bring me to the technical.
When you write his thoughts it shouldn't look the same as dialogue. It was confusing to read.
Having written a scifi book where many of the characters use armor, I can understand the difficulty of getting around the problems it poses. The following sentence, however, does not work. "Each had the courtesy of not wearing the head armour that sent chills down the spine when observed."

This made me cringe a bit. "She finished with a raised eyebrow and a wry smile."

Your best sentence was this: "They are an emerging race with limited inter-planetary travel and an assessed technology level of 6.7."
This was very clever in that it told me that these silver haired people are elitists. I immediately understand the 1-10 rating scale. The err the story was good because it made me want to know what that means for the Silvers. Will the bomb this planet back to the stone ages?

Go back and rework how Eod thinks. Cut out all the stale, stiff dialogue between the Silvers and him. Rework it entirely. If you make them change clothes, which seemed redundant, you better make Eod or someone comment on the ridiculous pompousness of the act. Make the Silvers more vain, make Eod more judgmental, cynical, world-weary. Everything he sees on the ship should be mundane to him. But in it's mundanity it can be fascinating to the reader.

Just my two-cents.

riven_hands
March 25th, 2014, 07:04 PM
I agree that you have a great idea here. Having switched it to a prologue instead of a Chapter 1 makes me more comfortable with the lack of detail, mysteriousness of the proceedings and characters because I expect that from an SF prologue. I'm also very intrigued by Eod; he reminds me of Khan from Star Trek but in a benevolent way. That said, I want to know more about him, his "role", backstory, etc., so I also agree with erinranning about the lack of detail. I think it can work either way depending on how/when you dole out that information.

A few things:

He addressed Lerana, "I am correct in assuming a discourse with 'The Council of Elders' requires full battle-dress attire as a matter of protocol."
The dialogue here seems like it should be a question, not a statement. And I think the "He addressed Lerana," part could be a stand alone sentence, or change it to "He turned to Lerana" or something similar.


The hall itself was a vast hemispherical chamber dimly lit.
This is the second time you've used "hemispherical" to describe a chamber within this short prologue. Unless this is a salient feature of this culture's architecture, this is probably too often.


These, together with their pure white hair, unmistakably denoted the mark of their stature.
I like the idea that physical characteristics are a mark of rank/occupation. The "denoted the mark of their stature" part is redundant however. You can get away with "unmistakably denoted their stature" or "were the unmistakable marks of their stature," although the first suggestion is probably better.


She acknowledged his order.
How does Lerana acknowledge Eod's order? The next paragraph suggests to me that she walks away to carry it out, but you never say that, so it's a bit confusing. Also, you are the other two characters following? Lerana? Eod?

I really like this. Good job, and I can't wait to read more.