Newbie Crit

Discussion in 'Critiques' started by TacticalLoco, Jun 28, 2011.

  1.  
    TacticalLoco

    TacticalLoco New Member

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    OK friends, this is my first post for critique and I'm pretty freaked out. :eek:

    I just started working on this yesterday and this is what I have so far.
    It's supposed to be a hard SF story. Let me know what you folks think.
    ******************************************************

    Persephone Phillips settled herself into the pilots chair of the Lucifer. It was her first ever shift at the ship's helm, but that did not bother her too much because it was also only the fifth FLT piloting shift in human history.

    The Lucifer was forty seven days outbound from Earth and precisely 32 hours of that time had been spent traveling at greater than light speed. She, on the other hand had spent the past 2 years of her life studying, practicing and waiting for his moment. She had however, met the eyes of the fourth shift pilot Saul Meyers as he was leaving the bridge. He looked tired.

    "Keeping all four forces balanced is the key." the taut man standing beside her intoned almost religiously.

    She restrained the urge to remind her CO that she was qualified, "Aye aye, Captain."

    Besides he was absolutely right. Keeping the ship moving at speeds defying both Newton and Einstein was literally a juggling act. F=ma and E=mc^2 both played a simultaneous role in interconnecting and cheating space-time.

    "Just keep in mind Lieutenant, there are no worm holes or fictional warp drives here. We are moving though real space on a superliminal vector."

    "Yes sir. I understand." She said, and responded more directly by making a slight adjustment to the local ship mass, compensating for the steady shift of gravitational forces surrounding them.

    Benjamin Sidhain nodded his agreement and allowed himself to return to his own console.

    Before this mission's training, she could not have even imagined gravity fields as variables. But she recalled, that was before the aliens gave us the Magi field and all it promised.

    According to their exotic and largely unknown benefactors this technology allowed direct manipulation of mass. Not to mention the side effects of controlled momentum and inertia. By maintaining a delicate equilibrium between variables is was possible to change the ships movements quickly and radically or to keep it moving though space faster than matter should.

    For the next six hours seventeen minutes of her shift that's what pilot Phillips did. The Captain sat at the sensor console, monitoring her, the ship, the surroundings, plus she suspected, catching short cat naps. She didn't blame him or even think of reporting him for it. He had not left the bridge since hyper 'c' velocity had been passed. He couldn't have slept much, if at all those two days.

    A small mass was entering the field, she altered the force matrix in that direction to bypass it. Looking at the visual monitors she couldn't see anything, but that was hardly surprising. The massive Doppler effect was another reminder that they firmly remained in normal space.

    Ahead of the Lucifer, the stars all crowded into the center of the screen, blue shifted into a dull glowing blur. The rear screen showed the same scene in a red shift motif. Using a combination of star charts and computer enhancement she could zoom in for much greater detail, but it was not really relevant to her job now. The irony of it all made her grin, here she was one of the very first people to fly a ship FTL, and she was already bored with the view.

    Something odd! That small mass was still closing on their position. She adjusted the forces again to move away from it. Beyond belief the object continued to advance. That was definitely not right, no debris could do that. In fact, no object of normal mass could do that.

    "Oh my god!" Her gasp was as involuntary as the twitching of her insides. "We got company!"

    Persephone wondered if she should nudge the Captain awake before hitting the all hands alarm.
  2.  
    Nik

    Nik Speaker to Cats

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    Nice piece of 'Hard SF', the 'impossible' FTL tactfully hand-waved as a gift from aliens...

    Couple of typos (IMHO):
    pilots / pilot's
    Earth, and
    hand, had
    had, however (Consider re-phrasing to lose one or other near-by 'had' ?)
    key," the (Something I've too-recently learned ;-)
    understand," she
    all, those
    matrix in that direction ( I'm not sure about this phrasing...)
    belief, the
    god / God (??)

    I'd also query why such long shifts. Even without potty and meal breaks, alertness soon flags. It would make more sense, especially for a Noob, to have a few minutes, then half an hour, then an hour, then two at most, at least until she gets the hang of it...

    Okay, she's probably got a thousand hours in the simulator, but never in Unknown Space with ship and crew at the mercy of her reactions...
  3.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    [/quote]
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
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    alchemist

    alchemist Not on holidays

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    Chrispy's done the details, so just a couple of points.



    At first I thought this referred to Saul. It took me a second read to realise it was Ben.



    The "2 years" comment seems misplaced here. Perhaps add it to the bit about her being qualified. It might also be an idea to make her apprehensive when she sees how tired Saul is.

    After that, it trots along quite nicely.



  5.  
    J Riff

    J Riff The Ants are my friends..

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    Wow, only one science nitpick from Chris, must be pretty good.
    Superliminal vectors!
  6.  
    Boneman

    Boneman Active Member

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    Aha! Fresh blood!! Good to see you've bravely plunged into the deep end of the pool - you should know how warm the water is, as you've contributed in the 75 word challenge, amongst others. Here's my (highly personal) opinion. It's no more than that, and as a fellow aspiring writer, feel free to ignore anything that doesn't gel with you. What do I know? I won't bother with the punctuation as Chris has done an excellent job, already.
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    TacticalLoco

    TacticalLoco New Member

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    Thank you all for the tender critique. It is much appreciated.

    I fixed the typos, comma splices (after I learned what they were) and more importantly, the super liminals.

    Nik, you are so right about the shift lengths. I wasn't thinking. They have been shortened.

    Chris, you are well spoken the grammer king and clearly I need a ruler. :eek: :)

    alchemist, also correct about confusing the reader early on.
    I have rewritten the opening and I think it's clearer and stronger.

    Boneman, very good suggestions all around. Your ideas were part of the redone opener.
    Most of all thanks for catching the POV switch, just lack of experience there, I hope.

    *****************************************************
    Finally, I'd like to include some notes on my notion of future science since
    I have not yet been able to effectively get it across though the text.

    Part of the Magi field includes tachyon based sensors. The field itself is a set of standing tachyon waves.
    This is what allows FTL sensing of objects and EM waves.

    In addtion, I keep coming back to the fact that the ship never leaves normal space-time.
    What the drive does (I hope) is reduce mass as a means to overcome the implications of Special Relativity.
    Because the ship is not in hyper or warp or worm hole space, the Magi field can observe data and create sensor read outs.

    If that doesn't hold plasma, please let me know where I'm off in my science so I can work on it.

    Much gratitute again for the help,
    Tac
  8.  
    Boneman

    Boneman Active Member

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    Hmm... excellent propositions, and you've obviously given a lot of thought to it. But, the only thing that I'd question is this:
    Surely the essence of FTL is that it involves going back in time? Engage FTL drive at 1430 hours and 59 seconds and shortly you've passed 1430.58,57,56,55 and so on. The light projecting those times has been overtaken. I think, if I remember correctly, that Frank Herbert got around it by having the navigators fold space - essentially jumping from one wave to another. Since planets are only viewed by the light that projects from them, there's a danger you'll run into one, if you don't see the light! But if there are tachyon waves, then Herbert's principles could apply just as easily. Let's face it, The enterprise travelled at warp speed, but had to do a slingshot around the sun to achieve time-travel, so the techyon filed will hold up just as well.

    In the end it doesn't matter: the reader will accept "Engage the tachyon drive!" and the ships jumps space, without being told how it works... But if you have an idea fixed firmly in your head, your writing will appear entirely logical within the constraints of your universe. I'm looking forward to discovering more.
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    Jake Reynolds

    Jake Reynolds Wordslinger

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    Heya, I started doing a blow by blow, but then I realised that something was bugging me. I feel like we’ve joined the action too late. If I might be so bold, I’d suggest that you start with Phillips arriving at the ship, looking at it from the outside, meeting the crew and so on. It just kinda feels a bit rushed.

    One point though- would notoriously superstitious ‘naval’ folk be a little apprehensive about naming the first FTL ship the Lucifer? Cool name, but not sure if it would be suitable for a flagship. They’d likely go for something inspiring, such as, ahem, Enterprise. Unless it is named the Lucifer because people don’t know whether they can trust ‘the aliens’ and so it reflects their concerns about the altruism of this “tempting” technology?
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    Chaoticheart

    Chaoticheart In chaos I find truth

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    Isn't lucifer latin for light bringer or morning light? Perhaps that's why the name was chosen. The dawn is often a sign of hope or inspiration, so the name could work.
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    TacticalLoco

    TacticalLoco New Member

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    Yes, this was exactly the rational for the name.
    However, to avoid any misunderstandings, I have decided to change the ship's name to Prometheus. They are very much in the same mythic role, but that name has no negative cultural baggage.

    What do you think?
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    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    Well, it's not exactly original for a star ship, unfortunately. There's at least one in the Star Trek canon, and it's an important vessel in Stargate. And it does bring the unfortunate connotation that it will end up chained to a rock with its innards being eaten!!

    While I had no problems with Lucifer, there are other light-bringer myths which might throw up some less common names for you -- I'm a firm believer in trying to incorporate elements of non-european-derived cultures in SF to avoid the impression that only the West and its civilisations count by the time we reach the 23rd or whatever century.

    While I'm here, though, can I ask you to think again about Persephone Phillips? I love the name Persephone, but (although I don't suppose it matters unduly) as sure as eggs is eggs lots of people will read it as Percy-phone not Pur-seff-on-y -- unless you intend to have a comic aside at some point with her correcting the name when someone reads it (or someone deliberately mispronounces it to wind her up). More to the point does the name arise out of her family background/situation/culture, or is it one that you've imposed on her because it fits in with the mythological elements you want to bring in to play? Anyway, at least reconsider her surname if you keep it -- the two together sound more than a little ridiculous, to my ears at least. :eek: :p
  13.  
    TacticalLoco

    TacticalLoco New Member

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    Thanks, Judge.
    Actually the idea was to make her mythic and mundane at the same time.
    Caught between two worlds as it was.
    And either way the Lucifer or the Prometheus will definately lose it's liver. LOL.

    StarTrek? Saw some of it but don't get any redo. Tell me if I'm horribly off.
    Stargate? Never saw it. But I clearly do not want to repeat mythologic plot lines there...
    More research and more help to come, I hope...
  14.  
    Jake Reynolds

    Jake Reynolds Wordslinger

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  15.  
    Boneman

    Boneman Active Member

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    You could always call it Promestheus - sounds better, anyway!!
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    The Bloated One

    The Bloated One New Member

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    I find this very interesting. I've two space ships in my novel and four years ago I named them Prometheus and Pandora....!

    TBO
  17.  
    TacticalLoco

    TacticalLoco New Member

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    I've decide to damn the photon torpedos and return to calling her The Lucifer, it fits the story better anyway.

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