Memories of a Distant Future: Rebellion (1351 words) (Space opera)

alex_riveiro

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#1
This is part of the prologue of the book I worked on since 2006 all the way to December 2011 (the full prologue is 2200~ words, which falls outside the allowed length here). I never really considered translating it into English, but finally decided to do so, and I'm curious to know how it looks to English readers, as Sci-fi isn't really that big in Spain.

I'm unsure I can actually share the link to the website where I'm publishing the translation, so I'll keep it for me. Before moving on to the actual text, I'd like to humbly apologize if I have overlooked something when posting this piece of text. The book was never published in Spanish outside Amazon and my own website (got several offers to publish it from Spanish agencies, but nothing that transmitted any kind of confidence) and it's not published in English either (it's a WIP for at least 3 months more, at the very least).

To give a bit more background on it. This is the first book of a trilogy. 100,000 years have passed since mankind left the Earth. The universe of Memories of a Distant Future is filled with very different species, and Rebellion tells the story of one of those predominantly human empires.


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Utopia. That word had been used by human beings tens of millennia back, on Earth, talking about a concept that, back in that era seemed out of reach. Perfect peace, an ideal world in which everyone would live in harmony. It had been dismissed as a romantic idea by some and as plain foolishness by others. But in all truth, Ilstram's Empire had only known peace at every level for the last centuries. To such a degree that both rulers and peasants shared their lives without any confrontation.


Security forces did exist, of course, as well as an unparalleled army, and even crime had managed to persevere during such a peaceful time. But the pages on the calendar without victims were counted on the tens of thousands. The population didn't fear each other. Those rulers didn't fear their citizens. The true function of security at Antaria's Palace – a majestic construction that watched over the sprawling megalopolis from the top of a hill located on a corner of the city that once was its former center – was to protect it from any possible attacks from the outside. After all, the universe was populated by plenty of sentient species, and the most sanguinary empires, even if controlled, could try to break the peace of that harmonious world.


He was destined to become the Emperor of Ilstram. But many years should pass until that moment came. At least that's what he kept telling himself.

"Explain it to me, Yahfrad, why did you join the army. Was there even a need?" asked the upset son of the emperor. "You are my friends. The only ones I can have. We've been together since our times back at the school..."

"Unfortunately, not all of us have parents in a position like yours... The army is a good choice. Furthermore, the battles are taking place very far from here, and we have signed solely for protecting Antaria" his friend replied. A young man that had just turned eighteen years old. A teenager, in fact, almost a child in a society where the average lifespan of a human being was around a century and a half.

"And nothing happens on the capital, anyways." Ereid added. He was the oldest, nearing his twenty fifth anniversary. " In fact," he continued "it is the best job that one can get right now. Sure, it's true, we have to prepare just in case there is an attack some day. But not even our grandparents ever fought."

"I know my father. He loves wars. How can you possibly know he won't send you to other planets to battle for the Empire" asked the Emperor's son, still upset. "You wouldn't be the first in that situation, and certainly not the last."

"We'll protect Ilstram if that situation ever happens."

"Ereid" the heir of the Empire replied again "Why such an interest to take part in the war? Can't you just limit yourselves to help here? There're always people in need of help right here, in the city"

"Unlike you, we come from humble families. We don't have the luxury of choosing what we do with our lives. Either we work at the crystal mine, or we join the army. Life is quite simple when you are just another person in the Lower City" he said.

"But you aren't just normal people" said the son of Donan, Antaria's emperor, visibly worried.

"We are friends of the Emperor's son. Your friends. But that doesn't make us special to anybody else" Yahfrad replied.

"I can give you a better life, when I become the emperor, the very first thing I will do is to get good jobs for you two. You don't have to dedicate your lives to this"
"Wake up. Even to carry materials to the moon in a cargo ship you have to become a soldier." Ereid argued.


He knew, better than anybody else, that a utopia could not be easily maintained. His father had moved a vast military contingent to some planet he could hardly remember, neither was he particularly worried about what his father intended to do with it. Simply put, he just wasn't interested in those topics. He had always noticed the people living on Antaria. He was far more worried about how he could help them live more than any wars that could take place on a solar system he had never heard about. There was just no interest from him, even if he understood that it was necessary to wage war against other empires when that peace was at risk, but he was incapable of understanding the lack of appreciation his father had towards the inhabitants of the Lower City. His mother told him once that it was due to the teachings that every emperor of Ilstram had received since times long forgotten. It certainly seemed to be the case, because Donan was always trying to put his whole dedication in transmitting such knowledge to him.

But he wasn't like his father. He felt much closer to the deceased empress, Tara, his mother. That genuine interest for the people must have come from her, at least that's what he thought. There was no other possible explanation. It was that same worrying about people that made him talk to his father, several days later, on the marble balcony of the palace. That place was, for some intriguing reason, witness to some of the most important decisions taken by the emperors that had ruled over Ilstram:

"Father" he told him "Yahfrad, Ereid and the others have joined the army"

"They're doing the right thing, my son. If we weren't the emperors, I would have encouraged you to do the same" replied Donan in the most solemn tone. "There's no bigger honor than fighting to protect ourselves from the empires that threaten to destroy what our ancestors built."

"I want you to remove them from the army. I fear for their lives."

The Emperor looked at his son with disdain. That wasn't a petition he was willing to listen to from someone that was set to become the next Emperor of Ilstram someday. It was not admissible.

"Your friends must have arrived to Modea by now, and they are probably receiving the training they need to join the army. You should not worry about them" he replied harshly.

In all honesty, Donan wasn't a fan of those talks with his son. He knew without the slightest shimmer of doubt that his son didn't share his vision about the fate of the Empire, and it was overly frustrating to not manage to make him understand that a good military defense, and a strong army, were required to guarantee the future of his world.

"You should not worry so much about them, my son. If they have decided to enrol in the army it's because they believe in the empire, and they wish to defend it."

"They believe in the empire. I do not believe in you." his son replied, harshly, as he started to leave the marble balcony, ignoring the first snowflakes that just started to fall over the city.

The months went by, Yahfrad, Ereid and the rest of his friends came back. But he could see it on their faces. They weren't the same. Those jovial young people he had known had left way to people that, even if seemingly happy, had developed a strong sentiment of duty and protection of the empire. It was true that Yahfrad already mentioned how proud he felt when he imagined himself protecting those that surrounded him, long before leaving for Modea. But, for the Emperor's son, that wasn't a matter of pride, nor duty. Not even love towards the worlds his father ruled over. The war, he kept repeating to himself, could only bring misery and death to wherever it reached. He was thankful for the place where he was born, but, even within Ilstram's Empire, other planets, such as Cigle, were suffering conditions far more severe and less harmonious than Antaria.

In the end, utopia could not host everyone.
 
Last edited:

The Judge

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#2
Hi alex -- I don't know if it's the copying and pasting going awry (the software plays havoc with formatting!) but you need to go through and put a clear line's space between each paragraph, including all the separate lines of dialogue. At the moment it's a bit of a wall of text and it might put people off from reading it, which would be a shame. You've plenty of time for editing, but if you have any problems, just say and I'll have a fiddle with it.

NB Since it's not properly published in translation, it's OK here, but no link to your website please. :)
 

Brian G Turner

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#4
I'm afraid I don't find it very engaging. There seems to be a lot of talking that appears to attempt to infodump, rather than define characters. It reads as stilted, unreal, distant, and unfocused to myself.

We have a few names given, a general situation, but regardless of all this effort very little is actually defined. Apparently, there is an empire fighting and empire, and a royal family where they are all emperors. Everything that should define this character is so vague.

Ironically, when we do start to move towards a character POV, even he is disinterested in details.

I am left with a profound feeling of understanding nothing, knowing nothing, and not caring.

IMO you really need to look at this again and trying and find a focus - a story! - to work with. A royal going "ho-hum, my friends have gone to some war or other and come back changed" is not much of a hook, unless we see him conflicted.

I think this piece reads as an early draft and really needs a lot more work doing to it IMO.
 

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#5
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Utopia. That word had been used by human beings tens of millennia back, on Earth, talking about a concept that, backrepeat of back -- change the first to ago? in that era seemed out of reach. Perfect peace, an ideal world in which everyone would live in harmony. It had been dismissed as a romantic idea by some and as plain foolishness by others. But in all truth, Ilstram's Empire had only known peace at every level for the last centuries. To such a degree that both rulers and peasants shared their lives without any confrontation.It's all telling to this point. I can kind of live with it as it sounds quite voice over-y, but it doesn't do a lot to pull me in.


Security forces did exist, of course, as well as an unparalleled army, and even crime had managed to persevere during such a peaceful time. But the pages on the calendar without victims were counted on the tens of thousands. The population didn't fear each other. Those rulers didn't fear their citizens. The true function of security at Antaria's Palace – a majestic construction that watched over the sprawling megalopolis from the top of a hill located on a corner of the city that once was its former center – was to protect it from any possible attacks from the outside. After all, the universe was populated by plenty of sentient species, and the most sanguinary empires, even if controlled, could try to break the peace of that harmonious world.Here, though, I'd starting to switch off. I want to know the story, not the background.


He was destined to become the Emperor of Ilstram. But many years should pass until that moment came. At least that's what he kept telling himself.And here we join the story. I'd consider cutting those last two paragraphs. But I'm not a terribly patient reader.

"Explain it to me, Yahfrad, why did you join the army.? Was there even a need?" asked the upset sona bit tell-y of the emperorEmperor? not sure.. "You are my friends. The only ones I can have. We've been together since our times back at the school..."

"Unfortunately, not all of us have parents in a position like yours... The army is a good choice. Furthermore, the battles are taking place very far from here, and we have signed solely for protecting Antaria" his friend replied.Sorry, but we've moved from the info heavy omniprescent voice, to info heavy dialogue. At this point my hand would be twitching to put the book back. A young man that had just turned eighteen years old. A teenager, in fact, almost a child in a society where the average lifespan of a human being was around a century and a half.

"And nothing happens on the capital, anyways.," Ereid added. He was the oldest, nearing his twenty fifth anniversary. " In fact," he continued, "it is the best job that one can get right now. Sure, it's true, we have to prepare just in case there is an attack some day. But not even our grandparents ever fought."

"I know my father. He loves wars. How can you possibly know he won't send you to other planets to battle for the Empire?" asked the Emperor's sondoes he have a name, the poor lad?, still upset. "You wouldn't be the first in that situation, and certainly not the last."

"We'll protect Ilstram if that situation ever happens."

"Ereid," the heir of the Empire replied again "Why such an interest to take part in the war? Can't you just limit yourselves to help here? There're always people in need of help right here, in the city." There are a lot of dialogue punctuation typos/missing. The toolbox has stuff in it about dialogue punctuation. It's hard to advise, here, as some of it is not quite right, and some is missing. The consistent one is missing a punctuation point before you close the speech brackets. So:

in need of help here, in the city."

in the Lower City," he said.

The choice of comma or full stop depends if you're going onto a dialogue tag ie a he said, asked etc. If so it's a comma. If you're ending the sentence or going onto an action, it's a full stop. A ? or ! takes the place of either, dependant on context.

"Unlike you, we come from humble families. We don't have the luxury of choosing what we do with our lives. Either we work at the crystal mine, or we join the army. Life is quite simple when you are just another person in the Lower City" he said.

"But you aren't just normal people" said the son of Donan, Antaria's emperor, visibly worried.

"We are friends of the Emperor's son. Your friends. But that doesn't make us special to anybody else" Yahfrad replied.

"I can give you a better life, when I become the emperor, the very first thing I will do is to get good jobs for you two. You don't have to dedicate your lives to this"
"Wake up. Even to carry materials to the moon in a cargo ship you have to become a soldier." Ereid argued.

And at this point, I'm sorry, I would put it down. For two main reasons: it's all information and all back information. Until I care about these characters I don't want to know any of this. You need to know it, of course, to write the characters and later, I'll drink it up if it adds to the world, but not at this point.

The second reason relates to that: the characters are too distant for me. I'm not sure whose story I'm following (I think it's the Emperor's Son's), or how he's thinking, feeling, anything about him. I think, for me, I'd need a stronger hook to the characters. But, I am very character led and others might feel differently. It sounds like you have an interesting world thought out, but for me, I'm not engaged enough. Sorry.
 

alex_riveiro

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#6
Hey springs, the poor lad does have a name (he's called Hans)! :) But it was cut off from this part of the prologue. I revealed it at the very end.

The 1500 words limitation doesn't really allow me to put the whole text (which is 2200 words) and misses the meaty part of this. But shrinking it down, or removing parts of it to fit it here didn't really seem too natural to me.

The feedback both you and Brian provide is useful. I really feel right now I made a mistake copy pasting just the beginning of the prologue rather than a different piece, because yeah, without the rest of the text, it's probably disjointed and makes little sense.
 

Bowler1

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#7
I didn't get very far, mate - sorry about that.

But not even our grandparents ever fought."
"I know my father. He loves wars.

If there has been no war for generations, how could their fathers know about war? I stopped reading after that and skimmed the rest.

Its a very distant narrative, with head hopping from father to son, with lots of names and even covering months in time. The dialogue is wooden and un-natural. And as per I Brian, that will save me some typing.

You say your prologue is 2.2k long and you say it's unfair to judge because the hook followed the section posted. If it's disjointed to you, your words, then think of us the poor readers coming to your writing out of the blue. Why should we wade through the disjointed sections to get to the meat, why should the reader have to do the work.

The answer is - the reader won't.

It's the job of a good writer to work hard on acheiving clarity in meaning for the reader. To take the reader gently into their story, weave a web and have the reader gasp in wonder - and then mug 'em, and make off with the royalities.

I've no doubts the idea of yours is a great thing, but sadly, right now you've successfully hidden this idea of yours in a confusion of words. This is what you need to work on, what the reader sees, not what you see.

Welcome to Chrons, don't let a bad first review slow you down, we've all had them. This is the place to learn - if - your willing to put the effort in.
 

alex_riveiro

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#8
I didn't get very far, mate - sorry about that.

But not even our grandparents ever fought."
"I know my father. He loves wars.

If there has been no war for generations, how could their fathers know about war? I stopped reading after that and skimmed the rest.
Well, perhaps you should have continued, and you'd have had two benefits. First, you would have read this on the very next sentence:

"I know my father. He loves wars. How can you possibly know he won't send you to other planets to battle for the Empire" asked the Emperor's son, still upset. "You wouldn't be the first in that situation, and certainly not the last."
And second, I wouldn't have have read the rest of your post with the bitter feeling that you didn't really try to give a thoughtful critique, or that the feeling you did read my answers without much detail. I haven't complained about not being able to post the whole prologue, but rather agree that since I went with posting what I could, strictly following the guidelines of this subforum, I understand the excerpt might feel disjointed, since the meat of the prologue is just not here (and I also mentioned that I'd rather post what I can without changing anything, than coming up with a synthesized prologue)

In any case, thanks for your post, even if I feel there isn't really much I can extract from it.
 

Jo Zebedee

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#9
I actually think there's a lot to extract from Bowler's review. If this is the first section of your prologue -- and it reads like it is and your posts indicate that it is, unless I'm confused (and I have read them all) -- then you have three reviewers all saying they didn't find that it pulled them in and engaged them enough. In Bowler's case, so much so that he didn't feel able to finish a crit. That's gold, in a review. It says it's not working. I know it feels awful when that's the case (I've had crits that have made me wonder why I'm writing at all), but it's also the best thing anyone can do.

The short excerpt thing -- it's frustrating cutting things to it, but really we can tell a lot from a small number of words. And in this case you have had three people telling you consistently the same thing. If you have another excerpt that showcases your writing in a more engaging section of the book (and again, I think that's what you're telling us, that this section isn't the most "meaty"), pop that up seperately in a day or two, and see what the contrast is from them.

The only other thing that occurs to me is that if this is the start, you can't be assured of anyone reaching those meatier sections. You need your best, most engaging writing at the very start, or the agent/reader puts it down and moves onto the next. And if it only makes sense at the end of the prologue then, for me at least, that's too late. Sorry.
 

Brian G Turner

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#10
I understand the excerpt might feel disjointed, since the meat of the prologue is just not here
You have completely misunderstood.

Your writing is weak, poor, substandard, and very amateur. Certainly what you have posted of your English version.

That's why I called it an early draft. You have a lot of work to do with this piece to even begin to make it competent.

Of course, it's entirely your prerogative to accept or reject criticisms.

However, you need to make a choice - do you want to even begin to try and write competently?

Or do you want to stay among the ranks of people who write very badly but want to claim it's all the publishing industry's fault that they can't get published?

All of us start at a point where we write badly. We have to learn to accept our flaws and try and learn to write better - ultimately, competently.

You are nowhere there yet, and unless you change your attitude, you never will.

This is not me trying to be harsh, this is me trying to be realistic for you.
 

Bowler1

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#11
I have read every word, alex - I skimmed, instead of focusing on each word for a detailed review on grammar etc. I spent over an hour today considering my post, and I don't post without thinking carefully about what I say. I've no doubts that my comments have been blow today, I know how difficult reviews hurt, I've had my share. You don't have to take what I say on board, that's for you to decide. I promise you, I have given you what I think is a truthful answer, it doesn't make me right, far from maybe - it's just what I think.
 

Mark R

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#12
I spent a lot less time than Bowler and concluded that the kindest interpretation is that translation software isn't doing your work any justice.

But I think even if we removed the translation issue, you're falling into too many beginner traps for there not to be serious problems with the Spanish version.

You're telling me a lot of uninteresting stuff straight away. You're telling me how your characters feel, without showing it:

"Explain it to me, Yahfrad, why did you join the army. Was there even a need?" asked the upset son of the emperor"
Try to avoid things like the above. Don't tell me someone is upset, show it to me via a description of them, how their voice breaks as they speak, how their face looks, anything but bluntly announcing "here is the son of the emperor, and he's upset!"

You haven't demonstrated to me why I should care about anyone in the story yet, or anything about the world. It used to be that science fiction books could get away with a huge preface about the various mechanics/politics of the world, but those days are long passed. Reel me in with a hook, make something interesting or exciting happen straight away.
 

J Riff

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#13
Ach, translating almost never works well. No point in bashing away at the grammar and etc. cept to say its on/off. The 1st sentence is a bit of a tangle.

Utopia. The word had been used by human beings tens of millennia ago, (on the Earth), when talking about a concept which, (back then,) seemed out of reach.
 

abraves247

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#14
I feel there is a good story buried in here somewhere, but I found it a little confusing.

Also for me it is easier to care about a character when you can see the emotions they are feeling. It isn't as exciting just to have someone tell you what feel. I didn't feel any of the emotion I would have expected from the emperor's son.

You can make this into a great story with some work.
 

Cosmic Geoff

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#15
I have to concur with the harsher of the criticisms made here. You may have a good story, and you may become a successful writer someday, but so far here you have entirely failed to demonstrate either.
It doesn't matter that you have only presented 1300 words of a 2200 word prologue - readers will sense within a few lines whether an author can write and is likely to be able to deliver a good story, and if their first impression is negative they will soon stop reading and put the book back on the shelf.
Here we have two paragraphs of un-engaging exposition followed by some disembodied dialogue. Modern readers will generally expect you to start with a scene, and this you have failed to do. Where is this? What does this space look like? What do these people look like? What are they doing? Why should the reader care?
Prologues are problematical, and unless there is a clear structural reason to have one, it might be better to just launch into the story.
You need to take a few steps back and look at your work with a self-critical eye. And read other SF authors' work, to see how they go about it.
Best of luck.
 

JoanDrake

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#16
My main problem is that you spend the entirety of the first two paragraphs saying what a Utopia we have here and then describe a world apparently ruled by an Emperor indifferent to his subjects where the only work for "commoners" is to either join the Army or work in the mines.

Also, wars are wars, doesn't matter if they're distant or not, they still involve lots of death and are very costly.
 

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