The 13th Vote : mark two

Bren G

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I"ve revised based on the great feedback. Please let me know what you all think!

***

One day before Landfall

Alyn went to close the door and was startled by the face reflected in its polished silver skin. It was his. Deeply lined and sallow, the sleepless nights had taken their toll. However, no amount of rest could have prepared him for the treachery that he’d just witnessed moments ago. Six Congress Members plotted behind the silver door, and by the fuzzy math of proportional representation, were nearly enough to decide the fate of thousands. Alyn gritted his teeth and tensed himself, driven by the impulse to rush back in and put an end to all of it. But the heavy weight of reason bowed his head and slumped his shoulders. He sighed and closed the door.

Click.

The sound of the latch comforted him some as the thick door sealed tight and muffled the ruckus behind it. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply in an effort to calm his nerves as he took in the quiet of the empty hallway. It felt like a cool breeze on a hot day, at least from what he remembered. They had left Earth so long ago that even this memory had started to fade.

“Governor. I’d like a—”, said Captain Chung, who had just rounded the corridor’s gentle curve. Her pursed lips and furrowed brow told him everything he needed to know.

“Captain,” he said with a curt nod before he bolted in the opposite direction.

Click.

He entered his quarters a short while later, relieved to hear the door latch again, as if it had sealed off the lunacy from behind the silver door. But he was not safe here. Like the Flu bug they struggled to contain, the madness could infect him too, for ideas could pass up corridors, enter through doors and infiltrate the refuge of his self-imposed quarantine.

In a daze, he made his way to the room’s center, collapsed on the white leather couch, and inadvertently knocked over the vase and its dozen red flowers as he kicked his feet onto the glass coffee table. They lay upon the carpet in a pool of stagnant water. He sighed again. He had grander problems to think of. If only he could rest! Gather his thoughts and work through the proposition the six had foisted upon him. But there was no time to rest. He would come to a decision tonight, for landfall was tomorrow. He would determine the fate of the thousands of lives aboard the two failing star-ships. The last remnants of Earth.

The doorbell’s pleasant chime echoed through the room. Alyn went to the door and peered at the face on the video screen. There stood a man, slightly younger than he and whose face, though grave, possessed far more optimism than the situation warranted. Captain Jacob of their sister ship, the Renascent, was the last person he wanted to see, but he opened the door to his good friend anyway.

“Eleazar. Good to see you,” said Alyn with a warm smile that he hoped his guest would find authentic, for it was fabricated to hide the shame of what had transpired behind the polished silver door. He gestured to the couch. “Please. Sit.”

“Thank you,” Eleazar replied. He stared at the flowers and vase on the wet floor as he sat. Alyn returned a weak smile and sat upon the upholstered chair directly across from him. Eleazar smiled back and said, “Can you believe it Alyn? Over three years wandering in space like… a caravan of nomads. “After all we’ve been through,” he leaned back and shook his head, “we’ve finally found a home.”

Alyn looked behind him at the window. “A wonder isn’t it? No. A miracle. It was here all along, hidden from our scans on Earth and now we’ve got… choice.”

With a grin, Eleazar looked over to it for a moment before facing him again. “Yes indeed. It’s incredible. Five years ago, no one had ever conceived the possibility that we’d even get here.”

Alyn mustered a chuckle. “To think we owe it all to a billionaire entrepreneur whose prior claim to fame was attracting investment without every turning a profit. But I gotta hand it to him, his Rift Gate…” Alyn shook his head in admiration and snapped his fingers. “We jumped over four light years, just like that.”

“Finch is a genius. Albert Einstein and Henry Ford in equal proportions. I mean… that thing was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. How he devised it… well... who knows? But, it got us here, and that’s what matters.”

“Though... a bit off target.”

“Just four million miles. What’s that in the grand scheme of things?”

They smiled in collective silence for a while before things became serious again. Alyn spoke first. “Given our predicament, I’ll assume this meeting will be one of official business?” Eleazar nodded in agreement. “Very well.” Alyn pulled back his sleeve and pressed in the top pusher of his wristwatch.

Eleazar said, “Well. As you know, we’re not out of the woods yet. Making landfall will prove to be difficult. Probably deadly.”

Alyn looked down and gave a series of knowing nods before he said, “Yeah. I do understand that.” He slowly looked back up and met the other man’s gaze. “Let’s hear your idea for how we get out of this mess.”

They talked for about twenty minutes before they embraced and said good-bye. Alyn leaned against the door frame and stared as Eleazar passed around the bend in the corridor, out of sight.

Click.

The door latch closed and he knew in that moment - whichever decision he came too - that he would never see his friend again.

Zzzz. Zzzz. The little red light on the intercom panel flashed in-step with its buzzer.

“Yes, Dara,” he said.

A reedy computerized voice replied; “The Dominus’s six Congress members have recorded their votes.”

He raised an eyebrow and held his breath. “And how did they vote Dara?”

“Six votes were cast in favor of the Proposal.”

Madness!

“Governor. You are required to register your vote to Congress no later than 00:00 Earth Time.” Alyn went completely still, as if he could turn himself invisible and they would all forget about him, but it was no good. After all, they had sent her to remind him of the futility of avoidance. Dutifully, Dara responded, “Governor?”

”Affirmative. I understand Dara.”

Driven by restless energy, he moved across the room and planted his hands on the window sill. Like twin pearls in a deep black ocean, two planets glowed softly in the sun’s cool bluish light. A deep urge had stirred inside him ever since he had first cast eyes on them two days ago.

Hope.

They had not had hope for quite some time and oh had they suffered from its lack, but like lime to scurvy, hope had reconstituted their spirits, straightened their backs, and squared their jaws and shoulders. Who was he to take that away from them?

He knew in that instant what decision he would make, though in truth, he always did, he just would not admit it to himself. But with the clock close to midnight, there was nowhere to hide, not from Dara, not himself, and not from those who would live with the consequences.

“Dara?”

“Yes.”

“Notify the others that I am ready.”

“Yes Governor.”

He stared back at the planets and spoke with a clear tone and measured cadence. “Governor Alyn Frederick reporting to the official log of Earth’s Own Ship Dominus on this 27th day of June, 2035 Earth Time.”
 
I didn't give any feedback on the first one, but only because the things I would have said had already been hashed out. That being said, I like the changes that you made: providing more context as to who these people are and some clues about the choice the main character is about to make without revealing the whole mystery. Also, the change in the language from flowery to more sparse feels like it fits more with the POV character at least from what I read. I don't really have any criticism of this piece, it does well in providing backstory and context that was missing in the first draft.
 
hi
I think this edit has mostly solved the issue I was perceiving with false tension. I have now a better sense of what is going on aboard this ship and a greater perception of the stakes. That said I don't strictly have an answer to my question from this first version, but there are other details given that provide enough interest and grounding and I feel anchored enough that I'm not bothered by not knowing exactly what they are voting on. Though my best guess is: they must decide if this is the place to stop or if they should keep looking for a new home. I don't know why this might not be a good place to live but if the starships are failing I can see why continuing on could be problematic.

A new issue that I think has cropped up on account of the edits is that we now have more info dump. It's a tricky balance and a bit of a catch twenty-two at times. Your readers want more information and when you give it to them they complain that you are giving too much information.

I wish I had the key to this issue, if I did I'm sure I'd been a better writer, but I'll offer what advice I can.

One of the worst places for an info dump is dialogue, particularly I think, in a casual conversation between friends. It's not unbelievable that they could say these things to each other, but as it is the only sample of their dialogue we have, it feels less natural. like it's there for the reader's benefit. As a result, it doesn't feel like the two characters are talking to each other so their interaction feels stiff.
One thing you might try is using sparser dialogue and have Alyn's inner monologue fill in the blanks. Force your reader to read between the lines.
“Thank you,” Eleazar replied. He stared at the flowers and vase on the wet floor as he sat. Alyn returned a weak smile and sat upon the upholstered chair directly across from him. Eleazar smiled back and said, “Can you believe it Alyn? Over three years wandering in space like… a caravan of nomads. “After all we’ve been through,” he leaned back and shook his head, “we’ve finally found a home.”
Alyn looked behind him at the window. “A wonder isn’t it? No. A miracle. It was here all along, hidden from our scans on Earth and now we’ve got… choice.”
With a grin, Eleazar looked over to it for a moment before facing him again. “Yes indeed. It’s incredible. Five years ago, no one had ever conceived the possibility that we’d even get here.”

This could look something like:

“Thank you,” Eleazar replied. He stared at the flowers and vase on the wet floor as he sat. Alyn returned a weak smile and sat upon the upholstered chair directly across from him. Eleazar smiled back and said, “Over three years wandering in space like… ” Like a caravan of nomads, interstellar vagrants, thought Alyn. Eleazar leaned back and shook his head, “We’ve finally found a home.”
Alyn looked behind him at the window. “A wonder isn’t it?" No. A miracle. It was here all along, hidden from scans on Earth and now we’ve got… choice.
With a grin, Eleazar looked over to it for a moment before facing him again. “Yes indeed. It’s incredible. Five years ago, no one had conceived the possibility that we’d get here.”


I've taken some liberties with the story because I don't know what's really going on behind the silver door, please excuse if they are wholly inaccurate as they are likely to be. My hope is that it just gives an idea of what I want to say. Obviously you'll need to write it in a way that works for you if you find my angle appealing.

Here's another spot that I felt was too direct in telling the reader the situation.
He had grander problems to think of. If only he could rest! Gather his thoughts and work through the proposition the six had foisted upon him. But there was no time to rest. He would come to a decision tonight, for landfall was tomorrow. He would determine the fate of the thousands of lives aboard the two failing star-ships. The last remnants of Earth.

He had grander problems to think of. If only he could rest! Gather his thoughts and work through the proposition the six had foisted upon him. But there was no time to rest. He must come to a decision tonight. Landfall was tomorrow. The fate of the thousands aboard the two failing star-ships lay in his fingers. How to stop them from slipping through?

Not perfect, I know, but hopefully, it communicates the spirit of the adjustment I think its needs.

Another note.
When Alyn sees that Eleazar has come to his door he thinks it's the last person he wants to see. This does not ring true more me. Didn't he just run from the other captain, and isn't Eleazar his old friend? Wouldn't he rather see Eleazar that any of the six council members he's angry at?
Then when he leaves, he muses that he will never see Eleazar again. If that's true, why wouldn't he be happy for a chance to say goodbye?

This is all just my opinion and others may disagree. But I hope that this feedback combined with others will lead you to a draft you are happy with.
Cheers
 
Bren,

This is SO much better than your original. This has a sense of drama and finality I think your other version lacked. I don't see a info dump here at all.

I do resonate with what @ckatt said about the disconnect when meeting Eleazar. Alyn should have been expecting Eleazar given what was at stake. If (and maybe this is what you are getting at) it is feasible to fly between the star ships.

Peace, brother
 
Forgive...

I haven't done a line by line critique but I could if you wanted.

I"ve revised based on the great feedback. Please let me know what you all think!

***

One day before Landfall

Alyn went to close the door and was startled by the face reflected in its polished silver skin. It was his. Deeply lined and sallow, the sleepless nights had taken their toll. However, no amount of rest could have prepared him for the treachery that he’d just witnessed moments ago. Six Congress Members plotted behind the silver door, and by the fuzzy math of proportional representation, were nearly enough to decide the fate of thousands. Alyn gritted his teeth and tensed himself, driven by the impulse to rush back in and put an end to all of it. But the heavy weight of reason bowed his head and slumped his shoulders. He sighed and closed the door.

(The confusion for me here is you seem to suggest there's proportional votes going on in (later) a group of six people)

Click.

The sound of the latch comforted him some as the thick door sealed tight and muffled the ruckus behind it. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply in an effort to calm his nerves as he took in the quiet of the empty hallway. It felt like a cool breeze on a hot day, at least from what he remembered. They had left Earth so long ago that even this memory had started to fade.

“Governor. I’d like a—”, said Captain Chung, who had just rounded the corridor’s gentle curve. Her pursed lips and furrowed brow told him everything he needed to know.

“Captain,” he said with a curt nod before he bolted in the opposite direction.

Click.

(All this clicking and whirling seems a bit old tech to me. Also, you'wouldn't want a clicking physical locking method. On space ships the locks should be electro magnetic, so at the last resort turning the power off can release them IMO.)

He entered his quarters a short while later, relieved to hear the door latch again, as if it had sealed off the lunacy from behind the silver door. But he was not safe here. Like the Flu bug they struggled to contain, the madness could infect him too, for ideas could pass up corridors, enter through doors and infiltrate the refuge of his self-imposed quarantine.

In a daze, he made his way to the room’s center, collapsed on the white leather couch, and inadvertently knocked over the vase and its dozen red flowers as he kicked his feet onto the glass coffee table. They lay upon the carpet in a pool of stagnant water. He sighed again. He had grander problems to think of. If only he could rest! Gather his thoughts and work through the proposition the six had foisted upon him. But there was no time to rest. He would come to a decision tonight, for landfall was tomorrow. He would determine the fate of the thousands of lives aboard the two failing star-ships. The last remnants of Earth.

The doorbell’s pleasant chime echoed through the room. Alyn went to the door and peered at the face on the video screen. There stood a man, slightly younger than he and whose face, though grave, possessed far more optimism than the situation warranted. Captain Jacob of their sister ship, the Renascent, was the last person he wanted to see, but he opened the door to his good friend anyway.

“Eleazar. Good to see you,” said Alyn with a warm smile that he hoped his guest would find authentic, for it was fabricated to hide the shame of what had transpired behind the polished silver door. He gestured to the couch. “Please. Sit.”

“Thank you,” Eleazar replied. He stared at the flowers and vase on the wet floor as he sat. Alyn returned a weak smile and sat upon the upholstered chair directly across from him. Eleazar smiled back and said, “Can you believe it Alyn? Over three years wandering in space like… a caravan of nomads. “After all we’ve been through,” he leaned back and shook his head, “we’ve finally found a home.”

Alyn looked behind him at the window. “A wonder isn’t it? No. A miracle. It was here all along, hidden from our scans on Earth and now we’ve got… choice.”

With a grin, Eleazar looked over to it for a moment before facing him again. “Yes indeed. It’s incredible. Five years ago, no one had ever conceived the possibility that we’d even get here.”

Alyn mustered a chuckle. (Fall in lads, now all together - laugh :giggle:) “To think we owe it all to a billionaire entrepreneur whose prior claim to fame was attracting investment without every turning a profit. But I gotta hand it to him, his Rift Gate…” Alyn shook his head in admiration and snapped his fingers. “We jumped over four light years, just like that.”

“Finch is a genius. Albert Einstein and Henry Ford in equal proportions. I mean… that thing was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. How he devised it… well... who knows? But, it got us here, and that’s what matters.”

“Though... a bit off target.”

“Just four million miles. What’s that in the grand scheme of things?”

They smiled in collective silence for a while before things became serious again. Alyn spoke first. “Given our predicament, I’ll assume this meeting will be one of official business?” Eleazar nodded in agreement. “Very well.” Alyn pulled back his sleeve and pressed in the top pusher of his wristwatch.

Eleazar said, “Well. As you know, we’re not out of the woods yet. Making landfall will prove to be difficult. Probably deadly.”

Alyn looked down and gave a series of knowing nods before he said, “Yeah. I do understand that.” He slowly looked back up and met the other man’s gaze. “Let’s hear your idea for how we get out of this mess.”

They talked for about twenty minutes before they embraced and said good-bye. Alyn leaned against the door frame and stared as Eleazar passed around the bend in the corridor, out of sight.

Click.

The door latch closed and he knew in that moment - whichever decision he came too - that he would never see his friend again.

Zzzz. Zzzz. The little red light on the intercom panel flashed in-step with its buzzer.

“Yes, Dara,” he said. (how would he know it was she?)

A reedy computerized voice replied; “The Dominus’s six Congress members have recorded their votes.”

He raised an eyebrow and held his breath. “And how did they vote Dara?”

“Six votes were cast in favor of the Proposal.”

Madness!

“Governor. You are required to register your vote to Congress no later than 00:00 Earth Time.” Alyn went completely still, as if he could turn himself invisible and they would all forget about him, but it was no good. After all, they had sent her to remind him of the futility of avoidance. Dutifully, Dara responded, “Governor?” (Why Earth time? if it's the standard for the ship why would it be referenced)

”Affirmative. I understand Dara.”

Driven by restless energy, he moved across the room and planted his hands on the window sill. Like twin pearls in a deep black ocean, two planets glowed softly in the sun’s cool bluish light. A deep urge had stirred inside him ever since he had first cast eyes on them two days ago.

Hope.

They had not had hope for quite some time and oh had they suffered from its lack, but like lime to scurvy, hope had reconstituted their spirits, straightened their backs, and squared their jaws and shoulders. Who was he to take that away from them? (out of context IMO)

He knew in that instant what decision he would make, though in truth, he always did, he just would not admit it to himself. But with the clock close to midnight, there was nowhere to hide, not from Dara, not himself, and not from those who would live with the consequences.

“Dara?”

“Yes.”

“Notify the others that I am ready.”

“Yes Governor.”

He stared back at the planets and spoke with a clear tone and measured cadence. “Governor Alyn Frederick reporting to the official log of Earth’s Own Ship Dominus on this 27th day of June, 2035 Earth Time.” (no mention of the actual time of day?)

I found it clunky in places. It didn't feel like a place someone had been living for some time (presumably). I didn't get a feel for the ship. It almost reads as though it's a Star Trek type environment and you expect the reader to fill in the gaps for you. The difficulty of the landing seems odd too. They've set out on this mission only to find they have no idea of how they might land - Or at least why this particular landing isn't one of the many possibilities they planned for when they set off. Plus we get no idea what this big vote is about. Again we have to assume it's land or not, but surely there must be arguments for and against. If you stayed with the meeting you could use the discussion to introduce the various characters and personanlities of the debaters.

Just opinions

Hope I helped

Tein
 
Thanks all for responding with such great feedback. I will post my latest edit and invite you to give me a final round of suggestions. It's more than I have a right to as for but I will ask anyway. :giggle:

@sule - Thanks for noticing the simplifications in the language and prose and the improvements in the context. That was what I was after so it truly helps in validating it.

@ckatt - Thanks for the great suggestions as is usual. In this newer version below, I took your advice on the dialogue and more.

@Parson - you've been a great help thus far! I *think* I fixed the mood as it relates to Alyn's feelings of meeting Eleazar. Keep in mind though, there is a reason why he has misgivings that I cannot share lest I spill the secret. And yes - they can traverse from ship to ship.

@TheEndIsNigh - No forgiveness required! I appreciate the feedback and would welcome a line by line edit or anything you'd be kind enough and have the time to give. I think I fixed the issue you noticed about what the difficulty in the landing is all about, and what the vote is about too. I cannot reveal much more lest I give away the big secret of the novel. I should've explained that this is a Prologue. You won't see these characters further, which is why I hadn't written more detail of them, nor the ship's layout. The aim is to hint to the secret that drives the plot. That said, I still wonder if I will include this prologue at all. It seems many find the secret (and its mystery to being revealed) as a distraction. However, others who have read the full novel recommended that I include it to tie things up a bit better. Hopefully, this version helps a bit more.
 
Thanks again! This will be the last post. BG

One day before Landfall

Alyn went to close the door and was startled by his face reflected in its polished silver skin. Deeply lined and sallow, the sleepless nights had taken their toll. However, no amount of rest could have prepared him for the treachery that he’d just witnessed moments ago. Six Congress Members plotted behind the silver door, and by the fuzzy math of proportional representation, were nearly enough to decide the fate of thousands. Alyn gritted his teeth and tensed himself, driven by the impulse to rush back in and put an end to all of it. But the heavy weight of reason bowed his head and slumped his shoulders. He sighed and closed the door.

Click.

The sound of the latch comforted him some as the thick door sealed tight and muffled the ruckus behind it. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply as he took in the quiet of the empty hallway. It felt like a cool breeze on a hot day, at least from what he remembered. They had left Earth so long ago that even this memory had started to fade.

“Governor. I’d like a—”, said Captain Chung, who had just rounded the corridor’s gentle curve. Her pursed lips and furrowed brow told him everything he needed to know.

“Captain,” he said with a curt nod before he bolted in the opposite direction.

Click.

He entered his quarters a short while later, relieved to hear the door latch again, as if it had sealed off the lunacy from behind the silver door. But he was not safe here. Like the Flu bug they struggled to contain, the madness could infect him too, for ideas could pass up corridors, enter through doors and infiltrate the refuge of his self-imposed quarantine.

In a daze, he made his way to the room’s center, collapsed on the white leather couch, and inadvertently knocked over the vase as he kicked his feet onto the glass coffee table. The sight of a dozen red flowers strewn about a soaked carpet would normally have triggered him, but he had grander problems to deal with tonight. He would vote on the proposition the six had foisted upon him before their failing ships attempted landfall the next morning. He would determine the fate of the thousands of lives, the last remnants of Earth.

The doorbell’s pleasant chime echoed through the room. Alyn went to the door and peered at the face on the video screen. It was Captain Jacob of their sister ship, the Renascent. The slightly younger man stood tall, cut in the crisp lines of his white dress uniform, his eyes, starkly framed beneath his peaked service hat, held a mirthful charm and his mouth closed in stoic confidence, when taken in whole, projected far more optimism than the situation warranted. It was no accident that they had overcome so many challenges under his helm, and it was with this sense of gratitude that Alyn opened the door, though he wished it was under different circumstances.

“Eleazar. Good to see you,” said Alyn with a warm smile that he hoped his guest would find authentic, for it was fabricated to hide the shame of what had transpired behind the polished silver door. He gestured to the couch. “Please. Sit.”

“Thank you,” Eleazar replied as he removed his cap, tucked it under his arm and made his way to the center of the room. He stared at the flowers and vase on the wet floor as he sat. Alyn returned a weak smile and sat upon the upholstered chair directly across from him. Eleazar smiled back and said, “Did you really think we’d find it,” he leaned back and shook his head, “after what we’ve been through?”

Alyn looked at the planet framed in the window behind Eleazar. Their new home. Like desperate pioneers, they had sailed for over three years, in Earth’s first - and last, interplanetary ships. Rickety and untested, held together by an unflinching spirit, and a stiff resolve, they wobbled a precarious path down the Milky Way. Humanity had just removed its celestial training wheels, and despite it all, they hadn’t fallen. Yet.

“A miracle is the best way I’d describe it.”

“Finch? The miracle worker? I suspect he’d be pleased to hear that.”

Alyn stifled a disdainful frown. Zylas Finch. The billionaire entrepreneur whose prior claim to fame was his uncanny ability to attract shareholder’s money without regard for the necessity to return them a profit. But even Alyn had to admit, his Rift Gate was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. They’d never have covered four light years in just seconds.

“Let’s not give him too much credit. We were, after all, a little off target.”

“What’s four million miles in the grand scheme of things?”

They smiled in grave silence for a while before things became serious again. Alyn spoke first. “Given our predicament, I’ll assume this meeting will be one of official business?” Eleazar nodded in agreement. “Very well.” Alyn pulled back his sleeve and pressed in the top pusher of his wristwatch.

Eleazar said, “Well. As you know, we’re not out of the woods yet. Landfall will prove difficult. We burned just about all our fuel getting here.”

Alyn looked down and gave a series of knowing nods before he said, “Agreed.” He slowly looked back up and met the other man’s gaze. “So then. Let’s hear your idea for how we get out of this mess.”

They talked for about twenty minutes before they embraced and said good-bye. Alyn leaned against the door frame and stared as Eleazar passed around the bend in the corridor, out of sight.

Click.

The door latch closed and brought with it a stinging sense of finality. They would never meet again - whichever decision he came to today, and in the years afterward, the memory of this moment would plague his dreams until his very last breath.

Zzzz. Zzzz. The little red light on the intercom panel flashed in-step with its buzzer.

“Yes, Dara,” he said.

A reedy computerized voice replied; “The Dominus’s six Congress members have recorded their votes.”

“And how did they vote Dara?” He raised an eyebrow and held his breath.

“Six votes were cast in favor of the Proposal.”

Madness!

“Governor. You are required to register your vote to Congress no later than 00:00 Earth Time.” Alyn went completely still, as if he could turn himself invisible and they would all forget about him, but it was no good. After all, they had sent her to remind him of the futility of avoidance. Dutifully, Dara responded, “Sir?”

”Affirmative. I understand Dara.”

Driven by restless energy, he moved across the room and planted his hands on the window sill. Like twin pearls in a deep black ocean, two planets glowed softly in the sun’s cool bluish light. A deep urge had stirred inside him ever since he had first cast eyes on them two days ago.

Hope.

They had not had hope for quite some time and oh had they suffered from its lack, but like lime to scurvy, hope had reconstituted their spirits, straightened their backs, and squared their jaws and shoulders. Who was he to take that away from them?

He knew in that instant what decision he would make, though in truth, he always did, he just would not admit it to himself. But with the clock close to midnight, there was nowhere to hide, not from Dara, not himself, and not from those who would live with the consequences.

“Dara?”

“Yes.”

“Notify the others that I am ready.”

“Yes Governor.”

He stared back at the planets and spoke with a clear tone and measured cadence. “Governor Alyn Frederick reporting to the official log of Earth’s Own Ship Dominus on this 27th day of June, 2035 Earth Time.”
 
@Bren G

Being new to the site (48 messages so far) you will probably not know of my dislike of prologues.

IMO they either frustrate the reader, who having read (sometimes many pages) of what appears to be intriguing and detailed story line, find it's all irrelevant to the main plot and just a way to introduce the 5th day of Perglethart (the ninth month of the Splogwand calender) is the holiest day of the year to the Splogwanderers.

Or even worse have absolutely no relevance to the rest of the book.

Details such as are introduced in prologues should IMO be introduced in the body of the work. It usually only takes a three or four line section of dialogue to introduce anything into a story when the writer needs to . Plus it is introduced when its important to the story and doesn't require the reader to remember an insignificant detail buried in a 5000 word prologue that s/he has been trying to forget since s/he read it days before.

Or even:-

He hesitated before pulling the trigger, was it any more evil to kill on Grundchunker's birthday than any other? The muzzle flashed his answer. what possible difference could shooting someone on the fifth day of Perglethart, the holiest of the year, make? After all, an eternity in hell couldn't be extended.

or some such.

Hope I helped

Tein
 
@Bren G

Being new to the site (48 messages so far) you will probably not know of my dislike of prologues.

IMO they either frustrate the reader, who having read (sometimes many pages) of what appears to be intriguing and detailed story line, find it's all irrelevant to the main plot and just a way to introduce the 5th day of Perglethart (the ninth month of the Splogwand calender) is the holiest day of the year to the Splogwanderers.

Or even worse have absolutely no relevance to the rest of the book.

Details such as are introduced in prologues should IMO be introduced in the body of the work. It usually only takes a three or four line section of dialogue to introduce anything into a story when the writer needs to . Plus it is introduced when its important to the story and doesn't require the reader to remember an insignificant detail buried in a 5000 word prologue that s/he has been trying to forget since s/he read it days before.

Or even:-

He hesitated before pulling the trigger, was it any more evil to kill on Grundchunker's birthday than any other? The muzzle flashed his answer. what possible difference could shooting someone on the fifth day of Perglethart, the holiest of the year, make? After all, an eternity in hell couldn't be extended.

or some such.

Hope I helped

Tein
Thanks Tein

I now understand your feelings against prologues. What feedback might you give if I were to incorporate this into Chapter 1 and remove the Prologue altogether?

BG
 
Persistant ey?

I'm a picky fellow

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These are all just IMO comments.

You probably have more experience than I have and I'm certainly not an "Authority".

I"ve revised based on the great feedback. Please let me know what you all think!

***

One day before Landfall

Alyn went to closed the door and was startled by the face reflected in its polished silver skin. It was his. Deeply lined and sallow, the sleepless nights had taken their toll (reflected implies his). However, no amount of rest could have prepared him for the treachery that he’d just witnessed moments ago. Six Congress Members plotted behind the silver door, and by the fuzzy math of proportional representation (silver door established - It's a strange proportional representation system with only six member who as congress members already represent a whittling down of a full vote), were nearly enough to decide the fate of thousands (nearly?). Alyn gritted his teeth and tensed himself, driven by the impulse to rush back in and put an end to all of it. But the heavy weight voice of reason bowed his head and slumped his shoulders. He sighed and closed the door.

Click.

The sound of the latch comforted him some as the thick door sealed tight and muffled the ruckus argument (ruckus to me implies fisticuffs) behind it. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply in an effort to calm his nerves as he took in the quiet of the empty hallway. It felt like a cool breeze on a hot day (breath wouldn't be cool and it wouldn't be felt by him. The corridor could be cool with air conditioning to give that sensation), at least from what he remembered. They had left Earth so long ago that even this memory had started to fade.

“Governor. I’d like a—”, said Captain Chung, who had just rounded the corridor’s gentle curve. Her pursed lips and furrowed brow told him everything he needed to know.

“Captain,” he said with a curt nod before he bolted in the opposite direction. (Would he just dismiss at the captain surely he would at least listen to her issue or at least say something)

Click. (Click before the close and not needed)

He entered his quarters a short while later, relieved to hear the door latch again, as if it had sealed off the lunacy from behind the silver door. But he was not safe here. Like the Flu bug they struggled to contain, the madness could infect him too, for ideas could pass up corridors, enter through doors and infiltrate the refuge of his self-imposed quarantine.

(the problem here is it's broken the flow of leaving the argument and is now re-addressing it. This should be immediately after the first door close IMO)

In a daze, he made his way to the room’s center, collapsed on the white leather couch, and inadvertently knocked over the vase and its dozen red flowers as he kicked his feet onto the glass coffee table. They lay upon the carpet in a pool of stagnant water. He sighed again. He had grander problems to think of. If only he could rest! Gather his thoughts and work through the proposition the six had foisted upon him. But there was no time to rest. He would come to a decision tonight, (The why are the six involved at all - they were still debating) for landfall was tomorrow (so its decided). He would determine the fate of the thousands of lives aboard the two failing star-ships. The last remnants of Earth. (Galactica???)

The doorbell’s pleasant chime echoed through the room. Alyn went to the door and peered at the face on the video screen (surely things have moved on an the screen doesn't need to be actually in the door). There stood a man, slightly younger than he and whose face, though grave, possessed far more optimism than the situation warranted. Captain Jacob of their sister ship, the Renascent, was the last person he wanted to see, but he opened the door and welcomed to his good friend anyway. (What else would he do - leave him standing there)

“Eleazar. Good to see you,” said Alyn with a warm smile that he hoped his guest would find authentic, for it was fabricated to hide the shame of what had transpired behind the polished silver door. (too much silver door) He gestured to the couch. “Please. Sit.”

“Thank you,” Eleazar replied. He stared at the flowers and vase on the wet floor as he sat. Alyn returned a weak smile and sat upon the upholstered chair directly across from him. Eleazar smiled back and said, “Can you believe it Alyn? Over three years wandering in space like… a caravan of nomads. “After all we’ve been through,” he leaned back and shook his head, “we’ve finally found a home.” (Whoa - three years, is that all? would that be long enough. not to mention the They had left Earth so long ago that even this memory had started to fade above)

Alyn looked behind him at the window. “A wonder isn’t it? No. A miracle. It was here all along, hidden from our scans on Earth and now we’ve got… choice.”

With a grin, Eleazar looked over to it for a moment before facing him again. “Yes indeed. It’s incredible. Five years ago,
(five, three, so long ago?) no one had ever conceived the possibility that we’d even get here.”

Alyn mustered a chuckle. “To think we owe it all to a billionaire entrepreneur whose prior claim to fame was attracting investment without every turning a profit. But I gotta hand it to him, his Rift Gate…” Alyn shook his head in admiration and snapped his fingers. “We jumped over four light years, just like that.” (So why the three years?)

“Finch is a genius. Albert Einstein and Henry Ford in equal proportions. I mean… that thing was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. How he devised it… well... who knows? But, it got us here, and that’s what matters.”

“Though... a bit off target.”

“Just four million miles. What’s that in the grand scheme of things?” (four light years and four million - it confused me for a bit)

They smiled in collective silence for a while before things became serious again. Alyn spoke first. “Given our predicament, I’ll assume this meeting will be one of official business?” Eleazar nodded in agreement. “Very well.” Alyn pulled back his sleeve and pressed in the top pusher of his wristwatch. (What the hell is a top pusher- have we gone back to the 70s - and why what was it for)

Eleazar said, “Well. As you know, we’re not out of the woods yet. Making landfall will prove to be difficult. Probably deadly.” (as before they've come all this way and don't know how to land - PPP (P*** poor planning etc. surely they would use shuttles and leave the big one in orbit for safety)

Alyn looked down and gave a series of knowing nods before he said, “Yeah. I do understand that.” He slowly looked back up and met the other man’s gaze. “Let’s hear your idea for how we get out of this mess.” (nods and slow looking down, up reads like filler)

They talked for about twenty minutes before they embraced and said good-bye. Alyn leaned against the door frame and stared as Eleazar passed around the bend in the corridor, out of sight. (Twenty minutes of potential detailed discussion where you could show the problems involved just glossed over)

Click. (again with the clicking - is this going to happen all the way through the story -every scene ends with a click? Plus its a star trek feature and it makes it feel that way IMO)

The door latch closed and he knew in that moment - whichever decision he came too - that he would never see his friend again. (Where did that come in? Was it cancer, a brain tuma, had he poisoned his drink?)

Zzzz. Zzzz. The little red light on the intercom panel flashed in-step with its buzzer. (why mention the light or the buzzer for that matter)

From the intercom a reedy voice announced; “The Dominus’s six Congress members reached a decision.”

He raised an eyebrow and held his breath. “And how did they vote Dara?”

“Six votes were cast in favor of the Proposal.”


(Of course it would be nice, as a reader, to know what the options were - but it needs to be done without info dump - which is why the two captains could have the discussion above in those twenty minutes)

Madness!

“Governor. You are required to register your vote to Congress no later than 00:00 Earth Time.” Alyn went completely still, as if he could turn himself invisible and they would all forget about him, but it was no good. After all, they had sent her to remind him of the futility of avoidance. Dutifully, Dara responded, “Governor?”

(Surely its not his vote he has to register - otherwise he would have been in there arguing - maybe his acknowledgment to comply is required)

”Affirmative. I understand Dara.”

Driven by restless energy, he moved across the room and planted his hands on and stared through the windowplex the window sill (sound like a conservatory). Like twin pearls in a deep black ocean, two planets glowed softly in the sun’s cool bluish light. A deep urge had stirred inside him ever since he had first cast eyes on them two days ago. (Can you develop a deep urge in two days?)

(There's a positional issue here - They're close enough to see planets glowing but they were only seen for the first time two days ago. To me it seems odd unless they travel at light speeds - in which case four million miles would be over weeks agao - if you get my drift)


Hope.

They had not had hope for quite some time and oh had they suffered from its lack, but like lime to scurvy, hope had reconstituted their spirits, straightened their backs, and squared their jaws and shoulders. Who was he to take that away from them?

He knew in that instant what decision he would make, though in truth, he always did, he just would not admit it to himself. But with the clock close to midnight, there was nowhere to hide, not from Dara, not himself, and not from those who would live with the consequences.

“Dara?”

“Yes.”

“Notify the others that I am ready.”

“Yes Governor.”

He stared back at the planets and spoke with a clear tone and measured cadence. “Governor Alyn Frederick reporting to the official log of Earth’s Own Ship Dominus on this 27th day of June, 2035 Earth Time.” (Seems a bit quick to develop in fifteen years and build a light speed capable ship)

The relationship between the governor and the other captain seems wrong. He should be the captain operating under the orders of the committee and then the visit from the other captain would be more believable. Not sure what a governors role is in this context.

As I said I can be picky.

The basic premise his promising, but I think the reader needs more of the politics and a chance at the roles and the personalities of the council come congress. I assume they make landfall and the two ships go to the different planets with all the chaos that would ensue. Perhaps even resulting in war which would give fantastic potential for a good story.

Surely the council members would be from both ships - a fact skated over, but that could be filled out with more info on their relative roles and personalities.

Why so soon? Why not 200 years from now? As I mentioned your ship sounds like a Star Trek set IMO. Think opaque force fields for doors, stark utilitarian chairs maybe.

Thirteenth vote? Six congress members?

Hope I helped (and didn't get too picky)

Tein.
 
I would start at the following line:

The doorbell’s pleasant chime echoed through the room. Alyn went to the door and

and get rid of everything before it. All it does is show someone experiencing a lull between events and there's no story there. Jump straight into events, without any prelude or preamble, because that's the point when the story actually starts. :)

Just my 2c.
 
I'm commenting without the context (but with the advantage of having not read) version 1.

I really enjoyed the building narrative tension and I liked the premise. The sense of the captain being a doomed man, struggling to make an impossible choice, came through loud and clear. The writing was clear--could probably be tightened and tweaked here and there, but overall, good.

I liked the dialog between the captains, although it seemed a bit stilted for two old friends.

My biggest suggestion relates to some of the exposition in the middle of the piece. If this were a novel-length work, I think you could work some of the essential bits (two ships faced with a dangerous landfall on unknown planets) into dialog, and scatter the rest of the exposition about how they got there, the entrepenuer, etc., throughout the first few chapters.

Thanks much for sharing. I enjoyed reading it.
 
hi,
The story has quite a lot of things happening in it. It might be moving too fast. The man has to make his discussion but this by the vote of the others at the meeting. He knows that this is not a good thing. He meets a space traveler whom he knows. He knows that he is going to cause his demise. He is worried and upset. Knows he has to agree to this by him. Give us some of these details in a slower context. Your story is able to create enough details for us to understand these things, Your work is goodé
 
Persistant ey?

I'm a picky fellow

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These are all just IMO comments.

You probably have more experience than I have and I'm certainly not an "Authority".



The relationship between the governor and the other captain seems wrong. He should be the captain operating under the orders of the committee and then the visit from the other captain would be more believable. Not sure what a governors role is in this context.

As I said I can be picky.

The basic premise his promising, but I think the reader needs more of the politics and a chance at the roles and the personalities of the council come congress. I assume they make landfall and the two ships go to the different planets with all the chaos that would ensue. Perhaps even resulting in war which would give fantastic potential for a good story.

Surely the council members would be from both ships - a fact skated over, but that could be filled out with more info on their relative roles and personalities.

Why so soon? Why not 200 years from now? As I mentioned your ship sounds like a Star Trek set IMO. Think opaque force fields for doors, stark utilitarian chairs maybe.

Thirteenth vote? Six congress members?

Hope I helped (and didn't get too picky)

Tein.
Thank you so much Tein! This has been very helpful to say the least! Very sound and instructive!

BG
 
Thanks to those who have taken their precious time to provide feedback.

@Brian G Turner - I think that's a good and reasonable suggestion. I will need to think though if I can weave the info above into the narrative without it becoming too heavy. Something I will ponder.

@JNG01 - I appreciate your good vibes and helps me feel I'm on the right track. I think you've nailed the delicate balance on the head of it. Some feel more information should be conveyed here, while I tend to lean toward where you are at, hint at the mystery and let it unfold in the following chapters. I need to keep this in mind as I perform my next edit.

@Richard-Allen - thanks for summarizing how you saw the story unfold. I allows me to understand if others are seeing it the same way I am. That's great feedback. You are right, there's a lot coming at you. Both you and JNG01's comments reflect that and I need to figure out if it makes sense to pull back a bit.

Thanks so much again... Feedback is truly a gift. If you ever need me to provide, just ask :)

cheers!

BG
 
Yes. Flows better. Tension is there. The stakes are clear (even without details). Now power out the rest.

One nitpik. He "bolted" away from the captain. Nothing I've seen of him suggests he's the type to bolt or run away from this woman. Maybe that's his character, but it doesn't seem that way.

GOOD JOB
 
Hi, it's always difficult knowing how much information to impart and how much to keep concealed. I didn't read your earlier version but I think some of the comments I've read still hold true to some extent in this version. The story is intriguing but fractured. I need something to hang on to. This could be more information about the 'decision', the state of the ship, what happened on Earth, the fate of the voyagers (how many?), the landing, the power structure - captain, Governor, the Congress members - who's in charge? It feels like there's a very strong story happening, but I'm wondering if you may have come into it at the wrong point? Or perhaps all it needs is a short scenario giving me the situation on Earth that led to the ships voyage? I understand that some people don't like prologues, but if they're to the point they can work well. In 'Seveneves' Neal Stephenson uses what is in effect a prologue (the first chapter called The Age of the One Moon) to set up the whole story and it works very well. It is essential backstory. You've got a good story happening here, a real space opera! More, please.
 
Hi, it's always difficult knowing how much information to impart and how much to keep concealed. I didn't read your earlier version but I think some of the comments I've read still hold true to some extent in this version. The story is intriguing but fractured. I need something to hang on to. This could be more information about the 'decision', the state of the ship, what happened on Earth, the fate of the voyagers (how many?), the landing, the power structure - captain, Governor, the Congress members - who's in charge? It feels like there's a very strong story happening, but I'm wondering if you may have come into it at the wrong point? Or perhaps all it needs is a short scenario giving me the situation on Earth that led to the ships voyage? I understand that some people don't like prologues, but if they're to the point they can work well. In 'Seveneves' Neal Stephenson uses what is in effect a prologue (the first chapter called The Age of the One Moon) to set up the whole story and it works very well. It is essential backstory. You've got a good story happening here, a real space opera! More, please.
Thanks @ Metaluna. great comments. I took a look at Stephenson's work as you suggested for reference. It's quite good. I think the fundamental difference is that he is laying the foundation of the story and where my goal is not exactly that for I am hinting at the big-secret that underpins mine. The goal is to create curiosity in these first pages that will compel the read to read on. The items you and others are describing that should be incorporated will be reveal throughout the book and to bring them out here would weaken the narrative and surprise ending. That said, the feedback divides into two camps, those that are ok with it, and those that aren't and are confused or perturnbed by it. It's leading me to lean towards eliminating the prologue altogether (as @TheEndIsNigh has advised from day one!)

All said, this has been a tremendoudly helpful excercise. Very grateful to all of you. I have some thinking to do!

cheers

BG
 

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