18,000 crit

Jo Zebedee

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Okay, I'm 10 posts late, but how in the hell did I end up with 18000 posts here?! Anyhow, this is something I found at the weekend and am absolutely not getting distracted with, no sirree, because @nixie will actually come to find out where I live if I don't get onto IC2 as soon as the current projects are shelved, and I'm the only person who wants Ealyn's book written... anyhow, here goes. Possible start to a new Abendau prequel, the scene where Ealyn meets Shug (and probably a dreaded prologue, since the other Abendau books have one). Consider this mostly a bit of fun.

************************************************************************

PROLOGUE

The lad emerged from the Needles, close to the spaceyard. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically under the broken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down street. Shug made his way across, ducking under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette. He didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard: Shug had enough not going through the books to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.

“Ain’t nothing here that’s any of your business,” he said.

“Your yard ---” The lad pushed his hair back as he took in the spaceyard. But for the paleness of the boy’s skin, he could have been a Roamer with those vivid eyes and the dark hair. “There’s some decent equipment.”

He was sharper than he looked: he’d seen straight past the items of spacejunk Shug kept near the entrance, on the principle that it was always better to be underestimated than investigated.

“Yeah, and it’s mine. If you come one more step, you’ll be trespassing.”

“Oh, yeah.” The lad fished about in the pocket of a grubby flying suit, until he pulled out a filche. “I have t:his.”

Shug took it and scanned it. “From the academy, then?”

The boy nodded. “Top of my class. My tutor told me to come down here and ask for a job.”

“I’ve never heard of your tutor.” Shug handed the filche back.

“Well, he didn’t mention which yard,” said the boy. “He just told me to ask around.” His eyes darted back to the junk Shug had so artfully gathered. “So far, no one wants an apprentice.”

“Me, neither.” But he didn’t actually move the lad on. Not with those sharp eyes and dark, dark hair. “What sort of work have you done?”

“Maintenance,” said the boy. “And some navigation.” He drew himself upright. “But I really want to fly.”

Shug just bet he did. “Ever tried?”

“Naw.”

“Tell you what. You get a year behind you, get your basic license, and come back to me. If you’re any good, I’ll take you on. But you have to be able to fly first.”

The boy’s shoulders slumped. “I can’t.”

He didn’t say what was stopping him, whether it was funding or something else. If Shug was a gambling man, he’d suspect something else. The new Empress’ regime wasn’t making life easy for some, and this lad had ‘some’ written all over him.

“Well, that’s the best I’m offering,” said Shug. If this lad had set off warning radars in him, he might in others, too. For a pilot, mainly off planet, he’d take the chance. But someone in the yard, day in, day out… this lad was too visible. Let him be some other yard’s raiding party nightmare first. Better still, let him go back to the college and learn to fly there; he’d have some limited protection as a student, one of many coming and going ever day. “Come back when you can fly.”

Shug waited until the boy turned away and headed back into the Needles before going back into his office. Outside, the familiar sounds of the yard went on, the clanking of metal on metal, the high-pitched sizzle of steel-grinders. The whine of an engine –

There were no flights scheduled. With a low feeling in his stomach – a dull knowledge, if he was honest – Shug raced from his office.

“Street waif just entered the planet-hopper!” Ger yelled from the work-yard. “Had the door sealed before we could stop him!”

“Thin. Dark hair?” asked Shug.

“Yeah!”

The whine became something more insisten. Shug ran towards the landing pitches. Heat from the engines hit him. He waved his arms from the edge of pitch. “Shut it down!”

He was sure the boy was grinning from the command seat.

“Any way we can close him down?” he asked Ger.

“Not without shooting,” his yard-manager responded. “No override on that baby. There’s a decent contract on that ship. I’m guessing they want it back intact.”
And for a regular customer. Shug’s hands bunched at his sides, helplessly. He would take the lad apart when this was over. And tell his tutor what his recommendation had led to. Someone was going to have to pay for the burned-out engine that threatened.

“Well, he can’t fly,” he said. “Worst he’ll do is blow the engine.”

“Expensive engine.”

“I know that, Ger. But it’s only an eng --”

The ship shot upwards.

“sh*t!” Shug reeled back at the hot air displaced by the engine.

“You said he couldn’t fly!”

“He can’t. He’s just a kid.”

A kid who’d set every nerve in Shug’s body alive. He watched as the ship came under control. The vertical flight had evened out, and the lad had achieved a reasonable planetary trajectory. A moment later, it banked low over the city.

“Hope to hell he doesn’t crash,” said Ger. “Ship could be traced to us.”

Not to mention the loss of life in the crowded city. But the ship maintained a good height as it came round once more and headed back towards the yard.

“Boss,” said Ger. His voice was low and unhurried.

“Yeah.”

“Get into the blast-cover.”

Ger was already moving, his long legs carrying him fast. He gave a high-pitched whistle and other workers appeared at a run, heading for the blast-shelter. Shug took to his own heels. The ship was coming directly for him. The lad was still grinning; he was sure of it.

Just as it looked for certain that the ship would hit, and hit hard, Shug dived for the blast-entrance and lifted his hand to close the hatch, but stopped. The ship had banked again, coming round in a long, slow, measured trajectory. This time, it came in over the landing pitch, tilted, and set down as neat as a pin in the centre.

“He landed it,” said Ger.

“He did.” Shug stared at the ship. He’d been right; the lad had some Roamer ancestry in him. More than some: he was undoubtedly a Controller.

The hatch opened, and the boy’s face came into view, split with a huge grin.

“I flew!” he yelled. “Do I get the job?”

“What’s your name?” Shug called back. He might learn to regret this moment, his earlier instinct might have been a better one, but when could his yard ever afford a Controller, especially an unregistered one?

“Ealyn Varnon.”

“Ealyn Varnon, eh?” It wasn’t a Dignadian name. Shug found himself grinning back. “You’re hired.” He stepped to the bottom of the gangway. “But if you ever try that little trick again, they’ll find your bones bleached in an alley in the Needles. Understand?”

The boy paled further, which was some feat, but he nodded. “Yes, sir.” He put his hand on the ship as if it was a woman, and rubbed the metalwork.

“I flew,” he said. “I flew.”
 

Droflet

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Wow. 18,000, holy cow, Jo. When do you get time to ... ah, anything. Huge congrats.
 

Droflet

I don't teach chickens how to dance.
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Okay, I haven't done one of these in a while so I'll try not to be a pain. No promises though.





The lad emerged from the Needles, close to the spaceyard. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically under thebroken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down street. Shug made his way across, the spaceyard? or the yard? ducking Possibly a new para here? New character and all under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette. He didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard: Shug had enough not going through the books?? to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.

“Ain’t nothing here that’s any of your business,” he said.

“Your yard ---” The lad pushed his hair back as he took in the spaceyard. But for the paleness of the boy’s skin, he could have been a Roamer with those vivid eyes and the dark hair. “There’s some decent equipment.”

He was sharper than he looked: he’d seen straight past the items of spacejunk Shug kept near the entrance, on the principle that it was always better to be underestimated than investigated.

“Yeah, and it’s mine. If you come one more step, you’ll be trespassing.”

“Oh, yeah.” The lad fished about in the pocket of a grubby flying suit, until he pulled out a filche. “I have t:his.”

Shug took it and scanned it. “From the academy, then?”

The boy nodded. “Top of my class. My tutor told me to come down here and ask for a job.”

“I’ve never heard of your tutor.” Shug handed the filche back.

“Well, he didn’t mention which yard,” said the boy. “He just told me to ask around.” His eyes darted back to the junk Shug had so artfully gathered. “So far, no one wants an apprentice.”

“Me, neither.” But he didn’t actually move the lad on. Not with those sharp eyes and dark, dark hair. “What sort of work have you done?”

“Maintenance,” said the boy. “And some navigation.” He drew himself upright. “But I really want to fly.”

Shug just bet he did. “Ever tried?”

“Naw.”

“Tell you what. You get a year behind you, get your basic license, and come back to me. If you’re any good, I’ll take you on. But you have to be able to fly first.”

The boy’s shoulders slumped. “I can’t.”

He didn’t say what was stopping him, whether it was funding or something else. If Shug was a gambling man, he’d suspect something else. The new Empress’ regime wasn’t making life easy for some, and this lad had ‘some’ written all over him.

“Well, that’s the best I’m offering,” said Shug. If this lad had set off warning radars in him, he might in others, too.?? For a pilot, mainly off planet, he’d take the chance. But someone in the yard, day in, day out… this lad was too visible. Let him be some other yard’s raiding party nightmare first. Better still, let him go back to the college and learn to fly there; he’d have some limited protection as a student, one of many coming and going ever day. “Come back when you can fly.”

Shug waited until the boy turned away and headed back into the Needles before going back into his office. Outside, the familiar sounds of the yard went on, the clanking of metal on metal, the high-pitched sizzle of steel-grinders. The whine of an engine –

There were no flights scheduled. With a low feeling in his stomach – a dull knowledge, if he was honest – Shug raced from his office.

“Street waif just entered the planet-hopper!” Ger yelled from the work-yard. “Had the door sealed before we could stop him!”

“Thin. Dark hair?” asked Shug.

“Yeah!”

The whine became something more insistent?. Shug ran towards the landing pitches. Heat from the engines hit him. He waved his arms from the edge of pitch. “Shut it down!”

He was sure the boy was grinning from the command seat.

“Any way we can close him down?” he asked Ger.

“Not without shooting,” his yard-manager responded. “No override on that baby. There’s a decent contract on that ship. I’m guessing they want it back intact.”
And for a regular customer. Shug’s hands bunched at his sides, helplessly. He would take the lad apart when this was over. And tell his tutor what his recommendation had led to. Someone was going to have to pay for the burned-out engine that threatened.

“Well, he can’t fly,” he said. “Worst he’ll do is blow the engine.”

“Expensive engine.”

“I know that, Ger. But it’s only an eng --”

The ship shot upwards.

“sh*t!” Shug reeled back at the hot air displaced by the engine.

“You said he couldn’t fly!”

“He can’t. He’s just a kid.”

A kid who’d set every nerve in Shug’s body alive. He watched as the ship came under control. The vertical flight had evened out, and the lad had achieved a reasonable planetary trajectory. A moment later, it banked low over the city.

“Hope to hell he doesn’t crash,” said Ger. “Ship could be traced to us.”

Not to mention the loss of life in the crowded city. But the ship maintained a good height as it came round once more and headed back towards the yard.

“Boss,” said Ger. His voice was low and unhurried.

“Yeah.”

“Get into the blast-cover.”

Ger was already moving, his long legs carrying him fast. He gave a high-pitched whistle and other workers appeared at a run, heading for the blast-shelter. Shug took to his own heels. The ship was coming directly for him. The lad was still grinning; he was sure of it.

Just as it looked for certain that the ship would hit, and hit hard, Shug dived for the blast-entrance and lifted his hand to close the hatch, but stopped. The ship had banked again, coming round in a long, slow, measured trajectory. This time, it came in over the landing pitch, tilted, and set down as neat as a pin in the centre.

“He landed it,” said Ger.

“He did.” Shug stared at the ship. He’d been right; the lad had some Roamer ancestry in him. More than some: he was undoubtedly a Controller.

The hatch opened, and the boy’s face came into view, split with a huge grin.

“I flew!” he yelled. “Do I get the job?”

“What’s your name?” Shug called back. He might learn to regret this moment, his earlier instinct might have been a better one, but when could his yard ever afford a Controller, especially an unregistered one?

“Ealyn Varnon.”

“Ealyn Varnon, eh?” It wasn’t a Dignadian name. Shug found himself grinning back. “You’re hired.” He stepped to the bottom of the gangway. “But if you ever try that little trick again, they’ll find your bones bleached in an alley in the Needles. Understand?”

The boy paled further, which was some feat, but he nodded. “Yes, sir.” He put his hand on the ship as if it was a woman, and rubbed the metalwork.

“I flew,” he said. “I flew.”



Only minor glitches, or I'm getting finicky in my maturing years.

A good yarn. I'd love to read on, when you get it published.

Well done, as always.

Now, for the real crits.
 

BT Jones

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I enjoyed this @Jo Zebedee. It moved quickly and was fun. My first thought was I didn't know where this was or what world we were stepping into, but from your opening comments, this is a prequel / prologue to an established story series? Which would explain perhaps why. (I need to do my homework!!)

I think I have a lot to learn on narrative techniques. How or what would you describe this narrator as? I've noticed (in what little I've read) that some narrators are knowledgeable about the world they are describing, and others are surrogates for the reader, explaining things as if the story is happening to them too. Your narrator here is obviously the former. I must admit, I struggle with that a little bit. That being said, I think it works here and it really helps move the story along.

I'll also add that I wasn't clear on the physical geography of the opening scene. Where was Shug when he first noticed the kid? Perhaps a opening line like; 'Shrug turned one-eighty, sensing a presence. There was a lad...'

But I'm suddenly struck by how entirely unqualified I am to comment on your work!! All of which reminds me to find my missing kindle and start sampling some of the work published by fellow Chroniclites.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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I enjoyed this @Jo Zebedee. It moved quickly and was fun. My first thought was I didn't know where this was or what world we were stepping into, but from your opening comments, this is a prequel / prologue to an established story series? Which would explain perhaps why. (I need to do my homework!!)

I think I have a lot to learn on narrative techniques. How or what would you describe this narrator as? I've noticed (in what little I've read) that some narrators are knowledgeable about the world they are describing, and others are surrogates for the reader, explaining things as if the story is happening to them too. Your narrator here is obviously the former. I must admit, I struggle with that a little bit. That being said, I think it works here and it really helps move the story along.

I'll also add that I wasn't clear on the physical geography of the opening scene. Where was Shug when he first noticed the kid? Perhaps a opening line like; 'Shrug turned one-eighty, sensing a presence. There was a lad...'

But I'm suddenly struck by how entirely unqualified I am to comment on your work!! All of which reminds me to find my missing kindle and start sampling some of the work published by fellow Chroniclites.
It is a prequel but it does need to set up on its own too, so this is useful. A bit more place setting and description needed will go on my gravestone :D - I’ll get some more in there. The narrator here is familiar with the world and it’s in close narration which does always present the trouble of how much you can get away with. In this case, the readers of the trilogy will be familiar with the world and this particular junkyard, so it’s about balancing it for both. Ty!
@Boneman - cheers! It felt like so much fun working in Abendau again....
 

tinkerdan

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That is a lot of posts.
The lad emerged from the Needles, close to the spaceyard. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically under the broken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down street. Shug made his way across, ducking under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette. He didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard: Shug had enough not going through the books to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.
Couple of thoughts here.
I would separate the two separate peoples actions.
At first I stopped wondering why you didn't start out using the lads name--then realized it was another character.

Then examine Shugs paragraph. Right now it sounds like you have effect and cause so I would suggest swapping that.
But first examine this sentence.
Shug had enough not going through the books to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard.
It seem inordinately convoluted.

It might look like this.
------
The lad emerged from the Needles(What are the Needles), close to the space-yard. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically under the broken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down(are you being deliberately repetitive or could you change this to something like shattered)street.

Shug had enough not going through the too much off the books to be allowing going to allow streetrats to stand, gawping, at this yard . He didn’t like how too close, the boy had come, or the attention he was paying too much attention to the yard. Shug made his way across, ducking under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.
----------
This also separates the Needles from needle rifle by more distance. I was thrown off wondering what is the Needle is it where needle rifles come from or maybe just the needles for the rifle-yeah they make needles for needle rifles in the Needles.
Don't get me wrong I love stimulating my mind creating weird ideas--I just don't think you want me doing that while I'm suppose to be reading your stuff.


“Ain’t nothing here that’s any of your business,” he said.

“Your yard ---” The lad pushed his hair back as he took in the spaceyard. But for the paleness of the boy’s skin, he could have been a Roamer with those vivid eyes and the dark hair. “There’s some decent equipment.”[A question here. I don't know for Roamer--however; what does that have to do with his incursion on this property and why is it important to Shug's observation(assuming Shug is the POV)?]

He was sharper than he looked: he’d seen straight past the items of spacejunk Shug kept near the entrance, on the principle that it was always better to be underestimated than investigated.
The rest needs mostly editing to clear up a few problems such as missing letters.

As far as the Roamer part,.
Its not so much that we have to understand Roamer, but I'm sure you have something in your mind as to why Shug makes this connection and it turns out that is is important; so, it might help to give some insight into whether that connection could change the things, even if all it is Shug thinking that it could change or affect what this incursion is. Maybe even a thought that, if he was, that might explain what he's doing here.

It is obvious to you but not to the reader--however even had there been a Roamer connection somewhere else--in another book--you are deliberately ignoring Shug's true feelings and thoughts on the subject, just to surprise the reader at the end of the piece and because this is a Prequel-Prologue I think you need to lay some solid breadcrumbs.
 

Wayne Mack

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My guess is that the prologue leads to a story about a Han Solo or Star Lord pilot, which is the kind of story that I would like to pick up and read. I think the overall organization of the text is correct, but I felt several things caused me confusion and did not let me get into the flow of read as much as I liked.

I think I would have preferred that the descriptions be a little more general and avoid the detailed terminology. Also that the descriptive text and dialog should have been kept more separate.

The lad [How old? I pictured about 10.] emerged from the Needles [What is/are the Needles?], close to the spaceyard [Is this a landing facility? A junkyard?]. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically under the broken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down street [Is he in a street? In a junkyard?]. Shug [I thought this was the name of the lad, not the introduction of a new character.] made his way across, ducking under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette [I picture a corvette as a low slung car. Confused how someone would have to duck under a mounted rifle]. He didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard: Shug had enough not going through the books [Plot point seems unnecessary at this point] to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.
Don't be afraid of world building at the start. As a reader, I will accept about 3 paragraphs describing the environment before getting into the meat of the dialog. Give me some broad picture first and let the detailed terminology emerge in later chapters.

“Ain’t nothing here that’s any of your business,” he said.

“Your yard ---” The lad pushed his hair back as he took in the spaceyard. But for the paleness of the boy’s skin, he could have been a Roamer with those vivid eyes and the dark hair. [If this is pushed back to original description of the boy, simple dialog tags would suffice and create a better reading flow.] “There’s some decent equipment.”

He was sharper than he looked: he’d seen straight past the items of spacejunk Shug kept near the entrance, on the principle that it was always better to be underestimated than investigated. [Again, push this back to the opening descriptions and not interrupt dialog flow.]

“Yeah, and it’s mine. If you come one more step, you’ll be trespassing.”
He didn’t say what was stopping him, whether it was funding or something else. If Shug was a gambling man, he’d suspect something else. The new Empress’ regime wasn’t making life easy for some, and this lad had ‘some’ written all over him.

“Well, that’s the best I’m offering,” said Shug. If this lad had set off warning radars in him, he might in others, too. For a pilot, mainly off planet, he’d take the chance. But someone in the yard, day in, day out… this lad was too visible. Let him be some other yard’s raiding party nightmare first. Better still, let him go back to the college and learn to fly there; he’d have some limited protection as a student, one of many coming and going ever day. “Come back when you can fly.”
Shug's thoughts could be deferred until after the dialog exchange is completed. For me, this would lead to less interruption in the story flow.

Shug waited until the boy turned away and headed back into the Needles before going back into his office. Outside, the familiar sounds of the yard went on, the clanking of metal on metal, the high-pitched sizzle of steel-grinders. The whine of an engine –

There were no flights scheduled. With a low feeling in his stomach – a dull knowledge, if he was honest – Shug raced from his office. [It seems that the time between the boy leaving and the ship taking off is almost immediate. This timing seems unrealistic and bothered me while reading.]


“Street waif just entered the planet-hopper!” Ger yelled from the work-yard. “Had the door sealed before we could stop him!”
[I feel this and the text that followed would be better as an action sequence rather than a dialog sequence. This would avoid the need to introduce another character. This is the big hook for the prologue, so get me excited.]
“He did.” Shug stared at the ship. He’d been right; the lad had some Roamer ancestry in him. More than some: he was undoubtedly a Controller. [This seems out of sequence. It isn't until the next line that it is confirmed that the boy was the one flying.]

The hatch opened, and the boy’s face came into view, split with a huge grin.
Shug found himself grinning back. [This seems to be an unusual reaction to having someone almost steal and crash a transport ship. I would expect a little more bluster and anger.]
I really like the intro flow and can see it as a prologue to 'Ten years later ...' or the like. It seems to set up the relationship of a gruff mentor and a hot shot apprentice. I think with a rewrite, it would serve as a strong hook to get the reader into the story.
 

Toby Frost

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I like it. It gives me an old-school, slightly Asimovian feel (perhaps it's the idea of a yard full of spaceships). Overall, I think it could be slightly more fleshed-out: we could have a bit more description of the effect of the ship taking off, for example, but that's just personal preference. A couple of small things struck me:

The word "needle" is repeated twice in the first few lines. The first time, I did wonder what the Needles is (I assume a road or a district) but there is absolutely no context, so it really could be anything plural. The second time, the phrase "needle rifle" sounds to me like something that a person would carry, not something mounted on a vehicle, so maybe "needle cannon" or something like that would work better. I think I'd definitely alter the first, perhaps to Needle Street.

In this sentence, I didn't immediately grasp who the clause beginning with "principle" was:

He was sharper than he looked: he’d seen straight past the items of spacejunk Shug kept near the entrance, on the principle that it was always better to be underestimated than investigated.
But otherwise it's really good. I agree that it sounds like the beginning of an ace space pilot, and it has a Star Wars-type feel of space adventure to follow.
 

AnyaKimlin

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This has quite a few typos so I am guessing it's an early draft.

You're really using sounds to pull us in and it moved at a great clip. Introduced Shug and Ealyn really well. I'd suggest looking at using some other senses to bring us in further. I suggest a bit more about Ger at this stage or maybe drop his name and bring him up later.

There's adverbs that shouldn't be there and some places which are clunky. And yeah we get it, Ealyn is thin with dark hair ;) You could just bring that in later when he shouts "Thin, dark hair?"

Are you ready for those kind of comments?

The only real suggestion I have is that I think this sentence is a better hook: "He didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard." or maybe tweak it to Shug didn't like how close the kid had come, or the attention he was paying to the spaceyard. I think this bit gives us so much about both Shug and Ealyn that I'm rooting from them straight from this and the next sentence. Then I have a reason to care about the world they're in.
 

Cosmic Geoff

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Some inline comments:
************************************************************************

PROLOGUE

The lad emerged from the Needles, close to the spaceyard. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically (redundant adverb) under the broken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down street. Shug made his way across, ducking under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette. (Unclear what this is given the repitition of needle) He didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard: Shug had enough not going through the books to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard. Amusing detail. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance Could use some description here - is there a gate? A boundary fence? – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.

“Ain’t nothing here that’s any of your business,” he said.

“Your yard ---” The lad pushed his hair back as he took in the spaceyard. But for the paleness of the boy’s skin, he could have been a Roamer with those vivid eyes and the dark hair. “There’s some decent equipment.”

He was sharper than he looked: he’d seen straight past the items of spacejunk Shug kept near the entrance, on the principle that it was always better to be underestimated than investigated.

“Yeah, and it’s mine. If you come one more step, you’ll be trespassing.”

“Oh, yeah.” The lad fished about in the pocket of a grubby flying suit, until he pulled out a filche. “I have t:his.”

Shug took it and scanned it. “From the academy, then?”

The boy nodded. “Top of my class. My tutor told me to come down here and ask for a job.”

“I’ve never heard of your tutor.” Shug handed the filche back.

“Well, he didn’t mention which yard,” said the boy. “He just told me to ask around.” His eyes darted back to the junk Shug had so artfully gathered. “So far, no one wants an apprentice.”

“Me, neither.” But he didn’t actually move the lad on. Not with those sharp eyes and dark, dark hair. “What sort of work have you done?”

“Maintenance,” said the boy. “And some navigation.” He drew himself upright. “But I really want to fly.”

Shug just bet he did. “Ever tried?”

“Naw.” Doesn't this academy have flight simulators?

“Tell you what. You get a year behind you, get your basic license, and come back to me. If you’re any good, I’ll take you on. But you have to be able to fly first.”

The boy’s shoulders slumped. “I can’t.”

He didn’t say what was stopping him, whether it was funding or something else. If Shug was a gambling man, he’d suspect something else. The new Empress’ regime wasn’t making life easy for some, and this lad had ‘some’ written all over him.

“Well, that’s the best I’m offering,” said Shug. If this lad had set off warning radars in him, he might in others, too. For a pilot, mainly off planet, he’d take the chance. But someone in the yard, day in, day out… this lad was too visible. He suspects the boy is some kind of fugitive? Let him be some other yard’s raiding party nightmare first. Better still, let him go back to the college and learn to fly there; he’d have some limited protection as a student, one of many coming and going ever day. “Come back when you can fly.”

Shug waited until the boy turned away and headed back into the Needles before going back into his office. Outside, the familiar sounds of the yard went on, the clanking of metal on metal, the high-pitched sizzle of steel-grinders. Some time should pass, allowing the boy to re-enter the yard and get inside the planet-hopper. The whine of an engine –

There were no flights scheduled. With a low feeling in his stomach – a dull knowledge, if he was honest – Shug raced from his office.

“Street waif just entered the planet-hopper!” Ger yelled from the work-yard. “Had the door sealed before we could stop him!”

“Thin. Dark hair?” asked Shug.

“Yeah!”

The whine became something more insisten. Shug ran towards the landing pitches. Some sense of scale would be useful here. Heat from the engines hit him. He waved his arms from the edge of pitch. “Shut it down!”

He was sure the boy was grinning from the command seat.

“Any way we can close him down?” he asked Ger.

“Not without shooting,” his yard-manager responded. “No override on that baby. There’s a decent contract on that ship. I’m guessing they want it back intact.”
And for a regular customer. Shug’s hands bunched at his sides, helplessly. He would take the lad apart when this was over. And tell his tutor what his recommendation had led to. Someone was going to have to pay for the burned-out engine that threatened.

“Well, he can’t fly,” he said. “Worst he’ll do is blow the engine.”

“Expensive engine.”

“I know that, Ger. But it’s only an eng --”

The ship shot upwards.

“sh*t!” Shug reeled back at the hot air displaced by the engine.

“You said he couldn’t fly!”

“He can’t. He’s just a kid.”

A kid who’d set every nerve in Shug’s body alive. (That was not too obvious earlier) He watched as the ship came under control. The vertical flight had evened out, and the lad had achieved a reasonable planetary trajectory. A moment later, it banked low over the city.

“Hope to hell he doesn’t crash,” said Ger. “Ship could be traced to us.”

Not to mention the loss of life in the crowded city. But the ship maintained a good height as it came round once more and headed back towards the yard.

“Boss,” said Ger. His voice was low and unhurried.

“Yeah.”

“Get into the blast-cover.”

Ger was already moving, his long legs carrying him fast. He gave a high-pitched whistle and other workers appeared at a run, heading for the blast-shelter. Shug took to his own heels. The ship was coming directly for him. The lad was still grinning; he was sure of it.

Just as it looked for certain that the ship would hit, and hit hard, Shug dived for (into?) the blast-entrance and lifted his hand to close the hatch, but stopped. The ship had banked again, coming round in a long, slow, measured trajectory. This time, it came in over the landing pitch, tilted, and set down as neat as a pin in the centre.

“He landed it,” said Ger. It probably has automatic landing, but let's not be nitpicky.

“He did.” Shug stared at the ship. He’d been right; the lad had some Roamer ancestry in him. More than some: he was undoubtedly a Controller.

The hatch opened, and the boy’s face came into view, split with a huge grin.

“I flew!” he yelled. “Do I get the job?” Seems a bit naive. Shug might be very angry.

“What’s your name?” Shug called back. He might learn to regret this moment, his earlier instinct might have been a better one, but when could his yard ever afford a Controller, especially an unregistered one?

“Ealyn Varnon.”

“Ealyn Varnon, eh?” It wasn’t a Dignadian name. Shug found himself grinning back. “You’re hired.” He stepped to the bottom of the gangway. “But if you ever try that little trick again, they’ll find your bones bleached in an alley in the Needles. Understand?”

The boy paled further, which was some feat, but he nodded. “Yes, sir.” He put his hand on the ship as if it was a woman, and rubbed the metalwork.

“I flew,” he said. “I flew.” ( One can sense his emotion.)

***********************************************************************
That was good fun. It could work well as a prologue. It has action, introduces the characters well, and engages the reader's attention.
 

HareBrain

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I like the scene, but I think it could do with a few refinements and some trimming. And I agree there seems a weird amount of focus on his hair for those of us who don't know what it means.

The lad emerged from the Needles, close to the spaceyard. Thin, dark hair falling over his eyes, he stopped practically under the broken-down sign that stretched over the broken-down street. Shug made his way across, ducking under the needle rifle of a snub-nosed corvette. He [Shug] didn’t like how close the boy had come, or the attention he was paying to the yard: Shug had enough not going through the books to be allowing streetrats to stand, gawping at this yard. He stopped opposite the boy, hands on hips, using his frame to dominate the entrance – the extra spread had to be good for something, after all.
I found the first para quite hard to get into. I think you're trying to cram too much into it. Maybe keep it to the essentials (highlighted) plus some very brief indication that Shug's operations aren't all above-board.

The boy’s shoulders slumped. “I can’t.”
This seems a weak response, and I'd expect him to argue more. Unless he's already planning to take the ship, in which case why say this at all?

“Well, that’s the best I’m offering,” said Shug. If this lad had set off warning radars in him, he might in others, too. For a pilot, mainly off planet, he’d take the chance. But someone in the yard, day in, day out… this lad was too visible. Let him be some other yard’s raiding party nightmare first. Better still, let him go back to the college and learn to fly there; he’d have some limited protection as a student, one of many coming and going ever day. “Come back when you can fly.”
This is an awful lot of thinking (which is how it comes across) for the time between the two sentences. I find this kind of disparity reduces POV tightness.

There were no flights scheduled. With a low feeling in his stomach – a dull knowledge, if he was honest – Shug raced from his office.
I think you can cut the red bit. I had some feedback from a YA editor not long ago, which contained the advice that most physical reactions to emotions are cliched and can be cut; more important is the thought or fact that gives rise to them (which here is "There were no flights scheduled"). After some resistance, I've started to apply it to my own writing and I think she has a point. We think they make the writing more visceral but actually they often add nothing.

“Street waif just entered the planet-hopper!” Ger yelled from the work-yard.
"Street waif" rings falsely specific to me. Wouldn't he just say "some little sh*t"?

they’ll find your bones bleached in an alley in the Needles
Again, "in the Needles" seems like specificity for the purpose of world-building. "in an alley" would feel more realistic.
 
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msstice

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I loved the writing, it flowed well, hinted at a larger world. It could end here, like a short story. I wonder if it would help to hint at something unresolved. I guess the basic resolution is the boy gets the job (or not)

Here's a thought: Leave out the last bit. Don't tell us he lands. That'll be later. Maybe even chapters later :giggle:
 

msstice

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I had some feedback from a YA editor not long ago, which contained the advice that most physical reactions to emotions are cliched and can be cut; more important is the thought or fact that gives rise to them
This is interesting info, and I'd like to discuss this a bit more. Is this is a widespread sentiment? Did you run into it from other folks?

This applies presumably to descriptions of internal body state (visceral reactions) of the POV character in 1st person or close 3rd person.

For "external" characters, we only have access to body expressions to infer internal states and presumably, when properly done, these are still useful.
 

HareBrain

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This is interesting info, and I'd like to discuss this a bit more. Is this is a widespread sentiment? Did you run into it from other folks?
No, it's the only time I've heard it, and it actually goes against what I've heard/read before, which is that accurately described visceral reactions are gold. But as I said, I'm increasingly convinced there's something in it. If you nail the thought or fact that gives rise to the bodily reaction, and the reader is invested in the story or character, the reader will feel something like it themselves, so it's redundant. And if the reader isn't feeling anything like the same thing already, then telling them the character is experiencing it won't really do anything.

I think that applies to "standard" reactions representing fear, excitement, sorrow, etc, rather than anything more unusual. And I think there's always room for instances where even common reactions are described in an original way. But "her heart sped", probably could almost always be ditched.

I was thinking of perhaps starting a thread on it, as I think it would be worth discussing, but I'm not sure what I would say apart from what I just have.

This applies presumably to descriptions of internal body state (visceral reactions) of the POV character in 1st person or close 3rd person.
Yes, that's right.
 
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