kais

TCS - Chapter 'Mercy', part II (resubmit) - kais 02/12/18 3189 words (L)

4 posts in this topic

Particularly interested in if the temperament changes make more sense this time, and if I stick the landing on the ending. Thanks all!

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Just read the first part. I really like the setting so far. I find myself endeared to Yorden as a protagonist; his character feels very believable. There were only two bits that confused me. First was the cellulose-tech. I get that trees are being refined into some sort of alien technology (I think computers) and that different trees have different properties. I love that concept, but would like a line or two of dialogue explaining why trees had to be used, and why the different types behaved differently. Secondly, the purple fur of the Alusians surprised me, since that sort of coloring is rare here on earth. I could accept a variety of explanations for it, such as the flora on their planet having purple photosynthesizing molecules (which exist irl), and would reinforce that the biology is too different for the cedar trees to survive on their planet. I could also see it being used as a signal to indicate that they're poisonous, like insects here on earth do. Neither of these things need to be explained immediately, and they probably don't need to be explained at all; I'd just like them to be since I'm a nerd, and find that sort of world-building interesting.

On to my notes as I read it:

Pg 1 - " 'Two hundred and twelve diamond rounds, as agreed.' " Is "rounds" just the name of the currency, or is trade in this universe based off of diamond bullets used in space battles? If so, a: that's metal as storm, and b: that presents an interesting irony given the peace that arrived with the Risalians.

Pg 1 - "made his look like a kid’s paper airplane." Don't worry about it, Yorden! Burans are awesome, even in a world of future sci-fi tech. The Pledge is probably the coolest ship on the station.

Pg 2 - " 'I know they contracted with this fruit company.' " Does she mean apple? Huh. I wonder if they literally make their products out of apple trees now...

Pg 2 - " 'Of course, Captain.' A shiver ran down Yorden’s spine, though it still felt like he was afloat in a sea of spaceships. Captain. It sounded too good to be true." I really like this. I don't quite know why, but it feels like a very human reaction, confused and excited, and with that sense of freedom that he's been looking for.

Pg 3 - I just really like the paragraph about the mixture of different languages, and the problems of communicating between species. It makes the universe feel a little more real.

Pg 5 - " 'Markin Kelm.' " is Markin hir name, or hir title? ... "the markin stared at Yorden" so a title, then. Got it.

Pg 5 - This confrontation is really intense for me. I keep wondering if the Risalians are as peaceful as they seem. I mean, they clearly have some way of enforcing their laws over all the other species, and if it's not with violence, then that's almost even scarier.

Pg 5 - "but that all, hopefully, added to his charm." a: I'd personally change it to:  "but all that hopefully added to his charm." It just reads a little smoother to me. b: are rugged good-looks effective between species?

Pg 6 - "Kelm rubbed hir neck slits." Oh, yeah. When I read about these in pt. 1, I assumed the Risalians were aquatic, based on the gills and their coloring. Are they amphibious? If not, what's with the gills and blue skin?

Pg 6 - " 'I’d like to offer you a job, Captain.' " Awwww, rust!

Pg 8 - Aaand, I was right. The non-violent solution is scarier. No mind-controlling translucent copper dudes for me, please.

Pg 9 - " 'And give me back my goddamned righteous anger.' " I'm starting to quite like Yorden as a protagonist.

Pg 11 - "the Neek people too, since they seemed to have some of the same unique quirks that Terrans did." Interesting. We know that they're religious. Is that rare? Are they also unsatisfied with the peace?

Overall: The world is really strong. You've got a nice mystery set up, and I'm drawn in to it. I really like Yorden. In some ways, he reminds me of a classical Noir detective, disgruntled, traumatised, and imperfect, but still driven to do the right thing in the world, even at great cost to himself. As a space nerd, I love beyond what words can express that he's flying around the Systems in a suped-up Buran. It carries the same sort of childlike excitement for me as space-battleship Yamato, but even cooler, 'cause it's a freakin' Buran! Hopefully, he can get an empty Energia fuel tank as a larger cargo bay later in the story. What? That would be really stupid and impractical? Don't care, rule of cool!

Hem...

The biology and culture of the aliens really interests me, and I hope (and think it likely) that we'll get to learn more about them as the story progresses. As aforementioned, creepy copper dude is creepy. I'm suspecting him of continuing to manipulate Yorden's emotions to get him to accept the contract, though more subtly than by just muting his anger as he (xe? didn't get a gender on copper dude.) did initially. All in all, I'm excited to read more.

~PN

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Not too many comments this time. It read smoother, though might need a couple more explanatory sentences toward the end:

Notes while reading;

pg 5: "he definitely needed a shave"
--but he has a beard? I always pictured it as a full beard, so no shaving needed. If not, might be good to describe what it looks like.

pg 8: “You can’t afford what I want.”
--Still have a bit of a problem with this. If he hasn't looked at the contract, how does he know what they're offering? In addition, all the detail about how often he would have to run would also be in the contract.

pg 8: The emotion-smoothing reads better this time.

pg 9: The disgruntlement comes across better too.

pg 10: "He no longer gave a damnation about information, either"
--so did the Ard. but that inquisitiveness into his brain too? Like they were trying to figure out how to get free? If so, you could probably make it a little more obvious.

pg 11: "He signed the contract."
--Ok, so now he signs it, again without reading it! Right after the Ris. tell him xe will pay whatever. I'd be a lot more suspicious, or at least read the thing, at this point.

The ending is good, and starts the question of where the peace came from and why the Ris. want live trees.

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No, I’m not really sure where I was either.

  • “berth three thousand five hundred and four, docking bay nine, aft hangar” – there’s an argument to say these are names, and could be capitalised. I dunno: that’s a lot of CAPS. It would be interesting to know what an editor thought of it, but I wouldn’t ask one if I knew one as, probably, such trivia would rile them up something good.
  • “frigates, liners, cutters, dredgers, and shuttles” – to me, a shuttle, by definition, is a small vessel that runs back and forth to larger vessels, and so tends to be quite small itself. We know already that the Pledge is a former Russian Buran, the equivalent of the Space Shuttle. So, I don’t but that ‘shuttles’ would dwarf the Pledge.
  • “It showed 12/29” – what time format is this? I don’t follow. The alien-ness of the time, I think, would be better shown by a time like 25:12, for example. 12/29 looks like a date to me. If this is supposed to be almost 12:30, then 12:29 is more conventional time format.
  • I get a bit disoriented by some of the terminology. You refer to berth, then to a bay. I’m happy enough with that. Then, comes hangar. If you look at existing airports, a hangar might contain a handful of smaller planes, or one big one. A space as big as you describe here, I think, is far too big to be described as a hangar, which will set most readers’ expectations at a much smaller space, I think. The description sort of sounds like the whole spaceport, rather than just one hangar.
  • “one language representation” – not keen on this phrase. ‘Primary language’ I think is clearer, but today there is talk about ‘universal language’. Not sure how that applies when there are actually other races in the universe, but a universal language for humankind anyway.
  • “which was better than the almost-vomiting flips he’d had experienced in the docking bay” – not keen on the repetition of ‘flips’. ‘almost-vomit flips’ is not a clear phrase, imo.
  • “was built on the backs back of N an plantation farming” – farming is singular.
  • “M?” he asked. “Cause the blue tunic-” – does he need to speak the second bit out loud? Why would he? He certainly doesn’t need to explain to the R.
  • “You understand that is illegal. All of it” – This really doesn’t help my understanding of what is illegal and what isn’t. I’m back to being confused. Maybe it’s WRS by now.
  • “The worse worst the m would do would was…” – the double ‘would’ is pretty ugly too.
  • “but only in relation to for the Rs themselves” – suggest for directness
  • “He leaned against the back of his chair” – awkward, compared to ‘He leaned back in his chair.’ There’s a line about reader not seeing the writing. The writing is visible here.
  • “Some cheap, grocery store checkout lane” – comma, or is sounds like a cheap grocery store.
  • “Keep me busy instead of incarceration incarcerated” – suggested for clarity/flow
  • “The copious hair on Y’s arm raised rose for a moment”
  • “has exactly the format of climate controlled the exact format of climate control required for live tree shipment” – sorry, I know I’m suggesting wordsmithing, I just get riled really easily by this stuff.
  • “on the table top of the table” – flow
  • “seriousness” – this is not a nice word, how about ‘calmness’, ‘sobriety’, ‘resolve’?
  • “When we are seeking to carrying harvested plantation trees from the N System, yes I agree with you.
  • “Sign where indicated here and you are free to go” – for impact
  • “find some other cremhole to run it, . Not unless the R was willing…” – for clarity
  • “You can’t afford what I want” – but they could afford any of those requests, so I guess this shows his lack of awareness of the Rs?
  • “Revulsion rose in his throat before everything got still” – not elegant phrasing.
  • “responsible for the invasive peace” – is this the word? I feel distanced from Y again. World peace is not to be sneezed at. I think we would all take it right now, maybe?
  • “raped one of the few remaining old growth forests on Earth” – I thought you’d fixed this to make Y less unsympathetic? I’m about ready for him to be executed now.
  • “Because he was a criminal, if a petty one, and that didn’t bother him” – I don’t think destroying the last old growth on earth is petty. Haunted childhood, boo-hoo. Lots of people have sht childhoods and make the best of themselves without feeling they have some God-given right to destroy the Earth’s natural heritage.
  • “we don’t care” – Surely, this is a massive reveal. I’ve haven’t read the trilogy all the way through, but this undermines the whole galactic peace thing, doesn’t it? Revealing that the Rs’ motives are not in the interests of peace at all? I want to follow this thread up now.
  • “will pay whatever your price you want
  • “or not being able to get a toy” – huh?

By the time I get to the end, I don’t want Y to have fun, I want him to be punished. He’s just ‘raped’ my planet and taken a good deal of relish in it. All very well starting out a novel, or a trilogy with a morally repugnant character, but ending a short with one is something I'm not convinced about.

You do set up the mystery quite nicely. The R’s line and behaviour certainly conveyed that there was something underlying, but I felt that I was quite distracted by my increasing loathing for a character that I had enjoyed and identified with in the trilogy, and at the beginning of this story, to a lesser extent. I’m going to be interested to see how other reacted to this.

I think there’s a line that is difficult to walk when it comes to characters displaying criminality. I hate gangster movies, because gangsters prey on innocents and therefore should be ended at the first opportunity. There is no such thing as a victimless crime, but it’s possible to display criminality in characters if they are stealing from the rich, or other criminals. Stealing from big business is a grey area, because the customer pays for the losses in the end, similarly with insurance fraud.

So, blathering aside, my big take-away is now feeling down on Y, where I was in a good place with him before :unsure:

<R>

Edited by Robinski
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