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Robinski

Robinski - The NEU Oblivion v4-0 - 5768 words - (VL)

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Hello all,

Apologies that this is so shockingly late, but I got tied up editing my last submission, and also in starting another short for the James White Award. Still, late is late, sorry about that.

This short story was submitted back in February 2016 ( :blink: ). It's revised , I hope, addressing some of the problems before, so I would very much welcome what you'd like to throw at it.

It's a bit long, sorry about that, hopefully within tolerance?!

Cheers, Robinski

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I do remember this one from before, and from what I can remember, this one is better.

However, I was pretty confused for the first few pages. I really liked the middle, then was confused again at the end.

My main gripe is that we don't get the answer to the big question in the story: why/how did the NEU get switched off? As far as I can tell, everything goes back to normal at the end, so I assume he won? What happened to M? she disappears in the elevator, and then we have to assume she's ok from the last sentence, minus an ear.
The other big question I have (and I'm aware this sort of invalidates the premise) is why can't the NEU just update him on what happened the day before? I like the effect in the story, but at least giving some handywavy explanation will help me stop questioning it as I read.

So in summary, I did enjoy reading it, especially the middle part, but I'm left with a lot of questions, and not in a good way. I'd like to get a little more resolution at the end, and potentially some more explanation for the device. I know that's really hard in a first person POV with an unreliable narrator, but maybe there could be a question from someone else, or he overhears a conversation or something? It's not like anyone needs to keep silent around him, since he'll just forget everything the next day.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "Shuffling, pony-tailed man pushed his garbage cart"
--got caught on the opening sentence. I think you mean "pony-tailed man" as a surrogate name, but I had to read it a couple times. I'd say "the pony-tailed man" to avoid the reader stumbling on the first sentence.

pg 3: the interlude here is from technological interface, I assume? A bit hard to get through so close to the beginning, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

pg 3: "The kernel whispers, reminding me I'm a policeman"
--ah yes, I do vaguely remember this one from the last time you submitted.

pg 5: "There’s a protocol because when I wake up, the last thing I remember is the day before they fitted the..."
--ok, starting to get the hang of this one, but it's a deep dive in right at the beginning.

pg 5: Did not understand the brief interlude on this page.

pg 6: "I like to keep them guessing "
--current question: was this something voluntary, was he pressed into service, or was there brain damage that caused the device to be fitted in his head?

pg 6: "I wonder if the NEU has its own eyes, watching me, seeing what I see."
--sooo, what exactly is it, then? I was thinking it was a bionic interface, but this makes me think it's remote, somehow.

pg 13: "unhurriedly ease"
--unhurried?

pg 13: "shred the low buzz of travel"
--what is "the low buzz of travel?"

pg 13-14: The blocking here is a little scattered. I suppose that's for the effect of  the fight, but I'm not really sure where anyone is. Are they in a hallway?

pg 15: "They’re cutting a hole"
--who is cutting what hole? Blocking is still kind of confused here.

pg 17: "we all know what it is as the captain returns. M’s earlobe bloodies his fingers.
--he's holding Marie's earlobe? Oooh...so it somehow got cut off because that's where the tracker is. Took me a minute to get this. Could be clearer.

pg 18: "He glances down at the piece of M’s ear in his hands."
--so does this mean she was in the coffin? I thought the girl from the beginning was. 

pg 18: "Without the NEU, I’m no more use to them than a Citroen full of backup."
--There's a lack of a question here. We still don't know why it switched off, and he's not even questioning it. Seems like he would be freaking out a lot more, or asking the Mor. if he knows what's going on.

pg 19/20: What leap of logic possessed him to rip up a street sign? Is he going to hit someone with it? But then he drops it and has a gun again? Confused.

pg 20: He seems to be actively loosing his memory again, but we never got the mechanism for why the device was installed. Did he have brain damage?


 

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2016? Was I on the forum back then? I can't remember.

After reading, this is definitely my first time through

Overall

Some fairly minor quibbles below. Generally I liked it and thought the pacing was good, though the action could be cut down perhaps in favor of a more robust ending. I appreciate that M's disappearance didn't head into fridging territory! As a short I think it's pretty well rounded and the MC comes across well. The NEU has me fascinated and I would love more info about this (though the amount of info in the short is just perfect).

On 5/16/2019 at 10:28 AM, Mandamon said:

I'd like to get a little more resolution at the end,

This x 1000

On 5/16/2019 at 10:28 AM, Mandamon said:

The blocking here is a little scattered. I suppose that's for the effect of  the fight, but I'm not really sure where anyone is. Are they in a hallway?

I also stumbled here.

On 5/16/2019 at 10:28 AM, Mandamon said:

Oooh...so it somehow got cut off because that's where the tracker is. Took me a minute to get this. Could be clearer.

This also confused me

On 5/16/2019 at 10:28 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 19/20: What leap of logic possessed him to rip up a street sign? Is he going to hit someone with it? But then he drops it and has a gun again? Confused.

pg 20: He seems to be actively loosing his memory again, but we never got the mechanism for why the device was installed. Did he have brain damage?

Also agree with both of these. I think my confusion in the later pages contributed to my action fatigue.

 

 

As I go

- pg 3: lot of POV changes. Trying to stick with it

- pg 4: old cooking oil is a VERY good smell to conure. Really cements me in the story

"It doesn't trust me to think..." this is a great line

- I'm having a hard time understanding why M keeps having sex with our MC when he can't remember. It's jarring me from the story and I wonder if we could have a bit more about their relationship up front. Right now it's a little... male fantasy? That's not quite right but something isn't gelling

- pg 8: the dialogue after the sex scene helps, but I still think a bit more earlier would be good

- pg 12: I'm starting to wonder about through lines. The narrative is engaging so I'm fine to go on, but wanted to let you know that I'm starting to get just a bit antsy

- the NEU turning off is a great twist!

- okay question: if all cops have something imbedded in them, can't our MC use that to call for backup even if the NEU is off?

- pg 19: Who would care for what's left of me? This seems overly sentimental since this day he has had only brusk interactions with her

- pg 20: SO MUCH ACTION I think I have some fatigue

- I don't think I'm satisfied by the ending. I want more closure

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Thank you @kais and @Mandamon, great comments as always, thank you.

Headlines: more relationship (agree); temper the action (can do); develop the ending (agree). I'll come back to your very helpful detailed comments shortly :) 

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