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Snakenaps

2,22,21 - Snakenaps - Mbira - (words 3914)(L)(G)

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I have...RETURNED.
 

Alright, so, this is a little short story I've written as homework for Dave Farland's 318R class. This is the first time I've written a short story, the first time I've written sci-fi, and the first time I've, well, written anything that wasn't Name of the King. So I'm curious to see how this goes. 

 
Warnings for gore and mild language. 
 
I'm looking for everything: the big, the small. Tear this to pieces. It is due on March 1st and I really want to turn in something high quality. 
 
I'm interested in turning this into a full-length novel after I finish revising NotK. That being said, I wouldn't mind getting your thoughts on what little character building and world building there is. Would this be something you or someone you know read? Does this general idea of space rally racing have promise, in your opinion?
 
Thank you ahead of time!
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I forgot...I NEED A BETTER TITLE. Like, a REAL title. Please help!

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Overall

I think there are two issues at play. 

A) lack of GREATER stakes

B.) arc not established at the start

So for the first, I need more about why she races. Fame? Fortune? Love of flying? What happens if she doesn't win this race? What are the actual stakes? There are minor stakes (like if she gets injured she can't fly) but what does flying MEAN to her? EMOTIONSSSSS

For the second, it looks like you're trying to set up a shift for our lead from MUST WIN RACES to FRIENDS ARE IMPORTANT. The issue is that I don't see the start of the arc in the beginning of the story. I'd like more maybe of her dismissing her friend because MUST WIN or something, to make the end of the arc work.

It's well written! And nice to step away from your other work. And I can see the end of the arc, just not the start, and I think you need to up your stakes.

For titles....urgh. 

SHAMBLES OF STARLIGHT

RACE IN PROGRESS

not very helpful. I'll keep thinking on it. Nice work!

 

As I go

- it isn't the most engaging start. I think it could be tweaked to be more dynamic, since it's the start of a race

- pg 1: Small sponsors decorated her sleek sides, but one day Z would see household names there. <-- had to read this several times to figure out what she was talking about

- pg 1: was their last planet <-- I think mentioning its a planet spaceship race would be best in the first few sentences. It's a good hook

- pg 1: above average height could mean anything

- I think the whole first beat here (pg1) could likely be cut and the important parts reintegrated later

- ah yes. The first paragraph of the second page is MUCH more dynamic. Start here, please

- pg 5: I've started wondering about greater stakes. Why is she racing? What happens if she looses? I know if she gets injured she might not be able to fly again, but is that all we are working with here? I'd like (and I'm searching for) something beefier

- pg 7: yes, I need greater stake development. She wants more sponsors because... MOAR MONEY, or family security, or she has to save Mars. Whatever. Without a real grip on those stakes I have no urgency. Win? Lose? Meh. Don't much care. She seems fine either way. What are the BIG TERM CONSEQUENCES of losing, other than her copilot losing his stomach?

- crying on the end of page 9 but WHYYYYYYY

- pg 12: they just...got rescued? I am let down

- does not appear to have an arc that was set up at the start 

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Ooh, a short story. And creative writing classes, fun! :) Wow Name of the King was your first creative writing piece? It reads super well for that being the case. My early writing was so much rougher *glances nervously at my old fanfiction*

Overall:

Agree with everything @kais said about the lack of stakes and arc switching up in the middle. I'll say that I think it's very very difficult to have a short story that's both about Z caring for her friend/mentor and Z having an arc around racing. It feels more like the plot of a novel, honestly, where you're allowed to have multiple plot arcs for the same character. And for what it's worth, I feel like the story really wants to be about her caring for L and the racing is mostly a backdrop. I also think their interpersonal connection is where the most storytelling potential is, and it was the part I was the most engaged with during my read. So I'd like more stakes around that rather than the racing. Who is L to her? He gives off mentor vibes, and I'd love to see more showing about how he's helped her. This story kinda gives off vibes of "The Cold Equations" by Tom Goodwin so if that's not something you've read then I'd recommend looking at it. It's a good example for how to build stakes around a situation where one person is in deep trouble and they're just... kinda waiting. 

Also, if you really want to push this short story to the max I'll say that most short stories are... pretty weird. Idk how else to describe it. SFF is a little more lenient in that way but Z and L feel like pretty easily understood characters which is not true of most short stories I've read. Though this may be a literary thing that doesn't matter as much for SFF. Regardless, what I'd like to see is both of them feeling more distinct as characters through attributes that are unexpected but make sense for the characters. And if it goes into the weird territory, feel free to embrace it. 

As I go:

pg 1

-first paragraphs in short stories need to have what my CRWR prof in undergrad called "artful incongruity," which basically needs to be kinda weird/distinct in a way that raises questions about the story and acts as hook. Right now, space race is cool but stock standard. I do think this hits the other good aspects of opening paragraph though, since we know what's going on after just a few short sentences

-there's a very decent chance this is just me being an ignorant American but I'll say that the ship's name M sounds like a Congolese name and that's kinda how I'm picturing it right now

-the arc about her winning a race isn't as impactful imo without full context. Many sports movies focus on a revenge/redemption motivation for a reason 

pg 2

-Like the straightforwardness of where we are, since I was having a hard time picturing it

pg 5

-This is when it looks like the focus of the story shifts. Generally not recommended for a short story

pg 11

-Oh wow is he actually going to die? I'm not sure I understood how bad the damage was, and I kinda assumed in a sci-fi world they'd have pretty good emergency medical care and that help would come soon. But he sounds really bad right now 

pg 12

-Okay here's where I'm the most invested. Character connection, huzzah! 

 

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On 2/22/2021 at 0:06 AM, Snakenaps said:

character building

I actually felt like I didn't have a very firm grasp on the character. I knew she loved flying, and seemed to keep a cool head in emergencies, but I felt like I didn't really know who she was. The voice felt flat compared to I. I didn't know what she really wanted, what this race meant to her, and what her relationship with her navigator was like. When you revise, try to dig a little deeper into what makes Z herself. 

Later, when we got to the crash, the stakes were survival, but before then, what were they? How does the crash impact those stakes? 

What was the arc? Z seems the same at the end as in the begining. The ship crashed, and now she is plotting the next adventure. How did she change? How did she grow? What did she learn? 

On 2/22/2021 at 0:06 AM, Snakenaps said:

world building there is

I think there was just enough for a short story, more or less. 

On 2/22/2021 at 0:06 AM, Snakenaps said:
Does this general idea of space rally racing have promise, in your opinion?
 

Yes. I do like this idea. And I would read more about space rally racing. 

As I read

p. 1 "She couldn’t imagine never piloting Mbira again." Is he forbidden from all piloting or just in races? Could he fly for fun? Or transporting people? 

p.3 "Liam’s commands like the voice of God. Every atom of her being seemed to shake with the thrill of racing." I love this  line, but I am also a little confused about what he is doing. 

p. 4 "prayed that Control Tower would not cancel the race" Even though it was ongoing? 

I got my answer to this later. 

And despite not being invested in the character, I was drawn into the story, apparently, because I stopped making notes after here. On some levels, it was working. The character was proactive after the crash. The element that was missing was the personal stakes. And while there are hints of personality, I think you could really play them up. 

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Well, @kais said exactly what I was going to! No surprise there.

I think you have a false promise at the start of this story. It's going to be A Race! With Excitement! Hairpin Turns! Thrills! And instead the whole race is cancelled after the third page and we don't get any resolution to that plotline. Bigger stakes needed. WHY are they running the race? What happens if they don't finish? Does L have a down payment on the cybernetic implants and they'll be repossessed if he doesn't get prize money?

Second, there's no real "protagging" at the end of the story. Z makes an effort to get L settled and not completely dying, tries to go outside to flag down help....and gets scared by a crocodile and then they just get rescued. I want them to escape (literally) from the jaws of defeat! Better yet, I want to see more race, with other daring and villainous pilots. We don't see other ships here, and we don't even get a good description of the titular one.

I actually like the title, though it's not very informative. But you learn it's the name of the ship on the first page, which again promises that this will be about the race, not about a crash and a canceled race.

A good start, and I want to see it again with everything turned up to 11!

 

Notes while reading

pg 1: "mushing her curls"
--throws me off because I'm expecting "smushing"

pg 1: good first paragraph.

pg 1: "likely have a low enough time"
--took me a couple reads to get this. Maybe "short enough time?" Dunno.

pg 2: “Two hundred loose six..."
--Can't decide if I like the jargon or if it's too hard to decode.

pg 2: "They were weaving too fast..."
--good tension. She has to rely on L to guide her and she's flying blind.

pg 3: "The g-forces pushed Z and L into their seats"
--I for some reason thought L was guiding her from somewhere else, but looking back, he's definitely in the ship with her. I think it was from saying cyberntics can't fly that I assumed he wasn't present physically.

pg 3: "balanced on the right wingtip."
--Two questions starting to rise up at this point:
1) What does the ship look like? Small, large, enclosed, etc? I'm almost imaging podracers from the context, but I'm suspecting it's a bulkier ship
2) Is L just reading off instructions from running the course previously, or is he relying on sensors? If it's premade, how is he compensating for speed and air changes?

pg 3: "They had to eject!"
--this feels too early to me. They just started and haven't done much to correct for the issue yet.

pg 4: "Pain laced up her left leg"
--Wait, did they crash? Definitely need more in here. Also, this would be another good place to give some description for the ship.

pg 4: "the sky to the left and black water on the right"
--more description of the course would be good as well. I was Imagining a canyon run or something, but now I'm not sure.

pg 4: "Judging from the water level outside of the window"
--So were they flying over water? How did they get there from the canyon?

pg 5: "didn’t have a breathable atmosphere"
--the hull was breached, right? So I assumed they were both in full pressurized suits. Is the oxygen because of a leak from L's injury?

pg 5: "less than four feet wide"
--finally some description!

pg 5: "didn’t seep through her shipsuit"
--I should hope not, if it's airtight!

pg 6: "he looked so young"
--I had assumed he was older than Z...

pg 6: "or because of the worsening weather"
--if the weather was bad enough to ground everyone, why didn't they delay the race to start? I'm sure the control tower could see if coming...

pg 7: "the respirator system wasn’t operating"
--aren't their suits self-sustaining?
--ah...I think this is answered by the next few sentences.

pg 7: "then I get your chair"
--not sure what this means. Is he getting to higher ground?

pg 8: "before settling her weight into her right leg"
--there's been a couple comments about her leg, but no reaction. Did it support her? Does it hurt?

pg 8: "the canyon wall and a small island"
--again, where exactly is this course?

pg 9: "If her foot hadn’t been broken before, she was sure it was now."
--definitely need more reaction here.

pg 10: "That was when she remembered she hadn’t reloaded it."
--hmmm..this almost seems like a cheat. Nothing was said about it before now.

pg 10: "righten" -> "right" 

pg 10: "If only she had managed to attach that flag"
--yeah, I'm not convinced a person with reactions used to split-second turns would have thrown a flag that was supposed to save them at a creature...

pg 11: "now entirely submerged"
--like...over his head??

pg 11: "his oxygen levels were still strong"
--buuuuut...isn't he the one with the hole in his suit?

pg 13: "“I’m taking K to Earth."
--Who's K?

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General rambling thoughts:

I am quite intrigued by the idea of space rally racing, and wonder how it would be organized and run.  I don’t know much about rally racing in a normal earth sense, but I’ve watched two seasons of the Drive to Survive Netflix documentary series, so I’m obviously an expert on F1 racing (she says, not really caring anything about cars). I wonder if the speeds and tech of space rally racing would make F1 a closer reference comparison, even if they’re on an open course that would be closer to rally racing.   That being said, count me in for a story in a competitive space-rally league. 

Going in to the story, I was a little confused about the blocking in the ship, because I was expecting a front/back driver/passenger setup instead of the side-by-side setup. Side-by-side makes sense for earth-rally racing since they’re using street legal cars.  But I don’t see much reason for any two-passenger ship to be set up for side-by-side seating instead of front/back for aerodynamic reasons. Even for a civilian spacecraft.

I’m also skeptical that they would stick two people in the ship if they have reliable wireless communication.  Especially when there are obvious safety risks involved for anyone in the ship.  Do co-drivers still ride along for the actual race in rally racing in our modern era of wireless communication?  If so, I assume that’s just because they’d need a real-time video feed to do their job correctly, with catastrophic consequences if there’s a lag? Trying to think of how that would look with more advanced technology for such things.  If real-time video would still be unreliable enough that it would still be safer to have both people in the vehicle, or if more reliable video feed tech would make it safer for the co-driver to navigate remotely.  Obviously the story only works if we have the former. But maybe there are different leagues for co-pilots and navigators? Since the internet tells me there are different rally leagues that use only cars from certain eras.

Also, I had to ask the internet what a mbira was.

Okay. I think that’s the end of my round of rambling thoughts.  There might be more as I remember trains of thoughts I had while doing the first read-through. [spoiler alert. Turns out there were more. Oops.  But you did ask for everything.]

Pg 2:

“…she let L’s low voice flow through her…” I assume it’s flow, not follow

“shipsuits were especially designed”  specially? If anything? I assume most rally race shipsuits would be designed with the same safety features.  Also, shipsuits had been designed?

Pg 3:

“voice of God” curious about what this phrase says about Z’s religious beliefs.  Also, I like how her following his directions is almost more muscle memory than listening and processing.  It says a lot about their experience racing together.

Pg 4:

“turning off the entire ship” – from a mechanical design standpoint, an emergency full-shutdown should be a one-button process.  Mashing a button to cut power as opposed to fingers flying across panels.  You never want to trust your machine operator’s presence of mind to do anything complicated during an emergency.  Both from a safety standpoint and a manufacturing-avoiding-being-sued standpoint.

It also seems likely that the tech would involve some sort of automated shut-down process or emergency mode that would engage automatically in case of a hull-breach (especially if we’re in non-breathable atmospheres) or a chance of water crossing paths with electricity (a switch to a backup power source that only powers necessary things and isn’t powerful enough to risk harm).  For a civilian ship to be altered for racing, some of this might be removed to minimize extra weight, but I assume the organizing structure of the league would require certain things to be kept or replaced with custom options.  

Good job remembering to cut power, though.  Now, back to the story.

 

“hanging to the side…” What’s actually supporting the ship here? How stable is it in its current sideways position? Having some trouble picturing the crash site. 

Pg 5:

“…broken or badly sprained.”  Again not sure how to picture this.  I’d taken it as more of a bruised vs. entirely crushed situation, with the description of how it was pinned.

“…against the seat.” Like, mounted on the seat?  The current wording makes it sound like it’s just leaning against the seat, which implies that it would have been loose and flying around during the crash.

“using her seat like a platform.”  So she’s on the left side.  L is on the right in the water.  I’m a little confused about her movement after she undoes her harness (what’s keeping her from falling to the right?).  How much space does she have to maneuver?

“placing the kit on the left side of L’s seat”  I wonder if it would be helpful to ignore lefts and rights and ups and downs in this line and just have her looking for the closest flat surface.  Distinguishing relative directions (“well…it’s to L’s left, but he’s still strapped into his seat, and it’s sort of beneath or to the side of me and is flat…”) seems like too extensive of a thought when rushing to help L.  Even for someone who is keeping relatively calm under pressure.

Pg 6:

“pressure pads” Are these like gauze pads? Or some fancy space-first-aid thing? I’m not familiar with the term, though the concept is clear enough. It seems like she’s applying pressure herself here at first, but I think it would be better to add some more steady pressure (the dressings are mentioned later.  Why does she wait?  When taking her hands off to apply the dressings could allow the clotting to fail?)  Also, apparently hemostatic dressings are a thing.  So you could be applying pressure and also encouraging the blood to clot faster.  I know nothing about them. They just turned up when I asked the internet what pressure pads are.  Probably best to ask someone more familiar with emergency medical procedures what makes the most sense to have in a sci-fi first-aid kit.

“a black belly…” it took me a couple seconds to figure out why the black belly was being contrasted with the green and yellow top.  But they’re also sideways. So I don’t know what side is “facing up” or visible to anyone going by.  And I’d imagine that the last thing that would be good for L would be moving the ship suddenly and jarring his injuries.

Pg 7:

“respirator system wasn’t operating.” This goes back to the safety features that should be standard on a civilian vehicle that might find itself in environments with non-breathable air.   That should be attached to a back-up power system. [edit- aren’t they using the tanks later? How does being hooked into their seats help if the respirator system isn’t operating?  Just confused about how exactly this works]

“layered on thick bandages…” This seems like it should have been done earlier. Though I get that the downtime while she’s applying pressure allows time for processing how to get out of this mess. And delaying the radioing for help.  But from an emergency response standpoint, that should have probably happened before she did anything with the wound if she knew she’d be doing nothing for ten minutes. [edit. Yeah. If setting up the mayday repeat signal was that quick, that should have been step 1]

“Thank the universe” goes back to the voice of God comment above.  These two subconscious religious references should probably reflect her belief system.  Even if that belief system is just that she swears by whatever is common to whatever her culture seems to believe in.  The voice of God comment implies some sort of Judeo-Christian reference point, but “Thank the universe” implies something almost exactly opposite that.  She doesn’t have to necessarily believe either of these, but I feel like they should match for character consistency and be world-relevant.  I don’t know that “voice of the universe” would come across as clearly to a reader, but maybe tie these two things together?

“might break the clot” oh, so nowwww we’re worried about that.  Not when we removed pressure after holding it for 10 minutes.   Though the decision not to move him (a wise one) seems like it would make the back and forth a few lines above irrelevant.  Unless he asks to be moved because he doesn’t realize how badly he’s injured, and her telling him no makes him realize how serious she thinks the situation is.  Or something.  If she knows it’s not going to be a good idea to move him, the dialogue above should reflect that and can probably give us some sense of both of their mental states.

“immediate and rapid blood loss” this seems repetitive.

“anti-infection shots” So…antibiotics?

Pg 8:

“Tell them I say hi” Heh. 

“six-foot-one frame bent in half…”  This again brings up questions about what the space she’s trying to move around in looks like. As a short person who has now and then found myself trying to climb across the center console to get out the passenger side door due to a poorly considered parking decision, I find it very hard to picture any of my six-foot friends having much luck trying to do the same.

“which didn’t require electricity” I don’t think this clarification is necessary.

“As if there was a pressure difference…” Might be clearer as “Not that there was any pressure difference…”

“Wind immediately snatched the door and brought it swinging against the fuselage.” So the door opens flat?  Pulling that back in is going to take a lot of strength to get it passed the 90* mark where the wind is pushing against the full surface area.

Pg 9:

“Relying on muscle…” But wasn’t she bent in half while trying to move around inside?  If she has any footing on her chair as a step, she should be able to climb out without trouble.  Unless the door is more than a few feet from her seat, which seems odd aerodynamically.

“prayed the wind wouldn’t pull…”  If the wind is blowing through the canyon in one direction hard enough to catch the door and throw it open, I don’t see that as being a reasonable fear.  If it suddenly switches directions with the same force and at an angle to push the door up and closed, I feel like our weather has just become our main concern.  Because that shift in force is going to be dislodging the ship from whatever position it’s currently stuck in. Or provide enough rotation to tilt it forward or backward into the river.

“small island” I’m not entirely sure how to picture this.  But it does at least remove the above concern about the ship being dislodged, since it’s probably pretty well wedged in there.

“wall of wind” if the wind is still blowing the same direction that blew the door open, it would be blowing her toward the door and out of the ship.  If she’s leaning out far enough, that could mean needing to use her injured foot to find purchase on something to hold herself in, though, if we just need a method of continuing to make our MC miserable.  Leaning out too far also leaves her more visible and exposed for when our creature-friend comes along.

Pg 10:

“Straining under her own weight” ? She should be mostly leaning on the door if she’s still trying to secure the slipknot.  Or if the door doesn’t open flat (which, now that I’m thinking about it, makes more sense. Though the crashing against the fuselage above would need to be adjusged.  I’m not sure what makes sense for a realistic ship door opening angle. Something more than 90* probably, though, which should give her some leverage on it.) I would have assumed that the first thing she would have done would have been to pull herself up enough to be sitting on the edge of the door frame. The farther past 90* it is, the more of a miserable job it’s going to be to pull it closed again, since she’ll be fighting the wind past that greatest surface area point. 

“opening and clothing” closing

“Teeth that would crack in her shipsuit” cut through seems like a more relevant word choice. Or break through depending on the rigidity of the suit.

Pg 11:

Why is her oxygen so much lower than his when he’s the one at risk of having a suit leak? [edit after reattaching to the ship tanks.  Got it. I wasn’t quite getting how that worked. Still not sure how they actually connect to the oxygen tanks]

“By then the ship would be submerged so that the door would be easier to open”  I don’t follow.  If the water level is above the ship, you’re going to be pushing the weight of the water over it and the weight of the door. At least until that pressure seal is broken again. And then all of the water will be coming pouring in, and you’ll still be fighting water flow and not getting as much help from the gusting wind. Right now she only has to push it far enough to let the wind catch it.  Much easier.

Shouldn’t the shipsuits have some sort of insulating properties if they’re intended for use in a number of different planetary environments?

Pg 12:

“…over her visor, over her shoulder.”  It seems like the speed that the ship is filling at has sped up.

 

Concluding rambling thoughts:

Most of the above thoughts were a result of reading more slowly while actually commenting.  I don’t remember half of them the first time through because the tension and pacing were really great, and it hid a lot of little inconsistencies or confusing points. 

I’m going to echo the others’ thoughts on not being sure what her motivation is, since it seems to be winning races at the beginning then switches halfway through.  And I’ll admit I’m not super excited about winning races as a key motivation unless she has a more obvious reason for it.   For realizing that friendship is more important than racing to be the main arc, I think we need more contrast up front.  Right now, they seem pretty close and have a solid, friendly history.  Going through near-death experiences together is obviously going to strengthen that relationship even further, but it’s not enough of a change from their starting point for me to feel like real change happened.

 

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Overall: Oooh, shiny! Space NASCAR! Giant flying squirrel monsters! (that’s what I’m going with, it’s late, shut up.)

Okay, so… you said you wanted to hear everything about this story. I, uhh, took you at your word. FYI, I also sent you an email with some suggested LBLs (track changes is so much faster!)

I think this is a pretty solid start. The structure is sound, and there’s some good atmospheric stuff around the initial excitement of racing, as well as some of the descriptions of being stuck inside the ship – though I definitely think you could ratchet this up several notches, as you’ll see below.

I have to say that I wasn’t expecting what turned out to be primarily a survival story, rather than a racing story, so I think you need to look a little bit at the promises you’re making up-front. Maybe a little more on things like the weather and the difficulties it might cause, why you really don’t want to smash into a cliff (you’ll get eaten by a giant flying squirrel monster before they ever find you among all those trees). OR, a bit more focus on the preparations they make if the worst should happen. Triple-checking the oxygen tanks, the flares, the medical supplies, etc.

Second big thing that comes to mind is that I wanted to Z to participate a little more in her own rescue. I know that her actions after being stranded definitely contribute to that, but there is a fair bit of waiting and hoping which is a bit of a hard sell narratively.

You have some pretty great building blocks for all that stuff. Last thing is the only thing I think the story is actually missing and that is a sense of character arc. There’s really no growth here because Z is so singularly focused, first on the race, then on survival. We have no idea why she is doing this ludicrous thing: yes, the story is bookended by brief references to her desire to be a professional, but why? It’s probably not money if she and L can just casually rebuild an entire spaceship. Doing it for the thrill is a legitimate motivation, certainly for a short story (might not be enough to power a novel), but if that’s why she’s doing it… does she ever come to doubt? Stuck in a slowly submerging ship while running out air, being battered by wind and threatened by monster squirrels, and watching your friend bleed out seems like a GREAT time to maybe have some doubts about your career path. What makes Z a different person at the end of this story than she was at the start?

I’m terrible at titles, sorry. If I think of something brilliant I’ll let you know.

As I read:

P1 “This was the last stage…” Oh, so they’re already in the race? The “this is going to be a hell of a race” comment above made it sound like the race hadn’t actually started yet.

P2 “into a soft turn…” if they’re still waiting for go-ahead, why is she turning the ship?

Also, I have some logistical questions at this point. Not sure I need actual answers right now, but this seems to imply that all the racers are grounded at checkpoints and need to be cleared to take off at the same time, which would seem to defeat the purpose of any prior racing. Or is the idea just to do racing on a bunch of different worlds and get the lowest overall time? Is the transit between planets incidental or part of the race?

P2 “Rain streaked like comets” nice.

“Only Z’s eyes moved, always calculating.” Is she calculating if L is reading her the notes?

“Another win closer to being a professional.” Ah-hah. I wonder if this should come earlier. I had assumed they were professional, given the scale of the race and that L is old enough to have children who can make him jewelry.

It’s just occurred to me… why do they need space suits if they’re flying in atmosphere? Or do they exit atmosphere later as part of the race?

I wonder if Z and L need to encounter one close call in the very early pages, before the crash. While they’re obviously doing something dangerous and the weather isn’t cooperating, things seem to be, broadly, going to plan, so there’s not much tension before the crash itself.

p3“Turning off the entire ship…” So… is the race now? If it is, I’d expect that possibility to register for Z sooner than it does, even if fleetingly while she deals with the other more pressing stuff.

P4 “the sky to the left” So Z is then on the “top” side of the spaceship with L below her (assuming the pilot’s side is on the same side of the vehicle as the driver’s seat in a North American car)? This isn’t clear at all, either here or in the description below where she’s helping him.

“N didn’t have a breathable atmosphere” Okay THIS would have been good to know sooner. When the ship started screaming about a hull breach a page or so ago, I assumed that was an automated thing complaining because the ship was also used to flying in vacuum. I suppose this somewhat explains the space suits, but unless they ARE transitioning from atmosphere to outer space as part of this leg of the race, a rebreather seems like it might be a better bet (depending on the composition of the atmosphere, I suppose).

Also… if they have two oxygen tanks that require Z to manually do things, right now in this moment, before they are active… what have they been breathing? Has their oxygen been slowly running out this whole time? Because if so, that’s a thing you should probably mention.

P6: if the oxygen was being supplied BY THEIR SUITS then I feel like a giant hunk of metal through it would be a problem, yeah.

“The silence meant CT had landed everyone” Oh. It doesn’t mean that Z turned the entire ship off?

P7: I’m amazed this dude’s still conscious.

Grain of salt and all because I can’t even decide myself if the “medical drama” component of this scene is going on too long. I sort of think it might be? But I’m waffling.

The constant reminders of the cold are nice and atmospheric, but each time you mentioned it I am baffled as to why their ship suits wouldn’t protect them from cold. That seems like a necessary thing if they’re going to be flying through places without atmosphere etc.

p8: Wait this storm is still going on? I had no idea. I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what’s going on inside the ship – limited oxygen, dripping water, blood and emergency foam – but not outside the ship. Where is the rain pattering against the windshield? The wailing of wind through the branches or the swirling of debris along the cliff face? The rocking of the ship as it bumps and rattles into the cliff face or whatever is pinning it down, which would make first aid or doing other manual procedures probably pretty annoying and right now probably also hurts like hell?

As soon as she opens the door we basically get everything I was just talking about. But I think we should be seeing more of it before she does, so the storm doesn’t seem like it was waiting for the characters to do something to be inconvenient.

Z thinking she needs to close the door before the ship floods and then immediately starting to mess around with the distress flag seems like she’s disregarding her own thought process.

Not sure why Z’s oxygen levels would be significantly lower than L’s.

On the one hand: Hooray for rescue! On the other hand, and I realize that Z’s earlier actions would definitely have contributed to it, but since it’s the crux of the story I think it would be good for that ultimate moment of rescue to feel a little more active rather than the characters waiting and hoping. Does the radio come on and Z give them some landmarks that can guide their rescuers? Does L undergo some further/worsening medical emergency and Z has to scramble to do something further to help? Does the creature decide to go after her instead of the flag, and she has to race to get back into the ship and get the door closed before it munches on her and L?

Struck me as a bit odd that Z doesn’t seem to feel/mourn, even a little bit, the loss of her ship.

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Thank you @kais, @Ace of Hearts, @shatteredsmooth, @Mandamon, @C_Vallion, and @Silk!!! I have no clue why it won't tag my last two friends! Either way, I've dug through everything and got everything ship-shape (heh, heh) hopefully. I ended up titling this, "The Ship Stuck Sideways." 

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Hi! So sorry I didn't see this had a due date.

Since my critique is waaaaay late, I'll just say:

Great job! 

I hope you write more scifi in the future!

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9 minutes ago, Sarah B said:

Hi! So sorry I didn't see this had a due date.

Since my critique is waaaaay late, I'll just say:

Great job! 

I hope you write more scifi in the future!

Thanks! I appreciate it! 

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