Wednesday, May 6, 2009

37 Drop the Needle

GENRE: Science Fiction

The cities are slagged, the rising oceans have drowned Sumatra, and once-benevolent beams of converted solar energy slice across the scarred landscape. In ancient tunnels beneath the cinder cone, the People scrape out a stratified existence. A rigid caste system does not allow Loatia, high priestess, keeper of tech, to speak with her ever-present silent Guardian, an untouchable. Accustomed to a stoic detachment, and no acknowledgment from his mistress, he must wait while she submits herself to the priesthoods rites: a ritual that allows elder priests to impose themselves as the first mating partner for the young acolytes...

He focused inwardly, attempting to draw his consciousness away from the tinkling dissonant music, thrum of drumbeats, and ever more vibrant laughter. He sought a vigilant meditation, the standing sleep of the Guardians. Most of his compatriots had already achieved this, braced motionless on spear and wall, yet with their eyes slitted open to maintain the required watchfulness.

Thorimo repeatedly blinked, strained, his neck fibers bulging, and then caught himself and tried to relax. He knew one could not achieve this meditation by forcefulness, yet could not let go of his inner turmoil enough to release his thinking mind to rest.

He could not stop thinking of Loatia.

And he was physically punishing himself for doing so; biting his cheek, scraping his spear against his thigh, digging his fingernails into his palm.

Even more disturbing than the celebratory laughter was the gradual quieting of voices within. Thorimo had almost willed himself into a repose trance when this awareness impinged on him. The revelers were retiring to alcoves and couches, in twosomes – threesomes? Foursomes? to-

He could not think on it. He squeezed his eyes shut. An unaccustomed action. He swayed against the wall, the heat rising invisible in his veins, from the very stone floor beneath his sandaled feet. Not Loatia, not in the arms of that-



  1. How interesting that your outburst of emotion is...well, so emotionless.

    I don't mean that as a criticism- just fascinated at how stories are different. Your seemingly emotionless response fits your characters situation.

    And I felt for him.

    I did wonder about Loatia. Is she young? She's high priestess of tech, but a young acolyte submitting for her first mating? or was I confused?

  2. Wow. This writing is dense, reads very "literary."

    I could definitely feel his emotions, feel the turmoil of the man who couldn't even speak to the woman over whom he's agonizing. That was subtly done; good!

    Some of the writing does, perhaps, need the editing that all manuscripts need. Your prose isn't the "draw me right in!" kind, but rather the kind of thoughtful writing that makes you want to read it again.

    I'm not sure my comments here are as helpful as I'd like them to be! It may be that the story isn't resonating with me, so I'm caught instead by the language and the way you craft your sentences. I think there's an inherent beauty in the way you write, so I would encourage you to keep working, keep pruning and fine-tuning.

  3. I was sucked right in--identified with the MC enough to find this bit thoroughly uncomfortable.

  4. I liked this but I like the genre. I thought the premise was great, although the writing needs tightening. Example, "He knew one could not achieve..." to "He knew he couldn't force meditation, yet.." Although I think you set a mood and the tension nicely, the sentences detract.

  5. I liked the premise. The writing could do with a little tightening, as others above have mentioned. I'd read on.

  6. I don't really know what 'the cities are slagged' means. I liked it once it got into his reaction. The intro was a little wordy.

  7. I think some of the sentences are a little wordy but I definitely felt the MC's discomfort (pain, really). Nice writing.

  8. Didn't feel it fit the excercise.