Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Doomsday's Wake
GENRE: Science Fiction

Utokra didn't believe in killing; he believed in piety and reason, the knotted strands of which had occupied him so fully, he had not seen the tangled noose pulling close around his world. He wasn't old just yet, though he already had a dozen arthritic joints in his legs and grasper tentacles, and the fur on the crown of his skull had gone red. He was also a bit absent-minded-vexingly so at the moment. A bristly, yellow bloom had drawn him into the ice-garden to sample its sour perfume. Now the summer snow had turned to sleet just as the light faded, and as he stretched to reach the top of the Center gate, he stretched also to remember.

Ashwan, the largest moon, still slept below the treetops. Her three lumpy little sisters were all overhead, their sunlit and moonlit faces overlapping in bright, almond crescents like the eyes of a Chot'oul. Indeed, this rare conjunction was known as the gaze of Chot'oulea, and its appearance had long been known as an omen of change. Utokra pulled the latch-wire over the post and leaned close to the gate, parting the beaded vestigial tentacles dangling around his face. He peered through the wire mesh and over the shadows crisscrossing the snow covered courtyard beyond. The contributions jar still sat on the kiosk outside.

Absent-minded indeed; dealing with the council bureaucrats was making him senile. He wouldn't need any contributions if they would just restore his stipend.
. . .


  1. You have a good visual here, but I kind of got lost in all the visuals. The first paragraph was okay, but I preferred the second paragraph. You didn't really make me wonder 'what's going on?' in this opening bit. Is there a way to draw the reader in a bit more? The last line was good, as now we wonder "what's up with his stipend?" but we need more.

  2. I think there is too much setup up front and it hinders the story. I would start with:
    Utokra pulled the latch-wire over the post...

    Also, I found the first two paragraphs difficult to read because there were too many very long sentences.

  3. (Hrm, a bit worried here - I posted on this a few hours ago and the comment is no longer here. Now I better check the rest...)

    I think the story could pull me in, but as Patchi said, there's a lot of set-up. I don't know what a Chot'oul is, so comparing something to its eyes doesn't work for me yet. I like the voice, from what I can hear of it so far.

    I'd lose the "absent-minded-vexingly so" bit - maybe just remove "vexingly so" but the formatting of this made me stumble.

    Overall though, I'd read on. I like your description of the moons, and think starting with action rather than thoughts might help this out a bit. Good luck!

  4. The descriptiveness of the first paragraph is more than a bit overwhelming. Starting with the second paragraph would be a better draw for me to keep reading, personally. The "tangled noose pulling close around his world" is beautifully poetic.

  5. I really like the little ways that you clue us in to the fact that Utokra isn't human, in particular, the sentence about his tentacles and the fur on the his skull.

  6. I'm sorry, I'm sure you understand what's going on here, but I don't. There are simply too many things lined up in a row with no explanation. We start out with killing followed by two paragraphs of scenery.

  7. Lovely imagery, but a little much. I kept waiting to get to the point, which may come later, but not soon enough to keep me wanting to read more. Perhaps hook me first, then follow with the imagery to support it. Just a caution, there's a sentence where the word "stretched" is used twice in one sentence. Do not be discouraged. Your description is solid; you just need to work on bringing me into the story first. Good job!

  8. The sentences in the first paragraph were awkward, both for their length and format. The second paragraph was better. Your world building seems good so far. Parts of the description seem very poetic (I like the reference to the configuration of the moons, for example), but I feel a little like I'm being beaten with the prose. Aside from that, I like it so far.

  9. Great physical description of Utokra.

    What does being old have to do with killing/piety/reason? If there's a societal connection, I don't pick up on it here. If it's a consideration from his POV, the absentmindedness and "remember" should probably come before it, so we know where him thinking hes not old is coming from. This sentence: "Indeed, this..." doesn't work for me. It's clear something's off with his world already, and giving the phenom a second, specific name slows down the intro.

    I love the first sentence--consider following it up with more action (ie, the last sentence of that first paragraph, as he's opening the gate) and instead sprinkling description, so the opening builds on the character right away.

  10. I like the tone and style of the piece, even if I don't understand it all yet. I agree with others that starting with the second paragraph seemes less confusing.

  11. The imagery is beautifu. I think my favorite line is about the summer snow turning to sleet---I want to know more about this world. However, the reason I'd continue to read is to try to understand what's going on rather than from an excellent set up of tension or characterization. There is no real hook here other than confusion about this world.