Monday, January 28, 2013

Talkin' Heads #11

TITLE: Dear Katherine
GENRE: Science Fiction

Katherine met Derek and Rick on the colonized planet Millanos. At the beach, Katherine wants to swim to the island she can see in the distance. She's trying to get away from Rick.

“Why don’t you ask the lifeguard on duty?” Derek pointed to the high chair further down the beach.

I jumped to my feet. “Great idea.”

Derek stood too. “I’ll go with you.”

“We’ll all go hear what he has to say,” Rick said as he packed up our camp.

We walked over and discussed the island with the lifeguard, who spoke the local sing-song tongue. "It's a long but doable swim and the tide should hold until you guys got there."

“Not all of us,” Rick said. “I for sure couldn’t swim the distance. She’s the only one going.”

The lifeguard looked me over a tad too long. “I wouldn’t advise going by yourself. Just in case something happens. If you wait until tomorrow, I’ll swim with you.”

My plan was to be falling off the planet in a spaceship tomorrow. “I try not to wait for tomorrows. I’m sure I'll be fine.”

“Well... I can keep an eye on you with my spyglass and you don’t need to swim all the way back if you wait for the ferry at the end of the day. The captain will give you a ride if you swim to meet the boat.”

“I’ll wave when I get there.”

“We both will,” Derek said.

“Dear Derek!” Rick exclaimed in his mother tongue.

Derek didn’t switch languages. “He told Katherine she shouldn’t swim by herself and both of you said you couldn’t go with her. That leaves me.”


  1. Interesting. I like that she's trying to get away, there's a 'ticking bomb' in her schedule, she needs to go today, etc. I am definitely interested and want to keep reading, but the last exchange was a bit confusing to me in the way it was presented. Why the language change/non-change reference? Is that relevant?

  2. I was disappointed in that they're on another planet and everything seems the same as on earth, and Derek and Rick seem to be from that planet, yet they have names like Derek and Rick. Perhaps the reasons for those things are shown or explained earlier.

    And after Derek announces he'll go with her, you might add a reaction from her. Rick's response of dear Derek didn't seem to fit the situation. And what's the point of changing languages when they all seem to understand English and have been talking in it so far? If he is going to speak another language, perhaps write what he says in that language, to give the text a different flavor.

  3. I agree with the last commenter. Even though this is supposed to be a different planet, everything seems exactly like Earth. That could be your intent, I don't know.

    The conversation didn't hold my interest. Maybe if there was some warning about swimming off by herself. I don't know. But with what little we're given here, it seems like this swim will be a jaunt away from the main plot, which makes me wonder why she's off for a swim anyway.

  4. The pacing is good, but some of the phrasing is awkward (some intentionally, I know).
    Lose "on duty."
    "We'll all go hear..." might be the local style of talking, but sounds very angry dad or him just being a jerk (which maybe he is, but it stops the flow).
    The lifeguard's speech should be more sing-songy. Or less.
    The last line makes it confusing as to who as understood what so far (i.e., what languages have been spoken).

  5. It didn't grab me, in part because the speakers all sounded the same, even the lifeguard who is described as speaking in a sing-song tongue.

  6. I agree with much of what has already been said. I chose to read this b/c it was Sci Fi, yet there doesn't seem to be anything other-worldly about it, even the names, as one commenter said. (A lifeguard on another planet? Is he human? We are told nothing about him)

    I didn't feel any tension or conflict or foreboding in this bit of dialogue, even though there is a direct warning that she could be doing something dangerous.

    The lifeguard's bit of dialogue is very on-the-nose and the word "spyglass" stood out to me. That's an antiquated term.