Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #14

TITLE: Gone to Earth

Clouds at Play had the worst reputation of any starship that had ever been donated to the goddess -- it was alleged to be sulky, ungrateful, stubborn, obstructive, and a liar -- but Praluna wanted it. Most donated ships passed through to Mrahara, the home planet of Hanna's Faithful, but Clouds at Play was the first Praluna had ever seen held back, and the first ever to be held due to personality problems.

Praluna shot out of Highside Station in a two-seat shuttle. It was a model she knew from early in her second life, when she had been vehicles officer on a freelance starship that took contracts from Hanna's ligare -- the organization that supported the goals and philosophies of the goddess -- and sometimes from the ligares of the other two goddesses as well. No gravitic thrusters on it, just ordinary newts. It was a long way from the station to the ship, so she let herself play, revelling in the exhilaration of acceleration, the shock of a hard jink, the freedom of freefall.

Rumors had brought Clouds at Play to Praluna's attention, curiosity had prompted her to research the ship's background, and empathy had led her to sympathize with it. Three separate evaluation teams had examined the ship, and all three had declared it beyond salvaging. People had said that about Praluna too, in what she considered her first life.


  1. Great first sentence. The other proper nouns in the first paragraph - Mrahara, Hanna's Faithful - tripped me up a bit, just because I found it difficult to keep track of so many, but they weren't a deal breaker.

    The second paragraph isn't doing a lot for you. In fact, the excerpt reads just as smoothly if you ignore it and skip straight to the third paragraph (which I also liked, especially the last line).

    Moderately hooked, although I probably would have been pretty darn hooked if I hadn't had to slog through that second paragraph.

  2. I'm definitley hooked. You've got a sympathetic character and an intriguing situation. But, like Krista, I kind of think there's some information dumping going on. You can wait to fill us in til later, when we actually need this info. Trust me, just the idea of a spaceship with psych problems is unique enough!

  3. Not hooked. Kept skimming to find action, not telling. Suggest you show this rather than tell us because it has potential.

  4. I like the premise, but as other people have said, there's a lot of infodumping here. I might read a little farther, though.

    What do you mean by newts in the second paragraph? I thought at first you were referring to the animals, but newtons might make more sense in context.

  5. I like the idea of a spaceship with personality problems, but this was all telling and back story. Just tell the story and introduce info when it's needed. Tell us about Mrahara when she actually goes there. Right now, it's info out of context, which makes it uninteresting and harder to hold onto strange names. If you tell us when we're actually there, it's easier to remember because it's important to the story that is happening at that moment.

  6. I don't have any problems with the second paragraph. I like the detail and the beginnings of flavoring the tech to come. "Newt" is obviously a reference to Newtonian, as in force = mass X acceleration; which may not be commonly figured out, but someone with a science or engineering background (like me) will pick it right up.

    As for names, I always prefer to be able to pronounce names easily in my own head, as if I was saying them out loud. So any name that begins with M and R already put be back a bit.

    I can also see the influence of Iain M. Banks, which I suspect you'll take as a compliment (and you should).

    Would I read more? Absolutely. Would I pay for such a published book? Make sure the names are easy enough to mentally pronounce, and I would.

  7. I like this ship with a personality quirk or disorder. I got a little tripped up by all the similar names thrown at me so quickly. Ooo a past life, that's intresting.
    The first line was the greatest.
    SF is not my genre, so it's hard to tell on the hooked, which is not your fault just my personal taste. But I think with what you have (easing on the names thing) I would probably give it a little longer.

    word verification: fackr.
    i'm not even going there.

  8. I love the idea of a spaceship with an anti-social personality. Your naming conventions did trip me up a little bit and I had to go back and read the first paragraph twice to be sure I understood.

    This might be improved if the infodump here were tempered with a little action. Is she on her way to pick up the ship. Maybe give us some idea of what's keeping her from having it. Is there some kind of interplanetary impound lot?

  9. I love the idea of a starship with personality problems, and goddesses getting ships.

    I didn't love the information dump of the rest of this. I kept waiting for something to happen...and it didn't. The story starts with Praluna getting a starship -- awesome -- but then it stops while we hear about the history. I want to know what she does with it. I want a sense of where she is and what she's doing. Slip the rest of the information in more stealthy-like.

  10. You have me intrigued, and I would keep reading. But like other people have said, you've given me too much information to keep track of right up front and it did cause me to have to reread several sentences. I feel like you need to drop something familiar in there, something the reader can hold on to, something that will give orientation to your setting.

    Also, I think it is common practice to italicize the name of a ship. This would have helped me out a bit in sorting the information you've provided. Otherwise, very strong writing! I can see already that you've created a very interestingly detailed world.

  11. The second paragraph is a bit of a problem. Perhaps it might flow better if you swapped it with the third?

  12. I like the premise of a ship with attitude and a MC with attitude to match.

    I don't normally read SF, so you lost me with the techie details and similar sounding names.

    I'd probably read a little further, though, to see how an inanimate object shows attitude.

  13. You're throwing out too many proper nouns and phrases readers are unfamiliar with right at the beginning.

    I like the first line, but getting Mrahara and Hanna's Faithful in the second line, I've now gotten four proper nouns and I'm not sure which one is important and deserves my focus. Try to spread these out more before throwing them all at us.

    The second paragraph feels out of place. Is there a reason this paragraph couldn't come first or even third?

    Again in the second paragraph, there are a lot of unfamiliar terms, names, or ideas thrown into the exposition without explanation. It makes me - as a reader - feel lost.

    I love the last line - that's great indirect characterization there. I'd love to hear more of this.

    Over all, I'm not quite hooked yet and I'm left thinking this might be too hard of SF for me since I'm confused, but there's definite potential here.