Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #38

TITLE: Marlowe and the Spacewoman

The sting of the acid rain should have been hard to ignore, but the gun in his face made it easy.

"I'm sorry, but you know too much," said Toulene. "My new identity, the DNA profile I'll be assuming, and my route of escape. You provided all of them. I can't be found. The City isn't the only party trying to locate me."

These meetings always go sour, thought Marlowe. Everything seems to be going fine, and then someone jams a gun in your face. He put on his most winsome smile, which wasn't saying much. "You mind if I put my hat back on? I just got this face lifted recently, and I'd hate to void the warranty."

Interpreting not getting shot in the face as assent, he slowly reached down for the fedora hissing in the caustic puddle at his feet. The bubbling of the acid-resistant coating on the hat caused it to wobble. "Weatherman said it would be a 6.2, maybe 6.1," he said conversationally. "But I think the pH dipped to 4.9 or so. What do you think?"

Toulene said nothing, but the gun wavered in her hand. Amateur, thought Marlowe. But geneticists can hardly be expected to have street smarts.

"What do you think of the face?" he asked as he shook the excess water off the hat. "Recognize it?" He checked on Teddy's hiding place using the low light implant in his left eye.


  1. I love an en-media-res opening when it works, and it definitely works here! The 6.2/4.9 pH level thing worked really well, assuming this is an adult fic not a YA. Everything worked here for me. I never had to stop reading, and wanted to read more. The only thing that bugged me was the title, actually. Made me think of Nathan Bransford's book, which seems to be a vastly different book from the tone so far. Your title just doesn't seem to fit the feel of the book.

    I'd read on! Good work!


  2. Hooked but I have questions.
    Wouldn’t Marlowe be just the teensiest bit scared? How about something to show he is alarmed?

    Except for that small thought, I would read more. BTW, is this ‘the’ Marlowe? If so, the clichés are right on point but I wonder about problems with the copyright. If it isn’t ‘The Marlowe’, then the clichés may seem trite to some people.

    Not me though. I loved it.
    Good job

  3. Liked the opener, the ph of acid rain. Good stuff. I get a very strong film noir feel here despite the futuristic setting - even the name Marlowe has all kinds of film noir/hard boiled detective/pulp references that I hope you are aware of and use to your advantage.

    Would read on.

  4. I'd read more. Not sure if starting in the middle of a conversation is the best idea because it can be off-putting but I love the setup.

  5. I would have liked a name in the first sentence so I could get a better sense of whose POV I'm in.

    Tolune's (I find the name funny for personal reasons) dialogue was a bit over-the-top for me at first, but maybe that's part of the atmosphere you're creating.

    I like how you've incorporated the acid rain into your setting. The weatherman's predictions and the acid-resistant hat show us the acid rain is normal here. But if it is normal, then do people ever let their skin be exposed? I'd think they'd need more protection for their faces and would have to wear gloves.

    Who's Teddy, Marlowe's backup? Also, if there's little light, I'd like to have that detail come a little sooner.

    I'd read on.

  6. Loved it! The only question I had was - where are they? Not what world or alternate reality are they in, but where on the street and what kind of street. I mean, she's holding a gun in his face. Wouldn't somebody notice? Maybe say the street was deserted or something. But that's really small and easy to fix. Wish I could read more!

  7. I'd read on.

    My only comment. I didn't like the wording in the first sentence... 'should have been' too passive for me.

    But a great set up. Marlowe revisited. Nice job.

  8. This has a great noir feel, and I love it juxtaposed with the SciFi elements. I get a good sense of Marlowe's character, and your title is awesome. Nicely done. I'd keep reading.

  9. Confused on first read-through. I only got that it must be set in the future. Second re-through it was clear. Loved your character's voice... somewhat world-weary... "I've seen it all" attitude. Very nicely done. Would re-think his name... unless you want to overtly reference the great literary gumshoe.Would definitely keep reading.

  10. Loved the opening line, though I would just go for the "was" instead of "should have been" - or maybe "Usually, the sting of acid rain was hard to ignore, but the gun..." - something like that. I also felt that Marlowe would feel a touch of something with the gun in his face. I love all the references to the acid rain, and the way you work them in so casually - showing us that it's a part of their world that is so normal for them it's easily incorporated into everyday conversation.
    I'd most certainly read on.

  11. I like the idea of a SF noir mix...
    I really loved the first line, but maybe would say Marlowe instead of his, just a knit pick.

    I'd keep reading for the voice and the concept.

  12. I love the opening, but I got stuck on "his" - it would work better to get his name right there. (Then you can cut the "thought Marlowe" in the third paragraph since it pulls readers out of the tight narrative).

    Toulene's dialogue feels like info dumping. Would the bad guy really explain all that? (I also thought she was a guy at first).

    Tighten the pace - keep it fast. I would get rid of the "winsome smile" sentence, the subsequent dialogue implies it anyway. And lose the -ly adverbs they don't add anything.

    I was following okay in the beginning but that last paragraph feels confusing. The introduction of Teddy, a low light implant, and something about recognizing his face all come very fast and are very new. I'd keep reading but I'd expect to figure out what was going on soon.

  13. Not quite hooked.

    Definitely give a good feel of sci-fi immediately with the mention of all the tech, almost a Shadowrun kind of effect.

    My attention hitched on two things: 'his' in the first line - I'd recommend always using the character's name in the first instance you refer to him, and all the stuff he did for Toulene could be revealed on the fly rather than in the one statement to keep the pacing going.

    I'd read on another page to decide if I was really hooked or not.