Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #17

TITLE: Down into Darkness
GENRE: Science Fiction

“He’s a smart kid; it’ll be a shame to lose him.”
“He could make it, sir.”

“Not likely.”

“He’s a soldier, sir. Even if he doesn’t know it.”

“Isn’t that true. Amani, I don’t know what we need most, justification for war with the damn Mars colony, or sufficient intelligence about Jupiter’s little devils to know what the devil’s going on.”
“It’s in God’s hands now.”

Jason grinned nervously only because he was still alive. He activated the down-link to Earth, speaking into empty space. “Jason Marconi, signing on. I’ve just been turned away from the gates of the Kingdom of God. In fact, Peter told me to go to Hell, though in a few more words…” he paused at the irony, “…which, of course, is just what I intend to do.”

Jason sucked at his mug of coffee, which soothed, though he hardly needed the caffeine. Out of habit he set the mug by the console. Immediately it began to wander, drifting slowly upward through the air. Grabbing it again, he snapped it into its holder away from the control panel.

He took a breath, feeling his flippancy fade to thinly-veiled anger.

He’d failed, but the failure wasn’t his. He’d always known the overture would fail. Maja! Earth could be as bad as Mars sometimes. He’d known it would fail, but he’d tried anyway. Because of Ruth.


  1. Interesting concept...Earth at war with Mars and Jupiter colonists. I'm having a hard time getting a sense of setting or what's going on. I think you definitely need to rethink opening with dialogue, especially without any tags or action to tie it in to any particular person or event.

    It feels like you're maybe trying to get as much info into the first page as possible rather than building one compelling image.

  2. The intro reminded me too much of ENDER'S GAME, both the format and the conversation itself, so I stopped reading there. Is there another way you could start this that wouldn't be so reminiscent of what has become one of the genre's archetypal books?

  3. I wanted to really enjoy this, but it was pretty confusing. I also agree about the Ender's Game comment.

  4. Yeah, the intro reminds me of Ender's Game, too. I'm intrigued by the interplanetary war aspect and curious about the setup you have, how your world works.

  5. I was pretty lost and I do read the genre. Maybe re-visit this and narrow your focus? It almost feels like two different intro's here.

  6. I wonder if you need that opening you have in italics since Jason immediately tells us he's back from the Gates of of Heaven. It implies he died and came back, and seems redundant. Since it's his story, perhaps keep his take on it and get rid of the italiicized bit.

    And if you cut that beginning, you can give us more info on who Ruth is, and what he failed at. As is, it's too vague to be interesting

    You also need a cover on his coffee cup, because if the cup floats away, so will the coffee inside it.

  7. I vote for cutting the italicized part. I have no idea what's going on or who's speaking, and the tone feels completely different from what follows, which I DID enjoy quite a bit. Jason seems spunky, and I liked the bit about the floating coffee cup. I think I kind of assumed that "sucked" meant he was drinking it through a straw or cap that wouldn't let the coffee itself float out of the cup.

    I don't usually read this genre, and I haven't read Ender's Game, but I did like the voice once you got into the scene and would probably read on a bit because of that.

  8. I like the SF tone that this passage sets--hints of hard SF, without beating you over the head.

    I'd have to differ about the beginning, though. I think it's fine (I haven't read Ender's Game). I just automatically assumed it was a conversation from afar--either radio transmission or memory. Definitely cut one of the two "devils" in the "Amani, I don't know..." line. Too close together.

    Comma after "Jason grinned nervously"

    My understanding of his "I've just been turned away from the gates...." passage was that he just survived a close brush with death. I liked the way you presented it-- literary-style.

  9. The writing is solid, but the scene doesn’t feel grounded, no pun intended. First of all, I don’t know what the top section is in relation to the bottom section. It seems to be two people talking about Jason. Is he hearing this over the down-link? If so, how? If not, then why are we hearing it? In Jason’s part, it’s clear that he failed to do something, but the wording avoids any hint as to what that might be. For me, there is a fine line between keeping the reader in the dark in a way that intrigues them, and keeping them in the dark in a way that frustrates them, and I’m feeling more the latter from this. At this point, I don’t know what’s going on or why I should care.