Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Secret Agent #24

TITLE: The Last Hope
GENRE: Sci Fi Dystopian

I am an astronaut traveling through uncharted space. My mission: Plunge into recently detected Space Anomaly 1462 and discover if it is a traversable wormhole, the artifact of a black hole burnout, or what we’ve come to call a Siren; a one way shortcut to imminent death.

This is important quest. Funny thing though, I’m in a permanently vegetative state.

In these infinite waking hours, how I got to be in this exact situation replays innumerable times. I reflexively flash back to the crash. It was my birthday and the motorcycle had been a recent purchase; so much faster than my old bike. I never realized how much so until I glanced in the side mirror and then back to the road. Then it was too late. A piece of debris flared into existence and finished me. Best I can tell I lost a couple weeks time in a coma, and when I regained awareness… this. What horror I had those first few months. Horror slipped into despair, despair transformed into rage, and rage finally gave way to my present state of mind: Reluctant surrender.

Lying here, eyes open and vacant, I function on the minimal level of life for continued existence: my heart beats, I breathe, I digest. To my fellow man I am a beating heart cadaver. And why shouldn’t I be? The screams coursing through my brain go unheard and unknown.


  1. Your giving me too much information to chew on too fast. I don't understand how an accident led to him being on this mission. And how does he know that this is his mission if the last thing he remembers is the accident? I think it would be more effective if you start with the last paragraph. Make me wonder why the screams go unheard. Make me feel what he's feeling and then give me the details with fuzzy flashbacks as he tries to remember how he got there. Then maybe someone else can wake him up and tell him his mission (or something).

    Just my opinion. Sounds like an interesting premise, but there's just too much telling here to keep me reading. Good luck with it!:)

  2. You have a lot of I's in this segment. Having your mc start out saying I am an...feels a bit uncomfortable for me. If you drop that first sentence you are saying the same thing, because it is obvious to the reader. Also, if this is YA, how is a teenager 18 or under an astronaut?

  3. This section tells me a lot of information, but it doesn't show me much about your character.
    For example, I'm told the character is in a vegetative state, but how could that be shown? What does this character experience while in such a state?

    It also seemed out of place to me that the information about the character being an astronaut came before the vegetative state. As a reader, a vegetative state is a pretty big problem, but to then learn that it's an astronaut in a vegetative state on a mission - uh oh! As it stands, the vegetative state seems like an afterthought.

    Good luck! :)

  4. I love the voice in this piece, and it's an intriguing start. I wonder how the MC will act in his current state or if something will give the ability to do more.

    I might suggest not telling the reader the quest is important without some additional details as to why its important.

    I tripped over the "debris flared into existence". It makes it sound as if it almost magically appeared and stuff generally doesn't do that.

    The last sentance, really the whole last paragraph was excellent and I would definately keep going.

  5. I like your first paragraph, and I immediately started geeking out over the traversable wormhole. Then I got confused and not in a good way.

    Why are they sending a comatose person into space as an astronaut?

    I think you're rushing the story. Slow down and let it unfold naturally. What you have is interesting, and the prose and voice are both good, but it's too much too soon.

  6. The last paragraph is good; I almost think you should start there. It feels more immediate, and it's contemplative while also showing us he's in a vegetative state rather than saying it outright earlier. If you lead with this, it seems like the other details can be worked in, perhaps through dialogue with another character, and interactions with the environment so we can see the MC is on a mission in space.

  7. I am hooked. But I really like Stephsco's idea of starting with the last paragraph. It would make a strong, memorable beginning, and if I picked it up at the store and read that straight off, I'd buy it. "Funny thing though" seems out of the character's voice - it sounds YA or MG, and you don't list that as your genre. And I totally agree with Ted about leaving out the "This is important quest". The motorcycle backstory could be left until later and instead tell us more about what it's like to be trapped in your own body. But I'm hooked and would keep reading!

  8. I am so confused. Is this all happening inside his head or is he really going out to space? Is this for adults? I ask because the voice starts out YA or MG and then just gets depressing.

    Part of me wants to know more, but the other part wonders how exciting an entire book with the MC in a vegetative state could be. I do hope he wakes up or actually gets sucked into a wormhole.

  9. Agree with what's been said. It's a little confusing and a lot telling. Show us what's happening with the MC. I agree with Stephsco about starting with the last paragraph. I wasn't at all interested until then. A little creepy to think about, but in an interesting sort of way.

  10. Interesting concept. But I feel like there is a lot of telling going on here. This feels more like an outline of events. Really expand on the motorcycle crash. Show us the character's emotions and what was physically happening to him.

  11. I'm pulled in by the scenario of someone others think is insentient when in fact they’re quite aware. ... but maybe I’ve misunderstood the premise? What confuses me most is that the narrator says himself that he’s in a vegetative state, but I thought by definition that people in a vegetative state lack cognitive function. I could buy the premise if someone else said he was in a vegetative state. If I’ve misunderstood and the MC is, indeed, in a vegetative state and without cognitive function, then it’s an ambitious project to make him the narrator.

  12. I'm quite confused by this and feel battered by information. I get the feeling you have a really strong sense of how to tell this story, and maybe it works for others, but for me, him telling me all about himself, his quest just didn't hook me at all.

    Try to introduce information more slowly. Drip feed it. Intrigue me with his situation now, what's happening now, before you tell me everything there is to know about him.

    If this is a story solely about his past, but narrated while he's in a vegetative state, then you definitely need to slow down on the backstory. Have him start closer to the story itself, rather than tell it.

  13. I had the exact same thought as Sully - a vegetative state, by definition, means no cognitive activity.

    I think you have some really interesting ideas here. Unfortunately, this excerpt raised a lot of questions that kept me from fully engaging with your story.

    Was he an astronaut who had an accident and was included on the mission anyway as a test subject?

    Was he a civilian whose accident made him eligible to be a test subject? If so, why would he refer to himself as an astronaut and not a kidnap victim or something similar?

    And the biggest one of all: terms such as "my fellow man" make me think the narrator is human - presumably a human in the future. If so, how could we have gained the technology to traverse wormholes and probe the deepest areas of space while losing the far simpler technology of scanning for brain activity?

    One grammar thing I didn't see mentioned above: unless it's a proper noun, words after a colon aren't generally capitalized(i.e., "Reluctant").

    Again, some interesting ideas and plot hooks here that have me wanting to see where it's all going, but the questions that kept popping in my head kept pulling me out of your story.

  14. Doesn't grab me ... too many details, not enough of who the protagonist is - and this is all set-up. You could start elsewhere and work this in as backstory ...

  15. This is a dump of information. It's not an engaging intro. We are just trying to keep up with is person and their story. You have a whole book to explain, why do it all in the first few paragraphs?

    This is also a classic example of show don't tell. You're just telling us what happened. You barely explain any feelings of emotions. Surroundings or state of beings.

    Also, is this YA? It doesn't feel like it.