Friday, November 28, 2014

(31) YA Science Fiction Thriller: PHOENIX RISING

GENRE: YA Science Fiction Thriller

After seventeen-year-old Lesha and her little brother win spots for the newly-colonized planet, Eris, she can't wait to get them off dying Earth. But, their starship crashes in Eris’ wasteland, stranding them far from the civilization with few survivors. If blistering heat, flesh-eating snakes, and starvation aren't bad enough, someone goes missing. Lesha finds his mutilated corpse in a sick desert shrine. Something hunts them. Lesha must get her brother to safety, before they become the predator's next victims.

March 15, 2261

On my last day on Earth, I hurried through the corridor in Bunker Number Four at way-too-early-o’clock, the packs I’d retrieved from the storage unit smacking my back.

In the six months since Joe and I won spots in the getaway lottery and moved into the Bunker, I’d come to hate this place.

Long, gray, cinderblock halls without a single window. Coverless fluoros shedding just enough light to see where you were going, but never enough to catch the roaches lurking in the corners. And freakin’ cold. They piped in heat during the winter, but the ancient boilers barely brought the place above see-your-breath range.

Dark, gloomy, and damned ugly. Not that people preparing for the end of the world cared much about ambiance, but they could’ve given the place some color. Fluorescent orange came to mind.

Reaching my best friend’s door, I entered the code on the touchpad beside it, and the panel slid open. Darkness enveloped her room. “Tiff, get moving.”

She moaned, and the bed squeaked when she shifted.

“I mean it.” I dropped her bag. “I gotta run. Don’t go back to sleep.” Silence. “Tiff?”

“Okay already, Lesha,” she said. “I’m up.”

I locked her door and jogged to my room. Inside, my eight-year-old brother slumped on his bed, brown eyes focused on the televid screen mounted on the wall.

"Almost time to leave for the spaceport, kiddo.” I nudged his shoulder. “Go wash. Put on a clean durasuit.”


  1. The voice in this is awesome. You get a feel for the character right off the bat. And, of course, the first sentence pulls you right in. I definitely want to read more.

  2. This story sounds very intriguing. I thought the logline was a bit long, more like a pitch paragraph than a logline, but that isn't a big deal.

    I also really liked how you did the setting. I felt like I was right there with the character.

  3. Love the premise. I'm a big fan of colonization sci-fi, and the throw in a survival situation AND something hunting them? I'd keep reading for sure.

    I really don't have much to say. The humor is good, while doing double duty of capturing the setting.

    Super good luck in the auction!

  4. I'm not usually a big sci-fi fan, but you hooked me from the first line and wouldn't let go. Excellent voice. Great writing. Superb job!

  5. Wonderful opening line. I like the way Lesha is taking the lead right from the start. She seems likely to have what it takes to get through an ordeal. You could shorten the logline by skipping from bad enough to Something hunts them without losing too much of the feel.

  6. I love the opening setting on this, but I think your opening line is a tad clunky. You may want to break it into two thoughts instead of cramming it all together. You've got good voice and an interesting premise. I'd read on. Wishing you luck in Baker's Dozen!

  7. Hi there!

    Love the concept, always so much potential when you crash a ship somewhere it shouldn't be ;)

    I also really love the voice, but agree with the above remark that your first sentence feels clunky. The rest is much stronger, so I would recommend re-examining, and finding another thought to kick things off. I get a feel for the character right away, and think you've got this page set in the right time and place, so it's just a matter of nailing that first thought.

    Otherwise, LOVE the description of the bunker, and the cold, and the light (especially the line about roaches).

    Also, this is a very small note, and a matter of personal taste, but because the voice is so nice and perfunctory, the small explanatory details, like her "best friend's door" feel like they're there for the reader. Easy enough to get those details across in a moment of stasis later, rather than interrupt Lesha's pace. You're a very economical writer, or it wouldn't even stand out to me.

    Good job!


  8. I love your concept! Good luck in the agent round!

  9. I thought you had a nice start here. I get a good sense of place, a nice sense of urgency, a taste of who her best friend is, and even though we don't get to see the brother, the way she addresses and speaks to him says something about their relationship.

    I agree about the first sentence. I'd make it two. My last day on Earth. And then the rest.

  10. This is great! Love the humor in the voice, as well, and I think you do a really nice job of planting clues about Lesha’s world without going into telling mode. This page also has a sense of urgency,which makes me want to keep reading.

    Best of luck tomorrow!!

  11. This is such a great and atmospheric opening scene. And the concept has so much promise - I love that there's an emotional component propelling the thriller plot forward, with Lesha's goal of protecting her brother.

    I don't have much to add besides what was said above. I agree that the first sentence could be tighter and hookier (the "last day on Earth" part is great, but it loses steam from there).

    I am also wondering why Lesha's best friend is in the bunker, though I'm guessing this is something you address in later pages. It just struck me as a little too convenient that Tiffany would also be chosen to go to the colony/live in the same bunker as Lesha and her brother - did she win the lottery with them? Or did Lesha only just meet her at the bunker?

    Overall, this is really strong! Good luck!

  12. Nice lean characterization of the friend and the brother and the MC. I have to say the first line pulled me right along. There is an interesting progression of Earth (big frame) to thinking (way-too-early-o'clock) to visceral (smacking my back). Best wishes!