Friday, November 28, 2014

(32) YA Science Fiction: THE DIASPORA

TITLE: The Diaspora
GENRE: YA Science Fiction

Like all Artakin’s über-violent eldest children, sixteen-year-old Becca is trained as a soldier who protects the planet from afar. Her only goal is to distinguish herself in battle against a tenacious enemy, but after she’s downed on a hostile planet, fleeing becomes complicated when she discovers the young lieutenant she’s come to trust may be using her to achieve his own ends.

I’ve learned two important lessons while masquerading as a Hawthorne Youth Outpost cadet. One: dress like a cudgel and you think like a cudgel.

And two: cudgels are idiots.

Lester Jyles hauls me to my feet and slams my head against the mess hall wall. My boots dangle a foot above the scuffed linoleum. My windpipe threatens to collapse under his hairy forearm. Bravo Company falls silent. Even the distant clatter of dishes getting manhandled by grunts on jankers duty dies away.

I should have just let him take the bread. But that’s a cudgel for you. Instead of keeping my mind on my goal, on gaining a berth on the Cor Moon shuttle, all I could think was: I don’t want that jack to have our food.

Lester leans in. His breath is humid – warm and wet from the musty protein stew we’ve all been eating. His free hand presses against my chest, pins me to the cement block, and I’m thanking the Fourteenth God I took the time to bind my breasts this morning. I don’t always, not since winter set in. Four layers of synthowool hide my figure better than all the med-stretch tape on Artakin.

His thick fingers grip my jaw. “When a Com wants something, grunt, you give it.”

“Yessir,” I croak, but korfi floods my blood and the world edges red as the kill hormone swamps my senses.

Everything I am screams at me, and it screams that I must end Lester.

I want to. I really, really do.


  1. Wow! Talk about action-packed right from the start. Great opening scene! It draws you right in. The voice is also really good. I definitely want to read more!

  2. I really like this. I'm a big fan of action and violence, soooo i'm hooked.

    I will say that i think there's an extra "violent" in the first sentence of your logline.

    In the excerpt, there may be just a touch too much vernacular and slang. A lot of it's fine and i follow along no problem, but i few times i was left with a raised eyebrow. Jankers duty was the one that specifically pulled me out, though i'm not sure why because i can tell what Jankers duty consists of.

    But that's nitpicky. This is great and super good luck in the auction!

  3. ooh, forgot i wanted to add that i love the title and love her badassery.

  4. I don't understand how Becca will fulfil her goal of distinguishing herself in battle by fleeing. But that's a minor logline flaw. The story looks good, with tension provided by the scarcity of food and Becca's need to conceal her figure. Can't wait to see her unleash her inner badass.

  5. Okay, I like this. I would keep reading for sure. I feel like I should critique more, but I just wanted to let you know I liked it!

    Best of luck to you!

  6. Oooh, I LIKE this first page.

    AND you've given us an action-packed opening, which I'd hoped for given the action-y nature of your logline. It would have felt at odds if after that concept you'd given us a highly internal/retrospective character.

    I like that we get an immediate sense of her voice, and an immediate sense of her surroundings, and a sense that she talks before she thinks, or at least has a habit of getting herself in trouble. Very efficiently done!

    I was confused though, about the sudden mention that she's concealing her gender. It hit me with a wave of questions, about whether she's posing as something she's not because she HAS to (only men are allowed to do what she's doing) or just because she wants to, and my concern is that if she's pulling a Mulan, that's a hard thing to get away with in a high-tech space station. Anyway, be very aware of whether this confusion is something you WANT to spark on a first page.


  7. I love this opening. I particularly like the second and third lines. I'd tighten that first line so it bolsters the humor in the next two before you move on to the action.

    I really like the slang and vernacular. It sets a great scene.

    I did wonder why she was binding her breasts. If all the eldest children are trained as soldiers, why does she need to hide?

    But mostly this is tight and a great read.

  8. My first comment concerns the log-line. Her only goal is to distinguish herself in battle, but the when the enemy shows up, she chooses to flee. It seems contradictory.

    On the excerpt, I liked that something is happening on the page. You get right into the story.

    I did think you could add some reactions. Becca is getting bumped and banged around, and she has no physical reactions. She gets slammed against the wall and we don't even get an 'Oomph,' out of her.

    You could also cut the first two paragraphs. They're great lines, but they happen outside the story. She's telling this to the reader. You could put them in italics, so they'd come off as internal thoughts, and keep them, but I think starting with parg 3 would make this a stronger start.

    In parg 5, you could cut the line about his breath and the stew. You're in the middle of an action scene where the tension is high, and that stops both the action and the tension. You could also cut everything from 'I don't always' on, for the same reasons. Keep the action going. Save the explanations for when it's over.

  9. I'm very curious about why all the eldest children are uber-violent. Is it because of this kill hormone mentioned in the first page? Is it added to the first-born children? Obviously you don't have to answer these questions in your logline or your first page. I'm just throwing them out there because they occurred to me. Hopefully they're answered in your full query, though.

    I was really drawn into the first page. I don't know what a cudgel is, but that doesn't matter because I get the point. Like others above, the mention of her binding her breasts did give me pause. Your logline says the eldest children, not the eldest sons, so mentioning it here without a reason makes me wonder why she's hiding her assets. Is she dressing as a boy or just concealing her breasts because they're large? You don't say on this page, so it could be either.

    I'm very intrigued by that last line. It makes me ask: Could she end Lester?

    Good luck!

  10. I like this, too! This page pulled me right in—if I had picked this up in a bookstore, I definitely would keep reading! I’m also curious about why she’s disguising herself, and what’s going to happen to Lester… :)

    Good luck tomorrow!!

  11. Wow, great concept! In the logline alone you give us a great glimpse of how interesting and complex this sci-fi world is. This is an involving first scene, and I'm loving the personality in Becca's voice.

    I unfortunately fall on the opposite side of the 'vernacular' issue... I did find all of the unfamiliar jargon to be distracting, and I had to read through multiple times to make sure I got the gist of this. I do like that these unconventional words like "cudgel" are here - they give the world flavor! - but I'd be careful about using too many unfamiliar words and in-world references (ie, Cor Moon, Fourteenth God, Corn) at once. It's a little overwhelming. Is there a way to ease the reader into this new territory more slowly?

    That aside, I would absolutely keep reading to see what happens next! Good luck!

  12. CLOSED! Full goes to Jennifer Udden.