Thursday, May 31, 2007
Guess the Plot
Needs of the Minute
1. Turn off the tea kettle. Stop the three-year-old from dunking the cat's head in the toilet. Pay the mailman the postage due on the SASE without the stamp. Stop the one-year-old from smushing strained carrots into the DVD player.
2. The "little people" have needs, too, and when a midget evil scientist creates a shrinking ray to reduce every elected official in the world to pint-size, hunky Spade McDade and voluptuous Isley Pitfall team up to stop his nefarious plan.
3. With time bombs ticking away, an enemy of millions attacking, a spaceship orbiting the planet, and doomsday approaching, Semelon Semse must balance his planet's long-term needs against its . . . Needs of the Minute.
4. Cockroaches take over the world, only to be set upon by a pestilence of mites which cannot reproduce without nutrients supplied by the XGSXU1-054 bacterium, which only thrives in the presence of caffeine, so once Starbucks ceases to function, life on earth is basically back to the Precambrian.
5. Hilarity ensues when Herbert Bumple installs pay toilets in his Dollar Store, but refuses to make change.
6. After Gulliver departs, the Lilliputians find themselves needing intensive therapy sessions to deal with new-found issues of inadequacy.
NEEDS OF THE MINUTE is a complete science fiction novel of 100,001 words. [No way I'm rounding off my word count, not when I worked so hard to make it a palindrome.]
When the primitive enemy in an ancient war suddenly brings new weapons and tactics to the front, SEMELON SEMSE traces the innovations to a shocking source and discovers a fast-approaching doomsday for his world.
The enemy is a horde of savage, unschooled Tachba who are contained -- just barely -- by a thousand miles of trenches, barbed wire, and machine guns. [A thousand miles of trenches? The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. I'd hate to have to dig a trench four times the length of the Grand Canyon.] Semelon is a Tachba officer who was born on the Haphan side of the front and forcibly “civilized.” Fighting with the Haphans against his own people, he watches ambivalently as his brethren attack the trenches and die in their thousands and millions. [He watches as they attack the trenches and die in millions? These trenches must be as deep as the Grand Canyon.]
It’s an abysmal war which hasn’t changed for centuries -- [Centuries? If you've been sending millions of your people at enemy trenches for centuries, and you've made no headway, it's time to come up with a new strategy. Tunnels. Or turning around and circling the entire planet. Are they Tachba or lemmings?] [Have they considered just settling down on their side of the trench?] until now. Orbiting above the planet is the LUCKY STRIKE, an independent prospecting starship [whose naming rights were bought by the American Tobacco Company,] that is subtly orchestrating the Tachba victory by supplying heavy artillery, [planks to lay over the trenches,] tactical advice and new weapons. If the the front line collapses, the Haphans’ “mid-level” civilization will be destroyed, and the ship can stake a claim on the planet for re-colonization. It plants doomsday bombs at the front to cover its tracks. [What plants doomsday bombs? The ship? The Haphan civilization? If somebody has doomsday bombs, shouldn't they just use them and avoid the trench warfare?]
To defuse the ticking bombs and stave off a holocaust, Semelon must elude Haphan secret police who have him pegged as a mutineer. At the same time, the Tachba finally overwhelm the trenches. [Overwhelm is an exaggeration; actually, with millions of Tachba bodies in the trenches, the few remaining Tachba merely walk across.] Caught between colossal forces, fighting an unreachable enemy, Semelon, at long last, begins to . . . enjoy himself. Sure, it’s nice being civilized, but the only solution he can see calls for violence. Semelon, being Tachba, is very good at that. [All he has to do now is decide which army of millions he's going to single-handedly defeat.]
I've been writing professionally for several years, namely articles and product reviews for print and online. This is my first novel. I would be delighted to send you a full or partial manuscript for your review.
Why is this war going on? Who wants what?
What are the new tactics the Tachba employ? They still go at the trenches.
I don't see how the Tachba manage to maintain a population. You can throw millions of soldiers into trenches only so long before you start running low. And don't you need living Tachba to parent new warriors?
So is this military science fiction? Is the entire book focused on the war? Does Semelon have a life outside the military? If this is Military SF, my main concern is that the miles, armies and years seem overly high. When your enemy has machine guns, you eventually learn not to line up and charge their trenches. If it isn't military SF, if there's more to the book than the war, you might want to bring that into the query.
I should point out that the Guess the Plots I didn't use, like several I did, overwhelmingly went with the "tiny" definition of "minute." That may indicate that it's not clear which definition you're going for, and that you should get that word out of the title. Even knowing which "minute" you mean, the title is nothing to write home about.