Monday, June 09, 2008
Guess the Plot
The Emancipation of Bartholomew Benson
1. Now that Bartholomew had finally won his case, he was an emancipated minor. First thing on his to do list: change that ridiculous name. Second thing: see if being named James Bond really would get him more girls.
2. Benjamin had a flawless reputation as a valet on lush antebellum Magnolia Manor. Yet a single terrible night reduces him to less than the status of the lowest field hand. Subjected to the severest abuses, Benjamin endures them without comment, protecting the secret he shares with delicate Missy Patience Benson.
3. Upon growing up to marry a feminist, Bartholomew trades in "Cubbins," for his wife's last name, "Benson." During the media circus, he finds himself vowing to overthrow the King and set up a new People's Republic of Didd. But Bartholomew's old friend the King is calling on his loyalty. Can he break free of his wife's influence before the country is bathed in blood?
4. In the mid-1950’s, conservative Georgia politician Bartholomew Benson wakes up in the body of a mule – the lone work-animal on a 40-acre farm owned by a family of poor black sharecroppers. While Benson learns the values of a simple life of hard work, the mule (in the senator’s body) surprises his constituents with his newfound competence.
5. A midwestern farmer can't break free of his feuding neighbors and meddlesome ex-wife--until the government recruits him to save mankind from its newest and worst enemy, computer-spawned sentient artificial intelligences.
6. A 17th-century ghost is chained and forced to haunt various personages. One day he meets a free spirit who helps him to escape his chains and move on to hauntings of his own. Also, an invisible tower.
"My name is Bartholomew Benson, and I just killed twenty-one people." [But enough about me; let's talk about my middle-grade novel, which I'm hoping you'll represent.]
Clearly, Mr. Benson is a man with a problem.
At first pass, Bart seems like a normal guy. He's a farmer in the year 2017, [He seems like a normal guy with the ability to travel into the future.] trying to make ends meet in his small Midwestern American town. He struggles with mundane problems like a stormy marriage, feuding neighbors, [where to dispose of 21 corpses,] and a meddlesome ex-wife [who won't let him store the corpses in the guest room, even though they haven't had a guest in three years].
But Bart is far from normal. He's an ex-soldier who served extensively in the Middle East, and after military service, he was recruited for a much more difficult task: hunting humanity's worst enemy. [The Borg.] [If they ever recruit me to hunt the Borg, they're gonna have to come up with a better cover than barely making ends meet on a farm, with a bad marriage. I'm gonna want big money, a fabulous crib, and Penelope Cruz.
Recruiter: We need you to hunt the Borg.
Evil Editor: What's in it for me?
Recruiter: A small plot of land in Iowa and a mule.
Evil Editor: Enjoy your assimilation, pal.]
Bart has been entrusted with some very dark secrets. He knows about the world's first fully functioning quantum computer. He knows that this new quantum environment spawned life: sentient artificial intelligences. They've stayed quiet so far, hiding in the deep crevices of the technological jungle, so virtually no one even knows they exist. But Bart knows that, unless they're stopped, these new AIs will inevitably take control. Of everything. [I often feel there's a sentient artificial intelligence residing in my computer, mocking me, but I usually reboot rather than recruit some ex-marines. Perhaps when I upgrade to a better computer I'll put this one out in a field somewhere and heave a grenade at it, just for the satisfaction.]
That's something that he's not going to let happen.
The Emancipation of Bartholomew Benson is a 50,000-word novel that tells Bart's story through a series of journal entries,
Tried to post a lengthy blog entry and Blogger ate the whole thing. Then when I tried to write it again I got that picture of an hourglass on my screen, which wouldn't go away so I had to unplug everything. I got out my M-16 and blasted the monitor, even though the monitor wasn't the problem, because the monitor was the only part still under warranty. I'll tell them it exploded.]
I'm working at my computer station and suddenly I was back in Iraq and my computer was an insurgent so I grabbed my M-16 and blasted the printer because it's the only component I don't need to view porn.]
and first-person narration. The story is character-driven, focusing on Bart's ever-increasing difficulties of maintaining a normal life [and bringing in the meager barley crop], all while handling the daunting responsibility of saving mankind.
I currently reside in Lawrence, KS, where I teach IT in the KU Business School. This is my first novel, and I'd really appreciate the opportunity to share more of the story with you.
What about the 21 people? Do they want mankind's future in the hands of the guy who killed them? If you open with that line, you might give a hint of who they were and why Bart killed them.
I don't like following with Clearly, Mr. Benson is a man with a problem. I can't tell if that problem is mental, like he's an insane serial killer, or if it's escaping the cops, or getting rid of the bodies. Apparently it's none of the above. The only problems actually mentioned are his mundane farm/wife/neighbor problems and the crevice creatures, but you haven't connected those problems to the 21 people.
You might want to mention why this ex-soldier is qualified to deal with this situation.
If you'd refer to him as Bartholomew, I wouldn't keep thinking of him as Bart Simpson. It's hard to have hope for mankind's future when it's in the hands of Bart Simpson.
Why is it inevitable that the AIs will take over? So far they've done nothing. Maybe they like it in the deep crevices. Or maybe they'd like to be friends of mankind, like the dolphins (except the ones we eat).