Monday, April 18, 2011
Guess the Plot
1. It's a brilliant invention with a great design, animal trainer Pete Teasdale has the patent on it, and nobody is going to convince him that his chimps can't learn to use it. After all, if they're gonna wear clothes, the least they can do is get the wrinkles out.
2. Just when Xu-Thann thinks he has totally subdued the unruly masses with his great sword, Monkeyiron, along comes a usurper with an even longer sword: Apeiron.
3. Chester Dalton inherits the estate of a crazy uncle. He moves in, but OMG the place is haunted. Three seances and a paranormal investigator later Chester knows the cause: that statue out back. Apeiron is a cursed Egyptian relic stolen by his great-grandfather. It must returned to its tomb before the mummy horde wrap the rest of the Daltons.
4. Emily's never had a boyfriend. Her only "crush" has been Greek philosopher Anaximander, who coined the term "apeiron," which refers to the boundless, primordial mass from which everything originates. Can her friend Cho’s no-nonsense existentialism break through Emily's passion for pre-Socratic cosmology and help her determine if the growing numbness inside her is a normal part of being a teenager?
5. In a makeshift lab deep in the Congolese jungle, a genetic experiment goes wonderfully wrong. Super-intelligent chimps, bonobos and gorillas have learned to smelt metal and forge their own weapons. Will rapacious humanity get its comeuppance from . . . Apeiron?
6. While chasing her cat across a field, a sudden gust of wind lifts fifteen-year-old Marcy into the clouds, where she lands in the sky city of Apeiron. Can she stay in the bouncy land free of teenage troubles, or is she really just dead?
7. Lost for days in the Sahara desert, delirious Joe Flynn discovers proof that a band of baboons were forging iron fish hooks and cutlery two million years ago -- until a horde of space aliens destroyed their civilization. But will he live long enough to tell the world about it? And if he does, will anybody listen?
Dear Evil Editor:
Emily Esburn buys her prom dress at the thrift store, takes the Jonas Brothers’ name in vain and has only ever admitted a crush on one person: an ancient Greek philosopher.
When she wakes up hungover in a creepy teacher’s house, Emily is mortified. [Are you sure you don't mean terrified?] She can’t bring herself to forgive Bonnie, the sort-of best friend who left her there. Despite her efforts to avoid Mr. Dubs, Emily realizes she has more in common with her teacher than she wants to admit; it’s hard to ignore the only other person [in the world] who shares her passion for pre-Socratic cosmology. As a strange and awkward relationship develops, Mr. Dubs may turn out to be Emily’s second official crush. Emily doesn’t know what to do about this. [The first sentence of this paragraph is giving a sinister impression. She wakes up hungover in the home of her philosophy teacher. Calling him "a creepy teacher" suggests she doesn't know him. Also, I'm not certain in sentence three that Mr. Dubs and the creepy teacher are the same character. Or if her efforts to avoid Mr. Dubs refers to that morning in his house, or to later when she's in school. How can she avoid him if she's in his class?]
Confused, Emily turns to Cho Park: an intimidating, brilliant classmate who seems like she has everything figured out. Cho’s no-nonsense existentialism [For those minions unfamiliar with philosophy, the chief no-nonsense existentialists were Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. You may be more familiar with the work of the nonsense existentialists, Lewis Carroll and Dr. Suess.] and forces Emily to reconsider her own beliefs, or troubling lack there-of. Emily struggles to determine if the growing numbnesss [numbnessssss] inside her is a normal part of being a teenager or something else altogether. [Does numbness actually grow, or does it just seem that way as energy and spirit wane? And would a fictional dialogue on this topic between Socrates and Wittgenstein be publishable in today's market?] Emily wants to figure out who she is and what she stands for, but the deeper she looks inside herself, the less she finds. [The meaning of that sentence may be clear to a professional philosopher, but to me it's as vague as the Sorites Paradox.]
Written as two thirds narrative and one third quirky, aphoristic journal entries, [Are you trying to get me to reject this book?] APEIRON is a 50000 word contemporary YA novel. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy [Aha. I knew there had to be a logical explanation for why the main character in a YA novel was obsessed with pre-Socratic cosmology. So this is autobiographical?] and APEIRON is my first novel. Thank you for your consideration,
[note for EE: Apeiron is a term used by the previously mentioned Greek philosopher, Anaximander. It refers to the boundless, primordial mass from which everything originates.]
There's too much philosophy and not enough plot. I can appreciate your attempt to find a use for your degree in philosophy, and I can appreciate injecting something about which you're knowledgeable into the story, especially if Emily's philosophical knowledge comes in handy the way Flavia de Luce's knowledge of chemistry helps her solve mysteries in the Alan Bradley novels (for instance, if Mr. Dubs gets murdered and Emily solves the crime through her knowledge of Zeno's paradox of Achilles and the tortoise). But this talk of cosmology and existentialism in the query doesn't convince us that the story itself is as fascinating as . . . philosophy.
Is there a romantic angle in this book with someone Emily's age? Her first crush with someone who's alive and not a creepy teacher? Does she continually reject boys because she could never love a Neoplatonist or a Skeptic, and then she finally meets a Phenomenologist and it's true love? I ask because even if Mr. Dubs weren't creepy, he'd still be pretty creepy.