Wednesday, October 05, 2011

New Beginning 890

The mindcrafter's spell slashed through Caldea's mind with blinding white lights, slicing through the layers of self indiscriminately, separating her into ever smaller pieces.

It was hard to think about the process while it was happening. Each tendril of thought was sliced away by the light before it was even half formed, until the thoughts gave up thinking and curled up protectively upon themselves like a flower's petals during the dark season, waiting.

Caldea waited a long time after the lights went away. She heard voices, intermittently, some familiar, but they seemed far away now, and she could not make sense of the words. The voices had stopped long before she could place them: her parents and the mindcrafter.

It was longer still before Caldea opened their eyes and noticed each other, nestled near the centre of their mind's flower home, each with wings intact, the way they imagined themselves to be, the way they would have been in the outside world if it weren't for the clipping.

Noticing the wings on each other, some of them reached out to feel for their own wings, then spots of colour bloomed on their wings as they tentatively began to speak in wingtalk. Meaningless, confused wingtalk, with words stuttered, repeated, and misplaced, until everyone was speaking at once and the thin walls of the flower home lit up in a wash of colour. "It the and they the he a us and we home."

Caldea closed their mouths, but the wingtalk continued, psychically penetrating her mind like Portuguese man of war tentacles: "Them no if so all do for shark can let."

She could not help but wonder if it was the mindcrafter's doing, or somehow had its origins in the clipping. But finally the answer came:

"Cab zombie ril weredingo eunuch Zamboni Whirlochre Varmighan yadda yadda."

Opening: Pthalo.....Continuation: Evil Editor


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

That was it. With the mindcrafter's spell having worked its magic, there was nothing they could do -- other than order pizza and put on a Pink Floyd record.


But, even as her parents' voices became unintelligible murmurings, and her body weakened and the flashing colors turned her intellect to that fragmented otherness, the mindcrafter had yet one more trick up his sleeve. The final blow.

His voice cut through all the blurred chatter around Caldea: "And now on Disney, here's Hannah Montana!"


Evil Editor said...

This isn't clear enough. Most readers want to get grounded in something familiar before being thrust into some kind of dreamlike metaphysical huh?world.

P4 makes no sense to me. Whose eyes does Caldea open? Her parents' and the mindcrafter's? The curled up thoughts from p2?

Even when it's making sense, it gives the impression it's going to be a lot of work to read.

150 said...

I figured Caldea had been mentally halved, given MPD for some reason. But that revelation isn't the place to get metaphorical with clipped wings and whatever. What you're actually trying to say is weird enough.

I'd either start earlier, spend a while with pre-op Caldea, or start after her new selves wake, leaving off the procedure.

Dave Fragments said...

I See EE twitter but I don't see any twitter replies.

Evil Editor said...

That's Mrs. V Twitter. She has seen a few replies. Does she have to do something to make them visible to others?

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I found this difficult to read/follow. Are you starting in the right spot? The grounding Evil mentioned is important to me for a jumping off point.

I'd start with something a little familiar then blaze off into the nether regions.

There is nothing I could grab and run with in my mind here. Going from C the person/creature to C the plural didn't work for me. It added to my confusion.

The opening as presented leaves me drifting and not engaged.

I'd try another approach.

Dave Fragments said...

Maybe I"m doing something wrong. I hit "reply" on the twitter but I see don't see any other twitters from any other minion.

150 said...

Most Twitter services don't import @-replies too. That's a good thing.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I'm with EE in that I'd like a bit more grounding here. That you don't drop a ton of backstory on us is good. That you don't give us any is a bit problematic. I don't think you need to back up more than a scene, but I do think we need some intro into the what and why of what's going on.

As it is, I'm not invested in Caldea. Mainly because she herself doesn't seem much invested in what's happening. We're let in on what she "sees" happening but not what she's feeling. Is this spell a form of punishment? Is she scared? Angry? Unsure about what's happening and why? Is the spell a rite of passage from one state to another? Is she excited about it? Does she welcome what's happening? Is she afraid? Courageous? Numb?

That I can't tell Caldea's state of (original, unseparated) mind here means, I think, that a bit more emotional depth is called for. If you don't give us that in another scene right before this one where she's dragged against her will before the mindcrafter or she approaches him apprehensively but with great hope for the healing he's promised or whatever the situation is, then think about infusing some of that backstory here. Just a few well-chosen words plopped in would go a long way, I think.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

As for the twitter feed on the blog page, I think the app only shows what Mrs V has tweeted. To see conversations, you can go to her Twitter page.

Note that if you follow Mrs V through Twitter and someone replies and they start their tweet with @MrsVarmighan, then YOU will only see THAT tweet if you follow BOTH Mrs V AND the replier.

For anyone who wants their replies to be seen more widely, start with anything other than @TWITTERNAME.

There is a set of rules to learn, but they aren't many. Getting the technical part down is easy; getting the social part down is hard for some of us :o)

Dave Fragments said...

About the opening. As much as I like dumping the reader into a situation and letting them figure out what is going on, this opening takes that too far. This might be a great place to start but these words aren't working. This is one of the few times that I will say you need a few more words to make the opening work.

Khazar-khum said...

What is Caldea? A fairy? A butterfly? Human?

150 said...

You're not following any of the other minions, Dave. You only see the tweets of people you're following. #QED

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

I actually didn't have too much trouble following this, on account of having read a ton of science fiction in my misspent youth.

This is a lot of work to read, though-- it gives the reader hard work to do before it gives him/her any reason to want to work hard. Most fiction readers read for fun, and you're not promising much fun.

And if it is SF... well, it might work as a short story, since that market seems to be largely self-feeding and self-perpetuating. But as a book, where it'd have to please a wider readership... this opening would not work.

sarahhawthorne said...

I liked this quite a bit. Just dropping the reader into a jargon-rich story with no explanation or exposition has worked for sci-fi authors from William Gibson to China Mieville to Neal Stephenson, so I say go for it -- as long as we get out of Caldea's head and into the action of the plot within the next one hundred words or so.

Whirlochre said...

De-passive this and your mindcrafters will be more immediate in their otherworldly subterfuge.

Pthalogreen said...

The alternative endings cracked me up. Thanks for all the helpful comments here.

150 is right: it is a "mpd like thing." mindcraft isn't very advanced yet. They know how to do some things that get a desired result (in this case severing the connection between mind and body) but they don't know (or have reason to care) what happens in the mind after the severing, as long as the mind and body are disconnected. So multiplicity isn't an expected result (though it probably happens in every case.)

The clipped wings aren't entirely metaphorical. It's true that "hurting people to protect them/others" is going to be an important theme, but her parents did physically remove her wings early in her life in an attempt to protect her and hopefully prevent the need for the mindcraft that just happened. But I'll call it an amputation instead of a clipping. I don't want to beat the reader over the head with my themes.

The amputation severely limited their communication (their species does make some mouth sounds, but this is a more rudimentary language and wingtalk is their main language.) So discovering that at least in their headspace they have wings is important and takes some of the sting out of the mindcraft.

It's interesting that people wanted me to start earlier. I'd previously started even later, when someone from another universe falls into Caldea's inner world, but multiplicity is confusing enough without adding walk-ins and time perception differences between species.

Then I thought I should start with something more exciting, some action, some big change, something other than Janus walking in the rain, and this was it. But I could push the beginning back farther. Then I could establish that they don't have wings and the "we have wings now" will be more meaningful.

During the procedure, Caldea can't think much (her thoughts get sliced off by the spell), so she just huddles up feeling numb till it stops, but beforehand she would have been terrified from the time she found out about it. So, earlier start.

What is Caldea? A fairy? A butterfly? Human?

Yes. Well, she is a fairy-butterfly-small-flying-creature-thing-that-lives-in-flowers. Don't have a species name yet, but they're fairy shaped and somewhat smaller than a butterfly. I'm not too far into writing it, but I have a lot of it mapped out in my head.

Genre is probably closer to fantasy than science fiction. Caldea's society isn't very technologically advanced. Janus' society is more advanced, but it's based on wizardry, not physics. While I'm interested in putting as much real (or at least plausible) biology into my species creation as I can, that's more behind the scenes stuff. I like reading both genres though.

@sarahhawthorne: In another paragraph or three, I'll switch to Janus, a character in another world who promptly falls into Caldea's headspace, and eventually it'll be worked out how to heal the connection between Caldea's minds and body (they stay multiple, but they'll be able to access Caldea's body again and interact in the outside world where plot stuff will happen.) As Caldea's body is now, without someone to run it, it can't even feed itself. It will live until its parents stop feeding it, so repairing this connection, which is unprecedented in Caldea's world, and Janus' doesn't have mindcrafters, is somewhat urgent.

Note taken about the excessive use of passive voice, thanks.

BuffySquirrel said...

Yes, remove that excessive single phrase that's in passive voice. For sure.

Anonymous said...

This was interesting. At this point my impression is the book will either be a] brilliant and original or b] an incoherent though poetic mess. Would read on, but the subsequent pages need to establish a comprehensible world plot and characters to keep my interest.

batgirl said...

Isn't Caldea a geographical feature?

Pthalo said...


Oh, good. I was wondering why I could only find one passive sentence. I changed that part of the sentence to:

The lights cut away each tendril of thought before it was even half formed,

Hmm, Caldea. I know I had some clever meaning behind that, but Mesopotamia wasn't it. Oh, my notes say Cardea. Well, that's easy enough to fix. I'm embarassed now though.

Maybe I should stick with languages I speak, but then her name would be Osovina, Sharka, or Tengay*, and I'm not having a character named Tengay, not in an English novel.

*tengely, hungarian: axis, axle