Friday, January 08, 2016

Face-Lift 1294

Guess the Plot

Failure to Communicate

1. It's about stuff. And a thing. And she does this after he takes her last object. Before forever.

2. Well, er, um, you know, it's a story.

3. Dear Evil Editor: Hello? Hello? Hellllllooooo??? Aw, crap.

4. When the xenophobic Anmerilli discover that the diplomat we've sent on a first-contact mission is autistic, well, let's just say they aren't gushing with optimism for a successful negotiation.

5. This handy pocket book will have you spreken sie gente just in time to lead the rebellion against the G87^Zjio from Alpha Centauri Prime III who are invading mid-July. Includes a How To appendix on building and stocking your own bomb shelter.

6. While running a string-can phone project for her kindergarten class, teacher Mary Hale meets gorgeous widower Ali Ali who, unfortunately, doesn't speak English, hates Americans, and works for Interpol. Will winning over his daughter get her a place in his heart, or merely get her kidnapped by an organized crime syndicate?

7. The official reason for starlet Holly Wether being lost in the wild Santa Monica Mountains was that she wasn't following directions when her car plunged off of Mulholland Drive. But homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things: One, her Porsche lost its right front wheel before she went over the cliff, and two, he really should take the kids to the Griffith Park Observatory.
8. Ty Brooks has big dreams, but for now he's stuck working at a cell-phone kiosk in the local mall. Then he meets Ava, a songwriter who is determined to bring people together through poignant lyrics.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Despite being human, Xandri Corelel is one of the stranger crew members aboard the first contact ship Carpathia. In a time when illness and disability no longer exist, she is autistic. [I don't like "Despite being human." It suggests that autistic humans are strange. I also don't think "strange" is the word you want. Maybe "unlikely."] [I'd combine those sentences into something like: Xandri Corelel is the only autistic crew member aboard the first-contact ship Carpathia.] She's also head of Xeno-liaisons aboard the Carpathia [ship], a position she earned with her unusual and hard-won [extraordinary] skill at understanding alien species.

She and the rest of the crew are on a routine first contact mission when the Alliance First Contact Division calls them in for [they are given] a special assignment. The highly xenophobic—and oddly humanoid—Anmerilli are developing a graser, a powerful weapon that would change the face of war forever. [I assume "Graser" is a combination of the words gravy and laser. Not clear how it would change the face of war, but if it keeps my gravy from getting cold, I want one.] They're considering selling it to the imperialistic and genocidal Zechak when it’s complete. [Selling super-weapons to imperialistic beings always comes back to haunt you. When you think about it, it's just common sense.] Years of diplomacy haven't persuaded the Anmerilli to join the Starsystems Alliance, but now it’s join or die, for the Alliance will stop at nothing to keep the graser out of Zechak hands. Even if it means annihilating the Anmerilli. [Maybe we should just annihilate the Zechak.] [No need for that last sentence, as "join or die" implies the same thing.]

Xandri must persuade the Anmerilli to join while keeping the Alliance’s plans a secret, [Which plans? The plans to annihilate them if they refuse to join? I would think that would be her most persuasive point.] [Although she could find a more diplomatic way to put it.] but from the moment she makes planetfall, she faces one challenge after another. The Anmerilli are stubborn, belligerent, and they know about her autism; they believe her incapable of doing her job. [We don't think this autistic person is capable of talking us into doing something we don't want to do; send us someone else to talk us into it.] Even worse is the sabotage, most likely perpetrated by one of her human allies. She’s determined to make the alliance work, but she knows she can’t succeed as long as the saboteur runs free. [We need to know what form this sabotage has taken.] As time ticks away, Xandri puts her unique perspective towards swaying the Anmerilli, and desperately tries to fathom the motives of the one species she’s never really understood: her own. [Nice finish.]

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE is a science fiction novel of 112,000 words.

I’m autistic myself. I was diagnosed at a young age, and have years of experience to lend to creating an authentic autistic voice for Xandri.

(Note: Any other necessary material will go here.)

Thank you very much for your time.



Seems like talking the Anmerilli out of selling the weapon to the Zechak could be accomplished more easily without insisting they join the Alliance. Apparently the Alliance also want the weapon for themselves. Can't the Alliance buy the weapon themselves?

Some things that some people with autism can do seem almost like super powers. If Xandri's skills are shown to be that remarkable, I could see this working as soft science fiction. Plus, the millions whose lives have been touched by autism are likely to be supportive. Surely there's a publisher who'll realize this.


Anonymous said...

It might be helpful to directly state the crew is a mix of humans and aliens up front, if that's the case. I got to the end of the query before I realized that was what you were probably implying.

You say that illness and disability no longer exist, and then you say she's autistic. Are you saying that autism doesn't fall into the categories of illness and disability or are you contradicting yourself? Also, I'd like to know how anyone managed to eradicate the common cold.

If the Anmerilli are xenophobic, how come they're selling a super weapon to an alien species? Are the Zechak the same species as the Anmerilli? Is there some reason the Anmerilli don't think they'll be on the list for genocide? Are the Anmerilli trying to commit racial suicide and take rest of the sentients in the universe with them?

The first two paragraphs sound like setup. Try to reduce them to one and then give more details on the challenges Xandri is facing: what forms the Anmerilli's lack of cooperation takes, what the sabotage looks like, etc. Give us a bit more about what she's trying to do to make the alliance work.

I do like the finish except for "puts her unique perspective towards" which sound like its missing a few words somewhere, could just be me.

Hope this helps

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

The Carpathia was the first ship to reach the Titanic. Which is merely distracting, I'm afraid.

AA said...

It doesn't flow. Too many adjectives, and all the space jargon and strange names aren't helping. And I actually do read sci-fi.

Adjectives: stranger, unusual, hard-won, routine, special, xenophobic, belligerent, humanoid, imperialistic, genocidal, stubborn, unique.

I'd leave out half the adjectives.
Some of the jargon can go, too. For instance, “Anmerilli are developing a graser, a powerful weapon that would change the face of war forever.” can easily be “Anmerilli are developing a powerful weapon that would change the face of war forever.”

There's certainly nothing wrong with using words like this in sci-fi. But when you read a book, you get introduced to these names and phrases gradually while being immersed in the world, so you don't mind. This is too much too quickly and distracts from your storyline. For instance, we have Xandri Corelel, Carpathia, Xeno-liaisons, the Alliance First Contact Division, the Anmerilli, a graser, the Zechak, and the Starsystems Alliance, all within three paragraphs. It's too much to be introduced to at once.
You could say “the Alliance” and leave out the word-eating Alliance First Contact Division. And we don't really need Xeno-liaisons.

Also, I think you need a little less set-up and more of what happens after Xandri makes planetfall, since this appears to be pretty important. So you could leave out, for instance, that they were on a routine first contact mission before they got called away. That isn't important. If you condense all this you'd have room to explain who is sabotaging whom and why they feel the need to do that.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

I'd change this sentence: In a time when illness and disability no longer exist, she is autistic.

In a time when illness and disability no longer exist, Xandri knew her secret weapon gave her...(strength, insight, power - choose one)and made her particularly special. Her autism allowed her to, with calculating accuracy...

Best in this my dear. Can you tell/reveal special details? Xandri hated/loved hugs. They felt like confinement/freedom... The only hug she ever gave/accepted was that day her mother/puppy/sister... Give us a taste of her perception.

I wish you well. Nice job.