Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Beginning 376

“Come on, Frazet, you’re gonna cost the whole team its bonus, man.”

The foreman stood over one of his best workers, berating him mercilessly. “You don’t finish installing that damn upper engine interlock adapter this morning, they can’t keep schedule for installing the engines either. Then the whole thing goes to hell, we maybe get fired – you’re critical path, man, don’t you get it?”

Frazet continued methodically fastening the closures on his zero grav construction safety suit. He did not look up.

“Can’t install no damn adapter if I ain’t got one, Jonzile, now can I?”

The foreman threw his hands up in the air, glancing around at the other sentients on the crew for support and sympathy. Mostly they avoided his eye. Lowering his voice and leaning closer, Jonzile asked, “How out of tol is the thing? I know the backup was scrap but what about the main unit?”

"The main unit is as safe as my zero grav construction safety suit," Frazet replied, trying hard not to roll his eyes or let any hint of sarcasm creep into his voice.

So, it's come down to this, he thought as Jonzile walked away. Yet another English grad working at Mickey D's while I look for a real job. He laughed to himself. But how many of us can say we worked for a man who thinks he's maintenance foreman on the Enterprise?

Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: freddie


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

"It's got a clevis 35 millipoise out of tol," Frazet answered.

"And a transfer coupling with a gland nut that's stripped, a collar out of round and a plunger that's no longer true." He placed the plunger on the table. It rolled like a bent straw.

"Ain't never seen stainless steel warp like that."

"This pump couldn't pump shit." Jonzile shook his head and waved for an apprentice to get a new part.

"That's what we do here, isn't it? Repair waste pumps?" Frazet threw the offending piece into the trash bin. It's all trash, he thought, all trash.


"Depends." Frazet raised one eyebrow. "How many bodies do you want the clean up crew to scrape off the walls when the thing blasts off?" He finished suiting up. "So, who owns this baby anyway? Do we care if they disappear?"


Evil Editor said...

Well-written and a good opening. You might consider some of these points:

The last paragraph indicates we're in the foreman's POV. Would the foreman view his berating as "merciless"? It doesn't even sound merciless to me.

Frazet does need to put on his safety suit, and he's doing so, so why is he being berated at all? Is he putting it on too slowly? It's not like he's goofing off, smoking a cigarette.

As they're just coming on the job, the situation is pretty much as they left it. Why doesn't the foreman know there's no adaptor? Wouldn't Frazet have reported this when last he was working on the project?

Dave Fragments said...

I'm so happy that someone else besides me noticed the maintenance glitch. As EE points out, the foreman has to know the situation before he assigns the work. He has to know that they either (a) don't have the adapter or (b) are using substandard parts, or (c) are repairing the unrepairable.
This scene is all wrong. No one does maintenance that way. Most people know it and just blow through the scene. I read it and my brain locks up and screams (like a cheap klaxon in a cheesy scifi movie).
To say it another way, no one does car repairs that way. Think about your mechanic and your car, he doesn't even begin the work until all the pieces are at hand.

I've been in the vicinity when a foreman bereated a mechanic and it's never about work to be done, it's over work done wrong that has to be redone.

So as much as I think the writing is good and the opening interesting, this annoys me as not a true representation of any situation.

I think that Jonzile has another motive for fussing at Frazet in front of the other "sentients"... Use that as the reason for the confrontation (bereating). It will sound more unfair and cast a darker light on Jonzile. Perhaps Frazet is the only human and is being singled out? Perhaps Jonzile is the only human and is under pressure. Those are the real reasons for the bereating. Since this is in outerspace, I'm guessing that they don't want engine failures several hundred thousand miles from nothing. Or Engine blowups. If that is true, safety is paramount and keeping the equipment functioning wins bonuses. Speed does not gain praise without safety.

Lightsmith said...

I would cut the line "berating him mercilessly" and let the character's dialogue show that on its own.

Otherwise this is good.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I'm trying to figure the very opening out. As EE asks, why is Frazet being berated? He's suiting up and on the job and has "this morning" to finish. Just the inclusion of "hurry up" after "Come on, Frazet" would help the reader figure out what the problem is.

Not really liking this sentence for a couple of reasons:

The foreman stood over one of his best workers, berating him mercilessly.

Frazet is closing up his suit. I'm assuming he's standing to do that, but the foreman is standing over him.

I'm a big fan of narration myself, but in this instance, I didn't like learning Frazet is a good worker through narration, especially since the foreman thinks he's slacking. I'd rather read something like, "What's up with you? You're one of my best workers. But you don't finish installing..."

And, to EE's point, this doesn't sound too merciless to me. I think "berating him mercilessly" can safely be deleted.

fastening the closures on his zero grav construction safety suit

That's a mouthful. Be careful of over-explaining your world, especially when describing something fairly familiar. Still, the suit itself raises some questions: Why a special safety suit for zero gravity? Why is working construction in zero gravity more dangerous than working construction in a gravity situation? I would actually think it less dangerous. Unless there are OTHER dangers the suit's description doesn't cover, such as airless conditions, radiation exposure, etc. If that's the case, and you feel you must use descriptors, be sure they are ones that accurately reflect the situation.

Finally, the foreman expressing exasperation and looking for sympathy doesn't seem to go with Frazet pointing out he doesn't have the equipment to install. Frazet's response seems pretty logical to me and makes Jonzile seem like an idiot for standing there berating him when he should be rounding up the needed adapter and figuring out who in the supply chain he should be berating instead.

Anonymous said...

The other sentients! Awesome! There's a lot to like about this, the dialogue in particular. I wasn't so keen on the weird names or the straightforward narrative, but I'd keep reading.

pacatrue said...

Somehow my imagination wandered on this to start yelling, in the Muppet Show announcer voice, "Next time on PLUMBERS IN SPAAAACE!!!!

Anonymous said...

Author here:
This is part of a prologue for "Nebula Dream" (See Face-Lift 471). Jonzile and his whole team are getting paid bonuses to rush the job and look the other way as they are forced to install crap equipment. Frazet feels guilty about installing substandard parts so he's lagging, not working as well as usual.

Hope that clarifies some of the questions about what's going on.

~Scott D.

Dave Fragments said...

If foreman Jonzile is buying substandard and faulty equipment just to meet a schedule and Frazet is passive-resistance delaying, then Jonzilw isn't bereating him, he's bullying him into doing the work.

This is the line that is out of place.
“Can’t install no damn adapter if I ain’t got one, Jonzile, now can I?”
It's not "If I ain't got one" it is "If you only give me junk" or "only give me substandard equipment."

In the next paragraph, the foreman doesn't throw up his hands, that doesn't work if the foreman is "on the take" and "cutting corners". (to use cliches).
Jonzile should say something like "as long as it works, install it." If the engineer is forcing him to use out-of-spec equipment, then add a few words like "Just give the engineer what he wants and we'll all get bonuses"...

- - sheesh, do I talk like an engineer
- - I are one ;)

AmyB said...

I like the opening, but author, I noticed you said it was for a prologue. If none of these characters are your protagonist, I think you should consider cutting the prologue and opening with chapter 1. As a reader, I find prologues very irritating. The author opens with one set of characters, and I get attached to those, and then I find out the real story is about someone else...

Anonymous said...

The prologue is less than two pages and Frazet does appear later in the story.

~Scott D.