Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Beginning 490

The vault's alarm spoke: "Fa-oop fa-oop, fa-oop." Endless repetition. Jesse James Santangelo hacked at the security codes.

"I'm through level two," he said as, keying more numeric sequences into the computer. Dancing weasels filled the display spelling out -- WOW. It spoke again.

"Congratulations, life has smiled on you. You have solved level boozy. Would you like to try level queasy?" the voice said. Jesse typed. The voice began to sing in tones so nasal and off-key that Jesse shivered.

"Way down south, in Birmingham, I said south, in A-la-bam..." Jesse typed more codes. The computer stopped singing. A tribal chant with drums blasted their ears.

"Hey, Scungelini, shut down that noise" Tri yelled. Tri was short for Tristan Jeremiah Jones. Scungelini was his private nickname for Jesse. No one left alive knew what Scungelini really meant in Italian. Germany, Italy and France were only memories from before the asteroid.

But not before the Italians had surged ahead in neural network technology and built in-vitro the world's most powerful organic computer chips, powered by living neuron cells.

If only they'd had time to engineer out the passion for red wine before the rock hit.

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: ril


Evil Editor said...

Just some nitpicks:

Delete "as" from p.2.

Delete "It spoke again" from p.2.

Move "the voice said" after ...smiled on you" in p.3.

Comma after "noise", p.5.

writtenwyrdd said...

I read some of this on your web page while trying to figure out where to go with a continuation. I was still stumped.

I think this opening has a unique voice. But despite the mentions of typing code and hacking, I'm never comfortable with the assumption that Jesse's hacking a program. I want to know a bit more about it, as in is this a bank heist? A rebel hacker seeking vital information for the rebellion against the Evil Overlord? That sort of thing.

Nor do I know where this hacking occurs. We aren't really anchored in the scene at this point. You do give a great clue as to the SF nature of the story with the line about the asteroid. I love that line's functionality.

As an SF reader browsing in teh bookstore, I put down nearly every book that doesn't give me a strong sense of place right off. The exceptions tend to have something so strong as a hook that they get a grace of a few pages. This doesn't grab me enough to have gone on much further; but I would have gone on a bit more in order to figure out what was going on.

And that's because I found the singing alarm bit amusing. I'm a sucker for humor.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'm on the fence with this one. I like the asteroid line. Really nicely worked in that huge disaster. The alarm system he's hacking into is funny. Not sure about the levels though. It almost seems like the alarm knows it's being hacked. Love the fa oop noise. Very descriptive.

I'd read a bit more to see if it pulled me in.

The typos, especially the first one, threw me out very quickly and it was hard to get back in the first time through. Had to go back for a rerun in order to get the real sense of it.

Dave F. said...

Thanks WW,
"read some on my web page" Gee... This started out four years ago as a nice idea and it never worked. I like the idea of a semi-intelligent security lock. I like the idea that the lock talks back and abuses the hacker. What happens afterward is open to many possibilities. This could be a safe holding bank notes, gold, or a giant cave holding ancient alien artifacts.

The story itself wanders aimlessly and pointlessly amidst some silly contrived situations. I'd never write those words now. (too many words to support that thin a story.)

It's also about three times as long (way too long, way too many words) on the web page. I actually mention things like Diophantine Analysis, Laplace Transforms, Cubic Triples and infinite series...

Speaking of too many words. Sometime this summer, I'll take the story and rewrite the plot and story. My aim is to get is down to 5K words from 18K. That's what I get for writing a story without planning, plotting or outlining. I wanted the characters to "do their thing."

I had to stop writing and wait until I stopped giggling at "do their thing." I wrote too much that isn't good just letting the characters push themselves forward.

Dave F. said...

yes, the alarm knows it's being hacked and is fighting the attempt. I have to make that clearer in the opening. Thanks

sylvia said...

The explanations about the nicknames felt a bit "here's some backstory for you" but then it was redeemed by the asteroid, so I'm on the fence on that now.

Actually I've read the other comments now and I think that the asteroid one is the strongest part of this and should be the focus. I didn't actually grasp that the bell was fighting being hacked - that's a lovely concept and should be brought to the foreground.

writtenwyrdd said...

I've got to say: I totally got the alarm was AI and being a butt head while trying not to be hacked. But how many sf novels have I read? A couple thousand over the last 30-plus years?

Dave F. said...

I was very deliberate in putting the nickname commentary (Scungelini) right before the asteroid comment. It's a trick.

I'm wondering if opening with "Germany, Italy and France were only a memory from before the asteroid." might not serve as a better opening. Then the reader would be more amenable to the "Vault" being a repository of knowledge, riches or some other valuable.

writtenwyrdd said...

Basic structure seems sound to me. Maybe just add description of the Vault in that first para?

Whirlochre said...

Sylvia has a point about the backstory but I think it works.

My problem is with the front story, ie the reason for all the activity, but this is a matter of impatience — it has to be imminent and I would read on to find it.

Not sure about the weasels — is this a natty graphic, the quality of the typographic symbols as they flood the screen or what?

Bernita said...

I don't care. I liked it.

Dave F. said...

WO: "natty " ?
No, natty isn;t the word I would use. Rude or silly dancing weasels. Like the dancing gerbils or the dancing baby or the dancing skeletons that are hiding all over the internet.

Bernita: Thanks

fairyhedgehog said...

When this got to "level boozy" I wondered if the first part was going to turn out to be a computer game and not part of the main plot.

I was confused, irritated by the odd typo and yet strangely gripped. I would love to read on to find out what happens next, as soon as you work out what that is.

Dave F. said...

Well, I intended that they open the vault. In it they find not only information but humans preserved by some scientific process. However, not everyone's motives are pure. The soldiers have a mission that might or might not include reviving the survivors. And, the survivors may not want to live in the future but want to return to restore the previous governments.

I never did work out the story in advance and any plot that complex requires working out in advance. I just let the characters wander mindlessly through the story. Obviously, I'm not satisfied with the result and I used this opportunity to go back and fix the "slush"...