On the first day of each dodecahedral cycle, we assemble to honor those who saved us. We meet in the Valles Marineris, Mars Dome One. Each rank takes its place: the Grounders, the Bots, the Diggers, the Brains and the yet-to-be's. We tells how we came to be here. We tells about each wave of refugees -- from the Correspondents to the Vestiges. We tells so each generation can never forget. So each generation remembers. We tells how the Earth ended and mankind nearly destroyed itself in nuclear fire.
Our leader, Lupe' Tzinguini closed this Memorial Service with the words from twenty-first century literature. Words from the countless electronic books saved from destruction. Books found in the wreckage of spaceships that dot the surface or Mars.
And after the memorial, we all try to drive home at the same time resulting in an old-fashioned, earth-like traffic jam; the perfect remembrance.
Grounders, Bots, Diggers, Brains and yet-to-be's, we fret alike in our air-conditioned vehicles. As one we squirm on our lemetal seats and flick through the two thousand and thirty-six channels on Maradio to find nothing on.
After some time we abandon ourselves to the chaos and lean back against headrests, closing our eyes and hearing Lupe' Tzinguini's words in our head. Words from the great books of the past. Words from our Bible:
Evil Editor wondered one day, while feeding an author's life's work into a paper shredder, whether the slush pile might be put to productive use . . .
Opening: Dave F......Continuation: McKoala
The switch from present to past I can handle, but switching right back doesn't seem useful. Also, it seems odd that the narrator says "we tells" but doesn't say "we assembles, meets, tries."
"So each generation remembers" isn't adding anything.
An interesting beginning. Not sure if 'we tells' is supposed to be suggesting a certain amount of ignorance. Or a language shift.
Got one typo, maybe, about the surface or Mars. Surface of Mars?
I'd read on, with hesitation. It's intriguing, but I'm not sure how long I would read in this style. The narrator drones a bit.
Loved the continuation!!
This is okay, but a big draggy in that initial paragraph. I really love the perfect remembrance via the traffic jam, which indicates that your pov person has a sense of perspective. Seems like if you are going to have that moody opener followed by a bit of irony, you might want to cut back on the moody part just a bit.
and I agree that the 'we tells' bit seems off when that's the only change in construction.
Nothing like being slammed to the mat before touching gloves with "dodecahedral cycle"...
I got back up and got my mind around the word and made it work the second start.
Ditto to everyone on the "tells". I am hoping civilizational advances down the line include grammer...
Fiction with lots of made up stuff piled all close together irritates me personally (I can accept spoon fed bits of make-believe but poured down my throat I gag...)so from a realists perspective there was too much to absorb at once. Others will probably disagree with me completely on this, which I agree with...
As a whole, I felt that the skip from the second to third paragraph was too sudden. You just brought us together, gave us a list of all attending, and then drove us home before the party started...
It makes me wonder what was important about the gathering to begin with, other than to establish that you are post-near-apocalypse...
A few days ago I said that most of my stories begin with a single thought. This is one that didn't and it suffers for it. It's one of those ideas that doesn't lend itself to a story.
Sarah - It's a language shift that doesn't work. It sounds dumb and the only way I can think of to make it work is to make this the end of a story told as a prologue. And guess what, I hate stories like that. The mood is a downer, a sad thought, and that clashes the traffic jam. the traffic jam is funny and light. The first paragraph isn't.
EE and WW - I'm not sure that I like "tells" and I think as a practical matter, that a speech mannerism that affected is best put into the text after the story is finished. This is not the time to do that. (Unless you are writing Of Mice and Men and conceive of the character as being that way.) For me, A Cultural shift in language is best left until all the words are on the page. If you know what I mean.
This does drag. I have a tendency to write too much. I should have cut more of this and moved more of the story up into the opening.
SCOTT (your comment popped up while I was writing this.)
dodecahedral - 12 sided or composed of twelve parts. It gets explained later. Perhaps not the best word to have in an opening line. It makes me wonder what was important about the gathering to begin with... That was the intent. Important things happen at these gatherings.
But you are right: There is too much information in the first paragraph, and it is dumped on the reader. But the reader has to know that we are on Mars many years after near-apocalyptic events. AFter reading it here, I think that the reader is not prepared for the way that the colonists organized their society (the Grounders, the Bots, the Diggers, the Brains) and the way that several waves of immigration to Mars occurred (refugees -- from the Correspondents to the Vestiges.)... That's the informational overload you sense. That's why I meant when I said that this might be the denouement used as prologue to the story.
The story needs another element that appears later. Perhaps it should be included up here.
I still think it's decent worldbuilding, but needs some editing. Making the tone of the words match, and etc. I think you recognize what needs doing, though, from your post.
I don't know how much I like the first few paragraphs, but I love the last one about the traffic jam. It made me smile.
As soon as you hit the repeated "we tells," all I could think of was Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.
Oh rats, I do remember that portion at the end of Beyond Thunderdome. I really didn't intend to channel that movie. That ends that type of dialog.
Odd to see Dave on the receiving end of the Newspeak remarks for once.
This didn't grab me at all. No hint of conflict. No character to identify with.
Like benwah says, it's reminiscent of Thunderdome. But then one of the previous Dave openings reminded me of Resident Evil. Maybe watching films is bad for Dave's writing!
Dave, I can't really add much to what has already been said. The "we tells" gave me a Jar Jar Binks (sp) feel.
I think I would use it as a prologue and give your backstory there.
The traffic jam, is nice, as you know.
I liked the first line. It's a fairly standard SF technique to open with a line that shouts "We're in a different place & time". The classic one being Heinlein's "The door dilated." Of course, that way leads to a discussion on genre reading protocols...
After that though, ease up on the lists a bit please :)
I don't have much to add, but it seems I'm the only one not excited about an impending traffic jam. I hate traffic jams, they aren't exciting, and if I'm reading about a traffic jam by the third para, I'm ready to put the book back on the shelf. Is the traffic jam key to the plot? If not, why start the story there? If so, I'd get to the point of it pretty quickly, as a traffic jam isn't a compelling scenario, for me. Ditto the comments on "tells".
For a variety of reasons I knew exactly what a dodecahedral cycle was and I also noted that "tells" wasn't a typo after all. And then I thought that I'm no scifi reader. And then I forgot about that part. So would I read on? Well, there was this whiff of Vonegut that propeled me, so Yes! But xnay on the tells-ay and once again I'm getting a Bradbury/Vonnegut/Serling vibe beyond the Outer Limits of Science Fiction. Or else I'm on a three-day bender.
Plus edit this later, please EE: I dig your pyro side!!
The dodecahedral cycle didn't bother me, but the inconsistency of the narrator's voice did. It's easily fixable, though.
The 2nd para is out of place and doesn't work for me. Even if taken on its own merits, it suffers from odd repetition. Words...words...words might work but words...words...books doesn't.
Final para is where it really gets going.
This isn't really my genre, but I loved the third paragraph.
And "We" just reminded me of that Russian book by Zamyatin (spelling?) called "We."
McK- love your continuation. Ha!
Dave, I don't read much in this genre - so I don't have any good and constructive comments to make.
Like Scott, the de... word struck me, and stopped me, but that may well be because I'm not used to reading science fiction.
I should have pointed out, for those who didn't get it, that the "Bible" verse in the continuation is taken from the introduction of Novel Deviations 1.
Yeah - that makes it even funnier.
Good one, McK.
I thought I had another post from late last night. Blogger must have ate it. I didn't save it offline and I'm not sure what I said in it. Damn... I hate when I lose notes and thoughts like that.
Let's see -
#1: This wasn't newspeak, I wasn't trying to channel Orwell or create that dystopian type of society. I wanted a discussion of the old and new. The story never worked out.
#2: Now that I really stare at P2, I know that I shouldn't use "words" twice. There are better ways to say that the leader closes the memorial with word from the past. maybe Captain Smith, our leader, closes the Memorial with a passage from the many electronic books we find in the wrecked spaceships dotting the surface. If the dead couldn't save themselves, they saved the literature.
Or maybe, The dead lived on in the literature they treasured. Treasured isn't the right word but for now it gets the idea across.
#3: I'm junking "Lupe Tzinguini" because I want to keep dodecahedral. The reason being is that the orbital period of Mars is 687 earth days and an earth year is 365 days. That being said, I find "Lupe Tzinguini" as jarring as others find dodecahedral. The use of the name was a gift to a friend who has since gone on to abusing other ethnic names.
#4: EE, you're being too subtle. just come out and say "Words from the Third Testaments Novel Deviations, books 1 through 27."
I liked the first two paras better than the third. I liked dodecahedral and I liked "we tells" although I was so intrigued by the language that I failed to notice what was being told.
I wanted to know what books were quoted from and what was said.
(Sci fi is my favourite genre.)
Let me say one thing at the end here - With any other author, I would have picked out these problems. I couldn't see them in my writing. NEVER underestimate the power of your own words to look good and sound good and seem perfect.
No, the Newspeak remarks are those seeking to restrict writers to the reader's vocabulary.
Nice job, 'oala!
I thought I'd add a bit about the language in case Dave F decides to work on it some more. There's three basic types of language change:
1) A language on its own shifts its lexicon, sounds, and syntax, each being less likely in order, depending on several factors.
2) A language borrows tons of stuff from another language. This is almost always words first and then sounds and morphology later. Oh, sorry. Uh, word structure - case, plurality, tense, etc. The latter is on record as occurring (there's a case of an Aleut language, I believe, borrowing all of Russian's morphology), but that's quite weird.
3) A contact language, which forms a pidgin, which becomes a creole, which becomes a new language. There are several English-word-based creoles in the world including various places in the Pacific and Caribbean (and more). These occur most frequently in situations where people of various languages are all put into one place at once. Hawaii's creole was created by speakers of English, Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, and Portuguese brought to work on the plantations.
So, in deciding your language shift, first decide which of the above is closest to the social situation. It sounds like you have in mind a simple shift in English over time. Next, decide on a couple changes. The critical thing is to make it consistent. Is it just a single word change, a change in sound, or a more grammatical change? "Tells" suggests a grammatical change, hence EE's very first comment.
Another change which might be easier to get across in written language is more pragmatic. Choose a sentence structure that already exists in English but is less common and make it common. Yoda-speak is an example. With the force, you are. A Jedi, you must become. Place predicates at the beginning, you must.
Anyway, just some ideas.
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