Friday, February 25, 2011

Face-Lift 874

Guess the Plot

Love Drug

1. The natives of the planet Xanatopsis bred all emotions out of their species long ago. But now, their inability to care for one another could cause their extinction. Can a team of brilliant young scientists from Earth create a drug that will teach the Xanatopsians to love again?

2. In the year 3011, Avalea Christopher is in love. Or so she thinks. Turns out it's her government-prescribed drug regimen that was making her feel that way, as she discovers when she stops taking the drugs. Now the government has put a price on her head, because the last thing they want is people falling in love with their real soul mates.

3. Jerome's attempt to chemically create the perfect love slave backfires: Millie now falls in love with everyone she sees except for him. The antidote makes her turn chartreuse and sprout feathers. Can he find an antidote to the antidote?

4. 'Love drug her heart/ 'Cross a dirty floor/ Love drug her heart/ And she crawled on back for more.' With these lyrics, country singer Boots McCallister begins his climb to the top of the charts. But Annie Craig recognizes the words from a fan letter she sent to Boots, and she wants her piece of the pie.

5. Phab Pharmaceuticals announces the Love Drug: a potion for men that makes them irresistible to women. What Phab Pharm doesn't reveal is that after ten doses your penis falls off. Could CEO Tilly "Two-Bagger" McFrump have an agenda?

6. Wall Street banker Jim Jones reaped billions selling worthless mortgages until he met Midge, an undercover agent with C.U.P.I.D., who slipped a 'love' potion into his coffee. Jim left NYC on a sailboat, and decided to spend his billions on food and tractors for Somali refugees. But arranging distribution from the pirate detention center where he's a hostage is proving very difficult.

Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

I am seeking representation for LOVE DRUG, a 98,000-word YA dystopian science fiction novel set a thousand years into Earth’s future.

Avalea Christopher’s Soul Mate loves everything about her, even the books hidden in her closet. He’d be perfect—if he wasn’t the wrong guy.

He’s Felis Quinn and for days he’s been telling her he loves her. When he reveals he’s a Crew leader from the lawless lower city, and he’s only there as a favor to her real Soul Mate, [It's confusing to refer to two different people as her Soul Mate and her real Soul Mate. Especially when the real Soul Mate is going to turn out not to be the real Soul Mate. I think it would help to get both their names into the query here.] Avalea wants to believe it’s a joke. She’s so certain of their love, she’s willing to stop taking her government-prescribed regimen of medicines and vaccines at Felis’ request.

[Felis: Although we're complete strangers, I love you and I think you would love me back if you would stop taking your medicines.

Avalea: Well, I already have a Soul Mate, but sure, why not? Surely you know what's best for me.]

A week later Avalea knows the love she felt was driven by the medicines and she suspects they control more than who she loves. She’s not sure how Felis knows her chosen Soul Mate or why he agreed to the favor to begin with, but she has bigger worries. The upper city doesn’t like having its secrets out in the open, and Avalea’s parents are ready to turn her over to the authorities.

[Parents: According to the authorities, you know something.

Avalea: Yes, apparently the--

Parents: No! Don't tell us, or they'll kill us, too. ]

To avoid being disappeared, Avalea writes a suicide note and escapes into the lower city, looking for Felis.

Felis gives her a home with his Crew, though it’s not an easy fit for a high-society girl raised to speak well but know little. But the hobbies that would have made her a social pariah in her old life have uses in the lower city and she starts teaching the Crew’s children to read. [It's hard to believe the upper city can maintain the upper hand in this society, if they can't read. I guess that's just because the illiterate don't often rise to the top in our society.]

Avalea is adjusting to her new life and starting to enjoy her freedom when she learns that the upper city didn’t believe her note and they’ve put a price on her head. In a bid for the reward money, the most powerful Crew in the city takes Felis’ Crew’s children hostage, and Avalea is the ransom price. Which means Avalea can save them—if she’s willing to surrender herself, and the life she never knew she needed. [It seems the amount of the reward would be an acceptable ransom alternative to Avalea herself, as it would save the risk/bother of taking her to the authorities.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.



When you think about how different the world is today from a thousand years ago, you have to assume that in another thousand years nothing will be the same. Thus, if an oppressive government and love drugs are the main changes, maybe it would be better to set this a hundred years in the future.

The government doesn't want its secrets getting out to the extent that they put a price on Avalea's head, but Felis already knows their secret; and presumably that means everyone in the lower city knows it, and the Soul Mate must know it, and the authorities know it, and even if they don't all know it first-hand, surely Wiki-leaks has revealed all to the world.


Adam Heine said...

You keep using Soul Mate in caps, like it's a thing. Is it, in this world? Do people regularly have (and know they have) Soul Mates? If so, how do they know? Are they assigned? Is there a test?

And if it's not a thing--if you're using "Soul Mate" the same way we do today (where some people believe in them, others don't, and everyone uses them as an excuse to feel better about cheating on each other)--then why is it in caps?

Anonymous said...

On a second, close re-read, I've got the plot. I think.

Avalea is convinced she's in love because it's been "days" of sweet-talk. This sounds like a hackneyed joke about puppy love -- "I know he's the one! I've been dating him for three whole days!" But onward.

Some real Soul Mate pulls levers in the backgrond to get Felis and Avalea together, and yet it's the government-issue medicines that dupe Avalea into falling in love with Felis. What overrides which, and how?

Avalea's real Soul Mate never directly appears in this query. Does he ever show up in the story? I'm guessing he's some John Connor type who is heading an anti-upper-city insurgence, but he gives me a creepy sort of Sir Stephen vibe.

I'm not feeling much passion here. Avalea "adjusts" and finds something to do, but I don't get the sense that she heroically converts and finds herself willing to die for the side she used to oppose, albeit mindlessly.

Dave Fragments said...

If I were you, I would start from the proposition:

In a world where all emotions, all likes and dislikes even love itself, are controlled by the central government, Avalea Christopher discovers true love and not the artificial feelings created by her so-called medicines.

Worse, the man that she truly loves lives in the forbidden underworld and her society-approved love lives in the sanitized and pure world of false emotions and drug induced fantasy.

Can Avalea find the universal antidote and restore true love to the world or will she forever be condemned to live a false life with a man she doesn't love?

I think that's your story. Avalea's struggle to find real love and not drug-induced love. It's rough, unhyphenated and badly comma-ed... but that is the heart of your story - Avalea's struggle.

Sorry to say but the way you've described the underworld in the query reminds me of a Stallone movie and that ain't good.

Anonymous said...

What possible motive could the govt have for this Soul Mating business? If there's an answer to that, I suspect that may tell us more about the real plot.

Redstar said...

"Avalea Christopher’s Soul Mate loves everything about her, even the books hidden in her closet."

The same thing happened with my first wife. Sure, I liked the books hidden in her closet too but looking back you think it would have given me a clue that she might run off with a new Soul Mate like Gina.

Anonymous said...

I think Dave is on the right track here. The confusing opening about multiple Soul Mates isn't the story, the world building is vital and the characters battle against that world seems more the compelling story. IMO

batgirl said...

I'd agree with EE (of course I would!) that this doesn't need to be so far in the future. It could be 20 years in the future easily enough, being so close to today's culture and society. There's plenty of sf that's set 'the day after tomorrow'.

One thing - Avalea teaching the ghetto kids to read feels pretty retro - 1960s maybe. Is there anything more suitable to the very-slightly-futuristic world that she could do? I mean, how useful is reading in her world? Other than the hidden books (which don't get any space in the query anyways), reading doesn't seem to be important.

Anonymous said...

So how did they read the suicide note? This seems like a bit of a plot hole.