First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

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steveyodascott76
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First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by steveyodascott76 » December 30th, 2011, 2:22 pm

This is the opening to a short scifi story I'm working on. Would love feedback and critique. Currently I have no title... (Title suggestions welcomed.)

Thank you much (And of course I will return the favor)!

(Latest Edits in blue)

Steve

No one really knows how or when it began. That’s the way with this kind of thing. Can anyone really identify the root of anti-Semitism or neo-nepotism? Probably not. Take the nix-flautist movement… At some point enough people decided that a flute player was vulgar and in bad taste, and that was that. They passed the sentiment to their children, and they to theirs, and one day it was just the way it was: humanity was irrevocably offended by the flute. Go figure.

All that mattered then was that I was on the nix-list. I’d been cornered and confronted, quite publicly mind you, and I wasn’t going to do it, I wasn’t going to renounce my name. “Not now, not tomorrow, not if you pay me, not if you hunt me down.” I didn’t mean to challenge them.

Yet here I was, crawling on my belly through a North Carolina corn field, drones buzzing above me, while some fat cop stood at the field's edge talking on his ear piece to a more than likely fatter desk jockey pilot miles away, giving him the green light to torch the corn and burn me out. I needed a cigarette.

So I pulled out my tobacco pouch and my last little square of paper, pinched a small wad and rolled a smoke. Ever rolled one on your belly in the middle of a cornfield? It’s a damn muddy mess. And let me tell you clay is cold. That’s a good thing though, the drones’ heat imaging couldn’t pick me from the corn. And they say Steves are idiots.

Then I lit the cigarette. Like one of those old combines snatching up their harvest, the drones were on me. They had me bagged n’ tagged before I could take a drag. I was still puckering when the steel fibered net ripped me from the ground. The cop sauntered over, parting the corn stalks with ease on the way, reached his latexed index finger and thumb through the net, and plucked the cigarette out of my upside down mouth.

“I think you's the dumbest one yet.” He leaned in for emphasis, “Steeeeeeeev.”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the name Steve really has any special meaning to me. It’s the principle of it. A man, or a woman for that matter, should be able to be a free Steve no matter what “statistics” say. So I’m 24% more likely to cause a traffic accident. 12% more likely to steal from a local mini-mart… 33% more likely to engage in offensive behavior. Are “probabilities regarding likely outcomes” enough to criminalize the name?

Evidently, I thought, hanging their upside down in the drone net. I could feel the blood rushing into my head and I was feeling a bit woozy. My face was starting to waffle. I struggled in vain to upright myself. The cop, still holding my cigarette, clearly enjoyed the sight of his catch flailing about. “Keep flopping fishy, I ain't seen a Steve do it yet. Net's too constrictive. In small words that means,” he spoke slowly, pointing with his free hand to his portly lips that emphasizedeach word, “too tight”.

What an ass, I thought in small words.
Last edited by steveyodascott76 on December 30th, 2011, 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mark.W.Carson
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by Mark.W.Carson » December 30th, 2011, 4:35 pm

I actually like this a lot. The style lends itself well to the story. By the way, it is "in vain" not "in vein."

Other than that, the story sounds interesting.

steveyodascott76
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by steveyodascott76 » December 30th, 2011, 5:10 pm

Thanks for the reply. Glad to hear someone connect with the style given the story. I've had concerns it might be a bit too stylized. Thanks for the spelling correction too. I'll fix that right away.

Steve

JohnDurvin
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by JohnDurvin » February 22nd, 2012, 10:06 pm

I'm definitely enjoying this. On the one hand, I'm rooting for him, but on the other hand, I'm eager to see what other groups he meets in jail; I'm hoping they've formed prison-gangs. ("Whatcha doin' in Rec Yard 5, Steve? This is Dave territory!") You will have to go into why the government doesn't just legally change his name for him, though.
Sorry, sorry, I'll stop writing for you. The wacky-yet-dystopian tone just reminds me a lot of a temporarily shelved WIP of mine, and I'm going to have to try really hard not to steal your idea.
Everybody loves using things as other things, right? Check out my blog at the Cromulent Bricoleur and see one hipster's approach to recycling, upcycling, and alterna-cycling (which is a word I just made up).

SplitInfinitive
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by SplitInfinitive » March 28th, 2012, 5:27 pm

Hi Steve, I think this looks great. You get a strong sense of the character and the setting. Since I have no structural comments, I'll just note that I think you're looking for "there" rather than "their" in the first sentence of the last full paragraph. And you might consider making earpiece one word and hyphenating more-than-likely in this sentence: talking on his ear piece to a more than likely fatter desk jockey pilot. Just style choices though. God, it's not intentional but I'm living up to the a-type handle I chose for this forum. At any rate, nice work! -SI

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Hillsy
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by Hillsy » May 1st, 2012, 7:15 am

Hey Steve,

Overall I agree with most of what people have said - nicely stylized and the premise feeds nicely into short story format and you haven't overdone world building early doors. The tone mixes well with the setting/action (a little like The Stainless Steel Rat IMO). All told a solid start, had a few notes to make though as I went through.
steveyodascott76 wrote:No one really knows how or when it began. That’s the way with this kind of thing. Can anyone really identify the root of anti-Semitism or neo-nepotism? Probably not. Take the nix-flautist movement… At some point enough people decided that a flute player was vulgar and in bad taste, and that was that. They passed the sentiment to their children, and they to theirs, and one day it was just the way it was: humanity was irrevocably offended by the flute. Go figure.
The tone here threw me to begin with, it morphs from serious to humorous, which is a bit of a "errrrr....is that intentional?" Kind of way, to the point I questioned whether or not I really knew what a flautist was. A tiny tweak would smooth that out.
steveyodascott76 wrote:All that mattered then was that I was on the nix-list. I’d been cornered and confronted, quite publicly mind you, and I wasn’t going to do it, I wasn’t going to renounce my name. “Not now, not tomorrow, not if you pay me, not if you hunt me down.” I didn’t mean to challenge them.
Could that last sentance have a bit more punch?
steveyodascott76 wrote:Yet here I was, crawling on my belly through a North Carolina corn field, drones buzzing above me, while some fat cop stood at the field's edge talking on his ear piece to a more than likely fatter desk jockey pilot miles away, giving him the green light to torch the corn and burn me out. I needed a cigarette.
Fine - though would something other than "Fat Cop" reinforce character and style? Got a chance to do more with those couple of words
steveyodascott76 wrote:So I pulled out my tobacco pouch and my last little square of paper, pinched a small wad and rolled a smoke. Ever rolled one on your belly in the middle of a cornfield? It’s a damn muddy mess. And let me tell you clay is cold. That’s a good thing though, the drones’ heat imaging couldn’t pick me from the corn. And they say Steves are idiots.
Excellent characterisation - I automatically doubt his ability to judge his own faculties. Perfect
steveyodascott76 wrote:Then I lit the cigarette. Like one of those old combines snatching up their harvest, the drones were on me. They had me bagged n’ tagged before I could take a drag. I was still puckering when the steel fibered net ripped me from the ground. The cop sauntered over, parting the corn stalks with ease on the way, reached his latexed index finger and thumb through the net, and plucked the cigarette out of my upside down mouth.

“I think you's the dumbest one yet.” He leaned in for emphasis, “Steeeeeeeev.”
And immediaztely I'm paid off by it turning out to be a stupid move. Tres Bien.
steveyodascott76 wrote:Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the name Steve really has any special meaning to me. It’s the principle of it. A man, or a woman for that matter, should be able to be a free Steve no matter what “statistics” say. So I’m 24% more likely to cause a traffic accident. 12% more likely to steal from a local mini-mart… 33% more likely to engage in offensive behavior. Are “probabilities regarding likely outcomes” enough to criminalize the name?
Now the idea comes through, and it's pretty clever. But I do have a bit of a gripe in as much I thought he was a flautist, and that was what was outlawed. I think in a short story format you don't have the time to let the reader wander down incorrect paths of thought. 1st time I read it I had to stop, thengo back through and re-read and everything came into focus a bit better. This is too late IMO. Just dropping a few words in the first para would solve it.
steveyodascott76 wrote:Evidently, I thought, hanging their upside down in the drone net. I could feel the blood rushing into my head and I was feeling a bit woozy. My face was starting to waffle. I struggled in vain to upright myself. The cop, still holding my cigarette, clearly enjoyed the sight of his catch flailing about. “Keep flopping fishy, I ain't seen a Steve do it yet. Net's too constrictive. In small words that means,” he spoke slowly, pointing with his free hand to his portly lips that emphasizedeach word, “too tight”.

What an ass, I thought in small words.
Aside from mebbe looking for something stronger than "portly lips that emphasised", it's a neat little para, especially the use of the word waffle...=0)

Yeah - so in short it only need a slight edit and you're good to go

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sldwyer
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by sldwyer » June 11th, 2012, 11:28 am

I like the story and found myself imagining the world this "Steve" lived in. The line about the percentages of probabilities caught my attention and a title came to mind... THE LAW OF PROBABILITIES.

Nice story. hope you finish it and keep posting

bcomet
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by bcomet » September 7th, 2012, 12:30 pm

I also really liked this. I'd love to read more.

My comments:

The opening for me is unnecessary in referencing to anti-other things. I feel the tone would be more in keeping with what follows with posing the question (of how people come up with seemingly questionable attitudes) and beginning with the anti-flautists, which is funny and takes me "there."

I also feel somewhat confused why Steve had to light the cig - is he really that dumb? Or maybe the stakes aren't that high?

But I would definitely read on.

Good character, mood, and predicament of being a "Steve" is both funny - and a little off kilter in a good way. You're voice (as a writer) is great: a staccato and moving along.

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Flip
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Re: First 500 Words of a Sci Fi Short

Post by Flip » October 29th, 2012, 11:29 pm

Great job! This is fast-moving and witty; your writing reminds me of Adam Rex's Smekday w/ the snark/humor/sci-fi. Only advice is to not move so fast through the first part of this story; you have voice (cherry and sprinkles), characters with heart (the chocolate fudge and nuts) but the context (ICECREAM) is missing a little bit, and I wouldn't mind if you had filled in the detail a little more. For all I know, this is some alien creature in a cornfield or a fifth grader using their imagination...little too vague to enjoy properly. With your clean writing and fun style, I'm sure it wouldn't be a drag reading a little more (a few more hints/scoops of ice cream) for us to go on.

:D :D :D

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