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Author Topic: Divine Simplicity
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Short SF, about 2400 words.

Her voice surprised him. It was soft and sweet, gossamer and silk echoing in his mind.
“Can we change the voice?” he asked. He wasn’t sure he wanted her in his head for the rest of his life. Someone should have warned him. He'd only sent her body away a week ago.

Doctor Landry shook his head sadly, a kindly expression softening his chocolate eyes. “No, Mr. Watkins. The central computers choose the voices for our implants. I know it can be disconcerting. Give it some time.”

Sam Watkins spent the rest of the afternoon in the city garden. He only had seventy hours after implantation to decide.

“What am I supposed to call you?” he asked her.

‘Whatever you choose to think of me as, so I shall be.’ Her voice

[ May 29, 2014, 11:51 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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I like it so far. I'm intrigued. I'll read if you want me to.
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It's wonderful, as far as I can tell. I'm confused with the third line, about Watkins having to decide. This was right after Dr. Landry told him "the computer chooses" the voice (this seems arbitrarily odd to me, but whatever). The subject of the paragraph appears to be the selection of "voice", which was already determined by a computer. Watkins must choose about something else?
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He'll have to choose whether to keep the implant or not. Wetwilly, I'll send it to you either tonight or tomorrow, when I'm home. Thanks for volunteering. [Smile]
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This start fragment almost lingers in the scene, not quite a fully realized scene sequence segment.

The first sentence summarizes and explains the second sentence's relevance to Watkins. Causation backwards. The cause, the aural stimuli precedes Watkin's surprise. Watkins' reaction need not be summarized or explained separately in the first place. If his perception of the implant's voice implies his surprise emotionally. "Soft and sweet, gossamer and silk echoing in his mind" expresses Watkin's attitude clearly and strongly, a hint from the descriptors of his emotional surprise would do. Note that "echoing" is an unnecessary present participle.

To begin with, give the first words of the implant's voice, after another external sensation beforehand, so that the voice isn't disembodied. Say the implant itches or Dr. Landry switches on the implant and a spark sizzles in his head, Zap! or some such. External sensation, internal reaction; internal sensation, internal reaction sequences. Linear and logical natural causation begun from a first cause of the implant's activation and first speech.

The second paragraph portrays an effect that the cause isn't fully developed for. Watkins' delight at the pleasant voice needs an opposing reaction before he wonders if he can stand the voice for the rest of his life. That he sent the body away only a week before implies the voice is someone's who was close to him, but doesn't fit the context. I infer Watkins lost someone close and the implant is a substitute.

"Doctor Landry shook his head sadly, a kindly expression softening his chocolate eyes." "Shook his head sadly" is static, narrator summary. The two adverbs "sadly" and "kindly" do express emotion, though in a summary fashion. Watkins' impression can be given in stronger and clearer sensory details and reactions to them, like, don't everloving pity me you old fool doctor!

The only setting detail is an afternoon spent in the city gardens.

Seventy hours to decide to keep or not the implant artfully sets a countdown clock ticking until Watkins must make the dramatic decision.

I don't see an especially strong and clear antagonism event cued up, some small degree of emotional disequilibrium begun though. For 2,400 words, perhaps this is a too slow start and in other ways too rushed through summary and explanation of the scene sequence. I feel a mite more development of antagonism complication is warranted: how the implant dramatically complicates Watkins' life such that it transforms Watkins' life.

A hint or clue cued up might, for example, imply the implant becomes Watkins' ally on a parallel complication or the implant becomes a villain or nemesis taking over his conscious volition. I think I'd enjoy the latter. Mom died; Dad surrendered his will to an overbearing codependent caretaker, enough like Mom to be comforting, who means well, but causes both harms that Mom didn't.

The "gossamer and silk [echo] in his mind" is artfully poetic (metaphor).

[ May 31, 2014, 01:27 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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>Her voice surprised him. It was soft and sweet, gossamer and silk echoing in his mind.
This paragraph tells me that he (Sam) was expecting a different voice. Since the voice he does hear is described as 'soft, sweet, gossamer and silk,' I tend to think (Sam) was expecting the opposite. In the second paragraph, (Sam) asks if the voice can be changed, which, for me, modifies the first sentence and indicates this is a bad surprise. So, in my mind, I see a man who not only expected hard, rancorous, solid and sour, but wanted it in the voice he hears/will hear for the rest of his life; strange dude.

I don't understand how the last sentence in the second paragraph relates to the voice or why someone should have warned him about the voice. It makes me think that the 'her' whose body he got rid of is not the same as the one whose voice he hears. If this is the case, I would prefer that she, of the sent away body, should be named. If they are the same, then I'm just plain confused.

>a kindly expression softening his chocolate eyes.
To me, 'Chocolate eyes' don't need softening.

>I know it can be disconcerting.
I would like 'it' to be replaced by exactly what the doctor is referring to. Otherwise, it can be taken to mean that computers choosing voices is disconcerting.

I get the feeling (though I can't support it in the narrative) that Sam has been implanted and that his seventy hours are ticking. He could just be talking to a box for all I know. Point is, I would like to know.

In the last paragraph, she answers a direct question in a very vague and archaic way. What if he thinks of her as a rubber chicken? I believe this can be stated more directly.

One mechanical difficulty that I have is, 'He asked' after the question is asked. Since the next sentence begins with 'He,' I believe, 'He asked,' may be safely removed as redundant.

Upon first reading, I liked the flow and feel very much, but the final dialog was like running into a wall.
Several readings did not improve my understanding of sending her body away and how this relates to her voice.

Since the main idea and conflict revolve around the implant, I believe improvements should seek to clarify what the implant is.
Good luck,

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Only seventy hours to decide ... then what?

I think you're missing something by not saying what happens at that magic 70 hours? How severe is the consequence?

Other than that, these lines make me want to keep reading.


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