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Author Topic: (Untitled) Soft Sci-Fi Novelette
EvoL
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Okay, I wrote this a couple years ago and I just dug it up out from under my bed. It's in semi-'ruff' draft form so beware. You can post any criticisms or comments about it you want. Anways, here it goes:

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The serene, blue and green planet below Methris enchanted him. He couldn't take his eyes off it. His pre-occupation with it ended abruptly when his ship collided with a satellite orbiting the planet. The strange alien symbol on the satellite, "MTV", flashed across his eyes before he was knocked unconscious by the collision.

When he regained consciousness, Methris was hurtling toward the surface of the planet in his burning ship. As the surface of the planet loomed ever closer, he slammed his hand down on the automatic parachute button. It didn't work. His ship shot through a white puffy cloud and continued it's insane downward spiral. He reached up to pull the lever for the manual parachute deploy and was immediately thrust back into his seat. The next
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[This message has been edited by EvoL (edited June 24, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited June 25, 2006).]


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HSO
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I wonder if there may be a flaw or two here... but I like the idea of taking out an MTV satellite (do they have their own satellite, or do they piggyback signals off other commerical satellites?)

A quiz:

If a ship is insanely spiralling downward, hurtling towards a planet(such as Earth), and one presumes the ship must be moving very, very fast indeed at a precise entry angle, else it would skip off Earth's atmosphere or burn up entirely, how many gees do you think the pilot would be under?

Would Methris be able to slam anything in those conditions? Would he even regain consciousness? I suppose it depends on the ship's technology. But parachute deployment seems a bit old-tech.

I don't know.

But there's also impacting a liquid at high speed, which may obliterate the ship at worst, and at best, turn the pilot into an unrecognizable pool of gloop. Unless the liquid is designed by the planet's inhabitants to slow down a ship before it impacts, but it's impossible to determine at this point, for Methris hasn't a clue what's he in, I presume.

So, the dilemma for me is believing the scenario. I'm willing to accept that the spacecraft is highly advanced, perhaps even has a Nivens-esque General Products hull thereby making a ship invincible via a time-displacement stasis field of some description (see the Ringworld stories), but if anything like this exists in the story, consider quickly developing it before impact on planet. Of course, there are other alternatives, too.

Good luck.


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hoptoad
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oh no, he's crashed into a cup of pepsi, how big is this guy?
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LibbieMistretta
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Good tips from HSO. I like the comedic aspects in the story, but crashing into a tarpit wouldn't likely cause a ship to sink - it would cause it to explode. Unless Methis' ship is designed to hurtle into planets' atmospheres and impact with their surfaces.... In that case, why is he trying to eject himself anyway?
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wbriggs
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Even if this is a short story, I think it's flashing by too fast. You had a collision with a satellite. That's big, and interesting. You finished that in a sentence and a half.

I suspect the speed of coverage is because you haven't fully imagined the situation yet. You want him crashed on the planet. But I think you need to know, first: what's his means of propulsion, how is his ship held together, what he's doing there, what century is it, does he have a family or have families been abolished, how does he control the ship, is he familiar with alien life, can you safely breathe alien atmosphere or had you better worry about plagues, how does he eat on board ship, how smart is the computer . . . yes. Know way, way too much. I'm not saying tell us --! But if you know that situation inside and out, you'll be able to drop a few details that will convince us it's a real world.

I would like it better if you put us deeply in "his" (who's "he," anyway? give us a name!) POV. We know he's enchanged with a planet view (although I'd think it would get dull after the first few hours), but how does he feel about the collision? Afraid? Angry? Blase?

If my starship collided with a satellite, I think being knocked unconscious would be the least of my worries. The explosive decompression would be a lot more serious. So woudl the cracks in the heat shielding, if I was entering the atmosphere. I think if the collision is that severe on me, I'll wake up dead, floating in vacuum.

I think if he can't control the ship, he'll be dead before he hits the ground -- unless he's got Star Trek's inertial dampers. Since he was under the liquid one second after he first saw it, he must be moving at a tremendous clip. He's not just dead; nobody will be able to find body parts. They burned up in the explosion.

So I think you'll need a less thrilling way to get to the planet's surface. A controlled entry with a damaged ship should be terrifying enough. Anybody see "Space Camp"?

[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited June 24, 2006).]


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EvoL
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Thanks for all the advice. But again, this is "soft" sci-fi, I really didn't think it would be necessary to bog the reader down with too much detail about the ship and how it could sustain atmospheric entry and yet still need a parachute, at least not in the main sequence. Besides, I want it to be comedic to an extent.

The point of the opening sequence is to maroon Methris on this planet, plain and simple. Once there, he can figure out his situation, explain his ship perhaps, and develop more as a character, but I thought that a frantic space ship crash would be, by itself, good enough for the opening sequence. Then again, y'all are the readers, so if you think so...

hoptoad: Actually... there is more wisdom in that statement than you know.


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HSO
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Well, even if "soft" SF, the science--or known natural laws of cause and effect--should be reasonably believable. If it isn't, then we're going to need a fairly obvious clue why. Nevertheless, everything you have in the intro can work if perhaps only presented differently. And if you're going for comedic value, then consider being deliberately over-the-top with it. In other words, don't hold anything back and tell it like it really is...
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wbriggs
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I'm not suggesting you have to put in all the detail on the ship, but that if you're going to talk about it, it shoudl be credible.

Suggestion: if you're not interested in the entry, why not skip it? You can start with "MC, marooned on the planet Methris by a ship malfunction..." Starting with the entry suggests you're interested in it, which is a clue to me it's going to be hard SF or space opera.

[This message has been edited by wbriggs (edited June 24, 2006).]


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EvoL
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Okay, after considering the advice and critiques I received, I revised the opening sequence. More advice and criticism is welcome and greatly appreciated.

------------------------------

The serene, blue and green planet outside the window enchanted Methris. He couldn't take his eyes off it. His pre-occupation with it ended abruptly when his ship collided with a satellite orbiting the planet. The strange alien symbol on the satellite, "MTV", flashed across his eyes before he was knocked unconscious by the collision.

When he regained consciousness, Methris was hurtling toward the surface of the planet. If his ship hadn't been made of a nearly indestructible alloy, there was no way he would have survived the collision, much less the atmospheric entry. As it was, the ship was completely out of control and going way too fast to survive a crash. He frantically pulled up on the controls, hoping to prepare for a crash landing or at least slow it down
------------------------------

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited June 25, 2006).]


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EvoL
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When I've written enough to be considered a chapter, I'll email it to whoever wants to read more. Just say so and I'll be sure to send it to you as soon as I have it written.

[This message has been edited by EvoL (edited June 24, 2006).]


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oliverhouse
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I have a nit that kills this opening for me:

quote:
The strange alien symbol on the satellite, "MTV",

If it were really a strange alien symbol, the narrator wouldn't know it said "MTV"; and if the narrator knew it was "MTV", then saying "strange alien symbol" doesn't really sound right coming from the narrator. You've created a tight little POV conundrum.

Your POV penetration is very slight, almost omniscient, so maybe you could say something like,

quote:
He couldn't read the letters on the satellite -- "MTV" -- but they were stamped on his mind like some alien symbol just before he was knocked unconscious by the collision.

Regards,
Oliver


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Ellepepper
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The serene, blue and green planet below Methris enchanted him. (Mithris is the person) Maybe make him the subject Mithris was enchanted by....

He couldn't take his eyes off it. His pre-occupation with it ended abruptly when his ship collided with a satellite orbiting the planet. The strange alien symbol on the satellite, "MTV", flashed across his eyes before he was knocked unconscious by the collision.(Again, your wording is clunky, watch how many times you use it. *Strange Alien* is redundant. either or works fine. Also, being that he's an alien how can he read it to know what it says?

When he regained consciousness, Methris was hurtling toward the *surface* of the *planet* in his burning ship. As the *surface* of the *planet* loomed ever closer, he slammed his hand down on the automatic parachute button.(Couldn't you think of a classier name?)
It didn't work. His ship shot through a white puffy cloud and continued it's(Wrong form) insane downward spiral.

He reached up to pull the lever for the manual parachute deploy and was immediately thrust back into his seat. The next (Thrust doesn't work as welll as thrown might. Thrust implies forward motion, while fall or push implies back. I think, if you tighten it up it mighyt(Spell) work.


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