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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Sci-fi WIP

   
Author Topic: Sci-fi WIP
Ethereon
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She floated head down in blue-green light, eyes closed, delicate mouth instinctively suckling at the growth medium that surrounded her. Wisps of honey-brown hair waved around her ears as she stretched tiny limbs then curled up, cuddling the latex umbilicus like a teddy bear.

“She’s perfect,” breathed the figure in front of the glass. He stood transfixed, speaking into his cell phone. “Perfect. But who would have guessed she’d get your beautiful hair?” He paused, thoughtful. “We’re going to have to dye it.”

“I thought some Chinese were born with brown hair?” said the voice on the line.

“Brown, yes. Brown like coffee with no cream. Here they’d probably call this blond.”

Not sure if this is the place to start this story. Also not sure if this is the voice/POV to write it in. Thoughts?

Revision:

quote:
She floated head down in blue-green light, eyes closed, delicate mouth instinctively suckling at the growth medium that surrounded her. Wisps of honey-brown hair waved around her ears as she stretched tiny limbs then curled up, cuddling the latex umbilicus like a teddy bear.

A man stood transfixed in front of the glass, speaking softly into his cell phone. “She’s perfect,” he whispered. “Perfect. But who would have guessed she’d get your beautiful hair?” He paused, biting his lip - a gesture that betrayed his anxiety. “We’re going to have to dye it black.”

“I thought some Chinese were born with brown hair?” said the voice on the line.

“Brown, yes. Brown like coffee with no cream. Here



More small revisions. Better or worse?

quote:
She floated head down in blue-green light, eyes closed, delicate mouth instinctively suckling at the growth solution that surrounded her. Wisps of honey-brown hair waved around her ears as she stretched tiny limbs then curled up, cuddling the latex umbilicus like a teddy bear.

A man stood transfixed in front of the glass, speaking softly into his cell phone. “She’s perfect,” he whispered. “Perfect. But who would have guessed she’d get your beautiful hair?” He paused, biting his lip - a habitual betrayal of anxiety. “We’re going to have to dye it black.”

“I thought some Chinese were born with brown hair?” said the voice on the line.

“Brown, yes. Brown like coffee with no cream. Here


[This message has been edited by Ethereon (edited August 25, 2010).]


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NoTimeToThink
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I like it. Voice is good.

Nit (could just be me): When you say she's in a growth medium, I assume something thick/viscous, and that seems at odds with the notion of wisps of hair waving - the fluid I envision would make that hair more stationary - appear frozen in time.

There doesn't seem to be any sense of foreboding or tension, so I'm assuming that the test tube aspect is normal in this society; at least legal. If not, you need to indicate it.

I would read a bit further to find out more...


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Brendan
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I can't tell from this 13 whether it is the wrong place - it certainly seems like a good place to start. You create a sense of foreboding, as if being Chinese is frowned upon. That is interesting tension.

The only real criticisms are the location of the jump in POV and the inconsistent level of intimacy of the POV. You start with an omni POV, like an artist painting a picture. That goes for a paragraph and a bit. It is the bit that causes the problem, i.e. the first sentence of the second paragraph. I am prepared to jump POV at the end of a paragraph, but never in the middle.

That first sentence of the second paragraph is risky, jumping to intimacy by using the word "breathed" as a saidism. And this risk has a real chance of paying off. But then it destroys the effect by using the very distant term "the figure". If you change it to something that gives some sense of identity to the person, a name, even as simple his gender, it would work better and be less distant. I'd even cut that into two sentences, so we can focus on who is the (new) key person of the story, before we learn his location (which is a more distant piece of information).


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Ethereon
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@NoTimeToThink: yeah, it is supposed to be a fluid that would make hair wave as the baby moves. I'll have to think how I could make that more clear, because I guess "growth medium" would make a lot of people think of something like agar.

@Brendan: I am trying to write this whole thing as omni POV, which I've never done, and I'm struggling to maintain it, even moreso past the 1st 13. Does the revision above make the POV more consistant? I'm not sure if withholding the identity of these characters at this point will serve the story in the long run or not. I may end up changing that.


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TaoArtGuy
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I think you have a nice start here. The one thing I would suggest is cutting the "a gesture that betrayed his anxiety" part. To my mind, biting his lip already implies the anxiety and the tag just breaks the flow you've established.
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bemused
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It is a slow opening, but the writing is clear and crisp and it is suggestive enough to keep me reading. There is a clear sense of a larger world. And there is some tension over the identity of the clone/artificial womb baby. I would read on to see if she is a baby/child/fully grown (the comments on her hair suggest she's probably not a newborn). And of course why the speaker thinks they will have to dye her hair to conform with the more usual Chinese appearance. As Brendan said, not knowing where the story goes it’s hard to say if it is the right place to start or not.

I can't decide how I feel about the line "cuddling the latex umbilicus like a teddy bear." My first reaction is that she would not cuddle anything like she would cuddle a teddy bear because she probably has never covered a teddy bear yet, so who’s to say how she would cuddle one (a convoluted concern to say the least). But my second thought is that it actually indicates how the viewer perceives her action, which lends a sense of paternal reaction and emotion to how he views her. Either way it is a nicely strange description for her interaction with the artificial cord. I guess it will hinge on how much pov penetration you want in your narration.


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PB&Jenny
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I don't know about anyone else but all four of my kids were born with very long hair. My two boys got their first haircuts at 3 weeks old! So I can see how hair might be able to float around in that thin medium of yours.
About the Omni POV, I think perhaps some more distancing from any of the characters might help the writing. Just my opinion.

PB


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Crank
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The foreboding I experienced came from how I allowed myself to get talked into thinking this was a story about human genetics manipulation; obviously, with such abilities, the hair color issue would have been solved long before this scene took place. So, with that off the table, the insistency of dying the newborn's hair black opened up (at least, in my mind) the possibility of this being a sociological constraints-esque story, which is more prone to generate a sense of foreboding in my mind than would advanced science.

Now, with this brewing in my thoughts, I’m wondering if I’m going to get both after all...! Will the growth chamber ultimately aid in a change in the newborn’s appearance, thus giving me a passage about why genetics manipulation is used in this particular society?

Of course, my conclusions might be going in the complete opposite direction of your story, but I would still turn the page just to find out.

My only nit: last sentence of the first paragraph read awkwardly to me.

S!
S!


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SavantIdiot
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I think it's good. I think you can cut some out even, make it move a little faster. The description of the hair, for instance. The color is covered in the phone conversation so the earlier bit is redundant. We form a clear image on our own with what's offered to us and a baby, even in utero, is always appealing.

And I liked the reference to the synthetic umbilical cord as a teddy bear.


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walexander
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The stories interesting and I would probably keep reading just to see where it was going.

My nits come in the form of questions -
1) Can you suckle fluid without having something to suck upon, because I thought of this as a physical action against a solid?
2) Medium - is this the right word for this kind of fluid? I've never imagined it used to describe a chemical or food?
3) Do you think perhaps you need to give us a clue to male/female on the other end of line just for clarity?

Two observations: the line where he's biting his lip - I do agree that you probably don't need to point out the anxiety, because biting lip says it all. - 'biting' has to do with that. 2) the line doesn't portray anxiety to me - you would think if he's biting his lip - it would be the thought of hair change that was first on his mind then some kind of statement of what a shame it will have to be changed, because how you have it set it sounds like he's admiring then says matter a fact. Which doesn't convey nervousness to me. But these are only small things.

Curious to see where its going.

W.


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skadder
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It's good--I like it.
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Ethereon
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Thanks for the comments folks. Made two small changes. Better or worse than previous?

@walexander: babies actually "practice" the suckling motion in utero even though there's nothing to suckle but amniotic fluid. Looks pretty cool on ultrasound.
I withheld the identity of the voice on the phone (including gender) on purpose... but I may change that depending on how the rest of the story develops.


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Twiggy
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I find this interesting and would read on.
I agree about the biting his lip/anxiety comments. Biting his lip, says it all.

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satate
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I like it, but I had a hard time understanding the first sentence. I couldn't get a visual with growth medium, it meant nothing to me. I thought everything else was great.
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PB&Jenny
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Liking your second revision. Feels better.
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