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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Vigilante Zero

   
Author Topic: Vigilante Zero
wetwilly
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Short story, sci-fi, 1/2 cyberpunk and 1/2 superhero.


I dangled the device I had cut out of the dead girl's head in front of Doctor Sergio's face. His eyes crossed as he tried to focus on the glass orbs and copper wires nearly touching his nose.

“What is it, Sofia?” he asked.

“That's what I was about to ask you,” I said.

Doctor Sergio laid it out on his stainless steel operating table and bent over to examine it. His surgical room was the kitchen of what had once been a small Chinese restaurant, and his operating table was the old food prep counter. The yellow-stained plastic bins around us, which had presumably once held food and kitchen utensils, now held scalpels and bone saws and other shiny tools of his trade. Like everyone else here in The Blight, Doctor Sergio was making do with what others before him had abandoned.

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Grumpy old guy
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This just doesn't work for me as an opening to get me to read more. What dead girl, and why would Dr Sergio know what the device is or does? Yes, you've got me asking questions, but I think they're the wrong sorts of questions this early in the story.

Personally, I'd lead with a description of the room and then Dr Sergio's cross-eyed look --

. . .as I dangled the device close to the tip of his nose.

"What is it?" he asked.

"That's what I wanted to ask you," I said as I leaned forward. "I took it out of the head of . . ." (insert relevant information to pique my interest and explain why Dr Sergio would know anything about the device)

As a reader, I am far happier knowing where I am (location/milieu) before being asked to wonder what's happening.

Phil.

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extrinsic
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Emotional equilibrium upset begun from the routine interrupted by Sophia's visitation to Dr. Sergio with a cyber device, presumably, inferrably a pair of electronically enhanced eyes.

I second Grumpy old guy's thought that the setting development up front might be a stronger start. The setting details are on the bland side, though. The narative voice is first person, which its strength is expressing subjective attitude. In this case, Sophia's attitude about the institutional kitchen turned into a surgery is missing and if given would perk up the setting description.

Same with the remainder of the fragment, missing attitude context and texture, what Sophia thinks of the device, Dr. Sergio, and the situation.

By the way, "orb" is at the top of a short list of words the science fiction community generally disdains: obsidian as a descriptor, simile, or metaphor and stygian in any use the other two terms. I easily infer the "orbs" are electronic eyeballs; I'd expect Sophia and Dr. Sergio would know too.

This is a case of artless withholding instead of artful implication. Neither character need know immediately exactly what type of electronic eyeballs, like of an unknown type, special augmentations, outdated though with extraordinary properties, late-breaking technology not yet available on the marketplace, whatever, then be suprised when Dr. Sergio partly uncovers that they are special, and later how special is revealed.

One grammar fault: "His eyes crossed as he tried to focus . . ." "As" is a correlation conjunction. If used as a time correlation, "as" correlates ideas temporally and logically, not contemporaneous actions. While or when are the time conjunctions in that case. The fault is that the actions are not contemporaneous anyway and causally inverted in the first place. Dr. Sergio's attempt to focus close up, first, causes his eyes to cross, second, sequential actions.

Though not a grammar fault per se, generally, the title doctor is abbreviated in most writing, except when it stands by itself or as a direct address. Examples, //"What is this little pretty now?" Dr. Sergio said.// and //"Doctor, what is this?" Sophia said.//

I think this start has the several essential introduction features needed for a strong start: event, setting, character; though a little short on antagonism event. The implication is a cyber device, a cyber surgery clinic, a cyber surgery doctor, and a potential either cyber surgery patient or cyber device scavenger. I'd like the patient or scavenger or both more strongly and clearly developed and a complication for Sophia hinted at as well. At least a want; that is, she wants the device installed, though the doctor warns her of potential problems that foreshadow the action to come, and raise my curiosity and empathy for her.

The title is intriguing. However, I don't see how it connects to the fragment. Strong rough draft start, though.

[ June 04, 2014, 02:59 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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wetwilly
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"The title is intriguing. However, I don't see how it connects to the fragment."

Thanks. This is probably the first time I've ever come up with a title that I actually like. Its meaning does become apparent by the end of the story. Actually, pretty early on in the story.

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jerich100
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I like it. I can find minute problems, but they're just nit-picky.

For example, I like the first line except for the last four words, "nearly touching his nose." By the time I get to those words I already have the whole scene pictured. When I read those last words it's a repeat to me. I like it better without them.

I might change the third paragraph to read,

"That's what I'm asking you," I said.

It's more direct that way.

You can streamline, "The yellow-stained plastic bins around us, which had presumably once..." to "The yellow-stained plastic bins around us had presumably once..." It's slicker that way.

These are tiny things. I say, keep going!

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Brooke18
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I'm intrigued by Sofia, particularly if she cut a device out of a person's head. She sounds cool. As for Doctor Sergio, he's an interesting character. He seems to be one of those good-guy doctors with a slightly twisted side. That's just my take on it!
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Kent_A_Jones
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Sofia (Title character?) is a sleuth who doesn't mind fishing for evidence in a dead girl's head. She isn't like Batman, who would analyze the evidence himself, but relies on Dr. Sergio, in this instance at least, for analysis. The fact that the dead girl is unnamed, The Blight, and Dr. Sergio's surgical tools kept the way they are peg this gem in a dystopian future for me.

I find the dialog a bit used. I don't know if this is necessarily a bad thing. What is missing is any physical description of Dr. Sergio.

Nothing beats First Person for immediacy, but if Sofia is the title character, it will be tough not having a description of her. It's sometimes awkward for a character such as this to describe themselves. The thing is, if I get to read super hero stuff, I want characters to burst off the page in living color.

The hook of finding out what the balls and wire are isn't quite enough for me, especially because the setting feels like one where life is cheap. I think Sofia might need more of an emotional need for information that Sergio can supply so I know she is completely invested in the outcome, rather than just satisfying a mental itch.

>which had presumably once held food and kitchen utensils
This aside slows the narrative. How would Sofia describe the bins? Would she really use a word like presumably?

Needs a bit more description, but what's here so far seems reason enough to read on.
Good Luck,
Kent

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babooher
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I think the engine on this one is running, but it isn't running pretty. I like the energy, but I'd recommend editing.

I initially thought the narrator was male, probably a personal bias, but I'm throwing it out there. This made me pause at "What is it, Sophia?" because I at first thought that the doctor had posited what the thing might be as in the device was the dead girl.

If it is ready, and you need readers, I'd be happy to look it over.

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wetwilly
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Babooher, I'll send it over. My current draft is a bit revised from what I have posted here.
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Mark
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I'm asking myself why there is no revulsion or horror contained in the first person narrative. Apparently the device was cut from the dead girl's head with as much feeling as I'd have removing a letter from my mailbox.

Mark

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