Thomas Malthus Jefferson was awake before he ever knew he wasn't.
Only a moment ago he had climbed into the abeyance crèche and the plastic canopy lowered over him, sealing him inside like a mummy to be preserved within its sarcophagus. Promptly, the autonurse administered his dose and reality glitched. He was thrust forward in time, shunted ahead by an interval of which it was beyond the purview of his consciousness to fathom.
A gray aerosol--the stimulants used to rouse him from hypertrance--now churned around him, where a moment ago none had been. There was a breathy hiss. The canopy reopened and the vapors shuddered, fleeing, to dissipate in the fluorescent glow of the stasis chamber.
------------------------ Is this any better? Revise:
Thomas Malthus Jefferon climbed into the abeyance crèche and the plastic canopy lowered over him. The autonurse promptly administered his dose; then reality glitched and he was awake before he ever knew he wasn't.
The stimulants used to rouse him from hypertrance comprised a gray aerosol that churned around him where only moments before none had been. The vapor appeared spontaneously, as if manifesting from a gap in time of which it was beyond the purview of his consciousness to fathom.
A breathy hiss: the canopy opening. The vapors shuddered. They convulsed with the barometric shift, then fled in tattered wisps to dissipate in the fluorescent glow of the stasis chamber.
He lay for several minutes, unable to move; for the pain of revival that surged through his person and the shock of its immediacy to his psyche were debilitating. Like when the circulation is cut off to an extremity and the feeling suddenly returns with the sensation of needles. Yet this afflicted his entire body, which had lain inert as a corpse for what had surely been many decades.
You have some good imagery going on there. The sci-fi element is very noticeable. I would consider the possibility as Denevius said that maybe the story is starting late though. Its just that I feel a little discombobulated in it as if its just a bit out of order.
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I had a hard time getting past the first sentence because it contradicts itself. Is Thomas Malthus Jefferson awake or not? (OK, OK.. I get it now... you are going for contrast and the apparent paradox. Still, it did not hook me. It felt rather cutesy clever as I read it, and it turned me off.)
Immediately you backtrack to a moment before. Then thrust the story forward again in time. All within the first few sentences. I find when an author pushes and pulls the reader forward, then backtracks, then forward, etc. it makes it difficult for the reader to understand the cause-effect stream of the story, and therefore lose the continuity of the story. For this to be happening at the beginning of the story is not promising to me as the reader. Consider keeping the time-travel as part of the story itself, not in the writing itself.
In my opinion, some of the wording is overwrought. And as a result pushes me, as the reader, away. It seems you are explaining a fantastical world relating to time travel, one that is foreign to us everyday humans. But the elaborate wording has me confused so far. Consider using more $1 words and fewer $20 ones, particularly when describing a foreign world. How can a reader relate to a foreign world with overwrought language and phrasing?
Nonetheless, I would be interested to read a little more, because the world you are suggesting is intriguing enough to want to know more.
I did like your use of "shunted" as a verb. Evocative. Consider honing in on those key words you've used that are important to retain, and try simpler words for others that are put in there just for show... which is the impression i got with some of them.
BTW... is this the Thomas Jefferson?
Overall, intriguing possibilities.. Thank you for sharing.
P.S. The above critique was based on your first take only. However, after reading the second take, I still feel the language is overwrought. I've read the passages a few times, and don't really know what they mean or what is wanting to be communicated in certain spots. Consider asking yourself as a writer: Am I wanting to show off with elaborate language? Or am I wanting to communicate a story clearly to the reader? -- Cheers, MiggsEye
I really like the first take. The opening line is terrific, a huge hook, both the name, and the mystery of the why he didn't know the length of sleep act to draw me in.
I also love some of the description of that take.
The second attempt lost the pacing of the first, by including so many long sentences. As MiggsEye said, a little overwrought. Compare
"The vapors shuddered, fleeing, to dissipate in the fluorescent glow of the stasis chamber"
"The vapors shuddered. They convulsed with the barometric shift, then fled in tattered wisps to dissipate in the fluorescent glow of the stasis chamber."
The first is beautifully tight. The second feels it should end after "wisps", even though most of what comes after is the same as in the first. That is because the focus of the second sentence shifts around, from the nature of the vapors to the location of their journey. In the first, it is primarily about their location.
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