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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Persephone

   
Author Topic: Persephone
Reticulum
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Prologue:

Silently drifting toward a distant spec, the multicolored lights of PSO001 dotted about its smooth metallic surface, dim in the light of a billion stars.

Behind PSO001 and across the chasm of space and time waited a world previously unaware of its existence. Ahead was its destination; a planet upon which the crisp and clean air of Human habitation had remained in seeming perpetuity for hundreds of years.

The skin of PSO001 was scarcely blemished by the indifferent collisions of cosmic rocks. It's journey was a relatively short one, and in less than two months, PSO001 would reach Persephone.

With mindful calculation, PSO001 hurled towards oblivion.


Persephone basics:

Background:
Persephone: Goddess of harvest, wife of Hades, lord of the underworld.
Hephaestus: God of metal working.

In the early 6,000s, two warring factions of Humans fought for control of the planet Hephaestus. Over time, these factions built and programmed robots to fight their war; eventually all aspects of the war (resource gathering, tactics, etc) came to be automated. After some 200 years, Human life was destroyed on Hephaestus, leaving the robots slaves to their programming to keep fighting their Human war. The rest of Humanity in the Galaxy ignored Hephaestus, assuming the Robots would destroy each other. The Robots' AI continually developed in this time, developing into full-fledged sentience and civilization. Amid being mined and warred on for over 3,000 years, Hephaestus became a desert, leaving the Robots with no resources to fight the war their programming demanded.

Persephone is a resource rich farm world, and the closest world to Hephaestus.

The kicker: the Robots have no conception, nor concern of their origin. They do not what Humans are. Upon discovery, the Robots refer to Humans as "Soft Machines".

Rip it to shreds, give all and any feedback you think will be helpful.
If you'd like to read more, just ask.

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Reticulum
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Here's the opening of chapter one:

Pearl on the Blue

Within the light hum of prairie grass rippling beneath the wind, Scott gazed out at the blackening horizon of ceaseless pasture. Directly behind him churned wild Violet Bay, named for the foliage's abundance on Persephone's wet coastal plains. As nightfall reached it's twilight zenith, Scott decided he would head down to the bar along the shoreline, Pearl on the Blue.

Underneath the temporary overcast of ripening spring, Scott turned from the pasture to the crescent shaped bay behind him. He moved his hands from behind his back and crossed his arms, weighing the omens of unfair seas. Scott furrowed his eyebrows, and began to think; now was time for a drink.

...

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arriki
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A distant "spec" you mean, "speck" or spec -ulation or what? very unclear - and nothing after that is really clear -- to me -- maybe it is to other people

there seems to be no verb in all of that first sentence -- which doesn't work -- for me -- in this instance

Behind PSO001 (comma) and across the chasm of space and time (comma) waited a world previously unaware of its existence. The following sentence is very confusing -- to me. In fact, this entire opening is very confusing.

The "history" is too confusing.

And the opening of chapter one seems totally disconnected from the prologue.

I find "within" the light hum of grass in the wind not understandable.
Blackening horizon of ceaseless prairie -- ditto

What is a "twilight zenith" -- ??
what is "Underneath the temporary overcast of ripening spring" mean? That it is overcast...and? ripening spring -- doesn't work -- for me

I'm sorry but too much of this opening does not work for me

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JSchuler
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The prologue is a bit of a mess. For a start, I recommend finding some alternate terms for PSO001 (and maybe spell it PSO-001, to give a separation between the similar-looking O and 0). Read out loud, I stumble over an eight-syllable name five times in just the opening. I eventually settled on shortening the pronunciation to "Son."

Beyond that, I think you're trying too hard to come up with some poetic imagery, and it's getting in the way. Examples:
quote:
Behind PSO001 and across the chasm of space and time waited a world previously unaware of its existence.
This is confusing. When I went back to read your description of the story, it was even more confusing. The planet this... probe?... left apparently didn't even know the probe existed until the probe managed to put a few light years between it and its origin (assumption as I think the mean distance between neighboring stars in our area of the galaxy is something like 7 or 8 ly, but maybe these stars are in a dense cluster, so it could be half a light year), and now that world is waiting? For the probe it just learned about that's leaving it behind? It's a real head-scratcher.
quote:
Ahead was its destination; a planet upon which the crisp and clean air of Human habitation had remained in seeming perpetuity for hundreds of years.
OK, "crisp and clean air of Human habitation" is very odd. "Crisp and clean" are not things that I associate with Human habitation, and the adjectives as applied to air are relative. A species that breathes methane, for example, is not going to describe our nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen mix as any of those. A robotic race that runs off of radioisotopes won't care about atmosphere so long as it isn't corrosive (so they'd rather the oxygen not be there, but unless they're made out of something like pure lithium, wouldn't mind a visit).

Plus, your background information is telling me that these machines don't know about humans yet. So why have they had the chance to associate "crisp and clean" with human habitation at all?
quote:
With mindful calculation, PSO001 hurled towards oblivion.
This is where I'd start your prologue, if you insist on having a prologue. (There's a good case that they should be avoided whenever possible, but when it comes to writing, rules are made to be broken. There are some threads stashed around here that go into detail, I believe extrinsic gives a good presentation on the topic; find and read them and then make up your mind)

BUT, I have a suspicion you don't actually mean what this sentence is telling me, because it's saying that PSO001 knows it's on a kind of suicide mission. Is it? If it is, keep it. Otherwise, reconsider "oblivion."

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