L Tilton comments, over on locusmag.com, about a first paragraph appearing in analog:
suffers from the problem, common in this zine, of an opening in which the author tries to stuff as many extraneous details into a paragraph as possible:
Earth Unity Ambassador Chanda Kasmira received the first word of her latest problem while in her quarters studying the details of the evacuation plan for the planet Splendor. The holo that appeared before her desk was of her Military Liaison Trenton Bram aboard the starcraft Nivara II, orbiting Splendor. “We’ve got a civilian craft that just took orbit,” he told her. “And a man on board, Kelsey Solheim, is insisting upon coming down.”
I'm not a terribly big fan of the notion that it's the First Thirteen that you have to grab the editor with---whether it's true or not. Seems to me, a good short-and-stubby dynamic opening sentence or two should be enough to carry you through to the next sentence or two. These ones do seem, well, a bit much, overloaded and awkward.
This one, however, got through the mill. An editor bought it. I don't know the writer (does anybody?) It is from the issue featuring our own Brad R. Torgerson with the cover story, which has much better opening sentences.
(By the way, I never post anything over there, and hardly ever comment, 'cause I almost never have anything of my own to put up. Wouldn't be fair to cut people down without offering something for them to cut down in return. I look at 'em from time to time, though...)
Oliver, first of all you should probably get Kathleen to move this to Open Discussions about Writing if you want any chance of a real discussion about this first thirteen.
Secondly, I'm not sure which story this is from - I'm guessing Brad's "Ray of Light", but you should make that clear in order to give proper credit to what you have quoted.
Thirdly, the first thirteen is only one way of getting past slush readers, which is one of the primary purposes of the technique. Another way of getting past slush readers is by having a recognizable name (usually through previous professional publications like Brad has).
Lastly, Analog is typically hard science fiction (alien planets, spaceships, techno-babble, etc.). This opening would probably be more appealing to that magazine than something like Fantasy and Science Fiction, which tends to have softer, more character driven stories.