Monday, November 20, 2006

New Beginning 161


The bar of soap killed Marlowe. "Nothing personal," it bubbled to him as the needle retracted, "just business." Not that Marlowe would remember the one-way exchange; he was dead. The soap loitered just long enough to be sure of Marlowe's passing, then dissolved down the drain to make good its escape.

The PDI, or Personal Digital Implant, located just below Marlowe's left ear closed the calendar and phone book programs as soon as it detected the onset of brain death. In their place it launched the resurrection app. This triggered the id box in the floor safe under Marlowe's bed, which hummed to life. As tiny nano probes set about repairing the damage to his body caused by the injected toxin, the backup of Marlowe's memories and personality stirred within the electronic confines of the id box.

The thumping pain told Marlowe his body was once again alive. Maybe not ready to sit up and take nourishment yet, but alive. He ran through the events of the previous twelve hours. Body repair, check. Brain backup, check. Resurrection, check. Soap death, check.

He felt like death warmed over, but he knew it was the price you paid for wasting resources in the twenty-second century. The DWP wasn't kidding about that one shower a day thing.


Opening: Anonymous....Continuation: Kate Thornton

24 comments:

AttemptingFiction said...

This is very imaginative, and the writing is good. I like the bar- of-soap-as-assasin, but the needle is too far-fetched. How about acid in the soap bubbles?

Also, personifying the soap (giving it dialogue) is going too far.

The situation is vivid and immediate, and the writing is better than most.

writtenwyrdd said...

I think the concept of talking soap is intriguing, but don't think it quite works yet. If you keep it like this it sounds like Robert Ranking humor, and that may not be what you intended.

I actually liked this, so don't think I want you to change the voice; but be aware that you are beginning with what seems to be humor to me; so you are going to have to keep it up. Can you do that? Does the plot continue with killer soap bars and the like?

If not, I would suggest you change the beginning so it remains in the same tone/voice as the rest of the book demands.

Very intriguing.

Nut said...

So that's how the poor poet died... Wiped out, before his time, by an evil bar of soap, somewhere in the distant future... That explains all the crazy stuff the dude wrote...

But where is the severed right ear? Nose? Toe?

eunuch said...

I knew there was something bad about soap. Tha's why I never use it.

P.S. There was no fiber in the 24 hour grocery. I'd go to a library, but, alas, it is closed.

nut said...

Now look what y'all started! We're gonna have hundreds of evil unwashed authors roaming around...

On the bright side, this might make it easier to recognize fellow minions... That and the horns.

Anonymous said...

I liked the idea of talking soap. That alone made me want to read on to see why it's talking and how. The rest was also intrigueing. Good job, author!

~Nancy said...

Hmmm...is this what happened to the serial scrubber? ;-)

This cracked me up. Hopefully, the author can sustain this wacky weirdness beyond the 150 or so words here.

~JerseyGirl

Rei said...

Yeah, I had to read the first paragraph several times to make sure I was understanding it right. I then had to re-read the second paragraph twice as many times to figure out what was going on with the "id box".

Clever, imaginative, but if I keep having to re-read paragraphs to understand them, it will get tedious pretty quickly.

Grammar: Comma in 2nd para after "ear". Comma after "place".

Recommendations: I'd remove "caused by the injected toxin" -- I think it confuses the sentence. I'd also change "stirred within the electronic confines of the id box" to something that more clearly states that the id box is restoring his memories. The first sentence of this paragraph -- I think you're spending too long talking about the PDI without explaining what it is. Call it a PDI or a Personal Digital Implant, but no need to tell us both, and then tell us where it is, but not tell us *what* it is. After witnessing a Soap Assassin, the concept that this PDI is yet another sentient being that has a computer with calendar and phone book programs for its own use isn't far fetched. It'd be nice if you could make it clear that this is something that Marlowe had (as opposed to something injected by the soap) that interfaces with his brain. But don't get wordy. :) Even changing the word "the" before calendar to "his neural" would help.

Anonymous said...

Finally, a soap more dangerous than Lava in the hands of a pubescent male.

Very original. I would read more.
-JTC

bunnygirl said...

The talking soap and the needle confused the heck out of me. But the writing is solid and the next paragraph oriented me immediately, so if this were the sort of read I were in the mood for, I could keep going for a bit and see where this leads.

Another great continuation, Kate!

And thank goodness I recently switched to organic soaps! Or maybe I should go back to shower gels?

braun said...

I actually think the opening is perfectly clear, just as long as you understand that we're talking spec fic here.

Good job author. I like it and would read more. Since the protag's name is Marlowe, please tell me that this is a cyberpunk/hardboiled detective novel. There can never be enough of those.

kiss-me-at-the-gate said...

Woah.

You have my attention, author.

I have the vaguely disturbing feeling we're heading for a less-than-satisfying revelation next... please don't let that happen! I really want to like this, and enjoyed this first part very much.

Good job!

kis said...

I had to read this one twice, too, rei, but like any sci-fi/fantasy, the more you read of it, the easier it is to understand. If we had a jacket blurb to go by, there would have been minimal confusion. The name Marlowe doesn't seem consistent with androids, and that kinda threw me. Like I was reading something set in the late 1800s. Hey, is this that Clockwork Detectives thing?

whitemouse said...

As another reader of spec fic, I'll also say that it was clear to me what was going on.

The only thing I felt confused about was why the main character is named Marlowe. That seems too obvious a nod to Philip, although I can see it working brilliantly depending on how the story develops. For example, if Marlowe is an android detective, then that choice of name would be just spiffy. :-)

I liked this beginning, the writing was good, it got my attention and I would keep reading.

I did wonder what the point of killing the character off was, if he was only going to come back to life again, but depending on how the story develops next, that might be the perfect way to start. If Marlowe wakes up and decides he's got a would-be killer to find now, or that he's lost important memories because of the attack, or that someone has rifled his apartment while he was being revived, then we're cookin' with plot-gasoline and I'm happy.

If the soap-attack is just a flashy opening designed to grab attention, however, better to skip it, at least in my (bloated, egomaniacal) opinion. Earlier this year, I read "Rats and Gargoyles" by Mary Gentle, which had about five separate instances of !!ZOMG!AWESOME!! in the first ten pages, none of which wound up having anything to do with the plot of the book. I was so annoyed that I've been avoiding her books ever since. grumbleGRUMBLEgrumble...

McKoala said...

I liked the soap.

Not sure what's going on; but I'd probably keep reading to find out.

Nice continuation too!

More soap!

Leah said...

Loved it. Absolutely loved it. I got a real sense of voice, and it is something that, as a scifi reader, I would definitely pick up. If you haven't sent in a query letter, I hope you do soon. I want to know where this is going.

Philip Marlowe?
The first one to occur to me was Kit (Christopher Marlowe of Faust fame).

Well done author.

Dave said...

The soap apologizes for murdering him. That's so much exciting and so intriguing. It puts the reader on alert. It demands that the reader pay attention. This isn't just Captain Kirk whizzing through the future; this is something else.

As much as I like the first paragraph, the second is a prime example of too many words. We don’t need to know all that detail yet, we only need to know that he can be “brought back to life” – resurrected – in a word.

Put my version of your second paragraph in your words and don’t write any more than 60 words. You can do this and you can make it work. Hell, maybe you can make it 40 words. That length will make it tighter, leaner and more engaging. After that first paragraph, I know you can do this.

“The Digital Implant behind his left ear sensed his death, closed the calendar, closed the phone book, and launched the resurrection app. Nanoprobes began to repair the toxin’s damage to his physical body. Marlowe's memories and personality stirred within the electronic confines of the id box.”

Bernita said...

Beginning echoed "Marley was dead" for me.
Sentient soap is a bit of a fetch, especially when it dissolves at will after being solid enough to disguise a needle.
It is intriguing though.

Eleanor said...

I like it! Murderous AI hiding in the bathroom disguised as a bar of soap, and then it "dissolved down the drain" - complete with needle? How does a needle dissolve? Ah well, I'm going to trust that either it's a special soluble needle, or you'll explain it later. It doesn't spoil my read.

The first sentence of the second paragraph is a bit full of information. I think we'd get the similarity to a PDA from "closed the calendar and phone book programs" and you could get away with just calling it an implant. Then you could introduce the acronym and what it stands for later - maybe when Marlowe mentions it to someone? ("I'm really glad I got that PDI," he said, tapping his skull just behind his left ear. "It saved my life.")

The id box's location makes me wonder what would happen if Marlowe got killed while away from home. Also, it's pretty clear that the id box and resurrection app must be pretty unusual, or the bar of soap would guess he had them.

Very good! Keep up the good work.

pacatrue said...

I myself was confused by the whole first paragraph. How does a bar of soap talk? How does it hold stuff? How does it move? Now, I liked the idea of nasty killer soap pretty much with everyone else, but since I wasn't sure if I was supposed to imagine a mouth or hands or what, I was rather lost. Since soap doesn't have hands - in my limited brain - I imagined that it stuffed itself inside Marlowe's throat to do the deed. That meant I had no place for the needle in my imagining of the story.

I'm clearly in the minority, which is great for the author. Would it be possible to enhance the opening in such a way that it keeps all the readers here who loved it, while not losing the semi-sentient like myself? I am thinking of something along the lines of saying that the soap held the needle with its bubbly hands or that its lips frothed with each vowel? That of course is surely the incorrect way to imagine things, so insert the correct way. It will be just as fun and weird with more physical details to ground the clueless.

Also, regarding other comments here, it does look like the soap continues to be relevant as we currently have a query in queue called "Semi-Sentient Soap Scum on the Prowl."

idunno said...

This is the author - thanks very much for all the feedback, it's greatly appreciated. And yes, the soap is relevant to the main plot, and a query letter is indeed in the queue (as pacatrue has noted).

nut said...

idunno: This is a dangerous book. Imagine how many people will switch over to shower gel.

illiterate said...

I hear Cleopatra bathed in milk. Of course, I might be trippin'.

nut said...

You and your baths, illiterate.

(shakes head)

And they call me nuts...