Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Beginning 759

Even in space, some neighbourhoods are better than others.

A neighbourhood, called a drift because, well, it drifts in space, might appear anywhere a stable wormhole is found. The stream of guaranteed interstellar traffic brings out innkeepers, traders, quantum-drive mechanics and the usual hangers-on at any port town: smugglers, gamblers, good-time girls. Agglomerate Drifts are the flotsam of the galaxy in both building materials and population, aggregating wherever there’s a potential profit and eaten away over time by corruption, meteorites and solar storms. Conglomerate drifts, on the other hand, are created by mega-corps as tidy flotillas of model ships, not all the same model but with every line and sail – and citizen – purpose-built for the locale.

Working security on a Conglomerate-built drift is like being a traffic warden in any gated community: you spend your days petting the dogs and smiling at the nice ladies (Pyretia has some very nice ladies). So it was unusual to hear one morning of a body bobbing against a tony porthole high up on Canton C-7. A human body, not some stray hunk of celestial rock from the asteroid belt.

See that's the other thing with working security. A rent-a-cop's just one step up from janitor, and it's left to me to keep the place looking neat and dispose of the garbage.

* * *

"How're you doing, Mrs. Munkin?" She's a particularly nice resident of the drift, and not too stuck up to shoot the proverbial with the staff. Especially since her husband left her. Security gets to know these things.

"Same old, same old," she told me and smiled those pearly whites of hers.

"Hey little fella," I said, kneeling down to pat her little terrier. "I got something here for you..."

"Oh my, wherever did you get that? You're always so nice to my little Rocky," she said. "Not like..."

"No worries, Mrs. M. I love this little fella." And if all goes according to plan, Rocky won't be the only one getting a big, meaty bone today...


Opening: Jeb.....Continuation: Anon.

18 comments:

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:


Helen v.3000 had a face that could launch a thousand flotillas of model ships, and the motto of Mega-Corp Conglomerates was "Nothing wasted."

The non-cephalic portion of Helen clunked heavily against the porthole again. Even in space, some bodies are better than others.

--Ellie

Evil Editor said...

Start with paragraph 3. We'll get what a drift is from the comparison to a gated community. We'll get it's in space from the last sentence. Anything else in paragraph 2 that we need to know can either be fed to us in small bites as the story progresses, or can come in one infodump after we're hooked.

fairyhedgehog said...

I love science fiction and this sounds really promising.

I liked the first line and couldn't see why EE said it had to go but then I realised that if you lose the second paragraph, which really is slowing things up a lot, then the story reads better starting at paragraph three. We might not know what a drift is but we'll be interested in finding out.

It sounds like an interesting story.

Anonymous said...

Loved it - what Evil says. Loved the continuation. Grand. Bibi

iago said...

Start at para 3 is perfect advice, and makes a good opening.

Is there such a thing as a "tony porthole" or should that read "tiny"?

150 said...

I agree with EE and the hedgehog. You don't need the infodump right there, but I'd totally keep reading.

vkw said...

Start with P. 3 - I also didn't like

"It was unusual to hear one morning"

Perhaps something along the lines,

So it was unusual to be called to Canton C-7 where a body was bobbing outside the porthole.

I just think something a bit more specific will be a better hook.

This seems a bit interesting as well and I don't like science fiction much.

I liked the voice as well.

vkw

_*rachel*_ said...

This is exposition I'm interested in reading, but it might be better to slip it in later, after we've got the promise of a dead body floating around this nice community.

This is one, though, that I'd pick off the library shelves based on the first page and maybe the back cover.

Phoenix said...

What they said.

Info dump later (and maybe delete the parenthetical bit -- see how it slows things down), intrigue me now.

And I'm intrigued. Nice job, Jeb!

Iago, I bet it is "tony" -- it goes with the "gated community" comparison.

Jeb said...

Thanks for the positive feedback. I was wavering about moving that expository second paragraph anyway. Let's see what the first 180 words would look like starting from paragraph 3:

---

Working security on a Conglomerate-built drift is like being a traffic warden in any gated community: you spend your days petting the dogs and smiling at the nice ladies (Pyretia has some very nice ladies). So it was unusual to hear one morning of a body bobbing against a tony porthole high up on Canton C-7. A human body, not some stray hunk of celestial rock from the asteroid belt.

From the complaint record, the dome-owner objected less to the body proper than to its blocking his view of the volcanic light-show in the asteroid belt. With no transports scheduled on this side of the drift for another 18 hours, there wasn’t even an eddy to shift the stiff away from his dining room window.

So there I was, only one cup of java into my daily routine, and instead of strolling the promenade smiling at the shoppers, I was snapping the helmet tabs on a T27 exo-suit, preparatory to leaving the security – and gravity – of Pyretia for the cold void beyond the airlock.

---

Doesn't have as much punch for me as stopping with the body. Suggestions?

Evil Editor said...

What's your point? It's not like your novel/story stops with the body. It's not like you must end after three paragraphs, and you have to choose which three. Now it's paragraph 1 that has the punch with the body. I like these three paragraphs more than the original three. The info-dump paragraph of the original didn't have the voice that's in this version.

If you want to get to the body a little later, tack something onto:

you spend your days petting the dogs and smiling at the nice ladies (Pyretia has some very nice ladies)

that tells how you spend your nights. For instance:

and your nights sitting in the gatehouse reading Novel Deviations over and over and over until you start to wonder how it's possible that you never seem to get sick of it.

Dave F. said...

I like EE"s advice. the day and night element sounds great if you have the details to fill it out.

I see part of your problem is using the word "So" to begin a sentence twice in three paragraphs.

And then there is my own pet peeve against the word "was".
"So it was unusual to hear"
"With no transports scheduled, there wasn’t even an eddy"
"So there I was"
"I was snapping"


The was-ness of those portions hurts the narrative. "Was" sucks out the action. You need some variation. you need to tweak your "to be." (in a completely non-sexual way)

These three paragraphs are a nice opening. It's enough to catch the reader and still give them a feel of the narrator and the story.

Jeb said...

Heh. First thing that comes to mind is "...and your nights the other way around."

fairyhedgehog said...

Oh, EE, you're on form!

Starting here makes much more sense. It's easy to get drawn in and the details about being in space fall naturally into place without being laboured. It's got a nice tone to it - I laughed at the dome owner caring mostly about his view being blocked.

Bernita said...

Punch first, apologize later.
This is very good.

150 said...

First thing that comes to mind is "...and your nights the other way around."

*dies laughing*

batgirl said...

Nice engaging voice that drew me in - but absolutely, don't drift just because you're writing about a drift.
One minor thing - maybe the mundane comparisons could be thinned out a trifle? I was feeling a bit poked, very near to muttering, yeah, yeah, I get it, this is Mall Cop in SPAAAAACE.

Anonymous said...

Love the alternate beginning. In the original, paragraph 2 bored and confused me. So much, that I skimmed para 3. But the one you posted here in the comments is great! I'm not a big fan of sci-fi, but I'd keep reading this. Nice work.

I think having the body in the first paragraph is even better, no? You can hook people right away.