Author Topic: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap  (Read 1909 times)

Asmodemon

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March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« on: March 22, 2010, 09:40:13 PM »
For my submission Iím not doing the third chapter for the Citadel of Thorns this time, but a short story Iíve been working on instead. Itís science-fiction, which isnít my usual fare, nor is writing a short story format.

Though those factors did make it interesting to write it also makes me wonder how well it turned out.

lethalfalcon

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2010, 02:22:07 AM »
Alrighty, I guess I'll be first. I'll go out on a limb and say I thought it was decent, but (and you knew it was coming)...

The first thing that got to me was the very beginning. It just wasn't very gripping. This is a big problem for me as I suddenly start feeling like it's 10 times longer if I'm not hooked pretty quick. Doesn't stop me from reading it (I'm a glutton for punishment), but I start skimming. Mouse... just doesn't do anything in that first chunk. I would almost start with the suspense of examining the thought-to-be station by the "engineers", then move to Mouse... or just cut that first part entirely. It doesn't seem to serve much purpose to the overall story.

And yes, build up the suspense. They're examining the decrepit station that's completely dark (at least on page 2... more on that later), and they're behaving like there might still be a threat (which you noted was a little pointless), but they're talking like it's a walk in the park. So you have this real potential to step it up a notch and put me on the edge of my chair, but right now I'm left thinking "Why do I care?" I don't get any back story on the reason the station's toast until page 25. Now, I know you don't want to give away all the secrets (and that's good), it'd be nice to at least know that the station went dark unexpectedly. But I'd also like to know why exactly it took 4 years to send someone. You mention something about political conflict, but not why it would matter to sending rescue.

About the dark... you have some continuity issues. Lights that aren't on, and then are, Mouse's opinion of Elisa, etc.

The middle of the story I enjoyed a lot more. Things were happening, people were dying, discoveries were being made... in general, the story was progressing, and I got a  better feel for the characters.

The end... well, I like how you ended it a lot (and I would keep that the end), but I would also like to know what happened to the others on the station. There's no closure on that front. Do they all die? Does Erik get trapped when the other survivors from the expedition leave? It's like you only ended half the book, and I was slightly depressed by that. You end Erik's chapter with "Well, that completes one part of the mission."  Well what about the other part(s)? Show me!

In all, I liked it. I'll send you some more line-level edits when I manage to finish them. 27 pages is a lot to go through with a fine-toothed comb. I got about 6 pages in before I changed to just reading.
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LongTimeUnderdog

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2010, 03:24:15 AM »
All the breaks in perspective/time got annoying.  While I enjoyed the attempts at creating likable characters, Lethal's right, there just isn't much to go with.  Also, with the title of Mouse Trap, I was expecting more . . . well . . . Mouse.

There are also parts of the story where you're trying to describe something or some action in the characters's voices.  I  liked that, except it often left me confused and some how muddled in the actual experiences.  I had to read most of the stuff twice to get what was really going on.  Loved the dialogue.  Was full of awesome.

Also, how are these people moving so fast and are so strong if they've been living in a super low-g environment.  The average astronaut has to exercise for 3 hours+ every day.  And that's not just climbing stuff . . . that's like . . . bikes, jogging, and a whole lot of other stuff.  According to the documentaries and theory I've read, you really can't just get passive exercise (like what you'd get camping and thus hiking, or working your muscles if worked in a warehouse)  You have to be really really really specific with yourself or your bone density drops and your muscles deflate.

My last issue with the story was in line with what Falcon said.  "Why are they here, exactly?"  You start with Mouse and then you have moments where the marines comment about things being stripped for spare parts.  I think, and this is just me, that you would be better served with keeping things to a smaller number of perspectives (yes I know how hypocritical that sounds) so the suspense of the mystery can be more easily maintained.  Also, might give it a bit more of a horror feel then a marine thing.  Also, I think the story would do better to have more interaction between Mouse and the Marines.  Just me though.

ryos

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2010, 12:13:47 AM »
Not to be a parrot, but Falcon and LTU hit most of what I wanted to say.

I thought the story jumped around too much. You tried to include too many perspectives, and the work is too short for that. Also, it's suspect that it has taken four years to send people to figure out what's wrong on the station; maybe there's a lot of political tension, but someone put a lot of money into that station and is going to try very hard to salvage what they can.

The Mouse character didn't feel fully realized. When he is trying to decide whether to obey the Sitter or help Erik, I don't really feel his conflict. To me the choice is obvious: no duh, your life sucks and the station is falling apart, so get out. In order to empathize with his choice, I need to know more about him. How deep his loyalty to the Sitter goes, how possessive he is of the station, his delusion about his mother. It's all there, but it's not strong enough to really make us care deeply about him.

The other thing about Mouse is that he doesn't feel like the central character in the story. Erik does. The main issue here is that we spend a lot more time in Erik's shoes than Mouse's.

The ending felt very abrupt. We just passed the climax and started into the resolution when the story just ended. We need some sort of resolution for Erik, and more of an arc for Mouse. The ending also felt wrong. Up in the station, facing down Erik, Mouse made his pivotal decision: fight the groundsiders, support the Sitter, stay with the station. So, when the end comes and he winds up (through no choice of his own) on Earth, why is he so happy about it? If Earth is what he wanted then he clearly could have taken the escape pod at any time; he could have taken his mother, even. He could have chosen to stay with and help Erik. But, no, he chose the station. Shouldn't he be angry? Shouldn't he have regrets? Or did I just get an inaccurate perception of his character?

One thing I'll disagree with LTU on is that I thought the kids' strength was well-explained by the story. These kids are the product of genetic experiments aimed at increasing the viability of children born and raised in zero-gee environments, so it makes sense that they'd be resistant to bone and muscle degradation, and probably be stronger than normal if the researchers overshot the mark.

There is a lot of good in this story, and a lot to like. I liked the concept and the set up, and the exposition and environmental description was very well done. You write good dialog, too. Work out these issues and you'll have a very strong piece.
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Asmodemon

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2010, 10:08:06 PM »
Great points guys, youíre absolutely right, as usual.

When I started with the idea of this story it was supposed to be more Mouse-centric, but somewhere along the line the focus shifted more to the marines. I realize now that Iíve made Mouse more wishy-washy than he was originally supposed to be Ė which was more of a nasty and somewhat delusional piece of work. Heís still delusional, but not so much nasty.

I think Iím going to change things to bring back that original thought and maybe bring a bit more horror into it, which it was also supposed to have. Man, I really lost sight of what I wanted ;)

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The first thing that got to me was the very beginning. It just wasn't very gripping.

The first sign that I lost sight of what it was Mouse was trying to accomplish, his sections donít work and take away the suspense of what the marines are doing. Iíve been considering changes that make things more pressing for Mouse and also make the title of the story work again.

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Also, how are these people moving so fast and are so strong if they've been living in a super low-g environment.

Thatís what the Ringer project was all about. What Ryos said hit the mark; the scientists were really good at what they did.

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How deep his loyalty to the Sitter goes, how possessive he is of the station, his delusion about his mother. It's all there, but it's not strong enough to really make us care deeply about him.

All those things Iíve seemed to have down played, which was a mistake because all those points are what make Mouse tick.

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Why four years?

Because of the nature of both the conflict happening between the Alliance and the Union and the make-up of the space ring. There are two ways into the station. One is to go through station 10, which is in Confederate hands and they didnít want any company men to go through. The other station is one of the four main stations, with an orbital elevator to the surface on Africa.

Because of snapped tensions the Union and Alliance got into a war on both the surface Ė Africa, with some intense stuff on Gibraltar right before the end Ė as well as that particular main station. Neither side had enough of a foothold to secure Sagittarius station.

Iíll be sure to clear that up, as well as the consistency issues and the rest (hopefully satisfactory), in the next draft.†

Shivertongue

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2010, 09:59:19 AM »
Sorry about getting to this so late. I should preface it by saying that science fiction is a genre I have difficulty reading. Not sure if there's anything I can say that others haven't already, but I'll give it a shot...

I like Mouse, and was a little disappointed that the story didn't focus on him more. Erik was interesting as well, and I feel that those two should be the only viewpoint characters you need. Although I liked the scene with the marine and girl in the hydroponics bay, it's one example of the viewpoint jumping a little too much. I didn't count all the viewpoints characters, but in a story this short, two should be the maximum. Erik and Mouse were interesting, but because of this both fell slightly short of being fully developed.

One thing I liked in particular were the snippets of backstory, of what's been happening on Earth (I think it was Earth; you mentioned Gibraltor a few times, and for a bit I thought that might be the name of the planet). The Atlantic Union, the Free African Alliance, the experiment that the station was to begin with... the former two I would have liked to know a bit more about, but the latter was given rather sufficient explanation. Not as much as I would have liked, but enough that I know now what the situation was and, like Erik, and determine the pattern of events.

I'm going to disagree a bit with the others and say I thought that the reason no one had made it up to the station in four years made a fair deal of sense. There was early mention of tensions between the AU and the FAA, tensions that lasted four years - four years in which thing on Earth were too focused on politics to worry about an experiment in space.

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The four year struggle between the Atlantic Union and the Alliance had been relatively brief, and now affairs were near how they were before. The level of trust, or lack thereof, between the principle powers was as bad as it ever was. Yeah, it was remarked, the diplomats did good work. 

This explained it well enough, but it doesn't quite drive the point home. Four years isn't that brief of a struggle, and to really get across the idea that it prevented them from doing what they're doing now, I would suggest making the 'struggle' much worse. Open warfare, and if not that, then tensions running so high every level of politics was focused on preventing/starting a war and effectively forgetting that there was a space station filled with kids they should really be checking up on. I'd also like to see more of this lack of trust between the two superpowers, played out through the characters.

Overall, I found it enjoyable for a first draft. There's a lot that needs fixing, but I think there is something here. It was light on the technobabble, for the most part, which meant I didn't have to skip over anything. I hope you keep this idea and come back to it at some point.
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Recovering_Cynic

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2010, 10:53:55 PM »
I also, am late for dinner, but I wanted to add my two cents if you are still looking for feedback. 

First, I'll disagree and say you should keep Aberash's perspective, but limit it.  Make him a throw away character.  If I were writing it (and feel free to reject this), I'd put Aberash in Erik's party, and after Erik blasts through the glass, cut to Aberash fleeing the gun battle and running into hydroponics... and dying.  One scene only.  Now, you might have Erik witnessing the death of the other marine party via surveillance and that way the story has some closure.

I know  it's been said by the others, so I'll keep it brief, but the story does need closure.  Erik's plot thread is not finished.  Mouse's plot thread finished, but felt like it got cut too short and/or is missing something.  Aberash's plot thread is unnecessary and can be a throw away as I stated above.

One other thing, I did not catch until the end that the kids were bio-engineered for deep space, but I think that this comes from having read the story through in two sittings instead of one.  Honestly, I thought for the first quarter of the story that Mouse really was a rodent.  I thought that might be the "surprise" at the end, that they had been experimenting and created rabid, intelligent mice.

I'll also second the statement that you need to 'sharpen' the hook.

Anyway, I'll add more/elaborate if you are still looking for feedback.  I liked the story, especially for the premise.  Clean this up and send it to writers of the future or something.  Resubmit it to us after it's all polished and shiny :)
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Asmodemon

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Re: March 22 - Asmodemon - Mouse Trap
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2010, 08:38:37 PM »
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I also, am late for dinner, but I wanted to add my two cents if you are still looking for feedback.

I am definitely still interested in feedback. Iíve been compiling everything Iíve gotten from everyone so far and have been working on the second draft. Itíll need more work before Iím happy with it, but I will see it polished.

I like your suggestion for Aberash, I know his perspective is a problem; too many characters for too short a story, but I didnít want to cut him out because of his scene in hydroponics. With what Iíve got now I already cut his perspective down some, but this works a lot better.