Author Topic: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6  (Read 3557 times)

SkyhunterCommander

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As I said in the email, sorry for getting this out so late. This chapter introduces a new viewpoint- minor compared to the other two I've done so far-he will only have 2-3 chapters to himself, in addition to a few sections in chapters with multiple viewpoints.

This chapter was a bit hard for me to write-Dalcon's viewpoint did not come to me as easily as Darkclaw's and Nayasar's. Also, the first draft of this chapter was way too infodumpy, which is why I took an extra week to rewrite it. I think I fixed most of it, but if anything comes off as an infodump, don't hesitate to mention it.

And and all feedback/comments are greatly appreciated!


Brief Summary: Second Scion Dalcon the Bright joins a mission to find out why all contact was lost from an information storage station three weeks ago. What he finds troubles him.

Summaries of previous chapters:

Chapter 2: Introduces Grand Admiral Nayasar, the young supreme commander of the Felinaris military, who is also their heir to the throne. She waits with her subordinate and close friend Admiral Felivas for a formal meeting with her father, in which she will propose a plan to exact revenge on those responsible for an attack on the Felinaris homeworld that killed many. When her plan is not accepted, she storms out and Felivas tries to calm her down.

Chapter 3: The Troodons, before building their army, are ordered to raid an information station-essentially a giant library- on the edge of Galactic Alliance space to learn what they can about their eventual enemy. Darkclaw sends his subordinate Praetor Keeneye to lead the mission, and watches through a helmet feed. The station is captured without incident, and Darkclaw completes his mission. He relates this to the High Lord, who instructs him to set a course for a hidden station where they will build an army.

Chapter 4: Nayasar is overworking herself, and Felivas demands that she take a mental health day.

Chapter 5: Darkclaw and the Troodons arrive at Selixan Station, a station left by the Saviors, created to rapidly build an army for the Troodons.
I will get around to giving feedback to my fellow Reading Excuses members. As soon as I can.

hubay

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 10:57:28 PM »
Alright, I thought this was a pretty solid chapter. My only real issue is with some of the terms you use.

Mainly, "aliens."

You're writing from an alien POV, but it reads like it's human. I can only assume the Alliance crew and commander are human – if they're not you should say what they are instead. But if they're people you  should really mention that. What I'm trying to say is that if it's a human POV the default for everything is human. If they see another human, it's just another human, they don't think about it. Aliens are the "other." This is what the chapter is like right now.  If you're writing from an alien perspective, humans are "others;" everything is flipped. You should mention that Dalcon is a Daeris as soon as possible (interesting species, by the way). In general, I think it would help your characters a lot if you made them a little more strange, and not just humans with horns. I think you get hints of that in your felinaris chapters, and the bit about the Flame helped. But I think you could make it a little stronger.

Second, referring to the Troodons as aliens strikes me as odd, as does "invasion." I think these words make sense from 21st century perspective, but not from a XXst century one. I think we would have replaced "alien" with something along the lines of "sophont" or something similar. And instead of referring to their assault as an invasion, it would make more sense to call it an assault, or ask "you think this could be an act of war?" or something along those lines.


My only other thing is that the Scions sound dangerously like the Specters in Mass effect. It's probably unavoidable, but you should make sure they aren't too similar.

Anyways, I did enjoy the chapter, and I'd enjoy seeing Dalcon again because his species is so interesting.

akoebel

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2011, 10:23:25 PM »
Shoot, this was a minor viewpoint? I enjoyed it, so if you can bring more of his POV, I'll be happy.

My troubles with this chapter are almost all related to things I couldn't believe in a SF story. I got the same feel I had from the first Darkclaw in space chapter - namely too Trekkie - but it was much more disturbing this time.

The second paragraph didn't work for me. We already know the situation, so I didn't feel I needed the history of the library stations. This guy is going to inspect why some station didn't communicate, period. I don't need any more than this.

End of page 1, you talk about the 'lead scion', but after, we have 'first scion'. If this is the same person, it should be the same title for now, or it gets confusing.

The cape made me laugh. In a starship, a cape would be not only useless, but I imagine also dangerous. As it was, I got the impression I was looking at a comic where every hero has to have a cape.

The high admiral went on a simple reconnaissance mission. This is really quite a stretch, even with the fact that one of his relatives lived here. People this high are mainly bureaucrats who never see a day of action. For one of them to leave the high command and go on a simple mission like this is highly improbable.

A few Trek words here and there : 'scan for life-forms', 'reply to hails', ... You might want to use different wording in those instances.

The high admiral wants to lead the away team (part 1) - no objection whatsoever? You're boarding an unresponsive station, potentially in enemy hands, and not even an objection to your highest fleet officer leading the away team?

Dalcon forgot his gun. He could have asked one of the other away team persons for their weapon (or even thought about it), yet it is never mentioned. I get he has some cool personal weapons, but what is he to do if he's attacked by some enemy with phasers? I doubt his blades would protect him much.

He goes to a station without a helmet. Doesn't he have regulations preventing him from doing so? There could be life support malfunctions here.

They split up their forces : this looks like a bad tactical choice. You're in potentially hostile territory, you don't split your forces and allow your opponent to finish them off one by one. I know it's often seen in film/TV, but it's also very often used as a way to create trouble.

The admiral leads the away team (part 2) : this time, we get a mild question asking it it's wise. A good officer shouldn't have asked, he should have put the foolish bureaucrat in the next lift and left the pros do the work.

Now, my biggest issue : the trodoon took great pains to make it look like this was done by random bandits, yet they left 70 witnesses ready to tell everything? In the same area, they killed the technicians so the transmitter wouldn't be repaired, but didn't even think the scholars could do it? Someone could have had a hobby. Given what we know of Trodoons, they shouldn't have had qualms killing 70 scholars when they already disposed of the technicians.

All the data is reputed public, yet you need a security code to access it?


Don't get me wrong, the piece was interesting (especially the last scene), but the sheer accumulation of small details made me jump on my chair.




SkyhunterCommander

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2011, 05:43:55 AM »
Thanks for the feedback.

Hubay- Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think you are saying is that I should try and make Dalcon feel a bit more alien, which I agree I can work on a bit. My only worry is that I don't want to go too far and make a character so alien that they are unrelatable.

What I'm less clear on is what your issue with the use of the word 'alien' and 'invasion' was. Was it just to keep things from feeling too 'modern day'? Both words, to me, at least, feel generic enough that they would be used.

And as far as the Scion-Spectre comparisons go, I am wary. It helps that I'm a big enough Mass Effect fan to notice if things feel too 'Spectre-y' (Though incidentally, I came up with the Scions before playing Mass Effect, not that it matters much.)


akoebel- I'm glad you liked the POV. While he will be a minor POV here, I do intend to give him a larger role eventually (sequel, etc.)

The only reason I included that chapter was to emphasize his feeling that something bad happened-I could probably condense it or cut it if need be.

Thanks for catching the 'lead scion' / 'first scion' thing. I previous drafts, the rank was 'Lead Scion', but I decided to change it to 'First Scion'. I guess I unconsciously used the old rank by accident.

The cape was meant to be a more ceremonial piece of clothing. I considered having him mention that, but I worried it would be too much telling to have him randomly bring it up. I could add something in, or get rid of it altogether. It's not something crucial.

As far as the supreme commander leading the teams, I believe I mentioned at some point that he had been a combat officer in the past, which might preclude him to want to go in first, particularly as he is aging-and, in an attempt to deny it, goes in first. Also, he believes that if anything, it's pirates, who he does not fear at all. It's not the best idea, but as he is in charge, he can do as he pleases. And as far as him coming on the mission, again as a former combat officer, people in his position can get very bored with administrative work all day-why not go on an investigative mission that will at best be only somewhat dangerous? I probably should add more objections though.

I probably could put in something about Dalcon considering getting another weapon once he realizes he left his. I didn't think of it. Regarding his helmet though, I mentioned (or meant to mention) that scans of the station showed life support was functioning, and a helmet would only serve as head protection ,which Dalcon isn't too worried about.

I probably could change it to have the whoel team explore together. It does make more sense than splitting up, though it may lengthen the chapter.

On to the Troodons's reasons for leaving people alive. I thought I went through Darkclaw's reasoning in the chapter where he took the station (though it may have been another case of knowing things then forgetting to include it because it feels obvious to me). Darkclaw's reason was that if he killed everyone on the station, the attack would look more like a professional attack, and would garner more attention, possibly leading to a full-on hunt for the perpetrators, rather than simple patrols-which could spell disaster if they're discovered before they are ready. Also, he was of the opinion that none in the Galactic Alliance would feel there was any major threat- it's not the first thing most would assume, and it's not like he monologued about his plans to the people

Oh, and the data thing. I was viewing the station as a public database- but even public libraries today require you to have a card or something to log onto computers, online databases require accounts. So the Troodons just needed someone to log in to the computer. That's why it didn't matter who it was.

I hope I don't come off as arguing about any of the issues; they're all things I should look back at, whether I change something or not. I just want to explain why something was how it was, what I was thinking, or as the case may be, realize that I messed up somewhere.

And I'm glad you found the last scene interesting- while Dalcon is a minor viewpoint, he will still be a major player, and he will have a fairly important subplot going on, part of which is related to that scene.
I will get around to giving feedback to my fellow Reading Excuses members. As soon as I can.

akoebel

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2011, 07:07:23 AM »
None of these issues is bad in itself (though I have strong feelings about Troodon tactics). It's the accumulation that threw me off.

Your admiral might want to live the life of a young combat officer, but I doubt people in the admiralty would allow him to do so, and if they did, they would insist on him taking 50 bodyguards and a fleet with battleships.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday : I found some word repetitions throughout the text (for instance, 'investigation' in the middle of page 2).

Will777r

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 06:12:33 PM »
Finally got some time to dive into this and I was glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter. Since I'm not a sci-fi reader, I didn't pick up on any of the cliche's sci-fi stuff that others mentioned. It all sounded quite interesting to me. I absolutely love Dalcon as a character. His species is very interesting - I was immediately drawn in by what he was, what he does, and his personality. One of the better characters I've read in a critique group setting.

I thought the story flowed well. I can see where some of the things others mentioned might be an issue. But I'm always willing to suspend disbelief in a speculative setting. If people's actions aren't horribly ridiculous, I'll buy in for a while and assume there's a good enough reason why certain people or groups did what they did.

For me personally, the only thing I'd recommend is tightening up some of the writing. Clip adverbs, cut some redundant sentences, etc. There were only a few times some of these caught my attention.

Great chapter!

Will777r

cjhuitt

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2011, 05:10:52 AM »
I'm a bit late getting to this one.  Others have expressed most of my impressions, so I'll just use their words where I can.

You're writing from an alien POV, but it reads like it's human. I can only assume the Alliance crew and commander are human – if they're not you should say what they are instead.

I agree with pretty much hubay's entire paragraph on this.  It was my first thought as I was reading it.  Examples include how he describes the fighting the commander would once have seen (as a human would have seen it), and the commander's age as well past his prime at 67.  (And what sort of years is he 67 in?  Are Dalcon's years that he learned as a child the same as what we would use to measure?)

Shoot, this was a minor viewpoint? I enjoyed it, so if you can bring more of his POV, I'll be happy.

I agree with this and generally all of akoebel's other points.

The second paragraph didn't work for me. We already know the situation, so I didn't feel I needed the history of the library stations. This guy is going to inspect why some station didn't communicate, period. I don't need any more than this.

In addition to this, I don't understand the reasoning behind having libraries in dedicated, remote space stations.  It seems like it would make more sense to have them local to populations.  You mention there were concerns, and what possible benefits could there be to overcome the concerns?

The high admiral went on a simple reconnaissance mission. This is really quite a stretch, even with the fact that one of his relatives lived here. People this high are mainly bureaucrats who never see a day of action. For one of them to leave the high command and go on a simple mission like this is highly improbable.

He doesn't act like (what I think of as) a commander, either, let alone a supreme commander.  Dalcon never thinks of him as a figurehead or incompetent, so I would expect someone who is a supreme commander of anything to be quite competent.  For one thing, most of the bridge crew doesn't use a form of address with him.  Perhaps that's because he's not captain, but I would expect some honorific.  Plus, they seem to respond to commands from him, as well as the captain.

I don't know how long the trip took, but given that they were fretting over the three-week delay before anyone noticed anything wrong, I assume it's a little while.  Given that, a moderately competent commander would have had contingency plans for the likeliest scenarios, and probably variations of them, discussed with their staff.  Dalcon would probably have even been included or told about the plans, if he was going to accompany the troops in any of them.  If there was much chance of action, the tension should have been higher among the other crew - shorter sentences, etc.  The commander or captain could have relayed a lot of information quickly by saying "Plan Gamma-3" instead of spelling out exactly what to do.  This happens 1) when they approach and scan (the sensor section shouldn't even need to be told to scan then; it should have been the first thing the commander set in place when the trip was planned) 2) when the commander gives docking instructions, 3) when the commander briefs the troops, and 4) when the commander details objectives for the troops inside the station.  Heading to the library might have been too far out to contingency plan, however, so there it starts making sense.

Note that we can still get the key pieces of information through straight narrative here; it's the pacing of the dialog that I think kills any tension or flow that I personally would like to see for the section.

Also, a side-note to the scanning: What is the range for scanning, and what is the range for exiting hyperspace?  You'd better know them in this situation, and what both entail for tactics in a case like this.  For example, most hyperspace scenarios have limits imposed by gravity.  However, a space station can really be placed anywhere, and I didn't see any mention of a star, so they might have been able to come out of hyperspace right on top of the station (figuratively speaking).  Besides, the information about scheduled calls implies a faster-than-light communication, which usually means a very large sensor range as well (not always, but usually).  Combine these two, and it would probably make more sense to come in as close to the station as possible, immediately scan, and implement one of the pre-planned scenarios nearly instantly.  This minimizes any opponent's chance to react, which is usually considered a good thing. ;)

Dalcon forgot his gun.

This jumped way out at me.  How did he ever get to be above the rank of restroom-cleaner if he forgets to bring one of his weapons?  Or if it is so unimportant, why would he even think about it at all?

Regarding the helmet, as well:  His spaceship had to be modified to accommodate his horns.  How likely is it a helmet would really make him blend in with the others?  I don't think it likely at all.

The admiral leads the away team (part 2) : this time, we get a mild question asking it it's wise. A good officer shouldn't have asked, he should have put the foolish bureaucrat in the next lift and left the pros do the work.

Here I actually recall Dalcon asking, but the major point stands that other officers should have nicely kept him too busy to leave the ship, let alone go down the elevator first.  This gave you a fine chance to add character or world-build that I think you missed, however.  If it is a cultural thing that he needs to lead, and none of his own crew questioned him leading, that to me implies a culture where asking if he should not go first is like asking if you're too old and decrepit to contribute anything.  I would expect the commander to get angry or upset at the insinuation, which would add some tension to a scene that I felt was really lacking it.

Now, my biggest issue : the trodoon took great pains to make it look like this was done by random bandits, yet they left 70 witnesses ready to tell everything? In the same area, they killed the technicians so the transmitter wouldn't be repaired, but didn't even think the scholars could do it? Someone could have had a hobby. Given what we know of Trodoons, they shouldn't have had qualms killing 70 scholars when they already disposed of the technicians.

Darkclaw's reason was that if he killed everyone on the station, the attack would look more like a professional attack, and would garner more attention, possibly leading to a full-on hunt for the perpetrators, rather than simple patrols-which could spell disaster if they're discovered before they are ready.

This doesn't make any sense to me.  Now, they're aliens, so they're expected to think it strange ways, so it might work.  Tactically, though, why try a subterfuge while leaving 70 or so intelligent beings who saw you plan the subterfuge?  Unless it comes up later as a misdirection or distraction, it makes no sense at all.  On the other hand, if they all disappeared (except for the bodies of the guards, maybe?) it might be more likely to look like piracy/slavery (if any underground or black-market slave trade exists in your galaxy).   That would also give Darkclaw a continuing source of information well beyond what he might get from even the most comprehensive library.

Also, he was of the opinion that none in the Galactic Alliance would feel there was any major threat- it's not the first thing most would assume, and it's not like he monologued about his plans to the people.

If he didn't monologue about his plans to his people, he's the first commander I've read (from an admittedly small sample of 2 chapters) who didn't.  I brought this up in the last time, and you gave the credible answer that the High Lord (IIRC) liked to pontificate and explain himself to his juniors.  That's fine, but here we have another commander who seems to take every chance he can to explain, in detail, exactly why he's ordering what he does.  And Dalcon isn't much better when he gets to talk, although it is more to the point, and could also be explained/improved by making it a diction thing for him.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday : I found some word repetitions throughout the text (for instance, 'investigation' in the middle of page 2).

I also noted a lot of these, and not just investigation.  Going from memory, there were 3 or 4 places where the same word was used multiple times in a paragraph to say the same thing.  I'm pretty sure most of those repetitions could be cut through some wordsmithing, although this might not be the wordsmithing stage for your story.

Other things I thought:

* Any significance to Information Station Alpha (i.e. the first one)?

* Dalcon "would not believe that" the Lead Scion would... Since this is in Dalcon's POV, his belief is implied.  I think this weakens the connection with Dalcon that was established right at the beginning of that paragraph.

* Supreme Commander Garek mentions that if it were left to higher-ups, he might not be investigating yet.  How much higher can you get above Supreme Commander?  That seemed odd.

* Would Dalcon be so forthcoming as to both admit their information network is usually so good, and that they had a failing this time?  Especially to what appears to be a competitor?

* Is Dalcon's power related to the water he sips?  That's how it reads to me.  I assume all the Scion's powers are similar.

* Airlock doors are strong!  Even if Dalcon has super-human strength, he shouldn't be able to easily open one.

* How well can Dalcon differentiate between humans?  Can he see/smell/hear/sense the relationship between the old lecturer and the supreme commander?  If so, he should probably recognize it in text.

* Uncle apparently recognized Supreme Commander Garek even under his helmet.

* The discussion in the room with Uncle was too anticlimactic.  To me, Dalcon seems to just accept that this scholar knows how to interpret military intentions, etc.  Also, it cuts the Uncle out of the conversation incredibly quickly, especially since Dalcon wanted to beat some answers out of him.  Finally, to me it seemed obvious Dalcon was setting himself up for some kind of quest to find this information, but that may be solvable with a bit of polish.

* Why did Dalcon want to beat information out of the Uncle?  Is it a tendency for his race?  Is it a result of all the power he built up and is (presumably) still holding?  And what happens to that power?
Caleb

SkyhunterCommander

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2011, 06:00:18 AM »
Wow, thanks for taking the time to give such detailed feedback. I agree with just about everything you mentioned; I'm aware now of a number of instances where things were a bit off both due to my lack of knowledge about certain things, or just plain errors.

The only thing I will comment on now is on the issue of Darkclaw's decision to leave people alive, and his actions, since it is the only thing mentioned that I am unlikely to change.

Quote
This doesn't make any sense to me.  Now, they're aliens, so they're expected to think it strange ways, so it might work.  Tactically, though, why try a subterfuge while leaving 70 or so intelligent beings who saw you plan the subterfuge?  Unless it comes up later as a misdirection or distraction, it makes no sense at all.  On the other hand, if they all disappeared (except for the bodies of the guards, maybe?) it might be more likely to look like piracy/slavery (if any underground or black-market slave trade exists in your galaxy).   That would also give Darkclaw a continuing source of information well beyond what he might get from even the most comprehensive library.

Much of it is because Darkclaw indeed does not think the same way we would. At that point his goal was to simply get what he wanted without allowing the station to call for aid. I think I mentioned earlier that his reasoning for not simply killing everyone was that the Galactic Alliance be more likely to initiate a thorough investigation if everyone was gone (expecting slavers, etc), while they would take a more reactive attitude about something that appeared to be a pirate raid. (He could not risk an Alliance fleet finding the Troodons and their station before they were ready) For the same reason he didn't simply order the station destroyed. Also, at that point, the very limited knowledge of the Galactic Alliance led him to feel that they would not come after what looked like pirates, and that even if they spoke to the survivors and heard what they had to say, that no immediate action would be taken because of both lack of a reason to assume something larger was afoot, and because any established government does not want to find problems to deal with.


Quote
If he didn't monologue about his plans to his people, he's the first commander I've read (from an admittedly small sample of 2 chapters) who didn't.  I brought this up in the last time, and you gave the credible answer that the High Lord (IIRC) liked to pontificate and explain himself to his juniors.  That's fine, but here we have another commander who seems to take every chance he can to explain, in detail, exactly why he's ordering what he does.  And Dalcon isn't much better when he gets to talk, although it is more to the point, and could also be explained/improved by making it a diction thing for him.

You might have misunderstood what I wrote previously. When I said that he didn't monologue to the people, I was referring to the people he left alive on the station, that he didn't announce to them, 'we are going to invade you'. He only explained his actions to other Troodons in earlier chapters because of their lack of knowledge. And the High Lord, as you mentioned, enjoys explaining himself.

As the story progresses, and more organized military action is taken, there will be significantly less explaining, especially in Darkclaw's case, as I showed (or at least attempted to) in chapter 7.
I will get around to giving feedback to my fellow Reading Excuses members. As soon as I can.

cjhuitt

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Re: July 4 - SkyhunterCommander - Untitled Sci-Fi Epic Chapter 6
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2011, 04:16:25 AM »
Much of it is because Darkclaw indeed does not think the same way we would.  [...] Also, at that point, the very limited knowledge of the Galactic Alliance led him to feel that they would not come after what looked like pirates, and that even if they spoke to the survivors and heard what they had to say, that no immediate action would be taken because of both lack of a reason to assume something larger was afoot, and because any established government does not want to find problems to deal with.

Spelled out like that, it makes more sense.  I'm still hampered by not having read the earlier chapters, and I'm lacking time now to do so, although I might ask for them at some later point.  However, if it's explained somewhat, and especially if Darkclaw visibly makes some assumptions that we can know are wrong ("these won't matter; they're the domestics keeping dust off the books, and nobody listens to those sort...") it might help.

You might have misunderstood what I wrote previously. When I said that he didn't monologue to the people, I was referring to the people he left alive on the station, that he didn't announce to them, 'we are going to invade you'. He only explained his actions to other Troodons in earlier chapters because of their lack of knowledge. And the High Lord, as you mentioned, enjoys explaining himself.

I did misunderstand that part, and of course he wouldn't explain to his opponents.
Caleb