Feb 08 2008

Halfbakery’s Review Forum

Published by at 10:48 pm under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Halfbakery’s Review Forum”

  1. Halfbakeryon 09 Feb 2009 at 12:25 am

    This comes from the novel that I’m working on (currently untitled – any suggestions are welcome).

    Chapter One: One Thousand Years of November

    “RELEASE ALL TESTING SUBJECTS,” droned a robotic voice through my head.

    Next thing I knew, I was lying down on a cold, metal floor, arms and legs askew. Pain hammered through the back of my skull like an army of hammers were trying to break in, and I could feel a sensation of wetness running down my cheek.

    It was all I could do to get up. My legs registered no feeling whatsoever, and as I stood up there was a definite feeling that something in there had torn. Shaking violently, I turned around to see where I had come from. What I saw was some sort of chamber, a cylinder full of gas, about six feet tall and three across, with many tubes hanging from the walls. It looked like a standard-issue cryogenics tank. These things were not so unusual these days.

    Many questions began to eat away at me. Exactly what had I been doing in that tank? Who had put me in there? How long had I been in there? I couldn’t even remember my name, or how old I was, or anything about myself in fact, apart from one thing.

    I was dead. And I had been brought back.

    There didn’t seem to be any point in hanging around in the room where I had found myself, so I decided to leave and find out where I was. Perhaps outside the room, there would be some clues.

    The room opened onto a narrow metal catwalk suspended above what appeared to be a laboratory. Scientific apparatus lay littered about on benches, chalkboards covered in equations were hanging on the walls, and jars of chemicals lined the shelves. It all seemed perfectly normal, but nobody was there. Actually, there was no noise of any kind anywhere in this place, except for the echoes of my footsteps. Everything about this, which I had assumed was a scientific research facility from the laboratory and cryogenics chambers, was distinctly eerie.

    Other catwalks ran alongside mine, spaced closely together. They all seemed to run from different rooms, and all merged together at one point at the other end of the laboratory. What did those rooms contain? Perhaps other cryogenic chambers. They might have been keeping people in them like me. Or something worse, perhaps. I couldn’t take any chances with whatever might have been there, so I just continued walking.

    Suddenly, a low growl came from the other side of the room. A dark shape stalked across the opposite wall, perfectly black and shadow-like. I couldn’t make out what it was, but it could have been dangerous. I decided to simply run over to it, and take chances with whatever it was.

    For the first time I could remember, I felt a little afraid.

    At that moment, a bullet whistled by my ear. Any closer than that, and it would have taken it away. At almost the same time, cold fingers gripped around my neck. Desperately I attempted to prise them free, but they were hard as bone, and the person they belonged to had the tenacity of a bull. Two more dark shapes passed over the ceiling, making a whirring noise. Looking back, I may have been hallucinating, but one of the shadows seemed to leak from the ceiling like tar.

    I finally got the fingers free, and spun around to face the person grabbing me. Perhaps I should say, thing. It was roughly humanoid, though a little short, but it was red, completely bald, and dripping with viscous, orange goo. Random patches of scales were strewn across its body, but otherwise it was naked. It held a metal rod strapped to its back, and its yellow eyes rolled grotesquely.

    The thing hissed at me like a snake, baring pointed needle teeth, yanked the rod from its holster, and charged. However, it was clumsy and stiffly moving, giving me enough time to grab it from the side and push it to the floor. I pulled the rod from its hands, and began to beat the creature with it.

    Just as it died, however, two shadows appeared in front of me, and transmogrified into two more creatures, basically similar. However, one crawled like a lizard and seemed to have no eyes, mouth or ears (though it was still hissing), and the second was a darker shade of red, and had mouths rather than eyes. It carried another rod. While I was trying to fend both off at once, swinging the rod wildly and clumsily dodging round the lizard, I could hear more shadows whirring up behind me, at least twenty.

    At that moment, bullets rang through the air, and I heard tortured shrieks of pain as the things behind me died. My two assailants fled the area. Three men in armor, bearing machine guns, were walking along the catwalks. The one in the middle, who looked like the leader, shouted “Kill the last one!” to the others. The men started to aim their guns at me.

    On impulse, I started to scramble over the high catwalk railing as bullets whistled through the air. Just as I made it over the top of the rail, four bullets zinged into my leg at the same time, and I fell to the ground. I landed on top of one of the hard wooden benches, and there was a sickening crack.

    The three men began to run back into the door they had come from, presumably to get me and finish me off. By the time they came out, however, there were only two of them, and both had badly dented armor. “Leave him, for Christ’s sake!” the leader shouted to his henchman when he started going over to where I lay. “We gotta get Rubens’ body and get outta this hellhole! That fall’s gonna kill him anyway!”

    The two men started to run away, and a third man entered the room. He looked more ordinary, with short blond hair, and he was wearing a tight white T-shirt and canvas jeans. He was coming for me. I stiffened, and tried to feign death, but he was too quick.

    “Wh-who are you?” I managed to stammer out.

    “I’m Aaron. Just a friend. Don’t worry, Joshua. You’re going to get out of here just fine…” That was the last thing I heard before I passed out.

  2. Holliequon 09 Feb 2009 at 10:19 am

    I’ll be blunt: I felt that the beginning of this was really boring. The first several paragraphs had no hook at all. Your MC (Joshua?) seems a bit uninteresting. I can understand that he would be lost after . . . uh, whatever happened, but I would seriously suggest you add something to this character. He doesn’t seem to have a personality right now, except, uhh, he’s brave? Maybe. He didn’t run away from those creatures and he wasn’t scared by the eerie atmosphere of the place before he met them – or so he says. Why does he describe them as eerie if he’s not afraid?

    He seemed very eager to move on from that other place. Maybe he’s a practical person. Instead of just wandering through the rooms and describing them vaguely, you could have him travelling from room to room searching for something useful. If he’s brave and/or curious, he might remark that the place seems oddly deserted and resolve to try and find out why, and also what happened to him. As he’s fighting the creatures, he might wonder what they are. He might wonder what their weaknesses are.

    Also, the only thing this character knows about himself is that he’s dead and has been brought back. This sounds interesting and I think you’re right to bring it up now, instead of introduce it later. But you would think that the character would be a bit more bothered by the fact that this is the only thing he knows about himself. And if he can’t remember his own name, even, then how does he know the cyrogenics tanks are not unusual? You would think that would be something that, uh, disappeared along with his memory. In fact, if he has no memories, how the heck does he even know what it IS?

    I think this chapter has potential but it could use some work. What personality traits does Joshua have? How do these influence his actions and thoughts? I think that’s the first thing you need to consider.

  3. B. Macon 09 Feb 2009 at 1:28 pm

    –In all, I think this is a kind of serviceable draft. Here are some observations and suggestions.

    –Because it’s in the first person, I think the second paragraph comes off a bit overwrought.

    –I’ll second Holliequ’s comments about his memory. It seems unusual that he can remember what a cryogenics tank looks like but not his name. Also, I got the impression that he had been in deep-freeze for a long time. If so, then “these things were not so unusual these days” might be a bit of a red herring.

    “Many questions began to eat away at me. Exactly what had I been doing in that tank? Who had put me in there? How long had I been in there?” This feels like musing. Also, if he doesn’t know how long he’s been in there, he probably doesn’t know what year it is. If so, he probably wouldn’t know whether it’s unusual or not to see cryo-tanks lying around.

    “scientific apparatus lay littered about…” I think apparatuses should be plural there.

    –I think it might help to create a more distinct mood/atmosphere here. He says it feels eerie, but there aren’t many details that show this place is eerie.

    –I’m kind of a fan of third-person, so take this for what it’s worth… I suspect third-person would make the fight scene smoother.

    –Some of the visuals here are pretty interesting. I like the kobold-thing that grabs him.

    –We don’t get very much characterization here. The main character is thrust into danger before we know anything about him. My impression is that this sort of opening typically is not very effective. I don’t feel like I know enough about this character yet to care about whether he survives.

  4. Halfbakeryon 10 Feb 2009 at 2:01 am

    Editing now.

  5. Halfbakeryon 10 Feb 2009 at 2:02 am

    Alright, how do I edit something that I’ve posted?

  6. B. Macon 10 Feb 2009 at 6:23 am

    I don’t think you can, so just posting another comment will work fine. (That will also make it easier for readers to track changes).

  7. Xos Melon 02 Jun 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I read “RELEASE ALL TESTING SUBJECTS” as a dalek voice. Was it intended to be so high pitched or am I just making it up?

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