Dec 12 2009

Scribblar’s Review Forum

Published by at 6:31 pm under Review Forums

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16 responses so far

16 Responses to “Scribblar’s Review Forum”

  1. Scribblaron 05 Jan 2010 at 5:16 am

    Cyborg Killer

    Chapter One

    Last day of the month always meant a team meeting. It was the
    only time I saw half my team, and that suited me. I couldn’t have been easy to work for, I realise that, and they kept themselves pretty much out of my way. Well, all except Blood God Moon, and she’s a law unto herself.

    This particular team meeting was going to be harsh. We were training new security dogs and it wasn’t going well. Someone high up the corporate ladder had decided that dogs weren’t enough for the galaxies leading cybernetics corporation. We had to have cyber-dogs.

    Except dogs weren’t intelligent enough to use cyberware. Instead of running at triple speed on their enhanced legs they moved slower, dragging the metal parts of their carcasses behind them. It was a pitiful sight, and would have been hilarious had I not known it had costed millions. Now someone was going to have to pass the message up the corporate ladder that the idea had failed. Now someone was going to have to put down twelve dogs.

    Someone was me. Ethan Wilkes, Chief of Security at Cyberrol. So yeah, it was not going to be a good meeting.

    I sat in my small office sipping at my black coffee and gazing at the shapely legs of the hologram sitting on my table. Her name was Rebecca, and she was the personification of the companies AI. Beautiful and smart, just a shame she wasn’t corporeal.

    “I better get this over and done with,” I grunted.

    Rebecca simply smiled. She closed her eyes and the hologram flickered for a moment, then she opened them. “There is still one team member absent.”

    “Who?”

    “Blood God Moon.”

    I stayed sitting. Moon wouldn’t be happy if I started this without her, and she actually scared me. I haven’t been able to say that much in my life, but Moon terrified me.

    “How long will she be?”

    “Eight minutes and forty-seven seconds, approximately.”

    “Damn, where is she?”

    “One minute and twelve seconds distant, at an external street point to the North.”

    “Then why is she going to take so long?”

    “Seven minutes and six seconds to deal with the five ruffians who have accosted her. A further twenty-nine seconds to compose herself.”

    Yeah, that sounded like Moon. I could give her eight minutes anyway. It would give me time to think. I had to decide what to do with these bloody dogs. I really didn’t want to have to shoot them. I’m not heartless. Still, I couldn’t argue that it wouldn’t be for the best.

    “What will you do with the dogs?” Rebecca asked, astute as ever.

    I shrugged, and went to the window. It was raining. It was always raining in New Glasgow. Seventy percent of the hydropolis’s ecosystem was based off of projected annual rainfalls.

    “I don’t want to have to kill them.”

    “Why not?”

    You can’t expect AI to have emotions or to understand them. Killing dogs would make me feel like crap, but an AI wouldn’t get that. They were inhuman. A lot of people treated them like people, and then got upset when they didn’t act like people. But artificially intelligent computers were just tools, like a kettle or an iron.

    “I’d feel bad.”

    “I understand,” she said. She didn’t, but I wasn’t going to argue with her. There didn’t seem much point.

    “How long until Moon arrives?”

    “I calculate she will have dispatched the last guard in… thirty seconds… he’s gone. She will be one and a half minutes.” I knew Rebecca was in the security mainframe, which meant she could use every security camera on the compound as remote “eyes.” She has higher security clearance than I do. Nothing got passed her, which was why having an AI was so damn useful.

    There was a knock at the window, and I went to it. Blood God Moon was outside, clinging to bare walls with naked fingers. She climbs like the monkey-robots they have in the Extinction Museum, up and down walls like some kind of human spider.

    I opened the window and she huffed in the cool air. Her hair was plastered to her head and water ran down her face. Her eyes looked pained, and I knew she’d been hurt. In three years I’d never known Moon to be hurt.

    I grabbed her under the arms and pulled her in. A girl her size shouldn’t weigh much more than 110lbs, but Moon was heavy. She’d taken the Cyberrol policy of free cyberware to the extremes, and now she was an Angel of Death.

    I struggled getting her in, and once she was in I had no choice but to drop her ass on the floor. Rain was following her, so I turned to close the window.

    When I turned back, she’d struggled into a chair. She was holding her stomach, and I saw now the blood on her hands.

  2. B. Macon 05 Jan 2010 at 7:14 am

    Welcome back! I’ll get around to discussing everything else in this chapter later today, but the last sentence could be more punchy as something like “She was holding her stomach. Her hands were soaked in blood.” The phrase “I saw now” is probably unnecessary because by virtue of him talking about the blood, it’s pretty clear that he can see it.

  3. Scribblaron 05 Jan 2010 at 8:44 am

    That’s only half of chapter one, actually. I didn’t want to post too much at once, but yeay it could be punchier.

  4. B. Macon 05 Jan 2010 at 10:15 am

    Ah, too bad! I think that discovering a character’s hands soaked in blood would be one hell of a cliffhanger. 😉 Okay, I’m working on the review now.

  5. B. Macon 05 Jan 2010 at 11:02 am

    I’m not too fond of the title. It doesn’t strike me as stylish as something like Terminator. I do like that it’s Exactly What It Says On The Tin, though, just like Snakes on a Plane or Battletoads.

    The first paragraph doesn’t strike me as too interesting. If the contrast between the book being named Cyborg Killer starting with a team meeting is supposed to be the hook here, I’d recommend making that clearer here. For example, you could give it more style and voice. Something like “Being a [NOUN] isn’t all killing. We have team meetings, too. Mostly about killing.” Obviously, that’s a bit more explicitly violent and dark than your version, but I think it’s warranted by the in-your-face title (Cyborg Killer).

    I feel like there’s a disconnect between the title and the content of this first part of the first chapter. I was expecting something a lot more action-based, but this strikes me as more of an office comedy so far.

    BGM’s name is both mercilessly awkward and stylish. I approve!

    “This particular team meeting was going to be harsh.” Unless this character is supposed to sound like a teen, I’d recommend replacing “harsh” with something less slangy. Like “savage” or “brutal.”

    “galaxies leading cybernetics corporation” should be “galaxy’s leading cybernetics corporation,” I think. You might also want to swap leading with something like top or biggest.

    The setup here, the businessman deciding that they had to have cyber-dogs, might be funnier if you had the higher-up explain his decision to the narrator. I suspect the paragraph beginning “Except dogs weren’t intelligent enough…” would be a lot more effective if it were a conversation between the narrator and the higher-up. Right now, he’s just talking to the audience. I think that adding the higher-up would increase the stakes and would give you someone to play off the narrator.

    “it would have been hilarious if I had not know it had costed millions.” Two things. This is a really effective way to develop the narrator’s personality and funny to boot. However, I think “it had costed millions” should be “it had cost millions”.

    Normally, I think a character explicitly introducing himself to the reader (like “Ethan Wilkes, Chief of Security…”) is a bit awkward. I feel it turned out alright here, though.

    “the companies AI.” This should be “the company’s AI,” I think.

    The following exchange strikes me as a long bit of chatting. Could you shorten it? (“How long will she be?” “Eight minutes and forty-seven seconds, approximately.” “Damn, where is she?” “One minute and twelve seconds distant, at an external street point to the North.” “Then why is she going to take so long?” “Seven minutes and six seconds to deal with the five ruffians who have accosted her. A further twenty-nine seconds to compose herself.”) Instead of taking 60 words to explain why she’s eight minutes late, it might be more effective to have BGM take a sentence or two to explain why she was late.

    “I’m not heartless.” Are we supposed to take this at face value? He made a notably macabre joke about the hilarity of the dogs dragging their own carcasses. The only reason he found it WASN’T funny was because of the wasted money. But his internal monologuing (“You can’t expect AI to have emotions or to understand them. Killing dogs would make me feel like crap…”) makes him seem a lot more sentimental than that. If he really is that sentimental, I’d recommend rewriting the joke so it’s a lot tamer.

    For political correctness reasons, I’d recommend reconsidering “angel of death” a bit. The phrase has a Nazi connotation that might not be helpful here. (Also, it’s also a term for medical professionals-turned-serial killers).

    I think that BGM showing up is a pretty good reason to do a chapter break.

    I’m looking forward to the next segment.

  6. Scribblaron 05 Jan 2010 at 11:27 am

    I’m not to fond of the title, either. The story is actually that Wilkes (the narrator) is hunting a cyborg killer, not that he is one. The end shows that the killer is totally not what he expected, though.

    It’s not an office comedy (though I do appreciate your reading blind). If I had to compare it to something, it would probably be Dresden Files.

    Ha, yeah, BGM’s name took the longest to come up with. Wilkes refuses to call her Blood, and won’t call anyone God, hence “Moon.”

    I like the idea about talking to the higher up. I think I’ll have him call someone whilst waiting for Moon.

    And the rest of your advice is sound and useful, too. Except for the ending the chapter bit. Wouldn’t that make for a really, really short chapter?

  7. Scribblaron 05 Jan 2010 at 11:28 am

    chapter 1 part 2

    I ran to her.

    “What happened?”

    “The sherk had four arms, two hidden under his L-C. How’m’I sposed to anticipate that?”

    Four arms? Organically grafted extra limbs was bioware, and told me all I had to know about the sherks. They were here in protest about the 58th annual Olympic games. For years bioware athletes had ruled the Olympics. This year, however, was the first time the IOC had ever deigned to allow cyborgs to compete. Cyberrol were sponsoring the cyborg athlete, Nicaragua Smythe. I’d been fending off hate campaigns and attacks since the media announcement.

    I undid the buttons on Moon’s jacket, and opened it up. Her T-shirt was ripped and the changing name/logo nanites had been drained through the hole. I had to hope they weren’t in her wound, there was no telling what damage they could do in there. I grabbed the edges of the hole and ripped it wider, exposing the bottom of her bra, the top of her knickers, and the small wound in her stomach.

    It was tiny, just a few centimetres across, but with all this blood I knew it had to be deep.

    “Dammit, Moon, don’t die.”

    She laughed through the pain. “No stupid four-arm sherk will do for me.”

    I bloody hoped so. “Get Marlek and Potassi in here now,” I ordered Rebecca. “And have Medical know we have a priority one coming in.”

    “I’ve informed Medical. They have refused to treat Blood God Moon.”

    “What?” I turned, dumbfounded. “Why?”

    “Because of what she is.”

    Moon’s big Asian eyes shed a few tears. She had Japanese blood or something in there somewhere, but after the Rising nationalities had fallen apart. Racism didn’t really exist anymore. This was nothing to do with that.

    No, this was about what she believed. Before the Rising she’d have been called a Pagan, someone who worshipped Mother Earth. After the sea waters had risen, though, and the land had disappeared almost entirely, paganism had changed. Now that only a few mountain ranges remained as scattered archipelagos across a watery world, it had become the suicide religion. Their warnings of what global warming could do had gone ignored, and Mother Earth had turned her back on her followers: now they sought only a glorious death.

    Medical wouldn’t waste money on someone who was seeking death, anyway. If they interfered with Moon’s desire to die, she could sue them for even more than it had cost to save her.

    “Do you want to die, Moon?” I asked.

    “I will return to the Mother with honour.”

    “Yes, I’m sure you will, but that could be many years away, right? Do you want to die today?”

    Her eyes grew wider, if that was possible. I could clearly see the fear in them.

    “I’ll save you,” I told her. “Whatever it takes.”

  8. Scribblaron 06 Jan 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Also, there isn’t a link at the side to my review forum. ;}

  9. B. Macon 06 Jan 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I stopped adding each new review forum to the sidebar by default because we’ve had so many review forums, but I’ve added yours. It doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of traffic or accessibility, though.

  10. B. Macon 06 Jan 2010 at 9:10 pm

    In terms of chapter length, 800 words is long enough that it won’t raise any eyebrows. Especially because some of the best reasons to use a chapter-break are here. (Startling visual image, major plot development, introduction of a new character, entry of a character into a scene, etc). If the entry of Moon into the scene is a really important development– and everything I read in the first half of chapter 1 indicated that it is–then adding a chapter break is an effective way to tell readers “hey, this is a turning point of the story so far.” It will also cue readers that Moon is a lot more important than an extra like the AI.

    I think that a supershort chapter would probably only feel gimmicky if it had fewer than a few hundred words. However, Terry Pratchett once got away with a one-word chapter, so it depends on execution.

    Okay, here’s my review of the second part of chapter 1…

    If you did split up the chapter into two separate chapters, I would recommend replacing “I ran to her” with something a bit more stylish.

    What is a sherk? What is an LC? (lab coat?) What is the difference between a bioware and cyborg? I think these elements could possibly be introduced a bit more smoothly for the benefit of readers that are getting acclimated to your story world.

    “two [arms] hidden under his L-C.” It may be worth adding a detail about how he used the hidden arms to beat her. For example, maybe he had guns pointed at her (through his coat) and she hadn’t realized that.

    “Cyberrol were sponsoring…” A singular entity should probably be treated as a singular noun. “Cyberrol was sponsoring.”
    “I’d been fending off hate campaigns and attacks since the media announcement.” Details, please!

    Why are cyborg athletes controversial but not biowares? (Why are people up in arms over this?)

    The narrator talks to the audience a lot. I’d recommend trying to move his narration into action and/or dialogue as much as possible.

    For example, “I had to hope they weren’t in her wound; there was no telling what damage they could do in there” is something that could probably be more smoothly expressed through dialogue.

    “Dammit, Moon, don’t die.” I think this could be a lot more stylish.

    “And have Medical know” could be more active. “Tell Medical” or “Inform Medical,” for example.

    “a priority one coming in.” I think the phrase “a priority one coming in” sounds a bit artificial. What would you think about something like “a priority patient coming in”? or “an emergency”?

    The paragraph about Moon’s ethnicity and racism is a red herring. I’d recommend focusing on what DOES matter rather than what doesn’t.

    I’d recommend giving him more of an opinion about her religious beliefs. Also, it seems sort of unexpected that one part of the company would feel free to employ her despite her pagan beliefs but another part of the company refuses to treat her. Is there a reason for this discrepancy? (For example, perhaps Wilkes is unusually tolerant and/or just doesn’t care about such superstitions).

    The last line of dialogue seems a bit trite. Feels like a line from ER. I’d recommend giving something more distinct to this character, in this situation. Distinguish him a bit. For example, the macabre joking in the first part of the chapter really made him come alive. But that dark humor has disappeared. Maybe he tries to keep her from getting worried with some dark humor? Or maybe he helps develop her backstory by referring back to the other rough patches she’s gotten through?

  11. Scribblaron 07 Jan 2010 at 4:39 pm

    “two-arms hidden…” I thought I’d mentioned he had a knife. Apparently I didn’t.

    Her beliefs don’t impact her ability to do her job. It’s kind of like carrying a do not resuscitate card around. I’ll try to make this clearer.

    The rest of your advice is both helpful and useful, thank you.

  12. Scribblaron 07 Jan 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Chapter Two

    “Where are Marlek and Potassi?” I asked.

    Rebecca blinked. She usually blinked when she was trying to readjust her thought processes. AI thought processes were logical to the extreme. They like to predict humour behaviour and that’s easy. Every so often, however, human beings would be unpredictable. Usually in times of stress or emotional instability. Like now. Rebecca wouldn’t be comfortable unable to hypothesise my actions.

    “Marlek? Potassi?” I reiterated.

    “I didn’t summon them. The Medical wing won’t treat her.”

    “Get them. Now.”

    I turned back to Moon, making sure she was still conscious. She was, barely. Her blood was slick on my hands, and I smeared it on her face as I pulled her round so I could look in her eyes. Her pupils were unfocused. I was losing her.

    Dammit.

    “Moon, Moon, come on, stay with me. Moon, I’ve got your blood all over my hands.”

    Her eyes focused a little at that, and she cracked a smile. “Did you just call me Blood?”

    “You know I didn’t. That’s a stupid name. I said you’ve bled on me.”

    The door opened and Marlek and Potassi entered. They were the two biggest guys in my team, and Potassi had first aid training. He bent down on the other side of Moon almost immediately.

    “You look like flotsam,” he told her. “Who did this?”

    “A four-armed sherk that I shouldn’t a let touch me.”

    “You kill him?”

    She laughed. “No, no I didn’t.”

    “Don’t worry, we’ll get you to the Medics soon.”

    I stood up and turned away, pulling my Life from my pocket. The touch sensitive screen lit up, and I pressed the icon for a phone. It came up with a second menu, allowing me the choice of putting in a phone number, or going with someone whose details were saved. I went to contacts, and it brought up small icons showing photos of my contacts, and the symbol for “more.”

    I pressed Jessica’s face, and it dialled through immediately. Holding my Life up by my ear, I waited for Jessica to answer. Behind me, I could hear Moon replying to Potassi.

    “The medics don’t want me.”

    “But-?”

    “Don’t worry,” I said, looking back over my shoulder. “I’m on it. I’m setting her up with something else. Keep her alive for me.”

    “Hey, you,” Jessica’s voice came through my Life.

    “Hey, gorgeous, sorry – this isn’t a social call,” I said as I turned away from them. I wandered to the window, staring out at the never-ending rain.

    “Uh, it isn’t?”

    “No. I need help. Moon’s been injured and my people won’t treat her.”

    There was silence on the phone line. Jessica was a friend. More than a friend, we were friends with benefits. It wasn’t like we were in love or anything, though. I didn’t think she’d go for this, but I had to ask.

    “You could lose your job,” she said. “I could lose mine.”

    On the Hydropolis, jobs in the megacorps were for life, and almost all jobs were in the megacorps. The huge corporations didn’t play well with each other. There was no intercompany competition or co-operation. To go outside of my own corps for medical help was against the rules.

    “I know,” I told her. “I know what I’m asking but, Jessica, Moon will die. Not maybe. Will.”

    She sighed. “Send her over. Are you coming with?”

    “No.”

    “Fine. Send her to me, and I expect to see you tomorrow, Ethan. It’s been too long.”

    I ended the call. Turning back, I saw that Potassi and Marlek had a stretcher, pulled from the supply cupboard out in the hall. They were loading Moon onto it.

    “Take her to Nanoidal,” I told them. “Their Chief of Security is waiting for you.” I glanced down at Moon, barely conscious on the stretcher. “She’ll save you. Stay alive until she can.”

    They left, and I was alone. Rebecca hadn’t returned. I still had this damn meeting to do, and afterwards I had twelve dogs to kill. My head was splitting; I really needed some sleep.

    I headed out, down stairs to the main room, and my team quitened as they saw me. Silence spread like a wave.

    “Moon’s been hurt,” I told them. “Marlek and Potassi led her out on a stretcher. Medical wouldn’t touch her, so I gave them other instructions. I’m fully responsible.” I had no doubt that someone in the room would try to sell me out. Security staff seem to be more corrupt than anyone else.

    “Okay, meeting’s started,” I said as I took my seat. “What’s up?”

    “Well, Burleigh and North are off sick,” Peter Jones told me. He was my number three, right under Moon, and a smarmy little chunk of flotsam at the best of times. I couldn’t stand him, but he had relations high up the corporate ladder. It had taken everything I had just to stop him from becoming my number two. If Moon died…

    No, she wouldn’t die.

    She’d better not die.

    “What’s wrong with them?” I asked.

    “Burleigh apparently has lung rot, and North was set upon by bioware sherks. I’ve a full list of his injuries somewhere, but from what I remember broken hip, three broken ribs, broken jaw. Quite a lot more, too.”

    North, like me, had never had any cyberware implants. If he was as bad as he sounded then I doubted he’d be back at work without at least some. Burleigh, on the other hand… he was as good as dead, a walking corpse. Not walking for much longer, either. Long rot was the worse disease I’d ever heard of. The doctors said it came from living over so much water. Whatever it came from, Burleigh’d be better jacking into VR and playing against Death. All he had to face in life was drugs and pain and more drugs.

    “Send Burleigh a card. I’ll stop into see North tomorrow.”

    “Do you want me to see him? You must be busy with Moon, right? Where is she, anyway?”

    I looked at Jones with a “you-really-don’t-want-to-stand-up-to-me-tonight,” look on my face, and he blinked and looked away. “How much damage have the bioware’s done today?” I asked, gazing round. There were four men and four women in the room, each one a lieutenant commanding a sergeant and eight men. I was their captain. That gave me a full team count of ninety seven. Well, ninety seven including North and Burleigh’s teams, and the five people Moon looked after in my Suicide squad.

    A private army.

    It was Ashley Michaels who answered my question. She fingered the gold ringlets that hung down from under her regulation berry as she spoke. Michaels is cute, with dimples in her cheeks and her ass. I know, I’ve been there. Not anymore, since she’s engaged to a Cyberrol technician, but certainly once.

    “A riot down at Springs saw them busting up a lab pretty bad. They attacked a receptionist walking home from work, too. Tore her up right over her face. I think one of them must have had, what? Claws, talons, I don’t know.”

    I nodded. “Thanks, Ashley. I’m calling it a night, guys.”

    “What about the dogs?” Jones asked.

    “I won’t shoot dogs.”

    “You’re letting those things live?”

    “No. I’m going to put some poison in their food. Now, really, don’t you people have homes to go to. I know I do.” I turned and headed back upstairs, not bothering to watch if they left or not. Upstairs, I called on Rebecca.

    “Yes,” it was just a disembodied voice, no hologram.

    “Have someone from Medical bring over their strongest, most humane poison, would you?”

    “Fine.”

    “Thanks, Rebecca.”

  13. Scribblaron 15 Jan 2010 at 10:22 am

    Reading over that chapter, I’ve decided to split it. The first half (dealing with Moon) will go into chapter 3. The meeting will be chapter 4. Which means I’m currently writing chapter 5 (murdering the dogs). Oh, yeah, I’m posting this as I write it.

  14. B. Macon 16 Jan 2010 at 1:36 am

    This strikes me as an info-dump: “Rebecca blinked. She usually blinked when she was trying to readjust her thought processes. AI thought processes were logical to the extreme. They like to predict humour behaviour and that’s easy. Every so often, however, human beings would be unpredictable. Usually in times of stress or emotional instability. Like now. Rebecca wouldn’t be comfortable unable to hypothesise my actions.” I suspect that it could be probably shown more effectively through a line or two of dialogue from Rebecca. (Perhaps she offers some hypotheses based on low-stress circumstances and we can easily infer that they don’t apply here—for example, in a low-stress situation, the protagonist might have resolved a work-related issue by writing a letter to his superior. When the problem is that your company pretty much sent a loyal employee to an early grave, that obviously isn’t good enough).

    This might be a good opportunity to give Rebecca a voice. Perhaps she could snarkily complain about how hard it is to predict humans? I think she’s a bit forgettable so far.

    Potassi. I see that name and I can’t help but think of the hundreds of searches we’ve gotten for “can potassium be a superhero” or something like that. Fortunately, I don’t think an editor evaluating this manuscript would have a similar reaction. 😉

    The description of the blood (slick on his hands, smearing everywhere) feels very visceral. I feel like I’m there.

    “We’ll get you to the Medics soon.” I wouldn’t recommend capitalizing medics.

    “You kill him?” Possible alternative: “You kill him yet?” to suggest confidence (confidence in her recovery and confidence that the sherk is gonna die). Alternately: instead of “No, no I didn’t,” you could try “Not yet” if you’d like to impute confidence to her.


    “I stood up and turned away, pulling my Life from my pocket. The touch sensitive screen lit up, and I pressed the icon for a phone. It came up with a second menu, allowing me the choice of putting in a phone number, or going with someone whose details were saved. I went to contacts, and it brought up small icons showing photos of my contacts, and the symbol for “more.” I think this paragraph could probably be shortened to something like “I called Jessica.” I don’t think that the description of how his phone works fits the urgent nature of this scene. Right now, the main points of interest for me are whether/how Moon will survive and whether/how they will deal with the assailant.

    “To go outside of my corps for medical help was against the rules.” This could probably be shown more evocatively. Jessica’s hesitation to help him, too. For example, she say something like “I don’t know… Remember that guy that [once went outside his company for something and got absolutely screwed]? I hear he’s [humiliating fate].”

    It seems a bit unusual to me that he’s not accompanying Moon. Maybe you could throw in a line about how he had somewhere else to be? (It’s because of the meeting, right?)

    “My team quitened as they saw me.” I’m not familiar with the word “quitened.” Quieted, perhaps?

    “I had no doubt that someone in the room would try to sell me out.” He seems pretty passive here. If he’s just going to leave his fate to chance, how did he survive this long? Give him some actions that make him seem more proactive. If I were the head of security and I needed to come clean to my guys about something, I’d be like “And by the way, if I go down for this, I’m taking you all down with me.” This way, if his men cooperate with him, it’ll be less because he’s lucky and more because he’s a problem-solver. 😉 Alternately, you could show his competence in another way. A diplomatic boss might convince his men that helping Moon is the right thing to do—“you know she’d do the same for you” or something like that.

    The word “flotsam” is getting some unusual repetition. I think it’s been used by several characters.

    The protagonist tells us that Peter Jones is not someone he wants as his #2. Please show us why not.

    “How much damage have the bioware’s done today?” I think “bioware’s” should be biowares here.

    “my Suicide squad.” Two things. First, I’d recommend being consistent with the capitalization (probably “suicide squad”). Second, I think “Suicide Squad” is copyrighted by DC Comics.

    “Dimples in her cheeks and her ass. I know, I’ve been there.” I am embarrassed to admit how funny I found that.

    Maybe the end of the chapter could be a more effective cliffhanger? I’m sort of getting the impression that he’s just asked for a poison to put Moon out of her misery, but maybe I’m misreading that.

  15. Scribblaron 16 Jan 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Even though it isn’t a comedy, I like to include humour. I think I’ll take your first suggestion and turn it into Rebecca suggesting he send a memo everytime he gets in an extreme situation, ie a gunfight.

    I’m trying to give a voice to a personality-less computer system. I mean, you won’t expect to click on Internet Explorer only to have a message on screen: Alright, alright, do you know how many background programmes I’m running right now?

    Although that might be amusing if it did.

    I like the Not Yet.

    Yeah, I was trying to use the Life to world-build, but isn’t the time or place, I suppose.

    The thing is, no one ever goes outside their companies. It’s essentially unheard of. I’ll think of otherways to convey this.

    Yeah, it’s because of the meeting, and the dogs.

    I don’t see him as diplomatic. I’ll look into “We’re in this together. If I go down, we’ll all go down.”

    Having set my story about 90 years in the future, I’m trying to devise my own slang. I think in a water world a lot of crap from our world would still be floating (plastic, tyres, clothes) and a lot of that will never rot. It would come together and form huge, stinking islands of crap. Flotsam. Basically like calling someone a piece of shit.

    I’m glad you found dimples funny. I didn’t mean it to be, but hey.

    Suicide Squad is copyrighted? Seriously? Oh, well, that’s not a major part of the story, easy enough to change.

    The poison is for the dogs. He said downstairs he planned to poison them.

  16. Scribblaron 16 Jan 2010 at 5:27 pm

    This was chapter 3, now its chapter 5.

    The picture on my wall was now displaying some snow-covered mountain tops that no doubt no longer exist. I sat at my desk, staring at the picture, for a long time. It had changed to a small, strange boat on open water, and then a flock of weird pink birds before I looked away. I was half-convinced the birds were fictional.

    A few months ago it had shown me a huge lizard with wings and fire coming out of its mouth. Now that was fictional. A dragon. The picture had more than 30,000 images on its memory card. I’d owned it three years, and was sure it was going to start repeating images any day now.

    A knock at my door had my shoulders tensing. I had a right to be nervous, bioware sherks had taken two people from their offices, and one from her home, in the last week. I took two deep breaths, forced myself to relax. Then I took my gun from my desk drawer and pointed, beneath the desk, at the door.

    “Door’s open,” I yelled.

    The door was pushed open, revealing a nervous looking youth with a huge tin gripped in both hands. “The poison you ordered.” He came in, entering the light, and I saw his face was covered with so much acne that it looked like a pizza.

    “Put it on the desk.”

    He did, and I stopped pointing my gun at him. He said goodbye and exited, and I went to the tin. It was heavy, which I hadn’t been expecting. I struggled downstairs with it. There were four rooms downstairs. A changing room with lockers in it, a toilet, the room my meeting had been in and a small kitchen.

    I took the poison into the kitchen. Twelve metal bowls sat on the counter, and a big sack of dried dog food sat at one wall. I took the bowls to the bag one at a time, and scooped food into them. I coated the food in the poison, an orange coloured dust, and then opened the door that led out back. There was a walled off courtyard out there, filled by huge, whimpering, barely moving bodies. The dogs reached my chest height when they were standing, but they could barely stand.

    The rain was lighter now. I took two of the food bowls and went out amongst the whimpering forms. It was dark, and the guard dogs were silhouettes amongst the shadows. I took the bowls to the two furthest hulking shapes, and slipped them down in front of snouts. One bared its teeth and growled, the other couldn’t even manage that. Soon, they were all attempting to eat.

    I left them in the rain, dying and feasting on death. They would be dead by morning. And then we would only have the bodies to dispose of.

    Inside, the intelligent circuitry woven into my clothes warmed, drying me off. I took a towel to my face and hair, and told the drinks machine to make me a coffee. When it was poured, I took it and sat down at the table. My head was pounding, but that’s what happens when I don’t get enough sleep. I’d been up earlier this morning, and it was late now. After I drank this, I was going home to bed.

    My Life started playing music, its ring tone. It was an old, old song – Kiss the Rain, by Billie Myers. One of my favourites. I slipped it from my pocket.

    “…if you feel you can’t wait till morning, kiss the rain, kiss the rain…”

    I really wanted to wait till morning, but Sparky’s picture was on the display.

    “What?” I answered the call, but I didn’t have to be happy about it.

    “You still up, then. Good.”

    “Not for long, Sparks. I’m going home to bed.”

    He sniggered. “No, you’re not. Your coming out here to see this corpse before the rain washes away what evidence there is.”

    Damn. Chief Inspector Neil Sparks was the most senior cop on the homicide department of New Glasgow’s constabulary. I was brought in as consultant on all cases of suspected murder of cyborgs. This was the fourth cyborg death in just over a week. My night couldn’t get any worse.

    “What’s the address?” I asked, and he gave it to me. I didn’t have to write it down, the intelligent computer in my Life would automatically save the information. The save was triggered by my use of the word ‘address’.

    “Wilkes, don’t be long,” Sparks warned me. “This one’s a mess.”

    Yeah, but they all were.

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