**CRIT** please. An opening.

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Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 4, 2003, 11:20:41 PM8/4/03
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Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
I thought it "broke" a bit.

No specific requests. Thank you in advance.

---------------------

Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.

Time did pass. "Reckon it's time to go," Peters observed at 0400.

"Hit the head first?" Todd suggested.

"Yeah." Peters pulled on his peacoat, slung his seabag over his
shoulder, and looked around while Todd did the same. The little
messcook stuck her head out the galley hatch and Todd gave her a
negligent wave; she didn't respond, just stood holding the hatch
coaming, serious and wide-eyed, freckles prominent.

The First Class at the brow was slumped behind the desk with his
peacoat collar turned up around his ears; he checked IDs and handed
them back with minimal conversation. They stopped at the head of the
brow to render honors, then humped their bags down the walkway, each
looking back in glances that turned furtive when the other caught him
at it.

"Just another transfer," Peters advised with determined heartiness.

"You say it," said Todd, shifting his seabag to a more comfortable
position.

They fell into step up the quay, heels thudding on the worn concrete,
free arms swinging. Unlit buildings threw back echoes of their
footsteps in the empty streets, generators and pumps and ships' power
plants making the low roar that both of them thought of as "quiet." A
cold front had come through on Saturday, bringing sapphire-clear skies
and a sharp drop in temperature, not usual for mid-November in North
Florida, and the sailors puffed a little, their breath condensing in
the chill air, as they picked their way across the field in the early
dark. Stars glittered overhead, and a bare sliver of waning moon
hovered at the eastern horizon.

A sentry stopped them, M27 at the ready, and they dumped their seabags
on the grass and reached for ID blocks as he grounded arms. The Marine
gave the blocks a cursory inspection and waved them one at a time over
his peda, meticulously comparing the resulting images to the people in
front of him with the aid of a small penlight that glared in their
eyes. "All right, you can wait here," he said, indicating a patch of
grass no different from any other in the vicinity. He spoke quietly
into a communicator as they dragged the seabags over under his
watchful eye and sat on them to wait.

There was still no gray in the eastern sky when a light-colored shape
ghosted overhead, coasting impossibly to a stop over the field and
dropping with no sound but a faint thump. Its nose was toward them,
pointing slightly to their left, and light shone from cockpit windows
and a row of ports down the side. It looked a bit like the old Space
Shuttle, except for the windows and not having black on the belly.
Peters shared a look with Todd, thinking, It ain't all that big!
Todd's eyes were wide.

"Looks like your ride's here," said the sentry. "How do you clowns
rate this?"

Peters unwound his lanky six feet, stretched a little, and shrugged.
"We push, somebody else pulls. You know how it is. Can we go now?"

"Yeah, you're on the list. Have a good trip."

"Thanks."

As they got closer the machine looked less and less familiar, like the
Grallt themselves, who could easily pass for human until you could see
their faces. It sat impossibly low, its landing gear invisible below
wings that curved more than the human version's did. There was no door
or hatch on this side; they walked around the port wing toward the
tail, finding that the wingtip came just about to eye level on Peters.
On the wingtip was a transparent bubble, maybe a running light but who
the Hell knew, mounted on a flange with cross-slotted screws.

Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.

----------------
--
Regards,
Ric

Dan Goodman

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Aug 4, 2003, 11:58:47 PM8/4/03
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Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net:

> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
> and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
> and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
> finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.
>

The first sentence is too long for my taste; I prefer no longer than ten
words.

I think this needs more hints that this isn't here and now, before the
alien craft shows up.


--
Dan Goodman dsg...@visi.com
Journal: http://dsgood.blogspot.com

Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 5, 2003, 12:00:38 AM8/5/03
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In article <Xns93CDE9ADBB8...@209.98.13.60>,
dsg...@visi.com says...

> Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
> news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net:
>
> > Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> > the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> > shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> > talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> > nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
> > and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> > artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> > subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
> > and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
> > finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.
> >
> The first sentence is too long for my taste; I prefer no longer than ten
> words.

Then you definitely won't care for the rest of it. I wax
sesquipidelian once in a while.


>
> I think this needs more hints that this isn't here and now, before the
> alien craft shows up.

You may be right (and are, of course, as regards your own taste). I've
tried it several ways. Thanks for your comments.

Regards,
Ric

Dan Goodman

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Aug 5, 2003, 12:27:11 AM8/5/03
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Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
news:MPG.1998e7e0f...@news.mesh.net:

> In article <Xns93CDE9ADBB8...@209.98.13.60>,
> dsg...@visi.com says...
>> Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
>> news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net:
>>
>> > Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
>> > the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting
>> > and shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next
>> > bench, talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee
>> > and nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded
>> > steel and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
>> > artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
>> > subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with
>> > freckles and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to
>> > chat, but finally retreated into the galley when all she could get
>> > was grunts.
>> >
>> The first sentence is too long for my taste; I prefer no longer than
>> ten words.
>
> Then you definitely won't care for the rest of it. I wax
> sesquipidelian once in a while.

That may not matter _if the first sentence is relatively short_.


>> I think this needs more hints that this isn't here and now, before
>> the alien craft shows up.
>
> You may be right (and are, of course, as regards your own taste). I've
> tried it several ways. Thanks for your comments.
>
> Regards,
> Ric
>

--

J. F. Cornwall

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Aug 5, 2003, 12:48:42 AM8/5/03
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Warrick M. Locke wrote:

> Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> I thought it "broke" a bit.
>
> No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
>

(From a reader, not a writer) The descriptions of the drab mess deck,
along with the peacoats and seabags, gives kind of an "old-time" feel to
the first part. Then the arrival of an alien ship just sorta hits you
upside the head with something completely different.

I personally would probably not go past this opening, because it just
doesn't seem to fit together. Maybe if the transition were a bit more
gradual it wouldn't have the same effect.

Anyway, just my two cents worth. :-)

Jim

Jeff Binder

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Aug 5, 2003, 1:18:31 AM8/5/03
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On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 22:20:41 -0500, Warrick M. Locke wrote:

> [snip]

I don't care for long sentences, so I probably wouldn't read very far.
Other people will have other opinions on this, though.

Here's one thing I noticed:

> Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.

This looks like a perspective problem. This is a third-person narrative,
but you seem to be writing what the characters are thinking. How about
saying something like:

Hell, thought Peters [or Todd]. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted
screws.

Graham Woodland

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Aug 5, 2003, 2:24:07 AM8/5/03
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Warrick M. Locke wrote

>In article <Xns93CDE9ADBB8...@209.98.13.60>,
>dsg...@visi.com says...
>> Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
>> news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net:
>>
>> > Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
>> > the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
>> > shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
>> > talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
>> > nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
>> > and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
>> > artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
>> > subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
>> > and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
>> > finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.
>> >
>> The first sentence is too long for my taste; I prefer no longer than ten
>> words.
>
>Then you definitely won't care for the rest of it. I wax
>sesquipidelian once in a while.

Didn't bother me at all: it did what it was there for very well. It may
be a significant data-point that I'm rather given to waxing the
sesquipede[1] myself.


>>
>> I think this needs more hints that this isn't here and now, before the
>> alien craft shows up.
>
>You may be right (and are, of course, as regards your own taste). I've
>tried it several ways. Thanks for your comments.
>

I don't necessarily think so. The context in which it was published is
likely to do that much, and it's plainly not far-future. As it is, I
found the vivid here-and-nowness of the lead-up to be an effective
tension-generator.

Overall, I liked this a lot: really effective, evocative description
with nary a limp in pace. Where I do partly agree with Dan is that the
appearance of the alien craft is then kind of abrupt, in a way that
might or might not come over as rushed in the complete passage,
depending on how the story flows from there. I'm not sure if there's a
better way to do it, either.

Certainly I went through the whole thing quickly, and I'd certainly have
read on.


[1] Not, despite a certain something about its aspect, intended as a
euphemism for any form of literary masturbation...


Cheers,

--
Gray

http://www.quilpole.demon.co.uk

"She does not get eaten by the sharks at this time."
- William Goldman, _The Princess Bride_.

Brian M. Scott

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Aug 5, 2003, 2:08:29 AM8/5/03
to
On Mon, 4 Aug 2003 22:20:41 -0500, Warrick M. Locke
<warl...@mesh.net> wrote:

[...]

It's ... solid. Even though I don't visualize, it gives me a
very strong sense of place; this is an entirely acceptable
alternative to being dumped into the deep end in the first
sentence, and I rather like the slow accumulation of hints that
Things Are Different leading up to the Grallt. Since I've read
Dan's comments, I should say that I don't have a problem with the
length of the first sentence. The thing starts so quietly,
though, that I almost find myself looking for a prologue ahead of
it!

Brian

Dan Goodman

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Aug 5, 2003, 3:05:37 AM8/5/03
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Jeff Binder
<the.first.five.letters.of.my.l...@rpi.edu>
wrote in news:pan.2003.08.05....@rpi.edu:

> On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 22:20:41 -0500, Warrick M. Locke wrote:
>
>> [snip]
>
> I don't care for long sentences, so I probably wouldn't read very far.
> Other people will have other opinions on this, though.
>
> Here's one thing I noticed:
>
>> Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.
>
> This looks like a perspective problem. This is a third-person narrative,
> but you seem to be writing what the characters are thinking.

Permissable in tight third.

> How about
> saying something like:
>
> Hell, thought Peters [or Todd]. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted
> screws.
>

--

Brian M. Scott

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Aug 5, 2003, 3:03:58 AM8/5/03
to
On Tue, 05 Aug 2003 01:18:31 -0400, Jeff Binder
<the.first.five.letters.of.my.l...@rpi.edu>
wrote:

>On Mon, 04 Aug 2003 22:20:41 -0500, Warrick M. Locke wrote:

[...]

>Here's one thing I noticed:

>> Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.

>This looks like a perspective problem. This is a third-person narrative,
>but you seem to be writing what the characters are thinking.

The transition occurs in the previous sentence, ending the
previous paragraph: 'On the wingtip was a transparent bubble,


maybe a running light but who the Hell knew, mounted on a flange

with cross-slotted screws.' That's already at least partly
inside their heads.

>How about
>saying something like:

>Hell, thought Peters [or Todd]. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted
>screws.

Unnecessary -- it's obvious what's going on -- and so less
effective (for me).

Brian

Mary Gentle

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Aug 5, 2003, 6:18:00 AM8/5/03
to
In article <MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net>, warl...@mesh.net
(Warrick M. Locke) wrote:

[...]

> "Just another transfer," Peters advised with determined heartiness.
>
> "You say it," said Todd, shifting his seabag to a more comfortable
> position.

I would have been inclined to put this closer to the beginning -- possibly
even _as_ the beginning.

I felt I needed to know something strange was going on, before I mentally
shelved this under 'modern military' and stopped reading (since I wasn't
in the mood for one of those). You'd have lost me long before you got to
the alien ship. ISTM you're signalling the wrong genre.

I _like_ the trefoil screws. If you wanted to start with an objective
correlative, you could put them into the first line. And then flash back
to the two guys sitting there, if you felt so inclined.

But anything, really, so long as I know there's more here than the
apparent genre.

Mary

Mary Gentle

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Aug 5, 2003, 6:18:00 AM8/5/03
to
In article <pan.2003.08.05....@rpi.edu>,
the.first.five.letters.of.my.l...@rpi.edu (Jeff
Binder) wrote:

I took that as implied 'he thought', so it didn't jolt me. Possibly
because the third person was well established before that point.

Mary

Thomas Womack

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Aug 5, 2003, 6:51:06 AM8/5/03
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In article <MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net>,

Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote:
>Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
>I thought it "broke" a bit.

I distinctly liked this. I don't mind at all about the sentence length;
it just feels part of the writing style chosen. I like the way the
tension is conveyed.

"peda" jerked slightly: PDAs have been around for long enough already
that people have informal names for them, and I've never heard them
called "pedas".

I think you mention the Grallt too early: I would have had Todd notice
the non-humanity of the pilot, rather than naming the species
outright. It doesn't work to have someone notice the slight
incongruity of trefoil- slotted screws after the omniscient-reader
knows that the vehicle is alien.

Tom

do$feratu

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Aug 5, 2003, 9:16:32 AM8/5/03
to
Warrick M. Locke wrote:
> Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped
where
> I thought it "broke" a bit.
>
> No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
>
> ---------------------
>
> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting
in
> the forward mess deck in dress blues,

I found it odd that they would sit around for 3 hours waiting for
. . . something. Maybe a little foreshadowing that this was not
going to be just another transfer to keep it intresting. If this
was their last day on earth, don't you think they would be more
interested in the cook and the mp, the last humans they will see?
How do they feel about exchanging mistresses? (the sea for
space?)


Samuel Kleiner

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Aug 5, 2003, 10:31:13 AM8/5/03
to
Warrick M Locke wrote:

> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel

The first sentence does not encourage me to continue reading. The second
one does.

> and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
> and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
> finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.
>
> Time did pass. "Reckon it's time to go," Peters observed at 0400.
>
> "Hit the head first?" Todd suggested.

Annoying saidisms.

--
"So where's your wife?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe she ran off with someone else."
I nodded solemnly. "That's a definite possibility. You know how she is,
always running off with the mailman, or the milkman, or the boogieman."

Brian M. Scott

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Aug 5, 2003, 2:14:06 PM8/5/03
to
On Tue, 5 Aug 2003 09:16:32 -0400, "do$feratu"
<do$ferat...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>Warrick M. Locke wrote:

[...]

>> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting


>> in the forward mess deck in dress blues,

>I found it odd that they would sit around for 3 hours waiting for
>. . . something. Maybe a little foreshadowing that this was not
>going to be just another transfer to keep it intresting.

Seems to me that the waiting around together with the implication
that it was unusual *is* that foreshadowing.

[...]

Brian

Suzanne A Blom

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Aug 5, 2003, 4:12:54 PM8/5/03
to

Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net...

> Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> I thought it "broke" a bit.
>
> No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
>
> ---------------------
>
> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
> and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> subdued.

I hate the "as usual"; not sure I need the description of the mess deck.

Like it. Want to read more. Nice breaking place, you bastard, I believe is
the correct term.


Tim S

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Aug 5, 2003, 4:41:36 PM8/5/03
to
on 5/8/03 4:20 am, Warrick M. Locke at warl...@mesh.net wrote:

> Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> I thought it "broke" a bit.
>
> No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
>
> ---------------------
>
> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> nibbling stale sweet rolls.

Good, though a little too long for one sentence.

> The mess deck was as usual,

Don't want to know this; what was _un_usual?

> welded steel
> and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
> and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
> finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.

I have an uneasy seasick feeling about the POV. We start off with a POV who
knows exactly who Peters and Todd are, so are presumably familiar with the
environment. We go on to one who knows the mess deck is as usual (but why
does it tell us this?) then, in the same sentence, to one for whom the mess
deck is unfamililar enough to be worth describing. Then to a POV who knows
how many messcooks there usually are on watch (more than one, I take it,
otherwise why tell us 'lone'?) but doesn't know who this one is, then
possibly into the POV of Todd and Peters ('wanted to chat' -- sort of
implying a feeling of reluctance tied to the narrator, who is identifying
itself with the POV of Peter and Todd), then immediately to one who is
possibly identifying itself with the messcook or at least being judgemental
on Peter and Todd in a way they wouldn't be on themselves ('all she could
get').

So where exactly is the narrator coming from?

I think the remainder, below is very good, apart from a few hiccups which I
note as they occur. Even the POV seems to have sorted itself out.

>
> Time did pass. "Reckon it's time to go," Peters observed at 0400.
>
> "Hit the head first?" Todd suggested.
>
> "Yeah." Peters pulled on his peacoat, slung his seabag over his
> shoulder, and looked around while Todd did the same. The little
> messcook stuck her head out the galley hatch and Todd gave her a
> negligent wave; she didn't respond, just stood holding the hatch
> coaming, serious and wide-eyed, freckles prominent.
>
> The First Class at the brow was slumped behind the desk with his
> peacoat collar turned up around his ears; he checked IDs and handed
> them back with minimal conversation. They stopped at the head of the
> brow to render honors, then humped their bags down the walkway, each
> looking back in glances that turned furtive when the other caught him
> at it.
>
> "Just another transfer," Peters advised with determined heartiness.
>
> "You say it," said Todd, shifting his seabag to a more comfortable
> position.
>
> They fell into step up the quay, heels thudding on the worn concrete,
> free arms swinging. Unlit buildings threw back echoes of their

Thrown a bit by the jump from visual ('unlit') to aural ('echoes') in a
structure that seems to suggest there is a causal link between them.

> footsteps in the empty streets, generators and pumps and ships' power
> plants making the low roar that both of them thought of as "quiet." A
> cold front had come through on Saturday, bringing sapphire-clear skies
> and a sharp drop in temperature,

The buildings are unlit -- and the sky is blue...so daytime...so why do we
need to be told the buildings are unlit...

> not usual for mid-November in North
> Florida, and the sailors puffed a little, their breath condensing in
> the chill air, as they picked their way across the field in the early
> dark. Stars glittered overhead, and a bare sliver of waning moon
> hovered at the eastern horizon.
>

Oh, so not daytime, which makes sense at 5am. How can there be
'sapphire-clear skies' at night? Or was that a sudden jump from the present
to yesterday and back?

> A sentry stopped them, M27 at the ready, and they dumped their seabags
> on the grass and reached for ID blocks as he grounded arms. The Marine
> gave the blocks a cursory inspection and waved them one at a time over
> his peda, meticulously comparing the resulting images to the people in
> front of him with the aid of a small penlight that glared in their
> eyes. "All right, you can wait here," he said, indicating a patch of
> grass no different from any other in the vicinity. He spoke quietly
> into a communicator as they dragged the seabags over under his
> watchful eye and sat on them to wait.
>
> There was still no gray in the eastern sky when a light-colored shape
> ghosted overhead, coasting impossibly to a stop over the field and
> dropping with no sound but a faint thump. Its nose was toward them,
> pointing slightly to their left, and light shone from cockpit windows
> and a row of ports down the side. It looked a bit like the old Space
> Shuttle, except for the windows and not having black on the belly.

And being much much much smaller and quieter and slower and in fact utterly
unlike the space shuttle, except insofar as it is possibly a rocket with
wings, or possibly not...



> Peters shared a look with Todd, thinking, It ain't all that big!
> Todd's eyes were wide.
>
> "Looks like your ride's here," said the sentry. "How do you clowns
> rate this?"
>
> Peters unwound his lanky six feet, stretched a little, and shrugged.
> "We push, somebody else pulls. You know how it is. Can we go now?"
>
> "Yeah, you're on the list. Have a good trip."
>
> "Thanks."
>
> As they got closer the machine looked less and less familiar, like the
> Grallt themselves, who could easily pass for human until you could see
> their faces.

Nice, apart from my general aversion to humanoid aliens.

> It sat impossibly low, its landing gear invisible below
> wings that curved more than the human version's did. There was no door
> or hatch on this side; they walked around the port wing toward the
> tail, finding that the wingtip came just about to eye level on Peters.
> On the wingtip was a transparent bubble, maybe a running light but who
> the Hell knew, mounted on a flange with cross-slotted screws.
>
> Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.

Nice, except would they _casually_ notice that the screws were
cross-slotted? Why not delete the first occurrence of 'cross-slotted'?

Tim

Tim S

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Aug 5, 2003, 4:41:37 PM8/5/03
to
on 5/8/03 5:48 am, J. F. Cornwall at JCor...@cox.net wrote:

> Warrick M. Locke wrote:
>
>> Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
>> I thought it "broke" a bit.
>>
>> No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
>>
>
> (From a reader, not a writer) The descriptions of the drab mess deck,
> along with the peacoats and seabags, gives kind of an "old-time" feel to
> the first part. Then the arrival of an alien ship just sorta hits you
> upside the head with something completely different.
>
> I personally would probably not go past this opening, because it just
> doesn't seem to fit together. Maybe if the transition were a bit more
> gradual it wouldn't have the same effect.
>
> Anyway, just my two cents worth. :-)

Just in case you're in danger of thinking there's any kind of consensus
achieveable on any given piece of writing, I particularly liked the way the
old familiar scene turned out to contain an alien spaceship. It produces a
very engaging 'the exotic is normal, here' feel. Also, I like incongruity.

Tim

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:27:57 PM8/5/03
to
In article <3f2f55f3...@enews.newsguy.com>, b.s...@csuohio.edu
says...
Well, at least one person saw it the way I intended. It's somewhat
encouraging that it's at least possible.

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:29:38 PM8/5/03
to
In article <3f2f4307...@enews.newsguy.com>, b.s...@csuohio.edu
says...
There once was a prologue. It got hooted off the stage with extreme
derision by all critters concerned along about the first revision or
so. Looking back on it now, I blush to have ever committed it.

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:36:17 PM8/5/03
to
In article <memo.2003080...@roxanne.morgan.ntlworld.com>,
mary_...@cix.co.uk says...
Ah. I'll have to think on that some more. Problem is, I'm already
extremely long on word count; if I put more foreshadowing in the first
paragraph, something else will have to go.

Mary, I don't think you're my target audience -- I like things that
start a bit slow and build, so that's what I wrote; you like to open
with an explosion, real or figurative. I read those, too, with
enjoyment, but I know for sure that I'm not capable of keeping up the
pace well enough to support that kind of opening.

I will be trying to get the proper phrase on P. 93, though :-)

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:37:58 PM8/5/03
to
In article <o7t*gm...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk says...

> In article <MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net>,
> Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote:
> >Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> >I thought it "broke" a bit.
>
> I distinctly liked this. I don't mind at all about the sentence length;
> it just feels part of the writing style chosen. I like the way the
> tension is conveyed.
>
> "peda" jerked slightly: PDAs have been around for long enough already
> that people have informal names for them, and I've never heard them
> called "pedas".

Yes. The genesis of the story was a long time ago, at least five
years; PDAs weren't common items then, and I made up the neologism. It
has to go. Fortunately it isn't used often.

Can you suggest something else?


>
> I think you mention the Grallt too early: I would have had Todd notice
> the non-humanity of the pilot, rather than naming the species
> outright. It doesn't work to have someone notice the slight
> incongruity of trefoil- slotted screws after the omniscient-reader
> knows that the vehicle is alien.
>
> Tom
>

Thanks for commenting!

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:38:41 PM8/5/03
to
In article <3f2ff391....@enews.newsguy.com>, b.s...@csuohio.edu
says...
Well, that's what I was trying for; glad it worked for somebody.

Thanks, both.

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:42:21 PM8/5/03
to
In article <vj03q37...@corp.supernews.com>, sue...@execpc.com
says...

>
> Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
> news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net...
> > Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> > I thought it "broke" a bit.
> >
> > No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
> >
> > ---------------------
> >
> > Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> > the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> > shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> > talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> > nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
> > and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> > artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> > subdued.
>
> I hate the "as usual"; not sure I need the description of the mess deck.

In the following section, lots of things look really familiar until
they're examined closely; the two guys are continually being brought
up short by their assumptions. I wanted to place them in humdrum
surroundings, tensely aware that those surroundings were about to
change, and noticing things more or less at random; that's what
happens to me when big changes are in the offing.


> >
> Like it. Want to read more. Nice breaking place, you bastard, I believe is
> the correct term.
>
>
>

You do say the nicest things :-)


--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 6:48:02 PM8/5/03
to
In article <BB55C9EF.1F6EA%T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk>,
T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk says...

>
> Just in case you're in danger of thinking there's any kind of consensus
> achieveable on any given piece of writing, I particularly liked the way the
> old familiar scene turned out to contain an alien spaceship. It produces a
> very engaging 'the exotic is normal, here' feel. Also, I like incongruity.
>
> Tim
>
>
I had no expectation of consensus. It does seem that the meta-
consensus is that there's something wrong with the first paragraph;
you thought it was POV, some others didn't like one or the other of
the sentences, the sailors didn't pay attention to the (female) mess
cook, etc. So whatever the right way to fix it is, the first paragraph
is something of a problem, right?

Thanks for the compliment, by the way. The "familiar scene contains a
jarring element" is what I was trying for. There's more farther in.

--
Regards,
Ric

Mary Gentle

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 7:47:00 PM8/5/03
to
In article <MPG.1999ed507...@news.mesh.net>, warl...@mesh.net
(Warrick M. Locke) wrote:

I wasn't thinking of adding anything, necessarily, just literally shifting
the placing of a couple of sentences.



> Mary, I don't think you're my target audience -- I like things that
> start a bit slow and build, so that's what I wrote; you like to open
> with an explosion, real or figurative. I read those, too, with
> enjoyment, but I know for sure that I'm not capable of keeping up the
> pace well enough to support that kind of opening.

Yes, it's possible it's just not to my taste.

There /are/ long slow openings that I do like to read -- now I try to
think of examples, memory fails me, naturally! (And I've committed
non-explosive openings, too, so ner. :) Oh, hang on -- Peake, the Titus
books! Now they don't exactly open snappily...

What bothers me with this passage is just that, if it hadn't been on this
group, I wouldn't have assumed there was anything odd in it -- not until I
was way in -- and there wasn't enough in the _apparent_ genre to hook me
to read that far in. I don't read a lot of straight military stuff, and I
found there was too much of it before I got to hints of Other.

I don't know how many other readers would think that, though. It may well
be just me.



> I will be trying to get the proper phrase on P. 93, though :-)

You have no pity for my credit card... <whimper>

;-)

Mary

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 8:06:57 PM8/5/03
to
In article <memo.2003080...@roxanne.morgan.ntlworld.com>,
mary_...@cix.co.uk says...
> In article <MPG.1999ed507...@news.mesh.net>, warl...@mesh.net
> (Warrick M. Locke) wrote:
>
> > >
> > Ah. I'll have to think on that some more. Problem is, I'm already
> > extremely long on word count; if I put more foreshadowing in the first
> > paragraph, something else will have to go.
>
> I wasn't thinking of adding anything, necessarily, just literally shifting
> the placing of a couple of sentences.
>
> > Mary, I don't think you're my target audience -- I like things that
> > start a bit slow and build, so that's what I wrote; you like to open
> > with an explosion, real or figurative. I read those, too, with
> > enjoyment, but I know for sure that I'm not capable of keeping up the
> > pace well enough to support that kind of opening.
>
> Yes, it's possible it's just not to my taste.
>
> There /are/ long slow openings that I do like to read -- now I try to
> think of examples, memory fails me, naturally! (And I've committed
> non-explosive openings, too, so ner. :) Oh, hang on -- Peake, the Titus
> books! Now they don't exactly open snappily...
>
> What bothers me with this passage is just that, if it hadn't been on this
> group, I wouldn't have assumed there was anything odd in it -- not until I
> was way in -- and there wasn't enough in the _apparent_ genre to hook me
> to read that far in. I don't read a lot of straight military stuff, and I
> found there was too much of it before I got to hints of Other.

That's one of the reasons I posted this here. All of my first readers
have military backgrounds or read MilSF as their first choice (or
both), and this seemed to go down rather well with _them_. I wanted
other reactions, and yours is definitely a strong data point.

It isn't, or tries not to be, bog-standard MilSF; there are one or two
exploding spaceships, but they aren't the point. For one thing,
both the protagonist, Peters, and his sidekick, Todd, are extremely
junior, and this is where the conflict in the first third comes from.
No white berets for this pair!

Hm. Maybe I'll post the Sex Scene next :-)


>
> I don't know how many other readers would think that, though. It may well
> be just me.
>
> > I will be trying to get the proper phrase on P. 93, though :-)
>
> You have no pity for my credit card... <whimper>

Hey, I've gotta get it in shape, then I've gotta sell it. By that time
your residuals from Ash -- you _did_ get them by the pound, didn't
you? -- will be such that there'll be no pain :-)


--
Regards,
Ric

Suzanne A Blom

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 8:43:22 PM8/5/03
to

Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.1999f01de...@news.mesh.net...

> In article <BB55C9EF.1F6EA%T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk>,
> T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk says...
> >
> > Just in case you're in danger of thinking there's any kind of consensus
> > achieveable on any given piece of writing, I particularly liked the way
the
> > old familiar scene turned out to contain an alien spaceship. It produces
a
> > very engaging 'the exotic is normal, here' feel. Also, I like
incongruity.
> >
> >
> I had no expectation of consensus. It does seem that the meta-
> consensus is that there's something wrong with the first paragraph;
> you thought it was POV, some others didn't like one or the other of
> the sentences, the sailors didn't pay attention to the (female) mess
> cook, etc. So whatever the right way to fix it is, the first paragraph
> is something of a problem, right?
>
On the other hand, you told us to critique & the first thing we came to was
the first paragraph. What were we to do? We had to say something. Gush,
gush only is no fun.


Suzanne A Blom

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 8:49:42 PM8/5/03
to

Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.1999eec8b...@news.mesh.net...

> In article <vj03q37...@corp.supernews.com>, sue...@execpc.com
> says...
> >
> > Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
> > news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net...
> > > Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> > > I thought it "broke" a bit.
> > >
> > > No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
> > >
> > > ---------------------
> > >
> > > Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> > > the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> > > shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> > > talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> > > nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
> > > and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> > > artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> > > subdued.
> >
> > I hate the "as usual"; not sure I need the description of the mess deck.
>
> In the following section, lots of things look really familiar until
> they're examined closely; the two guys are continually being brought
> up short by their assumptions. I wanted to place them in humdrum
> surroundings, tensely aware that those surroundings were about to
> change, and noticing things more or less at random; that's what
> happens to me when big changes are in the offing.

Then I need it highlighted a bit more so I catch that in particular.
I did get the rest of the foreshadowing I believe you wanted.

sharkey

unread,
Aug 5, 2003, 11:48:05 PM8/5/03
to
Sayeth Tim S <T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk>:

>
> > Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.
>
> Nice, except would they _casually_ notice that the screws were
> cross-slotted? Why not delete the first occurrence of 'cross-slotted'?

Also, note that 3-way slotted screws aren't exactly rare down here
on Earth ... google for "Triwing bit". The ongoing attempts to make a
screw which can be opened by servicepeople but not by DIYfolk have
led to a bizarre profusion of specialty screw heads ...

-----sharks

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 12:28:31 AM8/6/03
to
In article <slrnbj0ujk....@killjoy.zoic.org>, sha...@zoic.org
says...
They're fairly rare though.

The biggest impetus for oddball screwheads is from manufacturers. A
screwhead that, e.g., sticks to the driver until it's in place, self-
centers, amd reliably accepts the torque necessary to drive it, is a
sort of Holy Grail. That's the reason for Torx: it stays on the driver
point better than most others, and accepts torque well. Hex socket is
cheaper to make but doesn't take the torque; square socket is cheaper
yet and takes torque well, but when it fails it fails *bad*. Straight
slots don't stay on the driver, don't self-center, and are lousy for
accepting torque. When they declare me Emperor of the World, my first
decree will declare straight-slotted screws illegal. I may not insist
on the death penalty until the third infraction :-)

On the original point -- for airplanes, cross-slotted screws (almost
always Phillips) are the default. If there's a screw on an airplane,
it probably has a Phillips head. A person who's around airplanes
regularly would expect that, and would need a second look to note the
odd slot arrangement. Embraer, in Brazil, makes airplanes identical to
Piper's, but all the screws are straight-slotted. It took me several
minutes to spot what was odd about a perfectly normal Aztec...

--
Regards,
Ric

sharkey

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 1:40:57 AM8/6/03
to
Sayeth Warrick M Locke <warl...@mesh.net>:

>
> When they declare me Emperor of the World, my first
> decree will declare straight-slotted screws illegal. I may not insist
> on the death penalty until the third infraction :-)

Yup, they're the first thing to go on any motorcycle I'm playing
with. The second thing to go is Phillips heads ... Posidrives
are okay, but hex or inhex (Allen keys) are far far less likely
to get damaged in my experience ...

Anyway, my point was that (for me) it's an Unusual Stuff signifier,
but not necessarily a High Weirdness signifier, because the first
thing it makes me think of is consumer goods.

If aliens really wanted to weird me out, they'd have to go for
left-handed threads ;-). But to be honest, I'd be wondering
why they didn't just weld it with their Sonic Screwdrivers :-)

-----sharks

Neil Barnes

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 1:50:27 AM8/6/03
to
Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
news:MPG.1999edbf2...@news.mesh.net:

>> "peda" jerked slightly: PDAs have been around for long enough


>> already that people have informal names for them, and I've
>> never heard them called "pedas".
>
> Yes. The genesis of the story was a long time ago, at least
> five years; PDAs weren't common items then, and I made up the
> neologism. It has to go. Fortunately it isn't used often.
>
> Can you suggest something else?

'Organiser' or, around me, 'disorganiser'.


Neil

--

note - the email address in this message is valid but the
signal to noise ratio approaches -40dB. A more useful address
is a similar account at ntlworld-fullstop-com.

Grey Yuen

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 3:08:54 AM8/6/03
to
Sorry all, hello again!! *wave*
Been a long time since I visitedto this newsgroup. :)

Just some humble words.. I think the saidism effect is quite glaring.
And since there're only two of them, it might not even be necessary to
tag the quotes.

>Time did pass. "Reckon it's time to go," Peters observed at 0400.
>
>"Hit the head first?" Todd suggested.
>
>

>"Just another transfer," Peters advised with determined heartiness.
>
>"You say it," said Todd, shifting his seabag to a more comfortable
>position.
>
>


Grey (my first draft is STILL not finished)

Thomas Womack

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 5:46:58 AM8/6/03
to
In article <MPG.1999edbf2...@news.mesh.net>,

Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote:

>Yes. The genesis of the story was a long time ago, at least five
>years; PDAs weren't common items then, and I made up the neologism. It
>has to go. Fortunately it isn't used often.
>
>Can you suggest something else?

I usually hear them called "handhelds".

Tom

Khiem Tran

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 6:30:17 AM8/6/03
to
sharkey <sha...@zoic.org> wrote in message news:<slrnbj1578....@killjoy.zoic.org>...


Hi Ric!

Just to be clear on this... Did Peters and Todd KNOW it was an alien
ship before they saw the screws?

I assumed they did because of the narration, but if they did why would
they be surprised by the screws? (Unless, of course, they were
planning to steal a piece of alien technology and had only thought to
bring along Earth screwdrivers...)

If they didn't, then that puts a whole new spin on things (and
possibly a much more interesting one). It would at least explain why
the aliens look like us and have spaceships like us (i.e. they're
trying to do it on purpose, but they get little things wrongs. So
which was it?

Still scratching my head,
Khiem.

Pam Phillips

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 8:23:20 AM8/6/03
to
> Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
> news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net:

>
>> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
>> the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
>> shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
>> talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
>> nibbling stale sweet rolls.

Dan Goodman <dsg...@visi.com> wrote in
news:Xns93CDE9ADBB8...@209.98.13.60:

> The first sentence is too long for my taste; I prefer no longer than ten
> words.
>

If you don't mind, I'd like to throw in my own two cents.

I think the problem with the first sentence is not that's too long, but
that it wanders. After the main clause introducing Peters and Todd, the
subjects of the next two phrases are their gear, and then the implied
subject of the last three phrases drops back to the two men.


Aside than that, I don't have much to add that hasn't been said by others.

Pam

Mary Gentle

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 3:41:00 PM8/6/03
to
In article <MPG.199a028fe...@news.mesh.net>, warl...@mesh.net
(Warrick M. Locke) wrote:

Trouble is, if I'm reading Mil stuff these days, it tends to be
non-fiction. 'Twas not always so...


>
> It isn't, or tries not to be, bog-standard MilSF; there are one or two
> exploding spaceships, but they aren't the point. For one thing,
> both the protagonist, Peters, and his sidekick, Todd, are extremely
> junior, and this is where the conflict in the first third comes from.
> No white berets for this pair!

If not bog-standard MilSF, where do you want to put it, ideally?


>
> Hm. Maybe I'll post the Sex Scene next :-)

Ooh, yes please! The phrase "trefoil screws" suddenly takes on a whole
new meaning...

> >
> > I don't know how many other readers would think that, though. It may
> > well be just me.
> >
> > > I will be trying to get the proper phrase on P. 93, though :-)
> >
> > You have no pity for my credit card... <whimper>
>
> Hey, I've gotta get it in shape, then I've gotta sell it. By that time
> your residuals from Ash -- you _did_ get them by the pound, didn't
> you? -- will be such that there'll be no pain :-)

Ah, I'll plug in a purchase between buying the yacht and the penthouse
flat...

I'll remind you of the joys of a writer's life when you get a look at
/your/ royalty statements. :)

Mary

Tim S

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 5:03:18 PM8/6/03
to
on 5/8/03 11:48 pm, Warrick M. Locke at warl...@mesh.net wrote:

> In article <BB55C9EF.1F6EA%T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk>,
> T...@timsilverman.demon.co.uk says...
>>
>> Just in case you're in danger of thinking there's any kind of consensus
>> achieveable on any given piece of writing, I particularly liked the way the
>> old familiar scene turned out to contain an alien spaceship. It produces a
>> very engaging 'the exotic is normal, here' feel. Also, I like incongruity.
>>
>> Tim
>>
>>
> I had no expectation of consensus. It does seem that the meta-
> consensus is that there's something wrong with the first paragraph;
> you thought it was POV, some others didn't like one or the other of
> the sentences, the sailors didn't pay attention to the (female) mess
> cook, etc. So whatever the right way to fix it is, the first paragraph
> is something of a problem, right?

You might be onto something there... :-)

Particularly since the phrase "as usual" and the lack of attention to the
mess cook were both things that jumped out at me (as POV problems, as it
happened, but they could be interpreted as a different sort of problem
depending on how you go about fixing it).

>
> Thanks for the compliment, by the way. The "familiar scene contains a
> jarring element" is what I was trying for. There's more farther in.

You're welcome.

Tim

Tim S

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 5:03:18 PM8/6/03
to
on 6/8/03 12:00 am, Mary Gentle at mary_...@cix.co.uk wrote:

> In article <MPG.1999ed507...@news.mesh.net>, warl...@mesh.net
> (Warrick M. Locke) wrote:
>

<snip>

>
>> Mary, I don't think you're my target audience -- I like things that
>> start a bit slow and build, so that's what I wrote; you like to open
>> with an explosion, real or figurative. I read those, too, with
>> enjoyment, but I know for sure that I'm not capable of keeping up the
>> pace well enough to support that kind of opening.
>
> Yes, it's possible it's just not to my taste.
>
> There /are/ long slow openings that I do like to read -- now I try to
> think of examples, memory fails me, naturally! (And I've committed
> non-explosive openings, too, so ner. :) Oh, hang on -- Peake, the Titus
> books! Now they don't exactly open snappily...
>
> What bothers me with this passage is just that, if it hadn't been on this
> group, I wouldn't have assumed there was anything odd in it -- not until I
> was way in -- and there wasn't enough in the _apparent_ genre to hook me
> to read that far in. I don't read a lot of straight military stuff, and I
> found there was too much of it before I got to hints of Other.

I don't read much military stuff either, but since it was shelved with the
sf I started thinking, 'Hmm, this looks like straight seafaring tales. I
wonder what the big surprise will be.'

Tim

Tim S

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 5:03:18 PM8/6/03
to

You can know intellectually that things are different and still be surprised
by the details.

Somebody on rasfc not long ago was taken aback to learn that light bulbs in
the UK are mostly bayonet-fitting not screw-fitting, even though they
already knew perfectly well that the UK isn't the same as America.

Tim

Julie Pascal

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 8:30:15 PM8/6/03
to

"Warrick M. Locke" <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message

news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net...
> Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> I thought it "broke" a bit.
>
> No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
>
> ---------------------
>
> Their orders said 0500, but by 0200 Peters and Todd were sitting in
> the forward mess deck in dress blues, seabags stuffed to bursting and
> shoved under the table, peacoats folded neatly on the next bench,
> talking little in low nervous voices, sipping burned coffee and
> nibbling stale sweet rolls. The mess deck was as usual, welded steel
> and pea-green plastic paint, conduits and pipes and gadgets,
> artificial sunlight on a scene that could have used something more
> subdued. The lone messcook on midwatch, a short redhead with freckles
> and a figure that showed through her whites, wanted to chat, but
> finally retreated into the galley when all she could get was grunts.

I had to pause before the end of the first sentance to take a
breath, lost my place and had to find it back. :-) I don't mind long
sentences but at "sipping" I had to scan back to reaffirm the
subject.

Oh, and any navy food I've ever had was pretty good.

I'm having trouble picturing the mess deck. The "as usual"
made me wonder if there was something different about
this mess deck than the only one I've ever been in. The welded
steel, paint, conduits and pipes is what I remember and I don't
mind at all being reminded. The "artificial sunlight" made me
think of holograhic ceilings and computer controlled decor.

The female messcook made me trip.

I did get the idea that what ever was happening at 0500 was enough
to make sleep a bit difficult.

> Time did pass. "Reckon it's time to go," Peters observed at 0400.
>
> "Hit the head first?" Todd suggested.
>

> "Yeah." Peters pulled on his peacoat, slung his seabag over his
> shoulder, and looked around while Todd did the same. The little
> messcook stuck her head out the galley hatch and Todd gave her a
> negligent wave; she didn't respond, just stood holding the hatch
> coaming, serious and wide-eyed, freckles prominent.

For some reason I like the idea of this person as a gangly
boy just out of high school, red hair and freckles and all.
Opie.

> The First Class at the brow was slumped behind the desk with his
> peacoat collar turned up around his ears; he checked IDs and handed
> them back with minimal conversation. They stopped at the head of the
> brow to render honors, then humped their bags down the walkway, each
> looking back in glances that turned furtive when the other caught him
> at it.
>

> "Just another transfer," Peters advised with determined heartiness.
>
> "You say it," said Todd, shifting his seabag to a more comfortable
> position.
>

> They fell into step up the quay, heels thudding on the worn concrete,
> free arms swinging. Unlit buildings threw back echoes of their

> footsteps in the empty streets, generators and pumps and ships' power
> plants making the low roar that both of them thought of as "quiet." A
> cold front had come through on Saturday, bringing sapphire-clear skies

> and a sharp drop in temperature, not usual for mid-November in North


> Florida, and the sailors puffed a little, their breath condensing in
> the chill air, as they picked their way across the field in the early
> dark. Stars glittered overhead, and a bare sliver of waning moon
> hovered at the eastern horizon.

For what it's worth...0500 skies can definately be a deep
sapphire blue...stars and moon and all. I'm guessing that since
you've placed the moon in a particular spot that you've done it
on purpose?

> A sentry stopped them, M27 at the ready, and they dumped their seabags
> on the grass and reached for ID blocks as he grounded arms. The Marine
> gave the blocks a cursory inspection and waved them one at a time over
> his peda, meticulously comparing the resulting images to the people in
> front of him with the aid of a small penlight that glared in their
> eyes. "All right, you can wait here," he said, indicating a patch of
> grass no different from any other in the vicinity. He spoke quietly
> into a communicator as they dragged the seabags over under his
> watchful eye and sat on them to wait.
>
> There was still no gray in the eastern sky when a light-colored shape
> ghosted overhead, coasting impossibly to a stop over the field and
> dropping with no sound but a faint thump. Its nose was toward them,
> pointing slightly to their left, and light shone from cockpit windows
> and a row of ports down the side. It looked a bit like the old Space
> Shuttle, except for the windows and not having black on the belly.

> Peters shared a look with Todd, thinking, It ain't all that big!
> Todd's eyes were wide.
>
> "Looks like your ride's here," said the sentry. "How do you clowns
> rate this?"

The cook seemed concerned. Peters and Todd are at least
on edge and serious. The sentry sounds like they got the berth
everyone wants.

> Peters unwound his lanky six feet, stretched a little, and shrugged.
> "We push, somebody else pulls. You know how it is. Can we go now?"

I don't know exactly what Peters means by this but I interpret
it as making a reply without answering the question.

> "Yeah, you're on the list. Have a good trip."
>
> "Thanks."
>
> As they got closer the machine looked less and less familiar, like the
> Grallt themselves, who could easily pass for human until you could see

> their faces. It sat impossibly low, its landing gear invisible below


> wings that curved more than the human version's did. There was no door
> or hatch on this side; they walked around the port wing toward the
> tail, finding that the wingtip came just about to eye level on Peters.

> On the wingtip was a transparent bubble, maybe a running light but who


> the Hell knew, mounted on a flange with cross-slotted screws.
>

> Hell. Not cross-slotted screws. Trefoil-slotted screws.

Overall I liked it quite a lot. I don't think I'd want to jump in
any faster. I feel safe with you...that you're setting the scene
with enough detail and care that you aren't going to let me down
later by having things not make sense.

One point in retrospect...what rank are they? And when do
I find out? I'm thinking enlisted... late 20's. I dont' know
why late 20's *shrug*. Not in their first enlistment anyway.

--Julie


Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 10:31:08 PM8/6/03
to
In article <bgs6i...@enews2.newsguy.com>, ju...@pascal.org says...

>
> "Warrick M. Locke" <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
> news:MPG.1998de876...@news.mesh.net...
> > Roughly 750 words, which is a bit long; my apologies. I clipped where
> > I thought it "broke" a bit.
> >
> > No specific requests. Thank you in advance.
> >
> > ---------------------
> >
>
> I had to pause before the end of the first sentance to take a
> breath, lost my place and had to find it back. :-) I don't mind long
> sentences but at "sipping" I had to scan back to reaffirm the
> subject.
>
> Oh, and any navy food I've ever had was pretty good.

The Navy food I had was OK; of course I was working pretty hard and
hungry :-)

I think I'm leaving the sentence alone.


>
> I'm having trouble picturing the mess deck. The "as usual"
> made me wonder if there was something different about
> this mess deck than the only one I've ever been in. The welded
> steel, paint, conduits and pipes is what I remember and I don't
> mind at all being reminded. The "artificial sunlight" made me
> think of holograhic ceilings and computer controlled decor.

It's one of the things that's supposed to clue you that it isn't
"right now" -- in fact, it's 2053. The 17th of November, in fact. By
my calculations, that should be three days before the New Moon.

Not long ago, the President of one of the companies that makes LEDs
made a speech to a group of people whose interest is lighting -- house
lighting, offices, workplaces, etc. He opened the speech by pointing
to the ceiling and saying, "that's all going to go away." The mess
deck is illuminated by rectangular panels of white-light LEDs whose
spectrum is adjusted to be very close to that of early-afternoon
sunlight on a clear summer day in the mid-latitudes. Tell me I can put
that in without it being an "infodump" :-)

The scene of the two men, with seabags over their shoulders, walking
down one of the streets at Mayport Naval Station with the nearly-waned
Old Moon over their shoulders, on their way to meet the alien ship,
was the image that *started* this story in my mind.

> The female messcook made me trip.
>

[..]


> > negligent wave; she didn't respond, just stood holding the hatch
> > coaming, serious and wide-eyed, freckles prominent.
>
> For some reason I like the idea of this person as a gangly
> boy just out of high school, red hair and freckles and all.
> Opie.

Yes, but female and not very "pretty" in the adolescent male fantasy
sense. I've made up backstory details for her and a lot of the other
characters -- her name is Lena Massey; she's 19, a Seaman 1st (E-3);
she's from Louisiana (Mandell, in fact); she's got the midwatch on the
mess deck as NJP for PDA, to wit, kissing her boyfriend while in
uniform... it goes on. I've got nine cats and a very inefficient
vacuum cleaner :-)

> > "Just another transfer," Peters advised with determined heartiness.
> >
> > "You say it," said Todd, shifting his seabag to a more comfortable
> > position.

Pursuant to Mary's suggestion, these two sentences now come first,
before what was the first paragraph here. It works! [I deleted the
line about the seabag.]


>
> For what it's worth...0500 skies can definately be a deep
> sapphire blue...stars and moon and all. I'm guessing that since
> you've placed the moon in a particular spot that you've done it
> on purpose?

Yes, I know. See above.

> > "Looks like your ride's here," said the sentry. "How do you clowns
> > rate this?"
>
> The cook seemed concerned. Peters and Todd are at least
> on edge and serious. The sentry sounds like they got the berth
> everyone wants.
>
> > Peters unwound his lanky six feet, stretched a little, and shrugged.
> > "We push, somebody else pulls. You know how it is. Can we go now?"
>
> I don't know exactly what Peters means by this but I interpret
> it as making a reply without answering the question.

I don't know how to explain it. If you've never been in the military
it probably makes little or no sense; if you have it probably passed
without notice... I put several things like that in for flavor,
details to establish that to some extent I know what I'm talking
about.

>
> Overall I liked it quite a lot. I don't think I'd want to jump in
> any faster. I feel safe with you...that you're setting the scene
> with enough detail and care that you aren't going to let me down
> later by having things not make sense.

Thanks.

> One point in retrospect...what rank are they? And when do
> I find out? I'm thinking enlisted... late 20's. I dont' know
> why late 20's *shrug*. Not in their first enlistment anyway.

Enlisted, late 20s is exactly right. When the story opens, Peters is
28, Todd is 26. Peters is a Second Class (E5 to most of you) and Todd
is a Third Class (E4). This is the central fact that creates the
tension for the main line of the story.

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 10:32:30 PM8/6/03
to
In article <slrnbj1578....@killjoy.zoic.org>, sha...@zoic.org
says...

They do have left-handed threads (and are left-handed themselves.) The
lack of Sonic Screwdrivers is a plot point :-)


--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 6, 2003, 10:35:01 PM8/6/03
to
In article <6115c740.03080...@posting.google.com>,
nguyen_k...@yahoo.com.au says...

> sharkey <sha...@zoic.org> wrote in message news:<slrnbj1578....@killjoy.zoic.org>...
> > Sayeth Warrick M Locke <warl...@mesh.net>:
> > >
> > > When they declare me Emperor of the World, my first
> > > decree will declare straight-slotted screws illegal. I may not insist
> > > on the death penalty until the third infraction :-)
> >
> > Yup, they're the first thing to go on any motorcycle I'm playing
> > with. The second thing to go is Phillips heads ... Posidrives
> > are okay, but hex or inhex (Allen keys) are far far less likely
> > to get damaged in my experience ...
> >
> > Anyway, my point was that (for me) it's an Unusual Stuff signifier,
> > but not necessarily a High Weirdness signifier, because the first
> > thing it makes me think of is consumer goods.
> >
> > If aliens really wanted to weird me out, they'd have to go for
> > left-handed threads ;-). But to be honest, I'd be wondering
> > why they didn't just weld it with their Sonic Screwdrivers :-)
> >
> > -----sharks
>
>
> Hi Ric!
>
> Just to be clear on this... Did Peters and Todd KNOW it was an alien
> ship before they saw the screws?
>
> I assumed they did because of the narration, but if they did why would
> they be surprised by the screws? (Unless, of course, they were
> planning to steal a piece of alien technology and had only thought to
> bring along Earth screwdrivers...)

Yes, they knew it would be *something* alien. The specific vehicle is,
well, not a surprise per se, but they didn't really know what to
expect.

As I've said elsewhere, for Americans and most Europeans who know
airplanes, Phillips screws are the unmarked case. Peters notes the
screws because at first glance they're familiar -- but on the second
look they're not the kind they use in Kansas :-)

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 6, 2003, 10:35:52 PM8/6/03
to
In article <+Cy*Ko...@news.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
two...@chiark.greenend.org.uk says...
Thanks, I think that's what it's going to be. A little pedestrian, but
it isn't one of the stars of the show anyway, just background.

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 6, 2003, 10:46:25 PM8/6/03
to
In article <memo.2003080...@roxanne.morgan.ntlworld.com>,
mary_...@cix.co.uk says...
> In article <MPG.199a028fe...@news.mesh.net>, warl...@mesh.net
> (Warrick M. Locke) wrote:
>
> > In article <memo.2003080...@roxanne.morgan.ntlworld.com>,
> > mary_...@cix.co.uk says...
> > > In article <MPG.1999ed507...@news.mesh.net>,
> > > warl...@mesh.net (Warrick M. Locke) wrote:
> > >
> > > > >
> > > > Ah. I'll have to think on that some more. Problem is, I'm already
> > > > extremely long on word count; if I put more foreshadowing in the
> > > > first paragraph, something else will have to go.
> > >
> > > I wasn't thinking of adding anything, necessarily, just literally
> > > shifting the placing of a couple of sentences.

Bingo!

And thank you very much. "Just another transfer..." is now the first
line. It works perfectly, IMO.



> > That's one of the reasons I posted this here. All of my first readers
> > have military backgrounds or read MilSF as their first choice (or
> > both), and this seemed to go down rather well with _them_. I wanted
> > other reactions, and yours is definitely a strong data point.
>
> Trouble is, if I'm reading Mil stuff these days, it tends to be
> non-fiction. 'Twas not always so...
> >
> > It isn't, or tries not to be, bog-standard MilSF; there are one or two
> > exploding spaceships, but they aren't the point. For one thing,
> > both the protagonist, Peters, and his sidekick, Todd, are extremely
> > junior, and this is where the conflict in the first third comes from.
> > No white berets for this pair!
>
> If not bog-standard MilSF, where do you want to put it, ideally?

Comedy of (military) manners in a MilSF setting.

Most of the tension, at least in the first part, comes from the fact
that Peters and Todd are _extremely_ junior. They're dumped into a
situation that, in something from Weber or even Stirling, would be
handled by officers, though perhaps junior ones. They aren't
comfortable with it, but manage to cope. Their seniors are surprised
and unpleased with the result...

> >
> > Hm. Maybe I'll post the Sex Scene next :-)
>
> Ooh, yes please! The phrase "trefoil screws" suddenly takes on a whole
> new meaning...

Down, girl :-)

I have to convert it to ASCII first. That part has been sitting on the
disk for a while.

> > >
> > > I don't know how many other readers would think that, though. It may
> > > well be just me.
> > >
> > > > I will be trying to get the proper phrase on P. 93, though :-)
> > >
> > > You have no pity for my credit card... <whimper>
> >
> > Hey, I've gotta get it in shape, then I've gotta sell it. By that time
> > your residuals from Ash -- you _did_ get them by the pound, didn't
> > you? -- will be such that there'll be no pain :-)
>
> Ah, I'll plug in a purchase between buying the yacht and the penthouse
> flat...
>
> I'll remind you of the joys of a writer's life when you get a look at
> /your/ royalty statements. :)

I take it you _didn't_ get your royalties paid by the pound, or
possibly by the stump :-)

No, I have no illusions about payment levels. If I can sell it at all
I'll be pleased as Punch; the money sounds like just about enough to
clear one of my credit cards. But I owe you a drink for the bit about
the first line -- if we're ever in sufficient propinquity :-)

--
Regards,
Ric

Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 6, 2003, 10:50:29 PM8/6/03
to
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, compliments, and insults :-)

A problem remains: the bit about the female messcook, and the sailors
not paying attention when they'll be away from women for a while, has
bogged several people down, not all of them here.

Part of the reason the guys don't react is that, at this point in the
story, they expect this to be a short-term assignment -- ninety days
or so. The title of the story is _Temporary Duty_; is that sufficient
(in retrospect) or do I need to find a way to work that in somewhere
early?

--
Regards,
Ric

Dan Goodman

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 11:13:31 PM8/6/03
to
Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
news:MPG.199b76361...@news.mesh.net:

>> If aliens really wanted to weird me out, they'd have to go for
>> left-handed threads ;-). But to be honest, I'd be wondering
>> why they didn't just weld it with their Sonic Screwdrivers :-)
>
> They do have left-handed threads (and are left-handed themselves.) The
> lack of Sonic Screwdrivers is a plot point :-)
>

If anyone is skeptical about whether left-handed threads really would be
more convenient for a left-handed species -- I'm lefthanded, and I've
learned by sad experience to use screwdrivers with my right hand.

--
Dan Goodman dsg...@visi.com
Journal: http://dsgood.blogspot.com

Dan Goodman

unread,
Aug 6, 2003, 11:18:06 PM8/6/03
to
Warrick M. Locke <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in
news:MPG.199b79666...@news.mesh.net:

> Comedy of (military) manners in a MilSF setting.
>
> Most of the tension, at least in the first part, comes from the fact
> that Peters and Todd are _extremely_ junior. They're dumped into a
> situation that, in something from Weber or even Stirling, would be
> handled by officers, though perhaps junior ones.

Suggestion: Have someone address one of them in a way appropriate to
someone of the rank which someone doing that job "should" have, rather than
appropriate to their actual rank. And then get flustered about it. That
would give a chance to uobtrusively explain that situation.

> They aren't
> comfortable with it, but manage to cope. Their seniors are surprised
> and unpleased with the result...
>

Why are they chosen?

Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 6, 2003, 11:59:45 PM8/6/03
to
In article <Xns93CFE2C6A68...@209.98.13.60>,
dsg...@visi.com says...
From the next bit:

"Enlisted people," said Captain Van Truong. "_Junior_ enlisted
people." He sounded disgusted and angry.

"That's what they asked for," the admiral said mildly. "Sailor, how
did you end up with this assignment?"

"Dumb luck, sir," Peters told him. "I happened to be on the phone to
my detailer when the request came up on the computer."

--
Regards,
Ric

Brian M. Scott

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Aug 6, 2003, 11:48:33 PM8/6/03
to
On Wed, 6 Aug 2003 21:31:08 -0500, Warrick M. Locke
<warl...@mesh.net> wrote:

[...]

>she's got the midwatch on the
>mess deck as NJP for PDA, to wit, kissing her boyfriend while in
>uniform...

Non-judicial punishment I know; what's PDA? The general idea's
clear, but I don't recognize the acronym.

[...]


Julie Pascal

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Aug 6, 2003, 11:47:34 PM8/6/03
to

"Warrick M. Locke" <warl...@mesh.net> wrote in message
news:MPG.199b7a703...@news.mesh.net...

> Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, compliments, and insults :-)
>
> A problem remains: the bit about the female messcook, and the sailors
> not paying attention when they'll be away from women for a while, has
> bogged several people down, not all of them here.

I think that your readers are over-anylizing. I only tripped
because she was a she, not at all because the guys weren't
interested in flirting. They are too distracted to sleep, after
all. And they've been in dock for a while, yes?

> Part of the reason the guys don't react is that, at this point in the
> story, they expect this to be a short-term assignment -- ninety days
> or so. The title of the story is _Temporary Duty_; is that sufficient
> (in retrospect) or do I need to find a way to work that in somewhere
> early?

_Temporary Duty_ sounds like a title I'd come up with. Ick.

I don't think you'd need to work it in but it wouldn't be that hard,
would it, to have your two sailors make some remark about doing
something or other for 90 days...is there anything a guy would pack
a 90 day supply of just in case he can't get it where he's going?

Now, if they were *girl* sailors...

--Julie


Warrick M. Locke

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Aug 7, 2003, 12:10:22 AM8/7/03
to
In article <3f31cb50....@enews.newsguy.com>, b.s...@csuohio.edu
says...
Public Display of Affection. Considered prejudicial to discipline and
good order, but not always a "crash and burn" offense -- as in this
case, where the miscreant :-) has been assigned some mildly unpleasant
but not tortuous duty in punishment.

Military Non-Judicial Punishment sometimes sounds horrid to civilians
who are accustomed to the whole panoply of rights -- counsel, no self-
incrimination, and all that. When it's working right, NJP works much
better than the "normal" system. All the ones I've been involved in
have been a sort of consultation, with the accuser, the defendant, and
the judge coming to agree on what the crime was and what the
punishment will be. At its worst it can generate some genuinely horrid
abuses, which is why civilians have the more complex system.

--
Regards,
Ric

Jonathan Hendry

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Aug 7, 2003, 12:13:28 AM8/7/03
to

"Brian M. Scott" <b.s...@csuohio.edu> wrote in message
news:3f31cb50....@enews.newsguy.com...

Public Display of Affection


Brian M. Scott

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Aug 6, 2003, 11:51:15 PM8/6/03
to

It's enough for me, but I wasn't bothered in the first place.

Brian

Julie Pascal

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Aug 7, 2003, 12:00:15 AM8/7/03
to

"Brian M. Scott" <b.s...@csuohio.edu> wrote in message
news:3f31cb50....@enews.newsguy.com...

Public Display of Affection.


--Julie