Old 12-1-2008, 11:42 PM   #1
All_That_Chaz
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Default New story - Back to Earth

So I haven't submitted something to the lit forum in a long time. Poetry's more my area of expertise (read: modest skill) but I was inspired by iPatcH's new album to write a some science-fiction based off of my interpretation of his music. I've never written science-fiction and something that's definitely been giving me something to think about is just how much I need to elaborate on the world I'm creating and how much I should leave to the reader as to filling in the blanks.

What follows is the very beginning of my story. It stops abruptly where I'd have to figure out some interesting character dialogue that I'm not certain how will come together. It will kind of reveal a lot about the characters so I don't want to screw it up. I'm just looking for opinions. I'm literally like 1/8th through the material I have. Not saying that's indicative of length, more 1/8th through my interpretation of the album.

Anyway, all opinions are welcome. Hopefully I'll get more in on this and I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions to see if I have any idea what I'm doing writing science-fictions. Thanks for reading!

UPDATE 12/3/08: Edited Lily's introduction. Completed their first meeting.

UPDATE 12/12/08: The next morning...

UPDATE 1/27/09: A day in the life of an Earthling

UPDATE 1/29/13: A day in the life continued and a fateful encounter.


Back to Earth

It’s a bright summer morning. The sky hangs overhead with a pale blue hue, dotted with clouds. The bright sun in all its glory shines down upon one of the many ecological preserves on planet Earth - endless verdant fields long devoid of human spoiling. Ever since the humans’ industrial centers had been relocated to Mars, Earth’s primary purpose became to provide Mars with a transplanted atmosphere and water supply and at one time was the great suburbia to its sister planet. However, in recent centuries mankind has chosen to give up the beauty of its home planet in favor of a shorter commute. The blue planet now remains largely vacant, save for those who cannot afford the journey to Mars, or those who value Earth’s natural beauty over the cold mechanical lifestyle of Mars. The meadow shimmers with the sunlight as it sways with the wind. This wind rushes through a nearby forest and the trees respond to its advances by performing a dance of their own, their leaves rustling and singing in harmony.

Alone in the grass lies an alien form quite foreign to this setting. Even the sun cannot illuminate its dull, metallic frame. It lies motionless, its vaguely humanoid shape completely unaffected by its picturesque surroundings. The surroundings, however, cradle its slender seven foot frame in the grass.

> Falling... Falling... Falling...
> Visual sensors picking up no surrounding activity.
> Trace input from sensory components detected.
> Signal increasing.
> Visual sensors indicate bright light directly overhead... adjusting...
> Aural sensors do not recognize surrounding sound.


Acting very deliberately, the machine picked itself up and revolved its head in a complete revolution, taking in the surroundings. Remaining motionless, it almost looked perplexed, if a machine was capable of such a feeling.

> Data banks have no information on this location.
> Am surrounded by green protrusions from the ground.
> Data banks cannot identify, searching for closest approximation...
> Data suggests dyed hair follicles on human skin... Probability of match: 0.002%.
> Beginning data collection...


And so the strange robot began wandering through the fields, its bipedal structure stepping one “foot” in front of the other. For miles and miles it roamed in the emptiness. Its hard metal feet pushed aside and trampled the unrecognized grass beneath them. It stared at the strange delicate whiskers as would an infant feeling water run through its fingers, in wonder of this strange sensation and silently collecting data into its small pool of life experience. And like the infant, the robot did not partake in introspection towards its own lack of knowledge. It merely continued on doing what it must, collecting data until some outside force would change its necessary activity.

*****

Lily lived in a cottage with her mother and grandfather on the land that her family had cultivated for generations. Every part of the cottage was a reflection of the Earthling conservationist mentality. It was built from a sturdy material designed to retain heat. The windows were engineered to allow maximum sunlight in and the inside adjusted its electrical light output to make sure no excess power was used. On the roof were advanced solar panels that automatically changed position in order to bring in the most power possible. As ecologically-driven and thought out the cottage’s construction seemed, it was not without a sense of charm. The petunia-lined dirt walkway leading to the old oak doorway greeted your footsteps with a soothing crackling sound. In the lake behind the cottage the sunlight danced with the movement of the water. This made for refreshing fishing excursions, and a few stolen hours of swimming.

However, most of Lily’s family’s time was spent working with the crops, tending the livestock, and seeing to all of the other chores a small family must see to in order to survive. Such was life for most of those who stayed behind after the great migration. Each family was forced to fend for itself. Many took pride in their lifestyle, feeling a sense of dignity in being able to survive only on what they themselves create on their land. This was of course a drastic difference from the world of Mars where they were dependant on the Earth for their water, food, and air as the inhospitable but commercially cheap land did not yield much along the lines of sustenance.

Lily was truly a product of her home planet’s new way of life. She stood at a stately height of nearly six feet tall. Her body possessed measurements built for labor rather than Martian beauty magazines. Her face was comely and her brown hair was habitually tied back in order to keep from harassing her while she toiled. Her clothing similarly served more the purpose of work than of fashion. She regularly wore her handed-down and fraying overalls as she helped her grandfather work the land during the day. She was especially fond of helping to run the machine that plowed an acre of land in exactly three minutes and fifty seconds. The sheer magnitude of the undertaking coupled with the precision with which the machine accomplished it never ceased to amaze her.

However well-adjusted Lily may have been, she had always been somewhat of a misfit. Her dark eyes shined forth with an intelligence that led to most of her problems. Growing up she had always been curious about the lives of those on Mars. She used every spare moment she had as a child reading about Mars and the fantastic things they made there. She dreamed of meeting someone who lived on Mars to learn more about the robots, computers, hovercrafts, and everything else that was so important that they chose to live on the planet that her mother routinely reminded her was a desolate, ugly place. Her affinity and curiosity for industry was not uncommon among the children, but those children normally went to seek their fortune on Mars. Lily did not resent that her family needed her too much for her to go. She was not spiteful of her life. She loved to spend nights out in the pasture to feel the wind blow through her hair and the grass press against her body. She felt at peace with the stars shining down on her dark skin. But all aesthetic appreciation for her home planet aside, her intelligence and curiosity did make for an existence that lent itself to a life defined by boredom.

It was on one of these nights Lily was enjoying the pleasant summer night breeze when she heard a strange clanking in the distance coming from the local ecological preserve. It sounded like one of the giant tilling machines on her farm when they jammed and malfunctioned, but certainly nobody was tilling in the preserve, much less at night? She got up and stared in the direction of the noise. In the moonlight she could just barely make out what looked like a tall man walking in large circles slowly moving in her direction.

What kind of fool is this? Certainly isn’t very smart to walk in circles if you’re trying to get anywhere. And what’s he doing way out here in the middle of the night? Our farm’s the closest for miles.

Lily activated her wrist-flashlight and shined it on the strange figure revealing the clanking metallic physique which presented more questions than answers about the shadowy form some twenty meters away from her. The robot appeared to react in shock to the invasive light. It remained stationary while revolving its head to view the source of the light. Presented with humanity, the robot calculated a new directive.

> Activating speech communication module.
> Configuring voice - Formal.
> “Please approach. I require assistance.”


Lily stood motionless for a moment. How does one react to an obviously un-human voice asking for help? She had heard a voice like this before from the computer in the workshop, but never out in the open. Lily only continued regarding the robot and shining her light on it. She was not scared, but excited at this amazing machine that appeared to be conversing with her!

> No response from human - repeat command.
> “Please approach. I require assistance.”


As if waking from a daydream, Lily inhaled suddenly at the robot’s repeated request. Focused, she began to walk towards the robot.

> Human approaching. Ascertain location.
> “Please specify our location.”


Lily, still walking towards the robot answered its question.

We’re at the edge of Ecological Preserve-2012. You lost?

> “I do not recognize that location. Please be less specific.”

Huh, that’s odd. I guess the people wherever you came from don’t care about our preserves. We’re in the central region of the North American Provincial Republic.

> “I do not recognize that location. Please be less specific.”

Well now that’s just rude. How about Earth. Do you recognize that?

> Earth. Planet adjacent to Mars. Provides Mars with human atmosphere, food, and water. Origin of human species.
> Location attained. Ascertain information on object TEMP303.
> “Please tell me what this is - animal, vegetable, or mineral?”


At that point the robot shined a light of its own on a large tree that they were both standing near. The satisfaction Lily received from having finally adequately answered the robots question was erased by the robot’s inability to recognize a tree. She could hardly keep her jaw from hanging slack wondering how this machine could possibly be so ignorant of such rudimentary facts. She responded with a hint of frustration.

Uh, it’s a tree.

> “’Tree’ not recognized. Animal, vegetable, or mineral?”

I guess vegetable.

> Data shows one entry under Vegetable - Cactus.
> Comparing information collected with data on Cactus.
> Incorrect. Data suggests human error. Probability 99.750%.
> “Are you sure? My data does not conclude that this is a Cactus.”


...It isn’t a cactus. It’s a tree. And it looks like a pin oak.

> Reading human’s certainty... 99.999%
> Percentage outweighs probability of error, storing as possible new entry.


As infuriating as it was to be asked these ridiculous questions, Lily couldn’t help but see the humor of it. Here was this marvel of human creation; an enormous sentient mechanical wonder. Inside it surely possessed the knowledge of centuries upon centuries of human experience and the technology to utilize it. Yet here it was, completely out of its element. It couldn’t understand the most basic attributes of its surroundings. The more she thought about it the more she thought there might be something wrong with this unit. Perhaps it was missing a data set? Whatever the case, it surely didn’t belong on Earth.

Why don’t I take you back to our workshop and tomorrow morning we’ll figure out what you’re doing here and why you don’t know where you are.

With that she absent-mindedly grabbed the robot’s “hand” and began leading it in the direction of home. The robot dutifully followed Lily.

> Nothing of pressing interest here. No reason to object to transportation.
> Analyzing human interaction - Holding Hands
> K.E.A. module activati...................................***


Lily continued walking until she felt a sharp jerk on her shoulder. The robot had ceased its clanking marching behind her. Before she could react the robot fell forward and landed on its face without any attempt to stop itself, also letting loose its grip on Lily’s hand. Lily’s first reaction was panic. She turned the robot over and looked over it with worried eyes. What had happened?! The robot was not making any noise, nor was it emitting any sort of light. She ran her hands over the robot’s smooth, cold exterior trying to feel for any kind of life going on inside of it. Not knowing what had happened and feeling somewhat guilty and sorrowful over the robot, she ran off towards home to retrieve the truck that would carry it to the workshop.

*****

It was morning. The long panicked night faded into the past and gave way to the new day as a chalkboard is erased, each movement of the eraser slowly reducing its former adornments into finer and finer lines until they are no longer prominent but instead obscured within the blankness of the board. Blankness that provides a sense of calm and security that the problems of yesterday are now in memory providing space for the emotions and experiences of the new day.

Sunlight filled the workshop with a soft glow and the wind blowing in through a cracked window held a page of an open book in its grasp, periodically whipping it back and forth. The book sat under a desk light that was still lit from the night before. The book was one of many that were stacked on the desk or piled on the floor. The computer hummed contentedly with its screen savers like eyelids closed over the frantic searching done hours earlier on its three monitors. The only other noise emanated from the soft dry lips of the young woman at the desk, her head pressed down on the antiquated wood in space made by pushing the keyboard forward out of either frustration or despair. Her steady breathing belied the feelings that were experienced while searching online for the source of the robot’s sudden failure and the pouring over archaic manuals hoping to stumble upon some clue. Yet in this moment all was serene.

> Reboot sequence initiating.
> Source of failure - K.E.A. module, disengaging from automatic activation.
> Engaging all sensory components.


The robot was the first to draw on the chalkboard. It whizzed and clicked inside its sedentary frame lying supine upon a large workbench. Its visual ports flashed open and took in its new surroundings. Its reboot complete, it slowly and deliberately sat up and stepped down from the workbench. It worked its way around the walls of the workshop analyzing the various tools that adorned them. The robot’s tramping woke Lily and she quickly rose her head in shock in the brief moment where one does not remember how they came to be where they were when waking up in an unfamiliar place. Her sudden movement brought the computer back to life, revealing to her the toils of the night. With her realization she turned around to a vacant workbench. The noise of the robot’s feet brought Lily’s eyes to what she was looking for and she jumped at seeing the robot up and about.

You’re alive!

> Activating speech communication module.
> Human displaying familiarity.
> Configuring voice - Friendly.
> “I am not alive. I am a machine with programming made to simulate life.”


Lily could not help but laugh at this ridiculous response.

Ha! Hahahahahaha!

> “Why are you laughing?”

That is the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

> “My programming recognizes humor and is not responding to that phrase.”

Well then I’m afraid your programming is vastly insufficient!

> “My programming is of the highest Martian caliber.”

Lily could not take the smile off of her face. Who could think that a robot would take pride in its own programming? However much fun she was having and how relieved that the robot was up and moving again, she was curious as to how it fixed itself after her long hours of searching the night before for any information on this robot and finding absolutely nothing.

Okay well objections to the quality of your programming aside, can you tell me what happened last night?

> “Source of the failure was identified as the K.E.A. module. Automatic activation for this module has been disabled.”

K.E.A. module? What’s that?

> “That information is classified. I am unable to answer that question.”

What? How am I supposed to fix you if you won’t tell me about the broken module?

> “Automatic activation for this module has been disabled. Failure of K.E.A. module will not occur again. Your question is inconsequential.”

I guess you have me there, but it would be nice to know since I spent all night trying to figure out what was wrong. The only clue I had was the “K.C.” emblem on your chest. That’s the logo for Kaizer Corporation isn’t it?

> “Yes.”

Do you have a model name? I searched through Kaizer’s catalog and couldn’t find anything like you.

> “That information is also classified. I am unable to answer that question.”

Well you’re just a big metal box of secrets, aren’t you? Do you have a name? I don’t think ‘Classified’ makes for a good name.

> “Model name is classified. I am unable to answer that question.”

No? So all we have on you is this “K.C.” Well, until you decide to answer my questions why don’t I just call you “Casey?”

> Identification saved.
> “I will now respond to ‘Casey.”


Well it’s nice to meet you, Casey. I’m Lily.

*****

Lily soon left Casey as there was little time for casual conversation during her chore-filled day. She decided to keep her new robot friend a secret from her family for now. Her mother would certainly object to having such extravagant and unnecessary technology in her home. She never saw anything but waste in what the people on Mars produced. To her, any object that did not directly contribute to either the immediate survival of her family, or to increase production for the crop to be sent to Mars was not worth the time needed to maintain it or the space it occupied. Her cold, utilitarian spirit was practical for Earth’s standing as the provider for the human family, but at times her stubbornness was difficult to deal with for Lily.

She left the workshop and walked down the dirt pathway leading to the free-range livestock fields. Each set of animals had about an acre of space all to their own, which was signified by a tall multi-colored pole. The groups of animals instinctively knew which pole denoted their homes through a genetic therapy operation that set into place the urge to remain within a certain distance from that colored pole. The animals passed down the trait as new generations were bred. This way the animals were free to roam as they wished, and they wished not to stray too far from a central point. Lily heard the unmistakable howling laughter of her grandfather as he fed the pigs. In all reality, he didn’t need to do anything more than automate the feeding sequence that brought food into the pigs’ space via a wheeled trough that was filled underground with whatever slop or feed had been set in the elaborate underground food-dispensing unit. She guessed that her grandfather derived some sort of primordial pleasure from feeding the animals himself. He had always been more hands-on in his farming techniques. And he was the one person that his daughter, Lily’s mother, could not force to adopt the most efficient operations possible.

Lily smiled at her grandfather as she operated the food-dispensing unit to complete the morning feeding of all the livestock on her family’s land. She punched in the amounts and types of feed for each animal on a console just outside the cows’ space. She looked on with a modicum of pride as the machine whirred along; and one by one, troughs would emerge from a pit in the ground to deliver their payloads to each area. It made her happy to be a part of the lives of these creatures for however long they were to stay on their farm. Before long she heard the footsteps of her grandfather behind her walking back towards the cottage to have breakfast. She followed his strong but lanky frame along the dirt path.

Lily’s mother had been working diligently preparing pancakes, bacon, and coffee for the family. The cornmeal pancake recipe was one thing she never allowed a machine to prepare. However silly it was, the pancakes always tasted better to her grandfather when they were prepared by hand. Lily could never taste the difference, but she still appreciated them more. Perhaps it was the manner with which her mother served pancakes that she made herself, the small amount of pride in her face and how she delicately placed the plates on the table as though she were handling newborn kittens. The food was good, but the table was quiet. This humble scene had been played so many times that there were no words to say. The table was certainly full of love, but expression was never among the strengths of this table’s occupants.

When the meal was over and the table cleared, Lily showered and changed into a fresh pair of overalls and boots to help her grandfather with continuing the harvest of the summer crops. The potatoes were ready to be dug and it would be Lily’s job to ride behind her grandfather in the machine making all necessary adjustments and inputting into the console any data it needed to provide her grandfather with audio and visual benchmarks of the harvest or warnings if the machine was deviating from its pattern.

For hours the two worked in nearly silent contentment. Grandfather and granddaughter both knew their roles in this daily routine down to the second and performed their tasks with incredibly precision. Grandfather, seated at the helm of the enormous machine, took in the information displayed on three monitors. On the left was a diagnostic tool that displayed the status of each component of the machine. On the right was a computerized approximation of the harvest to be sown, next to a real-time aggregation of the crops as they are harvested and identified by the machine’s optical processor. The center monitor displayed the path being taken by the machine through the efficiently laid out grid-like fields. Granddaughter, seated on a lower level behind the grandfather, viewed rates of harvest and fluid-levels of various components of the machine. This data allows her to streamline the machines functions so the grandfather can work to peak efficiency. Headsets hang next to each participant in this dance, dormant and dust-covered, long ignored due to the mechanical efficiency with which these two set about their toil. Normally bored by her work, today was different. Lily’s head was awash with excitement over the amazing specimen that sat patiently in her workshop. What curiosities would it happen upon in there? She couldn’t wait for the day to be done.

Just when the sun was grasping towards the tops of the trees on the horizon, the pair sprang from their positions within the machine, finished for the day. Their bodies glistened with the satisfying perspiration achieved from a long day’s work. Noiselessly, the grandfather purposefully made his way towards the house where his daily cold shower awaited him. He would tell his daughter that the choice of cold water was to preserve power, while in truth he just preferred the feeling of the cold water against his worn, leathery skin after the chores of the day were completed. Lily knew of her grandfather’s ruse only by a single smile directed her way after her mother commended her grandfather’s contribution towards the family and the planet by not using hot water one lost afternoon years ago. In those days Lily was more a hindrance than an aid in the machine, loudly inquiring as to the machine’s various functions over the headsets they used to communicate while the obstreperous machine labored. Lily always remembered that night. The family sat together outside in the front yard. Mother sat on a makeshift chair fashioned from a tree stump. Grandfather leaned against a sister tree that hadn’t yet been cut down. And young Lily sprawled in the grass. She remembered that the petunias were just beginning to bloom along the walkway leading to the house. Violets, pinks, and whites were peeking out of their buds to share what they had learned in their long incubation. In her childish inquisitiveness, Lily prattled on asking about the clouds and why they were there. For the most part, the adults ignored the questions, as Lily usually quickly forgot what she was asking about as her mind darted from one subject to the next. Her grandfather took a keen delight to seeing the young sprite’s mind work itself into knots before the resulting confusion led to a physical manifestation of childhood frustration that could never be adequately emulated by an adult.

Lily usually followed her grandfather, taking her shower in turn after his, but today her childish curiosity got the better of her once again and she had to return to the workshop. She had to see the robot as soon as possible. Showing the kind of excitement more akin to that of her childhood, she bounded through the metallic door fashioned to protect the inside of the house from sound. She wore an enormous smile and was breathing heavily not from her work earlier but out of the sheer anticipation of this moment. She rejoiced as her eyes found her treasure standing by the bookshelf, apparently reading an archaic book on hydroponics.

Hi, Casey! I’m back!

> Activating speech communication module.
> Human displaying familiarity.
> Configuring voice - Friendly.
> “Hello.”


He did not budge from where he stood and made no movement acknowledging her presence. Lily waited momentarily, waiting for the robot to make some other reaction. Not receiving one, she continued, a bit disappointed.

Did you miss me?

> “Negative. My circuits do not require human interaction to function.”

A smirk came to Lily’s lips as this robot had once again left her dumbfounded.

Oh, well that’s just sad... What’s that you’re reading?

> “There was much data to collect here. Most was already in memory, however this data set is unrecorded - ‘Hydroponics.’”

I remember that book. It’s about growing plants when there isn’t enough fertile soil available. You’re saying that book isn’t in your memory banks?

> “Correct. The data collected on 99.5% of vegetable life forms presented in this data set is original.”

Lily moved next to the robot, to get a look at what the robot was reading about.

It makes you wonder about how Earth used to be where people had to grow plants without soil. It’s hard to imagine there not being enough dirt!

> Human has entered close proximity.
> Olfactory sensors collecting data.
> Analyzing... confirmed to be female pheromones.
> Visual sensors reassigned to collect data from human.


His body remaining still, the robot’s head rotated to give it a better view of Lily. His visual ports rotated and changed focus to best collect visual data.

Well hello! Do I finally have your attention?

> Human appears wet.
> Data suggests source is sweat... Probability of match: 99.998%
> “You are sweating.”


Lily couldn’t resist the urge to toy with the robot.

Well how would you know that?! Maybe I just took a swim in the lake!

> “Data suggests the source to be sweat with a probability of 99.998%. This conclusion is supported by the presence of pheromones.”

Pheromones! You can smell, too?

> “Correct. I am equipped with all necessary sensors to collect data. Pheromones are excreted through pores along with sweat, designed to attract other humans using their olfactory sensors.”

Are they working?

> “Negative. I am not human.”

Ha! I guess not.

> “Most humans do not enjoy sweating. Why are you sweating?”

Hey you would sweat too if you worked all day in that harvesting machine!

> “Negative. I am not human.”

Haha! You’ve got me there. Well what should I do to rid myself of the sweat that your data suggests I dislike?

> “Data suggests bathing or wind-drying.”

Well I’m afraid my grandfather is using the only shower.

> “Data suggests wind-drying is optimal.”

How am I going to do that? It wasn’t very windy today and it’s still pretty hot out.

> “I will assist.”

With that the robot turned and opened a large garage door and walked outside. Lily looked confused and went after it. When she caught up to it, she saw that the robot was contorting his shoulders behind his back while extending his forearms to reach down to his waist behind his back before curving through what looked almost like belt loops going through to the front. Meanwhile his legs retracted, kneeling down slightly and a knob protruded from the back of his neck.

Hey, where are you going?

> Engaging advanced transportation.
> “Please grab on.”


Without a second thought, blindly following and trusting, Lily reached around his arms and grabbed at the knob at the robot’s neck. When she had a grip, the robot’s strangely maneuverable arms retracted back through the “belt loops,” wrapped around her arms, and stretched back through to the front. His arms felt soft to the touch, belying their metallic composition.

Lily held her grip firmly and began to wonder what strange Martian blueprint involved this strange pose to wind-dry humans. Just as confusion was setting in, a sound emanated from the robot. Lily felt air rushing by her, but it wasn’t in close proximity to her; it was coming from the robot’s hands feet! Lily gasped as the robot began to lift gently off the ground. It hovered for a few seconds - another strange pause. Lily felt words just coming back to her lips when she felt a jerk and before she knew it, she was rocketing above her house! She was flying! Casey soon leveled off and using some sort of propulsion from his hands, he turned to fly over the lake towards the rolling hills to the North. Lily didn’t know what to think but all inhibition had dropped and she screamed in delight as Casey cruised over the water, the remaining sunlight dancing on the water as it rippled, recoiling from this audacious display. As they reached the hills Casey pulled up to a fantastic height before gliding over the hills. Casey swayed left and right as he passed over the hills and the wind made Lily’s eyes water.

Casey! This is absolutely amazing!

> “Are you sufficiently dry?”

N-No. I think I need a bit more of this.

Lily laid her head against the robot’s back. A smile ran across her face. She looked up at Casey’s head and felt his soft, strong arms around hers. She sighed and closed her eyes.
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Old 12-2-2008, 03:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Favourite bit so far is how effective you are at emphasizing the massive gap between Mars and Earth, not just in contrast of lifestyle, but how far away it feels as a Terran.
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Old 12-2-2008, 08:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Oh god this is delicious. I feel honored.
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Old 12-2-2008, 08:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Hmm. I want to see what happens when Lily and our Robot friend interact. That should make for some interesting dialogue.
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Old 12-2-2008, 10:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Very Bradbury, but the introduction of Lily isn't that great. I realize in shorter fiction it's easier to tell than it is to show, especially when you're saving dialouge, but flat out stating that "As far back as she could remember, Lily's life was defined by boredom" kind of feels like a cheat, especially after the excellent introduction of the robit.
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Old 12-2-2008, 10:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Very nice story.
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Old 12-2-2008, 10:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

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Favourite bit so far is how effective you are at emphasizing the massive gap between Mars and Earth, not just in contrast of lifestyle, but how far away it feels as a Terran.
That's definitely something I wanted to create. Especially to Earthlings, Mars should feel like a concept, like a theory. You know people go there. But they are so different that it hardly seems possible that it could exist.
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Oh god this is delicious. I feel honored.
I only hope I can do the album justice. It makes me especially excited to work on this after you explained that it lends itself to interpretation on TDL.
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Hmm. I want to see what happens when Lily and our Robot friend interact. That should make for some interesting dialogue.
Yes. Very interesting. It's pretty hard to work out. I keep wanting the robot to say something that would imply having some sort of opinion about anything that wasn't based on empirical evidence. Maybe I'll just have to make up stuff he finds in the field that supports things he says, haha.
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Very Bradbury, but the introduction of Lily isn't that great. I realize in shorter fiction it's easier to tell than it is to show, especially when you're saving dialouge, but flat out stating that "As far back as she could remember, Lily's life was defined by boredom" kind of feels like a cheat, especially after the excellent introduction of the robit.
I suppose I was in some sort of hurry to get to my next idea (before the next set of dialogue proved a wall I couldn't walk around). I elaborated for a couple paragraphs about Lily's life and ended the third paragraph in that section reaffirming that someone like her would be bored. I guess I could say more, but I didn't want to make Lily seem childish in her boredom or resentful of her lifestyle. She's far too mature for that. I'll try to come up with something.
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Very nice story.
Thank you

And thanks for all of your comments!
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Old 12-2-2008, 01:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Why Calibri? Also do you intend to use a specific font face and color for each character's dialogue, internal or external? I do like what you've fleshed out so far, and hope that the dialogue works out well. I'm very excited to see what comes next.

I sort of agree with Mal when it comes to introducing Lily, but once you've become more familiar with the character post conversation it might lend itself to revision there? I'm not sure I quite grasp how Lilly is supposed to look -- the term robust invokes a bit of stockiness in my mind, which seems a bit weird to me when juxtaposed with the insane height but maybe that's just how humans have evolved post migration?
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Old 12-2-2008, 01:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

I got the whole migration thing, I just think that opening line about her is... cheap. A line like that is more of a paragraph closer.
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Old 12-2-2008, 01:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

The font and color are for dialogue. I just thought it looked clever. They won't be the only two characters to use this mechanic. And honestly calibri was just the first font that came to mind. I'm not in love with it. I might change it.

And I guess I'll rewrite Lily's introduction. I don't get it I actually like that opening line. I completely understand the show vs. tell argument, but I worked to "tell then show" with those paragraphs. I'll see what I can do.
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Old 12-2-2008, 02:05 PM   #11
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Just reverse it. It sounds like a summary more than an intro, but then you go on and expand on the summary. It's like reading the little blurb on the back of the movie box and then the script is written right under it.
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Old 12-3-2008, 01:45 AM   #12
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Updated. I'm just going to keep updating the original post until I run out of room, then I'll cut it off at a good point and start it up again at a later post when I break the character limit.

I edited Lily's introduction and didn't skimp on the details. I'm much happier with my description of her life now.

What I'm not happy with is the last paragraph. I was tired. I want her to really be panicked and worried but I don't know if I adequately represented that. I'm not crazy about how their meeting played out either. I don't know if I wanted Lily to seem irritated, but I suppose that's how I'd react if I were her.

All opinions are welcome and thanks for reading!
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Old 12-3-2008, 08:09 AM   #13
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Muuuucccchhh better flow for her introduction. I'm going to read this over lunch today, maybe. Whenever you update the thread, be sure to bump it so it shows in in the UserCP as having a new post.
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Old 12-3-2008, 11:11 AM   #14
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

I didn't like the way Lily reacted when the robot started asking questions. I wouldn't expect anger and frustration from a person who is so curious for industry and such.
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What kind of fool is this? Certainly isnít very smart to walk in circles if youíre trying to get anywhere. And whatís he doing way out here in the middle of the night? Our farmís the closest for miles.
Wasn't that bad. Lily has no idea that it is a robot, yet.

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> ďI do not recognize that location. Please be less specific.Ē
Huh, thatís odd I guess the people wherever you came from donít care about our preserves. Weíre in the central region of the North American Provincial Republic.
That is awfully arrogant, and not the way the Lily I imagined would have reacted after she stumbled upon a robot.



I don't know much of the technical **** involved in writing, so this is coming from a person who just knows what flows and sounds good. Hope that's okay.
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Old 12-3-2008, 11:18 AM   #15
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

That cactus thing made me laugh.

Cursory once-over:

Some grammar problems here or there. And most of what Lily felt was conveyed in the dialogue. It almost seems like it would be more prudent to have written the Lily section in the first person, due to all the explaining of her inner machinations that you have to do. It seems like kind of a better fit. But I will continue reading it.

You do have a plot in mind, don't you? As in, a finish somewhere down the line? Nothing agitates me more than when someone is just going along and going along and going along and going along. I realize that there's some degree of making up the story as you go - that's true of anything. But you've set up this little puzzle and I'd like to see a resolution down the line somewhere.
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Old 12-3-2008, 11:48 AM   #16
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Sully, I don't see how you took that as arrogant. What she said was that she was surprised that whoever put this bot together didn't bother giving it any sort of data over this area, especially since whoever that person was presumably dropped it off here.

Mal, yea I see the grammar problems. I'll get them in my next pass. Man, I used to have at least a modicum of respect for Word. It doesn't catch anything anymore. And yes, I absolutely have a plot in mind. I'm sorry if I'm meandering around too much, but I want to make sure you connect with the characters before I send them off down that road. The ending is kind of what made me really want to write this, so you can bet it's going somewhere. The more I write, however, the more I realize that this thing is going to be really long. I mean I'm basically touching on my interpretation of each of 20 songs in the album. I'm not quite at track 4 yet.

On the first person, you're right, it might be better if I wrote in the first person, but that's something that I've struggled with as a writer for as long as I can remember. I'm just not all that good at it. I can write dialogue fine, but when it comes to narrating in the first person I feel I always come off as disingenuous. I don't think I could make Lily believable through my voice.
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Old 12-3-2008, 11:59 AM   #17
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

You're not meandering. I was really just projecting one of my own faults as a writer on to you and assuming you had the same problem wrapping things up. I'll start a project, get 10 pages in, think of a bunch of cool ideas, and then never open the document again. I'm lame like that.
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Old 12-3-2008, 12:04 PM   #18
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Oh, I do. As with my LP, I absolutely intend on finishing this. A lot of variables will affect whether that happens or not, like if I ever get a job.

However, I'm confident on this one because I've already gotten farther than I do with most of my short story ideas. I usually just get a rough outline written out before the project gets abandoned for whatever reason. That and I fully expect all of you to guilt-trip me if I ever leave this untouched for a while
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Old 12-3-2008, 12:09 PM   #19
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

Oh, I will. The only reason I even finished 2 books is because of constant nagging from people that were reading them whenever I wouldn't update the thread.
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"Readers who prefer tension and romance, Maledictions: The Offering, delivers... As serious YA fiction, Iíll give it five stars out of five. As a novel? Four and a half." - Liz Ellor


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Old 12-5-2008, 12:43 AM   #20
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Default Re: New story - Back to Earth

This really does remind me of Ray Bradbury....he completely killed The Fall of the House of Usher for me by making Usher II....and Fahrenheit 451 was ok, we read two dystopic books, 1984, and that. 1984 was better. George Orwell has another good book called Animal Farm.

I'd give this a 3.5/5 Chaz.
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