I’m sort of “cheating” with this one since I just rediscovered it on my thumb-drive and it’s sort of a review/critique. It was written months ago before I submitted the book to my editor…
Since it’s “review-like” I thought it deserved its own post :-)
I am engrossed in your fiction and would love to read more. Your world painting, character development, dialogue, and imagery are all top-notch. What stands to be improved is your story’s structure, which is a bit clunky. By using transitions between your chapter breaks (or even creating numbered sub-chapters, ala Stephen King), you can enhance understanding. You have a flashback that is a good scene, but this is not a movie. It needs to be transitioned to. Point of view is a bit confusing, but it is all just a flaw of structure and so close to being fixed. Only some simple tweaking, I believe, with the structure to find a suitable and understandable rhythm for the reader.
I LOVE your prologue. It is very cleverly done and grips me immediately. To imagine that your protagonist is actually your co-author is a stroke of genius and a nice gimmick. I also think the setting is very well developed and interesting. I like how the planets come close to each other in their orbits over many years, allowing for more direct interaction. I also like the idea of plasma as an emotional and mental conduit. All very, very good. The planets become a dichotomy of existence, a split of the “survivalist” vs. “spiritual,” “technological” vs. “communal,” and “rational” vs. “irrational.” This is all very symbolic and when put into a good action story becomes an effective backdrop that does not become too preachy.
I have some general ideas/questions. First, I am interested to know what these aliens look like, at least their major similarities and differences between humans, if any. As a modern sci-fi writer, I timagine you buy into the idea that life evolving on another planet would have to have some sort of different physiology shaped by its own unique environment. I think this could be explained quite easily when your “co-author” is explaining the other similarities and differences between her race and humans. I would add it there somewhere, just a paragraph. It helps me “see” these people.
There were a few instances where some editing of word choice and sentence structure could be improved, but I will leave that to your copy editor.
“I am a woman from a star system about twelve light-years from Earth. If you choose to believe me, my story is a history lesson—how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs. If you choose to not believe I’m real, my tale is a science fiction story about how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs…
—–Very nice, ironic statement. Also very well-worded.
“My “voice” will return when the story arrives at my birth.”
—–Thank you for telling us this. Very effective, as we wait for her, and puts your story on a timeline for us.
“Sorry for this short scientific digression but, if you don’t have a basic understanding of plasma, you’ll miss much of the meaning of this story.”
—–Successful gimmick for the early info-dump! I am envious of this…
“This is how I found Alexander, the co-author of this book.”
—–see above for accolades
“A simplistic example would be to say that we share things like the idea of dog and cat but not the knowledge of beagles and tabbies. A more accurate example would be that we easily share an idea like four-footed, domesticated animal but not ideas like dog or cat or lizard. Those differences take much more conceptual exploration and sharing.”
—–Sounds liked you have studied Plato and his dialogue on “forms.” I like!
“You have a bad habit of repeating what you know I already know, Morna.”
“Sometimes I feel it necessary.”
“It’s going to take the whole voyage for me to figure you out.”
“I believe it will take longer than that.”
“Could be, but the leadership on Anla apparently hate the Nari.”
“Asking for a man their enemies worship…”
—–I like this exchange, but I need just ONE attribution to keep me on track with who is speaking, maybe somewhere in the middle.
“unwillingness to adhere to norms”
—–maybe use the word “deviance” somewhere here. In sociology, social deviance is exactly that, “unwillingness to adhere to norms.” I think the word adds to your crredibility. It seems that your Corporate World has a huge division of sociology, since they are so big on social engineering. Using deviance as their jargon increases the strength of your work.
“People who didn’t become passive through fear—those who fought against the invasive alteration of their feelings—were kept apart from others till they killed themselves.”
—–ghastly, but good!
I look forward to reading more. Now, I have to ask if you might consider returning the favor. It seems difficult to find people here who are willing to read a lengthy chapter; they tend to stick to poetry. It becomes a volume business with reviewing, that is why I try to focus on short stories and chapters as often as I can. These are the works that need the most exposure and reading. If you can stomach epic fantasy, I would love a review of the first chapter of my work, The Betrayer of the Virtues. Chapter is called “Kabar’s Creek.” Take your time to fit me in. I understand the pressure of trying to read, write, and review.
Thanks for sharing your work with me!
I did return the favor for Patrick :-)
And, for anyone who’s read this far into this post, I have a little bonus:
I’ve just begun to checkout the list of 58 potential places to have my book reviewed. One on that list had an asterisk in front of it from way back when I compiled the list. I discovered a major resource about Book Reviews. Enjoy :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
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