Since I'm a tragic fangirl of Ursula Le Guin and a bunch of other "soft" sci-fi authors, it's kind of funny how much I missed the boat on actual characters driving the story. My favouritest story ever is Le Guin's "Paradises Lost", about the sociology of the interplanetary generations on a colony ship. I thought up what I thought was a cool premise; I did not think up a good main character. So I stuck myself in, or the version of me that would like to retreat to the countryside and raise chickens instead of memorising drug metabolism for the midterm on Wednesday.
In retrospect I also went way, way too heavy on the jargon. "Electronically reluctant air"? What the hell was I thinking? The idea was that a relatively fast, easy method of rendering planets suitable for habitation had gone terribly wrong (that was the Cascade thing) and so instead of strip-mining and greenhousifying planet-colonies and then using the Cascade on them, this pseudo-religious trend of climate bioremediation emerged. I needed a reason for them to be bioremediating that particular planet, so I put in the stuff about Ithulba the ancestral planet. Originally the narrator lived in the House of Chlamydomonas, which actually is a freshwater photosynthetic organism, but I thought the HuSi audience would confuse it with Chlamydia because, well, y'all mostly aren't biologists and most of you have dirty minds. So I find-and-replaced it with Prochlorococcus at the last minute, but I think Prochlorococcus is a marine organism, so there goes my whole rationale about needing desalinated ponds. Doh.
Oh yeah, and nothing happens. The character (unnamed, even) floats around, gardening, and talks about how s/he feels and how s/he got there. I wrote the first 700 words in a binge the day ana put the story up. Then it sat on my desktop for several weeks, and I added the part about faith and the past not mattering on the day before the contest ended. It felt uncomfortably like the last half of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series, where suddenly it becomes all philosophical! and the main character hallucinates that none of the women are wearing clothes! but it wasn't getting any better, so I submitted it.
Oh, and I wrote the ending first, and the title last.
Morals of the story:
- more character and plot, less jargon and moody exposition next time
- it was fun writing it and I'm sorry if it didn't make any sense while reading it
- it's really funny when you pan your own story and someone defends it to you
- don't expect other people to take things seriously just because you have no fucking sense of humour
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