Print Story Necropsy: Songs of the Redeemed
In which the author dissects a first attempt at highfalutin speculative fiction.


The preponderance of all the material I've written in my life has been school papers, semi-autobiographical weblog entries, and bad poetry. SotR kind of reads like a confluence of the three.

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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Necropsy: Songs of the Redeemed | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I thought it was pretty decent by skippy (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon May 15, 2006 at 05:29:59 PM EST
I managed to follow along well enough, though that may be in part to having thoroughly read the ST:TNG Technical Manual and enjoyed its pseudoscience during my nerdier days [if I can claim to have "nerdier" days].

So yeah, keep writing!  At the very least it gives me something to do while at work.... err, on my lunch break, that is.  Of course!

Like with aphrael's, by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue May 16, 2006 at 02:21:05 AM EST
I loved the atmosphere you created. The writing style was perfect for the sort of narrative that it was. Yes, it would've helped my understanding to have a character to identify with, but I think plot is a highly overrated literary device. ;-)
--
I've got more than one membership to more than one club, and I owe my life to the people that I love. - Ani DiFranco
I liked it by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue May 16, 2006 at 03:56:57 AM EST
And I don't think it's as incoherent as you make it out to be. It made fine sense to me at the time, and I liked the narrator's voice. The fact that she (I got a female vibe that I can't entirely account for) isn't very specific, I thought, was part of the point -- the "everypersonness" of the little people ("our stories are all the same"). That doesn't work for every story, but it did for this one: both the rehabilitation of the planet and the story that describes it operate on a scale larger than the individual. So it fits. Though I kinda wanted Prochlorococcus to be the little "people" of the story.

Nicely done. I hope you write more for future WFCs.

--
"later" meant either "when you walk around the corner" or "oatmeal."

Necropsy: Songs of the Redeemed | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback