The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman


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Post March 13, 2005, 05:44:54 PM

The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

Ever thought about creating a primer for your universe?<br><br>If I understand it correctly, from the three stories I've read so far, your universe is set on a world populated by a couple of sentient races, one of which is the Mandaroy. The native peoples had a technology level somewhat akin to 18th century earth (hence the pirates). Plus, some of these groups have magic.<br><br>Into that mix, humans, called Westerners, arrived with their space-fairing (or is it dimension-hopping?) technology. They used that tech on the natives as well as sold it to them. There are now native peoples being displaced, and certain segments are trying to gain status in this new social order.<br><br>The hero here is one of those native peoples who has been fused with a cybernetic device. In order to fulfill a prophesy, he placed himself in prison until such time it was right to move. The plot of this one, then, was merely his escape.<br><br>Before I go any further, did I get this much right?<br><br>Nate
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Post March 13, 2005, 08:19:02 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

Hi Nate,<br>You got some of it, but missed quite a bit else.<br><br>Let's see...<br><br>There are the Mandaroy. They are the natives to the Seven Valleys. There are also the Aralwyrd, who left Pau Bandala and came to the Seven Valleys and proceeded to displace and oppress the Mandaroy. <br><br>The political system operating in the Seven Valleys is the Accord, a tenuous alliance of Tower-states (every state is based around a massive Tower, built eons ago). The Accord is the West of which the pirates, the Myriadians, speak. The Accord, dominated by the Aralwyrd, provided the Myriadians with Western weapons and other technology with the hope that they could then confront the far more populous and magical Taelemonites, who have eschewed technology and who have pushed the Myriadians from their native land of Taelemonite out onto the Swansea where they struggle for survival on the Myriad Isles. <br><br>Magic is everywhere, but it has a serious cost (neurological damage) and has various degrees of traction. The Aralwyrd reject it as heretical; the Mandaroy have essentially lost it, although it sees some use; the Sacred Nations of the Taelemone use it to nearly full extent and are a key reason as to why the Myriadians cannot hope to defeat the Taelemonites despote superior firepower; & the Myriadians make meager use of it for healing, navigation, and communication. <br><br>Kai Ferracane is half Mandaroy. He is not cybernetic despite references to his "body machine." He is 100% organic, a mix of training and (unbeknownst to him) demonic heritage. He has a place in the prophecy as THE Dagian Guard, the warrior who will protect the true Claymage. He turned himself in, but it had nothing to do with prophecy and everything to do with his misguided attempt to escape the violence that characterizes his life as a Dagian Guard (he was recruited at age 11).<br><br>That's some of it. Hope it helps.<br><br>Dan E.

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Post March 14, 2005, 01:06:59 AM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

Another action-packed thriller by Dan. The action in this one is almost non-stop, keeping the reader gasping for breath throughout the story. The story is centered around the jailbreak of a super cyborg (I’m assuming Kai is a cyborg. It doesn’t say exactly what he is anywhere in the story--unless I missed it), but I’m assuming he is from the way he shrugs off wounds that would kill a grizzly bear and rips apart steel bars.<br><br>The only heartburn I had with the story is the same I had with Swords in the Fire and Bone up Yar (and I may be beginning to sound like a broken record!) I just found some of the off-the-wall terminology to be a bit distracting, but I think this one contained a tad less that the two previous stories (or maybe I'm getting used to it!). But note that I wasn’t distracted enough to keep me from thoroughly enjoy the story.<br><br>In the sequel, Kai will thrill us by tangling with the hunter (huntress?) no doubt.<br><br>All in all, The Jazz-Jazz was a great rough-and-tumble-shoot-em-up thriller.<br><br>Donald<br><br>Bye the bye--Congrats, Dan, on getting two stories in this issue. Great going!!<br><br>Bye the bye #2--Just read Nates comments and your reply, and that cleared me on some of the terms and place names :-)<br>
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Post March 14, 2005, 09:53:19 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

Dan likes to speed full-throttle and then, while the G-forces are ready to plaster you into the trunk, attach some booster rockets to ratchet it up a few notches because you're going too damn slow. You're going so fast that it's nigh impossible to view the passing highway signs, you're pretty sure you're not in Kansas anymore, and you definitely missed that left turn at Albuquerque to find yourself somewhere in Argentina, much to the amusement of some llamas.<br><br>I've given up trying to keep track of things. That's okay. I know that there's logic underneath, the symbolic bridge for the blind man. I let the narrative wash over me, like a lyrical poem.<br><br>This one didn't thrill me as much as Swords in the Fire, although I still enjoyed it. Perhaps a little more background on Kai might have made him slightly more sympathetic. Not that he's unlikable, but his meta-human abilities make him a little harder to relate to.<br><br>
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Post March 15, 2005, 01:28:13 AM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

All righty, then. Time for some heavy-duty deconstruction. <br><br>(To me, these posts read like an essay, so I apologize in advance for that.)<br><br>I haven’t read “Beyond the Gloaming” yet, but I think Dan has made some serious progress compared to Swords. His focus has been greatly narrowed, down to the actions of one person, much like it was in “Bone Up Yar.” Dan’s got real talent. I think we all can see that. But it’s raw, wild talent.<br><br>I think it might be time to bring out some Robert Silverberg (yes, I can hear the groans).<br><br>Robert Silverberg called this The Generic Plot of all Stories: <br>A sympathetic and engaging character (or an unsympathetic one who is engaging nevertheless), faced with some immensely difficult problem that it is necessary for him to solve, makes a series of attempts to overcome that problem, frequently encountering challenging sub-problems and undergoing considerable hardship and anguish, and eventually, at the darkest moment of all, calls on some insight that was not accessible to him at the beginning of the story and either succeeds in his efforts or fails in a dramatically interesting and revelatory way, thereby arriving at new knowledge of some significant kind.<br>--Asimov’s SF Magazine, 2004. <br><br>For the sake of argument, I’d like to assume that Silverberg is correct, and use his plotline to try and plug in this tale of Kai, the half-demon Dagian Guard.<br><br>First, A sympathetic and engaging character... Kai is a character in an engaging situation--he’s an imprisoned war criminal who is tortured every night, for merely being on the wrong side--but is he engaging by himself? What in his character draws sympathy from the audience? He is a prisoner, but this is a two-edged sword. That he is held against his will counts for him, but that he is a mass murderer is a considerable turnoff. After a round of torture, we see him receive his mental marching orders, and those items count for him, but not a lot. Next, he turns into a nearly all-powerful killing machine and breaks out. As Jaimie put it,<br>
Not that he's unlikable, but his meta-human abilities make him a little harder to relate to.
In my view, this shows that the audience is not buying into the main character or his situation.<br><br>The audience has to be drawn to the character in a human way; we have to feel for him… or her… or it. How as writers can we build empathy for our heroes? The simple answer is to give them weaknesses and internal conflict. Physical weakness can help--the character John McClane in the movie Die Hard may have been tough enough to kill all those terrorists, but he didn’t have shoes--and there was a lot of broken glass to run through. Kai’s physical invulnerability didn’t help him in this regard. However, McClane’s real weakness, the one that brought it home to viewers was his wife among the hostages. When she was to be used against him, there wasn’t a person in the theater who wasn’t behind him (unless they were relatives of Allan Rickman or devoted enemies of Bruce Willis).<br><br>Many authors like to use phobias like fear of heights in movies with tall buildings, fear of spiders for tales of arachnophobia… Or maybe the character has promised to be non-violent, but must fight. Perhaps his violence caused the death of someone he loved, and the hero has to overcome guilt to save the day. The list of possible internal conflicts is endless.<br><br>Now, if Kai had left the Guard because of an emotional wound, like he had fallen in love with the Queen (assuming there is one), and didn’t want to break up the royal couple because of the damage it would cause to his country and his love--then he’s suffering would be a noble act. At that point, I have no problems. Set phasers on deep fat fry, and let’s get this guy out of prison.<br><br>A fact which might not have been pointed out is that the phenomena of “washing” the details over the audience in a wave also takes away from the sympathy one feels for the characters. That is, in order to “swim” past all the names and information, you have to unplug from the narrative a bit; you have to ignore parts of the story. At least for me, that means I can never latch back on to the flow with the same intensity. I have to keep on the watch for a new flurry of names to fly at me instead of caring what happens next to the character as a person.<br>[continued...]
Last edited by kailhofer on March 15, 2005, 01:33:46 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post March 15, 2005, 01:30:57 AM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

[...continued]<br><br>Moving on, faced with some immensely difficult problem that it is necessary for him to solve, makes a series of attempts to overcome that problem, frequently encountering challenging sub-problems and undergoing considerable hardship and anguish… No problems there. Dan has this part nailed. Nailed, blasted, & chopped into little bits. And then some.<br><br>Eventually, at the darkest moment of all, calls on some insight that was not accessible to him at the beginning of the story and either succeeds in his efforts or fails in a dramatically interesting and revelatory way, thereby arriving at new knowledge of some significant kind. Sticky wicket here. Structurally, this point of climax would normally have been just as he makes it into the fugue. Except, he makes it past the guards here even easier than he had past the ones in the prison with the nerve gas. Therefore, he doesn’t do it in a “dramatically interesting and revelatory way.” <br><br>If there was something special Kai had to do to gain entrance to the fugue, some test he had to pass, or something like that, this would work. If he can get in only because he’s half-demon, but had to bet his life on that fact, or something of equal importance… like realizing the aforementioned Queen (again, if there is one) was responsible for his people’s defeat, and use a trick he saw her do to get in.<br><br>In the end, I can’t say what it would need to be. Only Dan can say that. But as a part of that audience I can say that if I don’t get to read something like that, I feel cheated. I’ve invested my time in reading this story--at that point I might care about this character a great deal--and if I don’t get the moving big “bang” that a well-crafted climax brings… I want my emotional currency back.<br><br><br>Dan, you’re a gifted author. You’ve got creativity and energy coming out of your ears. But, in my opinion, if you don’t start following a plot something like Silverberg’s, continue to focus your characters with human motivations and flaws, and, frankly, dumb the details down a bit… I don’t think anyone is ever going to pay you for these stories that you’ve spent so many years of your life on. You’ve got a wonderful, complex world to set your stories in, but if it doesn’t pertain directly to the setting, the character development, or carrying the plot through… don’t say it. <br><br>Again, just my opinion, and the relevance of it, in part, hinges on whether or not you buy Silverberg's plot. Still, I think it's a good example to model.<br><br>Nate
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Post March 15, 2005, 12:28:43 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and comment on my piece. Let me first say that I believe a lot of what bothered people about this one is centers on the fact that it is the prologue to a novel-length manuscript. It's original intent was never as a story (I was particularly pleased to have it accepted for Aphelion), so it suffers from a lack of depth. I would like to suggest that many of the deficiencies cited by reviewers are more than addressed during the ensuing 145,000+ words.<br><br>I must say, however, that despite the overwhelming consensus regarding my (over)reference to various places and names, the criticism simply doesn't bear scrutiny with respect to this piece. I simply do not see any name dump(s) occurring here. And I find it difficult to imagine that the few references that are made somehow distracted from the events in the piece.<br><br>The criticism regarding Kai's characterization is right on. I accept that without qualification and will visit it with gusto in a revision of this prologue. That was, I see now, a miscalculation on my part. I wanted this prologue to explode off the page and leave the reader breathless and primed for the balance of an epic story--I wanted it to be pure action, a scene set to some kind of angry, eff-you guitar-driven metal mayhem. In my estimation, the prologue accomplished what I wanted it to. But I see that even acknowledging the existence of a novel-length story to follow should not have precluded adding a bit of humanity to Kai.<br><br>As for having two pieces in this issue, well, I was not entirely confortable with that, and did mention the fact in case the editors were not aware. But in their depthless genius they went with it and as a writer pathetically starved for any kind of attention, I was not going to make noise. Will this mean Dan E fatigue? (Certainly for Nate...)<br><br>Speaking of whom, special thanks to Nate for the energy put into his comments. As usual, I really do appreciate the extra effort he puts into all of his reviews.<br><br>Dan E.<br>
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Post March 15, 2005, 01:05:11 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

I must say, however, that despite the overwhelming consensus regarding my (over)reference to various places and names, the criticism simply doesn't bear scrutiny with respect to this piece. I simply do not see any name dump(s) occurring here. And I find it difficult to imagine that the few references that are made somehow distracted from the events in the piece.
<br><br>Actually Dan, I think those critiques are based on the fact that the inner circle of readers understands that this is another piece of a larger tapestry, so the comments about keeping track of names/locations/etc refers to the fact that some of us are trying to reconcile where it fits within the bigger picture. You're correct that a new reader without knowledge of your previous writings would not have the same issues. But us Aphelion readers know it's not standalone.<br><br>That's not a bad thing. When you have an expansive universe, that's just how it is. Personally, I enjoy that kind of setting. It allows me to immerse much easier. The reader feels like he's part of the world. Hence my comments about letting "...the narrative wash over me".
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Post March 16, 2005, 12:08:43 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

I think the issue of too many names boils down to the writer's ability to earn a commitment from readers. If a reader trusts the writer and commits to the story, then the former is more likely to accomodate what otherwise might seem like an overload of details, secure in this trust that the writer will reveal the significance of such things.<br><br>When I read large-scale works, I don't sweat the name dumps because I know the writer will clear the confusion when the time is right. I give the writer the benefit of the doubt. Of course, the writer then has an obligation to demonstrate that he or she intends to make good on the commitment.<br><br>So it would seem that until I earn the trust and commitment of readers, they will be disconcerted by the "name/place" dimension of my world building. It's a question of legitimacy.<br><br>Dan E.

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Post March 16, 2005, 06:00:39 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

I think the issue of too many names boils down to the writer's ability to earn a commitment from readers.
Dan E.
<br><br>I think it's also the readers ability to absorb and remember names. I'm terrible with names. Being introduced to lots of names and places in the beginning of a story is like being introduced to lots of people at a large party. <br><br>There are some who will remember every single one they meet. Others, like me, will remember maybe three or four (if that many!) out of twenty-odd people. <br><br>On the other hand, if I'm introduced to only a few at a time, slowly, as the story goes along, I have no problem.<br><br>I've read some novels where they have a list of characters on the inside of the front or back cover, plus maps showing place names. I find that helps. <br><br>So, it just boils down to a lousy memory. :-)<br><br>Donald
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Post March 17, 2005, 01:32:58 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

First of all, in the batch of this months ss, I liked it best. <br><br>The jailbreak seemed to me to be totally convincing, my eyebrows didn't arch UP when I realized that Kai was killing super agressive guards with a flick of a towel...that's some kind of super skill! Followed the story completely thru -- and then suddenly realized that this was a 'chapter' of a larger piece (am I right?)<br><br>I WANT THE LARGER PIECE to read...all of it. Wanna know Kai better, his formative years, what he's been thru to get to that jail...etc. etc. Dunno if you planned on this being a part of a larger whole, ie a novel...but I'd buy it today!<br><br>Go Kai Go!<br><br>Jim
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Post March 17, 2005, 08:48:31 PM

Re: The Jazz-Jazz by Dan Edelman

I think the issue of too many names boils down to the writer's ability to earn a commitment from readers. If a reader trusts the writer and commits to the story, then the former is more likely to accomodate what otherwise might seem like an overload of details, secure in this trust that the writer will reveal the significance of such things.
<br>I'd agree with this to a certain extent. I don't mind being in the dark temporarily, but I have to feel confident that it's only going to be for a little while. <br><br>But otherwise, I'm with Donald. I think you give us all too much credit as readers.<br><br>I'd like to think I'm smarter than the average bear, but that much info just overheats my noggin. I can't keep track of it all, and then the failsafe kicks in... <br><br>In Donald's party example, I'd probably remember all 20 faces, but none of their names.<br><br>Nate
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