Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Williams


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Post March 14, 2005, 06:59:38 PM

Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Williams

I’d like to say that Jeff’s written a great part one here, and this story makes a fabulous introduction to Season Two of Nightwatch. If you liked the first year, hang on to your hat!<br> <br>I had opportunities to see early drafts of this, and I think Jeff made very good choices, even if he didn’t always listen to me. :) (When I make suggestions, I’m sure I’m a real pain in the ass.) I’ve had a peek at part of the conclusion, and he’s taking this story somewhere great.<br> <br>One thing I missed the first two times through that I have to congratulate Jeff on is the Vice President Garner thing. When I first read that bit, I thought, “Wow. How is Simon going to fix that?”<br> <br>The way Jeff wrote it, I just believed that this VP was actually killed, and this was straight out of a history book. I took it for granted that it was the truth, because it sounded so real. That was superbly done, and took a Google search about “Cactus Jack” Garner to know any different.<br> <br>Nicely done, and just wait until you see part two!<br><br>Nate
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Post March 17, 2005, 10:46:00 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

I haven't finished this one quite yet, so I'll hold off my comments for another day.  <br><br>Still, I think we shall all remember Simon, in a fit of rage over the machine in the library basement, screaming, "<if><br><endif>"<br><br>Wow.<br><br>Forgive me for being cheeky, but I actually did have a moment where I tried to figure out what Simon was saying, LOL.  I guess that means my disbelief was suspended rather well.<br><br>More (real) comments to follow.<br><br><br>-- david j.<br>
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Post March 18, 2005, 12:19:13 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

I haven't finished this one quite yet, so I'll hold off my comments for another day.

Still, I think we shall all remember Simon, in a fit of rage over the machine in the library basement, screaming, "<if>
<endif>"

Wow.

Forgive me for being cheeky, but I actually did have a moment where I tried to figure out what Simon was saying, LOL. I guess that means my disbelief was suspended rather well.

More (real) comments to follow.


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<br><br><br>Sorry to ask you to post again, but your quote didn't come through in the posting.<br><br>--Jeff "The Incredibly Curious" Williams :)
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Post March 18, 2005, 10:31:27 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

I've been reading this one all along while its been under production. So Jeff has heard (most of) my comments long ago. There is some beautiful work in this story. The scenes in the train station, in particular. Simon's going crazy on the gadget is another. Jeff's gift for evoking a scene has never been more evident. I could hear the murmur of the staff of the Canon Moon, and the piano. When Simon was standing by the canal, I could feel the chill in the air. <br>Originally, this story wasn't going to be a two-parter. I've had a peek at the next installment... You're in for one hell of a ride. But be sure that you read this installment carefully.<br>Dan<br>
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Post March 18, 2005, 06:32:41 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

Jeff, the misquote was part of the joke. You appearantly had some difficuties when loading the story and the "<if> <br><endif>" is what came out in the story. It printed as if Simon had said this when he was very angry. <br><br><br>-- david j. <br>
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Post March 22, 2005, 05:53:34 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

This was an outstanding episode of the Nightwatch series. It had a bit of a Twilight Zone feel to it. I can’t wait to see Part 2. So far, it looks great, with only one small quibble. I thought that the descriptions were a bit overdone, but I’m sure that others won’t agree--some may even feel it wasn’t enough. :-) Also thought some were a bit flowery (perfume dancing in the air), but that’s just my take.<br><br>Reading about the year thirty-nine was a little nostalgic for me, since I was nine years old at the time. Most of the descriptions of the thirties were on target, as I saw it, except for one thing that caught my attention. Where I lived (St. Augustine, FL) was a small southern city, and horse and buggies were considered passe even in those days, and for that matter, even Model T Fords were hard to find. I don’t remember seeing a horse and carriage, except for the sightseeing buggies that took tourists around the nation’s oldest city. Of course, this scene was in Washington, DC, and things may have been different.<br><br>I got a laugh out of Simon’s two-dollar tip. That was a whole day’s wages for some workers in the thirties. My dad worked for the city as a park superintendent (only a title, since he was the only caretaker of the park). He made fifteen bucks for working a five and a half day week, and supported a family of five (barely). <br><br>After a little off-the-top-of-my-head calculations, I figure that a two dollar tip then would be like leaving a forty or fifty buck tip on the table nowadays. I think that waitress would have gone bonkers!! <br><br>Really enjoyed this one, and am looking for the conclusion.<br><br>Donald<br>
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Post March 23, 2005, 06:57:49 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

Okay, I really liked this one.  Very well done.  I enjoyed getting some insight into Simon's character when it came to the time machine and his reluctance to use it.  And yet, to save the day, he must and does use it.<br><br>My only quibble on this one is stylistic, so it can be taken with a grain of salt.  Most of Jeff's characters, especially Simon, do one thing as they do another.  So that most lines of the story start an action, put it aside to describe another ongoing action, then return to finish the first action.  To your credit, Mr. Williams, it is somewhat like Zimmer Bradley's style, and God knows she was a great writer.  Of course, I'm having a hard time finishing, Mists of Avalon, for just that reason right now.  But like I said, it's a question of style.  My wife read Mists in about three days and she LOVED it.  <br><br>I look forward to part 2 of this story.<br><br><br>
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Post March 29, 2005, 12:17:55 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

I just have various quibbles, some of which might be quickly dismissed for my lack of in-depth familiarity with this series (my intro to Nightwatch began with Dan's installment). I offer these humble observations in no particular order.<br><br>In general, the idea of collecting these stories and publishing them as a book is a great idea; however, based on what I saw between the two stories, there would need to be an editorial effort to harmonize characterization, of Simon at least.<br><br>Here, the story started off strong. Simon is shown to be pensive and even brooding a bit, and the reader is teased about something momentous going down in his life. I liked this, but it's fairly far removed from Simon's witty character from Dan's story.<br><br>Also, this sort of strong, self-contained characterization is lost entirely in the flashback to the laboratory where Simon comes across as a bit, well, hysterical in his reaction to the egg. He's wandering around the room busting up equipment while coolly carrying on a dialogue. This struck me as problematic as I assumed this equipment had something to do with running the time machine and now he'd gone and trashed at least some if it. The other characters' response to this wanton destruction was next to nil. Then Simon agrees to use the machine and no one is concerned about the implications of all the gear he broke (least of all him). The scene was uneven and, despite your efforts had camoflauge, read a bit like a the sort of infodump that is often criticized here (others might not agree with this assessment).<br><br>The fact that they discerned a mysterious vascillation in time w/no reason identified troubled me in that they gave no indication of having exhausted any research sources. Perhaps that research effort is implied, but I would imagine that the Nightwatch Institute would have vast and arcane resources with which to play with, certainly regarding US history. Simon's mission struck me as having absolutely no context at all in which he could operate. It took to the end of the story for me to begin to get a sense at all that Simon had any idea what he was up to.<br><br>I have to assume Simon's visit to his lady friend has some closure in the second installment, as does his rather extensive interaction with Eddie.<br><br>Has Simon always used a .44 mag? Strikes me as the wrong kind of weapon for an experienced field agent. I would think something less unwieldy. A modified 9mm of some kind, a .40 cal maybe. Something easier to handle with good stopping power. I imagine the ballistic technology available these days is fairly elaborate.<br><br>Once in the past, Simon, through pure chance, finds himself at the "haunted" way station with his first stab on trying to solve his mystery. Now I'm not sure what this place has to do with the rest of the story, but that seemed entirely too convenient. Although, this scene is where the story began to pick up.<br><br>I felt that Simon talked to himself too much. He could just as easily have thought those ideas. People who mutter to themselves do not give the impression that they are highly trained, seasoned field agents. But this might be part of his established character.<br><br>Did you revise the story already to address the massive tip that Don brought up?<br><br>You do present a convincing historical revision with respect to the VP's assassination. That was deftly handled.<br><br>Having blurted all that, I am interested in seeing how you bring your loose ends together. <br><br>Dan E.

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Post March 29, 2005, 01:27:37 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

Thanks for all of the comments the story has received so far.  I'm actually very gratified--multipart stories often seem to be ignored in the Lettercol.<br><br>I did see something in the previous posting about assuming that the business in the restaurant will be resolved in the next story.<br><br>Actually, that part WILL NOT be resolved.  To a certain extent, it was sacrificed space, something that was done more for the sake of the series rather than for the sake of this particular story.  Beyond that, I don't want to say much more about Gillian and the Cannon Moon.  :)<br><br><br>Thanks,<br>Jeff Williams
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Post March 29, 2005, 01:42:33 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

... Also, this sort of strong, self-contained characterization is lost entirely in the flashback to the laboratory where Simon comes across as a bit, well, hysterical in his reaction to the egg. He's wandering around the room busting up equipment while coolly carrying on a dialogue. This struck me as problematic as I assumed this equipment had something to do with running the time machine and now he'd gone and trashed at least some if it. The other characters' response to this wanton destruction was next to nil. Then Simon agrees to use the machine and no one is concerned about the implications of all the gear he broke (least of all him). The scene was uneven and, despite your efforts had camoflauge, read a bit like a the sort of infodump that is often criticized here (others might not agree with this assessment).
<br>Well, Eckert was pulling spares out of storage cabinets even as Simon was tearing things up ... Aside from the Egg itself (introduced in the first Nightwatch tale, 'Dragon's Egg'), there probably wasn't much in the lab that couldn't be rebuilt or replaced. Simon's reaction to the whole idea of time travel wouldn't seem so wild if you had read 'Cardenio' and 'Dimension's Gate', where Simon has seen first hand the risks involved in tampering with time. Simon probably finds it especially worrisome that Callow seems to be in control of a time-manipulation device.<br>
... The fact that they discerned a mysterious vascillation in time w/no reason identified troubled me in that they gave no indication of having exhausted any research sources.
<br>My suspicion would be that (a) the changes were so minor that they would not even show up in written or computer-accessible records (manifesting themselves only as peculiar instrument readings?), and/or (b) if the changes affected things that would show up in written / computer-accessible records, it would be impossible to tell. From the 2010 observers' standpoint, the changed history would be the ONLY history. When Simon travels back in time, however, he has memories of the veep's fate that were formed BEFORE history shifted, so he is able to see that major weirdness is afoot.<br>
...Has Simon always used a .44 mag? Strikes me as the wrong kind of weapon for an experienced field agent. I would think something less unwieldy. A modified 9mm of some kind, a .40 cal maybe. Something easier to handle with good stopping power. I imagine the ballistic technology available these days is fairly elaborate.
<br>Simon is a pragmatist and probably uses whatever is appropriate. Whatever mission he was on that required that he carry lethal armaments, presumably stealth and subtlety were not the major concerns (i.e., no need for a Bond-style teensy automatic that doesn't affect the way your tuxedo jacket drapes). On other missions, he frequently uses non-lethal weapons (gas grenades, tasers, etc.), or just beats the crap out of whoever is in the way.<br>
... Did you revise the story already to address the massive tip that Don brought up?
<br>The massive tip was Jeff's way of showing that Simon hadn't adjusted to the economic milieu of 1939. He was expecting a 2010-level bill, for which two dollars would have been an adequate, but hardly exorbitant, gratuity. He got a 1939 bill, which turned his 10-15% into 500%. Hence I would be surprised if Jeff ever changes this bit.<br><br>Robert M.
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Post March 29, 2005, 01:55:52 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

Robert:<br><br>While I don't doubt that the gear is replaceable, is it so quickly repaired? Did a couple of days pass? Perhaps then that is not an issue... Although, I suppose I would wonder about it if I was going--after all, Simon was clearly anxious about time travel. And anxiety is fine, but he just seemed a bit over the top for a veteran agent. But again, I don't know his character that well.<br><br>I saw no evidence that anybody knew the fluctuation meant a change in time had occurred. The other fluctuations all indicated well-known historical watersheds. Did I miss something?<br><br>I wonder what work ever requires a .44 mag? <br><br>My comment on the tip has to do with Don's prior comment on the tip. It sounded like Don was critically noting that the tip was exorbitant for the time, but Jeff clearly acknowedges this later in the story a couple of times, so I guess I wasn't sure why Don would bring it up here. I suppose in looking at Don's comment, he was simply enjoying that scene and nothing more...<br><br>Thanks for the info.
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Post March 29, 2005, 03:22:46 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

...I wonder what work ever requires a .44 mag?
<br><br>I guess you weren't aware of Nightwatch's role in the business of wildlife control (specifically rogue cyborg elephants, rhinoceri, and the like). The .44 magnum would be the backup weapon in case the anti-tank rocket launcher jams.<br><br>Robert (wondering what you get for 1000 posts) M.
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Post March 29, 2005, 08:50:18 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

My comment on the tip has to do with Don's prior comment on the tip. It sounded like Don was critically noting that the tip was exorbitant for the time, but Jeff clearly acknowedges this later in the story a couple of times, so I guess I wasn't sure why Don would bring it up here. I suppose in looking at Don's comment, he was simply enjoying that scene and nothing more...

Thanks for the info.
<br><br>The comment on the tip wasn't meant to be critical; it was simply a comment in passing. Since I was growing up during those years, I did get a chuckle out of it. During those years, I was a delivery boy for a grocery store (yes, you could call up the grocer and have your order delivered in those days!), and my tips were usually nickels or dimes. One rich guy always tipped me a quarter! WOW!! With that quarter, I could go to the movies (double feature), and buy a big bag of pop corn, a Mars candy bar, and a root beer. <br><br>I'm sure that Jeff had the "tip scene" to point out some of the differences between the thirties and the present. It was a great example.<br><br>Donald<br>
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Post April 11, 2005, 12:57:13 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Kindness of Strangers by Jeff Will

This is a great story so far. The other comments pretty much sum up my feelings as well, although I need to add that I thought the train station scene was particularly well done. (I'm already licking my chops on how I'll leverage that later on... hehe).<br><br>The only quibble I had was the effort expended to find authentic clothes and money from that time period. Our futuristic garb shouldn't be that different. I would think we could duplicate that stuff reasonably well without tripping off alarms. Although, I must admit, it did punctuate the differences in the time periods.<br><br>
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