Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs


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Post March 15, 2005, 04:28:00 PM

Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

As this is my first story on Aphelion I would be grateful for any comments<br>

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Post March 15, 2005, 05:04:13 PM

Re: Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

OK, you asked for it...<br><br>I thought this was tremendously executed. Tight, well-written. This went down like a cold beer and, like a cold beer, I wanted more.<br><br>Now for a caveat... My exposure to this genre is limited, so I don't know if this is heavily derivative or not. <br><br>I suppose if anything bothered me, it would be the title. A story this strong deserves something less, well, trite.<br><br>Great job. I would enjoy seeing more of this world. <br><br>Dan E.
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Post March 17, 2005, 04:15:26 PM

Re: Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

This was sharply written with a likeable protagonist. The plot was focused. The jargon helped support the story instead of distracting from it. I thought it extremely well done.<br><br>The only critique I had were a couple occasions of missing words, my edits in bold:<br>
I thought about going right then.
<br>and<br>
I carried her to the end of the garden, to where grass met roadway, and laid her so that she was leaning on me for support.
<br><br>Other than that, I really can't find much fault with it. I particularly enjoyed the religious theme underlying the story.<br>
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Post March 19, 2005, 12:48:02 PM

Re: Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

Genetic manipulation at its extremes, both for and against.<br><br>Structurally, I thought there was a fair balance between description and fast-paced dialogue, but the sections of two-sentence paragraphs caught my eye. I wondered why the two styles couldn't be mixed. <br><br>It's hard to introduce the level of technology quickly enough that the reader can get in the right frame to picture what follows. Mostly, I felt that this was very well done. When Amy "signed with her eye," I thought that was good. Clearly, this is the future. <br><br>However, three paragraphs later, I temporarily lost my suspension of disbelief, even though I knew what was meant: Amy opened the door with her retina. I couldn't help but think, "Wow. Her retina reached right out and turned the handle? Bet that hurt." :) Somewhere there's a line between descriptives used for "future building" and a level of reality that a reader can take, and for a moment, I was on the wrong side of the line.<br><br>Another vocabulary choice, the "dog collar" threw me. I wondered if this was a euphemism for a priest's collar, if he was costumed punk rock style, or, for a moment, if he was really a genetically-enhanced dog.<br><br>Was there something special about lizards in this? The first lizard is by the fans, and later the knocker is in the shape of the lizard. The average story doesn't mention reptiles at all, so this stuck out at me. Was this coincidence, an undeveloped plot point, or meant to show that they were under surveilance at the hotel?<br><br>Apart from this, I thought it was an good job of world building. While I didn't see all the senses fully engaged, I also didn't see any infodumps or anything of such ilk that stopped the narrative flow. This was a great world, a place where you could become anything you could afford to have spliced onto yourself. Plus, it was a place where the tensions were just as high as the level of technology.<br><br>I'd have to say that characterization didn't go quite as well. I didn't get a solid feel for the hero. Clearly, he didn't agree with the cloning/alterations for religious reasons, cared for Amy, and knew more than he let on. His wanting to jump out the window when she asked him if he was involved said to me he was guilty. He knew the bad guys. But yet he stood with Amy against the cloners when the chips were down. If he were innocent, why plan to jump? He was being squeezed, so I could feel for him. But given all the religion talk, I thought he was a clergyman--so I was put off when he turned out to be such a man of action in the gunfight.<br><br>Amy was harder to like. She seemed to be a manipulative cyborg, using him. If it weren't for her warning him at the very end, she might have been the villain instead of Jacob or Caleb.<br><br>I keep asking myself, what did the hero need or want? What was his motivation... what was his conflict that he needed to resolve? What did he learn? What choice does he pick to make this all personal, about what he needs on a human level? I suppose he chooses to try to save Amy... but I didn't see what that gets him.<br><br>This narrative tells a tale, true enough. It recounts the happenings on this particular day, in this interesting particular future world, to these particular people. However, without something human to connect it all, it just doesn't “ring” true to me. It doesn’t seem complete.<br><br>Is this a piece of a larger work? A novel or collection of stories?<br><br>Nate
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Post March 24, 2005, 04:44:40 PM

Re: Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

Thanks for the responses.<br>I always have trouble with story titles (closely followed by character names).<br>When I was first writing this I had Amy as being the narrator's daughter, someone lost to him because of his oppostion to genetic and scientific manipulation. I pulled that part because I thought it didn't work but looking over the story again I didn't do enough to replace it.<br>I am working on this being part of a collection of short stories set in the same world, hopefully if I submit more here they will get accepted too.

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Post March 26, 2005, 04:36:41 PM

Re: Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

I thought this was a good story. It was well written and easy to follow. I had only one quibble: too much gadgetry. <br><br>I thought most of the gadgetry in the story was unnecessary, and to me, was a trifle distracting. Some examples: Amy using her eye to sign documents and to unlock doors. Drones of tigers prowling the streets, monitor lizards in the rafters (can monitor lizards climb?), and mechanical drivers. I couldn’t see where any of these things had anything to do with the basic storyline, and IMO were only there to add to the scifi flavor.<br><br>Gadgetry aside, I thought the story was a great read.<br><br>Donald<br>
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Post March 28, 2005, 09:31:57 PM

Re:  Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

I thought this was a good story. It was well written and easy to follow. I had only one quibble: too much gadgetry.

I thought most of the gadgetry in the story was unnecessary, and to me, was a trifle distracting. Some examples: Amy using her eye to sign documents and to unlock doors. Drones of tigers prowling the streets, monitor lizards in the rafters (can monitor lizards climb?), and mechanical drivers. I couldn’t see where any of these things had anything to do with the basic storyline, and IMO were only there to add to the scifi flavor.

Gadgetry aside, I thought the story was a great read.

Donald
<br>The 'tamed' tigers reminded me of Zelazny's Lord of Light (the 'gods' were invisible (also inaudible and unsmellable) to the gimmicked tigers in their city -- an effect Mahasamatman ('call me Sam') turned off just to be nasty), but fit in here with Neil's underlying tech milieu with its ubiquitous tech-modified humans. There is also the perversity / misuse of technology aspect: is a tech-tamed tiger a tiger at all? Is cloning an abomination? If so, why are clones entitled to protection once they're here (as the 'Church' seems to hold as true)?<br><br>The lizards and other tropical / emerging nations (I've been told that 'third world' is no longer the term of choice) touches reminded me of George Alec Effinger's books set in a cyberpunkish Middle East (viz. A Fire in the Sun, among others) ... <br><br>Were the lizards specifically 'monitor' lizards? I was thinking more gekkos, or some other tropical variety that would be decorative but a minor nuisance. Of course, if they had surveillance gear built in, maybe Neil meant that they were 'monitorING' lizards!<br><br>Robert M.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on March 28, 2005, 09:33:52 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post March 28, 2005, 10:26:01 PM

Re: Never Say Die by Neil Carstairs

For those who care or may not know: Third World is still in use (Third World Quarterly is a fairly high-profile journal in international studies); however, developing countries is the PC term, used maybe because of its optimistic undertone--I wonder how inhabitants of so-called developing countries think in terms of either concept. "The South" is also a notion used in certain quarters to denote developing countries, contrasted to the North, ie, industrial societies or Western societies (although the dualistic idea of West-East has a different flavor from North-South).<br><br>Anybody remember the Fourth World and Banana Republics (before the latter was co-opted by capitalism)?<br><br>Anyway, I think Neil's story touches on some of the issues that underpinned Tim Taylor's short story in Feb's issue.

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