Mind Jump by Matthew Scott Baker


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Post April 19, 2005, 12:39:19 AM

Mind Jump by Matthew Scott Baker

“Mind Jump” pulled me in from the start, and kept me hanging in there and turning the pages throughout most of the story. This thriller of a scifi was filled with cliff-hanging suspense. I was with Sarah and was rooting for her from the start, and though she kept getting deeper into trouble as the story moved along, I was sure she’d win out in the end.<br><br>The story was well written, and I could find nothing to quibble about. I found a couple of typos, but nothing worth note. As far as I could see, all the elements of a good story were there.<br><br>As to the story itself, the only quibble I had was with the depressing ending. I would divide this story into two parts: Part A made up of the beginning and middle, Part B made up of the ending. On a scale of one to ten, part A gets a ten. Alas, Part B gets but a one. <br><br>I thought it was dreadful that a story with such great potential was ruined by such a terrible ending. I’ll probably lie awake all night worrying about poor Sarah trapped in that ravine and slowly going insane over the next fifty years. :-(<br><br>I think that Mr. Baker has shown some good talent here, and I predict good things for him as a writer. But I do hope that in the future he gives us some stories with happy-ever-after endings! :-)<br><br>Donald<br>
A really good story can compensate for less-than-brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story.

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Post April 28, 2005, 10:27:36 PM

Re: Mind Jump by Matthew Scott Baker

Thank you so much for the kind words...and, to put everyone's mind at ease, I DO have a few stories with happier endings. :)
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Post April 29, 2005, 09:29:46 PM

Re: Mind Jump by Matthew Scott Baker

Real Life is getting in the way. I won't get half of the stories critiqued this month, but this one caught my eye.<br><br>Donald looks for the sunny side of life, but I was fine with the unhappy tone at the end. To each their own.<br><br>I thought that this story began really well. It caught me, and drew me in. The narrative flow was established, and I was following Sarah as she experienced the uplink. Frankly, I thought I was starting a real gem.<br><br>Then came the paragraph that started "Sarah was part of a revolutionary experiment..." At that point, I felt the narrative flow was strangled to allow the narrator to take control, telling me about the world in an infodump. I hate infodumps. (Even though I sometimes commit them, myself.) I want to experience it for myself, figure it out as I go. If you can't understand what's going on for an extended period of time, fine, put one in--if you absolutely have to, and even then it's better to rewrite it so you don't need one.<br><br>Following the offending infodump, I thought there needed to be something that showed the POV had switched. Putting her "spoken" thought in italics may have worked for this. Also, the narrative flow never really re-established itself as strongly as at it was in the opening.<br><br>On setting, I didn't quite follow the process of transition, and I didn't grasp that the bodies were linked, real-time, with earth until the end. I guess it was perfectly obvious, and probably spelled out, but it helps to know what people caught when reading and what they didn't. As it was, I was a bit confused as to how the control could be maintained through hyperspace all the way back home. Traditionally, vessels don't go into hyperspace from standing still on earth (not that it's impossible), but I just expected some kind of lag in the communications. <br><br>I didn't care for the cave part, because it was an abandoned plot thread that I wanted to know more about. It seemed to have been hidden, and there were hints that something in the underbrush might have been watching. If the goal was to leave her in the ravine, she could have just gone for a walk and slipped. As it was, I thought that maybe she wouldn't be alone. Whoever or whatever from the cave could find her, so why end the story now?<br><br>Obviously, what she perceives is dependent on what sensors are hooked up to her brain, but there is enough technology out there right now that she could have had all the senses at her disposal to perceive the world. Chemical analyzers could smell for her. Tactile sensors could give the sense of touch, etc. Using all your senses can really help make world-building concrete, and how one chooses to describe those sensations can really help add to the overall tone of the story. Moreover, would it bother a mind if it didn't get that kind of input? I think it might, especially over an extended period.<br><br>I liked Sarah's character. I thought she was believable, and I sympathized with her curiosity, as well as her plight at the end.<br><br>I thought the bombers were a little trite. What she was doing was so difficult and technologically challenging that there was no need to throw terrorists into the mix. The uplink tower on the ship could have short circuited just as easily, and they just didn't notice she wasn't in her station--that's all it would have taken. Other than that, I think it was ok. She made a conscious choice, and paid the consequences.<br><br><br>A little rough here and there, but I say this author's got promise. My advice to Mr. Baker is to keep showing instead of telling, keep on with engaging protagonists, develop logical plots that involve conscious choices, above all, keep the story anchored in a "human" experience... and you'll go far--happy ending or not.<br><br>Nate
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Post May 04, 2005, 02:05:24 PM

Re: Mind Jump by Matthew Scott Baker

I'm sorry, I didn't like this one. :(<br><br>I think the story had potential, but the delivery was off. I couldn't shake off the why's of someone's mind needing to be transferred from the human body to a robot. Why couldn't you just download a copy of someone's mind into the robot? Why shut down the human body for the terrorists to come blow up later on? If you're going to write sci-fi, be prepared to explain yourself.<br><br>I agree with the terrorists being trite and I knew that they would arrive later to destroy Sarah's body. That was a tad too obvious. Also, when Sarah decided to roam around at night, I just knew that she would end up being stranded (like one of those horror movies created for teenagers-- "No, don't split up! You fools!"). I'm a big fan of foreshadowing, but I prefer it to be subtle. That’s why I don’t like prophecies in fantasy, but I digress.<br><br>Some general writing critique: try to use more active verbs instead of passive verbs in your narrative. For example:<br>
Once past the Earth’s moon, the hyper-jump engine was activated and the ship was propelled out of normal space. Then, it was all out of the control center’s hands; all the project members could do was wait.
<br>may read better as:<br>
Once past the Earth’s moon, the hyper-jump engine activated, the ship propelling out of normal space. Then, the control center took command. The project members waited helplessly, the fate of the ship no longer in their hands.
<br><br>Using active over passive verbs gives the style a much dynamic feel. Usually, I try to go for a 80/20 ratio of active vs. passive, although this percentage is debatable. Some writers disavow passive verbs altogether, although they serve a distinct function when used appropriately. You can google passive voice; there are a ton of resources out there to help you out.<br><br>As I said, I think it had potential, although it needs a lot more work.<br>
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