That Devil Cantori by T. Richard Williams


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Post December 09, 2017, 05:55:49 PM

That Devil Cantori by T. Richard Williams

A murder mystery set on Mars.

I only got pulled out of the story once, and that was early in Ch 17 when Rick and Pepper are on the highway and the grid goes out.
Then a violent jolt—and our Fuzer starts lifting off the road.

If all that happened was the enhanced gravity failing, I see no cause for a violent jolt--they'd just get lighter, and should not have left the road, at least on that account. They might have gotten blown sideways by the escaping atmosphere, but that would have to be described differently, and the air was already gone by then anyway.

Oh--and they had TWO liftoffs:
And in the blink of a quartz clock, we start lifting off the pavement, too.

My skepticism was aroused by that 10- to 12-second airborne interval, but the math for that is beyond me these days, and it would depend on unstated variables, such as the terrain and whether the road was banked where they lost contact with it.

At least they were lucky to be able to walk back before the utilities were restored.

So, that passage has some notable dents and scratches in it, but it'd be pretty easy to fix.

Tiny niggles ...
The one mighty exception to the gentler topography of the north is Olympus Mons, a dormant shield volcano rising over twenty-five klicks from the rolling plain.

Not quite. My USGS map gives Olympus Mons an elevation of 21,229 km. Oh, and it's not alone; the Tharsis Montes are pretty close to it and almost as tall. Get the map; you'll love it.

Another deals with the setting and its backstory. I have no problem with the shielding and artificial gravity, but what's inside them feels unexpectedly lush and sort of old-Earth traditional, with houses and shopping malls and such--trees and streams. I can't help wondering who paid for all that? This is some very expensive infrastructure, even if only from a fuel-use point of view. There's a lot in the background that isn't explained. I suspect a very large asteroid mining industry, probably state-owned.

Oh, and--people still smoke? LEGALLY? And someone is using precious, limited cropland to grow tobacco. I'll grant nicotine, but even now we have e-cigs. That's a beef I had with Battlestar Galactica, too: they ran out of food and fuel, but they never quite ran out of cigars or booze.

Other than that, this is a marvelous story; the characterization and dialog were especially well done. The interaction between Rick and Pepper is very appealing.

Bumps and all, I think this one will wind up on my year's Best-of list.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

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Post December 11, 2017, 08:26:02 PM

Re: That Devil Cantori by T. Richard Williams

Hi Curtis:
Great suggestions for the story--and easy fixes.
But I'm not sure how much I want to "fix." (Not saying I won't; just wondering how much I should tinker with it.)
This whole story is an homage to the English "cozy mystery"--and a great deal of indebtedness to Bradbury's MARTIAN CHRONICLES with all its wonderful "frontier" allusions--including housing, little villages, etc. Like Bradbury's stories, mine is a FANTASY Mars, not necessarily a "realistic" Mars.
I always hoped that people would just go with the flow and allow themselves to enter the fantasy of my story.
And, yes, as part of the "homage" to the cozy, booze and cigarettes are still part of the terrain, probably created by replicator machinery of some kind. One of the traps I didn't want to fall into was overexplaining any of the science--or the geography. I have a map of Mars--in fact, I created one with the main domed cities on it to figure out the direction of the connecting highways, etc. Yes, I could have explained aspects of the geography more closely, but I didn't want to stop the forward momentum with details and backstory. I wanted readers to use their imagination, to enter the "secondary world" (as Tolkien calls it) of the story.
But you make good points and I'll definitely have another look-see.
Bottom line: I'm so glad that you liked the over-all story and that it might end up as one of your favorites.

I hope other readers enjoy it as well.
Bill (aka. T. Richard Williams)
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Post December 12, 2017, 04:19:52 AM

Re: That Devil Cantori by T. Richard Williams

trwilliams wrote:Hi Curtis:
Great suggestions for the story--and easy fixes.
But I'm not sure how much I want to "fix." (Not saying I won't; just wondering how much I should tinker with it.)
This whole story is an homage to the English "cozy mystery"--and a great deal of indebtedness to Bradbury's MARTIAN CHRONICLES with all its wonderful "frontier" allusions--including housing, little villages, etc. Like Bradbury's stories, mine is a FANTASY Mars, not necessarily a "realistic" Mars.
I always hoped that people would just go with the flow and allow themselves to enter the fantasy of my story.

Well, it's my personal bugaboo, but I generally get sidetracked when a writer mixes SF and fantasy. This story displays enough technology to make that a problem for me: I expect the tech to be consistent and make sense, even if it isn't explained (and often works better if it isn't).

It's been so long since I read The Martian Chronicles that the only thing I remember about it is, ironically, an item that pulled me out of the story: those sailboats that screeched across the sand on their steel hulls. Bradbury was a magical writer, though; nobody could scare me the way he did. He never aimed for the forebrain.
And, yes, as part of the "homage" to the cozy, booze and cigarettes are still part of the terrain, probably created by replicator machinery of some kind.

snip
And you reminded me of my acquaintance with the genre from long ago, with "Murder, She Wrote" and the The Cat Who ... series of novels by Lilian Jackson Braun. And yes, you've done credit to it with so many details, like the clothing, hairstyles, makeup, perfume--even the way Rick describes his vehicle. All of that was seamless; I only commented on it because I couldn't help stepping back for a long view and seeing that as a small picture that didn't exactly fit the way I'd expect it to in the big picture. My bad; I'm not really supposed to do that. :lol:
But you make good points and I'll definitely have another look-see.
Bottom line: I'm so glad that you liked the over-all story and that it might end up as one of your favorites.

I hope other readers enjoy it as well.
Bill (aka. T. Richard Williams)

I do hope more people read it, and I'd like to see more of these.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

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Post December 12, 2017, 08:22:14 PM

Re: That Devil Cantori by T. Richard Williams

Wonderful exchange of ideas. Love it when writers can do that.
Bill :-) (aka T. Richard Williams)

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