Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon


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Post July 15, 2005, 01:52:13 PM

Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

Pretty good story, here.  It may have been the best of this kind that I have seen in quite some time.  Lee managed to bring some widely divergent characters together in a short period of time and give each at least a little bit of individuality—including the mostly-dead guy in the stasis chamber.  And that, folks, couldn't have been easy for anyone to write.<br><br>Even after I had to look up what 'Entrechats' means.  .  . I still wasn't able to anticipate the ending; which is always a plus in my book.  Now for the quibbles.  .  .<br><br>The whole 'Aliens' thing was a bit confusing.  I'm not sure what purpose they served in moving the plot along.  If this story is a small corner of a larger canvas, it might have been better to have found a way to insert answers to some of the questions raised.<br><br>For instance:  Why were international troops—including, but not limited to, Americans—fighting the UN?<br><br>Were the Aliens fighting amongst themselves before they allied themselves with the factions on this planet?<br><br>Was the whole bored Gen-X scenario just the popular belief or was it supposed to represent some kind of insight on the part of the protagonist?  It sounded like a fairly simplistic explanation, to me.  I looked, but couldn't find enough in the story to tell me if I was supposed to take is as author's background or as simply this one character's opinion. <br><br>The powered armor that some were wearing seemed pretty tough, not sure if everyone had it—or not—so I had some trouble visualizing some of the scenes.  <br><br>Then there was the tableau where a UN soldier gets shot with a .50 cal sniper rifle and just falls down dead.  A fifty caliber round imparts slightly more than twice the kinetic energy of a WWII hand grenade to the first three or four human bodies it explodes.  After that it slows down enough where it is just tearing huge chunks from the next four or five bodies.  All of this—of course—assuming that you can get ten to fifteen people to line up to be shot by your sniper.<br><br>There is a reason that .50 caliber sniper rifles are anti-ordinance (such as trucks, tanks and parked helicopters & jets & things) weapons and not really meant to shoot people.   Not that it won't do a fine job against human targets.  <br><br>Lee, I can email you a short video demonstrating this—in the name of research, of course—if you are interested.<br><br>Still, it was a good story with excellent characters but I could have used a little more world building in order to 'see' the scenes in my mind as I read.<br><br>Keep up the good work,<br><br>Bill<br>
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Post July 15, 2005, 10:11:45 PM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

.50 BFG<br>Where the BF don't stand for "Belt Fed..." LOL!<br>Dan<br>
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Post July 18, 2005, 12:14:29 PM

Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

**SPOILER**<br><br>(just noticed it now, sorry)<br><br>thanks for the comments and for reading it. and for the kind words, Bill.<br><br>you're 100 percent right about the 50 cal, it didn't even occur to me, bad research. i think i'll pass on that video though...<br><br>the aliens were aligned with the US, the UN and others trying to boot them out. my aim was to surprise people as to who were the "bad" guys.  they were like parasites, somehow benefitting from the ongoing war for its duration. i didn't dwell on them too much since the characters themselves know next to nothing about all this.<br><br>the gen x element was strictly Hoffer's angle, as explained by his dad, a gen x-er himself, as am i. it's basically my take on things.<br><br>the powered suit, i believe, was only worn by Sgt. Gogoi, nobody else. probably too expensive and bulky.<br><br>sorry the scenes weren't clear, it's always a challenge keeping up with the pace of combat.<br><br>all the best,<br><br>Lee
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Post July 19, 2005, 01:09:33 PM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

Good action packed war story set in the future. <br><br>Stories are like paintings. Each reader can finish a story and have different feelings and themes come to him.<br><br>The word Vienna suggested Viet-Nam to me. ( I served in 'Nam during to war ) And not long after that, the word Hue ( used as an adjective in the story I believe) popped up and the city of "Hue, Viet-nam" came to me. <br><br>There was a hell of a battle in Hue one time.<br><br>I'm sure that Lee didn't use "Vienna" and "Hue" to suggest Viet-Nam, and the only reason that I mentioned my feelings were to demonstrate how our life experiences can influence our writing and reading.<br><br>The story was well written and set in an area that has been subjected to war since the time of Christ!<br><br>I like the symbol of the horse and rider representing civilians who are caught in a battle! <br><br>I felt at times that I were back in the army and under Hoffer's command! Good description, and great use sights and sound that surround a battlefield.<br><br>I'm not too sure about the Andalus dancing at the end.<br>Was his wounds cured? Did the pain medication take away the pain so that he could dance? I'm a little lost there, but the important thing is the story entertains and that's what is important!<br><br>
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Post July 19, 2005, 08:20:50 PM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

I think this story needed a bigger canvas to show us its complete colors.<br><br>No disrespect intended for the "colors" it did show--I found the image of the bloody ballerina to be gripping and downright disconcerting, and my story chopped off a woman's head last month. But the fact that Andalus was there dancing told me that Lee was trying to make a statement of some kind, probably of rebirth of hope, or the ridiculously horrifying waste of war... dunno for sure, because I didn't catch it.<br><br>Whatever the deeper message was, I felt that it needed more character development to show it. The members of the platoon changed over so quickly that I didn't get attached to any of them. (18 were there? I lost track, but there always seemed to be another when one was shot.) If it was just the Major I was supposed to follow... I guess I tuned him out trying to figure out if the dynamic going on between the soldiers and the Doc was the main thrust of the story or not.<br><br>I would have liked to have known these characters more before they bought it, so that their deaths would have a deeper emotional impact. As it was, a lot of players dashed across the stage, more than I could keep track of. If there had only been a half-dozen it might have helped since there would have been less to learn.<br><br>I also wondered if the aliens were needed for the story as it played out. The tale was in the future or an alternate universe, so it was already SF. The Major could have found persons in the command tent who were just as devoid of feeling as the curious aliens were. As it was, the aliens seemed responsible for causing and prolonging the war, instead of the even more frightening humans it could have been.<br><br>I've not read many stories like this, so maybe I missed some conventions of the genre. Nevertheless, I felt it was an all right story, but one that could have been better with more depth of characterization and a lengthier plot.<br><br>Nate
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Post July 19, 2005, 09:57:29 PM

Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

<br><br>**SPOILER**<br><br>thanks for the comments guys.<br><br>George, that was you right? appreciate the kind words. Andalus wasn't at all cured, and to answer Nate as well, he was just another example of the insanity of it all.<br><br>the aliens weren't exactly responsible for the war. humans were their intimate collaborators, and the former were along for the ride.<br><br>i wasn't thinking of Vietnam, but it's great the story made a personal connection like that. you're right, that's what storytelling's supposed to achieve.<br><br>heh heh there always seemed to be another when one was shot..wasn't going for a deep acquaintance with these characters, except maybe the major and a few others. the rest where explicitly conveyed as disposable extras, no shame. you were supposed to feel like that and i'm glad it worked.<br><br>and Nate, how about representing all five of your senses? stayed faithful to your rules in this one, did you notice?<br><br>Lee<br>

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Post July 19, 2005, 11:37:18 PM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

Action aplenty and great rip roaring entertainment. The reader better make sure his seat belt is buckled while reading this one! Aside from a boo boo or two--such as the man dropping after a.50 Cal. round rips through him--this was a very enjoyable storry. (Well, I suppose the guy *would* drop--minus a head!) I enjoyed it even though I'm not a big fan of war stories (heard enough of 'em in the barracks.)<br><br>As an aside, a light ack ack battalion turned their quad .50s and twin forties (40mm) against the Chinese human wave assaults during the Korean war. They proved extremely effective against the human wave tactic. Talk about lining your targets up...<br><br>The only thing that left me scratching my head was the dancing corpse, but Lee cleared that up in his explanation...I think.<br><br>Thoroughly enjoyed the story. <br><br>Donald<br>
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Post July 20, 2005, 08:02:48 PM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

and Nate, how about representing all five of your senses? stayed faithful to your rules in this one, did you notice?

Lee
<br>I did. Good for you!<br><br>I think the reality brought in by those additional sensations might have been part of my confusion over whether the conflict over Andalus' corpse was the main plot or not. Doc and the other soldiers' inputs made their actions and situations more real to me than usual supporting characters, and that's partly why I felt they deserved that bigger canvas to play out their emotional developments & story arcs.<br><br>I'd never thought about it before, and in apparent contradiction to my usual advice, this may be a good argument for limiting (to some degree) that sensory input when the POV is from a lesser character, especially if that character is not going to be fully developed. Perhaps a better suggestion may be not to jump POV to any such characters--it defocuses the main character's impact.<br><br>Nate
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Post July 21, 2005, 01:14:49 AM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

This is a deceptively easy read that revealed its layers after pondering it for a bit. <br><br>The politics that Lee embroils himself in here are immensely complex and I'd be interested in a little more detail. I was unclear on the alliances. Was I to take the "ethnic" names to indicate that the US had allied with Eastern Europe against the UN? And the UN is not a monolithic entity (and it seems a bit unlikely that it could muster up a force cohesive enough to face the US), so I'd like to know who Lee envisioned remaining under those blue helmets having forsaken nation sovereignty to fight against the US (and whoever else). That's a fascinating detail that was missing. Where was the UK? NATO? And what about the EU? Wouldn't the EU exercise some influence on the alignment choices of Eastern Europe? Or has it collapsed under its own weight by now? The implications of Lee's scenario for the notion of sovereignty have me craving information on these things. This is not a criticism, my curiosity has been piqued is all. <br><br>The scene with the woman/horse could've been more effective. I must admit I felt it a bit overdone--maybe too much dialogue. The scene lacked credibility with the back and forth (I kinda think they would've turned her into cat food as soon as she fired her weapon). However as a symbol, I took the woman to represent a coupla things: traditionalism clashing with postmodernity (which kinda smells like BS) and/or the death of Old Europe. The latter strikes me as bit more consonant with the idea of a "hate-filled" UN (which somewhat paradoxically, is said to be progressive in the story). As such, the image resonated for me.<br><br>The other image worthy of note is the dancing "ballerina." I too found it a bit confusing when I first read the story. But then I wondered if Andralus' resurrection was a gift of the aliens and some kind of punctuation to the running debate between Wang and Bishop. The image does portray the madness of war and hollowness of victory fairly well. I think I missed its full impact though; it was nearly brilliant. For me, it just seemed to appear at the end of the story with little lead in, but (1) that might've been Lee's intention or (2) I might have missed something. <br><br>One very tiny quibble: I would rather have been shown that Wang was sarcastic than told that. Sarcasm is easy to do through dialogue.<br><br>And, after all, I'm not sure what the aliens lent to this tale. Even Lee's explanations are a bit lacking, so it makes me wonder if the human story here would be more effective w/o the alien intervention. I mean it's surreal enough to imagine a war such as this. I for one don't need anything extraterrestrial here. <br><br>Two other things: we are told that Vienna has fallen; this suggests that Austria was an ally. Is that correct? And am I correct in that the Yukon Marauders are a Canadian force? That makes me wonder about another story set in Montana along the northern front.<br><br>Anyway, interesting read.<br><br>Dan E.<br>PS--I think I've seen a video similar to what Bill mentions. Quite impressive.
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Post July 22, 2005, 08:45:31 AM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

PS--I think I've seen a video similar to what Bill mentions. Quite impressive.
<br><br><br>If it's a 60 second video showing real sniper shots on human targets in Afghanistan. . .it's the same video.<br><br>Unbelievable what a .50 cal can do to a human body from a thousand meters, or so.<br><br>Bill
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Post July 22, 2005, 12:21:50 PM

Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

<br>thanks for the insightful comments, proud that something i wrote made people think and consider such deep-rooted topics. although not specifically political, the story was based on trends we can see today, such as america's isolation, not from within, but coming from the so-called int'l community (including N. North Dakota aka Canada, all you editors out there). <br>the names were meant as a show of US diversity, not an alliance with "foreign" countries (i hate that word). since the story's set in the future from out point in time, it makes sense for american society to be increasingly diverse, ethnically at least, by then.<br>the Yukon Marauders were of course Canadian, but beyond that i wasn't thinking exactly of who's in the UN and who was on the US side, except the aliens, who sided with the americans for their own purposes. <br>the fact that Vienna fell didn't mean it allied with the US, quite the contrary. im my mind we occupied it.<br>the UN, i thought, was probably made up of nations that today take issues with US politics, particularly China and the EU. i believe we're headed for more bloc conflicts in the near future (20-50 yrs), which will invariably involve these three main factions. The US side could be taken to include places like Japan, Israel, the UK and a few others, but who knows, these dyanamics shift. In the story that's what i had in mind, more or less.<br><br>the UN in Entrechats wasn't today's bumbling organization. Clearly it was something else using the same name, that's all. No more push-over blue helmets and retired APC's, we're talking a real global military. Maybe they were really representing a world gov't, with the US, coming from an independent, alleged superpower background, unwilling to join in and thus leading to war? <br><br>the horse rider was definitely the people vs. machinations of state and power, not new pitted against the old etc. hope that makes sense.<br><br>Thanks for saying the ballerina was almost brilliant, that's awesome to hear. it was meant as a twist and a "visual" aid more than anything, but of course indicated how ridiculous the situation was. no gift from the aliens, they didn't care enough either way.<br><br>Wang sarcastic? more like slightly deranged and just bummed out. true, that piece of discourse was a bit overdone, i admit.<br><br>the aliens...thinking more about them, they were a tool, as were the humans. the alien faction provided a way to show that war always has beneficiaries, and that as a civiliation we shirk responsibility with ease. also, since in this story the US was kinda "bad", the alien presence served to indicate who was really fighting the good fight, i.e the other side. i think without them the tale wouldn't be completely told.<br><br>hey thanks again for taking time to think about it!<br><br>Lee<br><br><br>
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Post July 23, 2005, 12:41:36 AM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

I thought the story captured the gritty feel of combat. Further description of the battle armor would have made it even better. I kept going between Saving Private Ryan and Starship Troopers in my mind. However, it ended up working due to the interaction amongst the soldiers, so that the setting took a back seat to the human drama. Whether it’s a spear or a ray gun, killing and dying are a grim business. Soldiers are not Rambos. Seeing their compatriots die deeply affects their psyches.<br><br>The scope seemed a bit too large for a simple story, although when I reflect on the plot, I suspect it was the inclusion of so many elements in such a short time and not the actual plot itself. For example, the introduction of the aliens was too jarring. Perhaps introducing them earlier might have helped. The insertion of Agatha almost seemed Arthurian to me, which, along with the aliens, made it a strange amalgam. The story finishes strong, with the bloody ballerina invoking a horrific yet beatific image.<br><br>I won’t comment on the politics of the story. My personal views shouldn’t factor in as a critic. However, I’m not a big proponent of narrative that preaches, which I felt this story did at times. Every story should have a theme, but I argue for subtlety as guideline.
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Post July 26, 2005, 04:18:24 PM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

I have to say that so far out of the stories that I have read in this issue this is by far my favorite. I love war drama and the near future combat of the story really strikes a chord with a genre I really love. It reminds me of my good ole days playing rifts...<br><br>I loved the description of the "chain smoker" and I like the nearly "steampunk" feel of the technology. Where it is just a little bit more than we have now but not much.<br><br>One thing that I didn't like was that sometimes the jargon that the soilders used was a little distracting. I know that they are soilders so I cound have done with less of that but that is just my opinion.<br><br>I like the Gen X idea...that we are the Generation that has no great war no legacy so we make one...I can see how a single soilder could come to that conclusion with a war like the one that you described. <br><br>I have to agree that the framework is huge for the scope of the story that you are telling...it made me interested in knowing so much more about what is going on. I would love to see more stories set in this framework. Even a novel? I loved it.<br><br>
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Post July 26, 2005, 10:29:34 PM

Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

<br>(blushing) wow thanks a million for the support and kind words, really touched and thrilled that the story connected with people. <br>i'm reading the comments carefully and learning them for future reference, but must stand by the story's scope. it wasn't intended as large or epic, rather as a background. i'm a HUGE fan of hintology, that is avoiding specifics and teasing readers with the promise of sth bigger (kinda like Playboy mag come to think of it). yes, frustrating at times, but oh so sweetly sorrowful.<br>as a veteran of the David Gerrold Waiting Campaigns, i've tasted more than my share of that sentiment.<br><br>Iuchiban, it's amazing you enjoyed the feel and Gen X anectode, your reaction is precisely what i was hoping for. can you give me examples for jargon that you found redundant?<br><br>and Jaimie, from you i need pointers as to where the tale preached. i do tend to indulge in the occasional sermon, but hoped they wouldn't find their way into the story. can you elaborate?

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Post July 28, 2005, 11:12:46 AM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

I don't think there was anything that I could specifically put my thumb on, and when I think about it redundant was really the right word...I think a better word would be distracting. When reading stuff about the military, it is acurate to use a lot of jargon because that is how people talk in the military but when reading about that it can really distract from the story telling.<br><br>I think at the begenning of the story it kind of comes across like that, but as the story progresses that goes away...right around the part where the guy is fighting the UN troops in his power armor. At least that is where I stopped noticing it... ;)<br><br>I hope that helps.
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Post July 28, 2005, 12:21:19 PM

Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

<br>thanks for the pointers!<br><br>Lee

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Post June 19, 2008, 04:26:01 AM

Re: Entrechats in Bloody Snow  By Lee Alon

A sign of a story's quanlity is the length of discussion it receives. (Though the correlation only works one way ; absence of discussion does not imply poor quality. )

This is a solid effort. Let's see if I can add any angles not covered above.

Different forms of media may be suited best for different kinds of tales.  Introspection and morality discussions, which mostly take place in "MindSpace", are often difficult to present effectively in visual media, except perhaps short episodic forms like the old Twilight Zone.

This story strikes me as the opposite side: as noted by the thread, characterization is not intended as a focus.  Visual media *does* fare better handling "ensemble casts" because visual cues are processed in parallel, so simple presence takes care of the kinds of contexting, scene layout, and so on that war stories usually require.

I'm not so sure I like the spot-element of the hallucination/surrealism from the ending. My interpretation of the story title was that War itself is being compared with ballet movements, which the aliens are enjoying as an art form.

On the subject of "how much story to include in the given length":
I believe I prefer a story such as this to creak at the seams with material which can be imagined & filled out all around, than a tale which seems to be paced in a certain way, only to be cut short for meta-story reasons. As noted above, there are sagas worth of unclear backdrop here, but the tale itself seems to have reached its episodic conclusion.

Some of you may recall that I specialize in a unique aural approach to Aphelion tales, and I discovered that I have grown rusty from lack of practice lately!  The principle is, you only get a single chance to follow the story as each sentence moves on. (In contrast, the eyes can glance up to check something; with an audio telling, you have to completely stop and rewind.) On simple stories, sometimes one can try to slide past an isolated instance.  This story is so compact, that my lack of practice led me to verify the tale with a visual read.

In all, grand stuff.

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