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Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 01, 2007, 08:08:03 AM
by TaoPhoenix
I think there's a couple good ideas in this story, but they appear obscured by some serious technical weaknesses.

This tale falls (pun intended!) into the "Alice & Wonderland" family of "nonsense, and waking up." I'll leave it to those more qualified than I what the current academic opinion of this technique is. At the very least, it is an advanced device I consider difficult to deliver properly. (It was fair game for Lewis Carroll because he was a pioneer, and everyone else had Carroll to study from.) The appeal of the Carroll technique to the writer is the shock value to the reader. Unfortunately, if all the materials aren't connected perfectly, it leaves the reader feeling jittery and disoriented *after* the story ends.

One of the absolutely most fundamental rules of SF/Fantasy is: Except for pre-defined universes, the reader has to build up the context for events *every single time*. The real weakness of the Carroll technique shows up here: not only is the writer planning on yanking his reader out at the end, but the *early material is often indended to be surreal*. Right at the crucial moments a reader is trying to form the set of assumptions for the story, the story refuses to properly deliver any assumptions!

Surrealism is a grand tradition, invigorated by the VR idea where we expect that kind of feel. But I think it needs to be prepared for the reader, and then the writer can hope his vision is grand enough to carry the day. Notice that even Carroll himself began the story with ordinary settings and characters long enough to tell the reader who is involved. Skipping that step is extremely difficult to deliver, and I don't think it works here either.

I am interested in the technics of the last segment, but that ended quickly as well. If I had to place a framework on this story, it strikes me as an *episode* of a larger work, such as a comic issue, which Michael Martineck has written before.


Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 01, 2007, 10:03:26 AM
by Robert_Moriyama
I just couldn't resist the wonderful absurdity of the light switch gag. After the 'life is boring' opening, it took the story through a Sharp Left Turn in a new direction. It was obvious that the protagonist was in a virtual world of some sort, so there was no real 'Surprise!' ending for me, but the reasons for his entry into that world (and reluctance to leave it) were interesting. (Think 'Vanilla Sky' or its Spanish original, 'Abre Sus Ojos'(?).) The light switches seemed like something the protagonist managed to add to the mix, or re-purposed -- in the latter case, maybe they were intended to provide him with a quick-exit mechanism, but he used them to remove anyone he suspected might be there to talk him into returning to the real world.

Robert "Hey, I picked it because I liked it, so there" M.

Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 01, 2007, 06:57:57 PM
by TaoPhoenix
"I'll defend to the end, your right to disagree".

Now we simply need someone else to chime in...

Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 02, 2007, 10:42:49 PM
by doc
I loved this story, but I'm a fan of surrealism.

What sells this story, I think, is that there's a double twist. When we are taking outside the virtual reality, we think "Oh, so all that weird stuff was just the product of his imagination." And then, we find out that no, all that stuff exists in the real world too. The story ends there, leaving the reader to wonder.

As Robert M. points out, the light swtich gag was a hoot.

I liked it. It's well written, imaginative, and has a great visual sense. Two thumbs up.

Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 10, 2007, 08:19:44 AM
by GDJ
This reminded me of Philip K Dick's Time out of Joint as much as The Matrix. I thought the light switch idea was great.


Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 10, 2007, 10:12:37 AM
by Robert_Moriyama
Well, a lot of PKD's work had that air of unreality (or doubt about which of several interpretations of reality was valid). 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale' (which got Schwarzeneggerized into 'Total Recall'), for example ... or the novel 'Ubik'.

'Scuse me, I have to take this call. I have a lead on a lightswitch dealer who might be able to handle a big rush order ...

RM ::)

World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 26, 2007, 03:23:20 AM
by neoadorable
Rob M. got to it first...this was a lot like Vanilla Sky, to the end. I still don't know exactly if Dr. Keller was "real" or still part of the same reality inside the guy's head.

it takes a lot of effort to come up with stuff like this, stuff that's seemingly almost random yet makes sense when you read it start to finish. very nice touches and good atmosphere building.

and the Novecki kid...where do i know that name from? not from my alter-reality, surely, the one brought by those black helicopters with their chemtrails the other night.


Re: World Without Boats - M. Martineck

PostPosted: April 27, 2007, 09:53:04 AM
by Jaimie
This is a great story. I'm in total agreement with Rob Wynne's assessment.

As Tao pointed out, this story breaks a number of rules and yet, in the end, it works (at least, for me, and it seems others as well). Which should tell you that the rules of writing are really just guidelines, a comment which I assume will cause a great deal of gnashing of teeth. Literature is an art, and art evolves, and what is today's standard becomes tomorrow's cardinal sin. The boundaries should always be pushed. That's my view and I'm sticking to it.

The writer's bio mentions that he was a comic book writer for DC and the story reminded me of a comic book unfolding. His style is very visual and imaginative, and well suited for the surreal.