Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams


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Post August 10, 2007, 04:22:09 PM

Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Now and again, it's good to give old stories some fresh air. They serve as markers to ourselves to show us how we thought, what was important to us at the time, and reveal how our skills have improved over. Plus, they can entertain an audience all over again.

This was a complicated universe, one that was a bit hard to take in. It took me an installment or two to really "get" it, especially with reality being re-written as it went. Nevertheless, it was a good story. Trauma & crew succeed. The 808 was built.

I'm curious, however, as to who wrote what. I'm not familiar with Rob's style--I'm sure I've read a few in the stacks, but they escape me at the moment. I have seen a good bit of Jeff's style through Nightwatch, and much of this doesn't 'sound' like him (and I mean that in a difficult to explain and highly nebulous way). Of course, that could just be the 9 years since this came out the first time and they're both different people now.

If I may be so bold as to use this story as a teaching tool... I think a change in focus could have made this an even better story. It's a good yarn, don't get me wrong, but I think if it had focused more on George's character and how he related to the changing events around him instead of how the events themselves were resolved, it's more appealing to the audience.

The world around these characters is constantly changing, as was necessary for the plot. It's hard for a reader to connect with such a universe--it keeps them at a distance. That is, every time I think 'I don't quite understand.' I have to pull out of the story and ponder it before I can digest the next bit. If on the other hand, I read about how George doesn't understand, I have no problem. George is the one with the inability to cope, and I'm just reading about how he flounders. Even if I still don't understand what's going on, I'll believe that's because George doesn't grasp it--and that I'm forced to see it through his eyes. Plus, this gives me someone to relate to. Honestly, I didn't connect with Trauma, or Mia, or Ellis' crew. I did, however, somewhat connect to the villain, Ground.

The first part was very much through George's perspective, so I thought this series would keep that going. Much like Arthur Dent shuffles through Douglas Adam's universe just fine, despite that he doesn't understand it at all. Instead, as this story progressed it focused on the events. George became just another player, and not the star.

As I said, it's still a good story, but I also think if either or both of the authors had written it today, it would be a very different yarn. Probably faster paced, probably utilizing greater emotional depth--experience counts for a lot.

If you haven't read the parts yet, do it now. They're worth reading.

Nate
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Post August 10, 2007, 05:00:35 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Thank you, Nate, for giving us a great topic opener to jump into! (And look, we can boost the ailing post count for August!)

I think there's a wonderful spread of preferences across the genre audience.  I *liked* some of the effects that Nate dissented, and received less value out of the villain Ground.

What might actually be a fascinating variant to consider is the exposure method. I can bet anyone a Pan-Galactic GargleBlaster that I didn't read the story.  Drumroll ... - I listened to it.

This means that except with real difficulty, I was NOT able to stop and leisurely peruse the story over my beverage while puzzling over a detail. On a rolling yarn, I get one shot plus a second chance at the first few pages.

Nate and I both picked up on the fairly clear parallel to Hitchiker. To me, it makes me identify MORE with a "lost and clueless" character if *I* am lost and clueless - but only if the details were "legitimately" explained and it's just my fault I missed them on the first pass - for that is how I perceived Trauma's presentation to George! (I do take points off if my intuition buzzes and upon careful study the author deliberately witheld a detail solely so the reader wouldn't guess the plot early. I didn't detect much of that here.)

While I perceived a certain type of carelessness to Trauma, it was of the "too smart to bother" variety. When it counted, he really did know his stuff, but when tying up some errant detail, the enjoyable impression became "What? He's not supposed to be here... hmm... that must mean that the decay gradients of the time field are collapsing faster than I thought... did I forget to take the third derivative of the interference rating of my opponent times the number of guards from the time force? Silly me, I always forget that. That's why I need assistants".  

If *I* were yanked into a future which I perceived deliberately designed to be as confusing as possible, ... that's the effect I'd be pounded with every hour. I'd hope to desperately hang on and contribute something of value before I became a total liability. I agree though, that in any other setting, being left in the dust would be distracting at best.

I picked up on a few lines where whiz-kid Trauma (which is an easy character to over-do) has to think a little like a leader. He knows temporal mechanics... but they now have to deal with ... *businessmen*. While not exactly a CEO, George *does* have a solid business grounding, and contributes towards handling the conference.

I laughed when they ended up with an Actor-King from some kind of re-enactment province... and then they need ... an actor... to portray the dead engineer.

I am a fan of brilliant plotting.  I am well enough versed in the art of pure character development, but gorgeous plot concepts make me smile. So instead of being put off by what may indeed feel a little like "the machinery moving the events showing through the story", I was paying attention to what the non-whiz characters were being forced to contribute.

------------------------

As for styles, a good writer can often deliver work in a couple styles. Since this was clearly meant as a zany adventure, it wouldn't have anything close to the delivery of a more serious piece. Rob does indeed have some other pieces, though I have not parsed anything else by either of the authors, so I cannot compare.

All in all, grand stuff.
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Post August 12, 2007, 02:55:44 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Okay.  .  .

The saga is finally over.  I--like many, I'm sure--have held my comments to see what the Big Deal really was.

And folks, I have to say it was one heck of a novel.  Absolutely new concepts and nonstop action. Okay, fine.  .  .Trauma bore a mild resemblence in both name and attitude to a fellow named Ford Perfect.  But--as I did for Ford's Fillibuster--I would have paid handsomely for this if it were a thin tome offered at the local bookery.  It was that entertaining.

Like most of these things, I had to go back and read the whole work from the beginning.  I spent a few minutes to load each part, cut-n-paste them into a Word document (in order, of course) and then I started at the beginning and read it through the way God and Tesla intended it to be.  

It's the only way to fly, and I apologize to anyone who had this same disjointed experience with some of my recent stuff.  It sucks to do these things piecemeal.  I can only say that I am very glad that I was born late enough to read all TLOTR books one after another.  In my case, I managed to do it all in one weekend when I was seventeen. Don't know how the folks who read the first book managed to wait for numbers two and three.  There are bound to have been people who didn't manage to make it.  

And of course, it's still going on, today.  I can only feel great sadness for the poor sap who only lived to read the first four Harry Potter books.  Imagine, some old coot (maybe my age  ;)) who got hooked when he was only five years out from kicking the bucket.  Tragic!

And I'm also quite pleased to have lived long enough to finish Gal & 5th.  I think R&J did a fantastic job of somehow making the whole thing work.  Because I know the history of the thing, I tried hard to spot the places where current events necessitated some updating of the story line.  And I couldn't see it.  Very smooth, fellas.  Oh yeah.

And the Shakespearean dialogue.  .  .fantastic.  I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for (one of?) you.  

Don’t know why, but I’m thinking Rob did most of that.  I can only guess--with dread shudders--how much time and effort went in to trying to write dialogue like The Bard may have done.  And more difficult by far:  writing dialogue to simulate Bill’s Hamlet trying to alter his speaking pattern to our dialect.  Somehow you managed to make his speech patterns just flawed enough for verisimilitude.

Perfect.

I’ve studied a lot of Shakespeare, and spent some time this summer with productions of both Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest, and I can tell everyone out there that this stylistic choice had to be one of the most difficult and challenging authorial (if it’s not a word, it should be) tasks I’ve ever seen.  And they pulled it off beautifully.  I had more trouble believing that there was such a world as Shakesperion than I did that Hamlet came from there.   And folks, that ain’t no mean feat.  Trust me.

And the rewriting of the famous ‘To be.  .  .’ soliloquy, was absolutely hilarious.

Which brings me to the Inside Humor and One-Liners section of the critique.  I needed surgery to reattach my gluteal segment because while reading this weighty tome.  .  .I laughed mine off.  And the really funny thing is that I know that I probably missed half of the inside jokes.  I’m just not as well-read as the writers.  Period.

There were a few problems with spelling and some words that didn’t make a lot of sense, but all-in-all Galaxy & 5th grabbed me from the beginning and never let go. And I loved every minute of it.

I am a little curious about one ‘untied’ plot string.

Is it possible that you were saying that Trauma wrote under the pseudonym of George Pembroke?   And that is why the Conspirators (Capital ‘C’ intended) chose someone with his specific name to target?

Enquiring minds.  .  .

Awwwh, you know what I mean.

Bill Wolfe


p.s.

I want to add that I wrote the Ford Perfect segment of this before I read either Nate's or Tao's critique.  Swear to Darwin, it's so.  How is this possible? Well, remember the whole Cut-n-Paste into Word thing? Where do you think I write my critiques. . .online?

And they say that Great Minds don't really think alike.



Hah!
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Post August 12, 2007, 10:39:43 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Bill: Actually, I don't see Trauma as a Ford character at all. He's much less feckless than Ford is; while they are both very anti-authoritarian, Ford would react to the sudden collapse of the Timelines and imminent rewriting of history by going to find a party, not by risking his life to set it right.

If you want to know the "high concept" tag on Trauma, I'll let you in on the secret. Then, go re-read some of his scenes and see what happens to the timbre of them:

Trauma Martin is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, as played by Tim Curry.

Have at. :)

As for the loose end, the in-joke there is that George is looking up Trauma in a future library catalog. *He* will end up writing Trauma's adventures, as Watson to his Holmes.

Thanks for the kind words and critique from all of you. Looking forward to seeing more reactions to this book, and I'll try and answer more of it in detail after people have had a chance to put their comments in.
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Post August 12, 2007, 11:07:58 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

I wasn't around the first time, so I'm curious. When you do decide to respond to critiques, what kind of comments did it get when it originally ran?


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Post August 12, 2007, 12:29:05 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

It was mostly ignored in comments the first time around. We did get a good bit of feedback from some people we selected to read it and give us feedback, and the version you just read contains many edits that resulted from that feedback.

As for when to respond, normally, I'd wait until the month was out and all the comments had come in to say anything, but I responded early because Bill asked a specific question (about the books in the library catalog) that I wanted to answer, and while I was answering that question I also threw in some of my views on the comparison of Trauma to Ford.
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Post August 12, 2007, 01:00:33 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

As for when to respond, normally, I'd wait until the month was out and all the comments had come in to say anything, but I responded early because Bill asked a specific question (about the books in the library catalog) that I wanted to answer, and while I was answering that question I also threw in some of my views on the comparison of Trauma to Ford.

Heavens, I wasn't trying to say I felt slighted that you hadn't responded when you had to Bill. I merely was trying to say that when you were in comment mode, per se, I had another question. I was (and am) content to wait.

No harm, no foul.

Nate
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Post August 12, 2007, 01:28:22 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Heavens, I wasn't trying to say I felt slighted that you hadn't responded when you had to Bill. I merely was trying to say that when you were in comment mode, per se, I had another question. I was (and am) content to wait.

No harm, no foul.

Nate



Oh, go ahead. I'm perfectly willing to talk about it now -- I'm just thrilled it's being discussed:)

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Post August 12, 2007, 02:25:21 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Good point about differences from Hitchhiker as well as the similarities. The characterization that announces the wacky style shows up instantly - it takes longer to slowly pick up on the fact that Trauma is indeed more serious than Ford P.

You also answered an unspoken question of mine - "this is part Hitchiker, Part ... what?". It seemed too wild to have more than a quarter of Sherlock. Though I have seen some 5 episodes of Dr. Who, it took your mention of it to make the connection. I'd put the mix at far more Dr. Who than Sherlock - the sense of wonder at pure logic is less pronounced, and it becomes a "how do we fix this" rather than "who dunnit?".

Meanwhile, I'm glad you're responding now, because it's the *author's contributions* to Lettercol discussions that gets the good threads going. One of these days I'm gonna fly into the "Er, glad you liked it... to bad that's not the story I was telling..."

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Post August 13, 2007, 09:42:44 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

First off, thanks to everyone for your comments. It was worth the nine year wait to actually get some from people other than the ones we'd asked. ;D

There is something that I wanted to comment on. Bill, Nate, and Tao were having a grand ole time trying to figure out who wrote what in "Galaxy & 5th," with Nate saying he didn't see my writing style very often and Bill saying he detected Rob's writing style in the Shakesperion dialogue. The reality, however, is written right in the byline.

Rob and I talked about this at the time we were writing it originally. Neither of us separately could have written "Galaxy & 5th." This was a true writing partnership, a true collaboration, even if we were only in the same place for about 50 total pages of the writing process. ;D

Both Rob and myself can only think of a couple of spots here and there that we didn't both touch.

The reason this doesn't sound like *me* or doesn't sound like *him* is because this writing style is us. It's Jeff Wynne. It's Rob Williams.

It's just that simple. :)

Now, are there any other comments, critiques, etc. out there? This is fun! This is addictive! :)


--Jeff "Hey, Someone DID Read It After All!" Williams

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Post August 14, 2007, 01:05:56 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Questions, Eh? I have one...

Is the Carnival Clown, at the top of Part One,
The same as in Five, with the tale almost done?
Explain to me the sequence, just a little bit more;
Uncertainty, presaged with reverb,
Can I link the Clown?

And ... I know not what tunes were used, To map out the exchange;
Each group has a different count, The pattern is to strange!
The rhythms of the verses are eluding me now, and I may never know the connecting thread.
Or did you even have a song in mind when this clown theme entered your head?
I'll follow you,
Nothing makes sense until the clown-theme is spelled out for me!




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Post August 14, 2007, 07:33:16 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Questions, Eh? I have one...

Is the Carnival Clown, at the top of Part One,
The same as in Five, with the tale almost done?
Explain to me the sequence, just a little bit more;
Uncertainty, presaged with reverb,
Can I link the Clown?

And ... I know not what tunes were used, To map out the exchange;
Each group has a different count, The pattern is to strange!
The rhythms of the verses are eluding me now, and I may never know the connecting thread.
Or did you even have a song in mind when this clown theme entered your head?
I'll follow you,
Nothing makes sense until the clown-theme is spelled out for me!








Heh. The clown came long before the song exchange between itself and Trauma Martin. It was originally intended to just be a surreal bit in George's dream, but later we needed him again The Thromboids refer in the scene just preceeding his return to their "special agent". The precise nature of the clown is never made precisely clear (in this story, at least), nor why he *particularly* manifests as a carnival clown in the first place. But he obviously has the ability to enter someone's head in their dream state (Since this is a farce and not a hard SF story, we didn't go out of our way to explain the mechanics of certain things. Quite the opposite, in fact.)


The tune they duel with is a parody of Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns", from his 1973 musical A Little Night Music. When Trauma wakes, he sings the refrain of Smokey Robinson's "The Tears of A Clown" to himself.
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Post August 14, 2007, 11:42:52 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

So the ultimate battle comes down to R&B versus show tunes? :o
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Post August 14, 2007, 12:00:48 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

So the ultimate battle comes down to R&B versus show tunes? :o


Doesn't it always?
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Post August 18, 2007, 02:00:23 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

I’m one of those that waited to read it all at once, hence my belated post. Enjoying a multi-parter with monthly intervals tends to affect the reading negatively. I often spend too much time flipping back to previous installments to remember things. I didn’t want that to happen here.

The style was very reminiscent of Hitchhikers, which many folks have already noted. I picked up on the Dr. Who influence as well. I’m not a big Dr. Who fan, so I wasn’t sure which Doctor inspired Trauma Martin. Tom Baker went through my mind and seemed to fit. He was mysterious, knowledgeable, and irreverent. I could see, though, why Ford Perfect would also seen as an inspiration for the character, as they also share some of the same traits (although I remember Ford as being more irreverent than smart). The Time Authority concept was similar to Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol, another good read.

Time travel plots and the resulting paradoxes make for both difficult writing and reading, so I’m very impressed that Rob and Jeff pulled it off so well. The plot flows smoothly. The only hiccup I had was the introduction of Hamlet. I was surprised the Dane would know English. However, when I figured out they really Shakespeareans with their own world, I had to applaud the genius of having Hamlet being an actor as opposed to an actor trying to be Hamlet. The use of irony was quite delicious.

There are a number of other things I thought done well. The installments ended on wonderful cliffhangers, a technique that seems to be underutilized by less experienced writers. I also wondered who the “bad guys” would be and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was the janitors all along. I had feared we would get an antagonist out of the blue. Instead, it turned out to be a cleverly crafted part of the plot.

The story has its share of funny moments, albeit the plot turned became progressively more serious as it went along, losing some of its outlandishness. We started out with a dwarf in a closet and a prophetic clown in a dream. However, this could also signify that George’s understanding grew, and what was once alien was becoming more acceptable.

The only quibble I had was the existence of a number of GSP issues scattered about. Other than that, I couldn’t find any fault with the story. It’s a wonderful read that I finished relatively quickly. (No offense to other writers, but it can be painful to slog through a serial entry that’s poorly written). I think it has market potential, but might be considered too similar to Hitchhikers or Time Patrol.

Question for Jeff. Was Mia the inspiration for Stephanie? Or is there a shared inspiration for both? They share some of the same mannerisms, including a penchant for computers. They are both tough yet have vulnerable sides.

Also, is this set in the Mare Inebrium universe? Or was that reference considered more an inside joke? And finally, what’s the significance of the Shady Dragon?
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Post August 18, 2007, 03:03:16 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Question for Jeff. Was Mia the inspiration for Stephanie? Or is there a shared inspiration for both? They share some of the same mannerisms, including a penchant for computers. They are both tough yet have vulnerable sides.

Also, is this set in the Mare Inebrium universe? Or was that reference considered more an inside joke? And finally, what’s the significance of the Shady Dragon?


Thank you for your response! Like I said, it was worth the nine-year wait to finally receive unsolicited feedback.

No, Mia wasn't a specific inspiration for Stephanie. Mia wasn't even, initially, planned to be part of the story, but she sort of caught the eye of both of us and insisted that she be more integral. (Actually, I think Rob and I developed crushes on her as we went along!!!) I very much liked Mia, so it's always possible that some of her made its way into Stephanie. Stephanie to me, though, is much more serious and also very much damaged albeit healing. Whereas Mia and George fell for each other, Stephanie, I think, would have considered using one of Mel Squibb's devices on the accountant!

Also, you're dead on about the Mare Inebrium being an in-joke. We were publishing in Aphelion, and it also reminded us of one of those random things that people like Trauma toss about without explanation. We had, in fact, considered setting it in the Mare universe with a brief scene in the bar, but we discarded that and instead wrote the scene in the restaurant with Theodore and the hapless diners.

The Shady Dragon is a "waaaaay in" joke that I choose to leave without explanation. 8-)

Thanks again for your comments!


--Jeff
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Post August 18, 2007, 03:11:50 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Heavens, I wasn't trying to say I felt slighted that you hadn't responded when you had to Bill. I merely was trying to say that when you were in comment mode, per se, I had another question. I was (and am) content to wait.

No harm, no foul.

Nate



Oh, go ahead. I'm perfectly willing to talk about it now -- I'm just thrilled it's being discussed:)

Well, ok.

Just kind of curious... Why the title? I realize Trauma's office was at Galaxy & Fifth, but that seemed such a small point in the plot. Is the address supposed to have greater significance?

I suspect I missed this, but why does Ground appear in George's closet? They knew where Boltz was. Why not just go kill him? Why go to all the trouble to set up an entrance so high in the air just to use Trauma & crew to kill by accidental impact? Was there some greater fear of Trauma from the Thromboids? Was there a part of the story that wasn't told?

The precise nature of the clown is never made precisely clear (in this story, at least), nor why he *particularly* manifests as a carnival clown in the first place.

I had a hard time understanding the clown. Was the his purpose made plain in some other story?

That's all I've got at the moment, but I will ask again if more come to me.

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Post August 18, 2007, 05:59:52 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

The style was very reminiscent of Hitchhikers, which many folks have already noted. I picked up on the Dr. Who influence as well. I’m not a big Dr. Who fan, so I wasn’t sure which Doctor inspired Trauma Martin. Tom Baker went through my mind and seemed to fit. He was mysterious, knowledgeable, and irreverent. I could see, though, why Ford Perfect would also seen as an inspiration for the character, as they also share some of the same traits (although I remember Ford as being more irreverent than smart). The Time Authority concept was similar to Poul Anderson’s Time Patrol, another good read.


Douglas Adams is a huge influence on me, and I won't ever deny it. Also Terry Pratchett and Robert Asprin. I like comedy, and I enjoy reading *good* genre comedies, and hoped that this would, indeed be one.

Time travel plots and the resulting paradoxes make for both difficult writing and reading, so I’m very impressed that Rob and Jeff pulled it off so well. The plot flows smoothly. The only hiccup I had was the introduction of Hamlet. I was surprised the Dane would know English. However, when I figured out they really Shakespeareans with their own world, I had to applaud the genius of having Hamlet being an actor as opposed to an actor trying to be Hamlet. The use of irony was quite delicious.


There's more to Shakesperion IV than was explained in this story. We may yet write something that explains it more, or at least include a scene in a future story that explains what on Earth is going on there.

There are a number of other things I thought done well. The installments ended on wonderful cliffhangers, a technique that seems to be underutilized by less experienced writers. I also wondered who the “bad guys” would be and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was the janitors all along. I had feared we would get an antagonist out of the blue. Instead, it turned out to be a cleverly crafted part of the plot.


It's worth noting that G&5 was written as a serial, rather than a novel that was later split into parts. So the cliffhangers were quite intentional. If you look, you'll see the word-count for each installment gets slightly longer, because the original outline was to the effect of "Ok, here's the basic story. Part one ends here, part two ends here, etc", without realizign how much would be required to get to each point. Part one was originally 3,000 words long. Part Six was over 20k. (For the rerun, we combined the original part one and part two into a single installment. The original run also had no chapter breaks.)

One of my big pet peeves is dishonest mysteries. Also, I firmly believe in the inverse of Chekov's Law. Just as "If you show a gun in Act One, you must fire it by Act Three" is true, if you fire a gun in Act Three, you must have shown it in Act One.

The story has its share of funny moments, albeit the plot turned became progressively more serious as it went along, losing some of its outlandishness. We started out with a dwarf in a closet and a prophetic clown in a dream. However, this could also signify that George’s understanding grew, and what was once alien was becoming more acceptable.


Another thing I wanted to avoid was the plot being in the service of the jokes, rather than visa-versa. So, as the situation grows more serious, the tone does slightly shift, though never so completely that there aren't liberal amounts of humour. But it's a lot easoer to be light and throw in a lot of gags when the stakes aren't as high. As the plot grew thicker, it had to.

A telling moment in the book for me is on Shakespereon, when Trauma reflects in front of the fire. It's the first glimpse you really get of him when he's not playing to some audience....I wanted to show that there's a lot going on underneath that breezy exterior. Trauma isn't quite as offhand as he'd like everyone around him to believe. He also has his own agendas, which aren't deeply explored in this book.

The only quibble I had was the existence of a number of GSP issues scattered about. Other than that, I couldn’t find any fault with the story. It’s a wonderful read that I finished relatively quickly. (No offense to other writers, but it can be painful to slog through a serial entry that’s poorly written). I think it has market potential, but might be considered too similar to Hitchhikers or Time Patrol.


I wouldn't turn down interest in it, but I think Jeff and I have both come to the realization that neither of us really looks forward to the amount of work it would be to get this particular manuscript salable. I might send it off as a query again (I'd be more willing to do serious redrafting on it if someone was offering a cheque in exhancge!), but we decided to rerun it partly because we're no longer actively trying to sell it (or, more to the point, we're admitting that we're no longer trying to sell it.

Question for Jeff. Was Mia the inspiration for Stephanie? Or is there a shared inspiration for both? They share some of the same mannerisms, including a penchant for computers. They are both tough yet have vulnerable sides.


As Jeff already said, Mia surprised us both. You've heard writers talk about how they had certain ideas for how the story was going to go, and the characters surprised them? Well, that's very much the case here. She surprised us first by running after Trauma and getting caught up in the adventure - she was originally only supposed to be someone to help Trauma at the Library - and then later by falling in love with George. Neither of those plot developments were in the original outline. (And I know for *certain* I had a crush on her.)

Also, is this set in the Mare Inebrium universe? Or was that reference considered more an inside joke? And finally, what’s the significance of the Shady Dragon?


Both in-jokes. I imagine Jaimie is curious about the Order of the Shady Dragon, as he's just encountered the Shady Dragon Inn in the AD&D campaign we started on Tuesday, which I'm DMing. The Order was the role playing group from a campaign Jeff and I were both involved with back in the 1980s, and I tossed it in just as a wink to that. The Mare reference was the same.

Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the comments. I'm really enjoying discussing this story again after all these years.
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Post August 18, 2007, 06:13:14 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

Just kind of curious... Why the title? I realize Trauma's office was at Galaxy & Fifth, but that seemed such a small point in the plot. Is the address supposed to have greater significance?


Nope. We just liked the sound of it. We first came up with the idea of Trauma and George back in High School, but never did anything with the characters beyond some preliminary sketches. Some years later, I asked Jeff if he'd mind if I borrowed them for a serial idea I had for Aphelion, and if he'd be interested in co-authoring it. After discussing various plot scenarios, Jeff came up with the idea for the Boling 808 storyline, and we went with that.

I suspect I missed this, but why does Ground appear in George's closet? They knew where Boltz was. Why not just go kill him? Why go to all the trouble to set up an entrance so high in the air just to use Trauma & crew to kill by accidental impact? Was there some greater fear of Trauma from the Thromboids? Was there a part of the story that wasn't told?


They wanted to use Trauma as a dupe, and they knew enough about him and his methods that if they put the mystery in front of him, he'd not be able to resist following it.

As was pointed out late in the book, it's easy to assume that, because the Thromboids are relegated to low-respect service jobs, they aren't very bright. They are a very intelligent, cunning, and proud race, and this plot by a radical cult within their society was born out of the shame some of them feel for what they consider an unfair trick of fate.

It could be argued that the plot is needlessly complicated, but I remind the reader that this is intended to be somewhat of a farce, and while the plot is needlessly complicated, it also lends itself to a good deal of humour, and that's really what we were going for in many places.

Bellisario's Axiom plays well here: "Don't examine this too closely." :)

The precise nature of the clown is never made precisely clear (in this story, at least), nor why he *particularly* manifests as a carnival clown in the first place.

I had a hard time understanding the clown. Was the his purpose made plain in some other story?


Not yet, but Jeff and I have recently discussed writing new stories in this universe, so, who knows.

For the purposes of this story, all you really need to know is that the clown has the ability to enter a person's mind via their dreams, and can subtly influence their behavior. Having given George the note, they planted the idea in his head to go and see the "Dream Police" (itself another in-joke. I know Dan got it, though it may have eluded people not as well versed in 1970s rock music *grin*) via the fake ad they placed in the paper. Sort of a twist on post-hypnotic suggestion, if you will.

The fact that he's a clown means very little, though it did inspire the song-duel later in the book.

It's probably worth noting that while this book was outlined, it wasn't *tightly* outlined. The clown was a clown because that's what I thought of when I wrote that scene. He shows up later because Jeff and I were discussing the need for the Thromboids to try and get in Trauma's head, and how he might do that, and one of us thought that the clown, who was earlier a throw-away gag, might have a greater significance and that it would be interesting to tie him back in.

That's all I've got at the moment, but I will ask again if more come to me.

Nate


Hope that's answered your questions. Please post any more that you have (for all values of "you") :)
Last edited by doc on August 18, 2007, 07:31:11 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post August 18, 2007, 11:07:07 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

There are a number of other things I thought done well. The installments ended on wonderful cliffhangers, a technique that seems to be underutilized by less experienced writers. I also wondered who the “bad guys” would be and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was the janitors all along. I had feared we would get an antagonist out of the blue. Instead, it turned out to be a cleverly crafted part of the plot.

The story has its share of funny moments, albeit the plot turned became progressively more serious as it went along, losing some of its outlandishness. We started out with a dwarf in a closet and a prophetic clown in a dream. However, this could also signify that George’s understanding grew, and what was once alien was becoming more acceptable.


To follow up on some things Rob said, this was indeed a true serial, with each part written during the month before the zine went to bed (and occasionally a bit after). Four things happened because of this.

First, we were able to plot the story with cliffhangers and work the parts so that they built up to the cliffhanger.

Second, we wrote a book. We actually, honestly, truly wrote a book! And given the fact that we knew we writing a book, it may sound strange to say that, when we were done, both of us were genuinely surprised to discover that--good lord--we'd written a book!!!! All that we had to do was focus each month on the section of the story we were working on. I think living in that bubble actually took a great deal of pressure off because we weren't focusing on the whole thing at once.

Third, the serial aspect allowed the plot to grow and alter as we went along. All of the main points were reached, but the flora and fauna in between were allowed to blossom and grow according to the creative weather. Chorus, on Shakesperion, was never part of the original idea, but as I was drafting that section, I remembered the presence of a Chorus in many of Shakespeare's plays, and then I remembered Sir Derek Jacobi's portrayal of Chorus in Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V. And the rest is history! I know that many other items in the story emerged that way for both of us, which meant that we were just as delighted with them as we hoped the readers would be.

Fourth, writing this was terrific, terrific fun. We had a deadline to meet, and reaching that deadline in the nick of time (or almost the nick of time)--with something we were proud of--was a great rush, both personally and creatively. It also convinced Rob, myself, and Martin Delgado-Scott once and for all that it was a bad, bad, bad idea to run anything in serial form again. There was too much risk of not meeting the deadline. There was too much risk of the story dying in mid-plot because one or both of us might have fallen into a creative funk. There was too much risk of the story being delayed or even being left unfinished because we lost momentum; either of us could have come down with the flu or mono, or perhaps either of us could have been layed up in the hospital after a car accident. Combine that with the number of serials that never reached completion early on in Aphelion's existence, and it just made sense to accept only completed serials.

Now, I have violated this rule on occasion with a couple of my Nightwatch stories and with Bill Wolfe's, but, er...um... Well, as I tell my students sometimes, I spent six years in college earning the right to be hypocritical sometimes! ;D And, through Martin's run and my run as Serials Editor, we never had another serial just peter out, incomplete.


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Post August 18, 2007, 11:27:07 PM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams


We first came up with the idea of Trauma and George back in High School, but never did anything with the characters beyond some preliminary sketches. Some years later, I asked Jeff if he'd mind if I borrowed them for a serial idea I had for Aphelion, and if he'd be interested in co-authoring it. After discussing various plot scenarios, Jeff came up with the idea for the Boling 808 storyline, and we went with that.


I don't even know if I told Rob this, but I remember distinctly the moment when the Boling 808 idea came to me. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is one of the best places, I think, for a plane watcher to be. There are numerous legal places where plane watchers such as myself can go.

There is a perimeter sidewalk around one side of the airport. One day, I was in the observation area and decided to take a walk along the perimeter. The sidewalk literally passed under the approach to the runway, so these planes would loom huge above me. I remember looking up and seeing an American DC-9, and its shiny metal finish gleamed in the sun. A few seconds later the wake vortex reached me, and I was struck by the wonder of flight and the power of aerodynamics. That sense of wonder and awe at an aircraft must have latched on to the part of my brain trying to think of storylines for G&5, because the Boeing (later Boling) 808 and some of the plotpoints it engendered popped into my head.

I remember being extremely excited by the idea, and shortly thereafter shared it with Rob, who either loved the idea or who simply decided to humor me. Either way, I don't think he has any regrets! :)

If any of these responses in any of my entries have sounded starry eyed, it's because they are! Co-writing this story was one of the great pleasures of my life. And, I still think it is the best thing either of us has ever written. As I've said before, I don't think either of us could have written this as well separately.

Okay, I'm leaving now before I fall into a sickly reverie! :)


--Jeff Williams

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Post August 20, 2007, 06:59:55 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

What en enjoyably entertaining tale it's been!  From the start it had the air of a Mare story,and then in part 2 the Mare Inebrium gets a mention, hurrah!  A couple of bits I thought were brilliant: the alternate reality where the currency is 100 year old cheese, the wooden computer in Hamlet's castle (though I never quite figured out what was going on on that planet).

The charcters started off as rather Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, but they developed their relationship, and that with Mia, and became hugely enjoyable to follow.  The other thing I thought very well done was the Oslo conference.  It went on for page after page, but never became dull.

Greta job!
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Post August 28, 2007, 11:02:16 AM

Re: Galaxy and Fifth by Messrs. Wynne & Williams

What en enjoyably entertaining tale it's been! From the start it had the air of a Mare story,and then in part 2 the Mare Inebrium gets a mention, hurrah! A couple of bits I thought were brilliant: the alternate reality where the currency is 100 year old cheese, the wooden computer in Hamlet's castle (though I never quite figured out what was going on on that planet).


What's going on on that planet is probably far weirder than anyone has imagined. (Well, anyone other than me and Jeff, who know exactly what is going on on that planet *grins mysteriously*)

The charcters started off as rather Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, but they developed their relationship, and that with Mia, and became hugely enjoyable to follow. The other thing I thought very well done was the Oslo conference. It went on for page after page, but never became dull.

Greta job!


It would be silly to deny what a huge influence Adams is on my writing. There's something about his humour that just clicks with me, and it comes out when I write comedy. On the other hand, I still don't think Trauma has *that* much in common with Ford Prefect aside from a funny name and a somewhat hyperkinetic personality. (I honestly think that primary reason people make the comparison is that the prose does have a bit of a HHGG flavour, and George is quite obviously in the same role as Arthur, in that he is the normal person that we can relate to. You have to have someone anchor the reader to reality, or you risk becoming entirely too silly. As C.S. Lewis observed, "Extraordinary things happening to extraordinary people is a bit much of a muchness." (I also think that George is quite different to Arthur in many respects -- he's much more capable, and adapts far more quickly to events -- but I can't argue that in many ways both George and Trauma are filling dramatic roles similar to those of Arthur and Ford, so I should likely stop being defensive about it.

Glad to know the Oslo bits worked. One of the challenges of that entire sequence is that neither Jeff nor I have ever been to Norway. (At the time we wrote it, I'd never been to London, either). We had to craft the city scenes from book research.

I'd be interested to hear from people who are more familiar with the locales to let us know if we got anything preposterously wrong.

Thanks for the comments!

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