Icezoid by Bob Downing


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Post August 09, 2004, 05:10:37 AM

Icezoid by Bob Downing

I'm afraid the poor punctuation of this story made it unreadable. I read the whole thing, but only in the hope that it would clear itself up.<br><br>I would suggest working on some writing fundamentals, such as paragraph structure, and correct placement and use of commas, fullstops, quotes, exclamation marks etc.<br><br>By way of illustration:<br><br>Let’s go back inside and shed these suits. I have a lot to talk to you about and we may as well be comfortable. Druthers led the way back inside the ship and removed his helmet. "There, that’s better. Pull up a chair, Don and be prepared to be entertained by an aging scientist." (the dialogue and narration aren't properly separated)<br><br>They both anxiously peered at the computer screen awaiting the numbers. (lack of commas creates ambiguity- is it them or the computer screen that's waiting?)<br><br>I really don’t have much to tell you except that all towers are functioning nominally. (nominally refers to a things name)<br><br>There were many instances of missing stops, quotes missing, letters missing from words ("and he readout of the...").<br><br>At the line :"Twelve months later" we desparately needed a section break.<br><br>Apart from this, the narration was put together adequately, but the story created little dramatic tension because it focussed entirely on the physical problem- we learn nothing of the characters and the plot is not particularly character-driven.<br><br>A good example of a story where an engineering feat is well dramatised is 'Fountains of Paradise' by Arthur C. Clarke. This goes into the nitty-gritty of a large project, but not at the expense of character.<br><br>Sorry, to sound overly negative, but I feel the quality of this story could be doubled by a good edit.<br><br>GG<br>
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Post August 09, 2004, 09:49:21 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I'm afraid the poor punctuation of this story made it unreadable. I read the whole thing, but only in the hope that it would clear itself up.
<br>Boy, and people think I'm harsh! :o<br><br>Seriously, I read it. True, it is not as polished as many published here, but it is readable. <br><br><br>
Sorry, to sound overly negative, but I feel...
<br>Is that empathy in your punctuation? :)<br><br><br>As a resident of a Great Lakes state, I'm glad that we have repeatedly said, "Hell, no!" to these pipeline proposals. (Although I have heard rumors that corporations have begun building the California end of said pipeline anyway. Anyhow, stealing the water with an Alaskan pipeline is more popular these days.)<br><br><br>A few things I noticed are:<br><br>I was VERY surprised when Don is told he will design the towers. Until that moment, I thought he was just a space jock. It made me wonder what he had to have on his resume to get the job.<br><br>I'm no engineer, but I doubt the tremendous tidal wave created by a five hundred foot cube weighing four and three quarters billion tons could be contained, even with new, miracle substances. Moreover, I think the enclosure would need to be so tall that it would be unable to support its own weight, let alone that of the water.<br><br>Did you consider the classic lift platform idea instead? You know, a cable stretched to an orbiting platform. Cargo 'slides' down the line to earth, no anti-gravity gizmos required.<br><br>Gee whiz, Buck Rogers, these people can prep for flight across the solar system awfully darn fast.<br><br>Can you actually cut ice in space with a laser? The energy of the beam may be able to melt through the frozen surface, but wouldn't the cold vacuum of space cause it to refreeze back together? <br><br>I'm thinking of the high school science experiment where one takes a block of ice and hangs a set of weights joined by a sturdy wire over it. The weight and pressure causes the ice to melt under the wire, but it refreezes over the wire's top. The wire will slowly work right through the ice, but the ice stays frozen together.<br><br>Again, I'm no engineer.<br><br>Nate
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Post August 09, 2004, 11:51:54 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I found the story readable, and yes, reminiscent of something that Hugo Gernsback(sp?) might have written. The punctuation slips and spelling and grammatical errors were distracting, but ... I've read worse, and I'm sure Jeff Williams (who teaches college courses) could provide examples that would make this look worthy of a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize for Literature.<br><br>What drove me crazy was the indiscriminate mixing of metric and imperial terms (how odd, that the U.S. would be one of the last users of 'imperial' measures -- aside from imperial gallons, anyway). Pick one system or the other and use it consistently, PLEASE, at least when referring to objects and distances. (The descriptions of Don and Dr. Druthers in feet, inches, and pounds may be excusable as common usage.) I suppose you avoided scientific notation when stating large numbers to avoid confusing the mathematically challenged potential readers, but any engineer would probably have limited things to a couple of digits precision (at least when speaking to another engineer or scientist).<br><br>It seemed odd that projects and conditions from 2001 - 2004 (a) were well known to Don, National Geographic notwithstanding (on disc? memory chip?) and (b) were still hot issues in 2221. To say nothing of 1-800 numbers!<br><br>The most flat-out outrageous throwback to 1930's pulp sci-fi, of course, was the passage<br><br>" Oh yeah," said Doc back peddling into the room. "I almost forgot. I just invented a new composite material of cement and plastic that can be extruded and dries harder than steel. Thought you might find some use for it in your tower design. It also has a secret polymer in it."<br><br>(Incidentally, "back peddling" would mean selling backs, possibly door to door ...)<br><br>Druthers must have worked it out in his head -- although chemistry and materials science isn't normally something done in your head while on a multi-year space mission. Anyway, it was probably the 11 secret herbs and spices that made the stuff REALLY strong, not the secret polymer.<br><br>... it just occurred to me that the dilution error on the suspended animation serum was probably caused by a mixup between imperial and metric measures. (Hey, an Air Canada Airbus had to make an emergency landing in the first days after it went into service because somebody read the fuel gauge (in liters?) and thought the number was in gallons.)<br><br>Robert M.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 09, 2004, 11:54:33 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 10, 2004, 12:02:52 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I really don’t have much to tell you except that all towers are functioning nominally. (nominally refers to a things name)

<br>Greg<br><br>That may be technically true, but "nominal" was commonly used in the space program to mean "within expected limits". At Pearson Airport (Toronto), we even call a detailed future schedule (which is based on actual flight schedules, economic models, and EWAGs (educated wild-assed guesses)) a "Nominal Schedule".<br><br>Ironically, your critique contains typos / misspelled words of its own:<br><br> At the line :"Twelve months later" we desparately needed a section break.<br><br>Let's see: is that 'disparately' (we each needed a separate section break of our own) or 'desperately' (we only needed one section break, but we really, really needed it)?<br><br>I don't think the Aussie diet includes quite enough bran ... ;)*<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>*On this side of the Pacific, that's known as Asking For It.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 10, 2004, 12:03:54 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 10, 2004, 08:10:15 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

"Waiter! Spell-Check, please..."<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 10, 2004, 08:41:12 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

That may be technically true, but "nominal" was commonly used in the space program to mean "within expected limits".
<br><br>Oh, okay, hadn't come across that before.<br><br>
Ironically, your critique contains typos / misspelled words of its own:
<br><br>God forbid. Here's me, 'the pot calling the kettle black'<br><br>
I don't think the Aussie diet includes quite enough bran ... ;)*
<br><br>'Don't dish it out if you can't take it' in other words. I'll 'cop it on the chin'!<br><br>Alright, enough sayings all ready ;).<br><br>Far be it from me to claim perfection in the spelling/grammar world, far from it, but I'd hope a story would undergo more thorough editing and proofing than an over-critical lettercol post... :)<br><br>
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Post August 11, 2004, 07:09:31 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

Far be it from me to claim perfection in the spelling/grammar world, far from it, but I'd hope a story would undergo more thorough editing and proofing than an over-critical lettercol post... :)
<br>Especially since we lettercol posters are self-editing on the fly! You may notice that some of my posts show "Last modified ..." tags, because I go back and fix errors (and / or edit content) if I notice them in time.<br><br>I suspect that the editors (aside from having to slog through a lot of verbiage and becoming numb to relatively minor problems) tend to be reluctant to "fix" other people's work. Perhaps they might try asking the author of a piece that contains an excessive number of grammatical or spelling errors to review and correct the problems -- but that would risk having the author (particularly if he / she is a novice) withdraw the story completely ("Well, screw you! I'm taking my ball and going home!").<br><br>I know Cary in particular isn't shy about noting structural problems in stories (;))! At least I'm not the only beneficiary / victim of this flexing of editorial powers, as noted in D. J. Burnham's response to some comments on July's "In the Blink of an Eye".<br><br>Editors? Have you tried asking authors to fix punctuation, spelling, or grammar when the error count hits double digits? Have you lost stories when overly sensitive authors "left in a huff"?<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 16, 2004, 03:34:26 AM

Icezoid by Bob Downing

<br>having been an Air Canada patron on several occassions, Robert's tale doesn't surprise me at all. heh.<br>but as for icezoid, on the upside it had several clever instances of word usage and creativity, like the icezoid itself and "denseometer". is there even such a thing?<br>however, as many noticed, punctuation and spelling were huge issues. even the years kept mixing, i think once it jumped from 2213 to 2123 or something.<br>and as Robert said, the protagonists' knowledge of events 200 years prior was exemplary...plausible, but not really feasible.<br>i also don't much enjoy these optimistic stories where everything works to a tee and gets resolved promptly.<br>well thought out, but couldn't SOMETHING go terribly wrong? i mean, all that happened to them was a cosmic case of over sleeping!
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Post August 16, 2004, 09:50:04 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I had a difficult time reading this story. It almost seems as if this was a rough draft that needed to be proofread and fleshed out. I know it may seem nitpicking, but if you don't spend the time on fixing simple things like punctuation and formatting (among other things), why would a reader spend time reading it?<br><br>There are a variety of items I could speak to, but I'll just focus on one. You need to work on your characters. For example, there didn't seem to be much difference between Don and Dion, the two scientists in the beginning, other than Don being much shorter than Dion. Unique mannerisms, some playful bantering, different accents. Here is a point where you can liven up the story a bit, which is especially critical at the beginning when you need to grab the reader's attention. <br><br>Hard sci-fi focuses on science. It tends to be a bit dry. However, you still need interesting characters. Story first, science paper second.<br><br>
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Post August 18, 2004, 03:47:32 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

I couldn't decide if this one was serious space opera, or a parody of space opera. Either way, I laughed 'til it hurt while I was reading it.<br>To be critical, I would have liked a bit more developement on the passage of real time VS suspended animation sleep-time. That was a really confusing bit. I never understood if ten years had passed or just two.<br>Other than that, I'd say that it was a really enjoyable read.<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 19, 2004, 05:20:11 AM

Icezoid by Bob Downing

<br>hmmm...didin't see it at all as space opera, or even intentionally funny. i think author downing was going for a purely technical stance. wouldn't space opera be more flash gordony/buck rogersy?<br><br>Lee
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Post August 19, 2004, 09:56:03 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

Sure, but it also has genius scientists acting like average Joes, super-science gizmos, and grand, sweeping storylines.<br>There's more to space opra than meets the "awww" of the beholder.<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 19, 2004, 11:42:27 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

There's more to space opra than meets the "awww" of the beholder.
Dan
<br>Could be worse. Could be space Oprah. (Did you hear that Oprah was selected for jury duty on a murder trial? The jury brought in a verdict within HOURS after defense and prosecution finished presenting their cases. (Of course, with evidence presented that quickly, it must have been a very straightforward case, as in Person A shot person B in front of 99 reliable witnesses, but pleaded innocent anyway ...))<br><br>As Dan noted above, the heroic supergenius character was a 1930's pulp magazine staple.* The question is, was Mr. Downing serious, or was he kidding?<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>*Come to think of it, the Tom Swift books were all in that genre.<br><br>
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Post August 19, 2004, 02:28:48 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

And I had 25 out of the 29 Tom Swift books. At a $1.25 each, new, my folks bought me every one I found.<br>I still miss them. (Curses upon the Klingon woman who stole them!) <br>But not only Doc Smith was writing this stuff. John W. Campbell wrote a long series of Arcot, Wade, & Morey stories that was every bit as cosmic as Lensmen, or Skylark. I read a long hardback collection with nine connected stories in the college library back at UGA in the '70s. I *own* a paperback with the first three of those stories collected in it. One of my favorite lazy-day reads.<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 20, 2004, 12:01:16 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

WARNING: Rant Mode activated<br><br>
And I had 25 out of the 29 Tom Swift books. At a $1.25 each, new, my folks bought me every one I found.
I still miss them.
<br>I bet you bought 'em just because you liked them. I know I read Tom Corbet: Space Cadet at least 20 times when I was a kid, just because I liked the story. It was entertaining, and filled me with wonder at what could be in the future.<br><br>I just read a story over at Sci-Fiction (the prime market for shorts, paying 20 cents a word). It was a very good story, mind you, but it still ticked me off. The story there was called "Beautiful Stuff" by Susan Palwick. Basically, its about a dead guy, killed by a terrorist bomb, who is brought back to speak at a political rally for war against terror. Instead of saying what the scuzzy politician wants, he tells everyone to enjoy the beautiful things in life because dying hurts and there are no beautiful things when you're dead. (Did anyone catch the moral there?)<br><br>Why do all the big SF markets now believe that they have to present a social commentary instead of entertaining? It's like they won't publish something unless it will shock a critic or point fingers at what an editor thinks is poor behavior by society. Then, we as writers have to write that way, or they won't publish our stories.<br><br>I don't know about the rest of you, but I didn't fall in love with SF because I liked the social commentary. I read Have Space Suit, Will Travel, The Star Beast and even one or two of those same Tom Swifts because I enjoyed the stories. I wanted to be entertained--and that's all.<br><br>It seems that in these days of declining readership (and viewers), the SF world has forgotten the most important thing in reaching an audience: to entertain them. We can be thought-provoking, sure--an audience will flex their brains just fine for a good story. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy may have waxed philosophical from time to time, but they also spent a good deal more of their time ribbing each other and chasing sexy alien skirts.<br><br>When I'm rich and famous (I'm not holding my breath for that), maybe I'll get all artsy too, but in the mean time, I just want to put good stories out to readers. Moreover, I hope that Aphelion always stays the kind of place it is now: a spot for good stories, not social commentary.<br><br>Nate<br><br>P.S. Does anyone have a copy of Tom Corbet? I'd love to read it once more.
Last edited by kailhofer on August 25, 2004, 07:21:14 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 20, 2004, 02:44:36 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

Writing what the publisher will pay for, and writing what you want can be hard to reconcile.<br>Do you want to get paid? Or do you want to create, unfettered? That is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind-- Wait a minute, some lawyer just called me on the phone.<br>BRB...<br>Dan<br>
Last edited by Vila on August 20, 2004, 02:45:25 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 23, 2004, 05:19:08 PM

Icezoid by Bob Downing

<br>awww of the beholder...space oprah...pah, you people are just too clever for me to tackle comfortably.<br>anyway, i see your point regarding space opera, but due to little experience with the franchises mentioned by vila, rob and kailhofer, i can't really comment on most of the points made. as someone who picked up SF reading in the early 80's, space opera brings to mind Emperor Ming (or was it planet ming? racist either way), or novels like Star Trader (i think it was called that) and Mirkheim. maybe the hee chee stuff too.<br>genius scientists? true, but can't help associating them more with b movie horror numbers where they keep sending samples to the university while the national guard get their collective asses chewed.<br><br>Lee
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Post August 24, 2004, 08:23:15 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

Emperor Ming of Planet Mongo. The natives were called Mongols. <br>Even as a child I couldn't help thinking "doesn't that make them Mongoloids instead of humanoids?" And you'd think that a 7 year old wouldn't have the vocabulary needed to construct such a witticism. And you'd be wrong. LOL! I was an odd child, to put it mildly.<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 24, 2004, 09:23:57 AM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

... I was an odd child, to put it  mildly.
Dan
<br>But now you're just odd. Aren't we all, dear, aren't we all ...<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 24, 2004, 02:13:50 PM

Icezoid by Bob Downing

<br>planet mongol. that's horrible. and Robert makes a good point, we are odd people compared to what's out there. excellent: it's what makes us SF lovers and also what made you think that way when you were 7. too bad so few people do.<br><br>Lee

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Post July 04, 2008, 03:48:09 PM

Re: Icezoid by Bob Downing

On the plus side, using water from icezoids to meet demands on Earth is an interesting premise for a hard science fiction story. I also liked the invention of the Solar Ion Needle.
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