Meltdown - Vincent Scarsella

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Post December 30, 2007, 06:45:33 PM

Meltdown - Vincent Scarsella

I just heard from this author who pointed out that in all the excitement of the double strength issue, no one has started a topic for his story yet. The story runs opposite to the kinds of stories I review best, so I'll merely start the fun with some notes.

It's First Person point of view, and the author has chosen to imply the character developments through use of dialect. In this, he does a decent job of using punctuation to mark the omitted characters and other altered pronunciations.

The word choice is definitely into PG-13 territory. Since I don't study dialect, I am unable to properly evaluate how well he pulls it off. I think it works because of the occupations of the lead concept characters.

The time period seems to be about 2040. (2025+9+"some chunk of time"). If possible, I think the story could use this date cue at the very beginning, along with a few other temporal markers to orient the reader. The classical crux of all SF is that it can be Anywhere/Anydate/Elsewhen. I don't see this story relying on dated material for its effect, and the rest of the tale is so strongly universal-slice-of-life, I had trouble orienting on the context.

It's a "soft story". No flashy tech, no Save Something! threat, no ponderous We-Them. Soft stories are especially hard to do well, because the author can't drag himself/herself along by the unavoidable conclusion and fudge the middle.

I plead fatigue & the Fifth on this one; since it's a little outside my classical range, I'm not fully able to give an overall evaluation of it. At 6650 words, he has certainly put in the "connecting glue" that helps keep such tales from becoming choppy.


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Post December 31, 2007, 12:58:55 AM

Re: Meltdown - Vincent Scarsella

In the story, it was stated that she had been frozen sixty years ago, and died in 2001 - so that puts the time of the story at 2061

I liked the story. The source of the conflict is interesting - what happens to those frozen bodies when the original loved ones are long gone, when no one cares anymore, and there is no money to maintain them. And I liked the way it explored the attitudes of those in charge of their maintenance, and especially how the narrator Dave felt and what he did about it. An unusual love story with a good twist.



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Post December 31, 2007, 01:13:26 AM

Re: Meltdown - Vincent Scarsella

Thanks for the feedback. This one was a love story - and also about the decline of the American Empire. The story takes place in 2061, and America has not even gone back to the moon. Definitely PG-13, with some soft violence and sexual innuendo. I always wonder what will happen to all the frozen bodies once the realization hits that the idea of cryogenics, while fascinating, is also a hopeless one - well, maybe.

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Post January 02, 2008, 01:02:03 AM

Re: Meltdown - Vincent Scarsella

I thought the story an interesting one, but have a few concerns with the writing.

The beginning seemed a little ‘wordy’ and at times the story-line was hard to follow. For example the sentence ‘Jerry seemed particularly annoyed by Stan's question that night.’ doesn’t need the adverb particularly!! The sentence ‘Jerry seemed annoyed by Stan’s question that night.’ works and the reader doesn’t loose action by having to read an adverb! Think about that for a sec.

Another example: ‘We fell into a glum silence as we downed our round of drinks. Finally, Stan suggested that we blow Riley's and head for the Starlust Lounge, a new strip joint near the old casino downtown.’

Possible improvement:  We fell silent as we downed our drinks. Stan suggested, “Let’s blow Riley’s and head downtown for the new place the Starlust Lounge.”

Another possible improvement: We downed our drinks in silence, then Stan suggest we move on to the Starlust Lounge a new place downtown.

Some might argue the comma use without a coordination conjunction, but remember: Story telling is not academic writing, and fragmented sentence or other infraction of grammar are Okay if they keep the story alive and clear.

Some order of words that keep the action going with every word is needed!

The old casino downtown didn’t have anything to do with the story, yet it diverted the reader’s attention for a moment!

Those small diversion in a story add up!!

Try to avoid the past perfect tense when possible, for it has a tendency to slow down the reader's train of thought.

Starting with the dialogue of Marilyn's file, the story showed improvement. I thought the dialogue very good, and the description of Marilyn’s death also better than the beginning.

And the remainder of the story better than the beginning.

To recap, the ‘Wordiness’ of the beginning of the story diminished somewhat, and the reading became clearer. Your thoughts were more focused from the middle of the story to the end.

I hope my suggestion will help, but I admit that I am not a professional writer, and others might disagree with my critique.

Aphelion has many superb stories in it archives. Robert Moriyama’s guidance has steered me toward better writing and I owe him for his informative critiques.

One story that always crosses my thoughts is ‘Billy Goes To Werkworth’ by Robert Starr. A well written, moving tale that has many of the qualities of professional writing.

Not a bad story!
Tesla Lives!!!


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Post January 02, 2008, 07:51:44 AM

Re: Meltdown - Vincent Scarsella

Thanks much for the insights. There was some rhyme and reason for the use of language in the early section, but I totally agree that it needs re-working. In retrospect, the beginning is possibly the reason why it never get past the junior editors of a paying market. Perhaps with some revision, that may yet happen.

As long as I didn't bore you!

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