From Above by Jeremy Robinson


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Post August 09, 2005, 10:33:26 AM

From Above by Jeremy Robinson

I loved the style this one was written in, but some of the history the characters quoted seemed to be a bit off. I couldn't decide if 250 years or 2500 years time-frame was under discussion.<br>That said, I do love the dialog in this one. It toed the line between future-cop and future Noir with just the right mix for my tastes. It reminded me a lot of a John E. Stith novel that I have. <br>I did wonder about the character's backstories. Maybe this will be the first of several exploring these characters and their complicated world?<br>Dan<br>
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Post August 12, 2005, 12:34:52 AM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

Thanks for the kind words Villa. This was really just an experimental story for me. And the only thing I knew about the story when I began was the tone, hence the dialog you enjoyed. I wrote it from beginning to end without stopping, other than to attend to bodily fuctions, which made it interesting. It also allowed me to stay in character (I typically don't write first person and or lacking as much PC). But that's what makes short stories so great. I was only married to this one for a day...just the way Priest would want it. ;)<br><br>Jeremy
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Post August 15, 2005, 10:11:22 PM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

This one had me laughing. The protagonist is definitely cut from the cloth of Bruce Campbell. I had a hard time believing that the authorities couldn't trace the anti-matter beam to its source, even with the excuse of all the clutter flying around in space. Another question I had is why would the Mooners tip their hand before their ultimate assault? However, the narrative was so entertaining that I was able to gloss over these details.<br><br>This is written in a quasi-noire style. Despite the flaws of the plot, the story accomplishes its mission to entertain. It’s difficult to write humor. Good job on this one.<br>
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Post August 24, 2005, 03:20:00 PM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

I thought the hard-boiled cop was done fairly well in this one. His bitching about the expense of ruining his body armor (though it's only leather, I gather) seemed to be a metaphor for how his emotional armor was penetrated by the two ladies who seemed to somehow touch him. It was an interesting image and seemed to be maintained exceptionally well throughout the story.<br><br>And the mechanics of the writing were well done, too. I don't recall noticing any glaring syntax or grammar errors anywhere in the story. A few typos, but this story showed that there was some great proofreading and editing before submission. Good job.<br><br>And I certainly agree that the time frame doesn't make any sense. Three thousand years in the future should alter an uninterrupted society (That's enough time for a nuclear holocaust and rebuilding, for example) far past the point of recognizability. Three thousand years ago most of the world was discovering—the hard way—that cities were a good way to conquer the surrounding countryside. The society and technology of this story seem more like two hundred years from now. But that one is hard to call.<br><br>But the science in this story truly bites. Almost everything in the plot is flat-out not the way "IT" works. The Big Gun—since it is never explained in any way—is the only exception. It certainly seems to defy the laws of physics, especially that old Conservation of Mass & Energy boojum, but that may just be because it works its way around it in some unknown fashion. We do the same thing with FTL travel. As long as you don't try too hard to explain how it works, you can do about anything you like.<br><br>But we do know a lot about orbital mechanics and the effects of vacuum on the human body and here the story really gets distracting. I've said it before in this forum and I am quite sure that I will have to say it again but NOBODY survives even a few seconds exposure to vacuum. Period. <br><br>You might as well write that one of the bad guys lops off your hero's head, but he manages to catch it before it hits the ground and put it back on. Yeah, it's that silly to have him floating around in space without either a pressure suit or a skinsuit that somehow keeps the 'ugly bag of mostly water' (or 'greasy bag of ropey guts', if you prefer another literary referent) which constitutes a human being from expanding when there is no pressure to help it keep shape. <br><br>To make matters worse, you even have the line: " My chest begins to burn as I long to take a breath, but I know if I do, I’ll just suck in the cold of space. The face mask over my eyes holds nicely and gives me the ability to aim where I’m going. . . ." <br><br>Let me put it this way, if your vacuum cleaner could somehow pull a real vacuum, and assuming you got a good seal. . .it would hold a 4,529 pound bowling ball off the floor forever. (Other assumptions: Ball is a perfect sphere & vacuum hose has a 2 inch diameter, perfect-circle nozzle.) <br><br>At 4,530 pounds, the bowling ball would pull harder than the force of vacuum at STP (Standard Temperature and Pressure).<br><br>So even if he could hold back the pressure, his lungs would still make two wet popping sounds as they expanded into the pleural cavity that surrounds them. You don't even want to know what happens to the intestines (also containing a fair amount of air) during this time. The heart muscle, of course, is pretty tough and it has those two large outlets so it probably won't explode. . .but it might have a hard time pumping the frothy foam that was once all the blood in the body—as it rapidly expands to about forty times the liquid volume that it was while under pressure.<br><br>And if the mask was glued to his skin, it would still pop through as the air trapped in the mask blew out with about the same explosive force as a quarter stick of dynamite.<br><br>The list goes on, but I hope you and all the prospective writers out there get the picture. Unless your character is superhuman, he/she does not survive unprotected in space. And yeah, I saw it on Star Trek, too. <br><br>As for there being so much space junk up there that:<br><br>A. Nobody has seen the moon or stars in living memory<br>B. You could hide thirty Death Star Satellites in it<br><br>Stable orbits without occasional tweaking (by thrusters, of some kind) are possible only at the LaGrange points. And since the space junk was all at relative rest with your Death Star, this junk also had to be in geosynchronous orbit.<br><br>Any idea how hard it is to put something in geosynchronous orbit on purpose? And again, it needs a boost every now and then to keep it there. There ain't much atmosphere up there but there is a little, and it causes something called 'drag.' Look it up.<br><br>There are other problems, but the final impossibility was the unlikelihood that your character could have pulled off the grappling-hook spinning entry into the open airlock maneuver. C'mon! Commander Data would have had trouble pulling that one off with the variables involved. <br><br>I can't figure the force he would have hit the satellite with because I don't know how far from the thing he was (ie; the length of the cable) but his angular momentum will double (starting at an initial linear velocity of 500 MPH) with every pi radian of coil. Lets be conservative and say he slammed into the airlock at a thousand MPH, okay?<br><br>Our officer Priest didn't happen to have a huge, stylized 'S' on the front of his blue undershirt, did he?<br><br>This stuff just flat-out ruins a good story for me. Would you be able to suspend your disbelief if James Bond just flapped his arms really hard and flew out of danger? <br><br><br>Would it have been so hard to tell the same story without having your character doing superhuman things—at least without explaining that he's some kind of mutant/god/alien/robot/cartoon? The onus is on you not to make your reader dismiss your story with a snort of incredulity. <br><br>So watch your science, if you're going to write something called science fiction. 'Cause some of us out here will be watching it, too.<br><br>Hope this helps,<br><br>Bill<br>
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Post August 25, 2005, 12:00:56 PM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

Bill,<br><br>Great critique! It's nice to have readers who know their stuff.<br><br>My only excuse is that I threw out a lot of rules on purpose. When writing it I was picturing it as a Manga cartoon or a comic book (which I wrote many years ago) where the rules of physics no longer applied. In many ways this was an experiment for me. It was my first time writing first person. It was my first short story (I'd previously written two novels and 14 screenplays at the time this was written). And it was my first time writing a character like Priest. So my focus was on those things and science, the real stuff, was left at the wayside. That's not typically how I write, but disregarding those things allowed me to write all this new stuff much more comfortably.<br><br>That doesn't make the story better because the reader doesn't have all that info before reading it. But my hope was that the ridiculousness of the things he was doing and the tone of the story would convey that it was not to be taken seriously--Ala Bruce Campbell as Jaimie pointed out. As someone who typically sticks to straight science in novel length, it's liberating to write a short story where the rules are shrugged off. Maybe annoying to you (and other readers--I hated Mission to Mars too), but great fun for me.<br><br>So really, the bad science was a selfish indulgence on my part. FYI, the S was small and concealed...he was wearing Underoos.<br><br>But none of that disproves anything you said. It's just my excuse. You were 100% accurate and it’s great to see readers as knowledgeable as you. Thanks for putting the time into the critique that you did.<br><br>Jeremy<br>
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Post August 28, 2005, 01:46:26 AM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

But we do know a lot about orbital mechanics and the effects of vacuum on the human body and here the story really gets distracting. I've said it before in this forum and I am quite sure that I will have to say it again but NOBODY survives even a few seconds exposure to vacuum. Period.
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<br>I won't debate you on your other science notes, but this one caught my eye, since I've looked it up before. Some of the boys at NASA have a contrary opinion:<br>http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970603.html<br><br><br>Jeremy, <br>As far as your story goes, let me politely say that it wasn't for me, but I don't really go for Bruce Campbell, either. <br><br>That it was meant to have a tongue-in-cheek tone didn't register with me, and I took it for a serious tale (which, from that perspective, made it's hero a really dislikable guy). Aphelion exists to help other writers learn the art of storytelling from each other, so, for discussion's sake, what exactly were the markers of this? Where did my vision go myopic on this?<br><br>I liked the opener, it drew me in well, and I wanted to know what was going on.<br><br>On setting, I like one which "comes alive", using all five the senses to make the scene feel real to me. The world building here felt incomplete to me, and I didn't have enough description to know what anyone or anything really looked like. For example, I could not picture the Mooners satellite weapon, inside or out, and it detracted from the story for me. Furthermore, the internal monologue which followed prior to the impending brawl with Rehna became more or less an extended infodump to set the scene, and I hate that in stories.<br><br>The protagonist is not a believable character, but you've mentioned that he wasn't meant to be. That aside, his actions remained consistent throughout with his personality, and he showed growth in his arc. Well done there.<br><br>On plot, avoiding the superhuman abilities, the aforementioned tongue in cheek, and Bill's recoil notion, I still had a few problems. As I understood it, the Mooners were embroiled in their plot for 2500 years?? Also, it took them that long to position their 300 weapons. They spread out their implementation over that long?? How can they build so well that they machines don't short circuit & misfire with that much wait? Or are we supposed to think that they only recently invented their technology, even though they've worked on nothing else during this time. If they're just looking to wipe out that many places, nukes would have been a lot easier. On top of that, this disintegration beam comes with a "wide" setting that takes out whole cities--but no one thought to try it with two and a half millennia of planning? And everybody shooting at once, nobody thought of that, either? Or a backup command center, or independent control programs?<br><br>My suspension of disbelief strained too far on this, sorry, and it broke.<br><br>On dialogue, I thought Priest and Gawyn spoke with recognizably different voices and that was a good thing. Rehna's voice, on the other hand, was hardly different than Priest, and I thought that was a missed opportunity.<br><br><br>Again, this kind of story is not my cup of tea, so my comments may not be helpful. Then again, if you've got 14 screenplays and 2 novels under your belt, I doubt you're sending "A" list material to a free webzine--this may just be clearing out old drawers and not representative of your current skill level. Still, maybe something I've said may be of use to you in future endeavors.<br><br>Best of luck.<br><br>Nate
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Post August 28, 2005, 03:20:46 PM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

Nate,<br><br>Thanks for the update on human survivability in space. Good to know.<br><br>And your comments are very helpful. You're right that this is kind of a cleaning out of the closet. It's an old story, written in early 2002 and was edited once, by my wife--this is also the reason for the many holes in the story. And I never attempted sending it anywhere else. Many of your comments (writing for all five senses, world details, etc.) are things I know, and have even taught, but when writing it's easy to lapse into what’s natural for me (visual). <br><br>Before writing I was an illustrator and comic book artist, so visual thinking is normal for me. When I started writing screenplays it was natural for me because they are written visually. But, after 14 screenplays it had created some serious challenges--visual writing and lack of world detail, as you noticed. In screenwriting you don't have to describe things in detail unless it's unusual for some reason or is a specific plot device.<br><br>Putting out older stories like this and getting comments from intelligent readers serves as a reminder for me. Even now (I'm up to four novels, one published--The Didymus Contingency--and am represented by Trident Media Group) I need to force myself to remember these things as they don't come naturally. Just because I'm published doesn't mean I can't improve.<br><br>And you're write about our "hero". He is totally unlikable, even if not taken seriously...but so is Bruce Campbell's character in Evil Dead. He's not the greatest guy. But he's funny. The reason I chose to write Priest like this is simple. I had never written anyone like that and wanted to give it a try...a learning experience. Most of my heroes are much more noble and moral (I'm actually becoming more well known for my Christian (science) fiction than my straight science fiction.). Given that I also write Christian fiction you can see how different Priest is in contrast.<br><br>Also, just because no one noticed. The mooners and specifically Al Bin...was that his name?...are kind of a futuristic take on terrorism. Remember, this was written not too long after 9/11. Al Bin = Bin La...din. The time frame is too long, but represents the time frame Islam took to produce extremists, who then took time to concoct a large attacks and then do so at seemingly random times, causing terror. This wasn't really written well in the story, but it was the inspiration for the mooners. And the mooners fate? Call it a purging of my feeling for terrorists. Even Priest's crude exterior represents how I feel towards that subject. I have another terrorist inspired story at another webzine too--the other one freed from the closet. You can see it here: http://www.alienskinmag.com/ficsf2.htm<br><br>Thanks for the reminders...I can't wait until writing all five senses and writing a detailed world comes naturally.<br><br>Jeremy<br><br><br><br><br><br>
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Post August 28, 2005, 09:15:10 PM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

You're very welcome, of course.<br><br>I should add that you're invited to freely give it back to me on my own story, or on any other tale from anyone else in this or any other month.<br><br>I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say we'd all be glad to see input from a writer further ahead in the game than we are.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on August 28, 2005, 09:15:46 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 29, 2005, 12:07:46 AM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

Jeremy, I'm sure that Nate speaks for all of us, to one extent or another depending on however far we each are on this little trip of writing and how much we're still needing to learn. You've got a pro's perspective for an area of writing that not many of the other pro writers who have come here have shared. Screenwriting is a bit different, indeed. <br>Matter of fact, I'm sure that screenplay writing, with it's reliance on the visual, can indeed be a handicap when shifting gears to the text form. LOL! Nate's right, once you accept the written word over all other forms of expression, you still have to bring in as much detail and sensory impressions as you can get away with without screwing up and bogging down the story. The medium brings it's own challenges.<br>Personally, I cheat, and draw illos for the stuff I lack talent to word effectivly. (Too bad I'm not a better artist, ROTFL!) But then, I've been exploring the web page as a writing tool for the last... OMG! I've been at this for a long, long time. LOL! Slightly over a decade, if I remember correctly. But that said, I've taken Nate's recommendations to heart in my own stuff and added many more instances of sensory impressions in the text. He's right. It does read better that way.<br>Everyone here has a point of view that's unique to them, as well as unique writing talents and habits and tricks of their own. Everyone has something that they can offer to one another here. I've been learning as much as I can as quickly as I can, myself. And I figure I'm pretty average for Aphelion's readers, except maybe for my age. And that might turn out to be average too, LOL! <br>Whether pro, semi-pro, or amateur writer, or even a reader rather than a writer- Anyone willing to take the time to help others learn is as welcome here as those willing to learn. <br>Dan<br>
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Post August 30, 2005, 10:04:19 AM

Re: From Above by Jeremy Robinson

Feel free to ask screenwriting questions if you have them. I did write the book on it....OK, one of the books. (The Screenplay Workbook). But if you're a hopeful screenwriter be prepared for honest answers which are almost always painful to hear. I did the Hollywood thing, had a screenwriting agent, met famous people (Will Ferrell, Ron Howard, Sandra Bullock, etc) had several projects in development and came away loathing the business (even with success). Not the writing mind you, but the business. So you won't get sugar coating from me. So ask away.<br><br>And keep drawing the illos I say. I've done the same and it's come in handy. I illustrated The Screenplay Workbook, doing an editorial cartoon for each chapter and I got to design the cover for my novel, The Didymus Contingency--which I just found out is being translated into Romanian....weird.<br><br>Jeremy

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Post September 06, 2005, 09:44:31 AM

From Above by Jeremy Robinson

Priest was a good character and his rather chauvinist attitude worked within the context of what so many here nailed as cop-noir or a fifth element-esque environment.<br>likewise, as many other readers i couldn't get over this 3000 years in the future detail, minor though it may be. this problem was complicated by referring to simps and ladies driving their cars too slowly. can't argue over taste, but it is jarring for a seasoned reader projecting forward from our time. <br>importantly, while the story itself didn't captivate me and wasn't the kind of tale i'd go back to, it's plain to see it was well written (very few typos, i think only one) and done with the care of a loving author.<br>hey maybe the next one will be in a genre i can relate to.<br><br>Lee

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