Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield


Tell us what you thought about the August 2005 issue!

Moderator: Editors

User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 09, 2005, 12:37:41 PM

Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

OK, I'm going to get this out of the way while no one else is on the Lettercol.<br>This is a big step for me. I need to know what I did right and more importantly what I did wrong. This story takes *me* about two hours to read (the whole thing, this is just part one) so I want to thank everyone in advance for the time that they'll have to put in on reading it.<br>Now, as for critiques, like anybody else I'm never going to learn anything unless I get them. <br>Nate, you are forbidden to hold back. Your earlier critiques of this one set me some high hurdles to leap. I want to know if I cleared the bar, or am I laying dazed and with a bloody nose unknowingly on the ground, somewhere in mid-course?<br>Jeff & Bob M should be nagging me about turning their characters into a batch of smartalecks.<br>Bill Wolfe, Tim Maguire, you guys can tell me where I got the physics wrong. And don't be shy about telling me anything else I should know. (have known, too)<br>Lee, Tao-Phoenix, have at it. I want to hear from both of you too. Same goes for Bob Starr, Dave, Dan, Don, all of you. Cut loose. Show me no mercy.<br>Where the hell's Wishbone when you need him? LOL!<br>Jaimie, I know you've been holding back. I need you to shine now. LOL!<br>Kate, I don't want you to hurt your hands. But your advice in the past has been priceless.<br>Everyone, and I do mean every single Aphelion Reader, I want to know what I did wrong. It's fun to get things that say "great story, keep it up..." but they don't help much.<br>En Guarde!<br>Dan<br>
Last edited by Vila on August 09, 2005, 04:24:01 PM, edited 1 time in total.
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3233

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 09, 2005, 11:55:50 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Nate, you are forbidden to hold back. Your earlier critiques of this one set me some high hurdles to leap. I want to know if I cleared the bar, or am I laying dazed and with a bloody nose unknowingly on the ground, somewhere in mid-course?
<br>Ok, but just because you want No-Holds Barred doesn't mean I'm going to look at this thing like a regular reader. I've watched it grow from wild brainstorming sessions to what it is today. I know things about what was intended, what was removed, and what was added to make people happy, on a daily basis. I'm not impartial, and I'm going to miss things others will see. Plus, some bits of this were at my suggestion, and I hardly want to call myself stupid, now do I?<br><br>But I'm also not one to say no to a friend, so I'll do my best to look at it like I'd never heard of Nightwatch, or the obsessed perpetrators thereof:<br><br><br>My first complaint is that the story starts too many times. That is, there is an initial opener with the redirection of Hubble, and that generates enough interest to want to know what could do that. Then, a virus attacks the internet & starts showing people pictures of a rock. Again, interesting, but essentially a second opener. Next, a lengthy news release, which could also serve as a beginning. Following that, the virus returns & threatens everyone, which is also a gripping opener. Still another interesting news release follows that, and even I can tell that reports of magnetic interference is covering up something important. Finally, Callow and Simon meet in the 6th opener, and in that give the gist of everything I really needed to know to start enjoying this tale. That's almost 3,000 words of stuff I didn't need to know to read the rest of the story.<br><br>That being said, my next point is also about story structure. I loved the epistolaries, if I use the term correctly. Viewing a story by through the eyes of their letters, ads, and speeches is wonderful. Unique, as far as I know for this genre, albeit a few of them are a little long. Prior to chatting with you about this very story, I'd never seen the inside of a chat room. It's a bizarre, yet challenging, environment, and a delightful addition to the story. The only detracting factor I can see to their inclusion is the need to constantly stop and explain what the "Sam-Hill" is going on.<br><br>On setting, sometimes the world is described using all the senses, and other times is "skimmed" over. I would have liked it to be more consistent. Plus, there are places where even knowing what's coming, I don't get. For example, I still have no idea what a lightsail looks like, or how it works. That example may not be fair, however, as they're not in this part much. <br><br>On character, based on what I see here in this part only, this Zod AI scares the bejeezus out of me. Knows all, able to take control over practically any bit of hardware, and has attitude to boot. It gives value judgments about the quality of response the humans are presenting. Plus, it talks even when it isn't needed, (it would have known that Simon and Steph left) and that means it's not above doing something counterproductive, or at least wasteful. I don't get a full sense of its motivations, or its limits, either.<br><br>Miranda Fanshaw is far and above the most complex Bond Girl… er, Nightwatch Lady so far. Bi-polar and everything. I want to know more about her, and how Tom could fall so head-over-heels in love so darn fast. Is it possible for a psychologist to so completely disconnect his analyst side when dealing with her? I didn't fall for my wife at first sight, so I'm uncomfortable with the notion.<br><br>My next quibble is that not much really happens in terms of plot in this piece of the story (Part 1). Certainly, there's a ton of people and equipment doing neat stuff, but I only care about the principal players and what happens to them. Selfish of me, I realize, but true. In those terms, Stephanie and Simon figure out what is going on, Tom meets a girl he falls for, trains to be an astronaut and goes into orbit, and then the story stops, until next time. To be fair, I know you're laying the groundwork for what happens later, but the average reader doesn't know where, or indeed if, this is really going.<br><br>Lastly (in broad stroke mode, anyway), there are too many names and places for my taste. I don't know which of them from this part will be important in the next.<br><br>Minor quibbles/line edits:<br>Hubble is thought publicly to be de-orbited, but in the "spotting Cthulu" news release, views from the Hubble are mentioned.<br>Your own lines in the chat scenes don't seem to advance the story, but how can one forget the "BRB, Rented Beer…"? ;)<br>I can only guess how an AI running since 1912 would speak, but would it really end a sentence with "however."?<br>Was it important that Zod confirm that the object is the same one that caused Tunguska? Callow already told us in the 6th opener that Stephanie figured that out.<br><br>There may be more, but I'm too tired to keep looking.<br><br><br>Dan, even though I've read this story almost a hundred times, I still get caught up in it, and have to keep reading until the end. That's pretty damn good, if you ask me. Did you knock yourself out on the bar? Hell, no. You maybe didn't clear it cleanly, but you got over the bar. That's what counts.<br><br>Nate<br>
Hardcover, paperback, pdf, eBook, iBook, Nook, and now Kindle & Kobo!
Image
A cooperative effort between 17 Aphelion authors. No part of any sales go to Aphelion.
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 10, 2005, 12:49:54 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Thank you Nate. If it draws you in and keeps you interested, I know I did a lot more right than I thought I had reason to hope.<br>I can't respond in full right now, but I'll have to plead that the choppyness of the opening should have been reworked to blend between the first season Nightwatch stories. I *should* have seen that. And I should have debated Jeff over the placement. Maybe when we rework the whole series for the novel. The way the timeline for the story goes, those 6 different beginnings would have had most of the first season and a half of Nightwatch stories between them. <br>One thing that was a challenge was the weaving in of the previously existing Nightwatch stories. Doing a "behind the scenes" sort of ret-con framework was much harder than I thought it would be. I wound up writing my own story, but also fitting segments of it in between other people's stories as well. I think that was the major problem with my beginning section: without the other stories in the series it reads funny. With them, it would only be slightly less choppy, but it'd take 3 hours to read from the Hubble hijack to Simon and Callow talking about the supervirus. <br>
Your own lines in the chat scenes don't seem to advance the story, but how can one forget the "BRB, Rented Beer…"?
<br>Actually, that was supposed to be my *only* line in the story. But Frank Gasperik was running wild with a quotefile in the Larry Niven List chatroom one night- he had everyone in stitches for well over an hour, and in a fit of synchronicity I added in a few of his remarks and my replies. It actually added to be believability of the chatroom chaos. People actually do just go off on tangents like that in the middle of something important. Frank's got another speaking part in Part 2 of the story. Nick Pollotta got a speaking part in the chatroom scene because he spotted 90% of the in-jokes and turned out to be a bigger fan than I of most of the characters referenced.<br>OK, Nate's made a start. And he's got some damn good points. But let's not stop here. Next! Swing batta, batta, swing!<br>Dan<br><br>
Last edited by Vila on August 10, 2005, 01:03:29 AM, edited 1 time in total.
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 12, 2005, 02:49:58 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

I've been thinking about Nate's comments for a couple of days now, and I think I know where I went wrong in the multiple beginnings of the story.<br>It's Jeff's fault. :o<br>The concept of FBW is to tell what was going on behind the scenes in all the previous and several forthcoming Nightwatch stories. The first two scenes happen on the same day, then the first season of Nightwatch happens, then the news reports, then more Nightwatch, then the virus comes back, and my Nightwatch portions of the story start proper. Thus, to get rid of the choppiness of FBW's opening scenes, one would have to re-read each Nightwatch story where it is mentioned in the chapter headings of FBW. Most folks aren't going to do that. That is why I didn't just render them as links. I could have done that with three mouse cliks, but chose not to. Should I go back and reverse that?<br>Oddly enough, if you read a version of FBW that has my story Orion Affair included in its propper spot, FBW winds up giving almost equal time to all of the Nightwatch Triad. Stephanie does get shorted somewhat on screen-time, but her job was even more important than Simon's and Tom's parts. "Orion Affair" was meant to be just one day and night of FBW time, and was meant also to stand alone from FBW. That story would never have taken shape if I had not offered to come up with a replacement for another Nightwatch writer's story-that-wouldn't-gell. It is only now that I have FBW wrapped up that I see Orion Affair for the "missing chapter" that it turned out to be.<br>OK, after careful thought, here's my caveat: Fly By Wire cannot succeed as a stand-alone story. It was never meant to. Without the rest of the series, the story is rushed, almost telegraphed, and entirely too fragmented. Once reaching the middle of Part One, the reader has caught up with present Nightwatch time and the ride gets a little less bumpy, though.<br>I don't think that I'm letting out any spoilers here if I were to say that Jeff's plan from the very first for what was to evolve into FBW was for it to be the intersticial (sp?) narrative for the novelization of the series, should that ever occur. And I was to write aiming for that effect. That's one reason that FBW teaser hints have been dropped into almost all of the 2nd season Nightwatch stories.<br>Up to the midle of next years stories, Nightwatch is all one narrative with FBW as the duct tape holding the individual stories invisibly together. Jeff and Bob pull the strings, I paint the backdrops, each writer holds the spotlight in turn...<br>Kate wants us to sell it. You readers will have to decide if that's gonna work. The bottom line is, would you spend your hard-earned cash on Nightwatch books? But please, don't answer here in this thread. Here, I need more comments. Nate's not the only one who has read this bugger, I'm sure. (grin) And please, don't anyone think I'm mad at Nate for his comments. Quite the opposite. I *need* Nate to be thorough. In earlier drafts, Nate's comments kept me from ruining Zod. (This was during the period that Jeff was letting me run wild with any concept that came to my mind.) Knowing that the story is working so far, despite the formatting difficulties, is a tremendous ego boost.<br>I know that there are formatting problems, I know that there are small continuity glitches, I know that everyone has a different POV on the story once they read it, and I need to hear what all of you have to say. I realize that I'm asking you to commit to several hours of your time, but I would be eternally and infernally grateful for it.<br>Dan<br><br>
Last edited by Vila on August 12, 2005, 03:07:52 PM, edited 1 time in total.
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post August 12, 2005, 03:37:29 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Given FBW's structure, I think a book version would have to be reworked so FBW becomes the 'framing device' for earlier (and some later) stories. That would mean that we might get a short FBW segment followed by one of the other stories, followed by a longer FBW segment, etc., with the thriller-cliche date and location stamps to nail down the sequence and timing.<br><br>Of course, 'The Peacekeeper' already has lengthy flashback segments, so things could get messy (or messier) ...<br><br>Robert M.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 13, 2005, 12:52:01 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Then we'll give the flashback chapters Messier Numbers.<br>LOL!<br>Dan<br>
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom

Master Critic

Posts: 549

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Augusta, GA

Post August 14, 2005, 09:39:25 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Dan,<br><br>I haven't yet finished all of this story, but I know you are chomping at the bit for critiques, so I'll give you mine piecemeal. <br><br>First, congratulations on getting this monkey off your back. I know what it's like to produce a very long story, even one that has you enthused. After a while you just don't want to see it anymore -- your mind wants to move on to the next project and leave this tired old yarn behind.<br><br>Yes, all the beginnings to this story were mostly tedious. It takes a LONG time to start seeing characters on the stage, pushing forward the plot. But a lot of good information lives in all those beginnings. Having recently taken an astronomy course, I was impressed to see that you mentioned Starry Night -- you did your research! I have Starry Night Enthusiast on this computer and it's a great program. <br><br>So you might have found a way to spread all the frontloaded information through the story or perhaps created scenes to demonstrate it all. For instance, you might have had one of the astronomers who lied to the newspapers about the asteroid's (comet's) course, see the virus data and spit coffee all over his Star Trek collectables. <br><br>These aren't major quibbles for me though. I'm currently reading one of David Brin's Uplift novels -- you want to talk about tedious?? Sheesh. Good book, but it's like reading a college level science tome with a story mixed in. <br><br>So far, the only thing that's really thrown me is your tone. The narrator's voice in this story seems to waffle between authoritative (good) to bantering (disconcerting) to downright capricious (bad). However, I've only noticed the complete cycle once from the beginning through the library scene, so it isn't too bad. <br><br>Otherwise, I'm enjoying FBW very much and I look forward to finishing it this coming week. <br>
Check out my blog: http://wp.me/NXsO

Junior Critic

Posts: 91

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: United Kingdom

Post August 16, 2005, 07:22:41 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Hi Dan<br><br>Congratulations on wrestling this beast onto the page! I enjoyed it, and I know you put blood, sweat & tears into it. I look forward to reading it again as the framing story in a Nightwatch anthology.<br><br>Gareth

Senior Critic

Posts: 417

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: St. Augustine, FL

Post August 16, 2005, 05:12:30 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

I've been reading FBW for a couple of days now. I'm up to "Lies, Lies, Lies," but don't think I've reached the essence of the story yet. Poor eyesight slows my reading online, and on top of that, I'm in the middle of cataract surgery (left eye finished and waiting to start on my right eye). Removing cataracts will help, but I've always had a problem reading online.<br><br>I'll wait until I'm finidhed to give my thoughts on the story, but so far, so good.
A really good story can compensate for less-than-brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story.
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3233

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 17, 2005, 11:45:24 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

There's one other thing that's been bothering me about a minor element of the backdrop of Nightwatch for a very long time, but I'm no expert on this particular item.<br><br>Junkyard Wars was cancelled last year already, right? Scrapheap Challenge, I believe, is still running in the UK, but JW is only in reruns here.<br><br>If so, why would, years later, people still be into JW as much as they are? (I'm trying to not give away exactly what year these tales are set.) Stephanie was remembered from her amateur trials two years ago (which, BTW, implies that there is a pro circuit as well).<br><br>Am I off-base on this?? Anybody an informed fan??<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on August 17, 2005, 11:46:22 PM, edited 1 time in total.
Hardcover, paperback, pdf, eBook, iBook, Nook, and now Kindle & Kobo!
Image
A cooperative effort between 17 Aphelion authors. No part of any sales go to Aphelion.
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 18, 2005, 12:00:40 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Nightwatch *is* in a parallel universe. I assumed that there was a revival or two. When Stephanie knuckles down to work on Tesla's notebooks and drawings, she mentions Junkyard Wars III. <br>I assume that there will be lots of bits that date the stories as topical references get left further and further behind. <br>Dan<br>
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3233

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 18, 2005, 12:51:53 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Nightwatch *is* in a parallel universe.
<br>It is? I must have dozed off during that part of the mission briefing.<br><br>I understood it to be in our real world, just some years in the future.<br><br>Whenever possible, I try to set things in the real world, so I don't automatically think alternate universe when I read a setting. Personally, I prefer settings like a real hotel in Chicago, between the lanes of a real highway south of Duluth Minnesota, in a real northern Wisconsin town... places like that. Even in "Alligator Tears" the turtle lived in the 'real' world before coming to the swamp.<br><br>I prefer to use the theory that special, magical places actually exist, but people are just too dumb or too wrapped up in their own ordinary existence to see major magics going off or dragons flying about town. At least, that was the premise of my young adult Warbled Witch stories, if I ever get one of them published...<br><br>Back to Nightwatch. Sorry. I was just worried that the stories were dated before they even began by mentioning the show. A revival would be just fine by me (and would fix any possible embarrassment). I've been watching reruns and it's really grown on me.<br><br>Nate
Hardcover, paperback, pdf, eBook, iBook, Nook, and now Kindle & Kobo!
Image
A cooperative effort between 17 Aphelion authors. No part of any sales go to Aphelion.

Production Editor

Posts: 143

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Post August 18, 2005, 10:54:26 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Nightwatch *is* in a parallel universe. I assumed that there was a revival or two. When Stephanie knuckles down to work on Tesla's notebooks and drawings, she mentions Junkyard Wars III.
I assume that there will be lots of bits that date the stories as topical references get left further and further behind.
Dan
<br><br>Just to set the record straight, Nightwatch is *not* in a parallel universe. :)<br><br>Nightwatch is "near-future," which is as specific as I'll ever be in a public forum. :)<br><br>Also, Junkyard Wars is still on, but if you aren't watching the repackaged "Scrapheap Challenge" from England, then you are watching this weird abomination they call Junkyard MegaWars.<br><br>What you're seeing in the stories is the wishful, wistful hope of myself and, presumably, Dan that TLC will come to its senses somedays and revert to something closer to the Junkyard Wars that originally aired in the U.S. :)<br><br>--Jeff<br>
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post August 18, 2005, 11:14:39 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

To the extent possible, the locations I use are real -- place names, distances, descriptive details if I can get 'em. Words in foreign languages are also genuine, although the grammar may be completely wrong; foreign names are based on names of real people (sometimes with given names and surnames mixed 'n' matched, sometimes not -- Stephanie's Mossad tutor in krav maga and small arms skills has the same name as a real Israeli woman (but is NOT her)). The description of the hotel in The Peacekeeper is complete fiction, but the hotel itself is real (likewise the M.M.C. hospital).<br><br>So, yeah, my Nightwatch universe is in the near future of 'this' world, mostly with what I consider to be realistic technology (based on stuff currently under development, or at least feasible based on my layman's understanding of things). The situation in Darfur is / has been much as described in The Peacekeeper -- unfortunately. And who knows -- maybe the current disarmament of the IRA could lead to a backlash five or ten years from now ...<br><br>Robert M.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)

Senior Critic

Posts: 417

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: St. Augustine, FL

Post August 20, 2005, 09:37:12 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

I finally finished reading FBW#1 after many sittings. I'm a sucker for stories about asteroids and comets smashing into Earth, and have been since reading "Lucifer's Hammer." (I half suspected that this was the dog-eared novel that Stephanie pulled from the shelf).<br><br>I'll admit to scanning and skipping some of the detailed descriptions and longer info dumps, but I do that with some of my favorite hard SF authors, such as Asimov and Hal Clement. It's never interfered with my enjoyment of their stories, however. And not with FBW#1, either. Enjoyed it to the max.<br><br>I did a little Googling on space rocks. Scientists assure us we won't get hit by a big one in this century. But then, I read about a Tunguska-sized one that missed us by just 75.000 miles on June 14, 2002. It wasn't detected until June 17! Ouch!!<br><br>Donald
A really good story can compensate for less-than-brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story.
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 21, 2005, 01:58:57 AM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

"Hot Fudge Sunday falls on Tuesday this month..."<br>Yeah, "Lucifer's Hammer" is correct. Larry Niven allowed me to use those in-jokes. And Harry Red, IE Frank Gasperik, pointed out the usefulness of thermite. Frank will show up again in part 2.<br>Oh... Donald, you might want to examine Stephanie's list of folks in the executive chatroom.<br>And you might want to remember that over half of the people listed as being in the main chatroom are real. You might be there too, you know. LOL!<br><br>
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom

Senior Critic

Posts: 417

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: St. Augustine, FL

Post August 21, 2005, 08:13:30 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Oh... Donald, you might want to examine Stephanie's list of folks in the executive chatroom.
And you might want to remember that over half of the people listed as being in the main chatroom are real. You might be there too, you know. LOL!

Dan
<br><br>Yep, and so were the rest of us. It was one of the parts I skipped through the first time around, but when I read it I laughed out loud! I think El_kabong -- from the Sat morning cartoons -- was my favorite. :-)
A really good story can compensate for less-than-brilliant writing, but brilliant writing will not save a bad story.
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 21, 2005, 08:55:48 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

There may be "one or two" more easter eggs in the story, maybe... But I'm not saying where. <br>Dan
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 845

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee    USA

Post August 27, 2005, 03:10:06 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Fly by Wire.  .  .wow!  Don't listen to 'em Dan.  I liked the multiple beginnings.  I had no trouble following the varied plots at all.  Besides, one of the major themes of this opus is to highlight the fact that no one person or organization or branch of the armed forces or even government is going to be able to do this on its own.  It's gonna take all of us hanging together to make sure we don't hang separately.  I think it was exactly the right way to start this one.  It's too complex an undertaking to try and portray through the POV's of just a few folks and to do it all in narrative would be sheer drudgery.  Your choice was an ambitious and difficult path, fraught with literary dangers and failed examples.  It doesn't always work, of course, but when it does and the author slowly starts bringing them all together and using some to springboard others ahead, it's a beautiful thing.  And you pulled it off, pal.  You really did.<br><br>The substory concerning Tesla and what he might have been able to do is more interesting to me than the big rock.  But all computers (and all electronics, maybe) being linked by hardware into some technology-spanning AI is absolutely mind boggling.  It puts Varely's Press Enter< to shame, even updating for the internet age.  Diverting the planetkiller back at the beginning of the last century is a little harder to swallow.  But it was fun to try.<br><br>And you asked for it, Dan, remember?  So here are the quibbles.  I'm more a reader than an editor so most of my problems with any story come from either the plots or the basic precepts.  My first problem is that the nuclear option probably actually will work.  And it would have worked for Niven and Pournelle, too.  The whole 'Hot Fudge Sundae' idea is based on: <br><br>A) Late detection of the event—Which you took care of, nicely with our omnipotent AI guardian angel.  And<br><br>B) Only smacking the asteroid/comet once with our city killers.<br><br>First, if you can whack this thing before it gets slung around the sun it will flat out miss the Earth (assuming that it was going to hit it, before).  It wouldn't take a millionth of a degree shift in initial trajectory to make it miss the earth and moon by millions of miles.  And our H-Bombs pack a wallop.  If they broke the thing up on the sunward side of the journey, the pieces would spread over half the solar system by the time the sun got through with them.  <br><br>That being said, even if you broke the beastie to pieces on the way back from the sun, there is no law saying you can't keep hitting the shotgun burst as it makes its way toward us.  You could line up the missiles, one every day or so, along the projected path of the swarm.  It would scatter the pieces in every direction but ours.  And with this kind of stuff, a miss is as good as a mile.  <br><br>Sure, it would be some tough calculations and we would have to design and build a delivery system but these things would be nothing compared to trying to put 3000 people into space to go out and do battle with the monster.  <br><br>Which brings me to another problem.  3000 people into space in the heaviest mass launch ever conceived, and not one of the rockets goes BOOM?  Strung-together hardware and mismatched delivery systems from multiple societies and eras and nobody forgot to convert from pounds to kilograms?  <br><br>I would have thought the death toll would have started somewhere around the tenth launch with at least a five percent attrition rate on the day of the Big Push.  It would have been planned into the calculus from the very beginning.  Everybody would have to be cross-trained in multiple areas to make up for the deaths that are going to happen.  You could have focused on this during our brief glimpses into Tom Weldon's training.  <br><br>Finally, the whole idea of the Tesla beam ships is a little silly.  From your description of the particle beams, they don't have to be mobile.  As a matter of fact, they would take so much energy to run, you'd probably need a nuclear reactor dedicated only to them.  Don't forget, the magnetic field lines of the moon are just babies compared to the Earth's.  You have to work a lot harder to produce electricity on the moon and motors don't work the as well, either (about 30%, I think.  .  .tried to look it up but couldn't find it).  <br><br>And once you leave the magnetosphere (10 to 15 planetary radii from the core) electric motors and generators don't work at all.  These ships would have to be huge flying batteries.  Why not just put the guns on one of the lunar poles (whichever gives you the clear shot at the boojum) and shoot them from there?  They would be tough to aim but the target is big and moving in a nearly perfectly straight line.  Anything you lost due to attenuation or scatter would be made up for by the fact that at least you could keep producing the electrons.  <br><br>And one more thing.  .  .particle beam weapons would recoil.  As you fire them from your ship, they would push you in the opposite direction with whatever force you used to accelerate them.  Not much mass, but gobs of speed and gazillions of particles per second. It would make a better drive than weapon, actually, because it would be a bitch to aim and fairly easy to defend against.  <br><br>But it's a grand undertaking, Dan.  And you have obviously worked on this thing harder than anything you've done, before.  Just your use of acronyms and technical terminology must have kept you skipping through the internet for days, tracking down the right kind of information.  The effort shows.  <br><br>So even though I doubt it was necessary, we now have an armada, armed to the teeth and representing everything we as a species have managed to achieve speeding towards our enemy with grim determination.  I'm on the edge of my seat, sweating out the hours till I get to find out what happens next.   And that—you writer you—is just exactly what the doctor ordered.  <br><br>Good job.  <br><br><br>
Last edited by Bill_Wolfe on August 27, 2005, 03:17:38 PM, edited 1 time in total.
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 27, 2005, 04:34:56 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Hunh? Electric generators and motors can't work without a planetary magnetic field? I never knew that! You mean, if someone packed up the Bull Run Steam Plant and shipped it out between worlds, it'd be a useless lump of dead weight instead of a nuclear powerplant generating megawatts of electricity?<br>I'm confused! I thought generators and such made their own magnetic fields while they were running. Cr*p. I just flunked Physics 101... Again.<br>As for the nuclear option working in the real world, you're absolutely right. It actually could work- If somebody besides me did the math, maybe. And if there were enough nukes left after whatever level of disarmament that the Nightwatch universe has undergone. I'm sure that there would be, but the Multi-National companies in the story involved have their own adgenda's too. Pt 2 will make a few things clearer, but the shift off of Earth will tangent again into the mission details and such.<br>And once PT2 comes out, I can reveal the in-jokes. LOL!<br>Dan<br>But thanks for the grand praise on the parts I got right. That felt really good.
Last edited by Vila on August 27, 2005, 04:48:21 PM, edited 1 time in total.
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 845

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Knoxville, Tennessee    USA

Post August 27, 2005, 06:29:40 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Hunh? Electric generators and motors can't work without a planetary magnetic field? I never knew that! You mean, if someone packed up the Bull Run Steam Plant and shipped it out between worlds, it'd be a useless lump of dead weight instead of a nuclear powerplant generating megawatts of electricity?
<br><br><br>Well, it doesn't have to be a planetary magnetic field. The sun's got a massive electromagnetic field that reaches all the way to earth. But unless there's a solar flare in your direction, these field lines are too weak to run a decent motor or to generate enough electricity to power a light bulb.<br><br>And Dan, uh. . .the Bull Run Steam plant is powerd by coal. . .<br><br>But Dude! Jeff's gonna smack your hand if you keep intimating that the Nightwatch universe is an alternate reality. It's our world in the near future. . .plenty of nukes to go around and with Korea in the game, (doubtful, actually) there might just be a few more.<br><br>Don't worry, we'll make more.<br><br>Bill
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3233

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 28, 2005, 12:17:38 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Finally, the whole idea of the Tesla beam ships is a little silly. From your description of the particle beams, they don't have to be mobile. As a matter of fact, they would take so much energy to run, you'd probably need a nuclear reactor dedicated only to them. Don't forget, the magnetic field lines of the moon are just babies compared to the Earth's. You have to work a lot harder to produce electricity on the moon and motors don't work the as well, either (about 30%, I think. . .tried to look it up but couldn't find it).

And once you leave the magnetosphere (10 to 15 planetary radii from the core) electric motors and generators don't work at all. These ships would have to be huge flying batteries.
<br>I know a lot about the potential theories but almost none of the actual science involved. Let me ask a few questions, if I may, because I have a story where electrical generation in space is very important to the storyline. Plus, I helped Dan brainstorm over some of the ship designs (though, not this one), and want to make sure I didn't tell him something stupid.<br><br>That electric motors won't work in deep space is news to me, but when it comes to producing power, couldn't the "huge" generators that are loaded into the beam ships be radioisotopic thermoelectric generators? RTGs have been around for a long time, but that's about all I know about them, save what I could decipher from the Wikipedia article:<br>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator<br><br>Each one that we have now doesn't produce all that much power, right? But if the "huge" one was a series of existing ones or a new, bigger one that we haven't used before, couldn't it still work? Everyone assumes that the king of electricity needed a lot of juice for his Tesla Gun, but Dan's story doesn't actually quantify how much power is required. <br><br>Even if those bits don't provide enough energy, couldn't they be supplemented by solar power collectors or even electrodynamic tethers (as batteries, not propulsion) enough to do the job and still not relegate Dan's Tesla Beam ships to the "silly" category?<br><br>Nate
Hardcover, paperback, pdf, eBook, iBook, Nook, and now Kindle & Kobo!
Image
A cooperative effort between 17 Aphelion authors. No part of any sales go to Aphelion.
User avatar

Senior Editor

Posts: 1059

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 28, 2005, 03:22:25 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

Ouch! Why did I type Bull Run? Dad *worked* at Oak Ridge. I've been there as a kid. Sheesh, that wasn't just a typo, somehow I totally forgot about that huge mountian of coal sitting outside the Bull Run plant. I knew that place was a coal-fired plant before I was seven. I don't know how I shifted it to a reactor instead of reality. <br>Sheesh, the accuracy is the first thing to go. (grin)<br>I seriously doubt that my ships massed enough to have much of an EM field no matter what the % of metal in the buggers. They wouldn't be any sort of natural dynamo like the Sun or Earth is. They're just big spaceships, not large spinning bodies with a hot molten core. OK, first we need some really big magnets to line the engine rooms with... LOL! No shock to learn that I haven't yet thought of a way to retcon how they're going to produce the amount of electricty I've specified. Without the possibility of having a normal amount of electricity come out of a generator while one is between worlds, my story reverts to Space Opera after all. I can't escape it. LOL! And look at the statement on the nature of reality: If Bill had been in the chatroom when Jeff and I dreamed up "FBW", he would have shot it down in mid-brainstorm. I never would have written this story, or "Orion Affair", in the first place. The ideas generated thereby for the new Tom Darby story never would have happened. And I wouldn't have had a reason to finsh transcribing the old outline of "Threat..." and, and... <br>On the whole, I'd rather have written a story that fails because of my ignorance of physics than not have written it at all. (I told Jeff I was going to warp his Nightwatch series universe if he turned me loose in it. Neither of us knew that I'd wind up changing some of it's physical laws, LOL!) What gives me some hope is that people still want to read Pt 2 despite the flaws of Pt 1. Something is still keeping the readers interested.<br>And yes Bill, you're right, Nightwatch is future history, not an alternate timeline as I persist in misstating. I hereby publicly apologize to Jeff and Bob for that mistake. <br>By the way, no one has mentioned the illustrations. Are they a help or a hinderence? Some of them had to be moved from their original positions so that they would not be split between pages of a printout, but they weren't moved by more than a couple of paragraphs downstream in the text. Thank Nate for pointing out the typos in the original copy of Zod's Composite View illo. I managed to fix all but one before the story went public. The last one just needs some 0s added to an impact estimate in one of the tiny frames. After the original illo was done, I made the comet bigger and forgot to correct all the figures in the illo.<br>You know, no one has yet said anything I didn't need to learn. <br>LOL!<br>Dan
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 550

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post October 03, 2005, 09:16:05 PM

Re: Nightwatch: Fly By Wire Pt1 by Dan Hollifield

You can analyze a story, focusing on every word, every punctuation mark. You can sift through POV and search every paragraph for plot holes. You can do all this, but the one thing that differentiates a good story from an ordinary one is whether you lose yourself in it.<br><br>That happened to me in this one.<br><br>Granted, it wasn't for the entire story. The beginnings, as others pointed out earlier, seemed to false start a number of times. However, it was quite easy for me to read this in a couple of sittings (and probably would have been one sitting if I didn't have to go to bed). I found the more experimental pieces, such as the chat room scene, the news update, and the President's speech, particularly engaging.<br><br>I agree with most of the sentiments already stated earlier. I’m not a minimalist by any means, but my quibble is that I thought some of the dialogue could have been condensed or removed. The whole S&M interaction between Tom and Miranda seemed a bit strange to me and a tad overdone.<br><br>Whenever I read a Nightwatch story, I’m always fascinated how different writers interpret Simon and Stephanie’s relationship. Here, there’s a flirtatious but comradely nuance. Stephanie, however, is definitely the “alpha male”. :)<br>
"Even the straight arrow needs a crooked bow."
- Samani


jaimie l. elliott

[b:2o4dvkjg]Check out my website:[/b:2o4dvkjg]
http://www.jaimie.org/

Return to August 2005

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.