Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailhofer


Tell us what you think about the August Issue

Moderator: Editors

Critic

Posts: 119

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

Location: Australia

Post August 09, 2004, 09:13:44 PM

Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailhofer

Just another day at the office! That's classic. Some interesting concepts.<br><br>Of course, I didn't really get the Cubs fans thing, but I got the gist.<br><br>Fluently written and entertaining.<br><br>This is probably how many people do experience their office jobs or school days. I once had a job so tedious, the best part of the day was the toilet stops! And for some kids, you might as well send them to hell as the laboratory.<br><br>Only some very minor points to question: can loud noise really make you sweat? I suppose if it stresses you out enough it could.<br><br>"Inside the room flickered with firelight..." I think I'm becoming obsessed about the comma thing, but on the first read, you expect this to say: "Inside the room, X was happening." It should be: "Inside, the room flickered..."<br><br>There was a 'new' for 'knew', probably just a typo the spell-check couldn't find!<br><br>GG
[img width=40 height=40]http://www.ozscififorum.com/100_010.jpeg[/img] Greg Guerin
[hr]
[url=http://www.ozscififorum.com:2tvavb2m]Australian Science Fiction Forum[/url:2tvavb2m]
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

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

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post August 11, 2004, 10:11:55 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Of course, I didn't really get the Cubs fans thing, but I got the gist.
<br>The Chicago Cubs is one of many baseball teams that hasn't done well in living memory (or so it seems).  Dunno if I've ever heard of them winning even a division championship, let alone a World Series (not that I follow baseball that closely).<br>
Fluently written and entertaining.
<br>Also pretty funny.  Makes excellent use of the concept of writing changing reality (as in C. Hopper's recent Mare story, and as in many fantasy stories over the past millennium or so), with the setting (a magic factory in Hell) providing a reason why it would work (for a change).<br>
This is probably how many people do experience their office jobs or school days. I once had a job so tedious, the best part of the day was the toilet stops! And for some kids, you might as well send them to hell as the laboratory.
<br>Dilbert fans (do they get Dilbert in Oz?) would agree.  Jack has a job that not only is Hell, it's in Hell.  It took a while for me to 'get' the reason why someone who works in a basement would have a dark tan.  Apparently those flames radiate in the ultraviolet as well as the infrared.<br><br>Poor Jack!  Seeing what I presume was the limb of an annoyed D'rrish (probably annoyed because its limb-tip was jammed in a door!), he assumed that the Mare was worse than Hell.  If only he'd gone through the door, he'd have changed his mind.  Bruce or one of the other bouncers would probably have saved Jack's colleague from serious injury anyway ...<br><br>I wonder if this factory was one of the sources for the goods imported by Janine Majius's business before she went to work for Majius Magical Services?<br><br>Didn't note any major grammatical or spelling or punctuation faults.  (It appears that I can leave nitpicking of that sort to Greg Guerin now, and he's much more thorough than I was.)<br><br>Fun stuff, even if the Mare connection was minimal.  It's interesting to see how different backgrounds can color one's perception of the same thing.  Helen McKay found the Mare chaotic and filled with too many bizarre creatures for her taste; Jack (after a glimpse partially blocked by the aforementioned annoyed D'rrish) thought it looked worse than Hell.  The other escapees from Jack's factory?  Provided that they had goods to barter or other means to pay for a few rounds of drinks, they probably thought the Mare was Heaven.<br><br>Robert M.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 11, 2004, 10:13:07 AM, edited 1 time in total.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 11, 2004, 06:15:08 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Nice concept. However, I bet there are many Red Sox fans that would give the Cubs fans a run for their money. In fact, many of them feel they are already in Hell. :-)<br><br>One thing concerns me. Your writing style is full of passive voice. It doesn't seem to hurt the pacing, but this may annoy other writers (and I've been told, other editors). I'm not a big proponent of everything-must-be-active, but I've grudgingly shifted my writing style and I've found that I had better control over the flow.<br><br>Next comment is actually a question. I don't like asking about logic when magic is involved (duh, it's magic!), but could you explain to me why Jack couldn't vanish the door? Was it because something was holding it? Personally, I thought it would have been funny to have the door vanish and then have Jack suddenly confronted with this Chtonic horror. Then again, I think there's a bit of sadist in me. :-P<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/
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 11, 2004, 06:42:39 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Makes excellent use of the concept of writing changing reality (as in C. Hopper's recent Mare story
<br>I have to give credit there. I got the idea for that after reading Claude's story.<br><br>
Apparently those flames radiate in the ultraviolet as well as the infrared.
<br>If you're ever around old foundry workers, you'll notice all of them are tanned like their skin was made of old leather.<br><br>
I wonder if this factory was one of the sources for the goods imported by Janine Majius's business before she went to work for Majius Magical Services?
<br>Feel free to borrow it, if you like.<br><br>As far as the idea, it was a combination of a number of things. First, how I feel at my own lousy job. Second, I once had presented an account of one of my early jobs to a class in college, a job so bad that I haven't heard of worse. Anyhow, I made a joke in the beginning about how I took a job in Hell. The crowd laughed, and I realized that if I had written such a story, it would have gone over better than the Reader's Digest-style true life account I was about to lay on them. Finally, I have a brother who is, in fact, a building manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his building has its own foundry inside it. That's how I knew about transite tabletops and the like.<br><br><br>The reactions are a little funny to me too, since when I was originally composing the story, their destination was going to be the Republican National Convention. Since I was going to submit it here, I thought The Mare would be more humorous.<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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 11, 2004, 07:46:56 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Your writing style is full of passive voice. It doesn't seem to hurt the pacing, but this may annoy other writers (and I've been told, other editors).
<br>I'd have to admit to using more than my fair share of passive voice on numerous occasions. :)<br><br>It could be argued that considering Jack's position, passivity would be a requirement, so that he could better experience the delicious frustrations of Hell. However, unless MSWord's spellcheck was lying to me, it said that the story only contained 3% passive sentences, and I didn't worry about it.<br><br>
Next comment is actually a question. I don't like asking about logic when magic is involved (duh, it's magic!), but could you explain to me why Jack couldn't vanish the door? Was it because something was holding it? Personally, I thought it would have been funny to have the door vanish and then have Jack suddenly confronted with this Chtonic horror. Then again, I think there's a bit of sadist in me. :-P
<br>The first part of the answer is that a certain editor, beloved of all things Mare, said to make the door harder to get rid of. The second part of the answer was based in an almost complete lack of knowledge about the Mare. I've only read a few of the Mare gems (that's meant to be a pun, by the way), and as I mentioned to Robert, I was planning on this story to be more political commentary. Another quick readthrough of the Starter Kit (which contains WAY too much information to take in quickly) showed a scorpion the size of a Clydesdale--Kazsh-ak Tier, Brig. Gen. Er'da'gasg'dien Royal Guard, Ret. Presently Ambassador for the D'rrish. The logic was that if one of his legs accidentally was caught in the door, the door would be bound in place because it had to exist simultaneously on two different planes of existence. To remove it would have required action in both locations. At least, that was the theory.<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: 1081

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

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post August 11, 2004, 08:40:22 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

The first part of the answer is that a certain editor, beloved of all things Mare, said to make the door harder to get rid of.
<br><br>Blame my ego. I simply couldn't believe that a doorway to the Mare would be all that easy to get rid of, once created. So I asked Nate to make it a bit more stubborn. I left it entirely up to Nate to come up with *why* it would be stubborn. Kazsh-ak's getting a stray foot caught in the closing door and his ire at Bob for slamming the door seemed to me to be classic slapstick when I read Nate's revision of the story. <br>I fully expect that Kazsh-ak will be limping a little in the next Mare story someone sends me. LOL!<br>Continuity, what a concept!<br>Dan<br>
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom

Critic

Posts: 119

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

Location: Australia

Post August 27, 2004, 02:30:02 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

I wonder what happened to the other posts? I thought maybe our moderators didn't deem the last post appropriate or something, but then there was a number of others, wasn't there?<br><br>Hmmm, oh well. Not to lose any sleep. All messages were wiped after the move to the new system!:)
Last edited by Greg_Guerin on August 27, 2004, 02:31:59 AM, edited 1 time in total.
[img width=40 height=40]http://www.ozscififorum.com/100_010.jpeg[/img] Greg Guerin
[hr]
[url=http://www.ozscififorum.com:2tvavb2m]Australian Science Fiction Forum[/url:2tvavb2m]
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 27, 2004, 10:34:00 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

No. My fault. See the "Administrivia" section.<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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

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

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post August 27, 2004, 11:34:10 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

No. My fault. See the "Administrivia" section.

Nate
<br>What? Another fault? Well, at least it isn't naivete ... It was such a GOOD rant, too. You should send it in to Scott Adams (via dilbert.com). Your new boss doesn't have pointy hair, does he? Or the name Catbert?<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

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 27, 2004, 11:42:02 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

What? Another fault? Well, at least it isn't naivete ... It was such a GOOD rant, too. You should send it in to Scott Adams (via dilbert.com). Your new boss doesn't have pointy hair, does he? Or the name Catbert?

Robert M.
<br><br>Dogbert is the evil one.<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/
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

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

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post August 27, 2004, 12:59:40 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho


Dogbert is the evil one.
<br>You haven't paid enough attention to Catbert's behavior if you think Dogbert is the ONLY evil one.  As company Director or whatever of Human Resources, Catbert is in charge of implementing random demeaning actions and policies designed to demoralize and torment the employees.  The pointy-haired boss, of course, just has to Be Himself to accomplish that aim.<br><br>At least Dogbert occasionally uses his powers for good -- er, less bad.  (His work as Saint Dogbert ("Out, out, you demons of stupidity!" is one example; his advice to Dilbert to let Ratbert act as his contract negotiator is another.)  We have NEVER seen either the PHB or Catbert do something "good", intentionally or otherwise.<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>(Now, if Dogbert was The Evil One, he might actually be Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light's boss ...)
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 27, 2004, 01:01:52 PM, edited 1 time in total.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)
User avatar

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 27, 2004, 04:13:44 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

You haven't paid enough attention to Catbert's behavior if you think Dogbert is the ONLY evil one. As company Director or whatever of Human Resources, Catbert is in charge of implementing random demeaning actions and policies designed to demoralize and torment the employees. The pointy-haired boss, of course, just has to Be Himself to accomplish that aim.

At least Dogbert occasionally uses his powers for good -- er, less bad. (His work as Saint Dogbert ("Out, out, you demons of stupidity!" is one example; his advice to Dilbert to let Ratbert act as his contract negotiator is another.) We have NEVER seen either the PHB or Catbert do something "good", intentionally or otherwise.

Robert M.

(Now, if Dogbert was The Evil One, he might actually be Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light's boss ...)
<br><br>Hmm. Now that you mention, I do recall Catbert being in charge of Human Resources. But I've always viewed the feline as more annoying than anything. There's someting about Dogbert-- something almost amoral-- that transcends the bounds of good and evil, the ability to sacrifice Mother Theresa to the demonic forces of Cthulu just to get a better parking space.<br><br>Which begs the question, what is worse? Being immoral or amoral?<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/
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 27, 2004, 04:21:37 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

What? Another fault? Well, at least it isn't naivete ... It was such a GOOD rant, too. You should send it in to Scott Adams (via dilbert.com). Your new boss doesn't have pointy hair, does he? Or the name Catbert?
<br>My old boss, by a twist of fate, did actually have pointy hair, bulgy eyes, and a complete failure to grasp reality. Consequently, he thought Dilbert cartoons were not at all funny and ripped them down whenever he saw them. (So we hung them up all the time!)<br><br>The current hell-spawned denizen is the old boss's son, who showed his loyalty to his Pop by immediately firing him. After that, he set about his despotic rule, making my life hell for less money and benefits.<br><br>I might have been in a full lather when I first posted, but it really didn't seem fair to lay all my work-related difficulties on everyone. Although after three generations of oppression there, sometimes you do feel like doing the Moses bit: "Let my people go!"<br><br>Nate<br><br>PS. My review went better than I expected: I didn't get another cut in pay. Plus, because we've saved so much by not buying production computers that can actually run current versions of programs, we can afford new office furniture for the Boss and the VP. Oh, boy!
Last edited by kailhofer on August 27, 2004, 04:59:45 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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 28, 2004, 10:41:17 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Which begs the question, what is worse? Being immoral or amoral?
<br>You're not shooting for that "Impractical Idealist" role that Robert was calling for, are you? :)<br><br>Just kidding--it's an interesting question. It might be naive :) of me, but I'd have to agree with you that Dogbert is the more frightening one. When Catbert makes an appearance, you expect him to be bad and brace for it, so he's just not as scary in the end. To borrow some terms I learned as a nerdy teen playing Dungeons and Dragons, Dogbert is "Neutral Evil," instead of Catbert's "Lawful Evil." That way, you never know if Dogbert will just be helpful in a way that really helps himself or downright nasty about things.<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

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 28, 2004, 12:52:21 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

You're not shooting for that "Impractical Idealist" role that Robert was calling for, are you? :)

Just kidding--it's an interesting question. It might be naive :) of me, but I'd have to agree with you that Dogbert is the more frightening one. When Catbert makes an appearance, you expect him to be bad and brace for it, so he's just not as scary in the end. To borrow some terms I learned as a nerdy teen playing Dungeons and Dragons, Dogbert is "Neutral Evil," instead of Catbert's "Lawful Evil." That way, you never know if Dogbert will just be helpful in a way that really helps himself or downright nasty about things.

Nate
<br><br>Yes, I'll confess. I'm a bit of an idealist. I tried the dour pessimist in college and realized it was a pretty cruddy way to live a life. :-)<br><br>Hmmm. I guess I'd have to go with amoral being worse. If you're immoral, you still have an understanding of the difference between good and evil, albeit your view is twisted. I won't bring up misguided morals, which is a discussion on itself. Something amoral, however... can't reason with someone (or something) of that nature, who has no concept between right and wrong.<br><br>Examples of immoral: Darth Vadar, Voldemort<br><br>Examples of amoral: Terminator, Alien<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/
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 28, 2004, 03:34:27 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Yes, I'll confess. I'm a bit of an idealist. I tried the dour pessimist in college and realized it was a pretty cruddy way to live a life. :-)
<br><br>Sorry to hear that your pessimism made your college life cruddy. :)<br>Idealism from pessimism seems a rather unlikely reversal. Congratulations.<br><br>
Hmmm. I guess I'd have to go with amoral being worse. If you're immoral, you still have an understanding of the difference between good and evil, albeit your view is twisted... Something amoral, however... can't reason with someone (or something) of that nature, who has no concept between right and wrong.

Examples of immoral: Darth Vadar, Voldemort
Examples of amoral: Terminator, Alien
<br>Not to start another fencing match over the meaning of words, but I don't agree with your examples. <br><br>I think you're spot on with your immoral definition, but I think you missed on the amoral one. An amoral soul may know full well what they are doing is wrong, but doesn't care. He may be fully able to debate the issue of morals with you while he's doing it. Moreover, the amoral being may, in fact, help you for private reasons, where the immoral one won't. <br><br>The Terminator (I assume you mean from the first movie) and Alien are more immoral than amoral for me. Our evil was their good, and they obeyed their rules (Human=prey. Other Terminators or aliens=good). The Terminator would not have been polite and helped a little old lady across the street. Instead he would have snapped her spine in half so she didn't need to take up space at the crossing. Vader did have a sense of right, but it was suppressed by the dark side until Luke reintroduced it to him.<br><br>For debate purposes, I suggest that a better example of amoral behavior is the character Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal understands completely when his behavior will be considered wrong, but does it anyway if it suits him. On the flip side, if it pleases him, he can be excessively moral in his judgments (convincing Miggs to swallow his own tongue for... ahem, his own societal transgression, or in that Hannibal only eats rude people).<br><br>Does anyone have fava beans and a nice chianti? I'm out. :)<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

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 28, 2004, 05:21:52 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho


Sorry to hear that your pessimism made your college life cruddy. :)
Idealism from pessimism seems a rather unlikely reversal. Congratulations.
<br><br>I wouldn't say it sprang from pessimism. I just found I was happier being happy. Regardless, it didn't take me long to realize it so I wouldn't attribute that stage for my entire collegate experience. :)<br><br>
Not to start another fencing match over the meaning of words, but I don't agree with your examples.

I think you're spot on with your immoral definition, but I think you missed on the amoral one. An amoral soul may know full well what they are doing is wrong, but doesn't care. He may be fully able to debate the issue of morals with you while he's doing it. Moreover, the amoral being may, in fact, help you for private reasons, where the immoral one won't.

The Terminator (I assume you mean from the first movie) and Alien are more immoral than amoral for me. Our evil was their good, and they obeyed their rules (Human=prey. Other Terminators or aliens=good). The Terminator would not have been polite and helped a little old lady across the street. Instead he would have snapped her spine in half so she didn't need to take up space at the crossing. Vader did have a sense of right, but it was suppressed by the dark side until Luke reintroduced it to him.

For debate purposes, I suggest that a better example of amoral behavior is the character Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal understands completely when his behavior will be considered wrong, but does it anyway if it suits him. On the flip side, if it pleases him, he can be excessively moral in his judgments (convincing Miggs to swallow his own tongue for... ahem, his own societal transgression, or in that Hannibal only eats rude people).

Does anyone have fava beans and a nice chianti? I'm out. :)

Nate
<br>You know, at first I was going to agree with you on Hannibal, but on further reflection, I'm not sure if he could be labeled as amoral. It could be argued he commits acts of evil and derives sadistic pleasure from them. He understands right and wrong. Someone amoral who commits an evil act wouldn't care. I think Hannibal cares very much. He "gets off" on the act.<br><br>That's certainly debatable as I can see many of his actions being amoral. However, if we talk about the Terminator, I just don't see it as being immoral (we're talking fresh, out-of-the-box that hasn't evolved the penchant for goodness, e.g., T2). It’s arguable that in order to be amoral, a sentient being would need to understand good and evil. However, for immoral, you most certainly need this comprehension, for you're consciously committing an act of evil. You know what you're doing is wrong and you're purposely doing it. I don't think a Terminator differentiates between good and evil. If it's programmed to perform an act of benevolence, it's doing so based on programming and not from a higher mandate. So you can argue that it's not amoral since it's a machine (it's not anymore moral than a coffee table). I don't necessarily agree with that argument, yet I can see it debated. But to label a Terminator as evil means an implicit awareness that I think is lacking.<br><br>In D&D terms, moral = good, immoral = evil, and amoral = neutral. To further elaborate, ethical = lawful, unethical = chaotic, and... erm, not sure what neutral would be from an ethics standpoint. Something in-between??<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/
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 28, 2004, 08:19:16 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

You know, at first I was going to agree with you on Hannibal, but on further reflection, I'm not sure if he could be labeled as amoral. It could be argued he commits acts of evil and derives sadistic pleasure from them. He understands right and wrong. Someone amoral who commits an evil act wouldn't care. I think Hannibal cares very much. He "gets off" on the act.
<br>Hmm... You present a good argument, and I was almost convinced.<br><br>However, I don't think that enjoying being bad prevents you from being amoral, because Hannibal can potentially enjoy being good just as much (although I doubt he would). I doubt an immoral person could enjoy doing good.<br><br>
However, if we talk about the Terminator, I just don't see it as being immoral (we're talking fresh, out-of-the-box that hasn't evolved the penchant for goodness, e.g., T2). It’s arguable that in order to be amoral, a sentient being would need to understand good and evil. However, for immoral, you most certainly need this comprehension, for you're consciously committing an act of evil. You know what you're doing is wrong and you're purposely doing it. I don't think a Terminator differentiates between good and evil. If it's programmed to perform an act of benevolence, it's doing so based on programming and not from a higher mandate. So you can argue that it's not amoral since it's a machine (it's not anymore moral than a coffee table). I don't necessarily agree with that argument, yet I can see it debated. But to label a Terminator as evil means an implicit awareness that I think is lacking.
<br>Here's that definition fencing again. If you go by immoral meaning acting contrary to accepted moral principles, I think the Terminator qualifies as immoral. That is, the immoral one doesn't see himself as doing evil. "Evil" is his good, the way he's supposed to perform. "Good" is evil to the immoral. <br><br>If immoral has to mean that one chooses to be evil, knowing it's wrong, then clearly the T1 is not. <br><br>However, that view seems to predispose that everyone starts good and has to choose to be bad. What would you call someone who had only been taught that evil was the proper way, and never taught good? I don't believe you could call them amoral, because said evildoer could care very much if his or her evil wasn't accepted among the evil "in" crowd.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on August 28, 2004, 08:29:10 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

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 30, 2004, 11:21:20 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Here's that definition fencing again. If you go by immoral meaning acting contrary to accepted moral principles, I think the Terminator qualifies as immoral. That is, the immoral one doesn't see himself as doing evil. "Evil" is his good, the way he's supposed to perform. "Good" is evil to the immoral.

If immoral has to mean that one chooses to be evil, knowing it's wrong, then clearly the T1 is not.

However, that view seems to predispose that everyone starts good and has to choose to be bad. What would you call someone who had only been taught that evil was the proper way, and never taught good? I don't believe you could call them amoral, because said evildoer could care very much if his or her evil wasn't accepted among the evil "in" crowd.

Nate
<br><br>I did some Googlin' and, not surprisingly, found that the discussion of amoral vs immoral is anything but settled. It turns into a philosophical question. Awareness is often a discussion point. I found one definition use a baby as an example of amoral. Good stuff for writers.<br><br>I tried to set a boundary on the argument by excluding misguided morals: mistaken beliefs that from the subject's perspective seems morally right. This is obviously extremely subjective, and I'm not sure if you can really simplify the discussion anyway by limiting the point of view.<br><br>I do have some questions for you, though. I wasn't able to pick this up in your thread. What do you think differentiates amoral vs immoral? Also, what point of view are you basing these definitions? Can someone who understands good and evil ever truly be amoral?
Last edited by Jaimie on August 30, 2004, 11:22:57 AM, edited 1 time in total.
"Even the straight arrow needs a crooked bow."
- Samani


jaimie l. elliott

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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 30, 2004, 07:28:39 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

I do have some questions for you, though. I wasn't able to pick this up in your thread. What do you think differentiates amoral vs immoral? Also, what point of view are you basing these definitions? Can someone who understands good and evil ever truly be amoral?
<br>[Fake French Accent]<br>Join us now, as we dive deep into philosophical waters to witness an age-old clash of the titans. Here, on this lonely electronic reef, the lightning-fast Idealist will try to draw the crusty Curmudgeon out of his deep, dark lair. But the curmudgeon has a different idea, and will seek to ensnare the Idealist in his own twisted, tenticled plot... :)<br><br>I get the feeling that pretty soon we'll be resorting to Venn logic diagrams, but here goes:<br><br>Immoral=Contrary to accepted moral principles.<br>Amoral=1. Not concerned with or amenable to moral judgments. 2. Not caring about good behavior or morals.<br><br>So with immoral, your just going against the "normal" grain of things. It requires no value judgments at all whether your behavior is good or bad. It just is what it is, and to you, it is not immoral. (Stormtroopers are immoral to me. To themselves, they think they're normal.) That is an outside judgment. With amoral, you don't care if it's good or bad, with or against the grain. You just do it because it suits you, and damn the consequences. Hannibal may know perfectly well that feeding the child somebody's brain is wrong, and in fact tells the kid his mom would not want him eating that. Then after the kid chooses to stay, he feeds it to him and sends the child back to his mother, because that is where he belongs as a good "moral" child. <br><br>In a nutshell: Amoral is a choice of action, and you can be both immoral and moral. Immoral, you're only bad, by someone else's judgment.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on August 30, 2004, 08:16:56 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

Master Critic

Posts: 550

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

Location: Atlanta, GA

Post August 30, 2004, 10:07:08 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

[Fake French Accent]
Join us now, as we dive deep into philosophical waters to witness an age-old clash of the titans. Here, on this lonely electronic reef, the lightning-fast Idealist will try to draw the crusty Curmudgeon out of his deep, dark lair. But the curmudgeon has a different idea, and will seek to ensnare the Idealist in his own twisted, tenticled plot... :)

I get the feeling that pretty soon we'll be resorting to Venn logic diagrams, but here goes:

Immoral=Contrary to accepted moral principles.
Amoral=1. Not concerned with or amenable to moral judgments. 2. Not caring about good behavior or morals.

So with immoral, your just going against the "normal" grain of things. It requires no value judgments at all whether your behavior is good or bad. It just is what it is, and to you, it is not immoral. (Stormtroopers are immoral to me. To themselves, they think they're normal.) That is an outside judgment. With amoral, you don't care if it's good or bad, with or against the grain. You just do it because it suits you, and damn the consequences. Hannibal may know perfectly well that feeding the child somebody's brain is wrong, and in fact tells the kid his mom would not want him eating that. Then after the kid chooses to stay, he feeds it to him and sends the child back to his mother, because that is where he belongs as a good "moral" child.

In a nutshell: Amoral is a choice of action, and you can be both immoral and moral. Immoral, you're only bad, by someone else's judgment.

Nate
<br><br>Actually, with your definition, a person can be all three. Take the evil Emperor. In his megalomania, he views his actions being above the law (amoral). His fervent followers, who should know better but don't, view him with zealous devotion (moral). The victims of this oppressive regime, having long tired of the ruthless nature of the despot, view him unfavorably (immoral).<br><br>As a side note, I think you need to tighten up your definition of immoral. What constitutes "normal"? What I think you mean is "boundaries of accepted behavior". You can be a bit abnormal (i.e., eccentric) and not considered immoral. Unless the person objecting is a Republican (whoops, how did politics creep into this post....)<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/
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post August 30, 2004, 10:45:50 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Actually, with your definition, a person can be all three. Take the evil Emperor. In his megalomania, he views his actions being above the law (amoral). His fervent followers, who should know better but don't, view him with zealous devotion (moral). The victims of this oppressive regime, having long tired of the ruthless nature of the despot, view him unfavorably (immoral).
<br>Sadly, a judgement of good or evil is increasingly dependent on one's point of view. Yes, depending on that perspective, your role in life can be interpreted very differently.<br><br>
As a side note, I think you need to tighten up your definition of immoral. What constitutes "normal"? What I think you mean is "boundaries of accepted behavior". You can be a bit abnormal (i.e., eccentric) and not considered immoral.
<br>Thankfully, I don't write dictionaries. This particular definition came from the built-in dictionary in MSWord X.<br><br>Here's perspective again. People are quite capable of viewing abnormal as immoral. Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, for example, is perceived as evil because of his deformities. He is tied in the square and things thrown at him, just because he's ugly.<br><br>I'm not sure said definition can be tightened, as moral judgments of "acceptible behavior" are entirely based on your perspective.<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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post September 19, 2004, 11:19:44 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Elizabeth Bear was good enough to review this story privately for me, but I think it serves as a good lesson for the rest of us. So, with her permission, is her review...

Thanks for the opportunity to critique this story!

The opening hook of this story is engaging--it does the single most essential thing a hook can do, which is to engage the reader's interest without melodrama or overstating the case. A tickle is often better than a punch in the face for getting somebody's attention, and this manages nicely. I get the sense from the first three sentences that Jack isn't too worried about this alarm, because it goes off all the time, but because this is a story, and stories are about exceptions, I have an inkling that this time he may be surprised. That's good--you establish strong narrative energy right off the bat.

Unfortunately, that narrative energy is broken by the third paragraph. Rather than continuing to pique the reader's interest, in the third paragraph the story stops dead in its tracks to start delivering exposition that isn't needed yet. Generally, I find it's best to let the reader ask a question, or be almost ready to ask it, before delivering the information in expositional narrative or expositional dialogue. The device of having the POV character talk to himself here feels clunky and awkward to me.

However, there is good detail in this paragraph, which is one of the things I look for as an editor in reviewing a piece and deciding if I want to keep an eye on the writer's later work, to see if it continues to improve. For example, the mention of the worn wooden peg is an excellent use of telling detail. I might skip the word "Spartan." From what I'm learning of Jack's character, it doesn't seem like a word he'd use, and besides, two adjectives in a string right there, so closely after the "Worn wooden peg" bogs the narrative down. "Closer-sized office" gets the picture across quite plainly without help.

You'll be doing yourself a favor if you cut all of the paragraph that doesn't consist of moving Jack out of the office and up to the third floor, while continuing to raise dramatic tension. And I'd also recommend getting rid of the mirror scene in the fourth paragraph. All of this stuff serves chiefly to frontload exposition and slow the story down, and especially in the early pages of a very short story, like this one, there's just no room for that.

You have to make sure the reader's attention is firmly hooked before wandering into the backstory. *g* And most of the time, it turns out the backstory can be handled with hints and sideways glances ,rather than straight-up exposition. Now, don't get me wrong; exposition handled well can be fascinating, but it's important to remember that the writer's primary job is to keep the reader curious, but not frustrated. We do this by raising questions just a little faster than we answer them, and waiting for the reader to get hungry before we feed him.

That keeps him turning the pages. *g*

<"Not long now," he told his wife's picture. "Hang on 'till retirement.">

Now, this is an interesting line. As I see it, it serves to establish something of jack's motivation, and to give us an idea of what his home life is like. Effective.

<He> <br>This sentence is precious, bordering on the purple, and out of character for plain-spoken Jack. It's obviously the writer too in love with his own humor--this would be one of those 'darlings' they tell you to kill. (Yes, I know, it hurts. :-P) When maintaining a narrative voice, it is jarring to the reader to sandwich lines in 'high,' or formal diction in an otherwise plainspoken narrative. Likewise this word: <ensconced>. That doesn't belong in the POV of a man who uses "Ain't," in a non-ironic fashion.

<in> <br>If the backstory and exposition on the first page is cut, this line will move up considerably, and since this is one of the lines that serves to ratchet up the tension in the story, it needs to be foregrounded.

In a short story, there's no luxury of room; every sentence has to serve two or three purposes: characterization, worldbuilding, tension, plot. Even better if you can get all four in one.

<He> <br>I'd just go ahead and stick the preposition at the end of this sentence. This man uses "Ain't" in dialogue. Besides, the preposition rule is one of those invented-grammar-rules that has nothing to do with how English is really spoken. "Up with which I will not put," as Winston Churchill famously said.

<The elevator hesitated as if unsure it wanted to climb the shaft, then, ages old motors began to spin, urging the rickety lift upwards. It clattered as it rose, the metal cage seeming to catch on every tiny imperfection of the shaft's walls.>

There's an enormous amount of good detail in these sentences, but the sentence-level craft is inelegant. There's a lot of scaffolding (by which I mean unhelpful verbiage that tends to rob a narrative of vigor), and a comma splice.

(continued)
Last edited by kailhofer on November 03, 2008, 08:14:38 PM, edited 2 times 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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post September 19, 2004, 11:21:18 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

(Continued from previous)

Sentence level writing is one of the hardest things to learn. It's just a matter of going over every sentence and asking one's self how it could be stronger and more confident. Confidence is key. Once you can fake that, etc, etc.

<It> <br>Can you show me Jack's irritation? Kinetically? rather than just telling me about it? If I *feel* Jack's body, I will become more immersed in the story, and less likely to get distracted by the dogs barking in the back yard or whatever. Also, most of the prose here can benefit from a tightening. For example:

>"Jack's foot jittered. The cranky elevator was another thing on the list of repairs that his tiny budget never stretched to cover."

<men> <br>Cubs fans in Hell. Hah! They do their time on Earth, you know...

<Concern> POV break. He can't see concern spreading across his own features, can he?

*g*

Okay, three pages is probably enough picking on you with the line edits and craft lessons. I'm going to head to the overview now.

What I see as the overwhelming problem with this story is that it's not a story. Essentially, it relies for its impact on the revelation that Jack works in Hell, which isn't very interesting. It sort of wanders around on a tour of the building and then into the confrontation with Bob, without giving the reader any real investment in Jack's safety or well-being. It *starts* to provide that investment, but then sort of wanders off into jokes about Cubs fans and shuffles around forlornly for a while, without ever really establishing an arc.

When I say it's not a story, however, what I mean is that it doesn't establish and resolve a conflict. Based on the first line (where the conflict in a short story should begin to be established) the conflict should have had something to do with Jack, his job, and potentially some sort of moral qualms regarding it. The story needs to engage the reader, lead him into a conflict, and offer him a resolution for that conflict. Ideally, there should be paired conflicts, internal and external, which resonate with each other. For example, in Casablanca, Rick's internal conflict is that he wants Ilsa, but his honor and the injuries she's done him make it difficult to trust her, and furthermore, she's looking for his help despite having betrayed him. But the *external* conflict is all about will Rick, Ilsa, and Victor manage to survive their run-ins with the Nazis and get safely out of Casablanca.

(There are other ways to structure a story, but this is the simplest one.)

So, essentially, this story falls apart when, at no point, does Jack have to decide, or do anything except face straightforward external conflict.

Also, on a meta level, you have the problem that it's a Hell story. Unfortunately, as a slush reader, I can tell you that the slushpile is chockablock with Hell stories, and most editors will look on them with a jaundiced eye. Sad, but true.

Now for the good news. I do think you could benefit from a workshop such as the OWW or critters, which offers a certain amount of editorial guidance and some professional writers among its membership. It's up to you, of course. My own skill level went from not all that much different from yours to salable in a few years once I started using the OWW, critting regularly, and reading slush. Sometimes, just seeing everybody else make the same mistakes helps to correct them in our own work.

Also, I do think there's some talent here. Your eye for detail, as noted, is very good, and there are some gestures in the right direction in this story that I think could be developed. There's a lot of floundering going on here, and I think--judging *solely* by this story--that you're looking at a minimum of three to five years of hard work to start getting the feel for how a story works.

But that's okay. It's normal. John Gardner used to tell his students to "go write for ten years" *after* taking his college level creative writing classes--and it took me eighteen years to get where *I* am. So if you've been at this fifteen years, you're just about getting where you need to be.

So, anyway, I hope you found this helpful, and not too terrifying, and I'd like to thank you again for the opportunity.

--Bear
Last edited by kailhofer on November 03, 2008, 08:16:27 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

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

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

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post September 19, 2004, 11:54:36 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Yikes. Painful, but constructive. I can only imagine what she'd do with an Al Majius story, especially one of the ones that is almost entirely a 'chapter' in the Morgenstern plotline. The most discouraging thing she says is that it took her years to get from where she feels you are to making sales ... of course, you could be a faster learner than she was.<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: 1081

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

Location: Northeast Georgia, USA

Post September 20, 2004, 03:35:53 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

Unless someone writes a truly mind-blowing Mare story before Thanksgiving, this story just made my "Year's Best" list for the December/January issue. I actually think its a better story than my own.<br>Dan<br>
Last edited by Vila on September 20, 2004, 03:37:11 PM, edited 1 time in total.
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom

Critic

Posts: 119

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

Location: Australia

Post September 20, 2004, 09:09:20 PM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

You are lucky to get such extensive feedback from someone who clearly knows a thing or two about writing and the industry, and I have no doubt a lot of this is good advice. I have to say though, Elizabeth seems to be taking a rather narrow view about what a story should be. I'm not suggesting this general outline of dramatic tension isn't right, it's just that I do believe short stories can run along different lines and work without following a strict conflict-resolution/scene-sequel pattern.<br><br>Maybe the story could have had more internal conflict and growth etc etc, but the humour/irony in itdid a good job of carrying the story.<br><br>All said, writing to these detailed suggestions may well produce a great dramatic story, and maybe the kind of well-structured stuff editors are looking for(?).
[img width=40 height=40]http://www.ozscififorum.com/100_010.jpeg[/img] Greg Guerin
[hr]
[url=http://www.ozscififorum.com:2tvavb2m]Australian Science Fiction Forum[/url:2tvavb2m]
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2379

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

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Post September 21, 2004, 12:17:35 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

You are lucky to get such extensive feedback from someone who clearly knows a thing or two about writing and the industry, and I have no doubt a lot of this is good advice. I have to say though, Elizabeth seems to be taking a rather narrow view about what a story should be. I'm not suggesting this general outline of dramatic tension isn't right, it's just that I do believe short stories can run along different lines and work without following a strict conflict-resolution/scene-sequel pattern.

Maybe the story could have had more internal conflict and growth etc etc, but the humour/irony in itdid a good job of carrying the story.

All said, writing to these detailed suggestions may well produce a great dramatic story, and maybe the kind of well-structured stuff editors are looking for(?).
<br><br>For a funny take on the value of formulaic writing, see the film "Adaptation", in which a talented writer drives himself crazy trying to adapt "The Orchid Thief" while his (fictitious) twin brother wins raves for an utterly ridiculous script that he writes based on one of those How To Write a Hit Movie books/courses.<br><br>Robert M.
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)

Commenter

Posts: 8

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

Post September 21, 2004, 12:46:09 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho


I do believe short stories can run along different lines and work without following a strict conflict-resolution/scene-sequel pattern.

<br><br>Just as a clarification I *loathe* scene and sequel. It is anathema before god. And I'm not necessarily a big fan of the three-act structure either, especially in short stories.<br><br>However, in general, stories are about change or the refusal to change. This change can take place either in the characters, the world, or the reader. (That last is a hard trick to pull off--it usually takes the form of a moral crisis (A la Ursula le Guin's "The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas,") or an a HA! moment (Clarke's "The Nine Billion Names of God, O. Henry's "The Gifts of th Magi".)) <br><br>What is important, however, is that the reader walk away from the story with some sort of a click experience, which provides resolution. (Please note that resolution is not an ending, as famously described by a bunch of writers.)<br><br>But something has to change... or refuse to change. If there's no change, there's no story.<br><br>I've written a few of those Koan type stories myself. Only sold one so far.<br><br>--EBear
User avatar

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 3244

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

Location: Kaukauna, Wisconsin (USA)

Post July 23, 2011, 11:55:07 AM

Re: Just Another Day at the Office by N. J. Kailho

I thought I should post an update. <br><br>After deep frying my not-as-humble-as-they-should-have-been efforts, Ms. Bear has added even more credits to her already impressive writing career:<br><br>"Sleeping Dogs Lie" in Flytrap, November 2004.<br>"Seven Dragons Mountains" in All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, Wheatland Press, October 2004.<br>"When you Visit the Magoebaskloof Hotel, Be Certain not to Miss the Samango Monkeys" in Interzone 195, Nov/Dec 2004.<br>Hammered, a near-future science fiction thriller (Bantam Spectra Jan., 2005). Two sequels to follow.<br>"Two Dreams on Trains" in Strange Horizons, January 2005.<br>"Follow Me Light" in Sci-Fiction, January 2005.<br><br>Clearly, grilling me was just the spark she needed. :)<br>(I can hear it now... "More talent in her little finger than in your whole body, you troll...")<br><br>Arguably, she could be the most successful writer to visit the current lettercol, and she certainly taught me more than a few things about writing, as well as critiquing.<br><br>As far as humility goes, I’m still working on that. :)<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.
Next

Return to August 2004

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

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