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Writings by CrystalinRyo

Literature. by Ezri-Krios


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December 29, 2012
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Chapter 1


   Staccato bursts echoed among crumbling brick walls, faded to silence.

   "Freaking neurots," he grumbled.

   "...a small band of renegades escaped the quarantine area this morning and managed to make it into the Buffer Zone. They carried ancient projectile weapons, but were quickly apprehended before they could enter the city. No citizens of Shore were harmed..."

   With a sideways finger flick, Torbin muted the holographic projection hanging just in front of him. There was a light pressure against the finger, as if pushing a lever.

   He continued to monitor a dozen news channels nearly simultaneously, periodically changing the volumes, or pausing some to concentrate on others. The movements of his hands and fingers were merely a blur. He felt vibrations, textures. Images coalesced, to be stored...somewhere. There was little distinction between mind and global library.

   A pulsing hum in his ear indicated an incoming communication request. He marked a few of the segments for later viewing, then switched the images off with a quick, downward hand flip. His index and middle fingers slid to the right. A holo image appeared.

   "Hey! Are we meeting for lunch today?" The warm voice came from a young woman who appeared to be the same age as Torbin, although she was nearly a decade older. Her teal knee-length tunic, bound at her slender waist with a loop of white fabric, stood out clearly from the earth tones behind in her apartment. Toe-less sandals with loops around the ankle completed her look.

   "Yes, Nell," Torbin replied. "I'll call you about it later."

   "Okay, but can we meet downtown this time?"

   "Uh huh. I need to get going."

   "Later then." Tanielle's bright green eyes searched his. She raised her right palm. Her image vanished as he turned the projection off.

   Checking his appearance in a mirror, Torbin's rounded facial features were softly shadowed by the diffuse lighting. He donned a slate gray outfit made from a single piece of stretchable cotton, then pulled on a sleeveless jacket that adhered snugly to the underlying suit. Embedded with microbots, covered in sensors, the jacket could adjust its temperature, emit a variety of mild, pleasant odors, pulsate at various frequencies for a massaging effect, even loosen or tighten based on readings from the sensors.

    He was making his way towards the door when a voice reminded him of the day's schedule. As part of the worldwide information grid, the AI monitored each citizen's daily life, recording all personal data. He exited, while behind the AI turned off lighting, lowered air circulation. It released a swarm of waste removal microbots that spilled onto surfaces where bacteria colonies were about to gorge on the remains of his morning meal.

   He stepped into a pneumatic elevator that descended to the ground floor.

   The sprawling city of Shore, located in the southern regions of the Chiyan continent-state, had originally been constructed along river banks at an intersection of two major waterways. It rapidly outgrew its design, now encompassing much of the surrounding countryside. With nearly one million residents it was one of the larger cities of the world.  

   Torbin ordered a ride using a quick series of finger motions. Shortly a single-seat shuttle pod whisked up beside him. As a post-graduate student working on a project backed by the Chiyan coalition, he was granted free access to the city's transportation system. He entered the vehicle, verbal commands logging in his destination. The vehicle accelerated using powerful bursts of compressed air that also cushioned it off the ground. It wove nimbly in-between buildings, among other vehicles, around citizens, occasionally rising a few centimeters to pass over the tops of low-lying obstacles.    





Chapter 2


   A man dressed in rags ran along the debris-strewn ground. Bright orange spheres the size of marbles pelted the ground near his feet. Small dirt clouds popped up wherever the balls of energy hit, and the man could hear the snapping sounds of static electricity. He jumped over pieces of torn sheet metal or broken concrete as he zigzagged to avoid the blasts.

   Diving through an open chain-link gate that locked behind him, he landed face down in rubble. He winced when his knee smacked against a sharp rock jutting from the pile. An egg-shaped tracker bot hovered briefly just outside the fence, a whir whispering from the propellers that encircled its lower body. It sped off, apparently satisfied the quarry was safely confined. The bot, controlled by a minimal AI that fell well within government restrictions on thinking machines, had tailed John and a cohort as they were returning from an area forbidden to non-citizens. John had managed to create a diversion that allowed Mark to get away and return to the quarantine area through a separate entrance.

   As he stood, John brushed bits of gravel from his beard and shoulder length hair. From overhead came the squeak of a metal sign, swinging loosely over the gate, that read "Neurots Only".

   It was late autumn, but the warm air was thick with humidity. John sweated heavily. Limping, he pulled a small, soft object from his backpack, and walked towards a shelter. He tucked one arm behind his back. As he entered, a hot draft blew through gaps in the walls. The thin metal sheets shuddered each time the wind picked up, the exterior pelted with debris.

   A little girl playing alone glanced in his direction, then scampered over. She giggled, trying to reach behind him. He teased her, and she let out a happy yelp. Slowly, he pulled his arm around. Caroline gasped, covering her mouth with two cupped fists.

   The smile in her father's eyes told her it was alright to take the gift.

   John, a man of thirty years or so but with the worn and weathered face of someone much older, grinned broadly as he watched her play with the battered cloth doll. It hung limply in her hands. She fussed with its clothing, trying to brush away the stains and hide the holes in the faded fabric. Giving his daughter's red hair a tousle, he left her to play. He headed towards the commons area.

   An argument was taking place. Mark was there, leaning against the wall. John paused to listen, catching Mark's eye.

   "We've got to defend ourselves!" came a shout.

   Some in the crowd seemed agitated. Others shuffled nervously.

   "What's going on?" John asked in an even tone. He brushed past the outer circle gathered together in the cramped room.

   "The overseer's got extra bots on patrol," Mark explained. "There's talk of limiting food rations even more, and making curfew an hour earlier." The others turned their attention to John.

    Not a man of many words, he reached into a pocket, pulling out a tattered, yellowed scrap of paper.

   "What's that?" Mark asked.

   "A photo of one of my ancestors."

   Mark walked over. Shorter than John, he needed to lean in to see the picture clearly. On it was the smudged portrait of a young woman. She stood outdoors next to a wooden sign that was carved with the words "Grand Canyon National Park". John turned the photo over. Written on the back was a date: "July 14, 1997".

   "We've got rights," stated John, calmly addressing the crowd. He held up the photo for them to see. "I found this, along with historical documents, in a grotto just north of here. There are records there, proof we come from common stock."

   A murmur swept through the crowd. John handed the photo to Mark to pass around.

   "This proves nothing!" shouted Gavin, the same man whom John had first heard as he entered the room. "No one in their right mind would believe the damned golems would ever consider giving us equal status."

   John looked at Gavin disapprovingly. "I've asked you not to use that term. We don't need name calling to make things worse. And the kids can hear you-"

   "Oh, hell," Gavin spat back. "Let them listen. What difference does it make? They're gonna grow up with no chance for a better future as long as we listen to you!"

   Gavin glared at John, and seemed ready for a fight. John stood still. He was well-built, and had the look of someone who could defend himself. He noticed red marks around Gavin's wrists, a sign of restraining straps. Ignoring Gavin’s remark, John again spoke to the group.

   "Mark and I have a contact in the city who can get us a talk chit that will give us five minutes to speak before city representatives. Our contact can also get us visitor passes and transport for the day. We plan on putting the request through tonight."

   "And just what will you tell them?" countered Gavin. "That you found some ancient garbage in a hole somewhere? And that it amounts to undeniable evidence of our shared heritage? Do you really think the repatriation committee will turn over a century of legislation and enforcement policies based on scraps of paper?"

   Several others voiced their agreement.

   John paused to let the chatter die down. "Let's put it to a vote." He requested hands be raised for those in favor, and those opposed. A majority were in favor.

   "Then we're agreed," John announced. "Mark and I will submit our request this evening. With any luck we'll stand before the committee tomorrow."

   The group dispersed with no further debate. Gavin and several men moved to the edge of the room where they began their own discussion.

   Mark and John left the room together. The two friends hugged warmly before John excused himself to put Caroline to bed. As he crouched down she thrust both arms out to show him her doll, now in two pieces. Her eyes watered, and she let out a high pitched moan that continued until he took the pieces.

   "Sweetheart, what happened?"

   Caroline's stoic stance made clear the immediate concern was repairing the doll, but non-citizens, John knew, were not allowed to possess sharp objects, including needles.

   "Daddy knows someone that can fix this, but first he needs to go into the city. Then he'll bring your baby back. Okay?"

   The little girl's firm nod ended the matter. John whisked Caroline up from the floor to carry her into the children's sleeping area. He tucked her in with blankets, humming her favorite lullaby while she fell asleep. Kissing her forehead, he promised he would see her the next day.
It's the 23rd century, and the human race has split into two genetically distinct groups in a world recovering from global catastrophe. One group possesses autistic savant-like abilities that allow them to create and control advanced technologies, while the other struggles to prove their humanity while fighting prejudice and discrimination in a harsh new environment. Can they learn to live together, or will mistrust and hatred lead to conflict and annihilation?


Prologue


Part I: Alliances

Chapters 1 and 2

Chapters 3 and 4

Chapters 3 and 4 (no mature content)

Chapters 5, 6, and 7

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 (no mature content)

Chapters 8, 9, and 10


Part II: Maneuvers

Chapters 11, 12, and 13

Chapters 14, 15, and 16

Chapters 17, 18, 19, and 20
 


Conceptually inspired by ISNT


Thanks to TalesOfNightWing for her inspirational photo Believe and for the book cover.

Special thanks to jaani-androphile for her encouragement.

Many thanks to MercytheRose for her support and feedback during the writing process.
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:iconbattlebrothertherix:
Alright, straight from the off - paragraphs. It can prove to be a major problem because it makes the stream of words seem like a torrent. It blurs them into something incomprehensible. While there are paragraphs here, just, there's no space between them. Putting a one line gap between paragraphs opens the whole thing up a little, so that at the end of each paragraph, the mind feels a little more secure about absorbing the information, instead of being bombarded by a fresh set of words. To look at it on paper, you might wonder why that would make a difference, but it's a more psychological effect that it has, that lets people feel more satisfied by your work.

The premise of the deviation is good, with potential from the outset, giving a cataclysmic reason for the collapse of the old society then a brief introduction of the new one using 'old' ideas. The peeve here is that the prologue felt a little too different to the rest of the story, as it was read in more of a report format - you stated what had happened succinctly, but while it tells us what happens, it doesn't really show us the emotion involved.

When it comes to describing the state of technology, I get the sense of exactly how far they've progressed. The non-touch systems for the hologram - though it was a little nondescript - the nanites and cutlery-gel unit, and then of course the transport. It all was a very open contrast to our modern-day and technology here, sounding very clean compared to the black, ugly constructions we often make do with today.

I felt though, that it was dragged down by the lack of information between reader and character. Through the verbs describing how they spoke and the words they used we could get a little idea of how they felt towards others, or in John's case through facial expression, but there was no thought and little to no emotion within it. Read Lesson 3, OTS/POV from here: [link]
It should explain it in more detail.

Also pay attention to sentence length and ending. Read over some of the narrative paragraphs in this and look at the sentences. Read them out loud. You should see that some of them give the moment an abrupt ending before moving on to the next one.
Keep in mind that every full-stop is a jolt for the mind - it's telling it to stop and pause and absorb the information before moving on, mentally if not obviously. Try and vary sentence length depending on the effect you want it to give - short for emphasis or drama, medium for tense moments or semi-important text, long sentences to keep the whole thing flowing.

One thing that really caught me was the descriptions - you've shown an adeptness in describing how things look or sound, the movement of the nanites, the run-down construction where John and the Neurots live or stay, and that was a part of the story that certainly wasn't lacking.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
3 out of 3 deviants thought this was fair.

:iconspace-commander:
It's always refreshing to see a long form sci-fi prose writer who makes stories in an original setting. The harsh reality of writing sci-fi these days is that potential reader bases are low (due to availability of great video games, movies, etc) but the good news is that there are actually not that many exceedingly good sci-fi novelists out there to compete with. I am a tough critic so I'll start off by pointing out ten things I like about this story:

1) You didn't resort to gore or sexual themes in order to attract readers. Instead of doing that you focused on plot, characterization, and world building, and I applaud that approach.
2) You wrote this in third person and given the nature of this piece I think that was very appropriate.
3) You did not waste the reader's time with unnecessary detail. From a timing standpoint I think that the story flowed nicely.
4) Your story does not rely heavily on a setting that is yet overused.
5) Your writing style does not come across as pretentious, self-indulgent, or preachy. Your goal is clearly to entertain.
6) This does not appear to be a stereotypical sci-fi/mystery hybrid, which would have been pretty annoying.
7) You seem to have put some good effort into developing the characters.
8) You have a variety of different scenes that you use in order to set the mood. That last scene of Ch2 was especially endearing.
9) You did not throw in a bunch of technobabble or make up too many words or odd phrases. "Neurot" was new to me but that's fine.
10) You did not throw in too many characters in Chapter 1, which would have otherwise confused the reader.


Vision *** - Your Achilles Heal is a sophomoric approach to world building that relies too heavily on pseudoscience (I have read some of your other writings set in this universe and thus have a fairly firm grasp on what kind of setting you have envisioned). The sci-fi writers of the past could get away with outlandish speculation much more than we can today because not as much was known back then. Moral of the story: put the time in to really do some very good research for the background info so that you do not contradict established science any more than necessary. Otherwise your story will seem more like a soft biopunk story with elements of science fiction as opposed to a hard sci-fi story (i.e. Red Mars) or a semi-hard sci-fi story (i.e. Star Trek). X-men was a stretch with all the out-of-this-world genetic mutations but that universe did not go quite as far as you did with the whole 100 year radical evolution. Also, if volcanoes destroyed North American then I would expect an ice age instead of continued global warming.

Your redeeming quality is your competence with prose writing as well as plot and characterization.

Originality **** - Yay! Another good writer who doesn't write fan fiction or vampire/zombie/witches/elves! :)

The haves vs have nots scene was a little blah but overall I didn't get a vibe that I was reading a cookie-cutter story.

Technique **** - You are a good writer so I don't many complaints as far as grammar, etc. I will say that in the beginning the reader has no idea who Torbin is so if I were to write it I would have started out by referring to him as "a man" and then waited until someone said his name before describing him by name.

Impact **** - It was a little rough getting into it at first and I had to reread some of the first paragraphs as I went through the first time in order to get into it but once I was familiar with what was actually going on it was a pretty good read. The last scene in Ch2 was well chosen and I liked the way it ended.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
2 out of 2 deviants thought this was fair.

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:iconkikumizu:
KikuMizu Featured By Owner May 17, 2013
Ooh~ I wonder why it took me so long to get to read this. The chapters are shorter than I expected and it is a really smooth read. Nice job.
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:iconhomunculus888:
homunculus888 Featured By Owner May 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks very much! If you read more chapters I'd love to hear what you think.
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:iconkikumizu:
KikuMizu Featured By Owner May 17, 2013
I would love to...as soon as my to-do reading list shortens...by a few hundred. That is the problem with groups: you join them and you let them get ahead and then you are lost. I had to make a favorites section so I could take them out of my messages and remind me to read them because the number is too scary. By them, I mean anything that says chapter one or prologue; I am a sucker for that particular combination of words. Don't get me wrong: you get in there because what the thumbnail gave sounded interesting but it's like a waiting line number.
It's been a long day. Sorry for jabbering. I'll get to it soon...hopefully.
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:iconaegiandyad:
aegiandyad Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
I came back and finished reading the first two chapters. I'm enjoying this at least as much as any of the 'golden age' pulp SF I've read. Of course, your piece may well be better than 'pulp fiction' but I think you should know that really good pulp fiction that 'works' can be as hard to write as any other kind. We know this because Mrs *a has started at least twelve novels, and finished a few of them, trying to emulate the 'masters' and get work published for money without any success. The best we got was a verbal statement from Century publishng, I think it was, to the effect that our first non pulp novel, 'One Green Bottle', was "Well constructed". Mrs *a would vastly have preferred 'well written' and an offer of publication, of course. Writing consistently well at novel length is a hard and you seem to be doing it or have done it. This is no mean achievement. If I keep on reading I may well start to become interested in this new world and actually start caring about what happens to the characters in it.

I've also just read the critique, which I thought was fair. It goes without saying that there is room for improvement; but if this thing is good enough to publish, even if only after some sympathetic help form an editor, then that would be a major achievement in my view. As it happens I've had an unwritten 'alien planet' novel in my head since some time last century. It's also in three parts and opens with the protagonist rying to do soemthing nearly impossible and priobably futile as part of the comnstruction (or reconconstruction) of his own working copy of an alien musical instrument called a 'skreddle'. Fossilised skreddles and even what looks like the notation for skreddle music have been found, but the aliens who played this music are extinct and there are musicilogical arguments raging about how it should be played.... so much for Part One!

In part two a new theory emerges. The 'music' was used as part of a ceremony designed to 'invoke' something or make it appear and the alien skreddlers might really have been alien demonologists.... then our hero gets the bright idea that its really a language designed to communicate with a dangerous alien life form living in the part of the planet that humans cannot even enter or live in. There was supposed to be an alien ecological reason for all this that had something to do with a shortage of trace elements that are being absorbed by a moving 'belt' of vegetation like giant sword grass which leaves an unihabitable 'mat' of decaying vegation behind it which slowly gives way to an area of arable soil still much lacking in certain vital nutrients, into which the leading edge of the 'sword belt' constantly advances as the whole belt moves slowly around the single equatorial continent that is the planetary land surface. After much argument, dangerous 'research', trial and error it is eventually discovered at the end of Part Two that 'skreddling' is a methgod of disguising people as and communicating with the units of a large and very fierce hive organism that lives in the belt because that is where all the vital trace nutrients are concentrated. To obtain them, the old aliens traded with the hive organism, talking its own acoustically based language and actaually gaining entrance to the belt. Then something changed. they forget how to play the music, or their version of the hive organism 'language' went out of date and they all died for lack of whatever they used to get from the hive that way.

Humans are slated for the same fate eventaully if they cannot learn what the aliens used to know; and so, in Part Three, a brave band of traditional and 'electropunk' skreddlers finally set out to emulate them, penetrate the belt, and make the vital trade. It's like a Mission Impossible undertaken to invade and steal from a nest of man sized ants in an environment overgrown with lethal plants.
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:iconhomunculus888:
homunculus888 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Also this is my first story of any length and feel free to write a critique. I've self-published it via Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing just because it was easy and free, but without any promotion it's not likely to sell much.
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:iconaegiandyad:
aegiandyad Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
I could only critique after I've finished reading it. If only there was still a good pulp SF market, or even just a healthy SF market. Most of the 'new' writers I know came to the fopre some time last century and thelast time I looked book store shelves were still filled with 'door stop' fantasy world trilogies and heavy looking SF 'series'. Anything we write now about colonising Mars has Kim Stanley Robinson's colour themed Mars trilogy to live up to and surpass, somehow.
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:iconhomunculus888:
homunculus888 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I just downloaded a sample of "Red Mars" on my Kindle and will give it a look see tonight. I stopped reading much sci fi, besides Vonnegut, by 1980 or so and even missed most cyberpunk. By that time I had devoured everything I could get my hands on, though, so I think I'm still grounded in the, um, classic classics so to speak.
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