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Chapter 1


   Staccato bursts echoed among crumbling brick walls, then 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. He walked towards a shelter, one arm tucked 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?


Amazon Kindle


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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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy 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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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy 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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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy 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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:iconaegiandyad:
aegiandyad Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
If I had a Kindle I would be tempted to pay for that download.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I appreciate that. :)
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very intriguing story. Have you submitted any of it to dA?
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:iconaegiandyad:
aegiandyad Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2013
I toyed with the idea of writing a long literary review of the work as if it had already been written as a sort of 'taster', or of writing and submittimng 'excerpts' that would, in fact, be all of the book that actually existed. The trouble is writing takes so long compared to photo editing, and with a picture being worth a thousand words I've tended to concentrate on that.
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:iconthenimster:
TheNimster Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is absolutely amazing. I can see you focused on introduction in a way that helps people sink into the world and not let go. I can understand why you advised more technology to my own work, as you implement it in an extraordinary manner. The characters are thought out and you form their personalities well. The Soft War is something completely fresh and original, I will be sure to read the rest of your book.
By reading the prologue and the first two chapters, I think I can already say that the world gets even more rich with details of futuristic everyday life, and complex in terms of painting an image in my head and setting it in motion.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, thank you! It's a great feeling to have someone understand my intentions as well as you have, and I'm happy you feel this world is interesting and you have a picture of it in your mind. I appreciate your compliments and feedback very much.
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:iconjake-sjet:
Jake-Sjet Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Call me human, but I find the second chapter a easier kettle of fish to read. It could be that it just feels more humane, a group of disenfranchised souls divided between the cowed and rebellious. They are people the reader can relate on a level of need, so I say bravo on that score. The first chapter, on the other hand, has a more detail focused feel to it. It also smacks of commercialism, with Torbin's home sounding less like a domicile and more like a catalogue of luxuries. He might have the latest Apple haptic interface, or a Samsung holographic 3D/HD/4K (I'm gonna hit the keyboard and predict the next TV break through...98yu...maybe not that). But I got the impression the listing of the homes items and luxuries was the main aspect of Torbin's existence: him being there to use things, not to be alive like John and his companions.

You've very neatly, and without bludgoning the reader by stating so, given us the 'Haves' and the 'Have Nots' of a grand story. I look forward to diving into more tomorrow.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the comments. Yes, Torbin's life is in direct contrast to John's. Routine but privileged for the former, and anything but for the latter. I also wanted to show the reader how far the ruling race of savants has come in just decades, and I flesh out the characters more as the story progresses.

My next tv may just be a passive-3D/4K/OLED, if and when I can afford it!
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:iconjake-sjet:
Jake-Sjet Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'll just stick with my HD laptop, thing cost enough as it is.

And I look forward to seeing how the story progresses.
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:iconaegiandyad:
aegiandyad Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013
I've favoured this to have it available to read later, along with the links to the rest of it. I'm sure I'll get back to it some time.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for your interest!
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:iconkushamisaru:
kushamisaru Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Interesting story you got so far; you've caught my attention ^-^
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Great! I've been curious to hear whether people are intrigued enough to keep reading. Thanks for the comment.
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:iconshigahoshii:
ShiGaHoshii Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, very interesting story. I love it!

`LOL (comment credited to #LOVE-Original-LIT)
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I thought I had replied to this, but apparently not! In any case, thanks so much for your kind words. :D
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:iconshigahoshii:
ShiGaHoshii Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome! ^^
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:iconjuniorel:
juniorel Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013   Writer
Hi! I've read through your piece now and I just have to start by saying, wow! I adore your idea: the whole concept of diversity in brain function being a natural part of evolution. I've always thought we, as a society, tend to choose a very narrow definition of "normal" and insist everyone else in the world has a disorder. So your idea resonated with me straight off. Also, your writing is very smooth and readable. I never stumbled or found any awkward phrasing. And I never felt lost or confused. It was all very clear, very natural.

If you're looking to tighten the piece, for different ideas on revision, or just things to try for future pieces, here are my initial thoughts:

While the piece is incredibly detailed, and those details give life to the world, I felt they slowed the story down. The first chapter, in particular, seems dedicated to describing the gadgets in one man's apartment. Those gadgets were awesome, so imaginative, and I totally want to live in that apartment now. But after a while, my mind just stopped taking the details in. One idea might be to spread them out a little. If this is a character we're following around, there will likely be more scenes that happen in his appartment, and some of the details could be used to add flavor to later scenes.

I felt similarly about the prologue. This may come from my having read a lot of agent blogs. :lol: They usually have an all-prologues-are-evil attitude. I don't agree, but I do think this prologue was a world-building setup that could have been slowly revealed throughout the piece instead of all at once at the beginning. This may be just my not being familiar with the genre, too. And also keep in mind, I didn't make it through Lord of the Rings because of the detailed world building. So it's probably a personal preference for me: I prefer the world to be a vehicle for the characters, just detailed enough to give it life, but sparse enough that it doesn't distract.

I thought this sentence was actually an awesome example of detail that was carried by an interesting action: "The bot, controlled by a minimal AI which 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." I now know that the government restricts artificial intelligence, and that they seem to use robots in law enforcement. But all the while my mind is begging to know why the bot is trailing John, so I'm not distracted by the details. I just know them.

An awesome piece of advice I got from one of my writing courses (can't remember which one it was, now, but the advice I remember) is that the trick to writing a scene is to always arrive late and leave early. I felt the "arrive late" thing happening at the beginning of chapter two. I was drawn in with questions, etc. The beginning of chapter one, however, did not feel that way. It was a man waking up and getting ready for work. The details of the world did draw me in at first, but then I wanted to know about the character, and I didn't feel I could answer any questions about him, except his name and how people like him live. The first chapter read kind of like a "false start" to me. I would suggest beginning at a later time in this character's life, just as the first domino falls, at that event that sets his story in motion. I call this the point of no return for a character, the moment the status quo dies for him.

All that said, I just want to let you know that I am DROOLING over your world-building. It's incredible. I know I mentioned the details in the critique-y section, but I want to mention them here, too, because they were brilliant! You have a crazy-awesome imagination. There's no way I could build a world like that. Just wow. Seriously. This is why I suggested moving them instead of cutting them out. I wouldn't want to lose them completely.

I also felt the contrast between chapters one and two was incredible. I truly got the quick, high-tech, ease-of-life that Torbin lived in versus the harsh reality John has to deal with. It was stark, this contrast. So I felt you made the perfect choice in having those two scenes side-by-side.

I'm more attached to John than Torbin. I'm guessing this is because the little detail of his daughter gave him a touch of humanity, which I'm guessing was intentionally left out with Torbin. He seems almost like a machine, the way he goes about his morning. Also, just a humorous aside, I kept imagining the beginning of The Fifth Element, I think because Torbin rhymes with Corbin. Oh, how my mind wanders.

So that's my critique. I hope it's helpful to you, if only for a fresh perspective. Please feel free to ignore it, too! I'm not an expert, as you know. Anyway, thanks so much for pointing me to your piece! I absolutely enjoyed it.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Fantastic review! I'm thrilled to get that level of feedback on my first piece of fiction. For fantasy fans the technology details may be too much but maybe they'll be intrigued enough to continue reading the story. The character building comes gradually but you got the impressions of Torbin and John that I intended.

I hadn't thought of The Fifth Element, but it is one of my all time faves so hopefully my opening scene feels more like an homage than a rip off!

If you read any more chapters I'd love to see your comments on those. There's less techno stuff later on (although still quite a bit at the beginning of chapter 3).

Thanks very much for taking time to give me this constructive criticism. I have no doubt that it will help me become a better writer.
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:iconjuniorel:
juniorel Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013   Writer
I'm so glad I could help. :D I certainly look forward to reading more of your work.
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:icontaqresu650:
Taqresu650 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Amazing. I like the detail. It reminds me of a series of dreams I've been having lately. They take place in today's society. And Many people, including myself, get turned into cat peopele (kind of like those from Oblivion, and Skyrim). Society does not treat us well because of our genetic differences either, even though we are stronger and faster. I believe it's because the majoraty are humans, and we as cat people are the minority in the population. I have had 5 different dreams about this story.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That's a cool story! Maybe you should write about it, or draw something based on it.
In my story did you get where the name "neurots" comes from?
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:icontaqresu650:
Taqresu650 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Not really. I did post what I believed to be the first part of the story, and I did try to draw myself based on memory (in my dream, I got to see myself in the dream as I was changing form).
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The neurots are neurotypicals. The citizens are Super Aspies, they're all like autistic savants. So the Aspies are in charge, and they can be rude or even cruel to the neurotypicals, kind of opposite from today's world. Most of the Super Aspies are kind, but some of them cause all the trouble. Most of the neurots are good, too, but a few are not. So the war is about how they will eventually work things out together, if they can.

I like your story, and I'll post my comments about it there.
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:icontaqresu650:
Taqresu650 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Interesting.
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:iconharu01:
Haru01 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Writer
Brilliant
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:bow:
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:iconharu01:
Haru01 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Writer
XD
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:iconlongestday:
LongestDay Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Way cool! I'm waiting for more!
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! Chapter 3 might be out today or tomorrow.
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:iconlongestday:
LongestDay Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Wonderful! I look forward to it.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Chapters 3 and 4 are out now, actually. Let me know what you think!
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:iconlongestday:
LongestDay Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Will do!
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:icon6milk:
6milk Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012
wow, I really like this story! keep it up!
:D
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. Of course, if you fave it and watch me you'll be notified as soon as I upload more...just sayin'...
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:iconmercytherose:
MercytheRose Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It is rare that I am captivated in the first three paragraphs, I absolutely cannot wait for more. I'm going to dream of this tonight, I am certain.
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:iconsincebecomeswhy:
sincebecomeswhy Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Sweet dreams.
Reply
:iconmercytherose:
MercytheRose Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :)
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