Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

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Robert_Moriyama
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Re: Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

Post by Robert_Moriyama »

On behalf of the author, yikes!

The crew of the spacegoing equivalent of a tramp steamer really didn't have any choice in how to deal with the card-carrying Galactic Yahoos -- like "Serenity", they had no way to fend off a ship-to-ship attack with missiles or kinetic energy weapons, but unlike "Serenity", they had no small arms on board either. The Captain's attempt to bluff or bluster the 'pirates' into leaving their cargo alone was understandable in that context -- she COULDN'T do anything, but she had to try to preserve the cargo and thus the first major payday the crew had seen in a long time.

As for why they would take on a "boy", my guess would be that the incremental cost was small, so the admittedly minor benefits (someone to do menial tasks, and a new face to break the monotony) might seem worthwhile. It may also be that they did it as a favor to the person who lined up the high-paying, seemingly low-effort job for them.

And the rabbit ... it was a deliberately innocuous object, apparently (and actually) worthless, but it served the purpose of distracting both the crew and the pirates just long enough for the real cargo to make it to its destination. (If it had been truly valuable, it would have been tempting for the crew to steal it, or for the pirates to take it the first time (thus eliminating one of their wasted trips)...)

As for the pirates use of feet and elbows and knees instead of tools to break up the crate ... if you think the Captain was stupid, it should be obvious that the qualifications for Galactic Bozo are much lower than for freighter owner-operator.

RM
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)
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kailhofer
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Re: Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

Post by kailhofer »

Seriously, Bill. How did you really feel? :)

To be honest, I didn’t care all that much for this story, but didn’t dislike it as much as Bill did. He has good points, and I’ll back Bill up on them.

Let me try a different tack:
  • The Generic Plot of all Stories:
    A sympathetic and engaging character (or an unsympathetic one who is engaging nevertheless), faced with some immensely difficult problem that it is necessary for him to solve, makes a series of attempts to overcome that problem, frequently encountering challenging sub-problems and undergoing considerable hardship and anguish, and eventually, at the darkest moment of all, calls on some insight that was not accessible to him at the beginning of the story and either succeeds in his efforts or fails in a dramatically interesting and revelatory way, thereby arriving at new knowledge of some significant kind.
    -Robert Silverberg, Asimov’s SF Magazine, 2004.
People hate it when I quote this. They’ll tell you right away that you don’t have to follow it. Fine. Don’t follow it if you don’t want to.

However, if you do, you won't miss your target audience. I don’t believe I have read a single story that followed this formula that I didn’t like. There are other important aspects, like sensory input with all the senses and character growth over his or her arc, but without a solid plot, these things won’t save a story.

I’d suggest the author compare his story to Silverberg’s plotline and decide for himself where things may be lacking. It wouldn't hurt, in any case.

Nate
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Re: Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

Post by Robert_Moriyama »

See now, I'm sure Mark Edgemon would say that Nate is being "constructive" (providing a target / template to aim for), while Bill is being "negative" (even though pointing out flaws is all that some authors NEED as a starting point for improvement). Either way, Mr. Barlow should take the critiques and make the best of them (either reworking this story, or starting a new one), because that is the only way to improve.

Personally, I thought the story did have a character arc of sorts, as the Captain and crew of the ship learned that there were some things they would rather NOT do for money (i.e., turn over an apparently sentient being, artificial or not, to an unknown fate). The obstacles to be overcome were complacency (a lack of curiousity about WHY they were being paid so handsomely to deliver an apparently trivial cargo) and greed (thinking only about the money to be gained). They failed in the end -- walking away and abandoning their erstwhile shipmate in his new master's hands -- but I had the impression that they would demonstrate more wisdom in choosing their next job and how to handle it.

Does failing but learning from the experience count as an essential plotline?

RM
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)
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kailhofer
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Re: Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

Post by kailhofer »

See now, I'm sure Mark Edgemon would say that Nate is being "constructive" (providing a target / template to aim for), while Bill is being "negative" (even though pointing out flaws is all that some authors NEED as a starting point for improvement).
Now, don't go picking a fight...
(Who'd a thunk a feller like me would sound like the voice of reason. Not that I am, of course, but I can sound like it.)
Does failing but learning from the experience count as an essential plotline?

RM
I don't know if you could write a good tragedy without that. Really, really simplified, if you fail, that's sad. If you learned what you should have done but still fail (especially terminally) it's tragic.

Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on October 11, 2007, 05:05:27 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

Post by Robert_Moriyama »

...Nate, is it worth a challenge for us to write the absolute worst stories conceivable so we can get it all out of our system?
We could call it the "Dark and Stormy Night" challenge, after the famous passage by ... er, Snoopy, but before that, Bulwer-Lytton? Or have I got THAT mixed up, too?

Who was it that said that you had to write x words of bad stuff before the good stuff could find its way out? Was this one of Nate's quotes (maybe in the Famous Quotes topic, maybe elsewhere)? With x = many thousands of words (if not millions), it could take a lot of challenges to find our way out of Walpurgatory (Walpurgis Night plus Purgatory ... or maybe Wal-mart plus Purgatory...)

And trust me -- if you think the stuff that appears in Aphelion is far from perfect, you should see some of the stuff that gets rejected.

RM
You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Jack London (1876-1916)
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Re: Brown Rabbit by M. B. Barlow

Post by Megawatts »

The story was Okay, but nothing really special.

The charachters came alive, but they did lack senory imput.

"They stood at the docking station, waiting for the ship to connect with the Steel." If you knew that pirates or bandits were going to rob you in a few moment, most would feel their hearts pounding, sweat
on their foreheads, and a mixture of hot and cold washing over their bodies!

Sensory input can enhance the dramatics of story writing, and make the character really come alive!!!
Tesla Lives!!!
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