12.18.2006

HH Com 160

Sheila Welch hates everyone, and most respond with similar, heartfelt regards. Unfortunately, Sheila makes the mistake of solving the rules for our universe, using Quantum Mechanics to create a device that can view any point of space, in real-time.

What happens next has less to do with physics than with the practical consequences of Invention. Sheila works for Quanticy, who suddenly recognize that they are in the “reality business.” Are they inventors or explorers? Who will Quanticy become?

Exponentially, their environment devolves. A routine day at the office begets wayward aliens, a civilized community of worlds, a hostile species and a bloated government bureaucracy trying to shut them down, Sheila pregnant and sickened as Quanticy teeters on the brink of insolvency back home while gaining in esteem, off-world.

The story will be delivered in slow drips with revelations that strike from odd angles. The author might be agnostic, but when Jesus of Galilee arrives to expose the full extent of Sheila's burden it seems almost plausible and will fit the mutations that have metastasized along the way.

This is a cautionary tale which reveals the downside to discovering the Unified Theory of Everything. It tends to foul-up your calendar for the rest of eternity.

Or perhaps it's just the story of how to sell trans-galactic phone services within a distributed,
off-world, marketplace.


WTF????

38 comments:

JPD said...

Thank you. I asked you to save a "WTF" just for me... Now go to bed!

JPD (the author who wasn't)

Virginia Miss said...

I thought this began well, especially the first three sentences, but the more I read, the more muddled it became.

Did the same author write this entire hook?

Writerious said...

From "Exponentially, their environment devolves" to "fit the mutations that have metastasized along the way," this reads like an explosion in a Word-A-Day calendar factory. Too bad some of the fancier words are misused.

A routine day at the office begets wayward aliens,

They have an alien breeding operation?

and will fit the mutations that have metastasized along the way.

Mutations don't metastasize. Cancer cells do.

The story will be delivered in slow drips

I'm picturing a few lines of story, then lots of blank pages, then a few more lines. Either that, or something like Moby Dick: little bits of story sandwiched between long passages of philosophy. Or author will mail you a few pages a day. Wonder what it really means?

Kim said...

Ok - let me see if I have this straight

1. No one likes the heroine
2. The heroine likes no one
3. Something is devolving
4. The heroine (whom everyone hates) is pregnant???
5. The story will be delivered in slow drips??????
6. TRANSGALACTIC PHONE SERVICE

No... it can't possibly... it wouldn't... it COULDN'T...

Unless Sheila is unlikable in an entertaining way (like Grumpy old men, maybe), that alone would sink this. Never mind all the other stuff. I got a headache trying to fumble through it.

Or maybe it's just all those wayward aliens running amok.

Xiqay said...

I thought this was humorous.

Parts I did not like:
"Exponentially, their environment devolves." Put the exponentially at the end of the sentence and I'm fine with it.

"The story will be delivered in slow drips..." Leave this out.

We don't need to know that you, the author, is agnostic. And why speak of yourself in the third person?

And don't tell us something that happens in the novel seems "almost plausible" because then that means it's implausible.

Metastasized-nasty word. Don't apply this to your writing, plot line or anything.

"It tends to foul up..." The antecedent to it is "cautionary tale" but I think you mean it to be "discovering the Unified Theory..." Straighten out the grammar.

Despite what I didn't like, I found it amusing enough I'd read on. But please, get back to Sheila, who sounds smart and interesting.

anon13 said...

Sheila pregnant and sickened

I think I stared at that phrase the longest, trying to figure out what part of speech 'pregnant' was being used as. I think it's supposed to be a verb...which doesn't make any sense, of course. Did you mean, "Sheila got pregnant and sick"? And then, who's the father? I thought everyone hated her.

Being a SF fan, the first paragraph got me. But then, then...Huh? Completely, totally, utterly baffled. It's...*rereads* No, I still can't make sense out of it.

Jen said...

WTF summed it up for me. (g)

Anonymous said...

This is a joke. The "author" is pulling your leg. Nothing could be this bad and I think we've been had.

Anonymous said...

I dunno ... I think I like it. But then, one of my favorite books has a can of beans as a character.

Anonymous said...

I want to believe this is a joke.

Ohh, Miss Snark, you sooooo crazy. You slipped this in just to see if we were paying attention.

Well we are:P

CM said...

Honestly, I have no idea how you'd go about solving the schrodinger equation of the universe. Time-evolving? No approximations?

Sci fi is good. But this is kind of a sci-fi schtick that mentions enough science that almost anyone who knows anything about quantum mechanics will roll their eyes. Either you're solving a lot of equations every time you run the program, or you've got a hard drive as big as the universe. Either way, I'm not buying it. Furthermore, I don't understand how you can solve the Schrodinger equation for the universe and then get pictures of everything ... like, it's a wave form solution.

What I'm trying to say is that maybe a little less science--a black box, instead of "solving the universe"--would make the story more believable.

shelby said...

The reader was interested in the first paragraph, and then her interest metastasized into a deep confusion. The reader thinks that the author should try not to be flowery and obscure in the hook, but rather tell us what the story is.

Dave said...

When you menation "grand Unification" a majority of the readers of Sci-Fi would immediately think of the two-episode Star Trek TNG titled Unification.

And the rest of the population is going -- HUH? at the mention.

Shela Welch, a loner - disliking all and disliked by all - solves the equations governing space, time and existence itself. Her solution, like Bandora's box, creates environmental disasters, encounters with aliens, discovers inhabited worlds, and bloats the government. The world dissolves in Chaos as thunderheads appear in the East and GUILTY, and expose the burden she bears for destroying humanity.

Now that's depressing!

JPD said...

The author says: Thank you! I honestly do not know if my story works, which is why I submitted it. But I'm glad that places like this exist to ask the question!

I apologize for fracturing my farie-tale with stilted prose. It was still mutating and gestating at 8:03 PM on a Friday night...

And I'm sorry that I misunderstood the rules for the contest. I thought that the rules called for "no first pages, no synopsis and no back-of-the-book."

WTF?

My word of the day is "ruminant", in case anyone is wondering.

JPD (still glad I came.)

Anonymous said...

The last paragraph made me think Douglas Adams... but the rest of it didn't hold up. Absurd nonsense does not comedy make. Kernel of an interesting (and potentially funny) idea there though.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I want to read this one! Sounds fun and snarky and complicated. Clean up the hook and get published already! Looks like a Terry Pratchett/Douglass Adams kind of book.

HawkOwl said...

Oh, I like her already!

Not so keen on quantum mechanics and the part about Jesus though. And I hope you're at least a grad student in physics, because the only thing more annoying than quantum mechanics is listening to people who don't know quantum mechanics talk about quantum mechanics. Well, that and whistling, really.

JPD said...

Sheila pregnant and sickened. Sheila got pregnant and sick.

4 words versus 5 words. that was the full extent of my own personal debate... We saw Spot staring, vs. Spot looks. A personal choice of verbiage, perhaps.

JPD

Anonymous said...

I will never read a story that is delivered in slow drips. I'm just too impatient. I can't even watch old movies--even good ones. They're just to slow.

BuffySquirrel said...

It can't be worse than Distress. Can it?

This could be insane fun, or just...well, I'm off to drink my tea now.

Anonymous said...

Okay, muddled telling. But, there was a lot I enjoyed. Honestly, I think I would read this. It sounds funny and interesting.

Anonymous said...

"The story will be delivered in slow drips with revelations that strike from odd angles."

:Editor stares at pages:

I can hardly wait to pass this around at the next acquisitions meeting. If I'm in a REAL generous mood I'll put White Out over the writer's name.

Catja (green_knight) said...

Even to a SF reader, it is baffling to the extreme.

aries said...

Unless you're talking about coffee, I don't think anything worthwhile is delivered in slow drips. You need to lose this phrase.

December Quinn said...

Viginia Miss, I'm beginning to suspect we share a brain. Part of mine is definitely gone; did you steal it? :-)

Because I agree exactly. I loved the beginning. I loved the idea of a protag who hates everyone and everyone hates her right back, because I picture lots of snarkiness and curmudgeonly thoughts.

If I understand this correctly after several re-reads, the protag solves the mystery of the universe (is it "seven"?) and then all hell breaks loose. Her company is using the secret to put its board of directors in charge of running the world. The solution creates a rip in the time/space continuum, which means wayward aliens show up unannounced, either to threaten or to try and do business. The world's creatures begin mutating at an alarming rate. People keep getting lost in the past as they step through unexpected gateways into other times and/or places. And there's Sheila-the-misanthrope, sitting back and smiling, and hoping they all turn into dust so she can read in peace and quiet.

Is that about right? Cuz if so, I think it sounds really fun.

Jodi Meadows said...

Hm. The first paragraph worked for me. My inner geek started cheering about quantum phones...

Things kind of got muddled in the second paragraph. It needs a bit of rewriting and a lot of focus.

It sounds like it could be an interesting idea. Good luck with it.

anon13 said...

Sheila pregnant and sickened. Sheila got pregnant and sick.

4 words versus 5 words. that was the full extent of my own personal debate... We saw Spot staring, vs. Spot looks. A personal choice of verbiage, perhaps.

JPD


Except that 'pregnant' isn't a verb. If it's the difference between sense and nonsense, use the extra word, por favor. Sheesh, "Sheila, pregnant and sick," would have worked too, as the comma turns the phrase into a descriptor.

And I still want to know how she got pregnant if everyone hates her. Sperm bank? But why would she want to get pregnant if she hates everyone? Is her child the planned exception?

Anonymous said...

Viewing any point in space in real time is cool, very cool. Start there, lose the rest.

Ski said...

I liked the very beginning and I like the premise. Ignore the nasty comments and take to heart those that are constructive. I think this could go somewhere really interesting. Good Luck.

Rgds............Ski

Crys said...

i was quite hopeful, given that i hate everybody, as well. but you lost me in all that Quanticy and Jesus Christ business.

Crys said...

oh and december quinn:

you wrapped it up handily! well said.

shannon said...

I love December Quinn's version. If that's the book, it sounds great (JDP's lost me completely, sorry). Maybe you two should co-write??!!

(And how the hell did you figure all that out yet claim to have lost half your brain?!? Modesty!!)

Emmy Voter said...

I think December Quinn's version above makes it sound like a book worth reading! Excellent re-synopsis.

I assume the cause of the pregnancy is something to do with the messed-up spact-time continuum...

writtenwyrdd said...

Your thesaurus exploded in your face, right? Seriously, trim the sentences and stick to what MS said earlier: Remember the basic ingrediants of the hook souffle: the main character is; s/he has a problem that is; s/he must do something to solve it that will: the consequences of solving it create a different problem which is. Fill in the blanks.

JPD said...

Just a few comments to close this out without frying up too much of MS's blog space.

A lot of posters are imagining things that weren't in the hook, then accepting that premise as fact and rushing to conclusions (ie- it's the story of world domination by corrupt businessmen, etc, which is neither stated nor implied in the hook. I actually imply the opposite.)

I'm not going to do theory here, or this could mutate like some of the others hook reviews have. That would indeed become a cancer-- on MS's blog. But for inquiring minds, her invention is premised upon Bells Paradox and testing in the 1980's which proved information CAN be relayed faster than light.

I seek to write sci-fi, not textbooks or operating manuals.

It IS a "black box" story, a plot device. Such devices lead to consequences. If you can you view space in real time, what next, what outcome follows? And what responsibilities?

As mad scientest, Sheila is indeed short tempered, sassy, and complex. But she's not a loner, who said that? A poster did. I could've used to a good 10 words in the hook to explain how I knock-up Sheila. I believed less words were more, but in this case I guess I was wrong.

Re: the plot, "What happens is that they (first) encounter wayward aliens, (then) a civilized community of worlds, (then) a hostile species and (then) a bloated government bureaucracy." IN THAT ORDER. Please don't reverse the order just to satisfy your blogging needs. It's evidently a bad enough hook without creating strawmen to trample or by distorting its sequence of events.

There was also some good advice mixed in. I have no regrets for posting this, or for the beating that I knew would follow. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their opinion.

JPD (Do they sell bumperstickers that say "I got spanked at MS.com?")

j h woodyatt said...

"Exponentially, their environment devolves."

Whoa. The molecules— they make the trip so much more worthwhile, don't they? I recommend more of the green ones.

Anonymous said...

Beget: To father; sire. To cause to exist or occur; produce.

Metastize: The spread from one part of the body to another.

Anal Retentive: This term is often used in reference to a person seen as overly worried about small details of form, style and etiquette; who is uptight or distressed over ordinarily minor problems, and unable to adopt a philosophical attitude toward mistakes. See above.

Ruminant: Ruminant livestock such as cattle and sheep are the largest source of methane emissions resulting from human activity.

JPD said...

MS, keep up the good work, and Merry Christmas! You don't need to read or moderate this post, just let it pass... It's for my own edification, and for other bloggers to comment upon, or not. Thanks again for the Herculean job that you perform!

*****

In hindsight, reading the other examples, here is what my hook should've said:

Maybe it takes a plumber to save the universe?

John doesn't know what to make of Quanticy, nor their top scientist, Sheila Welch. Physics isn't really his expertise, after all, he's just a new Facilities Manager at Quanticy and this is his orientation week.

He would've packed a suit, had he known that his first week on the job would entail contact with an alien species, or falling in love with Quanticy's top scientist. Then again, being an outsider to the company is perhaps his strongest suit.

He'll find out along the way in SHEILA'S BURDEN. It's the story of what happens when plans go better than expected, beyond their most wildly optimistic forecasts. Sheila Welch might have used Quantum Mechanics to solve an entire universe. Now someone has to reign-in Sheila's madness, before it's too late for the rest of us.

*****

JPD (probably still flaky, but better than it was the first go around...)