12.22.2006

HH COM 303

I began to see why Maude's manner, though never cold, was often somewhat abstracted, for every passing year must have accentuated the evidence of our mortality and her preservation from it. Pierre produced, not the papyrus itself, but a paper from which he read to us his own translation of Holdtmann's German version. Though little more than an anecdote, it soon became evident why Hypatia, one of the foremost pagan scholars of her time, had recorded it, and her ecclesiastical foes had secreted it from posterity.

– A young man of Saqqara called Imhotep, the son of a stonemason, was accustomed to hunt with his hawks in the desert near the oasis of Alphaeum, where he also sought medicinal herbs. There was a rock in the open desert called the Egg that was usually covered by the sands but sometimes revealed to a height of about ten cubits. The people of that district said that the rock could heal the sick, and had a cave within it. Imhotep travelled for a day to find the rock, which at that time stood only four cubits higher than the sand. Seeing waterfowl fly up, he loosed his hawk, which only caught a snake. Imhotep left the snake, which was of no value, upon the rock and continued to hunt until sunset. He slept at the oasis, and returned at dawn to view the rock once more before departing. There he saw that the snake, which had certainly been dead, was raising its head.



WTF???

Im just hoping to dear dog that this is perhaps a prologue and a first page.

I know it's not a hook.

8 comments:

~Nancy said...

Definitely not a hook.

I read through this a couple of times, and I'm still not sure I understand what's going on. Names came flying at me, but there wasn't any context to them.

The first paragraph had what I take is something Greek (Hypatia) and someone named Pierre who did a translation of the German something-or-other (my guess is that an original Greek myth was translated into German which was then translated into, what, French?).

And then there's Maude. ;-) Although I can't for the life of me figure out what she has to do with all this.

In the 2nd paragraph, I got the impression we moved to Egypt (although from where, I don't know). My question: What does the second paragraph have to do with the first? Where's the connection?

All in all, I was very confused. Without context, without something tying this together (and what the heck Maude, Pierre, and Imhotep have in common is a mystery to me), this makes no sense.

FWIW, author, I wouldn't read beyond these two paragraphs before rejecting you. I'm really sorry.

~JerseyGirl

wavybrains said...

Run-on sentences are easily curable in editing. Make it your priority to break things apart--more than one conjuction is a BIG clue that you need to pause the thought. More than two is a big red flag saying EDIT me! Help!

Anonymous said...

This reads like an excerpt from the middle of a book. This is what I get out of it:

Maude is immortal (or at least does not age like normal humans). The narrator is not immortal. Neither is Pierre, who in the second paragraph is reading aloud an excerpt from the writings of Hypatia, the ancient scholar. The excerpt, suppressed over the centuries by Church authorities, describes a rock in Egypt that's capable of bringing the dead back tgo life.

Apparently this is yet another author who failed to read the very clear & copious advice Miss Snark provided beforehand on WHAT IS A HOOK. I find this frustrating because this strikes me as an interesting story -- something about the style reminds me of Brust & Bull's Freedom and Necessity, and I'd like to read more. I suspect the author's writing deserves more than the WTF it's getting here, but since s/he didn't follow directions & submit a hook, here we are.

marie-anne said...

Okay, here's what I figure. Maude is immortal, nobody else is. Imhotep is an ancient egyptian something or other. THat's after reading it a lot. A lot. THe story of Imhotep is on a papyrus that Hypatia wrote and priests (?) hid. I think this story has something to do with immortality since the snake was dead and then is dead no more. But holy cow, it was complicated to figure out.

My other problem is with the name Imhotep. Can anyone read that name and not immediately think The Mummy?

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to picture the ecclesiastical foes secreting things. Combined with the Egg, I'm imagining gigantic insects.

Sorry. Deliberate obfuscation makes me feel like the author *wants* me to feel stupid in comparison to her/him. And that pisses me off.

Imhotep said...

I skim very fast and saw Imhotep. I can't disassociate it from Imhotep in the films, The Mummy & The Mummy Returns (?).

Anonymous said...

Where are the damn mummys and Brendan Fraser?

Okay, I'll take a side of John Hannah, then.

Anonymous said...

I've been skimming the CoM for a while now (and bleary-eyed; how Miss Snark copes I can only imagine). This one hit a bit close to home, so I'm going to comment.

I don't think of The Mummy movies. I think of the vizier of King Djoser (c. 2687-2668 BCE). I assume that, given that this Imhotep is "son of a stonemason" and is from "Saqqara," that this is who we're supposed to identify him with. This historical Imhotep, who was deified in the Late Period, was also revered as a physician. Hence, I'm sure, the protagonist(?) is gathering medicinal herbs.

Hypatia is another, much later, historical figure, a scholar and tutor residing in Alexandria c. 400 CE. Her "ecclesiastical foes" would be early Christians; paganism had been outlawed by imperial edict about 25 years before death at the hands of a Christian mob (as it's commonly described).

Even knowing all this (and more about these individuals; I have a degree in Egyptology), and being reasonably well read (and written) in sf&f, I can't tell what's going on here, beyond the same general sense of meaning that Marie-anne and some other readers have. Oh -- one other thing. That snake comes back to life after having been left on the rock. Surely the rock is the key to immortality (the philosopher's stone? Any relation here to the egg that the Egyptians associated with creation?)

I'm sure there are connections here that are patently obvious to the author, but they have not been conveyed to us hapless readers.

And a PS to all writers employing ancient Egyptian settings: use Greek or Latin names only when they're already the names that everyone knows a place by, such as "Thebes" for what the Egyptians called "Waset," or "Memphis" for "Mennefer." If you're going to make up a location and your novel is set in a pharaonic rather than Graeco-Roman period, at least try to make its name sound Egyptian. (And I don't mean modern Egyptian, i.e. Arabic.) Ditto character names, btw.