12.16.2006

HH Com 85

It’s all about understanding one another. Or rather, the egregious lack thereof. In a not-too-distant future, a very small percentage of people are born with the ability to hear all the thoughts and memories of the people around them—in fact, they are unable shut out the unwanted thoughts of others. Feared by the majority, these Psi-kicks are pressed into government service and segregated so they might be contained, but the Norms who proscribe these rules unwittingly create something else: where everyone can hear the thoughts and feelings of the people around them, there is no room for malice, no need of hate, and even apathy is abandoned. In this novel, PETER ELLIOT is one such Psi-kick. When his special skills as a detective are called in to investigate a string of kidnappings we’re given the chance to see his world and acquaintances filtered through his sardonic perceptions. As he digs through the case, he’s lead toward a unbelievable conclusion: that one of his own, a Ps
i-kick, has decided that most of humanity is too sick to be allowed to run the world, and has devised a way to perpetuate his utopia: the genocide of all Norms.

You don't need to build a world in your hook. Start with Peter Elliot. What's his problem? Who's making his life a living hell? What does he have to do to solve the problem.

And if he's a Psiborg...why is he out in the world? I thought they were segregated.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This section (below) really needs to be rephrased. It lacks flow and there are gramatical/word choice errors.


When his special skills as a detective are called in to investigate a string of kidnappings we’re given the chance to see his world and acquaintances filtered through his sardonic perceptions. As he digs through the case, he’s lead toward a unbelievable conclusion:

Anon-in-a-million

Anonymous said...

LOL!

cm allison said...

Reminds me too much of the series, "4400".... please succinctly show how it is different.

Anonymous said...

Not only is this a huge cliche, it's also a huge rip-off. "Norms" is lifted right from the very well-know, brilliant novel "Geek Love." Read it. Love it. Start again.

Chumplet said...

Oh, my God, Peter Elliott is my brother in law! I thought he was just a film editor, erstwhile Santa and a Voyageur canoeist! You rock, Pete.

Did I mention that I love Saturday nights curled up on the sofa with Miss Snark during a Crapometer?

HawkOwl said...

I stopped reading at "hear all the thoughts." Because if we've had one hook with this power or variant thereof, we've had twenty, but none of them sounded like good drama. I'm forming the impression that mind-reading is not a good dramatic device. Either that, or, the people who are likely to use it as a dramatic devide are the ones who wish they could read minds, because they're so not psychologically astute. Now that's a thought.

MWT said...

1. Yes, in sci-fi "some people are telepaths, and society has chosen to segregate them out of fear" has been done a lot. The example that comes to my mind offhand is Babylon Five. However, I think there might still be angles to explore in it.

The part that intrigues me about this particular hook is "and memories."

2. "where everyone can hear the thoughts and feelings of the people around them, there is no room for malice, no need of hate, and even apathy is abandoned." ... uhh, no. That's not how it would work. You might want to think through the actual consequences a bit more. And remember that people don't stop being human just because others might be able to read their thoughts.

That's as far as I got into the hook. I got stuck there.

luna_the_cat said...

The plot isn't exactly original, so the implementation has to be....and it isn't, somehow. The hook itself just seems to lack tension, somehow. You're reciting it to me. I'm not drawn in.

And, as has been pointed out, "where everyone can hear the thoughts and feelings of the people around them, there is no room for malice, no need of hate, and even apathy is abandoned." -- that's totally unrealistic. I know we're going for suspension of disbelief here, and a fiction story, but the one thing that has to remain believable in any story is the people -- thoughts, actions, motivations. We're a social species, and we build our lives around understanding and dealing with other people (or not, where it goes badly wrong) -- but that means we are super-sensitive to characters "acting out of character", so to speak, or behaving unrealistically or inconsistently, and it seems to me like this kills a story faster than any other flaw.

Humans are absolutely full of differing interpretations, motivations, and viewpoints even under the best and best-intentioned of circumstances...and even under the best of circumstances, there are times when your opinion of other people dips. Getting inside their heads isn't necessarily going to make you respect them, even if you DO know what they were thinking.

Haven't you ever been in a group of good friends, who know each other really well -- and with all the will in the world to respect and get along with each other, some of them have to shut their teeth hard and stuff thoughts back into their head to keep from expressing what they're thinking out loud? Now imagine that they *can't* keep those thoughts safely corralled, when, say, Joe (who is a generally good guy overall) does something that they think is just the epitome of boneheaded. You think Joe isn't going to get defensive, if these thoughts are open to him? You think there won't be tension? Hostility? Like people don't ever get hostile and defensive when they do something stupid, and other people tell them this.

No. This proposed utopia, more than anything, is not really very human, and I don't see how anyone with a primarily human genetic background would ever work that way. It may be how Deanna Troi worked, but I don't think that was ever a terribly good model of realism in character development either.

The hook needs the tension punched up a bit, but I really think the plot needs a rework too, from your very brief synopsis here.

(And, oh -- just a quibble? Perceptions aren't sardonic. People are. The phrase just didn't work for me, I'm afraid.)

My $0.02, devalued in these days of the weak dollar.

batgirl said...

"Blessed is the Norm"
The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham, first published 1955, sf novel used as a text in Canadian schools throughout the '60s. I suspect this predates "Geek Love" considerably. (Oh, and the characters are telepaths.)