|Reviews for Blue Rocket|
| Dreamers-Requiem 4/14/13 . chapter 1
Not sure what I can say that I haven't said before. Okay, so, as always, you have a real skill for descriptions and it really keeps the story flowing. I love the fact that I can read your stuff, have no clue what some of it is, yet still enjoy it and still understand completely what's going on. Love Hartwin, always do whenever he crops up, and I like the way you show him here doing, well, what he's good at. I love the flow of it, and the way you move so easily from one place to the other, carrying the reader with the characters. Great stuff, as always.
| okunoin 4/3/13 . chapter 2
Another very interesting chapter! Is 'syncoffee' a portmanteaux of 'synch' and 'coffee'? I really like that idea. The whole thing is filled with little details that bring the world to life, it's very easy to imagine the scenes as though from a movie!
I'm not entirely sure what an Arc is though, is it an attachment for the face? And a 'deck'? I feel like you mention them a lot in the story as though you want the reader to draw their own conclusions and this is a great way to go about doing it, but I'm still a little cloudy of what they actually look like, despite the uses becoming more and more apparent.
One thing I really liked in this chapter is how you use quite poetic language, using nature and whatnot, as metaphor 'scream is fire' and simile 'dark as the well water' and then personification, describing the water as 'a great beast' - and then in contrast to these emotional descriptors, there's the world in which Hartwin exists, which is almost entirely mechanical and without nature.
One thing that reads a little funny to me is, ' Hartwin feels like he might go sick and takes up his Arc with tremor of fresh shakes shuddering into him.' in particular, 'go sick' and 'with tremor of fresh', I feel like you're either missing words of structuring it purposefully in a way, but it reads wrong. 'Be sick', would be better, and 'with a tremor of fresh'. Super minor but hopefully you get my point there.
Keep up the good work, I'd like to dip into this story whenever I have a moment, I hope you don't mind some more reviews in the coming days!
| okunoin 4/3/13 . chapter 1
Wow, this is really something! It's really difficult to criticise it at all, to be honest. I don't read a lot of science fiction (it's on my 'to do' list) but from what I've read here it could easily stand amongst any number of published stories.
As an introductory chapter it does a sterling job of world-building without explicitly saying 'and this is how this is' and whatnot, instead the reader is given an idea through Hartwin's interactions and observations into his world, and that's a very nice way of going about it.
Is there a particular time when the story is set? The devices mentioned both refer to the recent past (Nintendo DS) the earlier past (the arcade machines) and then a potential future (within this century) with the implants and whatnot - I got the idea that a DS (while being dated in this future?) is something that holds a lot of value, maybe a collectors item?
Loved the part when you mislead the reader about 'her' in the kitchen, it really does evoke a ghostly feel of a living memory.
I think my only criticism is one of style rather than delivery; your prose is very dense, there are lots of very long, descriptive sentences that are quite difficult to take in at first glance, because in introducing this world and these ideas, it can be quite overwhelming. But as I mentioned, it's more of a style preference than anything, it's quite intimidating to be certain, but I expect in future chapters that contain more dialogue, the pacing will be less relentless for the reader to endure.
Checking out the next chapter right away, and my apologies for the late review!
| Nausikaa 4/1/13 . chapter 1
Wow! This is so cyberpunk. A while ago I read Dream of Electric Sheep, and I'd been hoping to read more stories in that kind of genre, so this is good timing. ;)
And the atmosphere! You set up this cold-hearted stinking electric city perfectly. Even from reading the first few sentences I already had a clear idea of what kind of world you were going to take us too. "Hartwin stands near the Coke vending machines with his AKG K 701 headphones blaring and his eyes flashing a metallic glare in the muted light of the Katamari console." I also really like the image of his eyes flashing a "metallic glare"- oh, and the reference to Katamari. Love that game. :D (Plus it, as well as the Coke machines very quickly established this is set on Earth, without you actually having to spell it out.)
I think one of the real strengths of this chapter is that you introduce this world and all this terminology without stopping and trying to explain it; you give credit to the reader and don't treat them like they're stupid. I found in general all the jargon you introduced really added to the sense of this alien, futuristic world. Though, I imagine there will be others who aren't so keen on this approach. And there were some points where I think the terminology did bog down the narrative and found myself glazing over slightly and not being able to follow. For me it was the section where he leaves the arcade and is about to board the train.
At the same time, it wasn't such a major issue for me that I wanted to stop reading. I've read novels like this before where you're thrown right in and expected to keep up, and what makes them interesting on the reread is that it's like you're reading a completely new novel, since you can actually work out what's going on now! I'd just be careful and if you get multiple people saying they got completely lost on a particular section, perhaps go back and tweak it a bit.
There's not too much action in this chapter and you don't have an exciting cliff-hanger ending, but that's cool with me. To be honest, I prefer stories where we enter the world and meet the characters and then the action starts. I think so long as something happens within the next chapter or two there's no problem.
Hartwin I don't have much of an impression yet, but it's early days.
Overall I think this a very engaging opening! Great atmosphere and world-building. Hopefully in the next few chapters we'll learn a bit more about Hartwin and who he really is.
(or Tengo ;) )
| blackflier 3/31/13 . chapter 1
Hartwin hasn't striken me as somebody I'll be interested in. It feels as if I'm watching two different persons, and his actions don't add up. At the one side he seems very calm, and like he knows what to do, on the other side he feels neurotic and obsessed. I have trouble seeing these two sides in one character at the same time.
This whole chapter feels like it's dedicated to setting up the main character, and putting down the essentials of the world, which (in my opinion) isn't something you should do in the first chapter. I feel like my mind is clugged up with all the details, and there is no action or mystery that makes me want to read, which I feel is essential to the first chapter.
I felt there were way too many words from which I did not know the meaning. Although this story is probably for a completely different audience than me, many terms were either technical gamer stuff I don't know, or words specific to this world. The context was rarely any help to defining the meaning of these words.
I woudn't want to read on. Nothing about the world you describe strikes me as original or different. The character I'm not interested in. There is no action, no mystery. I don't understand half of what I've read, and the whole text is simply too many words about too little actual things happening. It may work later on in a later chapter, but not as the first chapter.
| A.E. Mars 3/30/13 . chapter 1
(I don’t have much experience with the Sci-Fi genre, so please forgive me if my lack of knowledge has someway influenced my review.)
I enjoyed the way you use description in your story. In many cases, you shortened words and phrases, but instead of losing meaning, it actually helped add meaning to the cold, cyber environment. I can picture a concrete and rusted, gun-metal backdrop setting in this story,
“Outside the sound of distant sirens loop through the misted sky and the downtown cityscape glows with LED street-lights and shuttered cheap billboards. Hartwin passes a sushi joint and the downtown public library, waits on the sidewalk for the traffic light on the corner of Douglas and 6th Street, and watches the rain swirl into the dark littered gutters.”
I felt that the main character was very much alone, although surrounded by people and at home, while alone, was plagued by memories of someone who wasn’t there, just the things she left behind.
I didn’t like that there wasn’t any information about the time and place. I felt a little lost and was unsure what was going on. Maybe that’s just me, and I’m sure more is revealed in time, but I am a reader who likes to have an idea of time and setting when I begin a story.
| Fenimore 3/29/13 . chapter 1
The description in this chapter is really good. It's so thorough that it really makes the reader feel the world that Hartwin is living in. It also makes the plot a lot more engaging because I can visualize the setting that all of this is taking place in.
I was a little bit confused about the other recurring characters such as Wren and the mystery girl who lived with Hartwin. I think they're sort of thrown into the story, but the reader doesn't really understand who they are our what their purposes are. I like this for the mystery girl though because it gave me a question to ask for the next chapter. For Wren however it just annoyed me that she continues to be frequently mentioned, but that I have no idea who she is.
Finally Hartwin seems a bit empty for a character. One of my friends who read Little Bloodbeat has told me that this is supposed to happen, but I still can't really connect with him because of it.
| emmadotlouise 3/29/13 . chapter 1
I found this extremely interesting to read - I will confess I have not read much sci-fi as usually I find the way it's written and the genre overall not to my taste.
I enjoy the way you have developed Hartwin. He comes across as an extremely addictive personality and your final sentence identifies this very strongly. I identify with him slightly as I have an addictive personality too, though not quite to the same extreme hah :)
[wedged heels and the whole scent of her buried like bones into his bed frame. ] Love the image of this, very visual. Her skeleton, his skeleton. Extremely interesting picture.
Your writing style is something else. This piece is so description-heavy that I found myself having to go back and re-read in places just to engage more with your character and the story overall. You write extremely well and use very nice images and analogies.
[The arcade razors neon and collapsing noise, corners dimmed and lit with swinging light[s] and eager score screens advertising the latest credit prices and application synchs. The ceiling shifts zodiac pinholes and the zigzagged carpet stains with splotches smelling of booze and sticky sodas.] This passage threw me a bit. The description paints a picture of the scenery, but the last sentence particularly feels awkward. Would rephrase "The ceiling shifts zodiac pinholes" as I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here.
| Vagrance 3/28/13 . chapter 1
Opening: I have to say this was a most unusual passage. Not sure why, but all these model names and things stuck out at me.
Setting: again, odd, and strangely intriguing. I presume some of these terminologies will be explained further down the track. The world seems like a sci-fi dystopia. The Dune neighbourhood especially gives off that vibe.
Style/writing: you managed to capture great intensity without losing pace. The actions are especially vivid and crisp. The narration is very strong.
Ending: a statement full of impact and says a lot about Hartwin. The mentioning of the game was a nice touch.
| Whirlymerle 3/28/13 . chapter 2
For Easy Fix:
As an aside, have you read anything by Douglas A Martin? He deals with a different genre (coming of age, homosexual literature), but your style is similar and I feel like you’d enjoy his work. And if you have, I’d be super excites because I adore his work.
[city's south Nebraskan side] I was a little confused by this. I know he’s at the south border of South Dakota and would be near Nebraska, but this makes me think that you’re addressing the south of Nebraska
[pouring himself a cup of the cheap syncoffe] the other two times you have it as syncoffee
If I read this correctly, then Hart figures out that the girl friend is also a part of his dream (what a cool scene, by the way), because he realizes that his deck is untouched. I think that’s such an incredibly neat way to have Hartwin and the readers figure out that he was dreaming and tie in the thematic elements at the same time. That Hartwin discerns dream from reality using the deck—and I’m not altogether sure what that is but I remember in LB he always punched it to start his junkie activities. And that’s just mind blowing to think about, because the deck, as I understand it, is Hart’s way out of the meatworld, which we’d interpret as reality.
My other favorite part is when Hartwin pinches his nose after he flips the alarms on Ray. Visualizing it, I thought it was incredibly funny and, again, illustrates his character really well.
| Adrenalin 3/28/13 . chapter 1
I'm not very interested in sci-fi as a litterary genre, the whole technology aspect bores me most of the times, and the heavy descriptions associated with it. Mostly I prefer it in movies, the visuals are much more interesting IMO. Anyway, I remember reading some chapters of Little Bloodbeat, and I did find it interesting, so I've decided to overlook my prejudices and try Blue Rocket. It's also a vote of confidence for your writing style, because even if I don't like sci-fi, I was pretty sure I would enjoy the way you write it.
This chapter is very focused on descriptions and setting. While I enjoyed both, I felt it lacked some action to make me more interested. As it is, the pacing feels very slow and dream-like, which is a quality except at the beginning of a story, for me (but it's a matter of personal taste, feel free to ignore me). On another hand, it does help that there are no interaction between Hartwin and any other character, because it enhances how alone and unsociable he is, and his addiction.
I liked the part where Hartwin was confronted with the corporate drone. It allows the reader to understand how Hartwin is considered from an outsider's point of view, and also what the majority of richer people looks and acts like. Both in terms of worldbuilding and character building, it was a great scene.
As for Hartwin himself, for now I would have a hard time deciding whether I like him or not. He's so detached it's hard to relate to him, though his "anxious patience" (ah! loved that) and his overall twitchy attitude in the first part helped a little.
The ending made me think that maybe he wasn't so detached after all, though. The fact that he actually sees a sort of mirage of his ex-girlfriend, and that he remembers so much about her, contrasts with his final conclusion, and made me think that maybe it's only a facade to keep himself from hurting at her abandonment (consciously or not).
| Dr. Self Destruct 3/23/13 . chapter 3
I think it's so cool how you describe Hartwin's place by talking about all the things him and Harper wanted to fix up. Omg, you have no idea how cool I think that is - it's such a clever way to get across some descriptions without it feeling like an info-dump or too dense or anything. I may have to use this device in the future! And in regards to the state of Hartwin's apartment, that poor guy. I hate to think what an apartment would look like if him and Eric were living together. xD But I think his apartment does an awesome job kind of symbolizing the mental state Hartwin is in, as well as his current addictive habits. Makes me think of a crack house or something, and I think it does a great job grounding me right from the start, adding onto the setting descriptions from the previous chapter.
ARRRRGGGHHHH VOMIT! I hate vomit, just sayin'. I'm a chain puker. And damn, do you get really vivid with it. The part where he kinda hunches over and his whole body retches - I can picture that perfectly, as much as I don't want to. And then the hairball. x.x That's so damn creepy. I really like what you're doing with his hallucinations, especially right here. Now I'm wondering if him throwing up her hair is some type of symbolism of how her abandonment is effecting him physically. Gotta love looking for dat symbolism.
[...his frame is lithe and crooked with sharpness of bone moving under his discolored skin.]
I love this image, as sad as it is. It really drives home his current condition, and i love the "sharpness of bone." It's an interesting way to phrase his bone sticking out of his skin. I've never seen this before, but I immediately knew what you were talking about.
[Fiddling with his boxer briefs, he grits through the pain of inserting a fresh catheter and then fits on his trode headset.]
And virtual-reality just lost a lot of its glamour. xD I can't imagine having to be hooked up to a piss bag while I game. Ugh.
I really like that transition from third to first-person. For about two paragraphs, I didn't even notice it had switched. Doing it mid-sentence really helps with the slip, I think. And it's cool you're able to pull it off without having to use a jarring scene-break.
[Panels of electric blue float screens flip in front of me and I touch options through my inventory.]
Typo: I think you meant "floating" instead of "float."
[A won amulet of polished opal presses underneath my tunic ...]
[Once he told me he was from the swamps in what's left of Florida, but I don't know if I believe him.]
Man, fuck Florida swamps. That's all I'm gonna say.
It's really cool how you develop Greta and Wren by playing them off of each other. You don't really have to come out and say "Greta is Magpie's Arc" because you just compare her to Wren instead, which lets me make the connection myself. I always love how interactive your writing is. Also, using this opportunity to build a bit more about what the Arcs do is a great choice - I was wondering if they all have the same robotic personality that Wren has.
[ I spent forty-eight hours catching pokémon, but I didn't come close to catching them all—you ever try to catch all of them? Anyway, afterwards I scavenged the oldest DS you ever seen from a junk collector. I take it with me whenever I have to go anywhere. You should get one. You ever play Yoshi Land? Yoshi's the shit. I'm not much into rescuing the princess."]
This whole paragraph is full of win. I think I love this version of Magpie even more - I feel like you have his voice down more than the previous one. And considering all these pop-references, I'm glad you're having fun with your allusions. :) They had me chuckling. Yoshi's Island is one of my favorite SNES games.
I love that image you end with, Magpie and Hartwin standing back to back. Also, the mention of his hands is really nice, too. Just reinstates what we already know about him with a powerful picture - that the game world is his real world now.
Sorry I don't have anything to critique. I can't wait to see how they fight these skeletons! :3
| Infected Beliefs 3/10/13 . chapter 3
I get a feeling vaguely reminiscent of the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates, where everyone was physically malnutritioned, miserable, and dejectable because they spent so much time in their surrogate forms.
[...leaving the space cold and cave-like.] - As I sit here in my darkened room reading story after story on fictionpress -_-
[When he leans back into the chair, he feels himself relax as he teases the uplinks at the edge of each skeletal chrome arm...] - like a heroin addict depressing the syringe for the first time of the day. Really well done and depicted. The feel of finally getting his fix, of finally being able to let go and relax, to get away from the nagging hallucinations. It shows why he keeps coming back to "the Game." It shows how he got addicted in the first place. Alternate realities have always had their draws, especially when reality is so bleak.
The choice to switch to first person while in the game is a interesting one. It clearly sets a difference between in game and out of game (well, duh, stupid comment) but it also says something about hartwin's character. When we are in the real world he is detached, cold, exclusive. He will not even let the reader get near him. In the game though, relaxed and content, it is as though Hartwin is willing to share himself more freely. I find it is an interesting statement of style, but I will have to read more to determine whether I enjoy it or not.
I love the mix of fantasy and sci-fi. With the game world you can go any direction you want, have stories within stories if you will, while still maintaining the overarching tale of Hartwin's ever turning spiral into addiction. It felt like a commentary on World of Warcraft (or other MMOs) players. The sad thing is, I know people like Hartwin. Maybe not throwing up into trashcans, but might as well be. It rings true to heart.
I thought the conversation between Hartwin/Fitcher and Magpie was the most revealing part of your story yet. It is easy to get lost in all of the techno-terminology, delightful descriptions, and well executed prose, but other than seeing Hartwin go through his routines as an addict for three chapters, I really have no sense as to what is going on. It is moving slowly, which is fine, but I don't know anything about Hartwin. I thought that the conversation finally let me get a glimpse into Hartwin's mind. Compared to Magpie, who didn't seem to have any issue with his addiction, the mere fact that Hartwin asked about the withdrawals indicates that he is aware that he has some sort of problem (which a lot of junkies refuse to admit).
With the fantasy game-world, I like how you can have cliché quests and story lines and it is completely acceptable...after all, that's what video games do.
I am eager for an update.
| Jalux 3/10/13 . chapter 3
Another strong chapter.
The descriptive writing as always is quite good, making it easy to visualize your world. Dialogue is quite good as well. It's well-done and not out of place at all.
["You should get one. You ever play Yoshi Land? Yoshi's the shit. I'm not much into rescuing the princess.."]
Feels like something a real person would say. The idea behind the story is also rather interesting, although I get SAO vibes from it.
I do feel there could've been more content and plot movement in this chapter though, 3 chapters in I really feel like we need more plot to keep it interesting. I mean sure we've got a great idea of Hartwin and his character, some of his backstory but the actual plot has not been touched on much I feel.
| Whirlymerle 3/10/13 . chapter 1
Hurrah! Redraft! Reviewing as I go here.
[The arcade razors neon and collapsing noise,] Great line! I definitely feel like, compared to your last draft, you go all out on the poetry-prose voice.
[The ceiling shifts zodiac pinholes and the zigzagged carpet stains with splotches smelling of booze and sticky sodas.] Nice use of consonance at the end. I also just really like the entire line as a whole—the contrast between the heavens and the grimy earth. I don’t know if this is what you want to go for, but (if I’m right in assuming that the ceiling and zodiac is fake/digitalized) I feel like everything digital is so unrealistically vivid and perfect. Maybe you could go into a bit more detail about the ceiling? But then again, your work is already pretty busy with elements.
[A feminine monotone lifts from his AKGs] With regards to word choice, I can’t really picture a voice “lifting” from headphones. Also, lift is a really “light” word, which is sort of an odd contrast with all the blaring going on in the first paragraph, but also sort of nice, because I feel like you’re going for the cool, artificially lush automatic voice thing.
[Hartwin has the shakes and eyes that glint addict metallic in the right light,] lol, I know this. That’s the state of half the guys in my hall three days a week.
[With one swipe of the the barcode over the credit box] extra “the”
[if there was a moon visible it would've hung low on the horizon of the Tyson district] Woohoo! Edwidge connection!
[trailing from 6th street towards him] Capitalization for consistency
[as the the sleek chromed Dune 20:45 slinks] extra “the”
[the whole scent of her buried like bones into his bed frame] Okay, I think I found my favorite line in this reading.
Compared to your first draft, I feel like this one’s definitely more “out there” in terms of you going into your own voice. I like that you give the story a setting in South Dakota. It was really unexpected, since all the other elements in the story are futuristic and sci-fi, and South Dakota is (in my mind at least) full of nature and wildlife.
That being said, I feel like I like Little Bloodbeat better. This could be very well because I have to wait awhile for any work to grow on me. I feel like this work more than LB is more hardcore sci-fi, or at least, more blatant.
[“Arc device implanted into his coiled brain and looped across his corneas”] I’m no connoisseur of the genre, but I’ve heard of so many stories about people with machine bits implanted in them. And it’s a cool idea with lots of potential and everything, but I think the difference in LB, compared with this and other sci-fi stories, makes it more unique (I really, really enjoyed Edwidge opening the story).
In addition, Hartwin is already too gamer junkie to be human, Brit (if that’s the girl referred to at the end) doesn’t get a name, and the only person that speaks to him is the corporate drone guy, who is sort of half machine anyway. Character-wise, everything and everyone, including Hartwin, reads like another piece of byte code or whatever. I have a feeling you’re going to show Hartwin’s transformation and make him more human (I think I saw a little bit of that in LB), but with everything else going on, it’s just kind of difficult to be immersed in the world. Actually, I suspect it’s also because I’m reviewing this chapter by chapter, and this wouldn’t be a problem if I just read the entire story in one sitting. Or at least, more than the first chapter).
Also, “meatworld” is a little too… easy for you? I don’t have any complaints about it per se, but most of your writing is beyond amazing that this was sort of underimpressive.
Great imagery and world building. I love the little details, like the rip-line in the woman’s tights. I could go on, but I think I’d end up quoting your entire chapter.
When you publish, I’d totally be a loyal reader/customer.
Thanks for the great read!