Week Seven #BlogBattle: Cosmic
Please welcome Brian Baer, another great tweeting friend (@BrianCBaer)! Brian has been fighting against the strong pull of the #BlogBattle, but he could resist no more! WooHoo! I feel like we should be singing
Another One Bites the Dust Kum ba Ya right about now.
Here’s Brian’s Twitter blurb:
Boy Adventurer, Anglophile, Grammar Nazi, etc. Author of the forthcoming BAD PUBLICITY from
🙂 So glad to have you in the battle, Brian!
Thank you for choosing to submit to CosmicMysteryAdventureQuarterly.net. I assure you that every submission receives full consideration, and we have carefully reviewed your short story, “As Azure as the Hanging Moons.” However, we regret to inform you that this project does not seem right for our website.
I’ve read a hundred space-western noir novelettes, but “As Azure as the Hanging Moons” definitely stands out from the pack. There’s actually quite a bit that works in your story, Author. You’re so close. I just think there are some elements you need to eliminate and others than are screaming to come to the forefront.
You don’t mind a little constructive feedback, do you? No, of course you don’t.
Page one: You start out strong here. This is a fantastic world you’ve set up, but don’t forget to dig in. People often read sci-fi/fantasy for the escapism, to get away from the drudgery of their miserable jobs and failing marriages, so don’t forget to tell us where we’re escaping to. Exactly how many azure moons are there? What does the protagonist, Hank.5, farm? The planet doesn’t seem to have a name; why not?
Don’t forget to keep your facts consistent: On the third page, your protagonist’s alien wife has four breasts. One page eight, it’s five. I’m not saying there can’t be some in-story explanation for this. In fact, you should probably make there be one. Please dedicate as much space to this as necessary.
And why only five?
Which brings me to the strongest feature of your story, Author: the characters. In Hank.5, you’ve built a real foundation, Author. There’s a whole world inside that simple country cyborg. You’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s obvious that his bio-mechanoid exoshell is a pressure cooker, letting all the frustrations of the human condition build up inside him. He’s ready to explode. Don’t shy away from that, Author.
We can tell Hank.5’s marriage is troubled. It’s easy to picture those scenes before the story begins, all the times his alien wife belittles him, looking down on his career. His wife (she should probably have a name, by the way) doesn’t respect farmers. She never has. Let Hank.5’s frustrations get out, let him shout in that staticky robot voice, “Of course I’m not making any money right now, websites need time to grow! We build an audience so we can find sponsors! Then I get paid, Veronica; I’ve explained this to you. I’m not going back to work at the bank!”
On page twelve, you mention Hank.5’s children, but they are never shown in-scene. Of course they aren’t; they’re embarrassed of their father, aren’t they? Their father, the failure? “They’re off at another sleepover,” his eight-breasted alien wife calls from the other room. “They just prefer to eat dinner at the Johnsons’s, that’s all.” And Hank.5 grinds his titanium molars, telling himself to keep quiet, to not rock the boat. His marriage is hanging on by a thread, after all.
The character of the Jax, the hologram barman who provides crucial information, doesn’t work. Cut him entirely. That space can be better dedicated to an examination of Hank.5’s childhood. Of course he ended up with such a shrew of his wife after the way his mother treated him!
I admire the scope of Hank.5’s quest, that vendetta against the interdimensional cattle-rustlers that takes him to the edge of both the universe and his own sanity, but everything after page six kind of feels like a distraction from the characters. Why not narrow that focus on Hank.5’s neglected emotional arc? Doesn’t he deserve some resolution to all the struggles in his everyday life? Doesn’t he deserve a happy ending, Author? Let’s see his ten-breasted alien wife learn to respect his career choices. Let’s see his farm really take off and start making money. He can tell everyone, “See? See how speculative fiction publishing can pay the bills? Who needs to work at a bank?!”
I hope you take these notes under advisement, Author. I’d be happy to take another look if you care to resubmit “As Azure as the Hanging Moons” in the future. Please bear in mind that CosmicMysteryAdventureQuarterly.net is not a paying market.
Best of luck!
Trevor M. Quinn
Co-Associate Editor of Interplanetary Romances and Steam/Cyber Punk
Copyright 2015 Brian Baer. All Rights Reserved
haha it’s a story in a story. 🙂