Re: Falling Stars
OK this is my first critique, so I hope I can do a good job for you.
Can I start off by saying I enjoyed your concept. That was enough to get me on the hook as a reader - but only just. The next couple of pages would determine wether I would continue reading or not. There are a couple of reasons I'm not immediately sold:
1. The very short paragraphs hindered the flow in my opinion, it made it a bit like a bullet list of actions to start off with. It did improve in the end I felt but I have noticed that I Brian liked the flow so it may just be a personal thing with me.
2. I found it difficult to get past how you prescriptively described in detail each minor gesture required to operate the face plate thing. Surely the guy would now how it worked instinctively? Just saying 'I activated the virtual keyboard and keyed in my response' would have worked better for me. For me, your way is a little too much like reading an instruction manual for a piece of tech I haven't even had the time to visualise yet. Likewise with the beeping. He knows what it is, so he can say 'the incoming call tone chimed as Satine tried to initiate a video link, I ignored it as I finished typing my message to MMURPHY5' Instead I felt at first that it was being portrayed as something that he didn't know about which is confusing because again he surely should now exactly how it works and what it does? This continues when he gets aboard and describes seeing 'a computer screen that displayed ship arrival and departure times'. This for me is how he would describe it if seeing it for the first time. 'the stellar movements screen on the left blinked and updated as another ship departed the station bound for....' just gives the reader the feeling that this is the man's home and he knows every inch of it. Here's an extreme example to make my point:
I walked down a long corridor, passed two doors on the right and came to a door at the head of the hallway. I opened it and the room beyond was brightly lit. I adjusted the circular knob on the wall round to the left to lower the light level and then walked over to the left. A bed was there; I got in it.
I walked down the hall passing the bathroom and my room-mates bedroom on the right before getting to my bedroom door. I had left the lights on when I went out so I spun the dimmer switch down and jumped into my bed.
Same person, same journey. One makes you feel he is at home the other one doesn't and that is what I am trying to say (long windedly) in point 2
3. There are occasions where your fingers have ran away with what you are trying to say. A couple of sentences don't seem to make any sense and I think this is because you have already began thinking about the next sentence before you have finished the one you're on. If you re-read it carefully you will be able to pick out the ones I am referring to. I know this is just spit and polish and I am confident that you would have rectified this yourself without needing it to be pointed out anyway. Oh and only use an apostrophe on 'Its' when you are saying it is. It's not a possessive apostrophe on 'its', it's one of the exceptions to the rule. Again, that's just spit and polish (and I do it all the time!!) :0)
4. Continuity. You start the story with the description of the protagonist being a few hundred meters from his bunk, but then he returns into some sterile air-lock type room then into 'waldo bay' with technicians hanging around there. A bunk to me is private living quarters and this confused me a little as I had originally envisaged him hanging out of his bedroom somehow.
That all being said, I think the relationship between his wife is an interesting one. I assume it is a working relationship? plenty of potential there. I also liked the brief interaction with the technician Brett. It immediately identified your protagonist as someone important who is in an officer type role. The fact he didn't really know Simms led me to believe that it is quite a large space station and was enough food for thought to make me want more.
Your tech is clearly very well thought out. I like that you can visualise how everything works and it is a credit to your imagination. You only need to give me the building blocks though rather than a detailed visualisation. It is a good thing that you as the author knows how it all works, then your mechanics will be believable and won't contradict itself. As a reader I don't think i need to know exactly which finger strokes bring up the keyboard or how the activation codes for the airlock work. I just need to know there is a virtual keyboard and the airlock opens when he presses the 'go' button. Let me use my own imagination a little, that is why I buy Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels after all.
In summary, there was enough there to make me want to know what Zenith is like and what the main protagonist actually does on it. Be aware that if you are setting the scene for your character in his normal environment he needs to instinctively get around it and know what everything is. I like the concept, and your tech is clearly well thought out and realistic. I would definitely like to read more.
Hope this helps!