Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: City of Edinburgh
Re: My first critique submission- Chapter 1: Our Story Begins
I don't have much to say. I read this through and enjoyed it very much. I found a couple of things on my pickier read-through, but not much. I should say now that I don't read a lot of science fiction so I might be asking silly questions.
Chapter 1: Our Story Begins -- I wasn't sure if this title was a placeholder/ joke, and if it wasn't, but a real title, I wasn't sure what I thought of it (there -- lots of uncertainty to start off with)
A curious chain of events began in the Dista system one day in late October [I like the contrast between the Dista star system and the much more mundane date of 'late October']when two small craft emerged suddenly from hyper-space, quite far from the established window for incoming flights. The first vessel to appear was an unmarked freighter, an older model that had seen its prime come and go [you have a more complex and slightly wordier style than I'm used to, so take my tightening suggestions with a pinch of salt, but do you need 'come and go'?] decades earlier, and which currently appeared to be in some state of duress [not sure about 'duress' exactly. How about 'distress'?] not completely attributable to its age. Scorching on its hull indicated hits from a high-energy weapon of some sort [you are fond of the word 'some' (I like it too)], and small pieces of flak had been embedded in what remained of its lateral fin. The shipís ability to maintain a steady heading appeared to have suffered as well, although in truth its erratic course was determined not by condition, but necessity.
The primary celestial body of the system, a gas giant known as N-19.802, plodded along on its orbit around the sun as it had for the last few million years, ignorant to [of?] the plight of its newest arrival. In a series of rather dramatic maneuvering burns, the freighter's pilot worked feverishly to put as much of the planetís mass between the vessel and its reentry point as possible, while simultaneously struggling not to fall into the gas giantís violent atmosphere. The freighter slipped back and forth along the edge of the gravity well, shuddering uncertainly with every maneuvering push of its thrusters. [nice]
At last the injured ship cleared the planet and [it -- don't think you need] settled onto a somewhat circuitous course with a small moon orbiting the far side of N-19.802.[I don't understand the sentence 'At last... N-19.802' it might be the 'with' -- does it mean 'towards'?] The small moon glistened serenely as it spun gently around its titanic neighbor, a soft hue of green and blue [I think this is ambiguous -- what has the soft hue? the small moon or the titanic neighbour? -- plus I wondered about 'hueS'] that stood in strict contrast to the harsh glare of yellows and oranges thrown off from ['off from' made me twitch -- it feels like there should be a neater way to say it]its fellow orb.
One last thruster burn directed it [the freighter] towards the southern hemisphere of the moon just as it edged toward the terminator into the night cycle of its orbit [er... this is science fiction-speak, right? The terminator?]. The freighter flared when it passed into the moonís atmosphere, the friction shielding at its belly glowing softly as it swiftly descended through a cloudless sky. Smoke issued from the aft exhaust port, leaving a dwindling trail that followed the craft as it plunged towards the surface.
A range of rugged mountains rose up over the horizon, blanketed by towering pine trees. The ship fired its descent thrusters in desperation, the speed at which it had been falling making any last minute course alterations unlikely. Again the thrusters fired, but their attempts to delay the inevitable coming [came -- because of the 'but'] to a sudden and spectacular end with an explosion on the starboard wing. The freighter veered sharply to port and then began an uncontrolled spiral toward the tree-covered slopes.
The second vessel to appear that day was of such specific design that its purpose could be easily ascertained. Bulbous head for the forward sensor pods, attached to a narrow fuselage mounted with four stubby fins, from each of which sprouted weapons. Maneuvering thrusters that glowed intensely as the vessel slowed, shedding the velocity of insertion into normal space. The overall impression was that of a gargantuan lawn dart, [hee hee. I like this (although I don't actually know what a lawn dart is] a predatory thing with a singular intent: Seekand destroy.
When it reached the speed at which it could maneuver more freely, the Seekerís sensor array lit up to search for an optimum pursuit course. Star charts were accessed as it worked to obtain its bearings. Local sensors quickly identified and rejected the gas giant N-19.802 as an unlikely destination, the great orange globe offering little by way of hiding spots. Expanding the parameters of its targeting program, the Seeker began to search along somewhat more favorable escape vectors. There!
The track of decayed ion particles was broken and erratic, the Seeker noted with distain. Like that of a wounded animal trailing blood, the path turned and twisted this way andthat. [I really like this image] It finally settled, the targeting sensors reported with glee, on an indirect but unmistakable course for the small moon orbiting the far side of the gas giant. [because you described the freighter doing this, perhaps you risk repeating yourself here?]
Dominated by vast forests and a number of sizable mountain and lakes, this particular small moon had always provided a most welcome sight for travelers who had come to this most distant system in the Republic, and had thus been christened Terris Dista. Otherwise unremarkable, it tended to attract little attention outside of the occasional trader bound for the Imperial border, which intersected a neighboring system- a relative stones throw away, by interstellar reckoning.
It was only mere chance that a small group of boys just outside the forests of the moonís southern continent managed to observe the crash-landing. It is certainly possible that the entire incident might have gone completely unnoticed, had the group in question not been nearing the culmination of a conflict which had been raging over the better part of the last three hours. As the light of day from Distaís aging star began to fade towards dusk, the combatantís [combatants'] enthusiasm for mÍlťe had likewise subsided. Short of not only stature, but patience as well,they had all but adjourned for the day, thoughts of home and supper and the inevitable bedtime heavy on their minds.
The conflict, like all others, was governed by a strict code of unwritten rules, the violation of which resulted in swift but usually just expulsion from the battlefield. Said expulsion was, in general, enforced by whichever party held the current tactical advantage; however it was not uncommon for rival factions to combine their forces in an effort to maintain the conflictís stability. Such were the battlefield ethics of eleven-year-olds.
The weapons of the day were simple in form but functional enough to get the job done; short-swords composed of the light-weight wood from a local variation of balsam trees. The blades had been fashioned to taper out into flattened tips, mostly to prevent permanent harm from being wrought on their victims. Firmly gripped in small but sturdy hands, the dimensions of each sword were almost identical to one another, roughly two feet by four inches. Attacks were conducted with little thought for the art of modern swordsmanship, and in most cases resulted in fruitless slashes that looked dashing nonetheless, which was of course the entire point of the affair.
I like this. I like the style; I think the story's intriguing. I'd personally like things to settle down into someone's point of view reasonably soon, but that's just preference. Good stuff. Keep writing it.