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demann
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What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

errm...well, Here goes...I Have the concept, but it is difficult to shrink it to a single paragraph or less...hope It isn't too long of a post (3 paras). I now have a bit of it written (7,000 words or so), along with the rest of the outline, but am not sure where to post it. If the post is too long, please let me know and I will try to edit it down.

"Divine Warship"

A low-tech, non-human society native to a very dangerous planet. One day, an adolescent male child feels a 'pull' to visit a sacred mountain. Some have felt the pull, but none have returned alive. He manages to survive the climb, only to be attacked by one of the fiercest animals on the planet, but is saved by 'The Divine," who speaks to him through his mind.

"The Divine" is a nearly immortal alien stranded on their planet. It cannot leave its ship because the native oxygen atmosphere would kill it instantly. In a normal situation, it controls its minions with telepathy, but the 'People' of the world have a natural barrier against telepathy. Some are susceptible to telepathic communication, but can only be controlled when in very close proximity to the alien.

Over a very long period of time, it helps the low-tech world move from a barely surviving society to a very capable tech-savvy society, all with the goal of being a deity to them, and forcing them to build it a spacecraft so it can escape and wage war against its enemies (Humans and their allies).
"...Not All Who Wander are Lost..."
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KristenS
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

Hmm. Interesting premise.

Whose point of view is this going to be from? The boy? the alien? What is the conflict? If it's the boy's POV, then is the conflict him discovering that he's being manipulated, and his world has been manipulated all along? If it's the alien POV, then is the conflict him trying to keep it secret and struggling with generations of inept low-tech telepaths? Or is all that prologue, and it starts with the alien threatening humanity?

How does the alien manage to influence generations of people if only a few ever feel called to approach the mountain and even fewer survive the attempt? Are the survivors revered as holy people, and their words become law?

It sounds like your story is going to cover a really long span of time, so either the alien's POV would be best, or a whole succession of natives (since presumably they'll be dying off at more normal rates of time).

It certainly sounds like an interesting background! Can't wait to see what you do with it!
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demann
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise



KristenS wrote:
Hmm. Interesting premise.

Whose point of view is this going to be from? The boy? the alien? What is the conflict? If it's the boy's POV, then is the conflict him discovering that he's being manipulated, and his world has been manipulated all along? If it's the alien POV, then is the conflict him trying to keep it secret and struggling with generations of inept low-tech telepaths? Or is all that prologue, and it starts with the alien threatening humanity?

How does the alien manage to influence generations of people if only a few ever feel called to approach the mountain and even fewer survive the attempt? Are the survivors revered as holy people, and their words become law?

It sounds like your story is going to cover a really long span of time, so either the alien's POV would be best, or a whole succession of natives (since presumably they'll be dying off at more normal rates of time).

It certainly sounds like an interesting background! Can't wait to see what you do with it!




The story is from the "People's" POV, on a generational scale. The ones that can be communicated with come from certain families that have a susceptibility to telepathy. They do become the social and somewhat theological, leaders of the People. The alien, when they get close enough to it, plants ideas into their minds (technology and weapons, usually, along with healthcare, etc) which allows them, and their family lines, to become rich and powerful. It is TRUE social engineering on a massive scale (no Prime Directive here). The alien's intent is to simply escape the world in the quickest fashion possible, which is to create a slave-like society that will be manipulatible (sp? - not even sure that's a word hehehe) and disposable. The susceptible families are kind of a breeding project it hopes to totally enslave for future use.
"...Not All Who Wander are Lost..."
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book_worm
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

Interesting concept. And I didn't think your post was too long, this is a writing club after all so I'm sure you won't be scolded for it being long :smileywink:
So if "the Divine" gives them ideas of new shiny technology, I wonder if they will even let it leave? If they in turn are actually using "the divine" to invent new things, and since it is dependent on them to build the spaceship for it to go home, they might make demands for it to invent new things for them, forever making it a slave, instead of it's original thought of them being slaves. But that is my imagination going away with me :smileytongue:

Cool idea, good luck writing it! :smileyhappy:
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galenem
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

If you are working on a short story here, you might have some trouble with multiple generations. Have you thought about starting with the last generation before the Divine leaves and flash back historically to give us the full scope of the creature's abuse. One thing that disturbed me a little was the religious context and the obvious comparisons that could be made. If that is your intention, fine. If not, you should expect that some readers will head in that direction and be looking for (and, I'm sure,finding) a subtext. And, to quote the Wicked Witch, "Long? You call that long? Why we've only just begun!"
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seekingreader
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise


demann wrote:
Over a very long period of time, it helps the low-tech world move from a barely surviving society to a very capable tech-savvy society, all with the goal of being a deity to them, and forcing them to build it a spacecraft so it can escape and wage war against its enemies (Humans and their allies).




I think you have a workable concept here with a lot of interesting possibilities. I would offer a couple of questions you might consider. Does the alien specifically want to be considered a deity, or does it simply wish to develop a society capable of building spacecraft. If the former, why?

As your low-tech society develops over generations, the "old gods" will likely be called into question as the natives develop the science and technology to build spacecraft. It is hard to imagine a society capable of building spacecraft "slaving" for the benefit of a deity. If being a deity is merely a method of reaching out to a primitive society, how will the alien be able to continue to influence the society as it becomes industrialized, develops science and technology, and begins questioning the supernatural, much as modern western societies have done.

And one interesting thought - have you considered telling the story from the alien's POV? How does one go about getting oneself off a low technology planet populated by a primitive society?

You have a lot of room to work here. It will be interesting to see how you develop it.

Jim
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Josh_Crowe
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

This is a really good idea.

If I were you I would think about exactly what the alien might do to help the primitives. What advice he gives determines what added dimension the story might take. For example, he might advise on how to build better technology or how to manipulate other people or something else entirely.
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Muse_of_Ire
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

Why does the alien want to keep fighting when presumably hundreds of years are passing and its original war might be long over? Why doesn't it simply want to escape? Does it have to guide the "primitives" to build a spaceship? Why not a way to communicate with its own species (i.e., phone home)?
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demann
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

Wow...This is a lot more good feedback than I have received at other "Writer's Groups." Most of them either slam you or just tell you how nice your story and ideas are without any real critique. I'll try to answer several of the replies at once :smileyhappy:

The People have been aimed at a tech-society since the 'Divine' started guiding them. It has made extravagant promises to the few who can hear him, and actually (eventually) comes through on most of them, so the People trust and believe in it, at least for the earlier times. When the people get to rebellious or suspicious, it subtly guides them in a different direction, or it shows the leaders a miracle, or it reads the trouble-maker's mind and tells one of his leaders about it.

It (the Divine) is not really intended as a treatise on religion or to make a political point (One of my actual complete shorts does, though). Religion is a very powerful concept, and even very well advanced societies have many different ideas about the 'truth.' A lot of people have died in the name of religion, most of them from a different faith. I mention this not because I am against religion, but because it's part of the back-story. I am sure, however, that simply because it even mentions a religious concept it will be subject to criticism. That's cool! It's why I love the country :smileyhappy:

The people don't really need to keep the Divine on the planet, because (by the end, or near it, it will be taking the People with it in several other ships. The Divine's species will always be at war because they must conquer and enslave any other species, or destroy it.

The alien 'Divine,' like all of its species, is extremely intelligent, clever, and wiley. It uses very subtle hints and moves its pawns with expert ability. The bulk of the People never get to hear from it, except indirectly. Only the families of the People's leadership (along with new people that are born and added to the list of the 'susceptible').

The leaders of the People can hear the Divine when it needs them to, but it has been so successful in its ploy, that it has forgotten that the People started out with a natural defense against telepathy. That's part of the problem with very complex, long-term planning I guess >.

The very same people that can hear him, may be able to block his coercive suggestions, or at the very least, be able to hide their thoughts from the Divine. Thus the seeds of rebellion are born.

I actually haven't thought of telling from the Divine's POV. Not a bad idea at all. I will look into it! Probably not for this short, though.

Oddly enough, this whole story is simply meant to put the People into space and involve them in an advanced interstellar society, complete with politics, intrigue, war and freedom. A species with the People's abilities (telepathically resistant among other things. Remember, the People come from a very harsh and unforgiving place, and are hardy, smart, and physically tough.

Someone asked why the alien needs a spacecraft instead of just phoning home with a comm device it makes the People design...umm...mostly because that's what came out of my pen when I wrote it hehehe...I hadn't considered the other concept until now. I will have to look at that, but I will probably still make it build a spacecraft (A "Divine Warship" (play on the word 'worship' :smileyhappy: ). The People's world is fairly remote, and the alien, like all of his species, works independently and autonomously, except when forced to work with others, as in a battle or invasion.

Whew...that's a lot to think about. I have a little more idea of the back-story and depth than I did before I signed up for this club. This actual 'critiquing' is soooooo much better than the 'criticism' I have found in other places :smileyhappy: !

Thank you all very very much!!

I have been forced to examine my ideas, and that is good!! I look forward to more of the same!!

DeMann
"...Not All Who Wander are Lost..."
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book_worm
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise


demann wrote: The people don't really need to keep the Divine on the planet, because (by the end, or near it, it will be taking the People with it in several other ships. The Divine's species will always be at war because they must conquer and enslave any other species, or destroy it.

Why would the People go with the Divine? True their world is harsh, but it is their home, and because of all the gizmos they made (thanks to the Divine) it might be easier to live there than it was. Or does the Divine just abduct them all and enslave them? What are their reasons to go? Is their world in danger, so they are better off with the Divine? Does the Divine tell the People he is leaving?

Just some questions I've been wondering about :smileywink:
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Muse_of_Ire
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise




The Divine's species will always be at war because they must conquer and enslave any other species, or destroy it.




I always wonder when I see something like this. What drives this species' need for conquest? Is it religious, cultural, economic? Without a convincing motivation, it just comes down to, "Well, they're EEEvil," and that makes me not care.
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marta_randall
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise

To all the good feedback offered, I want to add one thing: multi-generational stories tend to bog down unless they can focus down on individuals and individual stories. If you look at any of the great multi-generational sagas (in our genre or out of it) you will see that they tell the story of this person at this time, then may skip ahead 50 years and tell another story about somebody else, then skip ahead again, and so forth. But the overall story is told from the vantage point of individual characters caught up in their individual conflicts.

Here, my feeling is that your opening story is the one you have outlined: the boy, the mountain, the attack, the rescue, the discovery. The rest of your background can be explored in future stories.

The other alternative is to write a vast historical discussion, as Olaf Stapledon did in LAST AND FIRST MEN, a book which is all future history with (if I remember correctly) almost no characters or relationships in it at all. It's a great book, but not a particular popular one or, for most of us, easy to read.
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seekingreader
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise


marta_randall wrote:

The other alternative is to write a vast historical discussion, as Olaf Stapledon did in LAST AND FIRST MEN, a book which is all future history with (if I remember correctly) almost no characters or relationships in it at all. It's a great book, but not a particular popular one or, for most of us, easy to read.




"Last and First Men" is certainly not an "easy" read, but if one can keep in mind when he wrote it (1930) while reading, it is breathtaking given his extrapolations through eons of mankind and beyond our species to possible species to come in farther futures millions of years down the line. I highly recommend it simply as an example of how far extrapolation and imagination can go.
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demann
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Re: What is Science Fiction? -- Writing Exercise



Marta_Randall wrote:
To all the good feedback offered, I want to add one thing: multi-generational stories tend to bog down unless they can focus down on individuals and individual stories. If you look at any of the great multi-generational sagas (in our genre or out of it) you will see that they tell the story of this person at this time, then may skip ahead 50 years and tell another story about somebody else, then skip ahead again, and so forth. But the overall story is told from the vantage point of individual characters caught up in their individual conflicts.

Here, my feeling is that your opening story is the one you have outlined: the boy, the mountain, the attack, the rescue, the discovery. The rest of your background can be explored in future stories.

The other alternative is to write a vast historical discussion, as Olaf Stapledon did in LAST AND FIRST MEN, a book which is all future history with (if I remember correctly) almost no characters or relationships in it at all. It's a great book, but not a particular popular one or, for most of us, easy to read.




Aaahh...world Building...such Fun :smileyhappy:

Thanks again for all the input. The first part is pretty much 'in-the-can' as the movie people say. The story is focused on a particular family and their trials in becoming the leaders of their world. 'time-skipping' will be somewhat obvious by technologies found in the background of the relevant section or chapter.

Since this is starting out as a short...probably 12 to 15 thousand words or so, I don't really have the room to give a full backstory for the 'divine's' motivations, but I will clean it up a bit so that it isn't simply an 'evil monster' with no real motivations. Their need to suppress and conquest may be genetic...a Remnant of their past, perhaps genetically hard-coded in their DNA. It may also be that they just CAN do it, so they DO. I need to ponder this.

Haven't read any of Stapledon's work (that I know of, anyway) so I'm not familiar with him. It may be that this is a vast discussion writ small for easier consumption.

One of the beautiful things about writing is that we can go back, even after a publication is printed, then change our minds or make corrections, etc. It may be that a 5 or 6 thousand word story would suffice in introducing the basic premises in this particular universe, and could then be expanded upon. Pondering this also.

Actually, I have (way in the back of my skull) thought about this before, and may simply expand this entire universe so I can play with the telepathic enemies and Humans, or follow the struggles of the People as they are introduced to galactic society and its wars and woes.

Ponder, ponder, ponder...

Perhaps I will submit the 1st 5 or 6 thousand words for perusal.

This forum has given me much to think about, and that's a good thing.

Thanks,

DeMann
"...Not All Who Wander are Lost..."
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