November 15, 2018
Key Take Away: "This book actually did get me to orbit. Scott Baron in Houston managed to provide both X and Y. I don’t need to like the main character on a personal level, that doesn’t need to be a rule (but it should be a policy). Unfortunately, I burned up to a crisp on re-entry."
Science fiction and fantasy are great. I totally empathize with any author wanting to take this genre on.
You need to write what you know; I think we've all learned that early on, probably from some hippy English teacher. It’s such a simple truth. So if you're an idiot like me, picking a genre where you can invent the rules is an easy choice to make.
Really, if you think about it, all we learn as science advances is how stupid we are.
That’s why science fiction appeals to me personally. I can imagine a world where starships are powered by laughing children and believe it, as long as there is an explanation. If you're curious, my explanation is:
On a level that goes past quantum physics, we discover our subconscious gives off an energy that we are able to manipulate and harness. Laughing children are found to produce an enormous amount of this energy compared to post puberty humans, enough that we can translate said energy into a engine that can open a wormhole. It’s called the “Giddy Gate." (Note: It is found that this subconscious energy makes up 30% of all dark energy.)
Stupid and ridiculous? I’m not sure. like I said above, I’m an idiot. 200 years Before Faraday though, if someone described an energy ripping through your brain, giving signals to nerves and causing your arm to move, it may have been ridiculed a bit too.
My point is, I can make up whatever I feel like as long as I can make you make sense of it. A reader needs at least one tool to pretend with you.
Look at Asimov's Foundation, just throw the word atomic around every once and a while and mix it with psychology plus time.
Frank Herbert...umm spice? Yea, Spice.
This is off topic, sorry. I just like sci-fi is all.
Even though you can make up whatever your heart can imagine it still has to be believed by the reader.
You need to do a little guessing as to what hurdle you may have set up that a reader could trip on, just as you would for any other genre. In other words, you need X energy to get Y mass out of earth's gravitational influence. You are NASA. You are in charge of both X and Y.
So let me tell you about the story of a small crew of sex bots on a mission to retake earth from some aliens that seem to resemble large versions of the Minions from Despicable Me (coveralls included).
The spaceship, Vali, is on its way back to earth. Now, this sci-fi is the type that uses cryo-sleep so, of course, we will be introduced to the crew through a cliché ship malfunction. Mal, the ship's AI, sends Bishop, the ship cyborg, to help wake the crew.
Wait...Oh my. How embarrassing, not Bishop. His name is Barry. My bad. Not sure how I mixed those names. Now, before I am scolded for gender assigning a robot as a 'he,' I should say that his genitals are referred to several times. Barry is a he.
Daisy, our heroine, is the tech guru on board. She seems to be a new addition but has a good general knowledge of her crewmates via a type of neural uplink during cryo-sleep. A tidy idea where crew members download relevant knowledge while sleeping for greater efficiency. This is one of those tools I mentioned, simple, and it gives the author some foundation for his plot that he uses effectively later on.
Turns out the Vali has had a rough go. The crew fixes her up and decides it’s best to stay awake the next several months rather than go back to sleep. Destination is the moon then the earth. Daisy becomes best friends with another tech, Sarah, and they spend the day talking mostly about sex. Daisy, within the first few hours after waking, grabbed the first available man she was alone with and now enjoys bragging to her new friend about how they spend that alone time. Well, when they're not discussing the possibilities of Barry the cyborgs genitals.
I don’t like our main character too much. Like, I personally do not like her. If I met this woman in real life I would think she’s rude, not very thoughtful, and the too big for her britches type. Turns out she’s largely prejudice against those who have made modifications to their bodies. Half the crew has mechanical legs or arms, or even half a face and a brain in the navigator's case. Even the ship cyborg and AI hold a dark place in Daisy's soul.
Actually, the only thing Daisy has going for her is her looks and brain. Though, I don’t trust the ‘looks’ part because she's conceited so of course she thinks she looks good.
Her boy, Vince?
Nope, cant trust him; he's a guy, of course he will say nice things. Especially since there’s not too many options on a spaceship with only 8 people, 3 female, 1 female AI, and one cyborg that is presumed to have male parts, but I have not seen them myself.
As for her brain. Well I don't trust that either. Daisy has tampered with the neural uplink (turning off safeties) and is dangerously pumping knowledge into her head while she sleeps. Instead of getting drip fed, she is getting fire-hosed.
Well, Sarah dies.
Don’t worry about spoilers there are 4 more books in this series, so I will only spoil 20% of it overall.
Daisy suspects Hal had something to do with it. Jeez, I did it again, sorry...Mal. We start to go down a little rabbit hole with Daisy as she slowly and covertly begins to convince herself the computers are out to get them, this evolves into her crewmates trying to get her. By this point she has so much knowledge in her head she's unstoppable. Side effect being she is also starting to go insane.
Sarah, her dead friend, now lives in her head (not literally, but she is nuts remember)—a good narrative tool since Daisy is on her own, and the author puts Sarah to good use in rationalizing Daisy's irrational behaviour that makes me dislike her more and more.
After some fancy engineering, Daisy discovers Vince is not human, but rather an advance cyborg. He pleads his love to her to no avail.
She cuts off his arm and makes a run for it.
God damn! Daisy, I hate you. Vince if you had a mother she would have told you to stay away from girls like this.
The crew is in a panic. They need her alive. She is special they say. Their attempts to capture her peacefully are met with Daisy trying to kill them—blasting one out an airlock. I decide at this point that I wish for her crew to kill her. They plead for her to stop and listen—that she doesn’t understand—and this causes her to just double down on stupidity.
Daisy manages to sabotage the ship and take a shuttle to earth. Intending to tattle on the crew for letting the AI kill her friend. When she gets there, she finds earth in ruins and abandoned. Well, no humans anyway. She finds packs of rusting robots that have gone slightly nuts and while avoiding them runs into some cartoonish sounding aliens.
Bipedal, 4 eyes, 4 arms...wearing sleeveless coveralls.
Sleeveless coveralls. Let that sink in. Coveralls...farmer...Dennis the Menace. Minions.
I get it; aliens can be tough. I’ll tell you a secret though.
You can describe anything that conjures in the bottomless pit of your imagination, and a reader will make up an image to fit your narrative. If you decide to add in something from our world though—an aspect that leaves only a tiny space for the imagination of the reader, than it better be in parallel to the tone you want to set. The result being, now I will forever have a mutated Despicable Me Minion stuck in my head.
I mean, you may as well have given them a red nose, multi-coloured wig, and a bright jumpsuit.
So aliens in coveralls on earth aside, the crew catches up to her and brings Daisy back to the moon and finally reveals the truth.
(I’m rushing now, realizing how much I’ve written and want to conclude with some constructive criticism that might seem like common sense but maybe only in hindsight.)
As the facts are revealed to Daisy, we learn that the Minion aliens attacked earth and eventually won out, eradicating all human life with a virus. The AI the humans left behind mounted a counterattack years later.
The thought of the AI we leave behind, in their way, seeking vengeance for the death of their creators is very original. Their method to retake earth is to clone/manufacture cyborgs that are very human in capacity, thus they all pretty much die. So the machines try again and again until they create Daisy and Sarah, the most advance cybernetic human clones ever created. Created for the sole purpose to retake earth, basically.
Problem with swallowing this concept is that when Daisy is on earth she witnesses the surviving cyborgs, that are thousands of years old at this point, putting up a good fight against a group of Minions. Mind you, these cyborgs past lives were that of servants, by no means designed to fight.
Even though Daisy is the strongest and smartest human-like thing ever made she is still human-like. If these robots were serious about retaking earth make some goddamn terminators and make a million of them.
Now going back to the spaceship metaphor.
This book actually did get me to orbit. Scott Baron in Houston managed to provide both X and Y. I don’t need to like the main character on a personal level, that doesn’t need to be a rule (but it should be a policy).
Unfortunately, I burned up to a crisp on re-entry.
Cosmonaut Alex got up there, enjoyed the view, messed around with liquids in zero G. Even played a bit. Smiling, I buckled in, aimed the ship around, and headed home. Alarms started to squawk, I tapped on the meter that was in the red, labeled stolen popular sci-fi personas. I glanced at the gender appropriation meters, and the one labeled “females always gossip about sex and boys” explodes, blinding one eye. Flames engulf the outside, and my view is nothing but orange and red as I finally get something my dad said to me when I was 14. The second matrix movie, big battle, killer robots versus the humans in these dangerously open ‘walker' suits shooting guns extravagantly. I said to my dad “hey this is dumb, why wouldn’t they just use like tanks or AA guns". My dad responded “cause that’s not cool."
So ya, they could just make terminators and big tank machines to kill the aliens but that wouldn’t be cool. Plus all the needles sex in the book would have been super weird.
4 out 10 minions ( I did make it into orbit after all).
Thank you very much.