Come to My New Blog!

If you followed a link here from a comment I made on somebody's google blog, I would love to have you visit my blog, but this is no longer it. While I may occasionally post things here again once in a long while, virtually all my content will be at from here on out. If you were curious enough to come this far, why not give me one more click?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Spacelift (a story)

As promised, here is a story for your possible enjoyment. It's science fiction, 5000 words, so if any of that puts you off, this may not be for you. If I know you from somewhere, including the blogosphere, and you'd like to read it, feel free to drop me a line and I'll tell you the encryption key. If you know me well enough to know which of my friends I wrote this story for, you don't even have to ask--it's that person's first name.

If you choose to make comments that will help me improve this, I'll be extremely grateful. In the first comment post under this entry, I'll point to some specific concerns I have. I'll encrypt them with the same key as the story, so that you can come to the story "cold," without any preconceived notions sparked by my leading questions.

But if you just want to read it without critting it, that's cool too. Just let me know if you enjoyed it is all.


Joe Iriarte said...

Ack . . . I was afraid of that. Blogger comments will not allow me to use the javascript that encrypts and decrypts these comments. So I'll just post them here, and ask you not to read this until you've already read the story. For one thing, my questions are massively spoilerrific.


You've been warned!


So here are some of the concerns I currently have for this story. First, a couple of my earliest readers have seemed to suggest that it left them wanting more. I'm not sure if that was in a good way or in a bad way . . . like maybe it didn't feel like a completed story. I can see where it would be possible to go on . . . I could talk about how they hide Magda's body, and how they deal with the inevitable questions about Jorge going AWOL and stuff, but all of that felt anticlimactic to me. For me, the climax of the story was when Adriana figured out that Jorge was a Catarine, and the resolution of what she was going to do about it. I felt all along that as soon as that moment passed, the story was over and I needed to bring it to a close. So my first question is this . . . it's fine to leave someone wanting more in a good way, but does this story feel incomplete?

My second question is a more important one, I think. Do you feel cheated by not being told up front that Jorge is a Catarine? I've read tons about how it's cheesy, bad writing to attempt to fool a reader, and for the most part I agree. Or at least, I agree insofar as you cheat to fool the reader. I don't make a habit of writing stories where I don't tell the reader a very important thing about the protagonist, but in this case, for whatever reason, that's how the story worked itself out. I think/hope it's fine, though, because I don't think I cheated. I feel like I put in all sorts of clues that Jorge wasn't like the others. I even referred to the human boys, in the very first paragraph, as alien! Jorge's speech is stilted, and even the narration mirrors his verbal tics. I explain what Catarines are about a third of the way into the story--it it too glossing a reference?--and specifically point out that Jorge or Adriana could be one, and Jorge's behavior should make it clear he has a big secret. The narration also pointedly refers to the others on board as "human children," over and over again, hopefully raising the question "As opposed to what?" But that's all just my attempt at justification. My question, if you care to answer, is, does that hold water? Do you feel cheated? As a corollary, I'd be curious to know at what point you figured out Jorge was a Catarine.

Joe Iriarte said...

Here's another question, actually, and not so spoilerrific. Is it a problem that the names are all Latino and that there are all these Catholic trappings and stuff? (I mean, "write what you know" and all, right?") This hasn't happened, but I can see someone complaining that anything that sticks out like that ought to be there for a reason. Does the Hispanic element actually move the story forward? I suppose it doesn't. But I find myself chafing against the automatic whiteness of everything in American letters. No, not all characters are white, but it seems that when a protagonist is not white, it's because a Statement on Ethnicity is coming. How about just having ethnic diversity for its own sake? Or for the sake of minority kids, like I once was, not growing up thinking that you can only be the center of a story if you're a white dude?

er, let me get off my soapbox for a minute. The question remains--is a departure from the expected that has no apparent justification in the story okay?

In my imagination, I envision that colonization will be done by relatively homogeneous groups, as the original partitioning up of the Americas was. Catholics here, Portuguese there, Puritans there, convicts there, and so forth. For that reason, it didn't seem too much of a stretch to imagine that this colony was some sort of experimental Latino-Catholic Utopia, though I never really came out and spelled that out.

What do you think?

rebecca said...


Could you email me the encryption key?


Joe Iriarte said...

Sent! :)