TQR Confidential

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gmails to (from) Hagelslag

Dear Mr. Hagelslag,

The Story Miner in the Monkey Cage has drawn rave reviews from H3K and grudging admiration from the Architext. I have not yet read the piece myself, but was wondering if this bit of criticism from Maggie Murdock (you can reference all the discussion concerning your work by clicking on the site menu item 'Free Market' then going into 'The Terminal') has any validity for you.

Ahem. Sorry to disrupt the love-in, gentlemen, but I have some reservations about this piece of capital. The first section completely overwhelmed me because it was far too LOADED with sci-fi lingo, futuristic techno stuff and wild impossible-to-visualize descriptions. I had no context in which I could absorb it all. I reread that first section about four times before I conceded and moved on. The second section, still an advert, was not quite so jarring. I believe that the VC should start out with a bit about Charley and what he does BEFORE it throws us into the satirical ad campaign. Then that first section makes much more sense to a non-sci-fi reader like myself. Failing that, how about reversing the order of the first two sections? Now, having said that, after that first section, I "got" it. It's irreverent, satirical and a bit scary. Charley is a likeable character and quite comic-tragic in the end.

The piece will likely go onto the next level of vetting regardless, but I was just wondering if her concerns may have an easy fix which you could institute by changing a paragraph here or there. It is by no means a mandate that you must change the story to accommodate Ms Murdock's concerns, I just thought that maybe her concerns would set off one of those lightbulbs in a cartoon balloon above your head. If not, I apologize for my effrontery. The piece sounds very good 'as is.'

Sincerely, TQR

Dear Mr. Rorschalk,

I wasn't aware that my story was under discussion until I received your gmail! Quite mistakingly, I assumed that I would be notified. Sorry about that!

Also, when I checked the TQR website today, I was completely baffled by the amount of discussion the story is generating. Incredible!

I work for an offhsore company in the Black Sea, and this means that I am away from home (and from internet access) for a week, or longer. Then I'm working offshore. Also, internet access is slow, with my very old laptop and dial-up connection, and also a bit erratic in this part of the world. So I was caught quite unaware by this deluge!

Therefore, Mr. Rorschalk, I am downloading all comments (which are quite a lot), and taking them in. Please give me some time to absorb them all, and then I will try my damnedest to reply to them, or at least try to explain what I had in mind with this story.

As to Maggie Murdock's comments in your email: well, this story is *very* unashamedly SF. The opening section is *meant* to overwhelm, to bombard the unsuspecting reader with eyeball kicks and advertising lingo, evoking both a sense of wonder and a sense of dread (or a mixture thereof). It is supposed to hit the ground running, speed up, and drag the reader along in its slipstream.

A bit in the way that giants of the field like Alfred Bester, Harlan Ellison, Robert Sheckley and R.A. Lafferty used to open their most powerful short stories: hitting you like a tornado, lifting you off your feet. (Not that I'm in any way in their class: far from it. But I can try, right?)

Also, the first section isn't really meant to have much deeper meaning: it's meant to set the tone, and draw a new reader -- especially a young one who is *used* to sensory overload through advertising -- into the story. The first part is mostly meant to enjoy the (roller coaster) ride, sweeping the unsuspecting reader along to the later parts, where meaning (hopefully) *does* come into play, and where the pace is let up.

I'll gladly admit that the first section is very much overblown -- exactly like your average advertisment for a new car, or the trailer of a new James Bond movie (the difference between the two is minimal) -- mimicking and thus satirising its source material.

I can understand that people with a literature background will find this too much. Certainly. But this is not aimed at them: it's unashamedly SF. SF and proud of it, the same way that people like Bester, Ellison, Sheckley and Lafferty were proud of it. I can't please all of the people all of the time, and I'm also just a beginning writer. So I first do what I know best, and write SF for SF fans (like myself).

Hopefully, when I get better, I might write a science fiction story that is also pleasing for literature readers like Maggie Murdock. But this is not that story.

Of course, if you insist, I could start the story with Charley. And I am surely open to rewrite suggestion and anything else you and your people have to say. But I just think that opening in a more easy-going manner will simply kill the momentum and pace of this story. It's meant to be dazzling, vibrant, energetic, vigorous. It's probably quite rough around the edges, but that same roughness also gives it its youthful vigour (I hope).

I'll happily work on polishing the story up: it's mostly first draft written in a haze of madness anyway. Images from the crazy brain written down in a word document with almost no filter in between. And therefore I think that starting slowly may very kill this story's sensibility.

Please do keep in mind that I will gladly work on this story, and see of we can improve it. I'll think about changing the beginning, although my gut feeling remains that taking the kick-start out of this piece might very well destroy it's very soul.

Now I will start reading all the comments, and will get back to you about them. But please keep in mind that I am very happy to have passed the first level (was that the floor?), and that I will read all comments with an open mind.



Peter Hagelslag
Novorossiysk, Russia

Dear Mr Hagelslag,

With your permission, I'd like to paste this gmail of yours into the Terminal discussion thread of 'Story Miner' in order to justify keeping it 'as is'. Your detailed explanation of 'why' it is as it is has convinced me, and I haven't even read it yet!

Best Regards, TQR

Dear Mr Rorschalk,

Please be my guest!

And if you need to shorten my somewhat overentusiastic explanation, please feel free, because it is a bit long.

Best regards,



Post a Comment

<< Home