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>>>>I was referring to this, from an earlier post in the thread:

Bob: I'm afraid I'm still not clear on what it is you think has been done to death? That paragraph described a book and a short story about an invisible man, and then mentioned three other short stories. I'm sure the invisible man story has been done many times, but how many have tried to look at the physiological/psychological effects of the transformation, rather than the gee-whiz results of being able to sneak into buildings unseen, etc? (That wasn't rhetorical. I honestly don't know how many times that has been done.)

>>>>The other main point that jumps out at me from your descriptions is that the stories seem to be about the science. In my view (and I believe some disagree with me about this), good fiction, including good science fiction, should be about people.

I agree completely. I tried to strike a balance between the interactions between the characters, the psychological aspects of events, action sequences, nuts and bolts science, and gee-whiz alien technology. The only reason I was describing only the technology in earlier posts was that someone had suggested that my stories seemed to lack the hard science that Analog is looking for (of course, a book isn't going to be submitted to Analog anyway), and I posted a passage to show that I did try for some hard science.

I also include a fair amount of humor (conversational, not pratfalls) counterbalanced with some graphic scenes of physical attack and even torture. (I tried not to get too gory, but I did want to inject some realism to show that even the good guys can get seriously injured. Did Capt. Kirk ever get more than a scratch on his head and a broken rib?)

It's hard to represent the complexities and subtleties of a book in a few sentences or a short passage posting, so I'm not surprised that they are giving off mixed messages (not enough science to one poster and too much to another). I have gotten feedback from three reviewers so far. All pointed out areas where it could be improved, but all said that they thought it was a good read and they would buy it if published. (Perhaps they are all being polite, but their critiques weren't scathing; they merely suggested some ways to strengthen given chapters. So I'm inclined to believe their overall positive assessments.)

I'll be sending the latest draft of the book to my friend in the UK late this week. He and I will work together during his vacation on implementing some of the suggestions that he and other reviewers will have made by then. I may open the book to a second round of reviews at that time, if you are interested. (If so, just drop me a private e-mail.) At this point I'm hoping for a couple of people with strong science backgrounds who can let me know if I messed up anything besides the speed vs. acceleration issue raised earlier.

>>>>I would much rather read about how your protagonists react to their problem, with the nuts and bolts of their solution as mere context to their reaction,

How about this then:

The following is Copyright 2003 by Mark T. Chapman. All rights reserved:

We heard Guido's peals of laughter turn suddenly into shrieks of terror, which attenuated as he fell to his death kilometers below. We rushed over to the low transparent wall at the edge of the platform in time to see the chair-bucket disappear into a cloud hundreds of meters beneath us.

Cap and Tom and Sparks and I stared at one another in horrified, stunned silence. How could it happen so fast? There was nothing we could do but watch helplessly.

“My G--“ Sparks began, then choked up. He put his hand over his mouth.

“Wha-what happened?” Tom asked, his normally olive complexion gone as pale as Sparks' and mine. “H-How? These things have been operating for billions of years. Why now?”

We had no good answer to those questions. “I...guess everything breaks eventually, even Progenitors' stuff.” I said in a monotone, still trying to understand myself what went wrong.

“What are we going to do now?” Sparks ventured. “We don't even know where his body is. What are we going to tell his wife -- and baby?”

“That we got him killed.” I was numb. “He was the one who was always worried about being killed by aliens, and we teased and cajoled him into coming along, and we got him killed by an alien device on an alien world.”

“Oh, sweet Jesus,” Sparks said under his breath. Tears ran down his face, unnoticed.

I looked over at Cap and thought I saw a moist glint in his eyes as well. But I was having trouble seeing clearly myself, so I couldn't be sure. Tom sat down heavily, like a marionette whose strings had suddenly been cut.

“What do we do now?” Tom asked softly, echoing Sparks' earlier query.

“We go home,” Cap answered heavily. “We go home.”


I'm sure it loses something, read out of context, but I hope it demonstrates that there is a lot of human reaction to events, as well as soul searching, in the book.

Thanks for your comments.

Mark.
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