Author Topic: Science Fiction Fantasy - Prologue - Need honest feedback (1400 words)  (Read 234 times)

Offline summernaly

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I know this is a little long, so even if you don't quite feel like reading the whole thing, I wouldn't mind some feedback even on a few paragraphs  :)

This is the Prologue for my Science-Fiction Fantasy novel. I didn't want it to feel totally futuristic like typical SciFi, but I also don't want it to feel too medieval like Fantasy. So I'm kind of taking the elements I like from both genres and mashing them together, set in a world where they co-exist. The Prologue involves all 3 main character POVs, and the chapters that follow will focus on a single POV per chapter.

Natharon punched in the last variable, and turned his focus to the clear liquid sitting inconspicuously in its vial. The frequency tray beneath the vial hummed ever so slightly, vibrating at the rhythm set by the algorithm. The vibrations were imperceptible to the naked eye, and the tiny glass vial didn’t seem to even move. Still, Natharon kept his eyes glued to the liquid within. He counted the seconds as they passed. He had just reached the 26th count, when the change began.

The perfectly clear liquid began to illuminate from within, faintly at first, steadily growing brighter. Natharon leaned forward. This was it. His eyes began to water as he stared at the vial unblinkingly, waiting, hoping. And in the turn of a second, the once transparent liquid had turned a luminous blue.

For a moment, he sat frozen in place, before quickly whipping back to the console and hitting a button. The faint hum of the frequency tray died off abruptly. And on it sat the little glass of pure blue victory. After months of toiling. After countless sleepless nights. He had finally done it. He sat still for a moment, marvelling at his creation. Then he sprang into action.

Within minutes he was holding a syringe loaded up with the clear blue liquid. He stretched out his arm in front of him and took a deep breath.

The sharp point of the needle punctured the skin, and the clear blue liquid invaded the tissue. The faintest hint of a bluish-glow remained at the surface before disappearing. Quickly setting aside the syringe, Natharon picked up a thin scalpel. The edge shuddered only slightly as he drew it across what seemed like the last patch of virgin skin on his heavily scarred arm. Three shallow cuts at near perfect intervals, varying only in size, growing from a finger’s breadth to an inch. Blood began to seep out. Even though he flinched against the pain, he didn’t reach for the bandages just yet. Instead, he trained his eyes on the wounds and waited.

Rising from somewhere in the depths of his bloodstream, the bluish glow returned to the surface, growing in intensity. The glow spread through the surrounding area, seeking out the boundaries of the injury and isolating the healthy tissue from the damaged. Once the depth of the cuts were properly identified, the glowing substance began to gravitate towards itself from either sides of the wound, slowly drawing the split flesh together. With a faint sizzle, the infused skin pressed together and held, sealing the wound. Thread-like veins spread out, outlining the freshly-sealed skin, pulsing with a slight bluish tinge under a glossy sheen of blood; the only evidence that there had been some trauma to the skin.

Natharon’s blue eyes reflected the glow as he bent closer to inspect the skin. Reaching for a handful of the gauze, he wiped away the blood left on the surface. There really was no trace left of the wounds; just the glow of blue, that was growing fainter by the second. He straightened up and deposited the blood-soaked bandages on a shallow metal tray, a slow smile tugging at the corner of his lips. He absent-mindedly ran his fingers through his hair, pushing back the longer strands that had fallen onto his face, and unwittingly leaving a trace of red on his light copper hair. He eyes floated towards the screen, his algorithm still on display, and then back to the patch of pristine skin on his inner forearm. The glow had all but faded now. He leaned back and closed his eyes in bittersweet triumph.

On the eastern outskirts of the city of Calindel, seven legionnaires arrayed in black armour came to a halt, close to the edge of the Sybian Valley. A few paces away, the ground disappeared suddenly, giving way to an enormous dark abyss. The legionnaire at the front of the patrol stepped up carefully to the edge of the vast chasm. Lifting up her visor, Sophiera sank down on one knee and slowly extended her arm out over the edge, breath misting in the gloomy night. The moonlight glinted off her armour as she placed a gloved hand against the top of the canyon wall.

“What is it?”

Sophiera raised a hand to silence the tall figure that had broken away from the rest of the patrol and was approaching her. Jarrod stopped in his tracks, a few paces away from her.

She waited a few moments longer. The night was still. She leaned back away from the edge and carefully stood up, still staring out over the valley.

She lowered her visor, hearing the faint hiss as it sealed into her helmet. “I thought I felt something,” she said quietly. The broadcaster in her helmet would carry her voice to the rest of the patrol.

“Felt something?” Although his visor hid his face, she could picture Jarrod’s eyebrows raising. “Like what? A tremor?” he asked, as he slowly took one step closer to where she stood. Jarrod’s discomfort with heights meant that he wouldn’t be getting any closer to the edge than that. Knowing this, Sophiera backed away from the cliff, and moved towards him.

“Maybe,” she replied, her gaze still fixed towards the valley. She could just barely make out the outline of a massive wall on the far side, many leagues away - all that was visible of the city of Drovatis. There was a nagging uneasiness in her stomach. “It could be nothing. I think I’m just on edge.”

“Literally,” She could hear the smirk in Jarrod’s voice. He took a step backwards, as if his own remark had reminded him that they were still too close to the edge for his comfort. “You really think it was a tremor? It hasn’t even been a week since the last one.”

Sophiera slowly shook her head. “You’re right. Forget about it. Let’s finish our route.”

At the northern edge of the city, just beyond the Sea Gate, a man strode down the pier, having just disembarked from a trade-ship making its nightly drop-off at the docks. A hunched over figure scurried two steps behind him.

“We could have just stayed the night on the boat, you know,” the bent-over man said, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. He had to raise both of his hands to do so on account that they were bound together. He glanced around him. “Ain’t no rush to get to the city right away.”

“The sooner I get rid of you the better.”

“Aw don’t say that. I thought we was becoming friendly.”

“Just shut up and keep up.”

Aside from the gentle slap of the water as it lapped against the pier, the harbour was peaceful, relatively quiet as the tradesmen silently unloaded their cargo. The only other sound was the steady thud of the men’s feet as they continued towards the harbour gates. The prisoner was barefoot.

The night was crisp, the inky sky stretching starless from horizon to horizon, punctured only by the red sickle of the moon. It was, by all accounts, a beautiful night, the salty scent of the ocean mixed with the pristine aroma of progress wafting through the brisk night air.

“The air smells strange here,” the prisoner said, sniffing pointedly.

Tsedekier inhaled deeply, and scowled. “It’s clean.”

Just as he reached the gates, the ground shook.

The ground beneath Research-Bay-17 began to shake as the tremors began. Natharon stood up quickly, startled by the intensity of the vibrations. This wasn’t the first tremor they had felt in Calindel in the past months, but this definitely seemed the strongest. His eyes darted around the room, gauging if anything was in danger of shattering or falling over. Despite the rattling from the cabinets, everything seemed secure. Disconnecting the small black journal that was plugged in to the console, he snapped it shut and shoved it inside the pocket of his coat before moving quickly to the doorway and out into the passageway beyond.

Sophiera had just signalled the patrol to resume its march, when they were one and all knocked off their feet by the violent trembling of the ground beneath them. Stunned momentarily, she quickly scrambled back up to her feet, hastily looking around to make sure the rest of the patrol were alright. The fact that just moments ago she had been standing on the very edge of the cliff, flashed across her mind. She shook off an involuntary shudder, as the rest of legionnaires shakily stood up around her.

Satisfied that they were all unharmed, Sophiera had just begun to signal their hasty return to the city, when a deep rumbling sound drew her eyes across the chasm.

The sound of a sickening crack echoed across the void, followed by an almighty crash as a great cloud of dust rose in the distance from the other end of the Sybian valley.

Offline Nether

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Re: Science Fiction Fantasy - Prologue - Need honest feedback (1400 words)
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2021, 05:55:14 PM »
Honestly? You lost me on the first sentence. I was feeling iffy when I saw the character name (which is my personal preference so YMMV), but then you had "the clear liquid sitting inconspicuously in its vial" -- where the "inconspicuously" was the deal-breaker (although describing liquid as "sitting" in a vial struck me as strange). If I was just picking up a book at a store or library, that would have been when I put it back down because it's just a really weird sentence and, when the first sentence does something weird, I assume the rest of the book will be like that.

However, in the interests of providing more general feedback, I decided to glance at the rest. There are a few things in that first paragraph that turned me off as a reader (the third sentence feels a little redundant since if something is "imperceptible to the naked eye" then there's little need to mention that it didn't seem to move) and some of the general trends were reflected in the rest of the sample distracted me from the story (for example, there are only so many times you need to describe the liquid as "clear").

I was also confused by why the color change was enough to indicate the process had done what was needed, but I imagine that's something either established later on or unimportant. It's a detail that stopped me, but it wasn't a distraction.

Beyond that, there were minor things with the prose that took me out of the story for a moment. Otherwise, the prose in the first scene was fine. I'm not going to say I was overly grabbed by the opening scene with Natharon, but I don't really need to be hooked by an opening (assuming that the cover and blurb on the back seem interesting).

I wasn't as enthused by the Sophiera scene since the writing felt weaker.

The third scene was a bit more interesting.

Then the last two scenes -- Natharon 2 and Sophiera 2 -- just feel too damn short. In general, it feels like the prologue has too much jumping around.

Taking my initial objection off the table, I think if I was just had the physical book in my hands -- and again, this depends on what the blurb is like -- I might read the rest of the chapter and from there decide whether or not to continue. Nothing that's happened so has hooked me, but given the genre I usually give it at least a chapter before deciding whether to keep reading.

Offline summernaly

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Re: Science Fiction Fantasy - Prologue - Need honest feedback (1400 words)
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2021, 10:32:32 PM »
Thank you so much for the feedback! Really appreciate it.

To be honest I've been sitting with this opening scene for over four years now. It was the first thing I ever wrote in this book, and I've been too afraid to change it. Literally the first two scenes with Natharon and Sophiera are the oldest scenes. The third scene which you found interesting is something I rewrote completely very recently. So that at least gives me some hope that all is not lost  ;D

I'll definitely work on my prose. I know it's not the best and probably needs a massive amount of editing. But I'm still at the stage where I want to know if my story / characters work. Maybe I need to do a massive overhaul...

Really appreciate the honest feedback! You are doing God's work my friend!