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SOL - Prologue and Introduction

by Variks


PROLOGUE - DEBT UNPAID

The world does not owe you anything. That is the one thing you must remember. Do not expect that the world will treat you with kindness and will support your ever-increasing need for money and power. One day, everything will go sour on you. Nothing will go according to the plan you have laid out, thinking you even have a sliver of control over the planet you live on. Rather, the world believes you have a debt to it, a debt that has not been paid, and like a tax collector, it plans to take that debt, and sooner than you think. The world does this with good reason, after all. You as a society have done so much harm to the world, what, with the pollution, the coal mining, the pointless slaying of animals just to better yourselves. It’s almost as though you deserve it. You feel like you have done nothing, making excuses that you’ve never burned fossil fuels, haven’t killed any animals. You blame it on all the other people who do that, right? That was them, not you, you haven’t done anything wrong. However, you are quite wrong. You use up the electricity gained from burning fossil fuels, you use paper enough to use up the wood inside the largest tree you’ve seen, and the meat you eat, the vegetables and fruits, all come from the hard work of your society. You realize, yes, you are at fault for this destruction, and that you’re a horrible person to do such a thing. You would be better off just to secede from society, go on your own in the wild and build a shack of fallen sticks and leaves, wouldn’t you? Yet the American Dream is to be comfortable in the world, despite the distress it causes in nature. Cut down a forest, concoct a couch; burn up biomass, turn on your television; blow up a cave, give your spouse a ring. It seems so petty, to destroy such a beautiful thing just for your comfort.

What if I told you, that beautiful thing was more than just fuel for your thriving? That it wasn’t just a growing stock of bamboo, waiting to be harvested? What if I told you that nature was coming back, not to be harvested, but to harvest? That thing that no one fears anymore because it is human nature to think we have even the slightest bit of control over the universe, it will be the end of humanity itself.

INTRODUCTION - A HISTORY OF EARTH

Some one-hundred and fifty million kilometers away from Sol, the center of a solar system in the Milky Way galaxy, is a hydrosphere known as Earth. You know this, or, at least, should know this. It started as one supercontinent, Pangaea, until the tectonic plates underneath shattered, sending them from each other until they reach where they are now.

Somewhere in the timespan between before the splitting up of continents and after, humans were created. By what, no one knows. Some suggest from evolution, evolving from apes. However, gaining sentience through evolution is impossible, debunking that theory, but I digress.

Since then, humans have created incredible new things. Technology, vehicles, space travel, insulation from heat or the lack thereof. We’ve made advancements no other race that we know of has ever done. We’ve learned incredibly useful information about our surrounding universe, how our sun works, what a black hole does, every single one of the most basic materials, elements, and their combinations. However, the existence of humans has not caused only positive effects. Pollution, oil spills, and the like, all because of humans. Some wish to avenge our environment of the damage we have caused it by doing things that are unethical and can cause the eradication of the entire human race.

Recently, scientists have received notification of chemicals being shot from the sun rapidly. Uncertain of how this could have happened, they predict the sun will become a supernova, very soon. Escaping the supernova would be impossible at this time, our space travel technology are not advanced enough. And so, rather than escaping the sun, scientists have begun work on a new kind of insulation. Forming the Heliocorps, the scientists have immediate access to every valuable material on the planet to make this insulation. Not the regular, fluffy, pink stuff you find in your attic; rather something much more insulative. Extreme Heat-Resistant Insulation, or EHRI, was created. Constructed of thousands of different isotopes of the most heat-resistant elements and compounds of our current knowledge, scientists hope that it can withstand the sun’s supernova. If they are right, humanity will survive and can colonize the earth again, and if they are not, they will face the inevitable fate of death.

From this EHRI, sometimes called “Sunsulation,” Heliocorps have built a new kind of underground bunkers called Sun Vaults. They are few and their sizes limited. Inside is everything necessary for human life, as well as radiation-free water tanks and what they call Mental and Intellectual Neurological Device, or MIND, which supposedly can cleanse you of any insanities or mental disorders, or at least, that’s what they say. However, doubting the government in a time like this is the worst possible thing to do.

The single Sun Vault in the United States is located in Galveston, Texas. Being one of the flattest areas on the country, it provides an excellent surface for such deep digging. Twelve randomly selected people from all over the country, but limited to those whose direct parents were at least a Chief Warrant Officer in the Marines.

The estimated supernova date is December 19, 2015. Its effects will arrive at Earth exactly two days after, and should the Sun Vault participants not be inside, they should be killed by the overwhelming heat.


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57 Reviews


Points: 7963
Reviews: 57

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Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:46 am
Celdover wrote a review...



*emerges from the dark depths known as "Lurking"*

Where do I begin?

Let's start with the pretentiousness. I cannot count how many stories I've seen with a beginning similar to this one. It basically sounds like someone trying to warn someone about how hard the world is without actually understanding how hard the world is. It's empty. It's vague. It has no context or meaning to give it substance. Kind of like a mass produced Halloween costume you'd find on a rack at Walmart - it's flimsy, there's a thousand like it, and nothing inside to make it convincing, much less threatening.

And this story appears to be environmental fiction, too. These have been done to death. Openings scolding humanity for how terrible it is for using natural resources have been done to death. Openings talking about how Earth is looking for payback are about as threatening as an angry customer demanding to speak to the manager when you are the manager. You want me to be afraid of the Earth's terrible payback? Make me. Mother Nature does not need someone going around telling people how bad she's going to screw everybody for being mean to the environment. Mostly because she's already screwing everybody over. Show me that part.

I'm also turned off by the narrator's sheer arrogance in this piece. If you're going to do a Green Aesop, this isn't a constructive way of doing it. It has a Holier Than Thou attitude that treats the audience as if they're stupid, and I find that most readers don't appreciate that. This isn't helped by the choice of second person narration, which gives off the intention of directly addressing the real world audience rather than some fantasy equivalent of the audience. Like it's trying to walk the line between essay and science fiction. And falling off.

Ideally, the prologue is supposed to hook your audience into the story you're about to tell. It takes great skill to write a good prologue in general, and even greater skill to write a prologue that insults the audience and still hooks them. My advice? Go back to the drawing board and figure out exactly what you're trying to accomplish with this intro. If you're trying to talk about how people need to be more mindful of their impact on the environment, try essay, not science fiction.

And that was just the first part of the prologue. Onto the second!

...

Aaaaaand I'm lost!

It feels like I was reading one story and tripped completely into another, except the arrogant narrator is still hanging around. There's still the thread of insulting humanity to connect the two parts, but otherwise, what?

I namely have major issues with how Earth's Great Punishment is being carried out by, of all things, a supernova. That's the Sun. Unless Gaia asked Apollo to be her hit man against humanity, I honestly don't see the connection between the first part of your prologue and the second. Also, even basic Googling tells me that our current Sun is way too small to go supernova, so... huh?

But I digress. I have far bigger issues with humanity's solution, this so called "Sun Vault." Let's assume, in this story, the Sun does go supernova for some sci-fi reason. As a result, the parts of the Earth that don't get obliterated by radiation will be incinerated alongside the Earth. Now the temperature of a supernova depends on the specific type and can be tricky to measure, but let me just say that in a Normal Type Ia supernova the core of the star (in this scenario, a white dwarf) would reach temperatures high enough to start carbon fusion, which is greater than 5×10^8 K. In standard form, that is greater than 500,000,000 Kelvin. The temperature of the core of the Earth is estimated to be 6,230 K, plus or minus 500 K. Granted that temperature measurement is before the star collapses, but that gives you a sense of the forces you are dealing with here. No Sun Vault is going to withstand that, no matter how deep you dig it. Because there won't be any ground to dig anymore.

Any way you slice it, this story, when it's not being pretentious, isn't making any sense, which isn't a good thing considering it's the prologue. At first I thought this was going to be an environmentalist story about how humanity needs to be more mindful about how it uses Earth's resources, and then I get blindsided by a supernova that apparently has nothing to do with how humanity uses Earth's resources because it's a supernova. That's bad for Earth, too!

The first thing you need to do before doing anything else is figure out where your focus is. You want to write environmental fiction? Fine, go for it. You want to write about humanity surviving a supernova? Sure! I'm just not sure how those two ideas are connected.

But maybe they are. Maybe this will all make sense later in the story. Maybe there's a reason why the sun went supernova even though it's physically impossible, and maybe there's a reason why the Sun Vault works. But that's the problem. Right now your audience won't understand, and they're probably not going to stick around long enough to find out. So if you are dead set on keeping this "humans somehow cause supernova with reckless environmental policies," I will give you some advice.

First off, give your audience something to identify with. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you today. If you take nothing else from this review, take this. Cut the Holier Than Thou, cut the unexplained science, cut being Mother Nature's middle man and downsize your scale. Yes, I know that extinction-causing events may seem very exciting and a great way to kick off your story, but I find audiences aren't very good at grasping big concepts like that without context. So, how do we get context? Again, with focus.

Right now the audience has nothing to relate to. We have all this doomsday talk and big things happening, but they carry no meaning for the audience. Because they're just events. An event alone can't make your audience feel anything but the vaguest of emotions. It's like the difference between "a wedding" and "your best friend's wedding." There has to be someone to care about for it to mean anything beyond connotations. Which is a long winded way of me saying that we need characters. Preferably likable, interesting characters.

Second, you can take all the questions I have asked about your premise and use those to fuel a mystery that your new cast of characters must solve. Maybe the sun has already gone supernova and they are floating in space in their Sun Vault with no clue as to what happened, why it happened, and how they survived. This makes it so the audience can solve the puzzle with the characters, and there you have a plot instead of a series of endless questions from your readers.

Overall, I see no major grammatical or spelling errors. The issue with this piece lies primarily in poor execution, poor setup, and lack of focus. The Holier Than Thou attitude of the narrator needs to go, and the story needs to be made accessible to the audience by limiting its scope, at least initially. The premise as is has too many holes to count, although that isn't necessarily bad. What is bad is the fact that this prologue is trying to be pretentious and all-knowing yet fails to answer basic questions such as "Why should the audience care?" Had this been portrayed as something more along the lines of a mystery sci-fi, I might have enjoyed it more. Change your approach, and you can change this negative into a positive.

Hopefully this helps.

--Dover




Variks says...


I'll momentarily step away from my attitude that you're attempting to be an asshole, because it's very likely that you're not.
I have a few questions for you.
1) Since when does science fiction make perfect sense and could plausibly happen in real life? Even things like The Martian have bullshit science that doesn't really work while most of it is accurate.
2) The only reason I've used second person is because there are no characters yet. None have been introduced, and I've actually given up on this story, because I've realized how overdone the sci-fi/post-apocalyptic stories are.
3) If you've ever read any of my previously made stories (which you haven't because I've only come on this site recently), you'd know that EVERY prologue that I write is philosophical, to get the reader thinking. No, I'm not trying to induce regret in the reader; no, I'm not trying to make them afraid of "mother nature"; and no, I'm not developing story with the prologue. It's simply nonsensical exposition.
4) Why shouldn't I assume that the reader is stupid? I, for one, would MUCH rather be told things I already know than be told things I don't even have a minuscule level of understanding of.
5) Back to the "sci-fi not making sense", while a lot of it does make at least some sense, most of it is a load of bull. Star Wars is sci-fi, does any of it make sense? No. "Light"sabers are neither made of light nor are they a saber. That's literally one example out of hundreds of thousands.
6) I'd never intended this to be a mystery, nor attempting to prevent anything besides the protagonist's death. Not that it matters anyway.

And yes, I do realize that my "questions" became arguments, so don't bother pointing that out.



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Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:08 am
Europa wrote a review...



Heya! TheFantasy14 here to review.

Okay, I suppose I'm correct in assuming that this is only the synopsis, right? So I can't really do much critiquing on characters or plot holes or the like since I haven't met your cast of delved into the actual story.

Well...darn. That's what I'm best at...
I couldn't help notice that you used second person point of view will this be written like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel?

Where the main character is yourself?

That would certainly set your book apart from the rest since most are done in first or third person.

What I gathered from the synopses was that this is gonna be about the character/characters chosen to live in this Sun Vault.
Feel free to tell me if I'm way off here.

-Fanty




Variks says...


Yeah, most of your assumptions were correct aside from the perspective. I don't exactly plan on doing second person, nor a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel. The second person perspective is what I intend on using only in the prologue and introduction, though I see why you might think it will be that way the whole story.




Carpe Diem
— Catullus