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Connection - 1 (The Unholy Info Dump)

by fortis


A/N: The words in ALL-CAPS are names/details that I need to change/revise/review/research. Also the parts in [[double brackets]] are the parts I'm considering taking out. They are likely not going to stay. I apologize for how absolutely info dumpy this is. I'm awful at first chapters.

Also, warning for some gross stuff involving skin? Like, medical issues. You'll see what I mean, but don't tell me I didn't warn you.

~1117 Words

“And they didn’t give any further updates to their ETA, did they?” a councilwoman asked.

Kerra said that no, she had not been made aware of any updates, and she resisted the urge to say, “If they had said anything, wouldn’t I have told you?” This was a common urge at these meetings between her and the Council of ABYSSIA. One might think that the government of what was left of the entire human population would at least have it together enough to not ask stupid questions.

The councilwoman frowned and narrowed her eyes at Kerra, as if she were to blame. “At the rate they’re going, we’ll be lucky if they even see the planet before their initial food and oxygen stores run out.”

“Then it’s a good thing they prepared triple that amount, isn’t it?” said a cool voice from Kerra’s left. “Thank you Kerra, as always. You may go.”

Relieved, Kerra slipped out of the windowless conference room, past the secretary in the foyer, and into the relative cool of the Upper Mains.

Neon-hued signs advertising anything and everything flashed and blinked at her from all sides. It was a little after 1 PM, so all their colors and flashes were set in daytime mode. By law, all lights had to be dimmed at night time, and no white light of any kind was allowed. Kerra, dizzied by the flashing, leaned against the walkway railing and looked down. Below her stretched about a mile of city, full of light that turned to pinpricks toward the bottom.

Kerra liked to imagine that the swirling vertigo of lights looked somewhat like stars. Although, she’d never seen stars, and likely never would. ABYSSIA was a city built underground after the surface of the earth was made uninhabitable by sub-atomic weapons and biological warfare. The city was built like a three-dimensional grid: the buildings were pillars that reached all the way from the bottom to the top, reinforced by horizontal beams that acted as walkways to travel between pillars. Kerra supposed it was beautiful in its own logical way.

She sighed and pulled herself away from the railing. She’d have to pass several more pillars before She reached the central elevator hub. She could think about the structure of ABYSSIA while she walked. Most of the pillars around here were government facilities, but occasionally, Kerra would pass a restaurant, a convenience store, a bar. Now she was passing one of the top-secret government facilities with mirrored windows. A blue light caught her eye, and Kerra stopped dead in her tracks.

She had left her hat in the conference room. Kerra gritted her teeth and stared at her reflection. More specifically, she stared at her skin. Even more specifically, she stared at what was under her skin. Circuits and wires glowed a bright blue. Kerra always tried to hide them when she was out in public. She always wore closed-toed shoes, high socks, pants, a trench coat, gloves, a scarf, and a brimmed fedora-like hat. Sure, she looked odd when she wore it, but she’d rather be thought of having an eccentric fashion sense [[or an anomaly that made her body always feel cold]] than the truth.

[[She wished she had an anomaly that made her constantly feel cold. It was always hot in ABYSSIA, especially in the Lower Downings, where she lived, and constantly wearing so many layers made Kerra practically miserable with heat. But that was better than the looks and comments she got when people saw her skin.]]

It wasn’t really skin at all, really. It was synthetic. She had been born with an anomaly that had caused her skin to constantly slough off. While doctors had been able to slow the process and lessen the pain, it was clear Kerra wouldn’t be able to have any sort of a normal life without cybernetic treatment. So, in an excruciating series of invasive procedures, all of Kerra’s skin was removed and replaced by a prototype of synthetic epidermis.

But these days, the few people who had synthetic skin didn’t also have glowing circuits and wires beneath it. That was a feature only the prototype had, to allow the scientists to better understand where problems might arise. But these scientists were long since dead. Kerra’s body was a piece of archaic technology, thanks to her second anomaly.

How did it go? Everen asked, breaking through Kerra’s thoughts. Everen was one of Kerra’s identical triplet sisters. She was currently 2.5??? LIGHTYEARS away, on a ship bound for an earthlike planet. A ship that a certain councilwoman didn’t think would see its destination before it ran through its initial food and oxygen supply.

Same as ever, Kerra replied. They asked stupid questions, I responded politely. She didn’t have to talk to communicate with Everen or Shandi, her other sister. Her sisters were always just a thought away.

This was her second anomaly, one shared with her sisters. No matter how far apart, they shared a telepathic connection through which they could share thoughts, emotions, and even visuals. It was for this reason that when they were 18, the Council of ABYSSIA approached them and asked if one would like to join the PLANET colonization effort while the other two stayed and acted as human walkie-talkies.

“Asked” would be putting it politely. The Council had practically begged on their hands and knees, promising them anything. Eventually Everen had relented and volunteered to go. It’d always been her dream to escape the city and see the sky, and there it was being handed to her. This was about 250 years ago. The triplets and their mother had all been put in stasis while the ship travelled.

It had been three years since they had all awoken, and Kerra still wasn’t used to how much everything had changed. Not to mention, all the people she had ever known were dead. Shandi had moved on easily, joining a gang and calling them her new family, but Kerra was left to grieve quietly, knowing deep down that what she was doing was for the greater good, but still missing her old life anyway.

She’d reached the central elevator hub by now, trying hard to hide her face and avoid as many people as possible, though the central elevator hub was always crowded, no matter what level you were on. She received a few curious stares, a few disgusted ones, but overall it was alright. Everen was prattling in her mind about the drama happening on board her ship. Kerra half-listened as she stepped into the elevator and watched the world collapse into bright streaks of light as the elevator plummeted the mile to Lower Downs. 


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Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:12 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I was looking for a novel to review and I saw a couple of your chapters in the green room. So...I thought I'd start at the beginning. Anyway.

First Impression: It is an unholy info dump although surprisingly the flow hasn't been broken up to badly. It was not bland. But the history is a little bit like well....a history lesson. And some interesting characters introduced.

Anyway let's get to it,

“And they didn’t give any further updates to their ETA, did they?” a councilwoman asked.

Kerra said that no, she had not been made aware of any updates, and she resisted the urge to say, “If they had said anything, wouldn’t I have told you?” This was a common urge at these meetings between her and the Council of ABYSSIA. One might think that the government of what was left of the entire human population would at least have it together enough to not ask stupid questions.


Is that an actual acronym or a made up word?

Neon-hued signs advertising anything and everything flashed and blinked at her from all sides. It was a little after 1 PM, so all their colors and flashes were set in daytime mode. By law, all lights had to be dimmed at night time, and no white light of any kind was allowed. Kerra, dizzied by the flashing, leaned against the walkway railing and looked down. Below her stretched about a mile of city, full of light that turned to pinpricks toward the bottom.


Nice description there.

She had left her hat in the conference room. Kerra gritted her teeth and stared at her reflection. More specifically, she stared at her skin. Even more specifically, she stared at what was under her skin. Circuits and wires glowed a bright blue. Kerra always tried to hide them when she was out in public. She always wore closed-toed shoes, high socks, pants, a trench coat, gloves, a scarf, and a brimmed fedora-like hat. Sure, she looked odd when she wore it, but she’d rather be thought of having an eccentric fashion sense [[or an anomaly that made her body always feel cold]] than the truth.


Well that's quite an interesting feature for a character to have.

But these days, the few people who had synthetic skin didn’t also have glowing circuits and wires beneath it. That was a feature only the prototype had, to allow the scientists to better understand where problems might arise. But these scientists were long since dead. Kerra’s body was a piece of archaic technology, thanks to her second anomaly.


And the scientists of today can't replace this and update her skin?

How did it go? Everen asked, breaking through Kerra’s thoughts. Everen was one of Kerra’s identical triplet sisters. She was currently 2.5??? LIGHTYEARS away, on a ship bound for an earthlike planet. A ship that a certain councilwoman didn’t think would see its destination before it ran through its initial food and oxygen supply.


That is quite far away. Definitely out of our solar system so points for science.

This was her second anomaly, one shared with her sisters. No matter how far apart, they shared a telepathic connection through which they could share thoughts, emotions, and even visuals. It was for this reason that when they were 18, the Council of ABYSSIA approached them and asked if one would like to join the PLANET colonization effort while the other two stayed and acted as human walkie-talkies.



That doesn't sound like the worst job in the world.

“Asked” would be putting it politely. The Council had practically begged on their hands and knees, promising them anything. Eventually Everen had relented and volunteered to go. It’d always been her dream to escape the city and see the sky, and there it was being handed to her. This was about 250 years ago. The triplets and their mother had all been put in stasis while the ship travelled.


That doesn't make too much sense there. If they begged that's still pretty polite. The way you phrased that first sentence made it sound like the council had done threatening and demanding.

Aaand that's it for this chapter.

Overall: Okay as far as first chapters go this isn't bad actually. I definitely want to read more after reading this. The info that was dumped sounded really interesting. And the character introduced sounds pretty good. Let's see how this unfolds.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:09 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Fort, fort, fort,

Can't say that I didn't warn ya that I'd be here ;) Though honestly I can't rightly say what's wrong with me today reviewing-wise, but hey, I'mma roll with it. Let's jump on in...

“And they didn’t give any further updates to their ETA, did they?” a councilwoman asked.


Okay, so this is like 100% a personal opinion, but it's my soap box, so I'mma preach on it, okay? Okay.

So, this is a pretty good start, but honestly I'm not the hugest fan of starting anything (like even chapters, but certainly not novels) with dialogue. This worked pretty decently I think, but in general I recommend against it, as you have a better chance to set up the setting and the mood with some description rather than just tossing us in the middle of a scene using dialogue.

One might think that the government of what was left of the entire human population would at least have it together enough to not ask stupid questions.


Hah, not with the government.

past the secretary in the foyer,


The supremely muscular one?! Okay, fine, I'm not supposed to know that yet. I'll be good...

ABYSSIA was a city built underground after the surface of the earth was made uninhabitable by sub-atomic weapons and biological warfare. The city was built like a three-dimensional grid: the buildings were pillars that reached all the way from the bottom to the top, reinforced by horizontal beams that acted as walkways to travel between pillars.


Ahah, see, this is why you shouldn't start a novel on chapter 18 xD This makes so much more sense than what I was trying to piece together from the context clues later on. Thank you for this clarity -- I appreciate it.

She could think about the structure of ABYSSIA while she walked.


Ahah, sneaky, but I see what you did there, you sly author ;)

More specifically, she stared at her skin. Even more specifically, she stared at what was under her skin.


Okay, I'm really not entirely sure how I feel about this. It seems like it's supposed to be humorous, and in a way it kinda is, but I'm not really loving the more specifically/even more specifically thing you've got going on here.

And I recognize that this is your gah-first-draft-first-chapter terror that's probably going to be all but re-written before you get to the final draft, but I do think this is a pretty decent start, and if you decide to keep it, then I'd edit these parts out a bit :)

So, in an excruciating series of invasive procedures, all of Kerra’s skin was removed and replaced by a prototype of synthetic epidermis.


Ooouch. But at the same time, that whole scene at Ruth's house makes a lot more sense now. xD

Everen was one of Kerra’s identical triplet sisters... Her sisters were always just a thought away.
.

Okay, so, I like this. I do. I feel incredibly vindicated in my ability to have discerned this later on in the novel, and this is good confirmation that I was, in fact, right about my deductions. Buuut, it is pretty heavy info dump-y. Maybe try to make it a bit subtler when you bring that information in? Somehow? I've got no ideas at the moment, but there's my complaint nonetheless.

The triplets and their mother had all been put in stasis while the ship travelled.


Ahhh, that explains the out-dated tech. Gotcha.

into bright streaks of light as the elevator plummeted the mile to Lower Downs.


It really interests me that the elevator doesn't interfere with their communication. I mean, I guess it makes sense that it doesn't -- but I guess I was kinda thinking of it as a mental cellphone sort of thing, so I expected things like elevators to cause interference. But it's super cool that it doesn't!

~ ~ ~

Okay! So, as you said at the beginning, this chapter is pretty info-dumpy. It provides a lot of critical information that is clearing up so much of what I've already read (as I mentioned above haha), but I'd definitely recommend that you go back and clean it up a bit, now that you've had plenty of time to get the novel on track with lovely subsequent chapters. Perhaps space this info out a bit... somehow?

I don't know. Maybe the councilwoman could be nasty towards her somehow and throw her half-cyborg-ish appearance in her face? Or have her at a doctor's appointment? Or something? Something to make the descriptions feel more natural and like they flow, rather than like they're just being tossed at us just because we need to know the info.

This was a pretty good hook in and of itself, though! I mean I'm biased, since I'm already invested in the story and not just reading it fresh for the first time, but I highly enjoyed reading this. It's too bad I didn't stumble across it all the way back in July -- I've been missing out on this gem for so long! Alas.

I think that's all I've got for now! As always if you have any questions, comments, or sarcastic remarks, my inbox is always open ;)

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)




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Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:37 pm
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Tenyo wrote a review...



Hey Fort < 3

I'll hold out because this is a work in progress and I'm gonna guess that you're already editing out some of it, but, stuff I like that I think you should definitely keep in it when making edits;

I love how Kerra's enhancements are actually almost archaic in the time period she's ended up in. Something about having something be outdated when it's so far ahead of our current technology has both the effect of being relatable- because neither of us really know what's going in the current time period- but of also still being interesting in its advancement.

Kerra's perspective and your style of writing make your descriptions quite beautiful. I especially love the city, the grid with the horizontal beams and the logicality of it. It's a really strong image without being overly complex, so it would be great to keep those in there.

The curious and occasional disgusted stares is something I like. It may be a completely personal preference but I have a fondness for physically imperfect characters. It immediately sets aside the aesthetics and tells me that her value lies in who she is not in the way she appears to others, and that gives me a lot of hope for her.




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Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:41 pm
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CaptainJack wrote a review...



Hey there Fort.
I saw in LMS that you were looking for a reviewer so I decided to drop by.

Just gonna avoid talking about the title for now.

“And they didn’t give any further updates to their ETA, did they?” a councilwoman asked.

I don't know if I've ever reviewed any of your prose before. Probably not?
I like to start with the first line because I don't know any better way to look in to the heart of a piece. As a starter, this line doesn't speak much to me and that's partially a personal thing about scenes that begin with dialogue. The main character isn't introduced until the following line so for now the reader is just dealing with a vague, anonymous councilwoman.
She does seem threatening though so that's something you have going on.

Kerra said that no, she had not been made aware of any updates, and she resisted the urge to say, “If they had said anything, wouldn’t I have told you?”

This line of dialogue then felt equally weird to me because her actual response is in more the form of thoughts and then her thoughts are in the standard format. It took me a couple of times of reading to get what you were trying to do with the style, it's just another thing that was a little shocker.
On one hand I think you were going for shockers later on but it wasn't meant to be done. So think about that little matter.

I'm glad I waited until later on to comment on the title because it makes so much sense to me now. I wasn't sure about this story when I picked it up. I was certainly more sure of reading it than I was about the other LMSs that I've been reviewing. It did take a little while before the reader gets to a slight explanation of the title but that's more me than a comment complaint.

Your other readers have already covered a lot of what i was thinking but the thing you were mainly worried about was the info dumping? And yes, it does get a bit info-dumpy but Fort let's come back to the fact of how many novels I've read on yws. You're doing pretty alright dude and while it does need a bit of work as an opening, at least you're recognizing that fact.

I'll be back later, if you want these reviews even lol.
- lizz




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Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:59 pm
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Que wrote a review...



Hi fortis!

I know your later chapters are still in the green room, but I sort of wanted to start out at the beginning, I hope you don't mind! Sorry for also getting to this later than planned, hopefully I'll be able to consistently review your novel once I get my schedule down.

“Thank you Kerra, as always. You may go.”

It seems like she was released pretty quickly? Perhaps there was further conversation that we didn't get to see, but if she didn't have any updates (at least about ETA), then it doesn't seem like there was much of a point in having her at a big fancy meeting. Maybe you could point out that it felt pointless, or make it seem as if more has been said.

It was a little after 1 PM, so all their colors and flashes were set in daytime mode.

Although, she’d never seen stars, and likely never would. ABYSSIA was a city built underground after the surface of the earth was made uninhabitable by sub-atomic weapons and biological warfare.

This is sort of making me wonder about the timeline. Kerra has never seen stars, so she must have been in Abyssia her whole life, and probably others too. But they still have "daytime" and "nighttime", using AM and PM. Are they trying to cling to some semblance of day and night because humans on earth always have? It just seems a little weird since presumably it's been a long time since anyone has seen the sun. I don't know if you want to throw in that they try to keep traditions, or if it needs to be mentioned at all, it's just something I thought of.

She had left her hat in the conference room. Kerra gritted her teeth and stared at her reflection. More specifically, she stared at her skin.

I like the blue glowing under her skin, but I also have to wonder--does she have hair? Do the circuits show from underneath her hair? Or are they just evident in her face/neck area and the hat would help cover that? You say "more specifically", but then don't talk about the part of her glowing circuitry that's showing.

She didn’t have to talk to communicate with Everen or Shandi, her other sister. Her sisters were always just a thought away.

I think the second line makes it clear that both of them are her sisters, so maybe saying "her other sister" is a little bit redundant.

The Council had practically begged on their hands and knees, promising them anything.

This just struck me as a little weird--I feel like if the government needed one of the sisters for this mission, it would just find a legal way to take one. Or at least, offer them anything but threaten things if they refuse. Of course I'm glad that this seems to be a decent government, but that just stood out a little bit.

The triplets and their mother had all been put in stasis while the ship travelled.

Ooh, this is curious. Their mother too? Will we find out later why she was also put in stasis? Interesting!

Overall, I really like this. I'm anxious to see more of Abyssia, and the relationship between the three sisters. You've got a really interesting plot setup and a neat world to set the story in--possibly other worlds as well, if we ever see anything from Everen's point of view. I'm excited to see where you take this, and hope you get to expand more on the mental connection and spaceship/Abyssia aspects of it. I know your title said it was an info dump, and my thought is that all the info you put in here is sort of necessary and should come up in the first chapter--and at the same time, I feel like there's still mystery! So I don't think it's as bad as you think it is. :)

Thank you for letting me review your story!
-Q




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Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:05 pm
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Pompadour wrote a review...



Hello, fortiglump! Here as promised.

I'm quite intrigued by the premise you've set up for this piece; cyberpunk as a genre is in itself so fascinating and mottled, and it's great how well you've established the feel of it so early-on in the novel. I agree with Lauren about the way you work with information--I'm one of those readers who like feeling their way around the rocks rather than plunging headfirst into the tide, so I much appreciate the assist. Also! The fact that the worldbuilding is underlaid by character presence makes the information-giving much more natural. It reminds me of how Miyazaki sets scenes by having his characters walk through what is usual for them, but unusual for the viewer, like in Howl's Moving Castle.

Kerra's condition also piques my interest--the way your writing flows when you describe her is one of my favourite bits in this chapter--and I'm looking forward to seeing you flesh out her character in further instalments!

I did find it difficult to keep up with some of the information given to us, specifically the section where Everen, Kerra and Shandi's telepathic ability was introduced. Also, it was difficult for me to sink my teeth into the chapter initially, because the dialogue was in reference to points of interest that hadn't been introduced yet (or even hinted at). It reads like a section extracted from the middle of a chapter: super-specific, concrete details reading in a space that starts out as vacuum. I'm searching for something to cling to, and I don't find that something until Kerra walks out of the building and into the city. We don't find out who the cold voice belongs to, either, which would be fine if there were at least a couple of contextual hints about who it was. But even Kerra doesn't react to it, aside from being relieved--if the mystery is not imperative to a great reveal, don't keep the reader hanging in air. We're already in a world where things need to be explained to us; don't bog up the pace with ambiguities.

I can't shelve the first scene under a single p.o.v either; the voice is detached yet wavers between characters, something that third person omniscient has a proclivity for, but unlike omniscient, the viewer's scope is limited. The point-of-view is really floundering in its establishment because it goes from very ... limited omniscient-y sorts to Kerra's perspective. I think it's Kerra's perspective where the voice settles itself nicely, so perhaps this is something that could be reworked in the second draft? I do believe the scene with the councilwoman is of importance, but it could be woven into the more info-heavy paragraphs, perhaps, so information and scene read side by side?

The way you describe things is so lovely. It's picturesque. If it was a painting I would eat it.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this! I'll try to get to the next chapter sometime today, hopefully. Keep writing!

Cheers.

~Pomp x




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Tue Jul 17, 2018 2:02 am
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Lauren2010 wrote a review...



HEY HO SORRY I'M SO GODAWFUL LATE TO THIS.

Let me just say, I know you're calling this the unholy infodump but it truly doesn't read that way. I'm fascinated by the world you're building here and in most cases I think you're giving exactly as much detail as you need for us to start to step into this world.

I am so excited to learn more about these three sisters! I'm very interested as well in the fact that we're not in the perspective of the sister who offered to go on the mission. I think that's a great choice, especially since it's not necessarily the obvious one. Also, they already sound like three separate, fascinating individuals which is hard to pull off with triplets. Especially when we only meet one of them face to face in this chapter.

The only comment I have on world building or info dumping is:

Neon-hued signs advertising anything and everything flashed and blinked at her from all sides.

I would be interested to know some examples of "anything and everything". This could 100% be my preference, but I find that worldbuilding gets all the stronger when you give a few very specific details to back it up. In fact, this applies to any moment of world building. The only ones I found to be a bit overkill were the descriptions of the whole city and the description of how Kerra dresses. Three good, strong, specific details is my rule of thumb for any description. You obviously don't have to follow that, but I find it a good guideline for avoiding too much info.

Otherwise, I'm a bit confused on the nature of the stasis the triplets and their mother were put in. So one of the sisters offered to go on this mission, but they weren't ready to actually put the mission into action? Or it would just truly take 250 years to travel to where the mission could take place? Mostly, it seems like an arbitrary detail you're putting in to make it so the characters have no touchstones to people in their past. I'd love to get a bit more justification for this (not tons, just a sentence or two!).

All in all, this was an excellent chapter! I'm so excited to go on to the next and get all caught up. Thanks so much for sharing! Keep writing!

--Lauren




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Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:48 am
ChristenedPages says...



I like how this is going so far- you have a pretty strong narration. I'm interested to see how the sci-fi themes will play out. One thing that could make this better is maybe having a hook at the beginning to draw readers in? It is kind of an abrupt way to start. Over all, this is going good so far!





Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
— Matthew 12:25