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For the Love of a Woman

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'For the Love of a Woman' is pretty close to final draft. I am opening it up for commentary here before doing the final polish rewrite.

. . .

He barged into my office without even knocking, the door bouncing off a bookcase and rebounding hard enough to send him staggering for a second. Startled, I jumped out of my seat and spun to face skinny, balding little Michael Swanson, as angry as I have ever seen a man get.

“You did it to Joseph! Didn’t you?”

I didn’t know what to make of this confrontation. For one thing I had no idea what he meant, or at least not exactly. Swanson had always been willfully blind to the bond between his son and myself, preferring instead to act instead as if I was just a lab assistant to Joseph and not the reverse. Of course Joseph was easily as brilliant as his father believed, far smarter than nature made me, and by rights our roles should have been inverted. But then I am not as nature made me.

. . .

Read the rest of For the Love of a Woman as a Google Doc.

Very enjoyable...

I liked this, and in some ways I liked it a lot. I liked the themes, I liked how much thought had gone into the mechanics of some parts of the world, and, more importantly, I thought it was a good story.

However, I think that it would have benefited in parts from using concrete imagery, rather than conceptual. I think there were times, when you could have shown us things, rather than telling us. Give us an example...

I drifted away in parts when things were getting a little too informative.

Also, I think your ending needs to be ratcheted up a notch. I would have been tempted to get Joanna the protagonist's old job at the University (hadn't she been a research student under him?) or come up with something equally cruel.

It reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman's 'Reboot' (which is a good thing), and maybe looking at the concrete images and examples he gives for each iteration of his concept would help.

I liked it, I really liked it, but I think you can improve it immensely. If you do, it becomes a great story (as there are great elements to it), rather than a good one.

Good, but could be great!

This is an interesting idea for a story, reminiscent of Doctorow's ownzored. But where Doctorow's story succeeds in telling the story about humans making their first steps to hacking their own bodies by treating the process by which the actual hacking is done through a kind of magical command line interface, this story has a tendency to bog down in occasional bouts of technical babble. It is enough that we understand why the protagonist must pursue certain technological break troughs; it is not necessary to drag the reader through description of how.
The story is at its strongest when it is telling the tale of a pair of dysfunctional lovers, or working out issues with a psychotic and hurt in-law, for it is there that the readership can most identify. We have all felt the frustration of discovering our lover is not who they claim to be. More attention should be paid to these passages as they are what makes the story work. Time spent alone in research labs does not compelling storytelling make.
Perhaps strengthening these passages will also help to clarify the author's message here, because although the story spends a good deal of time working with thematic elements involving sexuality and the root cause of sexual gender identity and orientation, it never really grabs hold of the concepts and drives a point home. Readers are never really asked to consider the underlying social and moral issues behind the research that the story describes.

In all, it was a good read. There is room for grammatical tightening, and I think a workshop or two would greatly benefit the author's craft, but it was, by no means, and unpleasant experience.

Finally, I do want to suggest the author consider removing the unnecessary "Copyright" statement from the top of the story. The literati respect that you hold a all copyright to your written work. Those who don't respect your copyright aren't going to be thwarted by your claiming it. Perhaps instead, the author might release the work under a creative commons licence? See the Social Publishing link at the top of this page for more discussion on this topic.

--Gabe
---Writelarge.com

Great story

I enjoyed this story very much. I liked the way you subtly revealed the protagonist's mental and technological condition over the beginning-middle of the story. Really minor, but perhaps a little more clarity on exactly why the protagonist was in such hot water with the university for something he did not do. i.e., An affair with his assistant, abuse of research by his assistant, he was responsible. Really enjoyed the story, feels real and possible in the not too distant future.

Keep your tenses consistent

I noticed this in the excerpt at the beginning of the page.

This is what you have now:

He barged into my office without even knocking, the door bouncing off a bookcase and rebounding hard enough to send him staggering for a second.

The second two bold words should be: bounced, rebounded.

I know this is a little thing, but I had to reread the first paragraph about four times before I could understand why I couldn't make sense of the paragraph.

I will continue reading the story and let you know my thoughts.

Will

I disagree, too.

There is no grammatical need for every verb in a sentence to have the same tense. It is perfectly grammatical to say:

"He walked in, eating a sandwich."

Partly because:

"He walked in and ate a sandwich."

Would mean something completely different.

(If we're being strict about it, we could easily argue that 'bouncing' and 'rebounding' are participles describing the door. They are not finite verbs and are not subject to maintenance of tense with the finite verb of the sentence.)

I think the use of the present participle in the sentence you quote really brings the image home to the reader. 'Bouncing' and 'rebounding' make it contemporary to us, and much more interesting than simply relating with 'bounced' and 'rebounded' would have done. The sentence which only uses the perfect is clumsy, as well as suggesting a long succession of events, which is clearly not what this sentence means.

Not only is it correct in its original form, but it is also a better and more involving sentence.

I disagree. This sort of

I disagree. This sort of tense-bending seems to me to be quite common.

"He barged into my office without even knocking, the door bounced off a bookcase and rebounded hard enough to send him staggering for a second."

Doesn't work at all.

"He barged into my office without even knocking. The door bounced off a bookcase and rebounded hard enough to send him staggering for a second."

Loses the sense that the door's doing its thing as he's barging in rather than afterwards. Using present tense for the bouncing and the rebounding provides that.

At least, that's how I see it.

Joanne and the Guard

I found your story a very enjoyable read. I rather like the fact that you point out that we are kind of heading in to a 21st century dark age. I also thought that the character development was well done. Which also brings me to the one thing that left a bad taste in my mouth. Joanne marrying the security guard just seemed out of character to me. I can see where the story gains from the "man" marrying a man angle, but a security guard just doesn't ring true to me.

Suggestion for better choice?

Any idea for something that would 'ring true' for Joanne getting married? I can certainly see her marrying a rock star or someone else high-profile. But I'm not certain how to work that into the story so it fits. I originally had her marrying the lawyer, but I realized he was too smart for that.

Jimmy Chang

Perhaps someone at he University. You made a point of Joseph's intelligence, so I don't think Joanne would have settled down with a security guard. Not to insult security guards, but those in academia can be fairly classist.

Some random thoughts which

Some random thoughts which came as I was reading it.

"make a clean breast of things"? eh? Having to stop and think 'is that deliberate or is that a typo' doesn't help with the flow.

I liked how you think it's going to be about Joseph and then it's really about the narrator and his childhood and the implants and ultimately the impact of radical technological modification to human bodies and human consciousness. No doubt this sort of thing will come up increasingly during the twenty-first century.

I did find myself spending an undue amount of time wondering how the computer support talks to Terry's brain implants, but that doesn't spoil the story. That's just me.