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Sound's picture

Big Bang, Inc.

By Sound in Teleport Us

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Description

The world is in shambles, the survivors forced underground for fear of fallout and storms that plague the surface. This is New Earth. Here, David serves his last eviction notice. Big Bang, Inc. Third floor, down the hall. Things will never be the same again. 

 

EDITED: Should be tense issue free. 

Hope you enjoy. This is my first Sci-Fi story. 

Comments

mattymillard's picture
mattymillard from Wolverhampton, England is reading Curse of the Wolf Girl - Martin Millar February 3, 2013 - 12:07pm

Hey! Enjoyed this. I like your dry writing style, a clever concept too! Nice one :-)

Ben_Sharp's picture
Ben_Sharp from London February 4, 2013 - 10:48am

Nice. I like the film-noir tone of the voice, and the past-apocalypses tie in.

Small point, why does 'Donny' become 'Donnie' for a while, and then switch back? :)

B

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 11:45am

Ah, nice catch. Didn't notice that. This was a rewrite of a story I wrote awhile back. Originally it was in third person POV. I think in that version it was spelled Donnie, and when I merged them I must've left parts of it with it. I'll edit it.

Thanks for the comment!

Matt

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep February 4, 2013 - 12:04pm

This is a great story. You have an awesome concept, with a beginning, middle, and end. Your character is well written and relatable. Fun dialogue and commentary all throughout. A satisfying way to spend my lunch hour.

My LBL is attached. Mostly grammar stuff. Nothing another editing pass woudn't have buffed out. You do need to go through and make sure your tenses are correct. I saw a lot of jumping between present and past tense. I know present tense is a pain to adhere to. (My story is in present as well, and I felt like I wrote every sentence twice.) Present tense fits the story just fine though, so I wouldn't take it out.

I don't have a ton else to say. You have a complete story, and I enjoyed it! Keep writing this good stuff!

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 12:32pm

Thanks Ethan! I tried keeping all the past/present tense shifts in separate sections. But you're right, present has been tough to stay consistent. I'll go over it again.

Matt

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep February 4, 2013 - 2:31pm

Sorry, I should have been more precise in my wording. I saw inconsistent tenses. Past tense use in paragraphs where it seemed like your intent was to use present.

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 3:16pm

Oh, ok. Got it. I tend to do that sometimes :) thanks for point it out. Haven't had a chance to look at your LBL, but thanks for taking the time!

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts February 4, 2013 - 4:29pm

Yeah, quite liked this. Very cool concept and it's structured pretty nicely. The only really big structure thing is I didn't really remember that the first section was in media res until I went back after finishing the story. I don't think it really works, or moreso I don't think it's necessary. I'd rather you establish his droll office job more in the beginning than have  a beginning that just reads bizarre until we get to the climax.

Everyone seems to have great synopses of their stories here but in the stories I only really pick up maybe half that info.

I know it's a little overkill because these stories are pretty polished but I did an LBL with some thoughts anyway.

Ethan Cooper's picture
Ethan Cooper from Longview, TX is reading The Kill Room, Heart-Shaped Box, Dr. Sleep February 4, 2013 - 8:13pm

It's wierd, I kept getting interrupted while reading and by the time I was finished, I'd forgotten the start. Still, something nagged at me--I'd felt like I read the end before--I was happy to go back and see that the story had actually started out at the end.

For me, the structured worked. Since the bizarre statements are explained at the end, the reader can walk away satisfied.

One potential hazzard of starting out with the droll office job is that the reader might get bored early. As writen, the story baits you with something cryptic, holds you while the backstory is explained, then pays off in the end.

I think, ultimately, it can work either way.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts February 4, 2013 - 8:41pm

I don't mind in media res generally, in this case though I didn't know that that scene wasn't chronological until I got to the rest of that scene, it just reads like it leads straight into the actual start of the story. So I don't think it would've been less boring with this scene that ends up I didn't get at first at the beginning vs. starting with the office stuff, I found the office stuff engaging here.

I agree though, it could work just fine either way.

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 8:53pm

Thanks guys. I'm glad you mention that, Ethan. I was going for that hook. A "What the hell?" moment with that first section. I also get where your coming from Renfield. It can be too jarring, with too many questions brought up. 

Thanks to both of you for the detailed LBLs. 

Dino Parenti's picture
Dino Parenti from Los Angeles is reading Everything He Gets His Hands On February 4, 2013 - 6:55pm

I dug this! I like the idea of the reset, and the fact that the same mistakes keep repeating over the eons. I do wonder if it would work better if it was more chronological? I found myself lost a couple of times between when they were on the surface and underground. Also, be mindful of the consistency of language. It starts off pretty noirish in its dialogue and prose, but then that kind of fades as the sotry goes, then picks up again. Otherwise, I think this is a cool tale with opportunites to take it a billion different places.Really cool work, man.

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 8:50pm

Thanks, Dino. Much appreciated. I'll take a look at the language again, since you're not the only one who's pointed it out. Been sitting on this rough draft for awhile so when I rewrote it, I may have left too many remnants of the old draft in this new version. 

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 4, 2013 - 7:58pm

As others have said, I think the story needs a good editing pass but I really do like it.

Were you intentionally trying to invoke Biblical prophecy with the last reset?

 

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 4, 2013 - 8:46pm

Thanks, glad you enjoyed. Yeah, most of my stories have some biblical bent to them. I'll probably do another round of editing over the weekend and upload the new draft. 

Paper_Junkie's picture
Paper_Junkie from MN is reading A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again February 5, 2013 - 12:17pm

I wanted to know more about why they chose him to reset everything- is is just because he showed up there?  You have a good grasp on your main character, style-wise and dialogue wise.

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt February 5, 2013 - 12:38pm

Good catch. I was trying to imply subtlely that he was chosen, but never wanted to go into detail as to the why. I was hoping his overall character would do the work. He's not exactly exceptional, I realize, but he's not a dirtbag either.  

superhunter781's picture
superhunter781 February 5, 2013 - 11:14pm

This was a pretty solid story, the concept being the best part. But I think there are a few things that need tweaking to get the impact of that ending, which is problems at the beginning of the story and the lack of tension. The beginning just sort of meandered a bit too much and I found myself skimming and wondering, okay when is the story going to begin? I think this might be because of too much devotion to character description and other things that aren't immediate to the plot. If you've got only 16 pages then you have to really make a statement early. When I was done reading I actually deleted the pages and started at page 13 and just read it, and was amazed at how much more tense it made things. This may not be something you want to do, but it can indicate as to just when a story really starts. As for the lack of tension, I didn't feel like there we were any high stakes in this story. I felt like there needed to be personal consequences for David to hit that reset button. Make it real for him, make that world really matter. The way it reads now it just doesn't seem like all of this matters too much for David. There is a what the hell moment, but then he's just like, 'oh okay, I'll go with it.' Again I think this can be resolved in the beginning, with David's relationship with the surface world and how that relationship(s) might be effecting him now. How will it inform his decision? How will it better him or hurt him? Ask yourself this, what would happen if David didn't push the button? There has to be a weight to that decision. I did like the dry noir sense of humor, but I felt you could do with out the 'woulda's' 'ol' and 'comin', it just sort of makes him sound like an idiot simpleton, which is fine if he is, but I don't think the punctuation is necessary. And lastly, any time you write a dystopian world about all seeing companies, prepare to have your work compared to George Orwell. The Eyes really reminded me way too much of Big Brother. I'd suggest finding ways to make your world stand out from all the other dystopias. Overall this is a good piece Sound, I'm glad to have been able to read it.

klahol's picture
klahol from Stockholm, Sweden is reading Black Moon February 6, 2013 - 9:26am

Loved the tone most, I think. Parts of it felt unduly compressed, not well rounded. I would guess this is because of it being rewritten from a longer story. I would work a bit with his mental journey as he comes to the decision and deliver the final with alittle more oomph. 

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) February 10, 2013 - 1:47am

I liked this.  New Adam & Eve tales are a bit of staple in sci-fi / fantasy stories, but this feels freshly done.  It’s not the first apocalypse machine I’ve read about, though the idea of the “Adam” having the choice of how that apoca-lypse occurs is an interesting one.  I like that while the story has a fixed arc, there are some good tangents here.  Donny is a character that could have been well developed in a bigger story.  The idea of the Thirds is intriguing, and while it’s something of a throwaway reference, it adds depth to the story.

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb February 11, 2013 - 1:58am

I really enjoyed this, I'll go as far as to say it was the most exciting entry I've had a look at so far. I've attached a comments document where I've highlighted a few grammar issues and given a little attention to individual lines, but in general I really think you've got something here. It's probably worth saying that although I've seen many of the ideas here before (underground living, Earth on the brink, full system reset for a planet, 'big brother') I was actually interested in them again when I found them presented your way. Here's why I think that is:

(1) David and Donnie give the whole thing a sense of cameraderie in tough times throughout. That will resonate well with just about anyone who's ever worked a shitty job and found people who made it bareable, and very few of us haven't at some stage. Their friendship was the necessary light touch - in a story like this there's always the risk of making the whole thing so depressing that even the reader asks 'What's the point?' Watching those two interact is how you saved the piece from that.

(2) I wanted to know 'What happens next?' You take an idea and you hide things from the reader until the appropriate time.

(3) Okay I'll be honest, a large part of my liking for this is that you have a style not dissimilar from my own, and it's always nice to find someone who seems to be singing from your hymn book (you'll have to fogive me for putting it that way, the religious link at the end of your story's got me thinking that way.)

SamaLamaWama's picture
SamaLamaWama from Dallas is reading Something Wicked This Way Comes February 14, 2013 - 12:42pm

Great story. Very inventive. I could feel the monotony of David’s life. I had a few speed bumps with dialogue. The only nitpicky thing I have is David is wearing Armani dress shoes. They’re fairly expensive and made out of leather. I would assume with resources being so scarce that an entry-level corporate cog couldn’t afford something so extravagant. That’s it. I enjoyed the read, great job. 

~Sam  

adrenokrome's picture
adrenokrome from United Kingdom is reading Altered Carbon February 15, 2013 - 6:02am

I enjoyed this tale for the pure escapism, cool and interesting concept and a most importantly a good read.

lspieller's picture
lspieller from Los Angeles February 22, 2013 - 1:07pm

Hey there! I really enjoyed this piece -- great work. I think the pacing could be sped up a bit, and I agree with Dino as to voice -- it doesn't seem settled quite yet. Still..great work. Thumbs up!

Flaminia Ferina's picture
Flaminia Ferina from Umbria is reading stuff March 1, 2013 - 5:43am

Hi Sound.

Story is fun, but it would benefit from some trimming. Cut the useless parts, those that don't push the narration further. Your style is entertaining, but you tend to disperse energy and power with unimportant scenes. If you want to use this story, tighten it up.

Also, it's not clear why this dude should be the chosen one. It's positive to have him rather ordinary, so readers can identify, but he should also have this something extra that gives him and Big Bang Inc some motive, and us some hope for a better new humanity. Unless Big Bang Ing is a corporation of sadists who like to see humans fail over and over -- but then you should depict them as such, make us hate them.

I put some thoughts on a LBL. Take what you like.

Cheers,
C

Mess_Jess's picture
Mess_Jess from Sydney, Australia, living in Toronto, Canada is reading Perfect by Rachael Joyce March 3, 2013 - 2:32pm

Oh, Matt. There was so much about this that made me smirk! Having done the corporate grind ever since I was 14 -- yep, I didn't work at McDonalds, my casual job was in an office -- I can seriously relate to this dystopia. I was hooked immediately with the line, "The walls groan and the windows, five inches thick and blacked out because the view is bad for employee morale,". I used to have an office in Sydney that was beautiful and looked out over the harbour, but it just reminded me of how much I fucking hated my job and how depressing it was being in a law firm! An Australian lawyer even wrote a novel about how bad and sociopath-filled the industry is in Australia called, "Hell Has Harbour views". 

There's some amazing descriptive lines in here, like as cold as a hooker's smile, the description of Monica. Your story packs a lot of sensory appeal. I thought the non-human element was pretty darn cool, too. Billions of eyes watching us everywhere. This sort of theme in dystopias always strikes a chord with me because I really like my alone time and privacy. I loved the plot entirely, very cool stuff (and I won't talk about it because I don't want to put in any spoilers, but the reset is a great concept), and the voice of your protagonist is so likeable and easy to empathise with.

Things you could work on - it took me a little while to figure out that the beginning of the story was the middle of the story. If you could somehow work in a timeframe (no idea how, I'm a huge help, aren't I?) around the end of the first section, or the beginning of the second section, so the reader has some context to the beginning, I think this would help. Or, you could even get rid of the first section altogether.

Thanks for sharing this with us, I really enjoyed it.

Jess

Sound's picture
Sound from Azusa, CA is reading Greener Pastures by Michael Wehunt March 4, 2013 - 1:25pm

Thanks everyone! I haven't popped in nearly enough.

@Flaminia, thanks for the LBL, it was really helpful.

@Jess, "Hell Has Harbour Views" is a hell of a title. Thanks for the kind words, and the tips!

C Patrick Neagle's picture
C Patrick Neagle from Portland, Oregon is reading words, words, words March 8, 2013 - 12:34am

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

--Robert Frost

I like a good apocalypse yarn. The world outside the windows is already pretty darned apocalyptic. Almost doesn't seem like Big Bang's services are going to be required. Speaking of, Sida implies that Big Bang does this every few hundred years. Is she referring to nasty moments in human history--like World War II, The Dark Ages, Jersey Shore--or does she really mean that there has been an apocalypse every few hundred years and that those who are alive in the 'now' have been misled by a false history?

Anyway, I enjoyed the read. The protag is unlikeable, sure, and I have to wonder why he was chosen by Big Bang, but the story moves along quickly and the mood is oppressive (in a good, dystopian, way).

You might think about making the transitions from present to near-present and past more clear. Since you went with chapter headings, I expected things to run in more or less chronological order unless I was told otherwise. Some of the transitions do that fairly well, but others left me wondering for a few sentences (or paragraphs). The most notable of the latter is the shift from the framework story set up by the first chapter and the office scene flashback set up in the second. One of the easiest fixes is something like the move from Chapter Four to Chapter Five. If you put the first line of Chapter Five up at the end of Four, then it tells the reader (or at least hints at) that we'll be shifting into a reminiscence. That wouldn't even mess with the shift back in Chapter Six. However, eventually I was able to figure out the time line, even without those clues. You just might not want to risk losing your reader.

Heh. You'd think someone (other than Big Bang) would have noticed that the world only had 45 hours left. But apparently they're all caught up in office politics.

PS (post-reading the comments above): I agree with Ethan Cooper that starting out with just the droll office job would lose readers fast. I love the description of the office being 'underwater', but you might consider moving the last line of Chapter One up to be the first sentence of the story. I also agree with those commentators who said that David doesn't seem to have much invested in the decision. Maybe if he had to choose but wasn't going to be the Adam of the new world? Dunno.

--Patrick...

The Human Argument

 

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland March 10, 2013 - 2:38pm

I loved this story, and after reading the other comments I can think of anything original to add in form of criticism.

I'll have to agree, while I loved the opening scene, the descriptions and the mood it set, I had forgotten all about it until it resurfaced in the climax. I don't think the story would suffer at all if you cut it, but I don't think it hurts it if you keep it. I just don't know how much it adds, because like another reviewer said, when I got to the climax, I thought, I read this before, and went back up and reread the begining before continuing on.

Anyway,

Great story Sound.

--Jonathan--

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations April 25, 2013 - 2:49pm

Hi Matthew,

Congrats on winning an author review - and I'm also playing catchup on any winning entries I didn't get to read!

When you say he hasn't seen daylight for 2 years, you need perhaps to expand it to point out that nobody has; as the way things are, I link it not to the state of the sky, but the blacked out windows...? This is clearer later, but it doesn't need ever to be unclear!

When you're describing Sida the first time, there are two "nice"s in the paragraph. And there's something about the description that is too remote, I'd like it more if it was more clearly through David's eyes, if you can?

The switch to the office with Monica is a bit of a jar - we don't know why the pink slip makes him think of Donny, we don't know why Monica admonishes him not to think when he asked how overdue they were, rather than voicing an opinion. It would be a more natural segway, if the last thought David had in the office was about Donny, and then that would lead to the flash back? 

When David meets Donny for the first time, he's already fired, it appears, which makes it odd he is still at Emcor? The whole canned/not canned timeline is a bit murky.

Watch out for repetition that you don't intend, the reader is more likely to stumble over it : "A faint smell of cotton candy tickles my nose and there’s a faintly pink hued fog coming from the vent just above the light bulb."

I don't really buy the idea that David would venture into the polluted uptop on  aregular basis to help the people in the cellar, just because Donny asked him to - he'd have to do it for his own reason as well, which you need to sell the reader on?

Ultimately, I like the idea of Big Bang Inc, the reset, but I don't think this story needs to be quite this long and a little streamlining would make it flow much better. You also leave the issue of David's mate unclear (Now if it was Monica, that would be a hoot - but not where I think you want it!). And I'd be wary with the timing - every couple of centuries is mentioned, where as it should presumably be 1000?

Liam

John Joseph Adams's picture
John Joseph Adams from New Jersey May 10, 2013 - 8:07am

Interesting premise, and I enjoyed the setting and the other dystopian elements. I really like the first line and was immediately grabbed by that, and I like how you brought that back at the end. (It’s always nice to have the end mirror the beginning in some way if you can without it being contrived.)

While the first line was very good, the second line had some issues. It’s pretty hard to parse, mainly because the way it’s structured makes it unclear how the reader should read it. That can probably be fixed by simply changing the commas to em-dashes; the way it’s written now, I had to read the sentence and then start it over when I got to “hum” because I wasn’t parsing it properly. I think that was the only time that was an issue in the story, but just something to watch out for, especially so early on in the story where the risk of losing the editor’s interest is so great.

There’s an odd sexist vibe here that the protagonist gives off at various points in the story to no discernable benefit; there’s no comeuppance factor at play here so it seems like there’s no reason for it to be here yet it may alienate some readers. You could argue that it helps with the protagonist’s characterization, but in this case it felt to me like he was just kind of an asshole toward women, and why should someone like that be chosen to be the one who decides the fate of the world? Sure, you could say, well, life isn’t fair, and assholes who don’t deserve to get to make important decisions about the fate of the world all the time, but if that’s what the story was going for I’m not sure that was made abundantly clear. And of course there are obviously lots of people who have such sexist thoughts about women every time they see them, but I don’t necessarily want to read stories about them.

As to the end, I feel like I like the idea more than I liked the execution. I guess maybe it kind of felt like there needed to be more examples of this happening previously; of course there are only so many “restarts” that could be historically relevant, but you could potentially have some failed restarts—something like the black plague is an obvious choice of something that may have been a restart attempt (or even AIDS, which you mention at the end). That said, it’s a pretty inventive way to reboot the Adam & Eve story, which is probably the hoariest cliché in all of SF/fantasy; because it ultimately is an Adam & Eve story, though, I think a lot of readers may kind of groan when they get to the big reveal here. I think you’ve done about everything you can to avoid that, though I think maybe more examples like I said, and maybe getting into some failed reboots might help stave off that, as all of that will go toward making it feel less biblical.  And the protagonist saying he wanted to go out with something a little more original is cool, but then when he says “Let’s go out with a fire” that seems rather uninspired; how is fire any more original than a flood? I’m not sure what a better answer here would be, but if you flat out say that you want to end the world with something original, and the reveal of that is the last line of your story, the choice had best be something actually undeniably original, otherwise you risk having the story’s conclusion falling flat (which is what happened for me).

As to the challenge parameters:

-Explore a utopian/dystopian theme: The story does this very well, and I felt like where it succeeded best was actually probably painting the dystopian setting so vividly for the reader.

-Feature a technology that's scientifically plausible: I’m not sure the story actually achieves this at all, unless Sida’s hologram character counts. It kind of feels like a bit of a cheat to count that as the story is actually about a piece of technology that is absolutely and completely not at all scientifically plausible in any way shape or form; it’s just magic, which is fine in general—the story is just fantasy, not science fiction—but for the purposes of this challenge, to me it feels like a bit of a cheat.

-Feature a non-human character: Sida qualifies for this certainly.

In any case, overall, a promising story with some good writing and some cool ideas. Overall, this didn’t work for me, but I’d be interested in seeing more from this writer and seeing how his writing develops.