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YouAreNotASlave's picture

Sunken Hearts

By YouAreNotASlave in Teleport Us

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America has been irreversibly changed, its citizens transformed and kept alive through mechanisation. A covert team, built by mechanisation themselves and under anonymous direction, work to sabotage the new Americans and their designs, one small attack at a time. 

(I've now edited the story a little based on feedback, thanks again for anyone who takes the time to read/rate/review it!)

 Hope you enjoy! Cheers.



kmorelock's picture
kmorelock February 15, 2013 - 10:29am

Wow!  Kept me reading to the last word.  Great suspense.  Nice writing.  Really enjoyed the creation of irony characters. 

dufrescm's picture
dufrescm from Wisconsin is reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep February 15, 2013 - 1:25pm

Really great concept here, and some exciting writing in the second half!  Page 6 is where the story really takes off.


I didn't do an LBL, but here are some notes to keep in mind in rewrites (in no particular order): 

  • I had no idea the harbor was in British waters until page 4.  I assumed the Amekirans were just mekanised Americans, and the ship was in some East Coast harbor - Boston or New York or something.  I'd recommend establishing this location earlier in the story.  Maybe in the opening, instead of just saying "the harbor", try "Placename Harbour" to establish setting a little more clearly.  It would have made the tension between the protestors and the Amekirans more clear and understandable.
  • Characterization is strong in some places, less so in others. I wished we'd have gotten more detail about the other nature of these people earlier in the story. For several pages, I wasn't sure if they were robots or cyborgs, and it kept me from becoming fully engaged.  Also, on page two you say, "Jack, being a good prowler with those legs", but then you don't go on to describe his her legs and what about them makes her such a good prowler.  I would have liked to get that information right away, to help me realize Jack right away. Same goes for all the other characters.  On the flip side, the details about Mozart "chewing" his scrap, while Anansy delicately dismantled hers with her hands, gave me a good sense of who these two are, despite not knowing what their role was in the group just then.
  • Some of the details felt like they were delivered "info-dump" style, but I saw places where they could easily be integrated into the action and dialogue, so that shouldn't be too hard in editing.
  • Watch for "passive" voice.  There were plenty of times where things could have been more active - places where you used "was watching" instead of "watched".  Keep an eye on those kinds of things so your story can maintain it's excitement levels throughout.
  • There's not a lot of dialogue, but what is there is mostly good.  However, on page 2, why would Franklin "shout" at Mozart to complain about how much noise Mozart was making? I couldn't get over that, lol
  • As I mentioned earlier, the story really takes off on Page 6.  Prior to that, I had a hard time "seeing" the places and events and people.  I don't think the second half needs too much work, just some tweaks.  I'd just focus on bringing the first half up to that same standard that you establish in the second half.  I would have liked a little more set-up (who, what, when, where, why type of stuff). Especially share the "why" early on, otherwise, the philosophical-type stuff about irony gets lost. I spent most of the story wondering why these people were sneaking into the ship.  I think maybe they were mercenaries, but I wasn't really sure, and I wondered, if that's the case, are they more like terrorists-for-hire, or is there a larger war going on, and these guys are just players in that war?

Good writing, good read, and good luck on rewrites!


YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom February 18, 2013 - 4:41am

thanks both of you for the feedback and taking the time to read the story!

christa, I see what you mean with the vagueness, I'll try and establish the scene more rather than going straight in without much explanation, and strike a balance between making the amekiran mechanisms seem mysterious/strange but at the same time make them clear enough to visualise.

and now you've mentioned the passive voice thing I can see it all over, wouldn't have noticed that at all otherwise.

thanks for the advice, it'll really help the editing (:

Vernillat's picture
Vernillat from Reykjavik. is reading Stephen Baxter. February 18, 2013 - 5:01am

Holy smokes!  What a story! 

I actually read it without noticing your little synopsis.  But that didn’t matter at all, the questions in my mind at the beginning were answered little by little as the story went along.
I absolutely loved the idea of a living, growing ship, that even had an actual heart at it’s center.
Only thing missing was a feeling for the ship’s consciousness, I’m assuming it had one.

I also got the little Anansy reference/joke.  That was great.

Good work.


YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom February 21, 2013 - 1:33pm

thanks loads for the feedback, i'm glad you enjoyed it (:

Shane Berryhill's picture
Shane Berryhill February 19, 2013 - 9:11am

Hey, YouAreNotASlave. I applaud your courage on posting your story for all the world to see. I liked the noir-like vibe you're going for (something I used in my own entry, BURN), but I think the execution could be improved. In that regard, I'm going to paste a comment here I made on the general discussion thread...

Hey, all. I've had the opportunity to read several stories today...some of this week's "hot stories" among them...and I've noticed some overarching issues like heavy use of adverbs (and adjectives), passive voice, and flowery (and clunky) language.

All these are considered 'no-nos' by White and Strunk's THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE. Is everyone familiar with it? It's long been considered the writer's bible by successful authors (Stephen King among them, for example). It made all the difference for me. I recommend anyone trying to give writing a serious go embed its words in their heart. This is just my humble opinion, of course.

Keep writing!
-Shane Berryhill
In a society where owning books makes you an outlaw, literature is kept alive by "burners," those who wage war for books by reciting their pages in rap-style battles called "burns." BURN by Shane Berryhill features "Reader" on the night of the biggest burn in his life. Reader must face off against "Shakespeare" for the title of "Librarian" while the Tolstoys, the Austens, the Wells, the Vernes, and all the other burner gangs look on. BURN is a tribute to the work of Ray Bradbury and a love letter to the written word.
Read, rate, and review BURN here:

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom February 21, 2013 - 1:32pm

ta for the feedback!

ArlaneEnalra's picture
ArlaneEnalra from Texas is reading Right now I'm editing . . .. February 20, 2013 - 5:51pm

When I started reading, I wasn't expecting "the Heart of the Ship" to be quite so literal.  You've setup a very rich and interesting world here and really brought out the essence of your characters.  There isn't much in there about why these people are killing the Amerkian ship, but I'm not sure there really needs to be.  Overall, a reasonably smooth read.

Great Job!

YouAreNotASlave's picture
YouAreNotASlave from Birmingham United Kingdom February 21, 2013 - 1:31pm

thanks so much for the feedback! i think i'll add in some of the "why" as that seems to be the most consistent criticism. thanks for taking the time to read, i'll return the favour (:

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) March 5, 2013 - 5:59am

Nicely done on managing to fit so much into a short story, without losing any coherence or the story-arc.  The characters are good (loved that Anansi was so well named), the story is compelling and holds the attention well.  I like that you haven't given into the temptation of putting too much backstory into this, just a few hints and clues here and there.  It keeps the story a lot leaner.  My only real negative is the sheer amount of times you allude to the Amekirans being too literal and/or having no sense of irony.  One or two references would have been enough, but after around eight such references, I knew exactly what to expect when they got into that room.  The exfiltration could have had a bit more to it, though it's covered nicely by Smithy's shock.  It would appear the heart of the ship is located very close to the edge of the ship right on the dock.  It's just a little too easy for them to have escaped.  The ending on the cliff though is nicely dark and almost moving.