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The Ship Finder Paperback – February 27, 2014
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
About the Author
John G. Bluck retired from NASA as a public affairs officer. Previously, he was the Chief of Imaging Technology at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Before that, he worked at NASA Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, where he produced numerous NASA documentaries for television.
Earlier in his career he was a broadcast engineer for the ABC radio network at WMAL-AM/FM, Washington, DC. At WMAL-TV (now WJLA-TV), in Washington he was a news film cameraman who covered local news, crime, sports, and politics including Watergate. In 1976 he was named the National Press Photographer Association runner-up cameraman of the year in the Northeast. In addition, he was a member of the White House News Photographers' Association.
During the Vietnam War he was an Army journalist at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
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There are female clones who 'serve' their country. I don't recall any male ones. There are rebels who dislike their government and believe clones are discriminated against, so the opportunity for clashes and intrigue is great. A predictable amount of espionage and battle plans populate the novel, and scenes of battle are well drawn. The number of battles and deaths match those in most Sci-Fi movies up to the end..
SPOILER ALERT' Don't read on, if you don't want to hear about the ending.
The ending is so sobering, it is a shock. I consider it a dire warning of what comes from continuous warring and upping the ante against one's enemy. Victory has come at a price no one should be willing to pay. In this sense it is the ultimate anti-war novel.
One of the best pieces of advice I got was some tough love from a hybrid publisher. She gave me a list of books to read and told me to come back after I'd studied them. One was "The Artful Edit," by Susan Bell. She also told me to read "On Writing," by Stephan King, and "Story" by Robert McKee. And a few others about editing. I read every single one. Cover to cover. They blew me away - I had no idea what I'd been missing. And I've since studied my rear-end off to improve. So I'll pass along the same advice I got. I'll also urge you to read some of the blogs from literary agents. This is free advice about what readers look for. Go to publishersmarketplace.com, find several agents, and read their blogs about good story telling.
A couple more general comments: When you need an environmental condition to satisfy a story element, don't introduce the environmental condition as an afterthought to satisfy the story element. Weave it in and make it a natural part of your world. [Spoiler alert] You did a good job of this with global warming and superstorms, but it fell apart later on.
On characters - you have to do better. The interaction is too shallow and sometimes just doesn't make sense in context. This is another spoiler alert - I'm going to tear apart one paragraph that made me cringe and I still remember it from 6+ months ago.
"Don't worry," Raven said. He got his weapons, and he waved farewell to Lena and Wilson. "I'm glad you listened to your Inner Ones. Thank you, and I'm sorry we became enemies," he said. He backed away from them, turned, and trotted into the jungle. Wilson felt good.
Bluck, John. The Ship Finder (p. 207). John G. Bluck. Kindle Edition.
Forget the structural problem with "Raven said...he said." I didn't even notice that until just now.
Consider the context here. Lena and others in this scene are double agents. They are Raven's mortal enemies. But Raven thinks they're his friends.
And this was the scene where it all comes to a head. And after that betrayal, with millions of lives at stake, the scene ends with, "I'm glad you listened to your inner voice and I'm sorry we became enemies." And then he trots off into the jungle and Wilson feels good.
What?? That's it?? Sheesh..John, you gotta do better than that. If you were Raven, how would you feel? How would you act on those feelings? And if you were in Lena's shoes, what would you do? Same for Wilson. It's not like somebody missed a dinner date here. These characters' guts are churning. Your writing should show (not tell!) this.
And that's a theme through the whole story. You're summarizing the action like a business memo instead of showing us the story through the characters.
All these problems can be fixed with a couple rounds of content editing, Content editing was once described to me as kind of like building the Six Million dollar man. Tear it apart and build it back again, stronger and better, and this could be a great story.
One more comment. You can tell the part of your story about why the clones exist without describing - or summarizing in this case - intimate scenes. Take it as a challenge to show your readers what goes on behind those closed doors, and why, but leave the sex scenes out of it. You don't need it. Make this a PG-13 story instead of X rated.
- Greg Scott
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