(What follows below is the opening chapter of a novel I have been working on for many, many years. This has been rewritten more times than Donald Trump’s divorce decrees. But I think it’s time to give it a go and put it out into the wider world. The story falls into the category of science fiction but I like to believe there’s a bit more transpiring in this narrative. I’ve already written my marketing copy for the book, which is also below, and I got a front cover design from an independent graphic artist, also included here. Not sure yet whether I will serialize the chapters here and put them behind a paywall, or just offer it up all at once for a modest fee. Hell, maybe a publisher will come along and offer me enough to get a new motorcycle. Anyway, I’d appreciate any and all feedback on this first chapter, which is being submitted to the Lunar Awards for science fiction and fantasy on Substack. - JM)
I love that you are putting the story back out at this time. In the past 3 weeks I've gone back and re read "In the Time of Man". I enjoyed it the first time but I'm not sure what drew me back to it since I don't typically re read books. The second time around I appreciated it on many levels. Of course knowing that it was written and read the first time way before the pandemic added a bit of wonder but the story and how you ended it rang particularly true. Since we had worked together I expected you to get the media part dead on but the thoughtfulness of the plot and the engaging characters were such a treat. I hope you keep writing in this direction as well as your political focus!
I’m fascinated by this topic and want to know what will happen, and I love the physical description of Elliot (not everyone can be Harrison Ford, after all).
But I think starting at para 4 will create a more gripping opening, and condensing or spreading out the research, and maybe using less formal language (“not a lot of time” vs “a limited amount of time,” for example) will convey more of the urgency a glowing rock would inspire. Details of the cool stuff, like what the elongated gourds looked like (because they seem like a mysterious thing) would be useful, too. There’s an “article” quality to this that, while educational, may not appeal to the mass-er market (which is where peppering the tribe’s knowledge of planets and orbits, etc., throughout, or condensing, could help energize the opening chapter - and all of it may not be needed, anyway, if all we need to know is that they know more than any tribe possibly could on its own).