Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Review and discuss Christopher Stasheff's new short stories.
gwonbush
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby gwonbush » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:41 pm

It was quite a treat finding out that Book 4 exists a couple of days after I finished rereading Slight Detour, even if it is rough and unfinished. Of course being rough, there are many errors left in the work. For the chance to give constructive criticism to one of my absolute favorite authors, I will attempt to rectify some of the roughness from what I noticed in reading it through.
:ugeek:
Chapter 1
Some of the transitions in this chapter seem weak. I think part of it is a lack of transit being mentioned in between the important scenes. When you are used to getting a mention of how people get from one place to another, having the landing, passage through customs, and transit to the location of the theater (a high school, I believe) all skipped is very jarring.

In this chapter, your addresses of McLeod are all off. First off, he is called Gavin McLeod in this chapter, while A Company of Stars introduces him as Gantry McLeod. Also of note is that his dialogue tags were "Gavin said" instead of the way it always was in previous novels "McLeod said."
Chapter 2
While the transitions in this chapter were better, they still felt a bit weak.
Chapter 3
As Chapter 2, in comparison to 1
Chapter 4
It feels as if there should have been at least a passing nod to the dress rehearsal that happened before the party.
I also caught Suzanne being spelled as Suanne once.
Chapter 5
The only errors that I caught were simple typos: Ramou being spelled as Ramlou and a mention to "he bed".
Chapter 6
In this chapter, we have an odd casting decision. Charlie plays Horatio in the battlements scene, but Marty plays Horatio when he meets with our Danish prince.
Also, in between chapters you seem to have switched Marty and Ramou from playing Fransisco and Bernardo, respectively to the other way around.
There is also a typo of "soon afer" instead of "soon after"
Chapter 7
Larry's back and forth seems more Marty's game than Larry's, but this can be explained away by Larry being possessed.
Chapter 8
In this chapter, Harrison goes from co-opting the loudspeaker to only being able to speak in Morse Code by controlling the lights.
Also, why is McLeod answering from the wings? In all prior planets, at least one crew member stayed on the Cotton Blossom at all times.
Chapter 9
Although this was already mentioned by somebody else, throughout the chapter you misspelled McLeod as McCloud.
I'm not sure about the whether forcefield that is supposed to protect the stage is against canon or not. Rod says that forcefields are believed impossible back in Warlock in Spite of Himself, however a forcefield is shown later on (and earlier chronologically) in Warlock Wandering. However, since it is control of PEST, forcefields may still be generally considered science fiction, since they could have gotten it from the future.
The biggest error in this chapter is that Shacklar was able to respond to Barry at all. FTL radio has not been invented in the IDE era. This is a firmly established setting fact. Any mentions of tachyon transmissions should be looked at, scrapped and have another way to overcome the problem replacing it.
Chapter 10
In the interrogation of Charlie, you used Lazaro as a dialogue tag, when the correct choice would have been "I" since it appears that Ramou was the only one doing the interrogating.
When dealing with how Lazaro is still payed up on Equity, you mentioned tachyon mail, which should not exist at this time.
Also, how did they get marijuana in Wolmar?
Chapter 11
In this chapter, Wolmar's geography gets iffy. In Escape Velocity, and later Warlock Wandering, the city that was a penal colony is mentioned to be surrounded by a wall. If this is the case, how did Ramou run to the sea? Actually, isn't being close enough that he could reach ocean iffy enough as it is?
Another impossible tachyon transmission was mentioned this chapter.
Other
I would have really liked to see some continuation of the Prudence and Marty sub-plot. Marty had come down with a bad case of love and there was no acknowledgment of the fact at all in this book. In fact, there is a low amount of Marty, my favorite character of yours.
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Ortho the Frank
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby Ortho the Frank » Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:59 pm

WOW! Thank you so much! This is exactly the type of constructive criticism needed to polish a rough draft into a sales-worthy final copy. I think a lot of fans are too intimidated to criticize the work directly to the author, so thanks for your courage!

Gwonbush, if you'd do a similarly thorough critique of "The Apprentice Wizard" (in Fan Fiction - Wizard in Rhyme), I'd really appreciate it!

Everyone else - feel free to give more comments like this! They really help!
gwonbush
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby gwonbush » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:15 pm

I wouldn't mind, but I'd have to read the Wizard in Rhyme series first. I never got around to picking up those books, even though I own them.
BladeDVD
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby BladeDVD » Sun Jul 08, 2012 7:40 am

Typo in Ch. 9:

“He did indeed,” Ogden told him, “because young folk tend to favor change—starting at the beginnings of their careers, they have little to lose, and changes in politics or business may favor them. Elector Rudders not only resists change, but actually tries to reverse it!” I said with alarm.

Starts off with "Ogden told him," and ends with "I [Horace] said with alarm." Missing a couple of quote marks or I should be he in that last part.

Also in this chapter...Horace getting super hearing with no mention (that I recall) of it in the prior books seems a bit jarring 4 books in.

Ch. 12 '“Don’t mistake me,” Barry said, “but why did you want pitch in, Gavin? It wasn’t really your fight.”' Missing a "to."

The transition from 11 to 12 seems kind of abrupt. We go from Winston and Horace watching Ramou and Suzanne walk away, and then come to a new scene where they are still walking (no longer on the beach) and Winston is sitting in a bar looking much the worse for wear. It seems like an internal monologue of "I later learned from Horace..." would be in order for Ramou once they sat down next to Winston.
kf6eml
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby kf6eml » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:05 pm

These books are written in the first person. When Ogden's name is mentioned in the third person, the story is being told by either Horace or Ramou.
BladeDVD
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby BladeDVD » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:12 pm

kf6eml wroteColonThese books are written in the first person. When Ogden's name is mentioned in the third person, the story is being told by either Horace or Ramou.

Yes, but reread the last part of the paragraph. Why is Horace now taking credit for what he just said Ogden was saying?
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Ortho the Frank
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby Ortho the Frank » Mon Jul 09, 2012 2:04 pm

Yeah, I'm afraid stuff like that actually happens a lot in rough drafts. The glories of modern word processing lets us cut and paste entire scenes if desired... but in this case, with the story being told from two different first-person narrators, cut-n-paste sometimes results in sudden and unintentional point of view switches. I try to find and correct them when proofreading Chris's chapters before posting them, but obviously a few slip through - which is why we're so grateful to the "test audience" on this site for catching this sort of stuff and pointing it out. Thanks!
BladeDVD
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby BladeDVD » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:33 pm

Has it only been a month and a week? Seems like much longer.

Only typo I found this time was (I think) leaving out "I" in the first sentence, so it should read (if I'm correct), "Lazaro and I came down off the stage..."

Good chapter and interesting development. I really like the Suzanne/Ramou story, so "I noted that her hand was still on his," was really touching.

Can't wait to read the whole thing! (Hint, hint!)
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cstasheff
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Re: Starship Troupers 4: The Unknown Guest

Postby cstasheff » Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:39 am

Thank you so much for such detailed criticism, Gwonbush, and for doing it with such a gentle touch! Ortho and I will work on it. Rough draft is done, but as you can see, it's still VERY rough, so it will be a long run yet before we'll declare it done.
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Ortho the Frank
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Based on a true story...

Postby Ortho the Frank » Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:38 pm

So I was proofreading the latest chapter of Starship Troupers prior to posting it - and was shocked to realize I was in it!... sort of…

Let me explain: The Play of St. George was written by one of Chris's friends back in college. Years later, he directed the play at a local community theater as one part of a larger Christmas play – and all four of his kids (we were in junior high/high school by then) acted in it. Since I was 6'2", 250 lbs, and a head taller than everyone else, I was cast as the big dumb Giant Blunderbore. After clubbing St. George to ”death" with my fake plastic club, I was supposed to swing the club around in victory, accidentally smack myself in the forehead, and "die."

At least, that was how it was supposed to work (and usually did) during the two-week run of the show. Except for one night…

Y'see, when you're running around stage under hot lights during a staged combat sequence while wearing a sweatsuit under a big heavy leather costume, you tend to get… sweaty. And, suddenly, a slick plastic club is not the easiest thing to hold on to. I was supposed to "kill" George by smacking the ground next to his head three time with my plastic club, lifting it high in the air for each blow for dramatic effect. But that night, after the second blow, I swung the club up… and it kept going, slipping right out of my sweat-slicked fist, right up into the air. I looked around quickly, trying to find the club, hoping I could play it off as a comic bit, but I couldn't find it… and then got a sick feeling when I suddenly realized I'd never heard it land. So I looked up… and there the club was, stuck in the lights near the ceiling.

Crap. I was supposed to "kill" myself with that club – as in right now – but now my prop was gone. What was I going to do? Thinking fast, I raised my fists in the air and bellowed, "I WON! I WON!" while running around the stage in circles, cheering – and then ran smack into the wall, knocking Blunderbore "out cold." There. The giant was "dead." The play could continue.

Now, the whole cast was sitting around the edges of the performing space, just like in the Troupers chapter, and as any actor will tell you, when something unexpected happens on stage, the actors need to stay in character, keep a straight face, and NOT laugh. When the club went flying, I could see my fellow teenage actors smirking, suppressing smiles. When we all realized the club was stuck in the lights, the actors began shaking with silent laughter and covering their mouths with their hands. And when I slammed myself into the wall unexpectedly… well, it was just too much for us poor amateur high school actors, and everyone burst out laughing. Luckily, the audience was roaring with laughter too – they knew something had gone wrong, and that I was improvising. By the time the laughter in the audience had settled down, my fellow actors had regained their composure and were able to continue with the show.

So that bit in this chapter of Troupers with Ogden/Blunderbore losing his club onstage? Yeah. Based on a true story. Unfortunately...

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