Fall From the Sky

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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Fall From the Sky

Postby dudecon » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:33 pm

Fall From the Sky, the fan-completion novel by Paul Spooner

So, Shamus wrote the first 50k words of a science fiction book, and then declared that he could never work on it again. I saw an opportunity to write a community story, but didn't really get any takers.

So I did it myself, more than doubling the length into a 120k word novel with an intentional arc and ending. I tried to stay as true to the spirit of Shamus' work as I could, while also making a number of alterations to the original text.

I've sent various versions to Shamus, but he's too busy to read it in depth. The most rigorous feedback I've gotten from him is as follows (I hope he doesn't mind me sharing this, but he can always nuke it since it's his forum anyway)
Shamus wrote:This is amazing. You've gone in a radically different direction from anything I'd imagined. I haven't read the whole thing, but I've been skimming my way through.

Before you sent this to me I wondered: If this story was released, would anyone be able to see the seams? Could they tell where I stopped and you started? Then I realized that I'd already released my half of the book, so anyone that read that would know.

But still, this has gotten me thinking about how we consume and invent stories. We often divide stuff into "authentic" (stuff written by the original author) and "inauthentic" (fan fiction). I wrote an entire fan fiction novel myself, and I'm aware of how strange this line can be. People who never played System Shock before were far more receptive to my book than people who were familiar with the source material. Their understanding of the original work changed their perception of my story. Would that work in reverse? If someone was told that the game was based on my book, would they dislike the game for its "inaccuracies"? (Setting aside the fact that the game is hard to find, looks terrible, had a horrible interface, and the gameplay hasn't held up over time.)

My own version of the novel uses very few characters from the first half. Rin doesn't really talk to the other crewmembers. The whole story takes place on this alien world and the only person we see again is David. My book ends shortly after returning to Earth. It's entirely possible that your version, which is tied more to the first half of the book, would seem more plausible as the "true" ending.

I haven't read enough to give you useful feedback on what you've done, and I keep getting caught on, "This never would have occurred to me!" I don't have much in the way of feedback, except to say I don't think you're doing anything obviously wrong or bad. I realize that this isn't really useful, but this is a strange experience for me and it's hard to read objectively.
I'm curious about the same things, so if any of you get any insights on these topics, I'd be glad to hear about them.

I'm still planning on doing one more pass through the text with a fine toothed comb (word choice, improving the scan, adding illustrations, etc), but I don't foresee the big bones of the story changing much. I've done more than my fair share of critiquing others writing in the past, so here's your chance to make me eat my words. I know you want to (and I can take it) so tear it up and don't hold back!

Oh, and if you do bother to read through the whole thing, or simply skim it and toss some feedback into the thread, thanks in advance! Also, please feel free to use this thread to discuss the original text (or your own head-canon) without reference to my version.
Last edited by dudecon on Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:50 pm

It depends on the authors in question,really.For example,people say that Eoin Colfer managed to capture Douglas Adams's tone when writing his fanfic of the hitchhikers guide.I couldnt attest to that,but I have been reading collaborative works before,and I can say that a time odysey feels coherent,and is a nice piece of fiction.Unlike the fanfics of rama,which are just tossing everything about the first one out of the way in order to make something actiony and intriguee.
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CraigM

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby CraigM » Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:56 pm

Ok Paul, I'll take you up on that... soon. Unfortunately a busy time with work and school, but hopefully over the weekend I can at least take a peek and let you know some thoughts.
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Retsam

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Retsam » Tue Aug 05, 2014 6:08 pm

Daemian Lucifer wrote:It depends on the authors in question,really.For example,people say that Eoin Colfer managed to capture Douglas Adams's tone when writing his fanfic of the hitchhikers guide.I couldnt attest to that,but I have been reading collaborative works before,and I can say that a time odysey feels coherent,and is a nice piece of fiction.Unlike the fanfics of rama,which are just tossing everything about the first one out of the way in order to make something actiony and intriguee.


Colfer did so well capturing the tone of Douglas Adams that it spilled over into the next Artemis Fowl book, The Atlantis Complex.
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby dudecon » Mon Sep 22, 2014 12:17 pm

Okay, so I'm reading over the text again, making small corrections and improvements. And, if I may say so myself, there is some really good material in here! New version up, cut out a few of the dumb chapters, added a bit here and there, still the same story, but better than ever! About 3% shorter than before.

If you're just looking to read my favorite passages, and don't mind spoilers then skip to the following chapters (in whatever order):
  • Ontology
  • Orientation
  • Dread
  • Overturn
  • Discussion

Other interesting statistics:
Word count: 124255
Vocabulary size: 6421
Genderd pronoun and character reference ratio: 2.54 female dominant
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AileTheAlien
Location: SK, SK

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby AileTheAlien » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:30 pm

OK, first let me say, I loved reading this book! It was really great, and I'm a bit surprised to find out it was finished 2.5 years ago. I only found out about it because of Shamus' blog post this month.[1] Good read!

dudecon wrote:I'm still planning on doing one more pass through the text with a fine toothed comb (word choice, improving the scan, adding illustrations, etc)

What does "improving the scan" mean?

Also, you've got like, a dozen typos in the book. I guess the English language sucks, so our computer software can't detect the weird cases. Just a shame they're in there, because the other 99.9% of the book is so good, that they stick out like sore thumbs.

Again, thanks for the writing!

[1] Maybe Shamus should link from his 'books' page to the blog post and/or your website?
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby dudecon » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:04 pm

AileTheAlien wrote:OK, first let me say, I loved reading this book! It was really great, and I'm a bit surprised to find out it was finished 2.5 years ago. I only found out about it because of Shamus' blog post this month.[1] Good read!
Thanks very much! Tell your friends!

AileTheAlien wrote:
dudecon wrote:I'm still planning on doing one more pass through the text with a fine toothed comb (word choice, improving the scan, adding illustrations, etc)

What does "improving the scan" mean?
English is spoken with stressed syllables in a regular rhythm. This isn't so important when reading silently, but when reading out-loud, poor meter causes awkward pauses and halts in the middle of thoughts. For example, the sentence (bold is stressed) "She paused in her thoughts and her hike to gaze about her." has a lovely lyrical meter, the long strides drawing up short at the end, just as Rin does. You could sing it! in contrast, the very next sentence "The flames had left this portion of the landscape barren..." stumbles over itself. I should change it to "The flames had scorched the soil all around..." or maybe "The landscape all around was scorched and barren..." or even "..." ... <sigh>
And that's why I haven't done it yet. It's hard to know when to stop!

AileTheAlien wrote:Also, you've got like, a dozen typos in the book. I guess the English language sucks, so our computer software can't detect the weird cases. Just a shame they're in there, because the other 99.9% of the book is so good, that they stick out like sore thumbs.
Please tell me you made exhaustive notes so I can fix them!

You didn't make any notes did you?

AileTheAlien wrote:Again, thanks for the writing!
You're quite welcome!

AileTheAlien wrote:[1] Maybe Shamus should link from his 'books' page to the blog post and/or your website?
I suspect that, having not read the story himself, he isn't willing to give it quite that much credence. On the other hand, I'd like that a lot! Maybe send it to him in the form of a diecast question?
EDIT: Link to the article where Shamus linked the book.
Last edited by dudecon on Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ninety-Three

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Ninety-Three » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:33 pm

dudecon wrote:
AileTheAlien wrote:Also, you've got like, a dozen typos in the book. I guess the English language sucks, so our computer software can't detect the weird cases. Just a shame they're in there, because the other 99.9% of the book is so good, that they stick out like sore thumbs.
Please tell me you made exhaustive notes so I can fix them!

You didn't make any notes did you?


There's a couple that got noted in the comments section of Shamus' blog in case you haven't been obsessively refreshing that one.
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Retsam

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Retsam » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:52 pm

dudecon wrote:
AileTheAlien wrote:[1] Maybe Shamus should link from his 'books' page to the blog post and/or your website?
I suspect that, having not read the story himself, he isn't willing to give it quite that much credence. On the other hand, I'd like that a lot! Maybe send it to him in the form of a diecast question?


Better yet, find Christopher, and have him send it as a diecast question.
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby dudecon » Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:30 pm

Here are some stats, which sheds some light on how much useful traffic Shamus generates when he links stuff, and how many people are reading along with the rest of you:

Image

Code: Select all

Day           Visits   Pages    Hits     Bandwidth
18 Feb 2017   73       113      660      75.68 MB
19 Feb 2017   59       107      656      114.16 MB
20 Feb 2017   52       87       678      109.98 MB
21 Feb 2017   500      1,129    5,485    2.43 GB
22 Feb 2017   234      414      1,550    540.60 MB
23 Feb 2017   169      324      1,259    147.01 MB
24 Feb 2017   124      320      1,226    128.28 MB
25 Feb 2017   102      164      739      480.10 MB
26 Feb 2017   106      213      1,254    1.07 GB
27 Feb 2017   103      330      1,324    463.15 MB
28 Feb 2017   124      197      826      128.25 MB

Full month access for February, 2017-02
pages-url                          Viewed   Average size   Entry      Exit
/                                  1,088   16.25 KB      992      760
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.foreword.html  521      9.55 KB      429      266
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.html           229      14.65 KB      72      131
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1_Full.html      119      707.55 KB      27      97
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.houston.html   76      50.64 KB      18      43   
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.outside.html   71      70.74 KB      43      39
...
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.inside.html    37      11.16 KB      13      2
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.upside_up.html  35      97.23 KB      4      18

Full month access for January, 2017-01
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1.html         37      15.73 KB      31      30
/FFTS/ffts_ps_V02.1_Full.html      12      713.55 KB      10      10
with the rest of the pages in the 1-3 visits range


Looks like the traffic is falling into the 1-2 hits per page per day now, so a 30-fold increase from before.
Also interesting that a couple days ago someone dug around and found the old version, though no one has visited the real-old version from 2013-10-03 yet.

Ninety-Three wrote:There's a couple that got noted in the comments section of Shamus' blog in case you haven't been obsessively refreshing that one.
I can neither confirm nor deny the implication that I now have a new icon on my bookmark bar.
But yes, I've hot-fixed those.

Retsam wrote:Better yet, find Christopher, and have him send it as a diecast question.
That's not a bad idea! I would write in as Christopher myself, but I suspect the ruse would be transparent.
Ninety-Three

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Ninety-Three » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:20 pm

dudecon wrote:Also interesting that a couple days ago someone dug around and found the old version


That was me. I saw 2.1 in the URL and started poking in other values to see what happened.
Lazigeek

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Lazigeek » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:20 pm

Thank you Dudecon for finishing this story. I'd been waiting for Shamus to finish it and didn't realise that sometime else already had.

I found it to be a great read with a pretty good wrap up at the end. I still have questions but wouldn't know where to stop.

I loved how you managed to continue Shamus' style so well, including the "obvious to an outsider" observations that Rin makes.

I've been reading sporadically over a few days.

If I may offer some feedback...

I like how your kept Shamus' parasitic fruit but in a way that made a little more sense than someone (admittedly desperate with hunger etc) trying it without first cutting it open.

I would have really liked to see another deep conversation between Rin and Ando, even if I have no idea what it'd be.

I remember a fight between Buck and Ando but don't remember it being explained or acknowledged afterwards... Was this another dream?

A note about dentures... With our current technology dentures make eating a very muted experience. Like trying to feel things through thick gloves, going from 4K back to 480p, or sex with a thick condom (make perspective). I don't know if Rin would comment on it at all or just be glad for eating to not hurt. I don't think any mention was made of Rin re-experiencing complex flavours and textures on her return. Maybe it was intentional, maybe she didn't notice after her food on Phoenix, maybe dentures are significantly better.

Here are a few typos I noted... I'm not a writer at all and I was entirely on my phone but searching for each one should be obvious...

  • loosing
  • didn't know you call
  • nutrition less
  • to prepared the
  • Rind decided
  • officer's rec room
  • the both looked
  • burry
  • confrence
  • and loose a
  • floor and ceiling was made
  • I'll be the observation
  • sitting on dumpster
  • an large

Thanks again, I really enjoyed this and was glad to finally be able to finish the story.
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby dudecon » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:23 pm

Lazigeek wrote:I like how your kept Shamus' parasitic fruit but in a way that made a little more sense than someone (admittedly desperate with hunger etc) trying it without first cutting it open.
Yeah, that struck me implausibly as well. The nightmare in Down:Dread basically unfolded itself from what Shamus wrote. Probably the best dream sequence in the story, especially how it blends into waking. Eugh, I get the jibblies reading it again. "Growing and innumerable like fingers." what kind of psycho wrote... oh.
When did you figure out it was a dream?

Lazigeek wrote:I would have really liked to see another deep conversation between Rin and Ando, even if I have no idea what it'd be.
I really wanted to write another one, after they both get back to Earth, but nothing came together. In the end, I was forced to shoot for that wistful feeling for a time of almost painful intimacy which passes all too quickly and cannot be recalled. I'm glad you feel it as well.

Lazigeek wrote:I remember a fight between Buck and Ando but don't remember it being explained or acknowledged afterwards... Was this another dream?
That's at the end of Outside:Orbits. The idea was that Buck and Ando learned to hunt by sneaking up to the far side of a hill from the prey, and Buck throwing Ando into the air (kind of like a "Hammer Throw") and then Ando throwing knives down at the prey from the top of the arc. I tried not to be too explicit about explaining everything, but that particular passage confused a few other people too, so, probably needed a bit more there. On the other hand, it captures well that half-remembered

Lazigeek wrote:A note about dentures... Maybe it was intentional, maybe she didn't notice after her food on Phoenix, maybe dentures are significantly better.
I'll be honest, I didn't do nearly as much research as I should have for this book. Clearly, I missed something in the denture department. I should really have known better, having a full original dentition myself.
The only place they are mentioned is at the end of "Upside Up:Minor Reconstruction" (the first of three chapters by that name). I don't think I bring up her facial scarring much either.
I should probably have made mention of it in "Perspective" or "Dinner and Dancing" later in the section. If you could take off your "not a writer" hat for a bit, I'd be glad for some descriptive text (I'd use the condom one, but there's no way the analogy would occur to Rin). In any case, you got me on that one, it wasn't intentional so much as lazy on my part.

Lazigeek wrote:Here are a few typos I noted...
  • officer's rec room
  • and loose a
  • floor and ceiling was made
Very good. Fixed all but the above, where I'm not sure what the deficiency is.

Good to know it's readable on a phone too!

Lazigeek wrote:Thank you Dudecon for finishing this story... I still have questions but wouldn't know where to stop.
You're quite welcome. Thanks for all the kind encouragement. I'd be glad to hear your minor thoughts, but I know how scary it is to start something without knowing where it will stop.
Lazigeek

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Lazigeek » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:32 pm

dudecon wrote:When did you figure out it was a dream?

Right around “I can feel it starting already.” just because of the unusually casual nature of the few lines before it.

dudecon wrote:I was forced to shoot for that wistful feeling for a time of almost painful intimacy which passes all too quickly and cannot be recalled.

That's a great way to put it! And way better than forcing it into the conversation we both wanted. It's not like you could have them kicking back on a lawn watching the sunset and reminiscing about old times. But I would like to know if Ando's hunting experience trees were pruned, since that's the first time he truly felt useful.

dudecon wrote:Buck throwing Ando into the air (kind of like a "Hammer Throw") ... probably needed a bit more there

I appear to have missed the "saw them hurtle down and to the side to some point hidden over the ridge." part. Or maybe I was just too sleepy or caught up in the tense lines before it.

dudecon wrote:A note about dentures... If you could take off your "not a writer" hat for a bit

There are a few analogies that come to mind (music underwater was already used with the RAS gel) such as letting your car drive for you (probably the most applicable to Rin) shaking hands with mittens on, a hug in an EVA suit, or wearing shoes while walking on the beach. Sure you've accomplished something, but there's the awkward lack of pleasure from it. "Sinking your teeth into" something now meant nothing more than a grinding chore.

Re: the typos (I could well be wrong for one or all of these though)...
  • officer's rec room (implies possessive to a single officer, "officers' rec room" implies possessive to multiple officers)
  • and loose a ("loose" means not tight, "lose" means lost)
  • floor and ceiling was made (I think it should be "were" instead of "was" since it's referring to multiple things (floor and ceiling) instead of one)

dudecon wrote:Good to know it's readable on a phone too!

No problem, the menu at the top is small but can be zoomed in, and the text is perfect on mobile. Not the best way to digest it but it's what I could do.

And thanks again.. I'm the type of person that can't leave a movie or book unfinished, and you gave me closure on this story :)
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby dudecon » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:57 pm

While I was in the middle of this writing project, I made a few sketches for cover art and illustrations. I never really finished any of them, but the ideas are still kicking around in my brain. Would anyone be at all interested in seeing them? Alternately, were there any images that came to you particularly vividly that you'd like to share? I'm often vexed when book art and illustration doesn't live up to my imagination, and now that I'm in a position to do it right, I'd like to at least try to hit the mark of "That's how I always imagined it, only cooler in every way!"

Lazigeek wrote:
dudecon wrote:A note about dentures... If you could take off your "not a writer" hat for a bit

There are a few analogies... letting your car drive for you (probably the most applicable to Rin) ...
Thanks! I've added some text to that effect in the steak scene of Upside Up, copied below for convenience.
Fall From the Sky: Upside Up: Dinner and Dancing wrote:...The steak, slathered in golden sauce, should have been delicious. The flavors were all there. Yet somehow, eating wasn't the same as she remembered. Not as satisfying. Not as tactile. It wasn't the texture, something else. For a moment Rin felt the impulse to take over driving from Roberto, to feel the wheel fighting her. How long had it been since she had thought of her old car? But that was the difference. She wasn't really chewing her food. The dentures were chewing for her, and she would never again sense her own bones slicing the sinews. It wasn't sad so much as unsatisfying. In an effort to savor the meal as best she could, Rin slowed down.

Buck took this as a sign of dissatisfaction. “We can get a new one if that doesn't taste right you know.”...

Lazigeek wrote:Re: the typos (I could well be wrong for one or all of these though)...
  • officer's rec room (implies possessive to a single officer, "officers' rec room" implies possessive to multiple officers)
  • and loose a ("loose" means not tight, "lose" means lost)
  • floor and ceiling was made (I think it should be "were" instead of "was" since it's referring to multiple things (floor and ceiling) instead of one)
Good call on officer(')s('), I've fixed the 8 occurrances.
Loose also means to intentionally release, which is how I'm using it there.
Decided to leave the was/were as is, as I didn't feel like it were a problem.
Lazigeek

Re: Fall From the Sky

Postby Lazigeek » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:53 am

Nice, you nailed it with the steak scene. Well done.

You and Shamus did a fantastic job of painting the scenes for us... I kept forgetting what Ando actually looked like but that's on me, it's right there in Meeting.

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