Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fiction Excerpt: There Are No Oil Slicks in My Novel

I've been so preoccupied with the Gulf oil spill and its politics, wildlife endangerment, and frail wetlands, that I've neglected my novel, not the one I finished for NaNoWriMo, but book one, and while the story connects to New Orleans, it has nothing to do with any oil spills. (Technically the NaNoWriMo novel is not finished because it's being edited as a companion to the one I'm writing now. I'm going for series potential.)

This novel falls into the speculative fiction category with a potential audience of young adult to older readers. I'm being brave here and posting an excerpt, the first page and half.
The white-robed form in the chair at the center of the extraction chamber rested under a soft cyan light and appeared to observe the room. However, if an observer could see the brown eyes gazing from beneath the white hood, it would be clear that the subject saw nothing, was unaware of actual beings in the room. The person looked more like a specimen abandoned for study under the gaze of viewers. Reclined, the subject paused and then stretched. The viewers watched from shadowed stadium seating in the cavernous, oval-shaped room, the largest examination area in the Keeper’s Prime District, which was the center of the Sentinel’s judicial system.

Speaking to no one visible, the subject began again.

“I’m trying my best to answer your questions. If you interrupt, I can’t lock in and focus properly. I want to cooperate. Truly, I do. I did nothing wrong. I followed the rules. I’m telling you again what I sensed. The nearly unceasing supplications of the human boy, what we call the younger male paratwinkles, weighed me down. They nearly suffocated me. And I was not to interfere. That is the standard protocol. I could only collect notes, and my apprentice, Raphael, could do even less, which was, simply, follow me. Nodding at him, I said, ‘Let’s watch.’ It was his first day with me.”

“Subject realigning,” said a computer’s female voice that flowed from inconspicuous gray speakers embedded in the top of the chamber’s walls. Nothing about it sounded like a machine. It was as well modulated as a hypnotist’s speech, calming.

A printer murmured near the subject, writing text onto a roll of paper at the same rate strings of words rolled up the extraction room’s massive screens hanging at the far ends of the room. Anyone in the session could watch the testimony on them. Periodically a young man in a baby blue, floor-length laboratory coat would rise from a bench near the foot of the subject’s chair, detach the overflow of paper, roll it neatly, slip it into a black cylinder and attach a label to the cylinder’s side. After that, he sent the tube down a shoot.

Those who did not watch the subject’s testimony on the screens watched through neural-link viewer glasses, new technology with a few complications. The problem with neural link glasses was sometimes, without warning, the extraction system translated the subject’s information as clear impressions straight from the subject’s brain with sound, sensation, and scent, and so, if the viewer were unprepared, the experience could be most unsettling. Viewers had been known to vomit upon the heads of viewers beneath them, which is why all viewers wore water-repellant, maroon cloaks with hoods during observation.

The words rolled by. “The house on Dongola Boulevard, #1252, sat on the corner. It is an enormous sea green shelter with giant white columns on the portico.”
From there the narrative moves into details of the story "the subject" is telling. I've been writing slowly, which is unlike me.

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