A POPPACRIT CRIT SUBMISSION:
The Paradise War
by NagasakA Kiyoshi
Lunar Heavy Cruiser L.S.S. Karne
The acrid smell of burning metal hung
in the air; Private First Class Makabe Connor knew he had arrived at the right place. Judging from the shower of sparks
emanating from the sealed hatch, the invading Colonial troops were using a thermal lance for a quick entrance. Clad
in full marine combat gear, he quickly made his way to the door, armed two explosive charges and planted them.
Three more Marines kept Makabe covered
as he retreated to their position. Thumb on the detonator switch, the Asian soldier waited until the invaders were nearly
done cutting through the hatch.
“Fire in the hole, now, now, now,”
Connor warned as he blew the charges.
All other sounds were muted by the explosion
which flung the weakened hatch into the invaders. A fireball roiled into the cruiser, dying out as it reached the three
waiting Privates. They leaned out from their covered and quickly surveyed the damage.
“Move up,” Makabe ordered,
and immediately two marines crept forward, keeping their M-8 assault rifles trained on the opening.
They could hear the faint sounds of battle
echo through the ship as more invading forces attempted to gain a foothold. The two advancing Marines opened fire with
quick bursts, killing those who had managed to survive Connor’s explosive tactic.
“Looks like two four-man teams
Private,” one of them called back. “The thermal lance’s tank must have exploded and taken most of
them out after you blew the door.”
“Right,” he replied before
activating his com unit. “PFC Makabe reporting, breach at hull point Epsilon suppressed. Requesting a patch
team to seal the breach.”
“Roger that Mak, dispatching
a team now. Move to point Psi.”
“Copy, we’re on our way.”
Connor looked at his team. “Hull point Psi.”
They moved out wordlessly, leaving the
hull breach at Epsilon for the patch team to deal with. The sounds of gunfire increased in volume as they approached
point Psi, it seemed to be the Colonial’s main insertion point.
“What’s the sit-rep?”
Mak asked loudly, trying to be heard over the din.
“Shock troops are rapidly advancing
towards the Engine Room and the rest of the division is trying to head them off. Point Psi is being overrun, too many
assault shuttles made it through the point-defence screen,” another Private yelled back.
“Calm down!” Connor shouted.
“Who’s in charge here?”
The Private looked like he was on the
verge of a breakdown. “Captain’s wounded, Lieutenant is dead, all senior NCOs are defending the Engine Room.”
The Asian swore. “We need
fan out of this bottleneck and stop them from spreading past Psi. iyoshi see if you can’t stall their advance
Poppacrit’s crit of
“The Paradise War”
“The Paradise War” starts with a bang. The action is quick, constant and hard. However, it is also confusing.
Popppacrit needs to know more about PFC Makabe Connor and his mission before being thrown into the action. Kiyoshi needs to
set the scene better. Poppacrit is given no real sense of place or character before being thrown into the firing line (pun
If this is Chapter One, Kiyoshi needs to write a prologue.
Specific comments and suggestions are noted below:
M.E. 83 (Why begin with something meaningless to the reader?)*
armed two explosive charges[,] and planted them.
the Asian soldier waited until the invaders were nearly done cutting through
the hatch. (Poppacrit’s first thought was that the name “Makabe”
was African. So Poppacrit’s glad you clarified “Asian”, but the race notation seems inappropriate at that
point. Also, you should be aware that most Marines dislike being called soldiers. The passive phrase “were nearly done”
could be replaced by the one word “almost”. Poppacrit suggests rewriting as: the PFC waited until the invaders
almost cut through the hatch.)
All other sounds were muted by the explosion which flung the weakened hatch
into the invaders. (“All” seems superfluous. The word “that” is preferable to “which”
in that context. “Which” is generally used when there is a choice or comparison involved. You are not comparing
explosions, so Poppacrit suggests an active rephrase: The explosion that flung the weakened hatch into the invaders muted
all other sounds.)
A fireball roiled into the cruiser, dying out as it reached the three waiting
Privates. (Weren’t there four? You mentioned Makabe retreated to the position of “three more Marines”. 3
+ 1 = 4)
They leaned out from their [cover] and quickly surveyed the damage.
“Move up,” Makabe ordered, and immediately two marines
crept forward, (It seems odd to Poppacrit that a PFC is giving orders to other Privates.)
They moved out [silently], leaving the hull breach at Epsilon for the patch
team to [fix].
The sounds of gunfire increased in volume as they approached point Psi, it
seemed to be the Colonial’s main insertion point. (Poppacrit suggests: Gunfire increased in volume as they approached
point Psi, which seemed to be the Colonial’s main insertion point.)
“What’s the sit-rep?” Mak asked loudly, trying to be heard
over the din. (Tautology—using both “loudly” and “to be heard over the din.” Poppacrit suggests:
“What’s the sit-rep?” Mak yelled over the din.)
another Private yelled back. (To
avoid repeating “yelled” here you could rephrase as: another Private called back. Also, it is unclear to Poppacrit
whether this Private is part of Mak’s team or represents another team in place at Point Psi.)
“Calm down!” Connor shouted.
(Interchanging “Connor”, “Mak”, and “Makabe” has been confusing to Poppacrit since
the beginning. It reads like you can’t decide what to call this character.)
Take your team and loop around to point Chi,
(That clarifies he was speaking to another team, but the distinction should be made earlier.)
Not a beginning that convinced
Poppacrit to read more about “The Paradise War”. Kiyoshi shows imagination, and a determination to delve into
space wars, but it’s largely superficial. Kiyoshi must engage the reader on a deeper level, if interest is to be hooked
and maintained. Think about a prologue, Kiyoshi!
*Poppacrit’s crit style:
Detailed comments and suggestions are written within parentheses ( ).
Brief additions or corrections are written within square brackets [ ].
Until next month. The HOOK CONTEST
is still open—only two submissions were received in August, you cowards.