Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for February 24th, 2010

Let’s Remix It

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Mark Newton published a short story, ‘Salam and Baseema’, on his blog and asked people to remix it. He’s just posted my remix. Here’s what I did:

Step 1: Fillet – I wanted to radically change the story before I even started to think about remixing it so I deleted everything apart from the first line of each paragraph.

Step 2: Reconstitute – I then grouped these individual sentences back into paragraphs. It was interesting to see how neatly some paragraphs reformed, not just sections of dialogue (which you might expect) but more descriptive parts. However, there were some rogue sentence left over. I decided I wanted to keep this remix very formal and therefore that I wouldn’t cut any of these sentences. Instead, I temporarily moved them to the end of the document for later.

Step 3: Stir – I grouped my small paragraphs into bigger sections. This included moving some of them out of their original order as well as merging previously seperate sections into single sections.

Step 4: Swap – The story structure was working pretty well but it needed finessing so it was time to swap some of the sentences, both within sections and between sections. This also allowed me to re-integrate the problem sentences and, in fact, in several instances the overall structure is determined by this need.

Step 5: Split – Some of the sentences still just weren’t working. In particular: “Luckily, there is none, and upon realising this, in the sanctum of the bus, they kiss again, Salam’s hands sliding in an explorative fashion along Baseema’s thigh.” It refers so directly to a sentence that was cut that it was impossible to integrate. So I compromised and allowed myself to split three sentences. See if you can spot them! I also cunningly turned one of them into my new title.

Step 6: Polish – There was a temptation here to add or embellish the text but I managed to resist this and keep true to my original plan. I did make a few punctuation and tense changes as well as Anglicising some of the words (whilst leaving exclamations in the original). Oh, and I removed the capitals from Rock and Reggae, you know how I feel about that.

A pretty interesting experiment. Obviously I took a very formal approach, I’m hoping some other people will take a looser, more artistic approach.

Written by Martin

24 February 2010 at 18:45

Posted in short stories

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‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke

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We came slowly in through the concentric shells of gas that had been blasted out six thousand years before, yet were expanding still. They where immensely hot, radiating even now with a fierce violet light, but were far too tenuous to do us any damage. When the star had exploded, its outer layers had been driven upward with such speed that they had escaped completely from its gravitational field. Now they formed a hollow shell large enough to engulf a thousand solar systems, and at its center burned the tiny, fantastic object which the star had now become – a White Dwarf, smaller than the Earth, yet weighing a million times as much.

This is the sort of thing hard SF is meant to be about and Clarke does it very well. At the same time though, he is happy to just handwave away the speed of light with “the secret of the Transfinite Drive”. I can imagine fewer things duller than getting into a debate about whether FTL travel should be consistent with hard SF but I think this is worth pointing out.

The story itself unfortunately hinges on a silly punchline that is adolescent and hack-ish. To his credit, Clarke treats this with great seriousness but this only makes it even more baffling that he constructed the story around a cheap joke. The reaction of the characters to the revelation is no more plausible than the existence of a Transfinite Drive either.

Quality: **
Hardness: ****

Written by Martin

24 February 2010 at 09:58