The good reviews…
This is great! I thoroughly enjoyed it. At first I wondered why it had been categorised as romance, not sci-fi, but by the end of the uploaded chapters, this becomes obvious. An original story, well written. The pace was wonderfully fast with not a moment’s opportunity for the eyes to glaze over.
The whole idea of the existence of earth-like planets is very topical at the moment, and the idea of landing on a habitable (and inhabited) one is extremely exciting in itself, let alone the horror of being abandoned there. Jenny’s feelings on being left “alone” on the planet were very evocative and felt authentic.
The planet itself is beautifully described and sufficiently weird to capture the imagination.
The pace is just right – I found myself desperate to find out what would happen next, moment by moment.
Eden is a tightly written story with a good structure that kept me entertained throughout. I liked the idea of the asteroid collision happening while the computer’s back was turned. Plus, the encounter with the alien was nicely horrifying, and I genuinely felt Jenny’s terror when her ship blasted off without her. I really want to know what happens next! But my favourite moment is when they realise they’ve left the transmitter by the evil plant. I was expecting one of them to go over there and get eaten, but it turns out they’ve got a load back in the ship so they just leave it there. It’s always good when a story doesn’t do the obvious thing.
I also liked the atmosphere of the story, which felt to me like a rom-com version of “Red Dwarf”. However, I felt the characters were much too obvious in their hatred of one another. Especially at the start, I think you can afford to be more subtle about their relationships – the action was enough to keep me interested.
I do like reading and watching this type of material but find I often get bored with too much technical detail. I found in this that wasn’t the case. Which to me is good. You said enough to make it clear, they were in a ship, floating around a planet and the only bit I did skim was the size of the planet part as that means nothing to me!!!! You I use language that isn’t high techy and you can therefore see the inside of the ship. I was very pleased about that.
The characters I found very believeable and all had a distinctive character and voice. Obviousy with Jenny in this chapters being the one we get to know the most. You could really see who she was. I like the contrast of the alien, who’s superior and not used to the full range of human emotions, realising he might have to take it a bit easy with Jenny. I like that he uses his knowledge of humans, be it with a superior air, to come to this decision.
Sometimes the descriptive bits of the planet I couldn’t see, ie the tightly curled trees. I didn’t quite get that image. I also couldn’t quite get the alien talking about who he hunted.
But all in all I found I want to know how things go with Jenny and the alien. If Matt and Bodie have gone and what else happens on the planet. It peaked my interest no end!
I’m not a fan of science fiction but I don’t think one has to like a genre to review it. Good writing and a feasible plot will pull you in regardless.
Quite liked the transition from the ‘safe’ and familiar human interactions in the first part to the radically different, alien experiences that followed. Apart from the actual setting, at the beginning everything feels quite earthly, the use of language in the dialogues helps. These are very human astronauts with their emotional baggage and human frailties. Then the encounter with the alien vessel is described such that it successfully conveys a feeling of unease combined with the thrill of discovery. It was quite interesting to see the main character reduced to something very primordial, in a complete contrast to how she started out. It , in a good sense, reminds me of Fredric Brown’s The Arena – at the level of a ‘hi-tech being’ ending up in avery organic and primeval battle for survival.
I felt this story affected me like a drug, you almost couldn’t stop reading, I got a good overall feeling of the world despite the many flaws of the piece. The writing is naive and underdeveloped and we are told far too much; everything is explained leaving little for the reader to infer. This story could really come alive with more subtlety, there were moments in the story that were brilliant but they got lost under the glut of explanation. There is something very alluring about this story, that drags you in, with some heavy redrafting I think it will really start to shine.
I must admit I didn’t think I’d enjoy this story and the first few pages I found rather derivative, the dialogue a bit flat. But when Taurus landed and the crew went out to explore Eden, it perked up no end. Jenny really came into her own when she was left to cope alone, although I think she brought it on her head by going into the alien spaceship when anyone in their right minds would stay put! I needed a bit more in the way of motivation there. The alien creature was very well described and the weird and wonderful plants were well thought out and very macabre. The whole planet seemed to be a viable world, well thought out and believable. I think cutting the first pages down quite substantially would improve the narrative – I just kept thinking Red Dwarf here, with the talking computer. Perhaps start it with the crew venturing out??
Anyway Louise, well done – you’ve converted me to sci-fi!
I presume that it is aimed at a later teens market. I think it would need a well designed, interesting and bold cover to make you want to pick the book of the shelf. I think it is a brave choice to write a book about an alien romance and personally i would normally shut off after reading those two words. However there are those out there who thrive on that sort of thing.
The story flows well and good descriptions seem to come up at the right points when you just begin to feel the story is no longer holding your attention.
I suprised myself at the end by wanting to find out what happens in an ‘alien story ‘. Although you want a happy ending, this story so far does not give the reader an idea of what that ending might be, good or bad, and that makes me want to read it. Good luck!
Louise I am not a fan of science fiction. I have never read a science fiction novel. Bottom line is, I am glad I read your chapters! I am sitting here right now thinking “maybe I should be giving science fiction a fair shake!’ I feel now that I may have been missing out on something…
You are an excellent writer.
I find your words flow very well. I like it when I can read a sentence and don’t have to reread it again to make sense of it.
You paint excellent pictures with your words. In my mind’s eye, I could see the planets surface, the vegetation, the creatures and the alien. You have a definite gift.
I’m not sure what makes an author want to take a generic, predictable, human relationship and transplant it to an extraterrestrial setting. I like to think that different kinds of relationships might exist on other planets. That said, though, the planet you describe does seem to resemble earth, except for the number of suns and moons, which you don’t make much use of. And your story made me laugh out loud several times – though I’m not sure if that’s the effect you intended.
The basic writing is fine in terms of grammar, spelling etc. The characters do begin to be developed and there is a story that holds some interest. There is also some action and very occasionally some tension, although you miss multiple opportunities to develop that tension and interest. Without appropriate use of tension, the pace of the story just begins to ‘drag’ at times and the reader wonders how these juvenile characters have come to be selected for what purports to be one of mankind’s most ambitious and important ventures.
I realise that you have classified this as ‘Romance’ BUT even although you have not called it science fiction you have used a science fiction setting. The BIG problem relates to the reason that I virtually stopped reading purported ‘science fiction’ about 40 years ago. There’s nothing wrong with sci-fi – but this isn’t it. I’m not being rude when I say that – the whole ‘Star Wars’ saga isn’t science fiction either, so you’re in good company.
This is action/adventure story just happens to have a futuristic setting but you could perfectly well have written the same story as a ‘western’ with our intrepid travellers going into unexplored territory, encountering new environments and hostile ‘Indians’ and Jenny being abandoned in the Utah desert. In fact, you would have been better advised to do that.
The reason that many writers chose to use a futuristic ‘alien’ setting (and I suspect the reason that you have used it) is that they believe that such a setting gives them the ultimate freedom to allow virtually anything to happen. But it doesn’t – everything we know indicates that there are ‘rules’ that apply to what happens throughout the universe – certainly in those parts that we humans might potentially physically venture into. A ‘western’ setting (or a ‘jungle’ setting, or a ‘desert island’ setting, or any number of others) could have been accommodated because you know (or could easily find out) what ‘rules’ might apply to such a setting. As the story stands at the moment you leave yourself vulnerable to nerds like me.
I found your explanation at the start off-putting. Without reading the chapters, and only your intro, I had assumed that the romance was with an alien, especially from the first line. To have to explain it undermines and belittles the reader in my view. My impression of the first chapter was that it was a rather unconvincing and somewhat juvenile space mission. It read a lot like teen lit. The theme was continued into the second chapter and the lengthy descriptions of the woman being chased by the wolf and then following the alien need to be cut down tremendously.
Please take the time to correct small grammatical faults such as ‘low intelligent small mammals’ should be ‘small mammals of low intelligence’ (although even in SF it is difficult how intelligence will be measured at a distance – maybe simple would be a better word). Also, do consider rewording some phrases such as ‘wondered if the quality of her life would be worth the struggle to survive’ with ‘wondered whether life would be worth living’ or even ‘wondered whether she would survive to see another interplanetary sunrise’.
In summary, I suggest simplifying and shortening the opening chapters, and I also would rethink the audience for this novel as it seems to me to fit well into a teen or YA profile.
At the beginning of the story the ship has just been struck by an asteroid. This seems to provide the perfect opportunity for some opening drama with which to grab the reader’s attention. But you’ve rather wasted it by focusing your opening on something as mundane as Bodie accidentally elbowing Jenny in the stomach.
And not sure…
I thought this was a very interesting idea, but can understand why some readers haven’t got to the romance, because the setting as you paint it would fit a sexual sexcapade between the girl and the alien, but romance, no, or not as yet. Outer space, you have the excitement but as yet there are too many machines and contraptions and realistic language, too realistic, what about the stars out there, the romance of the unknown, you need to take our principal character’s private side and tell us more about it. i find your central precept quite fascinating and wished you focussed there inside of on getting us to believe that you are really in outer space out there. in other words, the woman is spaced out without being spaced out, if you know what i mean. thanks and hope i haven’t dampened your spirits, but i think you could do more with this idea. in eden the garden was important, and you need to make space your garden
I must admit that I’m not a fan of sci-fi but this story held my attention, probably because it’s led by character and action and not dependent upon gizmos and gadgets and techno-speak. Whatever the genre you’ve got to have strong characters and a decent plot and I think this achieves that.
However, these sample chapters seem to show that the novel is unsure of its tone and direction. It starts off as a fairly light sort of sci-fi “road movie” with the focus seeming to be the interactions between Jenny, Matt and Commander Bodie as they boldly go to explore new worlds. There was good dialogue and tension between the 3 and the sexy computer, Kate, reminded me of “Red Dwarf”. Then, on the surface of the planet, with the screaming trees and homicidal plants, it had become more like a slightly dark “Hitch Hikers Guide”. The humour continued even after the discovery of the crashed spaceship but then, suddenly, Jenny is captured by the alien and it quickly turns very very dark and very, very bleak. Jenni is reduced to running through the forest to escape the “wolf”, only to be “rescued” by the alien. As she realises it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire she is reduced to surviving on her base instincts and contemplating giving her body to the alien in return for her safety.
Now, I like the early section. It needs work – Bodie and Matt need more development and colour; I’m not sure about the technicalities of the life forms on such a cold planet, but one with a very earth-like atmosphere, but I’m no expert and it’s your story- you can have as many homicidal daffodils as you want! If it is to have elements of comedy, then this needs work – there have got to be snappier, better ways of having Bodie liken himself jokingly to E.T. than “the remake never did live up to its predecessor” and ” ‘Well done, Commander’ she said with sarcasm” doesn’t really work – you need to have her say something which leaves no doubt that she is being sarcastic without you telling us overtly. “Thank you, Sherlock!” or something like that???