|As I mentioned in a previous review, I'm poking around your portfolio in search of interesting things to read. Plus you responded positively to my review, which makes me more inclined to review more. ;)
I'm a fan of sf and fantasy, so there are a few things that caught my eye, including this piece. Again, don't take my detailed review as a negative. I really enjoyed this piece, and I thought it was a great read.
From a technical perspective:
As men of science, we always adhered to facts, considered details in the decisions we make and studied to solve problems here on the UMD77. Distance, gravitational pull, the atmospheric pressure- they calculated every single cause down to the decimal point.
I love this introduction, but you jump from we/I to they and back again. Consider changing the 'they' to fit with the rest.
soldiers jogged ...carrying assault rifles. They wore burgundy long sleeve coveralls
The 'they' here seems to suggest that the rifles are wearing coveralls. Perhaps soldiers in coveralls jogged...Then you can break the next sentence into their steel toed boots clanged...and their insginias flashed/something active as they moved...
they’re this way!” The squad leader said.
I won't pick through the dialogue this go-round, as I covered it in the last review. Just know that it needs to be adjusted here, as well.
the men shouted as bullets shredded several more men and collapsed them to the ground.
A lot happening at the same time - it's one of your weaknesses, I think. The men are shouting while bullets are shredding and people are collapsing. With action sequences, it's better to have short, fast sentences that convey a lot of motion in bursts. They shouted. Bullets shredded. Men collapsed.
Also, bullets themselves don't 'collapse' people. The people collapse. I'd change the subject on that part as well.
Small note - it's science fiction, do they all have to be men? ;)
The man emerged,
At this point, I would argue that he is a man, not the man. Unless he was the man they were hunting (and it turns out he is), but then it would be 'the man that they sought emerged' or something of that nature.
I'll also note that your cocoa-complected statement is awkward. Why not a caramel or cocoa hand lifting the tile? Again, more subtle and less awkward. I'd similarly steer away from a direct description and instead describe as you go - he can run his hand over a clean-shaven chin, readjust his wire glasses, and so on. And also, you've established that he's a man so no need to let us know that he is 'a male'.
Wearing a white coverall, he meandered through the halls
Two points - first, both of these don't fit together. He isn't only wearing the coverall as he meanders. Second, if he knows there are folks hunting him, why is he meandering? Unless he's checking the fallen soldiers for signs of life or signs that he recognized them - or would he turn his eyes away so he wouldn't have to see those who died fighting for him while he hid? guilt? - he should be at least walking briskly, if not jogging or running. People are going to be shooting him, and he knows it; let's get out of the open hallways quickly.
He approached a metal door with a porthole and used the key card around his neck and slid it through a small terminal on the side .
Too many 'ands'. Either split it or make it smoother with a comma.
He approached a metal door with a porthole. Taking the key card from around his neck, he slid it through a small terminal on the side.
Also you have an extra space before the period
a box that read “Communications” (in white letters).
I'm not sure the parenthesis are needed.
bigwigs, no quotes. Unless that's the name of the actual group
he pulled the entire counsel off its hinges.
I think you mean console; counsel is a group of people or advice you give or a lawyer lol
With caution, he sprinted
It's very hard to sprint cautiously
two guards with assault rifles guarding the elevator.
a hissing hole inside. Hissing steam
they dropped their weapons on the floor for an opening.
I don't know what you mean by 'for an opening'. Do you mean, giving William an opening?
The Terrans started attacking us and that’s how everything started.”
He didn’t know why Commander Joseph would order such a move on board a civilian ship, but he determined to find out why
Repetition. Drop the second 'why'
he pressed a floor button.
However, he noticed a blinking red button
'however' is unnecessary
Why did the elevator descend after he had already pushed the first button? Usually pushing a second button doesn't cause it to ignore the first and change directions. Also, is this the first time he's ever seen that button? He's been on the ship for 30 years? That's definitely something he would notice. Anyway, that should stand out to him even without a flashing light. And why would it be flashing anyway?
What’s going on?
This monologue repeats 'peace' multiple times.
William guarded his eyes with his arms. Peering through his fingers he tries
Few things. First, you switched to present tense ('tries'); stay in past tense. Second, when you put your arms in front of your face, you can't peer through your fingers. Do you mean hands?
Also, did all of this purple light appear when the door opened? Because there's nothing about the door opening so the room could be inside the elevator - like a weird panel or something. You have to get us off the elevator.
There’s enough here to destroy a planet.
This is either a thought or an observation. If the first, it needs italics. If the second, "the globe in the center held enough to destroy a planet"
rushed back to the elevator
And on it? Did the door sit open the whole time? Did he block it open?
He points his finger and curses ,
Pointed, and no space before the comma
with the clever and composed Terrans and rough and tough Mannans.
Sentence fragment. Merge it more smoothly to the people
Past wars devastated his family
Growing up without a family made her hard, but, she managed
No comma after 'but'
Blood soaked the mahogany table dripping to the floor.
If it's soaking into the table, it won't run off and drip to the floor. I'd try 'ran off' or 'ran across the surface'
Commander Josephs life
apostrophe - Joseph's
In terms of content:
The first thing I would recommend is updating the intro for this and several other pieces, particularly if you want readers and reviewers. Like the cover of a book, what's in the introduction draws people inside. Something generic like 'contest entry' doesn't really do that; in my case, it was the title and genre that drew me, combined with a knowledge that I liked your other story. I am curious, however, what contest this was for.
A ship of an unusual size
Completely at random, but this immediately drew to my mind the idea of ROUSs- Rodents of Unusual Size - from the Princess Bride
wings that pointed to its respective planet.
Okay you've set us up here with the ship between two planets, but I'm not quite sure how this is oriented. Do you mean perhaps one wing pointed toward each planet?
Also this paragraph repeats the word 'planet' multiple times. Try other words to avoid repetition. (I see you used 'worlds'; 'bodies' is another option [ie 'earth-like bodies'], so is satellite or natural satellite.)
The ship rotated with the Earth-like planets
Another technical crunch. A planet rotates over the course of its day, and it's very unlikely for two planets (or two moons) to rotate at the same rate. Perhaps you mean orbit, as in, it goes around its star? That would also be tricky because the outermost planet should travel faster than the innermost, blah blah Kepler's law. Unless they are in special configurations - which are relatively rare among the exoplanets - of mean motion resonance. But they would literally have to be in a 1:1 resonance and I'm not sure any worlds do that - naturally. So. Are these fake worlds or worlds whose orbits have been altered? Or are the worlds drawing apart over time?
The ship's supposed to keep the planets from colliding with each other
Ah okay, well nevermind then, that makes sense.
Slightly less technical - the 'while' for the lights. The rotation/orbit is a long-term thing while the flickering is short-term
I'm also not sure how both worlds cast their shadow. Think about two people standing next to a light bulb with a teddy bear between them. The shadows will be going in the same direction. Alternately, it could be a line of bulb->person->teddybear->person in which case the shadows would cast their light at the object behind them. The only way for both planets - or people - to cast shadows on the teddy bear ships is for there to be more than one star - and that sets up a whole 'nother ball of wax.
It's also not clear if the various exhausts venting steam come from the ship or the planets.
they charged towards the incoming fire.
Okay, call me a victim of too much Tom Clancy and/or military brat background, but it's not logical for soldiers to charge into fire without at least first looking for cover in the doorways or behind the bodies of their fallen comrades. Very few people have the nerve/discipline to run towards someone shooting without someone behind them cracking the whip. On the one hand, this could tell us the soldiers have a cause they believe in, but it still feels very abrupt.
After the skirmish, three men, wearing black coveralls, emerged from the far side of the corridor.
This is very sudden jump. We've got men charging into battle and then, bam, we're done. A little more detail on the action would be great, but at a minimum you need a less abrupt transition.
This I think is another weakness I spotted in different stories. You like to use onamonapia a lot. Instead of making the noise, a description might be more evocative.
he held his pistol in agony
Show don't tell. Why is he in agony? You start explaining that a bit more in the next sentence - bullets in the torso - but give us a bit more. Also, the next sentence has him pointing his pistol at his enemy, but the enemy is dead. Why doesn't he fire again? Is his hand too weak? Is the bullet chamber empty and clicking hollowly? Why would he give himself away?
Side note: there is a lot of shouting and exclamation points in your story. It's also a bit odd that they walk out in a group until one is shot, and then they're all, let's go! and run down the hallway.
a hand lifted the tile and peeked out
Hands don't have eyes and don't peek
a female voice answered
He didn't answer a question; it would spoke or maybe respond
Also 'please' doesn't go with 'ordered'
"There he is! Get him!”
Okay sorry but this is really trite. Can't he say something more original, like shoot the scurvy dog or something? "Get him!" just sounds very...idk. Trite.
William pressed a few buttons and squeezed against the corner
It's unclear what he's doing here. The door is already open so he should be through the doorway and thus, by standing on the same side as the approaching men, be out of the line of fire. Also, a door that requires voice security to open should assumibly close on its own? I could maybe see him entering the code to seal it against other authorized people, but that would likely be after it closed and it would be nice to know what he's doing.
he took a few moments to calm down when he saw the men banging on the door.
No way these happened at once. No one calms down when someone is banging on a door. He might try to calm down but at most he's got a few seconds and that's not enough time.
He shook his head in disappointment
This seems like underselling. His crew is trying to kill him and he's disappointed? Shocked, horrified, anger, regret, I could see any of those but unless he's part of an alien race testing humans, disappointment seems like the wrong emotion.
When the com beeped off
This paragraph is another place where your sentences are too long and languid. You want short bursts of action. Instead you have a lot of 'and' sentences.
With his feet pounding the metal, he trained his weapon
It is very hard to run while aiming a gun, especially if you are aiming at a small target like the legs. It makes more sense that he would step out, site the gun on one man, then the other.
Also, don't be like the idiots in the movies. Kick the guns away from the guards! Or else why didn't they shoot him with said guns? Being shot at is worse than steam.
he didn’t want to return to his wife with news of him killing her people.
Awkwardly phrased. He didn't want to return with their blood on his hands, he didn't want to tell his wife he had killed them, etc
the ship you’re looking down at us from.”
Wait, I thought he was in the room with the woman?
Arguments were normal,
Except we've got a war going on between the ship's soldiers. So this seems a bit blase
robbed him of everything.
I mean, don't tell his wife and children that.
William relented and lowered his weapon.
It's not like he didn't know she was his sister when he pointed the gun at her. At least give him a moment of indecision. And her 'haughty' response seems a bit overconfident. If she were my sister, I might shoot her just for thinking I wouldn't...okay no but still
There is too much explanation between this and Joseph's response. We're smack in the middle of action and you're giving us history. You should explain about the sister sooner, or later, but not in the middle of the action. (I vote sooner; you lose the surprise but set the tone)
“The Mannans already have fleets out in space. It’s not like they’re going extinct.”
I mean, does she not KNOW that her brother married a Mannan? And that his kids are theoretically on the planet? Sure he made arrangements but I doubt this cold hearted sister knew that. So for her to just proceed without worrying about his reaction is beyond foolish, it's stupid IMO. And she doesn't seem like a stupid woman. On the other hand, maybe she made arrangements to get the kids out; that would be a surprise and show that she was dealing with things or something. Or at least had foresight. Or lied about it.
In a grand display of blood and shock,
I have no idea what this looks like. Show, don't tell.
They spiraled around and sped up as they got closer.
This process would take hours, if not days. Unless they are literally a ships-width apart. But then 30 years would make it obvious that the planets had only slowed and not stopped. In truth, even at a farther distance, it should be noticible. Atmospheres should be changing (oh wow how cool would that be, two planets with one atmosphere?)
I assume he turned off the antigravity field? That should be mentioned.
I can't honestly see how letting both planets die is any better of a solution, to be honest.
I'm guessing that the Admiral is Terran, given his marriage to a Mannan woman was worth noting. But it might be worth stating. The Mannan soldiers might react more to him or sneer at him for being Terran. Or, instead of the aforementioned 'male' you could use 'Terran', if you keep the straight description. Or you could describe his height or another feature as being distinctive of the Terran race. (straight backs?)
I really loved the ideas behind this story. Two planets, spiraling together, an antigravity field on a ship that keeps them from destruction. I think you have an incredible setting for more science fiction here. I'd love to hear more about these worlds in other stories.
For this piece, you have a few consistent weaknesses. Chief among these is the nature of 'show, don't tell'. Don't be afraid to add description. It's amazing what even an expression or a tight grip can reveal. You also want to try to keep action scenes punchy, with short sentences that convey movement. It's surprising how far much that adds.
You have some great characters and a fantastic plot. There's a great drive, and a mystery. I really liked this story, liked the characters, liked the Admiral out for peace. He's literally poised between the two worlds himself, which is great. Two thumbs up!
I look forward to reading more of your stories, especially sf!
(Side note: I've been having trouble loading the site the last few days. I tried to read the first chapter of the book I reviewed earlier but the page kept trying to load for >15 minutes and I gave up and closed the tab. But that's why I reviewed the intro and not the chapter.)