March 18, 2015

Youthful Science Fiction, or Something

The study of my childhood writing lingered on the prolific fourth grade period for a while, but now it's time to move ahead to fifth grade. In some respects, my writing style remained unchanged throughout the late-elementary era. For example, this paragraph from a story entitled "Pie Problems" will sound familiar to those who've been following along:

Like Susie, I have short, straight, brown hair. Our mother's hair is the same, but hers is long, almost to her waist, while Susie's and mine is only shoulder length. Dan and Dad both have curly, black hair. Everyone in our family, excluding Susie, has green eyes. Oh, by the way, my name's Johanna.

(In case you were worried about Susie's eye color, I assure you that an earlier sentence more cleverly reveals this detail: "I looked into her blue eyes and found tears in them.")

Also included in the fifth grade collection is yet another story with some trappings of the mystery genre but little actual mystery and less logic. We'll get to that next time.

In this post, I want to present a story that takes my early writing in a new direction. I would loosely classify it as science fiction in that it concerns a made-up planet and is written in an obsessively scientific style. The genre marks a departure from the rest of my stories up to this point, which are either set in the real(-ish) world or involve magic and fantastical creatures. Mostly, though, the story is notable for being just plain weird.

Records indicate that this was a timed writing exercise, with the first sentence provided as a prompt. For unknown reasons, the text begins on the back of an assignment about THE HOBBIT.

Here's the odd little story, which provoked my teacher to comment, "This was fun!":

I didn't believe this story when I first heard it, but now I do. Many, many thousands of seconds ago, on February 2, 1986, at 1:03:56, a glub popped out of its glirb.

Now, I must explain that a glub is a gigantically small creature. Glubs are clear spheres that live on the bottom of the Murumphian Sea, on the planet Ork, in the galaxy Streez. Glubs are one millimeter in diameter at birth and one centimeter in diameter when they are full grown.

A glirb looks like a white rock. Instead of hatching out of eggs, glubs pop out of glirbs. Every quid, a glub pops out of a glirb. A quid is equal to two microseconds.

But the glub this story is about was orange and ten feet in diameter! And no wonder, for its glirb was a black boulder known as "The King Stone."

All the glubs were very excited, and they appointed the orange glub ruler of Ork, and everyone lived happily in the rafter.

I am unable to follow that with any worthwhile commentary. Please feel free to share your own thoughts.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Malinda Lo, long experienced in seeking out young adult books with diverse characters, takes a fascinating look at Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews: "I can't help but get the sense that there's an invisible ceiling on the number and type of issues deemed suitable for inclusion in a realistic YA novel, and typically sexuality is such a huge one that adding additional issues such as race, disability, or class sets up a book for a 'too many issues' critique."


Henri Picciotto said...

I agree with the teacher. This was fun!

Iphy said...

While the magnetic pull of explaining the amazing world-building you've done in your head can be nigh-undeniable, especially within the tiny confines of a vignette writing assignment, nevertheless this story would have benefitted for a bit more character development and somewhat less world-building. The author should trust the reader to infer that a quid is a unit of time, or to not concern themselves overmuch with it at all as watchers of the original Star Wars did not get into arguments in the theater over the use of "parsec" in Han Solo's Millennium Falcon sales pitch. The reader is intrigued by this enormous black boulder. Introduce it to them earlier and tell us how the other Glubs felt about it!

( ;) )

Lisa Eckstein said...

Iphy, your comments are insightful and on-target as always!

If only I'd had such thoughtful critique partners in fifth grade, imagine how much more quickly I would have developed as a writer. As we've seen, though, I only received empty praise, which is of course ego-boosting, but does little to hone writing skills.

Unknown said...

It was undoubtedly those weird Rumpsfeld stories I used to make up.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Dad, I'm sure the Rumspar and Horatio stories were a huge early influence!

NeilFred said...

> Many, many thousands of seconds ago, on February 2, 1986, at 1:03:56

Do you have any evidence of when it was that you wrote this, relative to the cited time?

Lisa Eckstein said...

Ah, a good question! The story is dated February 3, 1986 (the next day).

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