Today I received my mark on the short story I posted earlier: 29 out of 40. It’s better than I expected, especially since I have a particularly harsh and nitpicky teacher, but I’m still going to post some of the comments he wrote which I find amusing or ridiculous.

Note that I do so with no sense of bitterness or sulkiness, unlike last time. I’ve come to realise that writing is a considerably subjective medium. I’m happy with this story, and other people have read and enjoyed it, and that’s good enough for me. So…

Most puzzling of all was her appearance. At first glance she looked like the retro rockets from the space boom of the 21st century, amusingly primitive, no different from the wrecks Hopper explored nearly every day. But she was… irregular, with slight stylistic changes. As though somebody had built a fresh ship in the old fashion.

Response: “The language and phrasing doesn’t feel futuristic.”

He brought this up quite a lot in the earlier assignments, and I really don’t know what he expected from me. Science fiction writers are not clairvoyants. Just take Alien, a classic sci-fi movie, in which Ellen Ripley taps on the keyboard of a 1980s style computer with green writing. Compare it with the fancy holographic computers we see in Minority Report, a movie made 23 years later. What computers will actually be like in 200 years is utterly incomprehensible. Likewise language and phrasing. Anyone who has ever read Heinlein or Clarke can tell you that all science fiction stories become a dated product of the era they were written in, particularly in terms of dialogue. That doesn’t make them any less good.

The recording finished. “Wow,” Bly breathed.

Response: “Again… are people going to be saying “Wow” in 200 years?”

Probably not. But again, I’m not a psychic. What did you want me to write? “Kaschizzle-funkdog?”

“About 3 hours ago, you discovered a spacecraft in Terran orbit…”

Response: “Only three hours?”

Yes. Yes, 3 hours. I am the author and that is what I say. Does it even matter?

His accent was bizarre, with clipped vowels and slushy pronounciation.

Response: “Show, don’t tell.”

Short of waiting for technology to develop to the point where we can embed sound files into paper, how did you expect me to show you a sound?

“You see, Andrew Hopper, I know all about you.”

Response: “I hope in 200 or so years people have more interesting names than Andrew.”

Look, “Andrew” has been a name in Western society for approximately two thousand years. I think it’s a safe bet that it’ll hold out another two hundred.

There’s a few other minor things, like his objection over my use of the word “stranger” a mere four hundred words after my use of the word “strange” (unforgivable!), and his dislike of strange metaphors and similes even after he spent every single lesson urging us to be fresh and unpredictable. But the final comment worth spectacle is from his wrap-up, in which he said it was a readable sci-fi episode but too derivative of Star Wars.

Because… it was in space, I guess? I didn’t realise Lucas had a patent on that.

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