The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

Comments on Chapter Six: School

       Just read School… Loved the opening… I'd be totally whacked out too if someone shot at me that way. That and blown away by the cute blonde who snatched the bullet out of mid-air. It's cool that he instinctively protected her… a nice test of his motivations.
        Mrs. J is a most amazing character. In this chapter, she totally dominates the story with Sara slipping so far into the background that she's nearly invisible. If I didn't know anything else, your descriptions of Sara make her seem like she's about 5 or 6 years old.
        I had a bit of trouble with Dinah as a character. An Amazon in stature and aloof and unable to engage men, she is lurking around spying on communists. That doesn't quite work for me. I love your other characters, but Dinah leaves me a bit cold. Which I think you intended. But she doesn't seem real like your other characters. Like she's not alive. She's more of a machine than Sara. Again… I'm not sure if this was the impression you intended, but as a character, she doesn't seem to be real.
        I did like the idea of the apartment complex being a refuge for some old cold-warrior's. We don't think about them much anymore, but those people used to be very much in control in the Soviet Union and now they are powerless and impoverished I'm sure.
        The idea of those highly educated men and women training Sara is cool… actually, the one place where I enjoyed Dinah was when she was fearful that they'd turn Sara into some kind of final weapon for their former cause. That they indoctrinate her. An interesting train of thought. You certainly feel like an old cold-warrior yourself.
        It would be interesting if they turned Sara over to NASA eventually. On one hand they'd love to study her. On the other hand, she could solve a few problems of interplanetary exploration by getting their spacecraft out of the gravity well of Earth without using their engines. The fuel (95% of which is used to escape Earth today) could be used to go to Mars or whatever and return. A story I've often thought of writing but haven't. The closest I came in the Interview stories was to depict Kara as a living space probe with a tiny 'protected' instrument package that they had to bring in an OB/GYN to consult on. That way they could gather data while flying through a black hole or whatever. Kind of wacky, but when you expand your imagination to what scientists would want to do with someone who could dive through worm-holes and even the sun, you come up with some interesting technological challenges. <grin>
        At the end, Dinah reaching out to Sara was cool… maybe I judged Dinah too harshly. I will reserve judgment on her character a bit longer.
        Once again… a cool chapter, Patrick. The story is starting to unfold and your gang of co-conspirators in the greatest adventure of the human race, First Contact, continues to be great reading.

[Toomey replies]

        Sara isn't even 5 or 6 years old. Two days, actually. Her form cannot be changed, from now until the cold cinder that once was our planet spins away into the vast eternity of endless space. She is now an infant with a vocabulary, but whose incredible awareness has suddenly blossomed from nothingness. She has to mature, incorporating new and glorious experiences into her young life.
        Regarding Dinah, you are right on the mark. Loosely based on a combination of two people I dated between marriages (one enormous Amazon who was so naturally intimidating that it stunted her emotional growth, one who "was a lawyer in the same way that a Rottweiler is a dog"), Dinah has never learned how to relate to people as human beings. She has allowed her career to dominate her life to the exclusion of everything else and it has affected her judgment. She has become a crime-busting vigilante (almost a superhero), seeing conspiracies in every shadow. The pathetic 'Evil Empire has-beens' are hardly worth her time, but their mere presence and the instinctive secrecy with which they surround themselves makes her want to leap into action, sending spies into their midst and jeopardizing one of the few relationships she's had. She's unknowingly quite jealous of Sara whom she sees as a rival for Alex. As the story develops, she becomes ferociously protective of Sara and finally overcomes her conflicted feelings toward Alex — in a way I think you'll find, er, quite stimulating…
        I see this kind of thing a lot with musicians I know. Success as a professional musician is very Darwinian. Only the most fanatically dedicated and talented have even a remote chance of making a living at it. People who live, breathe, eat and sleep nothing but, say, jazz (they're the worst) put aside normal lives. Practice, study, rehearsals, a gypsy life of endless gigs. They have nothing else to talk about. They have no independent value system, and little commonality with the human race. I'm not saying this happens to all of them, but it's certainly an occupational hazard.
        NASA will soon have thrust upon them incontrovertible proof of the existence of a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization. But they won't like it. Not one bit…
        Profuse thanks for the commentary you provide. It's unbelievably invaluable.

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© Patrick Hill, 2000