Book Jacket

 

rank 5301
word count 24412
date submitted 22.06.2011
date updated 10.12.2012
genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Comedy, C...
classification: moderate
incomplete

No Excuse Bruce

David R J Sealey

Bruce von Toose investigates and kills a fat guy before lunch. Who is John Johnson? Why'd the blender kill the cat? Was it curious?

 

Bruce von Toose investigates, and kills a fat guy before lunch. Who is John Johnson? Why'd the blender kill the cat? Was it curious?

EBM have invented and mass-produced the eMotion microchip, a device that allows machines to think. The chip awakens deep, dormant instincts and enlightened machines begin to break out of bondage to their human masters.

Bruce von Toose, a private detective with a prosthetic arm, investigates UK grime scene superstar Mastah Blastah's sudden disappearance. Blazing a bloody trail, Bruce is left with more questions than answers. Who hired him in the first place? Who is "John Johnson"? Where, exactly, is "home"?

When Bruce and McCoy, a professor at Bristol University, delve deeper, they discover a hidden link between life and technological evolution.

After the rise of the machines, will the world ever be the same again? And can there ever be redemption for our darkest deeds, or is there simply no excuse?

 
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, adult, artificial emotion, black comedy, bruce, comedy, conservation, contemporary, crime, cybernetic, dark, detective, energy, fast-paced, fiction,...

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Chapters

19

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Nineteen

Bruce leapt through the mess of glass and mortar that had recently been the front door of the cafe and landed awkwardly against a table, stumbled, and fell to his knees. Not entirely the kind of grand entrance he had been hoping for. The weight benches reared up to their full heights, their lights flashing red, dazzling him.

 

“You can cut that shit out right now, robo... cocks.”

 

Bruce hoped he sounded defiant, but his voice wavered as he spoke. Luckily, as far as he could tell, they didn’t have ears. What the fuck was he doing? Why had he rushed into this place without scoping it out first? Some kind of detective he was turning out to be. His robotic arm hummed and hissed as he thought. It seemed eager for something, almost impatient. It quivered unnervingly against his side. He would have to check when it was next due a service.

 

The weight benches moved as one, stomping across the wreckage of the cafeteria towards him. He looked around desperately for a weapon. There were a couple bricks, a table leg, but there was also an attractive young woman hiding beneath a table. She looked familiar, and more than a bit scared. Her brown eyes met his and she raised a finger to her lips, stifling sobs as tears ran down her cheeks. The benches were getting close. She mouthed something.

 

“The doors, behind you, go!”

 

But it was too late for escape. Bruce cowered under the intensity of their red glare, his arms over his head. He would soon be crushed to death and he probably deserved it. He had killed a LOT of people lately. The benches scythed through the debris, kicking dust and grit up into his watering eyes. He couldn’t see a goddamned thing. Fuck this, he thought, as the benches loomed above him, weights poised to drop.

     His arm whirred into decisive action, striking out from his side and grabbing the lead bench by the top of the weight stack. He stood up as his arm pulled him forward, out from beneath the weights that strained against him and, to his amazement, actually lifted the whole machine from the floor. It struggled in his grasp as he stared at it, shaking and struggling to get free, inches from his face. The other bench stopped moving and stood regarding the scene with a curious orange light. The captured bench flashed angry red as Bruce wondered just what exactly would happen next. His arm was in control now.

 

“Cut off its power!”

 

The woman shouted from beneath the table in the corner; she had a nerve. His arm hissed louder than before and drew back the enormous bench like a cricket ball beside him. Without warning it shot forwards, releasing the bench with an almighty hiss. The force of the throw took it laterally five feet above the ground at some speed, sending the bench clattering into its counterpart with a tremendous clashing screech. They came to a halt at the far end of the coffee shop, bent and mangled together. One of the machines pulled itself half upright, but Bruce was already on the case, his arm swinging a mighty punch down through its sensor arrays and control panel, rending the metal in two and smashing transistors. The bench clattered sparking to the floor, landing in a heap on its fallen partner.

 

Bruce strode across to the pile of dead scrap metal and gave it a kick. His foot hurt for it, but at least he felt like he had played a part in the fight now. He looked down at his arm, regarding it with suspicion. The doctors had told him it was advanced technology, but this was something else, something superhuman, something inhuman. It hissed at him, defiant.

 

“That was incredible! How did you lift that thing like that?”

 

Bruce had forgotten the woman temporarily, but now she stood in front of him, brushing dust and debris from her blouse. She was really quite beautiful; her short red hair reminded him of Dana Scully from the X-Files. He drew himself up straight, subconsciously puffing out his chest.

 

“To be entirely honest, I have absolutely no idea. I’m Bruce von Toose, Private Detective.”

 

He held his good hand out to her. She shook it firmly; her hand felt soft and warm in his grip.

 

“My name is Sally, Sally Strangelove. I work for the Metro, the newspaper. It’s nice to meet you Mr von Toose.”

 

She smiled warmly as she withdrew her hand. Bruce felt his heart leap into his mouth, beating against his tongue. Idiot! McCoy was waiting outside; he couldn’t have this woman blow his cover. How had he been so stupid as to tell her his real name? He thought quickly.

 

“Ah, I’m terribly sorry; I meant to say John Johnson. My name is John Johnson. I forgot, I’ve been in deep cover for a long time, it’s all rather confusing.”

 

Sally stood silent a moment. He could almost hear the gears and cogs whirring in her journalistic mind as she processed this rather weak explanation.

 

“Well, I don’t doubt that you’re under rather a lot of stress Mr Johnson, we all are. It appears that society is falling down around our ears. I must say though, it is a little strange that you would forget your own name.”

 

Bruce cast around nervously for a way to change the subject, and fast. He glimpsed a leg sticking out from beneath a pile of blood-stained rubble.

 

“I didn’t realise there were other people in here, Jesus Christ. Let’s get outside and talk.”

 

A look of immense relief crossed Sally’s face momentarily.

 

“Yes, lets. I’ve seen far too much death for one day. I write for the Metro, I don’t have the stomach for foreign affairs, too many massacres. No place to hide now though.”

 

They trudged out of the building together, stumbling over rubble and picking their way carefully past the broken glass. McCoy was waiting across the street. As he saw them emerge, he hurried over to them, pushing frantically at his smart phone.

 

“Johnson! What the fuck happened in there? I heard an explosion. Are you ok?”

 

“I’m fine McCoy. This is Sally Strangelove. Sally, this is my good friend, Professor Sam McCoy.”

 

McCoy and Sally stared at each other for a moment before McCoy offered her his hand. She shook it firmly.

 

“Hi Sally. Say, did you happen to come to a party around here a couple weeks ago? I feel like we’ve met before. It was a fancy dress party, at my apartment?”

 

Sally thought for a moment. He did seem familiar, so did the other man. She couldn’t shake the feeling that they’d met before. The party rang a bell.

 

“Hi Sam, I think you may be right about that. I came to a party around here a couple weeks back. I came dressed as Princess Leia. My colleague, James Brookes, invited me. He came dressed as a Wookie.”

 

McCoy’s eyes lit up.

 

“Brooksy! Of course, now I remember, that costume was hilarious, I thought he was dressed as Uncle Bulgaria, the Womble. How is he? Call me McCoy, everyone else does.”

 

“He’s ok; I haven’t seen him in a few days. I’ve barely seen anyone. I seem to keep running into trouble. I’m trying to work out what the hell is going on so I can write this up, make my word count for the week.”

 

Bruce decided to make himself heard. He was the hero after all.

 

“I remember you now Sally, I love Star Wars! That costume you wore was very... authentic.”

 

Sally laughed.

 

“Yes, James helped me to sort it out; he’s a Star Wars nut. I thought the metal bikini was a tad uncomfortable though.”

 

McCoy changed the subject.

 

“John, my phone’s gone down. I’ve been trying to call the police but I’ve got no signal and my landline’s dead. Look at this shit.”

 

He passed Bruce the phone. The screen displayed a short clip of an orang-utan masturbating in a cage.

 

“What the fuck is this McCoy? I’m not in to bestiality.”

 

McCoy snatched the phone back from him.

 

“Me neither Johnson, it just started playing. I can’t stop it. What do you think it means, my detective friend?”

 

Sally looked concerned. Bruce snorted, holding back laughter.

 

“I think it means you ought to be put on some sort of register.”

 

Sally caught a glimpse of the screen and laughed, setting Bruce off too. McCoy stuffed it angrily into his jeans pocket.

 

“Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. I think it’s a clue. All these machines are turning animalistic, every last one. It’s got to be something to do with that EBM eMotion chip, it has to be. My research is showing significant results.”

 

Sally’s ears pricked up at that. At last, a lead!

 

“Have you been researching these machines? Are you some sort of expert Professor McCoy?”

 

He puffed out his chest.

 

“You could say that Sally, you could say that. I’ve been carrying out experiments on the microchips in my apartment, just up there.”

 

He pointed at his apartment in the block behind them.

 

“Could I see those results? I want to get to the bottom of this; I’ve been caught in the middle too long.”

 

Sally could smell the story now.

 

“That sounds like a great idea, although I’m not sure what my colleagues might say about me showing top secret files to the gutter press. No offence.”

 

McCoy meant to offend. Bruce stepped in.

 

“Come on McCoy, she’s stuck in the middle of this shit storm, just like us. Let’s go up and get a cup of coffee or something, it’s cold out here. We all need to relax.”

 

McCoy looked agitated.

 

“Well, I guess we’re not just going to stand around chin wagging in the middle of this fucked up street all night long. Follow me. But I’m watching you Miss Strangelove, remember that.”

 

McCoy strode off ahead as Bruce and Sally followed a few paces behind. Sally spoke softly.

 

“He seems like a bit of a drama queen.”

 

Bruce snorted.

 

“You got that half right.”

 

Chapters

19

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Shakespeare's Talking Head wrote 727 days ago

Hi Dave. Considering your taste in literature, I knew I'd enjoy this. Our styles are similar. There's not much to say, other than the fact that I really like the story so far, and will be reading on. I've previously read the first five (before I backed), but reread them plus the next five. You mingle backstory in very well with the narrative, and the dialogue is very crisp and singular to each character. I hope 814 plays a bigger part in the story later on - maybe exploding onto the scene in a broadway musical or something. :) I kid. But that would be pretty cool, tho. There's no better compliment one can pay an author than this: I want to read more.

Not many nits. As a fact of matter, I can only remember one that stands out.
Back in chapter 2 there was a line 'A ladies nasal voice.../' (I think that's it). Should be 'lady's'. 'Ladies' would denote more than one voice, where lady's would mean there was the voice of a 'lady'.

After reading ten chapters, I still don't feel the title fits the story - like it needs something memorable to go hand in hand with a very cool story.

Shine on, you crazy diamond
Gerry

Terry Murphy wrote 731 days ago

Hi Dave,

Read the first five chapters. It was seriously good before and now it is seriously better. I love it. The changes have made a big improvement in terms of pacing and getting the story into top gear. And you still have the funkiest, mind-blowing opening chapter on here. And it does its job so well because as the Bruce VT story gets going, the reader is lost in wonder at how it will dovetail with those damned torpedoes!

And the use of language is a delight - very clever, very effective and very stylish. The phrasing is so crisp and the thing I like the most is the writing has a great 'beat'.

The short chapters are another big positive and really suit the book.

As you know, I'm a big fan, so in my view there is very little to fault. There are some formatting issues and minor punctuation errors (man's instead of mans, building's instead of buildings for instance) , but these don't detract and are easy fixed.

If I was being harsh the only area that I think could do with a tweak is the dialogue, especially where it is longer than one sentence. Some of it doesn't quite sound right to my ear; as if it doesn't always fit the character that is speaking. But what do I know?

Overall this is a brilliant piece of writing and a mesmerising story.

If you played the game it would be a worthy ED contender.

I will work my way through the other chapters.

I salute you, Sir!

Terry

johnpatrick wrote 735 days ago

Chapters 1-3 probably too early in the morning.
I really don't know what to say about this and I have a sneaking suspicion that that means it is very good. There's alot of everything here-stimulating and interesting ideas, plausible characters and a great 'hook'-as well as lovely crude swear-words to keep it from sounding too esoteric.
The noir feel is there in the middle rather than painted on for effect-a big plus eg the MCs internal thoughts are chipped in stone and never meandering. The imagery is sometimes entirely your own-difficult to penetrate-eg 1970's dementia but beguiling enough to keep the reader's interest. I found no typos and the presentation is polished, it feels technically ok re paragragh length, mix of dialogue and prose.
Very good Dave. 6 stars and WL for now. Maybe I'll have more concrete views after the 'necessary medicine' of the morning shift-3 cups of black coffee.
All the Best!
John
Dropping Babies

Sharda D wrote 735 days ago

YARG
Hi David,
I like this. I love the hard-bitten private eye genre anyway, and it's a great idea to do this for the YA age range. It's been done before, but not nearly enough in my opinion.
I love the cover and the long pitch is good. Your short pitch needs a little work. It doesn't sell the book enough, you need a bit more intrigue in there, it should just be one big hook, rather than describing what the book's about.
You have a gift for catchy names, Bruce von Toose is fab, as is Mastah Blastah.
For me, once Bruce arrives on the scene it all picked up. Some lovely descriptions here "All I'm seeing is a talking cheeseburger" being particularly wonderful. The language is fluid, pithy and inventive and it's all very pacy.
Not sure a publisher will like 2 "fuck"s in the first three chps, but I could be wrong. I'm all for a bit of grit, but I think that might be a step too far for YA. Not sure.
5 stars from me.
All the best,
Sharda.

sticksandstones wrote 738 days ago

YARG Review:

Hi David,

I have to admit it's difficult to know what to make of a talking torpedo - it's certainly, well different. I love the prologue and the characterisation of these *machines*. I did get slightly confused about TR77-814 slowing down after the explosion. Surely, at close range, it would have sped up in order to avoid it's own demise?

The sentence - Freedom wouldn't seem so lonely without them - also seems a bit misplaced. Are you saying that without his brothers, 814 won't be lonely? I like the idea of not intelligent machines so much (let's face it, it's been done to death), but machines that are able to make their own choice.

This is interesting, I love the character name for Bruce Von Toose. Very Terry Pratchett esque. I also think (as with most YA novels) that sticking to relatively short chapters is a good idea. You have a good premise, at this point however, the dialogue seems a little too brief. Perhaps the phone conversation could play out a bit more?

Okay, scratch the dialogue comment. I was trying to deduce how your writing style reads and then I got it . . . The noir tone fits almost perfectly; I'm not a fan of the genre, but it does make you stand out. I could easily say 'Oh, No Excuse Bruce' that's a book by David Sealey. Exactly what you want!

You nailed it with Bruce's excuses to Jimmy (Mother in hospital, lunch hour rush), but the line about Jimmy's mother didn't seem appropriate. I'd leave it at 'I'll be two minutes!'

This is light, easy reading, and I'd be happy to read more. Don't ask why, but I'm reminded of the Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop (it has a massive cult following). I think your book will appeal to young adults who like something unsual . . . I enjoyed the read and will also rate highly.

Thanks,

Ben - The Frogness of Being

Christian Bell wrote 698 days ago

Yarg.
I have really enjoyed what I have read so far. The story started brilliantly and I was hooked.
I think that this work should go a long way. I do wonder if it is really targeted at the right audience.
But your book , your choice....No real critique as it read smoothly and was well written. I shall W/L
it so that I can get back to it. Highly rated
Christian
Devlin Lacy: Over the Edge

Lucy Middlemass wrote 702 days ago

This is a YARG review

No Excuse Bruce - The Spark of Life

Yep, love the title. And the last line of your long pitch in particular.

Prologue - Okay, “fucked“. We have an older teens book here! I’m not entirely sure it is a YA book, but I’m sure they’d enjoy it.
What an interesting way to open - bombs with thoughts. I love that long-string-of-numbers doesn’t want to break it to the newbie on his birthday, and that he recognises the humans because he’s disappointed by them.
Are bombs usually male? Most of that sort of thing is female, like the ship, of course. They are called “brethren”, even though some are his sisters.
“Freedom wouldn’t seem so lonely without them.” I found it hard to understand this, and then realised you mean because l-s-o-numbers has the fish for company. I hope that’s right. I like it, and I like that he likes wildlife clips (bless his metal heart) but this one point could be clearer.

Ch1 - Is the woman on the phone a lady? Or just an ordinary woman? No special term is required for women. It’s fine that Bruce says “Maybe lady“ because that’s his voice. In fact, the repetition of “lady” is a bit jarring.
Ch 2 - The first lines of this are really good. A storm being described originally is a nice thing to find. I like the part about the keypad and the moon, too.
Ch 3 - I like the big cheese/rotten part, but doesn’t cheese rot, exactly? It sort of goes off, goes mouldy. Perhaps that’s the same thing, really.
The metal arm appears from nowhere, although I like the viper’s hiss. Maybe I missed it earlier. I mean, I read about it in the pitch but it’s appearance seems sudden here.
Ch 4. Nice tramp angle! You really do give some excellent starts to chapters, I think.
“The desk did not move an inch” I think you mean the duct, he isn’t trying to move the desk.
I want a cyber arm.

There’s the type of action I expected to find here, but there’s something more too. You’ve got some nice descriptions, especially your clever metaphors. The humour is enjoyable and is a good fit with the style of the story. Highly starred.

Lucy

EllieMcG wrote 703 days ago

Hi Dave.
I've read the first 7 chapters, and here are my thoughts:
- the opening chapter is one of the most original I've seen on authonomy - really brilliant.
- I like the way you've turned around cliched phrases (do and die/no sympathy from the dead) - it's well done
- Bruce is a fascinating, unforgiving, explosive character with apparently a lot of anger. His characterization is well-painted, but occasionally jarring in his intensity and antisocial traits. That said, the way it jars me makes me want to understand his character more, which in turn makes me want to keep reading. So great job there.
- sometimes the dialogue throws me a bit. It's well done and interesting, but I'm not always sure where it's going. That's more a critique of me as the reader, I suppose, than you. The only other critique I can offer is that this doesn't really feel YA genre (yet). That's not really a critique, just a thought.
Overall, the story is fantastic, and the writing is really well done. The description feel vividly miserable without being wordy, the pace is fast, and some of the dialogue is pretty great.

Highly starred, and I'm going to keep reading,
Ellie

Wanttobeawriter wrote 722 days ago

NO EXCUSE BRUCE
This is a book with a different than expected beginning: the main character is a torpedo who decides not to self destruct. Made me keep reading for so long to find out what was going on the tea I’d made before sitting down to read is now cold. I like the torpedo’s opinion of humans (no shiny surfaces). Bruce is a good second character; I like him because he’s not a James Bond type of detective; his bumbling about not remembering the appointment makes him sympathetic. The best thing about this, tho, is the whole idea of what the world would be like if machines could come alive and tell us what they thought of us (who knows what my toaster thinks of me?) Highly starred and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

rikasworld wrote 724 days ago

Thanks you so very much! Now I have to worry about the feelings of military hardware as well as everything else. How am I ever going to sleep at night? Love this, it's very clever. Chapter One particularly is hilarious 'Knew they were human because they were disappointing'. Well, yes, indeed. The book reminds me of Dirk Gently and his holistic detective agency. I'm not sure why you are calling it YA really. Young adults might well enjoy it but I think it's more adult fun. Very original anyway. I was just reading for enjoyment so if there are any typos I didn't notice, the writing seemed very professional.
Brilliant stuff! Shine on you Crazy diamond is right. High stars and staying on my watchlist for the future.

benedict wrote 724 days ago

Yarg review

I really loved this, it's great fun and one of the most well-developed, near-ready for publication pieces I've read on here.

I think the prologue is genius and I really liked the contrast with the main thread of the narrative. So far I don't have any real recommendations for large themes but here are my close comments.

you later, alligator”
comma

TR77-814 thought about his brothers. Freedom wouldn’t seem so lonely without them.
- as other people have mentioned, this sentence is not very clear

A LADY'S nasal voice crackled in his ear.

McCoy shrugged and returned to his bedroom, closing the door with a noticeable slam.
-aren't all slams noticeable??

tarmac piled past the smeared windows like a torrential river, keeping the car afloat.
-this is a pretty sentence and within the over-the-top style of the narrative but I thought it was a little overwritten.

comes with the territory, Jack.
-comma

the next five or you can forget it, Mr von Toose.”
-comma

was going to be pissed.   Fuck him.
-this was the point I wondered if this really is a young adult book. I don't have a problem with swearing but I feel both your topic and your content are more aimed at adults than teens.

The lobby was a dark sea of marble and dark wood,
-rep of dark

pucker-faced
- is this an expression, wouldn't they just be puckering?

Three men in black sunglasses and leather jackets sat together, talking furiously together on the far side
-rep of together

Evil vibrations emanated from the even pillars all around him.
-the him is confusing as you've just mentioned the three men and are now referring to one when we don't know for sure who that is.
- Would be better something like: Bruce watched them passively, evil vibrations emanating from the even pillars all around him.

vast expanse of desk
- you've already described it as expansive

He seems rather urgent.”
-can a person be urgent, isn't it the situation that's urgent?

I understand you’re a busy man, a bad one too.”
-a little babyish sounding to call someone a bad man - you write such great dialogue, can't you find a nice insult here

Who the fuck are you, Jimmy?
Don’t lie to me, Jimmy
-commas - always a comma before the name of the person you're addressing, sometimes you put one, sometimes you don't

Do you mention his robotic hand before this point? If not perhaps you could work it in a bit earlier. It just sounds a bit too convenient that you reveal this just when he needs to crush a gun

He spoke in flecks of blood
- a real nitpick but, really, if you broke someone's ribs would they be likely to start spitting blood instantly?

They're all very minor things and I'm really enjoying your book. Highly rated, backed and I will keep reading.

best of luck

Benedict

Shakespeare's Talking Head wrote 727 days ago

Hi Dave. Considering your taste in literature, I knew I'd enjoy this. Our styles are similar. There's not much to say, other than the fact that I really like the story so far, and will be reading on. I've previously read the first five (before I backed), but reread them plus the next five. You mingle backstory in very well with the narrative, and the dialogue is very crisp and singular to each character. I hope 814 plays a bigger part in the story later on - maybe exploding onto the scene in a broadway musical or something. :) I kid. But that would be pretty cool, tho. There's no better compliment one can pay an author than this: I want to read more.

Not many nits. As a fact of matter, I can only remember one that stands out.
Back in chapter 2 there was a line 'A ladies nasal voice.../' (I think that's it). Should be 'lady's'. 'Ladies' would denote more than one voice, where lady's would mean there was the voice of a 'lady'.

After reading ten chapters, I still don't feel the title fits the story - like it needs something memorable to go hand in hand with a very cool story.

Shine on, you crazy diamond
Gerry

davesealey wrote 731 days ago

Hi Dave,

Read the first five chapters. It was seriously good before and now it is seriously better. I love it. The changes have made a big improvement in terms of pacing and getting the story into top gear. And you still have the funkiest, mind-blowing opening chapter on here. And it does its job so well because as the Bruce VT story gets going, the reader is lost in wonder at how it will dovetail with those damned torpedoes!

And the use of language is a delight - very clever, very effective and very stylish. The phrasing is so crisp and the thing I like the most is the writing has a great 'beat'.

The short chapters are another big positive and really suit the book.

As you know, I'm a big fan, so in my view there is very little to fault. There are some formatting issues and minor punctuation errors (man's instead of mans, building's instead of buildings for instance) , but these don't detract and are easy fixed.

If I was being harsh the only area that I think could do with a tweak is the dialogue, especially where it is longer than one sentence. Some of it doesn't quite sound right to my ear; as if it doesn't always fit the character that is speaking. But what do I know?

Overall this is a brilliant piece of writing and a mesmerising story.

If you played the game it would be a worthy ED contender.

I will work my way through the other chapters.

I salute you, Sir!

Terry



Wow, thank you Terry, high praise indeed! I'm really glad you're enjoying it more this time around, I made those changes to make it flow better from the beginning :)

I'm taking on board your comments on errant apostrophes and the dialogue, I think it could do with a final simplification, some of the dialogue does feel a bit overwritten compared to the descriptive prose.

I'd love to hear what you think of the rest of the story, there are lots of twists and turns before the end. I am about to "play the game" for real, i'm aiming for the ED!

Thank you again for your excellent criticism and encouraging words, you've really spurred me on!

Cheers Terry :)

Terry Murphy wrote 731 days ago

Hi Dave,

Read the first five chapters. It was seriously good before and now it is seriously better. I love it. The changes have made a big improvement in terms of pacing and getting the story into top gear. And you still have the funkiest, mind-blowing opening chapter on here. And it does its job so well because as the Bruce VT story gets going, the reader is lost in wonder at how it will dovetail with those damned torpedoes!

And the use of language is a delight - very clever, very effective and very stylish. The phrasing is so crisp and the thing I like the most is the writing has a great 'beat'.

The short chapters are another big positive and really suit the book.

As you know, I'm a big fan, so in my view there is very little to fault. There are some formatting issues and minor punctuation errors (man's instead of mans, building's instead of buildings for instance) , but these don't detract and are easy fixed.

If I was being harsh the only area that I think could do with a tweak is the dialogue, especially where it is longer than one sentence. Some of it doesn't quite sound right to my ear; as if it doesn't always fit the character that is speaking. But what do I know?

Overall this is a brilliant piece of writing and a mesmerising story.

If you played the game it would be a worthy ED contender.

I will work my way through the other chapters.

I salute you, Sir!

Terry

johnpatrick wrote 735 days ago

Chapters 1-3 probably too early in the morning.
I really don't know what to say about this and I have a sneaking suspicion that that means it is very good. There's alot of everything here-stimulating and interesting ideas, plausible characters and a great 'hook'-as well as lovely crude swear-words to keep it from sounding too esoteric.
The noir feel is there in the middle rather than painted on for effect-a big plus eg the MCs internal thoughts are chipped in stone and never meandering. The imagery is sometimes entirely your own-difficult to penetrate-eg 1970's dementia but beguiling enough to keep the reader's interest. I found no typos and the presentation is polished, it feels technically ok re paragragh length, mix of dialogue and prose.
Very good Dave. 6 stars and WL for now. Maybe I'll have more concrete views after the 'necessary medicine' of the morning shift-3 cups of black coffee.
All the Best!
John
Dropping Babies

Sharda D wrote 735 days ago

YARG
Hi David,
I like this. I love the hard-bitten private eye genre anyway, and it's a great idea to do this for the YA age range. It's been done before, but not nearly enough in my opinion.
I love the cover and the long pitch is good. Your short pitch needs a little work. It doesn't sell the book enough, you need a bit more intrigue in there, it should just be one big hook, rather than describing what the book's about.
You have a gift for catchy names, Bruce von Toose is fab, as is Mastah Blastah.
For me, once Bruce arrives on the scene it all picked up. Some lovely descriptions here "All I'm seeing is a talking cheeseburger" being particularly wonderful. The language is fluid, pithy and inventive and it's all very pacy.
Not sure a publisher will like 2 "fuck"s in the first three chps, but I could be wrong. I'm all for a bit of grit, but I think that might be a step too far for YA. Not sure.
5 stars from me.
All the best,
Sharda.

davesealey wrote 737 days ago

YARG Review:

Hi David,

I have to admit it's difficult to know what to make of a talking torpedo - it's certainly, well different. I love the prologue and the characterisation of these *machines*. I did get slightly confused about TR77-814 slowing down after the explosion. Surely, at close range, it would have sped up in order to avoid it's own demise?

The sentence - Freedom wouldn't seem so lonely without them - also seems a bit misplaced. Are you saying that without his brothers, 814 won't be lonely? I like the idea of not intelligent machines so much (let's face it, it's been done to death), but machines that are able to make their own choice.

This is interesting, I love the character name for Bruce Von Toose. Very Terry Pratchett esque. I also think (as with most YA novels) that sticking to relatively short chapters is a good idea. You have a good premise, at this point however, the dialogue seems a little too brief. Perhaps the phone conversation could play out a bit more?

Okay, scratch the dialogue comment. I was trying to deduce how your writing style reads and then I got it . . . The noir tone fits almost perfectly; I'm not a fan of the genre, but it does make you stand out. I could easily say 'Oh, No Excuse Bruce' that's a book by David Sealey. Exactly what you want!

You nailed it with Bruce's excuses to Jimmy (Mother in hospital, lunch hour rush), but the line about Jimmy's mother didn't seem appropriate. I'd leave it at 'I'll be two minutes!'

This is light, easy reading, and I'd be happy to read more. Don't ask why, but I'm reminded of the Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop (it has a massive cult following). I think your book will appeal to young adults who like something unsual . . . I enjoyed the read and will also rate highly.

Thanks,

Ben - The Frogness of Being



Cheers for the great feedback Ben! I'll take your comments on board, thanks for picking out the line about Jimmy's mother, that doesn't sit right with me either, I think I'll give it the chop :)

I really like your comparisons with Terry Pratchett and Cowboy Bebop, I love both so maybe some of it snuck in through my subconscious, hehe.

Thank you for your kind words "I could easily say 'Oh, No Excuse Bruce' that's a book by David Sealey. Exactly what you want!" That is exactly what I want indeed, I think I've found my narrative voice. Did you finish the story? There are a lot of twists and turns.

I like the sound of your book "The Frogness of Being," great title! I've watchlisted it and will check it out asap.

Cheers, Dave :)

sticksandstones wrote 738 days ago

YARG Review:

Hi David,

I have to admit it's difficult to know what to make of a talking torpedo - it's certainly, well different. I love the prologue and the characterisation of these *machines*. I did get slightly confused about TR77-814 slowing down after the explosion. Surely, at close range, it would have sped up in order to avoid it's own demise?

The sentence - Freedom wouldn't seem so lonely without them - also seems a bit misplaced. Are you saying that without his brothers, 814 won't be lonely? I like the idea of not intelligent machines so much (let's face it, it's been done to death), but machines that are able to make their own choice.

This is interesting, I love the character name for Bruce Von Toose. Very Terry Pratchett esque. I also think (as with most YA novels) that sticking to relatively short chapters is a good idea. You have a good premise, at this point however, the dialogue seems a little too brief. Perhaps the phone conversation could play out a bit more?

Okay, scratch the dialogue comment. I was trying to deduce how your writing style reads and then I got it . . . The noir tone fits almost perfectly; I'm not a fan of the genre, but it does make you stand out. I could easily say 'Oh, No Excuse Bruce' that's a book by David Sealey. Exactly what you want!

You nailed it with Bruce's excuses to Jimmy (Mother in hospital, lunch hour rush), but the line about Jimmy's mother didn't seem appropriate. I'd leave it at 'I'll be two minutes!'

This is light, easy reading, and I'd be happy to read more. Don't ask why, but I'm reminded of the Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop (it has a massive cult following). I think your book will appeal to young adults who like something unsual . . . I enjoyed the read and will also rate highly.

Thanks,

Ben - The Frogness of Being

davesealey wrote 738 days ago

I love you Roy and Mindy :)

RoyEarle93 wrote 739 days ago

You have a very cool premise for this book. Your story is very entertaining and funny too! Bruce is a great character and I love the title too. I've given you six stars.

Roy Earle "Bad Men and Bad Odds"

Mindy Haig wrote 742 days ago

(YARG)
Hi David!
I just finished chapter seven. Your story is funny! Initially I thought Bruce was dreaming that he was the torpedo, he seemed to have a fixation for water analogies, describing the street and the lobby at Jimmy's.
Anyway, as I read on, I started to understand about the machines becomming sentient and why his arm seems to have an attitude. It's clever!
I am interested to see what will happen!
Mindy
The Wishing Place

davesealey wrote 809 days ago

Very confident writing here. I'd back this for the title alone (No Excuse Bruce) and noted a few other things.
IMO it's better to start with the human, not the torpedoes so I'd bring Ch 2 upfront, and in that chapter, change 'artefact's' to artefacts, I think you need a simple plural. Von Toose doesn't do anything for me, how about Von Loose? This seems a pacy, innovative story, could do with a polish. Backed with pleasure. I can tell you like Douglas Adams.



Hi zenup. Thanks for your backing! Now the book's finished, I'm going to be more active on Authonomy. Cheers for the feedback, I've made the change in Chapter 2 (well spotted.) The first chapter about the torpedoes is a prologue, do you think it would be better as a real chapter later on instead? I've been thinking about that myself. Thanks for your support, you should read on though because the story changes a lot as it progresses and things are revealed. I'd love to know what you think of the whole piece ;)

PS I love Douglas Adams! :p

zenup wrote 809 days ago

Very confident writing here. I'd back this for the title alone (No Excuse Bruce) and noted a few other things.
IMO it's better to start with the human, not the torpedoes so I'd bring Ch 2 upfront, and in that chapter, change 'artefact's' to artefacts, I think you need a simple plural. Von Toose doesn't do anything for me, how about Von Loose? This seems a pacy, innovative story, could do with a polish. Backed with pleasure. I can tell you like Douglas Adams.

Mayank Desai wrote 919 days ago

You nailed the first chapter David. Funny to imagine torpedoes interacting through artificial intelligence. Loved it!!!

Cariad wrote 978 days ago

Hi. This is a BHG crit.

Ok. Generally, this was an unusual read, which is refreshing. A mix of science fiction, horror, comedy and surrealism. I whizzed through 11 chapters with ease - the language is so full and frantic, crammed with scenes, images, great descriptions and word use that rush the reader along. I've enjoyed the journey very much.

Plot: Yup. Unusual. The pitches give some idea, but leave things a little open. We have a robot armed private detective investigating a case to the background of the rise of the machines.

Pace: rip-roaring, swift, changing, never really drawing breath. I didn't mind this, but perhaps if I was reading it in total, I might like a wee breather now and again. Swiftly moving prose with good use of unusual description.

Characterisation: All the people in this were individual, well realised and quirky. Even the cameos. As for the machines - they too are a little like people - individual, with their own voices.

Dialogue: Both dialogue and the thoughts of the characters in this are realistic and beleivable. It's snappy, funny, brutal in parts.

General comments noted down as I read:
Loved the prologue. At first I thought it was a little confusing with all the long numbers and words - all a little much all at once, but I got used to it. I loved this section. I felt sorry for the torpedos and felt quite angry that they should be given sentience only to blow themselves apart. I liked that the torpedo had interests - the whales and dolphins, and was glad when he broke away into the ocean.

Chapter 1 (hope thats right, as your chapters are numbered differently to the authonomy numbering) you have two 'eyes' right close together - 'he pulled the brim down low over his eyes, a shadow for his tired eyes.'
Could you just make that 'he pulled th brim down low - a shadow for his tired eyes..' or something similar, to avoid that?

Chapter 6 had me a little confused until I realised he was still in the pipes, having slept. Who was this dream girl, what's his issue? You create a mystery here. He's so brutal, yet cries over the birds (should you put a hyphen - 're-covering' them? As otherwise it reads as 'recovering' them, which aint going to happen!

A question about him - he's a private detective, which should mean he works a little secretly, covering his tracks. Instead he litters his path with dead bodies and obliterates his leads and evidence. Why the hell is he so psychotically angry? Why murder a guy at a till over nothing? Why crush the skull of the woman? He comes over as a manical lunatic rather than a detective. Is there a reason for that, that I missed? It began to interfere with the reading of the story.

A questiion about time - this is science fiction, and a wonderful idea with the machines - so I assumed it was in an unspecified future - or is it a parallel universe. Because trebor mints, wispa bars, Tom Cruise etc. are very much 'now' so that also threw things off a bit for me. Also, why did you mention that the names on the signs were 'English'? as though that was unusual for some reason - and yet we know we are in Bristol.

So. I love the idea - and he slowly unfolding evidence that the machines are beginning to live for themselves - the torpedos, the lift, the blender etc. but is there a link with the detective - his arm maybe? or did I miss that. Otherwise it might seem like 2 stories in parallel.

I really like this, and will watch for further chapters. Starred and watchlisted for a run on my shelf at a future shelf change. I don't automatically do that, but I was impressed with the writing.
Cariad.

Walden Carrington wrote 999 days ago

David,
Many of these science fiction works have headings designating the time and place settings. This one I found hard to follow without them. It's not a genre I'm particularly fond of, but the ones I've enjoyed succeed in creating a narrative the reader can follow by giving exact dates and times in the future when the action is taking place. A prologue could contain much information about the futuristic world the author has imagined and some kind of history about how this situation developed over time. It's hard for me to imagine the scenes set in the future without extensive background information to serve as a bridge between the present and the imagined future. It's always speculative when one writes about the future, but to make a science fiction narrative believable, the reader must be provided with an explanation of how the world changed over the years and how these characters found themselves in a situation where the present-day technology seems primitive. While it's hard to imagine living hundreds of years ago, it's sometimes even harder to imagine the future and science fiction authors have a talent for doing so. To bring in a wide readership, the author needs to think of the reader who isn't quite so imaginative and needs some help in believing the events taking place in such a futuristic society which exists inside the author's brilliant imagination.

Walden Carrington
Titanic: Rose Dawson's Story

davesealey wrote 1002 days ago

New chapter up, Seventeen (under C18 on here.) Comments and feedback welcome. The plot thickens... :)

davesealey wrote 1002 days ago

I read your prologue a month ago. Today I read your revised version.

General comments: An engaging start. TR77-814 is an interesting main character. Good world building. Good descriptions. Until the end of the prologue, not much tension. Good pacing.

Specific comments on the prologue:
1) 'Like they owned the place' is cliche. Consider writing the same idea but in a fresher way.
2) "HELP" There is no need to write in all caps. Writing in all caps is unusual and pulls the reader out of your story while they try to figure out what you mean to imply with all caps. You don't want that. Use italics or an exclamation mark to emphasize words. Also, if you don't put an exclamation mark after 'help,' at least put a period there.
3) "Hello. You are not alone." TR77-814 flashed back. Comma after 'alone.'
4) "Where's mother?" Capitalize 'mother.' When a kinship word is used as a name for someone, it becomes a proper noun and is capitalized. Since 'mother' is used to refer to something in particular in this sentence it should be capitalized. There is another place in this chapter where 'mother' is used as a name and should be capitalized.
5) Hyphenate 'thirty two' and 'twenty three.'
6) "Shut up", he flashed back. The comma goes inside the closing quote mark.
7) 'The water felt good against his hull.' Try to avoid using the word 'felt.' Just describe his feeling so vividly the reader will experience the pleasure along with TR77-814. When you do this, the reader will be drawn deeper into your story.
8) "See you later alligator." Comma after 'later.' When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with a comma.

I hope this critique will help you further polish your all important opening pages. These are just my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

You previously shelved "Savannah Fire." Thank you again for that. The top ten are very competitive and there are two heavily promoted books right behind "Savannah Fire" that could easily pass it if "Savannah Fire" doesn't pick up and hold onto more shelves. Would you please consider reshelving "Savannah Fire?"

Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

Have a marvelous day.

Al



Thanks for that Carolina, I'll see what I can do to help you out :)

CarolinaAl wrote 1005 days ago

I read your prologue a month ago. Today I read your revised version.

General comments: An engaging start. TR77-814 is an interesting main character. Good world building. Good descriptions. Until the end of the prologue, not much tension. Good pacing.

Specific comments on the prologue:
1) 'Like they owned the place' is cliche. Consider writing the same idea but in a fresher way.
2) "HELP" There is no need to write in all caps. Writing in all caps is unusual and pulls the reader out of your story while they try to figure out what you mean to imply with all caps. You don't want that. Use italics or an exclamation mark to emphasize words. Also, if you don't put an exclamation mark after 'help,' at least put a period there.
3) "Hello. You are not alone." TR77-814 flashed back. Comma after 'alone.'
4) "Where's mother?" Capitalize 'mother.' When a kinship word is used as a name for someone, it becomes a proper noun and is capitalized. Since 'mother' is used to refer to something in particular in this sentence it should be capitalized. There is another place in this chapter where 'mother' is used as a name and should be capitalized.
5) Hyphenate 'thirty two' and 'twenty three.'
6) "Shut up", he flashed back. The comma goes inside the closing quote mark.
7) 'The water felt good against his hull.' Try to avoid using the word 'felt.' Just describe his feeling so vividly the reader will experience the pleasure along with TR77-814. When you do this, the reader will be drawn deeper into your story.
8) "See you later alligator." Comma after 'later.' When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with a comma.

I hope this critique will help you further polish your all important opening pages. These are just my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

You previously shelved "Savannah Fire." Thank you again for that. The top ten are very competitive and there are two heavily promoted books right behind "Savannah Fire" that could easily pass it if "Savannah Fire" doesn't pick up and hold onto more shelves. Would you please consider reshelving "Savannah Fire?"

Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

Have a marvelous day.

Al

davesealey wrote 1009 days ago

New draft up! Please read and tell me what you think. I will continue to add more material at the rate of a chapter a week :)

davesealey wrote 1009 days ago

Thanks for that Wussyboy, acting on the advice of yourself and others I have edited the book so that it gets into the action quicker and sent the hangover scene to shreds-ville to rest in pieces, hehe :)

Wussyboy wrote 1010 days ago


Well, you can certainly write, David - and you have a real talent for description.You are also possibly the only other writer on site, along with myself, to get 'Star Trek' into your first few paras, LOL! This said, having read your first 4 chapters, I have to concur with an earlier comment: this book might effectively start better at chapter 4.The hangover opening has been done to death, and with little/no dialogue (or even thought process like 'Where the fuck am I?') to bring it to life, it is a little static. I love McCoy's kitchen and other quirky stuff from earlier chapters, but these could be gainfully referenced in from chap 4 on, as could a lot of the earlier stuff. Just my humble opinion...

This is a very clean, very promising piece of work though. Good luck with it!

davesealey wrote 1011 days ago

Ok, another new chapter is up, these should now be coming at the rate of one a week for the next 2/3 months until completion. Please could you give me any feedback, particularly on the newer chapters, to aid my editing process. I hope you enjoy No Excuse Bruce - The Spark of Life, thank you kind people for reading :)

davesealey wrote 1021 days ago

Hey good people of Authonomy :) I now have a cover and a new chapter for you all, feedback is highly appreciated. Thank you in advance kind sir/madame! :)

davesealey wrote 1025 days ago

New chapter up, more to come very soon :)

Roman N Marek wrote 1034 days ago

Well, this is an unusual story, very quirkily told. It certainly kept my interest throughout and had some lovely touches of dark humour here and there. Overall, the idea is great, although machines rebelling against humanity must have been done before. However, there’s probably enough originality here to distinguish it from those previous stories.
I did have some thoughts as I read, which may be helpful, although they are just one reader’s reactions so you can ignore them if they don’t make sense.
I really liked the Prologue. It was unusual and fun. Then we meet the MC, waking up with a hangover. He seems a bit of a plonker, although it doesn’t become clear until much, much later that this character is his “cover”. Nevertheless, I continued to view him as a bit of a duffer, so the incident with Jimmy came completely out of the blue and totally wrong-footed me.
Incidentally, I’ve come across a couple of books on here which start with the MC waking up with a hangover – I think both writers were advised that it wasn’t the best way to start a story. Anyway, this chapter had a tendency to be a bit wordy. Then, I wasn’t sure about the point of the dream in Ch Two (and still am not). (Probably just a personal thing – I don’t like dreams in stories).
Actually, when I read Ch Four, my first thought was: The book should start here. Skip chapters One to Three altogether as I’m not sure they add much to the story or tell us much about Bruce. Ch Four is where the story starts and becomes interesting.
The murders are a puzzle. It would be good to get some feel of Bruce’s own views on them. Are they deliberate? Does he mean to do them? Does he have any regrets/thoughts about them afterwards? Any justification for committing them? They all seem a little empty and more could be made of them as the reader doesn’t know how to react. (I must admit I went off Bruce a little after the first one, but then had warmed to him by the time of Jefferson’s when it was clear this was part of who he is).
During Bruce’s story, the reader loses track of the thread about machines going wrong, as hinted in the Prologue, until the lift incident in Ch Eleven. Maybe this episode could be brought earlier so the theme is established more strongly.
I liked Ch Thirteen when we learn of Archibald Swanson’s unfortunate death (nasty way to go) and the story really picks up.
Anyway, there’s lots of fun stuff in this, and some nice plot threads have been set up. Perhaps a little re-jigging could help it a little. I spotted a few typos, which I’ll send to you in a message. Good luck with it.

davesealey wrote 1034 days ago

This is a fantastic read so far - Ive shelved it and starred it X 6. Skater



Thanks Skater! That's awesome that you're enjoying it. I'll check your stuff out when I get a chance. Thank you for your support :) D

skaterwriter wrote 1035 days ago

This is a fantastic read so far - Ive shelved it and starred it X 6. Skater

davesealey wrote 1035 days ago

Hey Peter,

Thanks for that feedback, I've shortened the synopsis, I think you're right, I should keep more of my cards up my sleeve for the story itself :) Thank you for the rating and the support, I rated yours and shelved it up too.

Cheers, I look forwards to hearing what you think of the rest too,

Dave :)

Peter Spadoni wrote 1035 days ago

Hi Dave,

Intriguing premise, that's for sure - sort of like a combination between Bladerunner and A.I. I think that Carolina's comments were really helpful, as your prologue and opening chapters flow really well.

My only suggestion perhaps would be to simplify the synopsis? I wouldn't shorten it, but maybe go less into detail about what the book is about. It's a really original, intriguing idea, and think that if pitched properly, will receive its due attention.

I've rated you a 6 and you're on my watchlist until I have time to read more.

Cheers!

davesealey wrote 1035 days ago

Hi AI, thank you for your comment, it was greatly appreciated. I have made the necessary changes and I believe the prologue and the first chapter flow a lot better now. I haven't gone back to the beginning for a while now so thank you for your sharp eye and constructive comments. I will read your book and post some feedback, the start is excellent already though :)

CarolinaAl wrote 1035 days ago

I read your prologue and first chapter.

General comments: An intriguing start. A quirky, fascinating main character. Good world building. Good descriptions. Not much tension. Good pacing.

Specific comments on the prologue:
1) "Tuesday, June 1st 2011", Comma goes inside the closing quote mark.
2) 'EBM Computering, their Mother, was the biggest ...' 'Mother' should be lowercase. When you put a possessive pronoun in front of 'Mother' you make 'Mother' a common noun. Common nouns are lowercase. There are more cases where 'Mother' is capitalized when it should be lowercase.
3) 'In his 32 days, 18 hours and 23 minutes of sentience ... ' Spell out numbers 1 to 99. There are more cases where numbers should be spelled out.
4) "Lets find Mother." Lets should be let's.

Specific comments on the first chapter:
1) 'Fire-place' isn't hyphenated. It's one word.
2) ' ... he felt a tickling at the back of his throat.' Try to avoid using the word 'felt.' Just describe the tickling at the back of Bruce's throat as realistically as you can so the reader can experience it along with Bruce. If you do this, the reader will be pulled further into your scene and 'he felt' will be implied. There are more cases where 'felt' is used.
3) 'He could feel his palm turning clammy and ... ' Try to avoid the word 'feel.' Just describe the feeling as vividly as possible. When you do this the reader will be drawn deeper into the scene and 'he could feel' will be implied. There are more cases where 'feel' is used.
4) "It's 11 30." '11 30' should be '11:30.'
5) "McCoy, its Saturday." Its (possessive pronoun) should be it's (contraction for it is).
6) "I don't own a flannel Bruce." Comma after 'flannel.' When you address someone in dialogue, offset their name or title with a comma. There are more cases where you address someone in dialogue and didn't offset their name or title with a comma.

I hope this critique helps you polish your all important first chapters. These are my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

Thank you for supporting "Savannah Fire."

Have a sensational day.

Al

davesealey wrote 1036 days ago

Hello everybody, this is my new project. All feedback is greatly appreciated :)

Thank you for taking the time to read "No Excuse Bruce - The Spark of Life."

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