Book Jacket

 

rank 5939
word count 43009
date submitted 04.04.2009
date updated 28.05.2009
genres: Thriller, Science Fiction, Fantasy,...
classification: universal
incomplete

Urtaru

Armen Chakmakjian

Is Pascal Adam Scintilla the first of three in the prophecy of Dol? Does he possess the prophesied gemstone?

 

Naerius. A rocky, seemingly unimportant planet. A stepping stone for rampaging imperial fleets and armies.

Naerians. An ancient people caught in the vortex between 3 battling empires. Fiercely independent, they seem to assimilate into the cultures into which their diaspora was spread, Their stories were replete with great princes who fought epic losing battles.

Pascal Adam Scintilla. A Naerian refugee on the dusty planet of Barabrum. Pascal was a nickname given to him in an orphanage-monastery by the Escisian Monks. Warriors and Priests.

Return. Pascal’s unquenchable thirst to go home leads him to actions that get him to the halls of power in the Raslavon empire.

Raslavon. The largest most powerful galactic empire. A civil war here would cause Pascal to find his love and his fate.

Prophecy. Prophecy would pit 2 religions, 3 empires and 3 generations of the Urtaru family In a set of events that might lead to Galactic Peace. Was Pascal the first of three as described in the prophecy of Dol?

 
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albion, armenian, british, empire, empires, epic, fantasy, human conflicts, middle east, ottoman, pascal, persian, planets, religions, russian, scienc...

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Urtaru

A Science Fiction Novel

By Armen Chakmakjian

 

   


 

Chapter 1

    Fire and smoke rose from the village center.  Ten year old Adam turned his hazel-gray eyes toward the activity and he could see small airships coming down and firing on the town.  The earth began to rumble beneath his feet and he wanted to see what was happening.  He ran into the barn and led his horse out.

    Adam mounted it in that strange way he had developed, with a stiff leg unbent at the knee, almost hopping onto the steed.  He raced toward the action hoping to catch some glimpse of what was going on.  Reaching the edge of town, it seemed to him that smoke was billowing from everywhere at once.

    Suddenly, out of one large plume of smoke, he saw his older brother Jacob come running out.  Jacob had an almost identical face to Adam, but with the wisp of a trimmed mustache and deep brown eyes.  The eyes were now bloodshot and there was panic in his expression.  He was yelling, “Adam, turn around, we need to go back!” 

    “What’s happening?”

    “I’ll tell you on the way, it’s not good,” he said heaving himself onto the back of the horse.

    Adam turned the animal quickly, drove his heels into its sides and they raced toward their farm.   Turning his head he asked with a sense of dread, “Jacob, where is Baba?”  Ten-year-olds ask obvious questions. He knew that Jacob and his father had taken the transcart to town to do some trading. 

    “He’s dead!”

    “What do you mean he’s dead?!” cried Adam.

    “After the Darjiki ships destroyed the security forces, they landed and soldiers spread all over the town.  The soldiers and a gang surrounded us.  They aimed their guns and waved their swords at us and they started yelling that they were going to kill this rich one.”

    “Who?  Who did this?” he asked, but he already knew.  There was a feud, long simmering, between the two communities in town.  His father had always been able to rise above the tension.  He was viewed as a peacemaker by both sides.  He had a way with words.

     “Baba called the leader ‘Friend’ but they pulled him from the transcart and pushed him to the ground.  They started swearing all kinds of nasty things and yelling about unbelievers and ‘Where is Dol now?’  Then they turned him over and one of the men with a sword began to hack at the back of his neck.”

    “Oh God!”

    “They said for me to go and warn people that they were coming for everyone!”

    Adam was horrified, Jacob was crying uncontrollably.  When they arrived at the vineyard, they found their mother staring in the direction of the town from a small hill.

    “Jacob, where is your father?”

    Jacob could no longer talk.  Adam attempted the explanation to his mother.

    “Mama, they’ve killed Baba!”

    “What?” she exclaimed.

    “A Darjiki gang working with the soldiers and Jacob says they’re coming this way.”

    His mother’s eyes welled up.  She was about to lose control but she pulled herself together.  She grabbed Jacob by the shoulders, stared into his eyes and said, “Jacob! I need you to be a man today.  Go to your uncle’s farm and warn him.  Gather any weapons you can! GO!”  Jacob hopped back up on the horse and rode off.  “Adam, come with me!”

    Holding him by the arm, she ran into the house and into her room.   She stopped, pulled him toward her and hugged him tighter than any mother had ever hugged a child.  “Adam I’m going to give you something.  It’s a necklace that your father’s family gave me.  You need to protect it.  The Darjiki will not know what to do with it.”

    She handed him the necklace and he looked at it through his tears.  “What shall I do with it?” 

    “My baby, please, when you marry give it to your wife so she can protect it.   She must give it to your son’s wife.  It has been done this way for many generations.  It is very important.”

    Adam stared at the stone deeply and saw a shape growing in it.  It grew beyond the size of the stone and he looked up and saw a Darjiki soldier in the doorway.   His mother screamed, “Adam out the window!”   She pushed him through it.   When Adam landed, he turned around and looked back into the window.  He saw his mother dive at the soldier with a knife that she kept on her bureau.

    She and the man struggled.  Adam was frightened out of his wits and cried out.

    Pascal Adam Scintilla woke up screaming.  As the fright shook off, he noticed that he was in his own room, an adult, in his own bed and in pool of sweat.  His mother was not there.  Remembering what his mother had said, he jumped up, took a small box off the shelf and opened it.  The necklace and stone were still in it...

 

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James Stephen Rice wrote 1883 days ago

Great stuff, Armen. A real gem of a novel. I've been engrossed, almost overwhelmed by the strength, and depth, of your story telling. Felt totally involved in your world. Loved how it felt there. Thank you.

You write so very well. Flowing. With clarity and with emotion. You moved me.

The characters and their dialogue works really well: strikingly real at times, from life, you know? A difficult thing to achieve in this world of yours, but you pull it off. A great achievement.

Love the culture clash theme. Bounces me to today, here. Another achievement within this work of yours. That's what good Sci Fi is supposed to do, right? Draw parallels? Say the unsayable? Well, you don that, and you do it well.

So ... I really want this to succeed, whatever that means to you. Shelvings a plenty, methinks. And bigger ones than on here, I expect. Still, mine is a start. See you in Borders, okay?

James

Antimatter wrote 1906 days ago

Well written Mr. Chakmakjian.

Seeing good and evil, being awake so to speak, is a terrible burden. The simpler life is being the fool, the follower that accepts the dictates given. Bondage only hurts for those that see the bindings. The greatest pain of awareness is the feeling of loneliness that shadows it.

Maybe we’re not so alone?

We are the few limited by numbers, the few that can see beyond the curtains of diversion, having the wit to peer into the magicians other hand. The burden maybe great, but the call to write it more profound.

edquinn wrote 1908 days ago

Hi Armen

Just had a chance to read your book.

I must say it is a great read. Your characterisation is spot on.

I did notice something 'He asked with a bit of dread coming over him..' I´m not sure about this line...dread is at the far end of the anxiety spectrum and using the word bit before tends to make it lose it's edginess. Could possibly remove bit and add another word or omit completely. Your call.

I noticed you say in your synopsis 'based on the armenian experience' ...just wondering if this was your experience? More so with the brutality that is depicted in the book...i know you made it sci-fi, but just curious as to your experience.

Anyway Armen, on my shelf.

Best of luck

Ed Quinn (Donkeys kill more people)

Bren Verrill wrote 1916 days ago

This is excellent. It's the sort of thing you either love or hate, and I love it. I know what you're probably thinking, Armen: "Yes, he's being nice. I backed his book, now he feels he's got to be nice to me". Absolutely not true, and I can prove it. I don't know whether you've come across Mark Hagan (aka "iwik") on this site? If not, go and have a look at him at http://www.authonomy.com/Profile.aspx?userid=9bad156a-199a-4876-bdaa-49e4fd01d145. Offer him a read swap and I'm sure you'll end up best buddies. I've backed two of his, and you're at least equally good. Bookshelved.

yasmin esack wrote 1366 days ago

An exciting and fascinating read. There is much to like in this work of science fiction and the author connects with us well.

Happily backed

Ma.Ste. wrote 1558 days ago

I used to adore science fiction as a kid. Your book kind of refreshes best memories. Plus it's an excellent piece of literature. Good luck with it! Cool read. Indeed.
Ma.Ste.

Melcom wrote 1559 days ago

Why the hell is this great book languishing in the lower part of the site.

You have a very good storytelling voice and what's not to like about your impressive premise and characterisation.

Terrific read, highly enjoyable, you shouldn't give up on it.

Melxx
Impeding Justice

T.L Tyson wrote 1668 days ago

Different and well written. I am backing this. I see it has been here for sometime. I hope you haven't given up on it for it is really great.
Backed
T.L Tyson-Seeking Eleanor

Steve Ward wrote 1785 days ago

Armen.
First let me say how much I love the bold type. I've been squinting at tiny type all day. Okay, you have the makings of a great story here. First we have the flashback, dream sequence explaining the magic necklace in dramatic fashion with the death of Adam's mom. Then we have the grown up Pascal as a deer hunting guide, then he wants to get off the planet to find documentation. I'm sure it all makes sense a little further down the road. As an editor I couldn't find anything wrong with the exception of some dialogue which needs to be trimmed to make it more natural sounding. I always recommend to read your dialogue out loud to check. Oh yeah, I did see one of these: ?! The rule is: just one punctuation mark. Better to use the question mark and italicize for emphasis. This is a fun read, very creative. Good luck with it.
Steve Ward
Test Pilot's Daughter: Revenge

Professor Iwik wrote 1795 days ago

Hey,
I really liked the opener and the pace you set from the beginning. It is good to see another book on authonomy where something actually happens in the first chapter. I like your writing too.
"trimmed moustache and deep brown eyes," very nice description.
I think you could improve on it in some places (couldn't we all?) basically it is fine, though there are some phrases which seem a little awkward.
"panic in his expression," i think you could edit this to something else. It stood out amongst your writing.
Anyway, aside from that, you have a good story here. I will gladly back you, hope i was a little helpful.
On my shelf.

Regards,

Mark H

Jane Alexander wrote 1796 days ago

I'm here on behalf of Patrick (Cuthbert) for his return read......I confess I am not a reader of science fiction so I have no idea whatsoever about the conventions of this genre. But it seems to me that you have conjured up a highly complex and believable world and introduced into it some powerful characters.
You're also playing with some volatile subject matter here, for which all praise.
I wouldn't dream of offering any crit here, as I say it's too far outside my knowledge sphere. But Patrick loves imagination and daring and other worlds so I feel confident to back you on his behalf.
Jane
PS - I love your cover......

beegirl wrote 1797 days ago

Hello Armen,
I love the opening of your book. Suddenly realising that this first part of the story was all in the past had a great result--it seemed to bolt me into the story. Pascal's intelegence and his desire to return to his planet keeps me wondering what is next, but mostly wondering what happens with the necklace is intriguing because of the pitch.

Well done, shelving.
Barbara
The Sea Pillow

DMC wrote 1801 days ago

Armen

Pitch: Woah, this has an epic feel to it. Very inviting indeed.
Ch1: Wow, what an opening. I was there! I was a bit bummed when I found out it was a dream but you did get me. You say that P&P love to wander through the woods hunting – how about showing it? I think this would add to your cause and engage the reader more. And then introduce the exposition. I’d recommend ‘Hooked’ by Les Edgerton to help with crafting openings – I’m so glad I bought that book. Anyway, I made these notes as I went along and I now see that you show hunting a little later. Personally I’d love to experience this from the off – it is engaging and exciting.
Ha-ha! Fantastic chapter ending.
Ch16: Great visuals and an interesting array of slightly quirky characters. I really like their names too. Now you have an exquisite stride in your prose. Your writing is addictive and makes me want to read more. So, I’m going to post these notes and read some more. Ok?
Oh, please create some Tags for this (on the right of the screen as you view the book).
Sorry to take so long to get back to you. Hope this has been of some help.
You are a great story teller!
Shelved with my very best wishes
David
Green Ore

Odysseus wrote 1816 days ago

A pacey style that reflects the fast-moving action of this start. A wonderfully named central character-- Pascal Adam Scintilla who thinks thus:

“In truth, fate was something in which Pascal did not believe. He thought that chance and effort combined to make a person’s future. Presented with chance, he believed that effort was required to take advantage of it.”

He is an accomplished man “Pascal spoke seven languages fluently and idiomatically” but is also a practical one:

“Pascal was quite proud of his shotguns and knew their capabilities and limitations. They could be lethal against a prey at close range as the many projectiles cause multiple penetrations in a small area.”

But this is a science fiction book so:

“Getting off the planet was Pascal’s number one mission. He needed to get back to Naerius. However his planet was under Darjiki control.
The Darjiki and Raslavon Empire were locked in their deadly game of give and take surrounding Naerius. Planet after planet, system after system, the Darjiki and Raslavon empires would exchange systems.”

This is all great stuff which is bound to find favour with its target readers:

“Grigori got up from his chair and went to the display screen showing the grand map of the quadrant and began pointing to the systems in danger. “Sire, we will move forces from the five systems in the Rejik Nebula to the Palomar, Palomid and Palodar systems close to Naerius. This will leave us slightly exposed to the Albion, but we can rush forces from the center of the empire.””

And this will be meat and drink too:

“The Dol prophecy is written in a poetic form called heptanic, namely seven lines. Each line contains a prophecy in of itself
Three sons of different mothers come
The rule of all will succeed in the last
The first shall see the last just once
The last will keep the secret of the father
Their last shall bring home the first two
The stone will be returned to its place
A power immeasurable will be unleashed.””

Intricately constructed and full of the nectar of Sci-Fi. Shelved.


Bill James wrote 1825 days ago

Hi Armen

Exciting start to the tale, a the characters are smoothly introduced. Good economical writing but still tells the reader all he needs to know. Happy to shelve and read on.

Cheers
Bill

JohnRL1029 wrote 1826 days ago

This is a movie. Your prose is sharp and vivid and fast-paced and we can see and hear and feel everything that is happening. The opening is instantly engaging: "Fire and smoke rose from the village center." What a great opening line. The clash of cultures is a particulary intriguing aspect to your novel. Also, love the names of your characters. This is great science fiction.
WL.

Paolito wrote 1834 days ago

Urtaru...

After reading c.4, I think I still agree with the suggestion that you scrap c.3 and combine with c.4, but only the really important parts of the backstory.

This is a good story, well told. Just needs a bit of polishing and perhaps a slight restructuring, and you've got a winner, IMHO. (For good info on structure, which I still find the most difficult task, read Jack W. Bickham's Scene and Structure.)

Shelving, of course.

Cheers,
Sheryl
IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES (would love your honest reactions)

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1834 days ago

Urtaru...

Chapter 3 felt a little contrived, as if you were trying to avoid the problem of too much backstory by using dialogue to convey the same thing. Didn't quite work for me. You might consider scrapping this chapter and finding a way to weave the important information into subsequent scenes. Just a thought.

Reading on...



Chapter 13 might explain something about the necklace. Like any prophecy and items that have potentially prophetic effects it is questionable to the characters why they cling to things that others give them. I do appreciate all the feedback. Thanks!

Paolito wrote 1834 days ago

Urtaru...

Chapter 3 felt a little contrived, as if you were trying to avoid the problem of too much backstory by using dialogue to convey the same thing. Didn't quite work for me. You might consider scrapping this chapter and finding a way to weave the important information into subsequent scenes. Just a thought.

Reading on...

Paolito wrote 1834 days ago

Urtaru...

I'm pouting because I still want to understand the last para in c.1, and c.2 doesn't give me the answer.

This chapter doesn't read as smoothly as the first, perhaps because you haven't varied your sentence structure enough.

Also,I'm wondering if the tension in the chapter could be increased by revealing a little more about Pringle and Parker's business dealings and Pascal's desire to get off the planet earlier in the scene.

Despite my nits, I am reading on, and the bottom line is always that you want to hook your reader and you have (this one, anyway)....

Paolito wrote 1834 days ago

Urtaru...

Totally engaged by the end of chapter 1 and will be reading more and making more comments. I was confused by the last paragaph in this chapter, but perhaps that's what you want me to be so that I'll read on. I'm thinking that maybe he's dreaming what goes on before in the scene.

This promises to be a great read.

I have two nits: the para that begins with "Suddenly" has two 'out's' in it...kind of jarred a bit.

Second nit: avoid The Starting Syndrome (begin or start to do something; usually stronger if the character or thing just does it.)

Reading on, of course...

sperber1 wrote 1855 days ago

You capture the sense of chaos after an attack very well, and your action scenes are well done. This hold my interest and make me want to read more. Which I will. In the meantime, shelved.

JANVIER wrote 1856 days ago

Hello Armen,

You crafted an amazing story here on the premise of good and evil. It is a sci-fi but the smooth writing and the easy-to-relate to lines make it almost believable. Chapter one especially set the story apart from most sci-fi works with its adrenaline introduction, description of the brothers and the attacks, the mother's frantic effort to save her sons and the closing with Adam's wake up as an adult still haunted by that past.

Chapter two carried on beautifully with the description of the hunting. Great chapter even though I would suggest you tighten it up a little. I read until chapter four and love the rivalries involved between the different dominions and Adam's positioning of himself with his ultimate gaol being his return home.

Good job done at characterization, dialogue and narrative. The plot is also gripping and the scope of the setting attests to the depth of your imaginative mind. This is a story I am glad I shelved.

All the best.


Janvier (FLASH OF THE SUN)

zenup wrote 1860 days ago

I keep expecting this to veer off into Stanislaw Lem territory for some reason. In fact, I find the reservations I have hard to pinpoint (the prose seems jerky, but it's more than that) - still, I love the scope & that distinctive European feel. Happy to back this one. I've had it on my watchlist for ages, as a matter of fact. Also, I wanted an Armenian in a short story I finished recently: does the name 'Marta Sulyan' sound OK? All the best for this one.

balkowski wrote 1860 days ago

What I liked best about this -especially in the first chapter- is that this could have taken place anywhere. It could have been in a fantasy world but just as easily the first chapter could be a modern day city in the middle east or in the US during the Civil War...well you catch my drift...it is universal from the get go so we all buy in and then you take us on a fabulous twist in the second chapter and we are already sold! Well done.

It seems that your MC is not the only one with a gift for language! Shelved.

Johanna
Scream Out Loud

maitreyi wrote 1864 days ago

well, it's all go isn't it. get the plot moving they say, and my dear, you have. in spades. i can see that the pitch was something of a red herring. the book is going to be gripping.

i would still like to see a writer with such ability being much more ruthless with his writing. this could be tightened up into something truly memorable.
you and i can both have a rest now while i pop this on my shelf.

xx
maitreyi
BLOGSPOT

maitreyi wrote 1864 days ago

ARMEN, this is not my genre but i am looking for ways to be useful. i see no reason why your scifi thriller should not be as fascinating to read as the next book in terms of language, so perhaps at this level i may comment? that is the good news and the bad news.

i have only read the pitch so far. to me your pitch is your shop window. get it wrong and no-one comes in the shop. that's why i'm going to harp on about every little thing. tune out if it's no use to you. you've got a jolly romp here with prophecies, planets and imperial fleets, so you may not need any of the following. i shan't mind a bit.

1. you have some good names here. one of the things about scifi that usually has me reaching for my pistol is the creation of etymology-free names. Naerius, Pascal, Escisian even Urtaru (Urartu would be better) have a possibly spurious authenticity about them which means they get past my ear as i read. mazel tov.

less happy with Barabrum and when i get to Raslavon i am looking for the ice-pick, sorry , pack.

2. now the second thing i address is the elegance of the sentence, especially when read aloud. 'Does he possess the jewel foretold?' to my ear is happier than 'Does he possess the prophesied gemstone' - fewer 's's. also i am never happy when prophesied is used alone like this with a simple noun. i'm sure it's not technically wrong, but nor is it great to read.

your sentences work really well on the whole though. most are economical and sound fine. 'into which their diaspora was spread' could do with a rethink, but otherwise.........

3. now, words. our tools, our friends, our lovers. armen, choose your words with the same care you would a lover. make sure it is the word you want. don't sleep with the nearest one because it's convenient. it makes for complications down the line. you are old enough to know this.

do the rampaging really use stepping stones? i find this incongruous. v hard to rampage effectively over stepping stones.

try : 'a mere pitstop for the rampaging, imperial fleets' or conversely ' a stepping stone for the insidious progress of the imperial fleets'. if were you i would drop 'and armies' - it weakens the sentence.

'fiercely independent, they seem to assimilate' - you have changed tense here. don't.

also the sentence does not make sense to me without a 'yet' in it. as it is sounds like a non sequitur.

two 'into' is one too many in one sentence.

why 'replete'? it means 'filled to satisfaction' or 'abounding' - is this what you want here?

4. the plot. the pitch outlines the plot but woah, now there are so many unknown names and themes coming at me, i'm lost. i'm putting your book down and picking up something more user-friendly like war and peace.

who are the Escisian Monks, Warriors and Priests - whose side are they on?

hello, now it's the Raslavon empire of whom to date we know nothing.

ah, an explanation....galactic empire. but now a cryptic clue (the pitch is not the place, sir) 'a civil war here would cause....' what is the reader to make of this? is it a codicil to the prophecy? is it the author winking at us? what, what, what?

suggestion, if our main storyline is old Pascal finding his love and his fate, start with this. give it the big build up. it is easier to identify with the MC than all these planets and bods. (look what they do in newspapers. personalise shamelessly)

'would pit 2 religions...etc' doesn't 'pit' need the word 'against'? i am still waiting in this sentence for the resolution of the verb.

and who the hell are the Urtaru family, hitherto unmentioned.

was pascal the first of the three what?

i expect you're wondering what you can have done for me to be such a nightmare - answer nothing. i'm like this the whole time to my best friends.

i will take a peek at ch 1 if we can both stand it. meanwhile, love and kisses
m

mattrogers wrote 1865 days ago

There is a lot to like here, Armen. Very creative premise and you start out right in the middle of action. However, I was a bit disappointed to find it was a dream. I think readers may feel 'cheated' by this, though it's only my opinion. The writing still needs a final edit, but that is true of all of our work. For example, you have some unnecessary repetition with "The earth began to rumble beneath his feet and he wanted to see
what was happening." and "He raced toward the action hoping to catch some glimpse of what was going on." Look to iron out these kinds of little things and it will be a heck of a read!

Matt

Bakrobi wrote 1865 days ago

Pascal Adam... any inspiration from Adam Pascal? :D Can't say that I understood the pitch, but the story was actually quite good.

Alecia Stone wrote 1867 days ago

Hi Armen,

You have an intriguing premise and that’s what pulled me towards this book.

Great opening, I was pulled in right away. Loved the characterization; I felt a connection with Adam and sympathized with him. The pace was great and sentence structure was well constructed; I read it with ease.

I’m really starting to love sci-fi now.

Shelved!

Shinzy :)

InternetG33k wrote 1868 days ago

Hi Armen,

Okay, so I got here much faster than anticipated - please don't tell the other books on my WL that were ahead of you in line! :)

You have great pacing, and a good ear for dialog. This moved along at an excellent pace, and the little hints of intrigue (the necklace, the hunter hesitanting to take a second shot) kept my interest and really propelled the story forward. Well done and welcome to my shelf!

~Traci

Elaina wrote 1868 days ago

Hi Armen

You have an oustanding tale here! You start off with great action and then maintain the hype- difficult to do (an issue for me!). I am seriously intrigued by the ancestry, the mysterious necklace, the battles, your worlds...I could go on and on. I would buy this.

No nitpicks. A polished ms, indeed.

Happy to shelve, and all the best forward!
Elaina
Gathering of Rain

Dania wrote 1870 days ago

This has all the ingredients that make me keep on reading sci-fi: good pace, good characters, and most importantly a great plot and your writing makes it simple to understand and follow. Goes on my shelf and good luck.

kgadette wrote 1876 days ago

Dear Armen,
Would have liked to have seen a bit more of the sci-fi world that Adam inhabits. I wonder at the effort you took to describe Adam's stiff-legged mounting … unless that comes into play later.
Pringle and Parker and Pascal: three names that all start with a P. A reader's eye does a shorthand, recognizing the architecture of the word. Not only is the problem in the same letter, but they're almost the same length: 7 or 6 characters. Strongly suggest you change one of the names. It actually does cause confusion; at best, it asks an additional effort of the reader to concentrate all the more.
But the action is riveting, and the last bit of Chapter 1 is a page turner. Shelved for imagination, a winning character and a plot that looks to be highly intriguing -- if we only had the time to delve deeper!

Heidi Mannan wrote 1878 days ago

Hi Armen,

I've really enjoyed the chapters I've read so far. Your premise is fabulous, and your writing drew me into the story right away.

You have great conflicts going on that I think most people will be able to relate to. Your characters are very realistic and well drawn. And your world building is top-notch.

This is a story beautiful in its depth. Backed!

Heidi

Kenneth Rogers Jr. wrote 1879 days ago

It needs more. For science fiction novel and fantasy novels to work they have to be completely believable. This means paying attention to the small details such as the use of shotguns and kinetic energy. If these are other planets other forms of weapons must be used, and an alternate form of scientific evolution would have changed the name of kinetic energy to something else (I tried to think of a cool name, but nothing was coming to mind). The only weapon that is universal is the sword and the blade. Edgar Rice Burroughs proved this in his Martian Tales. However, all the other names of the people are very imaginative.

Also, give more feeling to the first chapter. Most of the time dreams are more vivid than reality, bringing with them overpowering emotions that carry over into the real world. Give Pascal these images in the expressions of his brother and mother, their hesitations on what to do next, and strength in knowing what needs to be done. Drown the reader in this world and leave them fighting the current to find Atlantis. It's on my watchlist until I have time to read more.
Later days,
Kenny

James Stephen Rice wrote 1883 days ago

Great stuff, Armen. A real gem of a novel. I've been engrossed, almost overwhelmed by the strength, and depth, of your story telling. Felt totally involved in your world. Loved how it felt there. Thank you.

You write so very well. Flowing. With clarity and with emotion. You moved me.

The characters and their dialogue works really well: strikingly real at times, from life, you know? A difficult thing to achieve in this world of yours, but you pull it off. A great achievement.

Love the culture clash theme. Bounces me to today, here. Another achievement within this work of yours. That's what good Sci Fi is supposed to do, right? Draw parallels? Say the unsayable? Well, you don that, and you do it well.

So ... I really want this to succeed, whatever that means to you. Shelvings a plenty, methinks. And bigger ones than on here, I expect. Still, mine is a start. See you in Borders, okay?

James

Mary W Walters wrote 1887 days ago

You have a wonderful imagination, and I was intrigued to see how you are working some of the themes and experiences from your own father's and grandfather's lives into this series of novels. What a wonderful way to honour them.

I think you have set up an interesting plot -- with Pascal needing to get back to Naerius to learn more about his past. I am not a reader of scifi so I can't comment on the originality of that aspect of it, but I am impressed with what you've done here.

My one suggestion would be to change the names of Parker and Pringle because with all three names starting with P, I got very confused.

I will put this on my shelf, and wish you success with it!

Mary

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1887 days ago

Armen,

I've just finished up to chapter three and am finding it hard to relate to your protagonist and the story.

You have given me lots of information in these three chapters about the setting and the history, but not a lot about the character. It's like you expect the reader to know the character already and I have been left relying on the blurb to fill in a lot of the blanks, which I don't think is something you should rely on. The story should be complete within itself.

I think part of the problem is that you are trying to tell your story too fast. A lot of the information you have given us could have been be left until later in the story, in my opinion. First of all you need to win us over to your protagonist and introduce us to the style of your writing and the milieu of your story.

Speaking of which. I think you first chapter could be used to set the science fiction element of your story better. I was a bit taken back about the young protagonist mounting a horse to go and see what was happening in town when the technology should have been available to not only tell him what was happening but warn his mother about the invasion. I was also a bit turned off by the mention of the invaders using swords. This is supposedly science fiction and people are supposed to use guns rather than swords. The use of swords without some sort of justification leaves me wondering if your story is not in the wrong genre.

Sorry to sound so negative. I think, from what I've read in your bio, that there is good material here for a story. But I think it needs careful and slow development not breakneck speed.

Keep writing.

Phillberrie.



Thanks for the feedback.

One of the difficult parts of this writing this story is that the clash of cultures means a clash of cultures along the technology timeline. Take a look at Afghanistan for example. You have the most technologically advanced armed forces in collaboration to suppress an ancient people who know their rocks. So the categorization Sci-Fi in the cyborgs and all encompassing technology is not an exact fit. I daresay that the Fremen in Dune weren't either (not that I'm comparing myself to Frank Herbert or the quality of his writing, just using it as an example).

I will take your your advice on growing Pascal. I think that at least a chapter on his training with the Monks might cure the pace problem initially. I'll also look for some other opportunities to stretch out things a bit.











phillberrie wrote 1888 days ago

Armen,

I've just finished up to chapter three and am finding it hard to relate to your protagonist and the story.

You have given me lots of information in these three chapters about the setting and the history, but not a lot about the character. It's like you expect the reader to know the character already and I have been left relying on the blurb to fill in a lot of the blanks, which I don't think is something you should rely on. The story should be complete within itself.

I think part of the problem is that you are trying to tell your story too fast. A lot of the information you have given us could have been be left until later in the story, in my opinion. First of all you need to win us over to your protagonist and introduce us to the style of your writing and the milieu of your story.

Speaking of which. I think you first chapter could be used to set the science fiction element of your story better. I was a bit taken back about the young protagonist mounting a horse to go and see what was happening in town when the technology should have been available to not only tell him what was happening but warn his mother about the invasion. I was also a bit turned off by the mention of the invaders using swords. This is supposedly science fiction and people are supposed to use guns rather than swords. The use of swords without some sort of justification leaves me wondering if your story is not in the wrong genre.

Sorry to sound so negative. I think, from what I've read in your bio, that there is good material here for a story. But I think it needs careful and slow development not breakneck speed.

Keep writing.

Phillberrie.

Gideon McLane wrote 1890 days ago

Urtaru - Armen Chakmakjian. I read the first 2 chapters and skimmed several others and some comments. Interesting opening with a dream sequence that relives the killing of his family. Could this be a recurring dream?

Some thoughts: perhaps "small 'space' or 'air' ships..." so we know they are in the sky; New paragraph "Adam cried out in fear and awoke screaming. He noted that he was in his...."; chapter 2 - "put much stock or belief."; why do all three character names start with "P" - reader can become confused who's whom; you have some organizational timing issues that others have already noted.

This has potential - perhaps creating a smoother flowing story would help. Keep at it, I'll check back in the future.

Gideon
The Oil Market Czar

Jeff Blackmer wrote 1892 days ago

Armen,
Excellent idea, well written story. Your multiple worlds, empires and religions bring to mind other conflicts of the last few years with similar issues: Yugoslavia and Iraq being two examples.
Pascal is a great character to take us through this story. One of the challenges in a story such as this is, of course creating alien names and place names to give us a flavor of the story. You've done some of that in a very unobstrusive way, which makes it easy to follow the story. Like the way that the gemstone is passed to daughter-in-law, a very thought provoking process.
Only one concern; the names Pringle and Parker seem so 20th century Earth, they stand out in an odd way. Perhaps that is explained further in the story, and if so, my ignorance for not reading further. However, that is a small point. I really like this and on my shelf it goes. Good luck with Urtaru!
Jeff

sestius wrote 1893 days ago

Great start, sir. Convincing names (what I personally would find the hardest part about writing SF) and good pace. Only thing I was tempted to change: ""... he's dead?[!]" he cried" - if he's crying out in panic (understandably), I think you'd be forgiven the exclamation mark there too. Nicely done, sir. Best of luck with it - sestius

Andrew W. wrote 1894 days ago

Urtaru

Hi Armen, Such great potential here, a strange new world we plunge into so quickly, with a pacy start. You have some interesting characters and some good writing but I think the first chapter needs looking at. Can it not be done as a prologue, a real-time description of the past, that would take us more into the experience, I felt like I wanted to be in Adam's head more, experiencing those terrible moments, feeling them for real. It is a great first paragraph, but when we find out it is a dream the first chapter is in danger of becoming a cliche. CH2 and I am intrigued about Adam's growing up, but you are telling about it, not showing me it. Adam is a good strong character, can we not see the world from his perspective, be inside his head more, can the backstory not be weaved in in more subtle ways.

This is a strong piece of creativity with some good writing, I think you now need to think about the reader's experience of it and get us inside Adam's head more so we can fully experience this fascinating world. I think this deserves to be rising in the charts on the basis of its imaginative power...best wishes and best of luck - SHELVED - Andrew W.

Freddie Omm wrote 1895 days ago

pitches are bitches.

crazy pitch you've got, i like it, it convinces and casts a manic spell,
but
i didn't understand any of it, okay,- i get a sense of what it'll be about, but there's no single focus or emotional axis, challenge or whatever--you get a sense of epic scope.. maybe that's exactly what you want your pitch to do, but i'd recommend you have a think about it--even the epic needs to be personalized if it is to grip folks.

on to the book. your writing flows well.

there is a lot of imaginative energy here, the single most important quality a novel has to have..

it's easy to read. you mix description and action and speech pretty well in what i read. you don't overindulge in outlandish vocab or neologisms.

i noticed the opening (the most imprtant single bit) does this more assuredly than ch 13 where there is more narrative, and you deal out more info as narrator rather than through action or speech.

a few microcomments: in ch 1, at the beginning, i found "Oh, God!" and "What?" unnecessary interjections, i'd replace either with some description of their face as they react or something, or just by having a pause before speech resumes. your call.

overall, a powerful and compelling piece of writing. shelved.

good luck with it

freddie

Cas P wrote 1897 days ago

Hi Armen.
What a fascinating depth of history you have imagined for your world. Most realistic in its complexity. I confess that at times I found it a little too complex, but I'm not much into politics so that sort of thing tends to wash over me.
I liked the way you began, and I also liked the fact that we weren't aware it was a dream until the end. Good stuff. In ch2, I found myself wondering whether the hunting scene, well-written though it was, really moved the story on at all. If it was just meant to introduce Parker and Pringle as Adam's friends then it was a long-winded way of doing that.
Ch3 established that he wanted to get back home, and that was fine. But I was thrown by the sudden change to Edward. What time-frame did it occur in? I presumed the past, but it wasn't clear. Perhaps the middle of the third chapter wasn't the ideal place for a bit of back-story.
Mostly this was well-written, though I'm assuming English isn't your first language. Some of my specific comments below might reflect that.
Ch 1
toward the town...on the town. Bit of repetition here.
Jacob had an identical face...Jacob's face was identical to Adam's?
I was confused as to why Adam had developed a strange way of mounting a horse. You might want to clarify that.
"What do you mean he's dead?" Isn't it obvious?
I was also a bit confused as to why you have spaceships, transcarts, guns and then swords? Surely swords are a bit backward for a race with spaceships?
Ch 3
fate was something in which Pascal did not take stock or believe....this sounds s bit awkward. How about, 'fate was something in which Pascal put no stock or faith?
chance became visible to seize...awkward again. Became tangible and could be seized?
parlay this relationship...turn this relationship?
very lethal....either it's lethal or it isn't!
Pascal, Pringle and Parker...are there too many P's?
dropped his rear legs....sounds like they fell off! Dropped to his haunches?
Ch3
Parker shook his head in understanding...people usually nod their heads in understanding, not shake them.
Anyway, Armen, those are just my opinions, feel free to ignore them! I wish you all the best with Urtaru,
Cas.
(KING'S ENVOY).

RC.Magnus wrote 1897 days ago

Hi Armen,

Oh boy oh, I am in awe of the work you put in. This is what I felt and truly an awesome read. Of my own cultural background this shows that we are not much different. It is excellent of the two chapters I have read. The word for Police or Military Police is very understandable to me. I have ancestors of Mediterranean descent and especially love stories from that or surrounding area.

Cheers,
Robert.

ML Hamilton wrote 1899 days ago

Armen,

You weren't kidding. You put a lot of work into this. I didn't plan on rereading the entire chapter again, but you hooked me. I'm so impressed by what you've done with this. Bravo!

I'm giving you a spot on my shelf. Well done.

ML

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1901 days ago

Hi Armen

I very much enjoyed the start of your story.; it's imaginative and vivid. The problem I found though is the writing style. I feel it let's the story down a little. ( One small example -you use the word horse within the same sentence or so, instead of using, say, 'horse' then 'mount', 'beast 'or something different. If you do re-write it -and there's no reason you should, just on my say so - I would be happy to re-read it and hopefully, be able to Shelve it; something I don't feel able to do at this stage.

My apologies- and I hope I am proved wrong and that, unaltered, it races past me in the race for the Editor's Desk!races

Anthony
('Houses 0f sand')



Thanks for your comment. I just read through it with a new eye and I saw the problem. I'll definitely do a rewrite of that section. I'll also look to see if I continue to do that in later chapters.

agaian wrote 1901 days ago

Hi Armen

I very much enjoyed the start of your story.; it's imaginative and vivid. The problem I found though is the writing style. I feel it let's the story down a little. ( One small example -you use the word horse within the same sentence or so, instead of using, say, 'horse' then 'mount', 'beast 'or something different. If you do re-write it -and there's no reason you should, just on my say so - I would be happy to re-read it and hopefully, be able to Shelve it; something I don't feel able to do at this stage.

My apologies- and I hope I am proved wrong and that, unaltered, it races past me in the race for the Editor's Desk!races

Anthony
('Houses 0f sand')

Antimatter wrote 1906 days ago

Well written Mr. Chakmakjian.

Seeing good and evil, being awake so to speak, is a terrible burden. The simpler life is being the fool, the follower that accepts the dictates given. Bondage only hurts for those that see the bindings. The greatest pain of awareness is the feeling of loneliness that shadows it.

Maybe we’re not so alone?

We are the few limited by numbers, the few that can see beyond the curtains of diversion, having the wit to peer into the magicians other hand. The burden maybe great, but the call to write it more profound.

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1907 days ago

"In the nobility, this ritual was slightly silly, since the overbearing presence of the state on the relationship was palpable. But it mattered for the people...." (Apologies if I misquoted.) I really like this kind of writing. Draws you into the society, makes you want to know more about its rules and customs. Anyway, I love the parallelism to real history, and I've enjoyed the first 2 chapters--and like Pascal. Backed.

BTW, Armen, did you realized you switch fonts in the first chapter?



I just found the font change in the manuscript after all these weeks. For whatever reason, the day I wrote the hunting sequence (which was originally the first chapter but now is chapter two) I started in Arial...but then finished in Helvetica. The rest of the regular text of the whole 350 pages is Helvetica (except for 4 stylized italicized chapters in garamond). I reverted the arial to helvetica to be consistent with the rest of the text.

Thanks for pointing this out.

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1907 days ago

Comments on Chapter 1...

It was a little hard to tell what was going on, in the sense that the brother is describing some of the more important events. It might be better if you take Jacob's pov OR had Adam experiencing the events himself. For some reason I was half-expecting the Darjiki to be non-human - this is SF, after all - but maybe that's just me. Do you have any aliens in this world/universe?

I also noticed some unnecessary dialogue attributions, "He asked" and so on, in situations where it was obvious who was speaking, and HOW they were speaking the words. When there are only two people present it's easy for the reader to keep track of who is speaking.

Chapter 2...

Unless you have done it deliberately, I would suggest changing some of the names. Pringle, Parker, Pascal are all distinct, of course, but can give the reader a momentary pause when working out who is speaking or doing what.

Chapter 3...

I got a little confused with the proliferation of names and empires here. The thing that strikes me is that you use comparatively ordinary Anglo-Saxon names for both Albion and Raslavon people, which made it harder to distinguish them as different empires or peoples.

Again I felt some of the backstory with the monks etc would be better experienced by the reader rather than related in dialogue.

Best of luck with this. The idea of approximating a real world "experience" in this sort of setting is worth exploring, but I feel this needs a bit more work to get it where it needs to be.

Regards,

TomW



Thanks for the very specific comments! Pringle, Parker and Pascal are actual names of the people. That chapter is a lift directly from a story my father told me about my grandfather being hired by two british Attaches in British Palestine in the early 1930's. Including the shotguns. That's my grandfather in the bookcover on the right. That chapter is the inspiration for the whole book.

About non-human aliens...I'm not sure I need them yet. Robotics gone wild is something that I'm toying with in Book 2 for the son of Adam.

Raslavon - Russian Empire
Albion - British
Darjiki - Ottoman Turkish empire
Barsifi - Persia

Dig back into about the 16th/17th century and you can pick out historical events that I've used. Battle of Lepanto, in latter part of the book not here, Seige of Vienna, various battles between the Persian and Ottoman empires. There's a lot of material there and the people were quite alien to each other without having horns or looking like squid or something.

When it comes to the monks, their a tough lot to create. I didn't want to make them Jedi Knights...their sort of a mashup between franciscan monks and coptic priests (with added attitude) that I've seen. This one I do think needs work and I agree with you. I have to find a vehicle to show the training that Pascal received. My grandfather was an orphan who ended up being raised in a franciscan orphanage in Lebanon...he almost became a priest...

Thanks again.

TomW wrote 1907 days ago

Comments on Chapter 1...

It was a little hard to tell what was going on, in the sense that the brother is describing some of the more important events. It might be better if you take Jacob's pov OR had Adam experiencing the events himself. For some reason I was half-expecting the Darjiki to be non-human - this is SF, after all - but maybe that's just me. Do you have any aliens in this world/universe?

I also noticed some unnecessary dialogue attributions, "He asked" and so on, in situations where it was obvious who was speaking, and HOW they were speaking the words. When there are only two people present it's easy for the reader to keep track of who is speaking.

Chapter 2...

Unless you have done it deliberately, I would suggest changing some of the names. Pringle, Parker, Pascal are all distinct, of course, but can give the reader a momentary pause when working out who is speaking or doing what.

Chapter 3...

I got a little confused with the proliferation of names and empires here. The thing that strikes me is that you use comparatively ordinary Anglo-Saxon names for both Albion and Raslavon people, which made it harder to distinguish them as different empires or peoples.

Again I felt some of the backstory with the monks etc would be better experienced by the reader rather than related in dialogue.

Best of luck with this. The idea of approximating a real world "experience" in this sort of setting is worth exploring, but I feel this needs a bit more work to get it where it needs to be.

Regards,

TomW

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