Book Jacket

 

rank 4023
word count 24466
date submitted 01.06.2009
date updated 15.06.2009
genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, Popular C...
classification: moderate
incomplete

The Steely Dan

Ben and Brianna Hamlett-Keeling

A scifi comedy featuring a man who was a god, vampire pirates and a robot goat. And that's just the first chapter.

 

The debut novel in a series of adventures starring Arrson and his former mercenary team in the frontiers of space, science and staying alive... Arrson’s life has never been the same since he was brought back to life. His mind had been stored in an artificial universe in which he became a god. He didn’t even get put back into his own body. And then there’s the genetically modified vampire pirates that want both his erotically-shaped space-mining ship, and to feed on his person and crew. When Arrson and said elite and legendary crew - consisting of one alcoholic ship’s technician and a morally challenged robot goat - board the pirate vessel to fight them without risking their decrepit ship, the young patriarch of the vampire pirates, Jim, realises what a very special mind Arrson has. A mind that must be protected. The mind of a god who has perfected a recipe for government and chip’n’gravy pie. From his death to his storage in and retrieval from an artificial universe and placement in a black-market body, we follow Arrson’s journey into the new and possibly final frontier: interdimensional space.

 
rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login

 

tags

action, australian, comedy, farcical, fun, irreverent, space opera, speculative, technological

on 13 watchlists

37 comments

 

To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
Tony Judge wrote 1866 days ago

Dear Ben and Brianna,

Bursting with off-the-wall-science, good one-liners and a vampire-eating robot goat. What more could I ask for?

Shelved and good luck.
Tony (Sirocco Express)

FaithB wrote 1859 days ago

This is fabulously funny and I love the dialogue. A glorious send-up of po-faced sci-fi on a mission.

Consider yourselves shelved. (And congratulations on still being married after writing this together!)

This is sufficiently different to become, dare I say it, a bit, like, iconic....

Good luck!

Morven wrote 1870 days ago

Feck ! I am in biiiiig trouble.....this is a seriously hilarious book that is going to shoot up the charts like a phallic spaceship and blast my daft little book into oblivion. But what the hell, I love it! I love the insane, louche humour. The vampire pirate called Jim and his mate Les playing Nintendo ! LOL! Deliciously rude, imaginative and best of all - enormous fun. I would buy this in a heart beat.
Backed and wishing your book every success
( imagine this last bit spoke through gritted and gnashing teeth)

Tindalld666 wrote 317 days ago

I am so glad that I found this book! I have loved reading it so far and it has made me smile on many occasions.
The flow is wonderful and the dialogue is witty. Please keep it up and good luck. Not that you'll need it.

junetee wrote 893 days ago

This is a great book I really enjoyed it. Great work.
It is well written, funny and great dialogue. I don't always like sci fi but the humour in this really livened it up.
Very imaginative!
5 stars
Junetee

Prozakville wrote 1044 days ago

This is funny! The galaxy needs more comedy sci-fi. And phallic-shaped spacecraft.

x Steph x
(Hollow Moon)

sodyt wrote 1760 days ago

This is a great, gory, glorious, grotesque, gallop thru Sci Fi land. Funnier than 'Red Dwarf'. Simply stupendeous. Super Nova +++ What the hell is it doing at 774 !!! Best of the best with this. Eric

Sweet Empress wrote 1776 days ago

OMG, funner than hell. I love it.
KC
The Mysterious Legend of Vladimir

mikegilli wrote 1791 days ago

I commented 69 days ago

BOREDwith doing SNAP REVIEWS of vampire novels.

This week I plan to re-review.
Update my comments in light of immense improvements.
In return I need comments on later new chapters of The Free

So if you fancy an update.
Let me know

Good idea?.....................All the best.................Mikey

mikegilli wrote 1791 days ago

I commented 69 days ago

BOREDwith doing SNAP REVIEWS of vampire novels.

This week I plan to re-review.
Update my comments in light of immense improvements.
In return I need comments on later new chapters of The Free

So if you fancy an update.
Let me know

Good idea?.....................All the best.................Mikey

maitreyi wrote 1840 days ago

I LOVE THIS KIND of surreal scifi and yours is no exception. i found your pitch to complex though. it would be more effective much simplified.

also you need to be more precise with your language so that your humour really is on the nail. take your first line : 'To witness it etc' the structure of this sentence isn't actually working as a sentence - not for this pedant anyway. You only need to alter a few words eg 'To witness it was to share the experience of the 13th century etc...'

you need to go through and really make the language work but meanwhile the hilarious ideas and descriptions do work for me and it's on my shelf.
xx
maitreyi
BLOGSPOT

Paolito wrote 1845 days ago

The Steely Dan...

...is hilarious, and I know I didn't even get all the jokes, but no matter because I had enough laughs in your first three chapters to last me quite awhile.

No complaints about the writing, either.

Get this thing off to agents, for heaven's sake.

Shelved, of course.

Cheers,
Sheryl
IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

JANVIER wrote 1846 days ago

hello Ben and Brianna,

I am not an ardent sci-fi reader, but your pitch was enticing, the prologue dragged me in and I got hooked reading the subsequent chapters.You have written a very helpful book that should be taken seriously. You have an imaginative mind and did good job putting it to use here.

All the best.

Janvier (Flash of the Sun

Migdalin wrote 1847 days ago

The story contains a number of very humorous elements, the news story about the doomed doomsday sect being my favorite. Vampires in space seemed like a pleasing oxymoron, something I personally haven't seen before. The conflict ratchets up fairly soon in chapter 1 with the approach of an unidentified ship.

In reading this story, I found myself distracted by two things. First, I felt that the story made excessive use of exposition and telling. In truth, I rarely felt a sense of immediacy, that "you are here" quality. Many paragraphs seemed to contain some form of exposition or telling.

Second, the writing felt a bit loose to me. Some sentences made use of passive voice, while others had a kind of abstract, graduate school feel to them.

An example from chapter 2:

> But before he'd finished asking the brief question Arrson
> had already pulled out a Gecko Grenade, so named
> because....

(a) Although this is part of an ongoing sequence of events, the use of "had" casts it as something that's already happened, thereby turning an immediate scene into a flashback.

(b) Even in the middle of an action sequence, the story can't resist dropping into exposition mode, giving us a backgrounder on how the grenade got its name.

(c) I feel that the introductory clause "before he'd finished the brief question" is telling rather than showing.

(d) The "he" in the sentence seemed slightly ambiguous to me.

My recommended revision would be:

> "Who are--"
> Arrson jammed a Gecko Grenade into the guard's open
> mouth [or whatever it is Arrson does with the thing].

I normally wouldn't spend time on low level issues like this in a critique, but it seemed to me that this wasn't a lone example, but more or less typical. As such, I feel the prose represents a stumbling block to the casual reader.

When it comes to this sort of thing, I continue to worship Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style."

I felt that the Prologue was primarily exposition. I think that many readers will have a hard time focusing on this material because there isn't a character that we can connect to.

Chapter 1 opens with a block quote from a newscast. While humorous, I still see this as two paragraphs of exposition. Not fatal, certainly, but following that, I felt that the next four paragraphs or so were some combination of telling and exposition. One thing you might consider would be to split up the newscast and fit it in around Arrson working on his ship. Then we could see whatever Arrson is doing, whether welding something or bolting something or whatever, and perhaps we could even see Arrson's reaction to the news, thus giving us some insight into his personality.

Chapter 2 opens with yet more exposition. Even when we get to Arrson's dialog, it still seems he's just dumping raw information on the reader.

I feel that the story contains a lot of good ideas and strong humor. The low-level, minor issues that I've mentioned distracted me enough that I don't feel I can comment on plot or other high-level issues.

I can't resist throwing in one piece of personal advice, which is that writing a humorous first novel is really hard. The problem is, the humor can easily take over, causing dialog, scenes, and even the entire storyline to wander off course, chasing after something in the name of a laugh. Based on personal experience, rather than based on anything I saw in your book, I urge you to take a hard view of humorous resolutions to key conflicts. Such things can quickly take on the feel of tomato surprise, deus ex machina, etc.... Just something I've been burned on in the past.


Instances of Exposition

> Trojan was actually a kit robot....

Exposition.

> Pirates were becoming an increasingly....

Exposition.

> The beauty and sometimes the bane....

Exposition.

> After insulting a pirate kingpin....

Exposition.

> Arrson's plan was clever....

Telling. Exposition.


Sentence-level Details

> To witness it, the sensation could be compared to....

(a) What is "it"?

(b) "The sensation could be compared to" is what I refer to as graduate school speak. My recommendation would be, "It felt like...."

> ...a 13th century Chinese ox farmer would have felt...

The ox farmer seems like a nice, specific image. However, for me, the "would have felt" undercuts the immediacy of the image, turning a specific event into a hypothetical generality.

> ... despite the danger of exploding objects mankind....

This happens a number of times: a introductory or dependent clause runs into the main clause without interruption, something I feel is distracting. A comma between "objects" and "mankind" would make this easier for me to parse.

> kebab shop; something equally dangerous and explosive.

I feel the semicolon is in error. A comma, dash, or a full colon all seem plausible to me.

> The engineers behind the destructive operation had
> entitled the process....

"Destructive operation" seems like a vague phrase. "Entitled the process" feels like a lot of syllables for a small piece of information.

> An inescapable aspect of designing a spaceship is that
> it will always resemble the male genitalia in some
> capacity.

In addition to being exposition, I would call this vague and wordy. The "in some capacity" trailer is slightly confusing as it could modify either the spaceship or the genitalia, but in any event, I feel it weakens the entire sentence by hedging, giving the impression of timidity. As a possible alternative: "Spaceships will always resemble male genitalia."

> Ken was the first to arrive in the cab....

Passive voice.

Heidi Mannan wrote 1849 days ago

B & B,

Imaginative, humorous, fun. Happy to give it a turn on my shelf.

Heidi

ChrisX wrote 1852 days ago

B&B
You have a wonderful premise and array of characters. I love the idea of a robot goat. I read chapter 1 and then 4 to see if my thoughts were confirmed. Well almost. The story is very narrated. This is probably a deliberate style, but it doesn't pull your reader (OK me) into the story. The advice is use dialogue and action to do this. Show rather than tell your story. In chapter 4, once we get past the intro and Raffles speaks, it's fine. In my view the other infomration should be subtly inserted rather than be a block intro.
So based on this, I think you would be well advised to restructure chapter 1, starting with something intriguing rather than expanation. Also think about your prologue. It almost works but I found myself wondering: why a c13 Chinese ox farmer? Surely since the Chinese have had firworks for thousands of years he would have seen them. Now if you'd said eskimo clubbing a seal to death, I could have understood his amazement.
On my shelf to help you on your way.
Chris (I Dare You)

Andrew Foley Jones wrote 1856 days ago

could become something of cult classic
shelfed for origilality

kgadette wrote 1857 days ago

Dear Brianna and Ben,

As you may have already been told, break up the long pitch into digestible bits. We readers seem to have digestion problems (!)

The first sentence is intriguing, and funny – but a bit convoluted. But you're losing the joke because the sentence is long. My paltry suggestion: "The sensation could be compared to a 13th century Chinese ox farmer releasing his bowels into his trousers upon first experiencing fireworks."

SPAMCER: very funny definition of the tinned meat made from malignant tumors. And David Beckham's accent!
Mass suicides, Spam, Haulpak's a great name for the dump truck in space. Ouch, the phallic references and Ron Jeremy/Tin Man. This is brilliantly funny, and so smart!

Question: do most people know the other meaning to Steely Dan, not the band but the dildo?

Love the pornographic applets, upsetting the family groups.

Perhaps the opening chapter can either be shortened, or turned into two. It is delicious, but does go on a bit.

Not everyone can meld goats with phalluses (phalli?) and vampires. For that alone, not to mention the extreme wit, shelved with a mix of fear and admiration.

FaithB wrote 1859 days ago

This is fabulously funny and I love the dialogue. A glorious send-up of po-faced sci-fi on a mission.

Consider yourselves shelved. (And congratulations on still being married after writing this together!)

This is sufficiently different to become, dare I say it, a bit, like, iconic....

Good luck!

SoulCascade wrote 1859 days ago

Your paragraphs tend to be rather long. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I’ll admit this is just a personal preference of mine, but shorter paragraphs tend to make text easier for a reader to comprehend.
That’s my only nit (sorry about that, I hate getting nits), you definitely have a flair for description. As I read, I felt like I was in the story, experiencing it as it went along. A very entertaining read!
Norma
(The Essence)

mikegilli wrote 1861 days ago

Thanks for the geat laugh. It's priceless. it's hilarious.
For me all inconstencies don't matter. Reader happily
suspends disbelief coz he or she is laughing too much.
You have a wide knowledge of contemportary 'culture' plus
the sense of humour.
My only suggestion is occasional fine detail description,
as if for it.s own sake. Seems that in Sci Fi this makes everyone
believe in it.
Lotsa luck with it. If you have publishing probs I.d do it on line anyway,
Due to high laughs content it would be a waste not to.....Mikey

PS took me a few pages to get ionto it. Maybe change the start?

Andrew W. wrote 1861 days ago

The Steely Dan

Hi Ben and Brianna, This is great stuff, with a bow to Douglas Adams and Naylor and Grant, with an added twist of Monty Python we are away in this wonderfully anarchic and silly Universe. The ship shaped like a packet, the manipulation of a red dwarf, the asides from our warm-voiced narrator, it all works wonderfully. I love stuff like this, quirky, original and very different. Comedy writing is tough, comedy writing in space opera is even harder, I think you have both done such a great job here, best of luck with this -Andrew W.

KJKron wrote 1866 days ago

Funny stuff. I visualize a penis spaceship - goats, and plenty of other oddities. Dialogue is perfect for what you are doing - not sure what to say - other than I'll back it.

Tony Judge wrote 1866 days ago

Dear Ben and Brianna,

Bursting with off-the-wall-science, good one-liners and a vampire-eating robot goat. What more could I ask for?

Shelved and good luck.
Tony (Sirocco Express)

Billy Young wrote 1867 days ago

Humorous but not hilarious. I think this would be better as a movie, where the visual effect would lend itself easily to what is funny in this, the ball eating goat and the phalax shaped craft. At times though I do think you go to much into trying to explain things, make them shorter to keep the flow going. Still I like this a lot and with shelf it next time I change mine around, this weekend.

setondan wrote 1867 days ago

Great cover and pitch. The writing is very good too. Can't pass up a book on subject matter that jump starts my imagination so much. The science fiction angle for the premise is outstanding. Although competing with my book on the weekly list rankings for the science fiction genre, I have to back it. I like looking on my shelf and seeing my name (Dan) on such a nice cover, and I love the musician Steely Dan. So there you go. Hope you get a chance to look at my wildly imaginative tale. Take care.

petrifiedtank wrote 1868 days ago

Hi,

Pretty nifty. Science, gags, goats, pirates and phallic spaceships...cool.

Backed,

Craig

divilthebit wrote 1869 days ago

Who'd have thought a seventies folk rock outfit could inspire such a riot? Excellent, excellent, funny stuff. Happy to put this on my shelf, best of luck.
Michael

StampMan wrote 1869 days ago

Oh my Bodhisattva, this is a fun piece of History from the future. Good on'yas, mates.
(I suppose the other shape is better for landings in the ocean?). It ain't Shakespeare, but I'll shelve it for a while for being funny without being stupid.

Stampman - The Bizarre and Violent World of Stamp Collecting

Heikki Hietala wrote 1869 days ago

Okay. There's this feeling that hits you on Saturday. You go hunting for something to read, and you hit on either "Bored of the Rings" or "So long and Thanks for all the Fish".

And then this turkey hits you like something meets the proverbial fan.

If you carry this through, and manage the menagerie so as not to let it overflow, you are sitting on more than justa bottle rocket. This is a fine line though; if you stray to the Dark Side, this becomes yesterday's cauliflower casserole laced with stale beer.

So... I back this because I want to see just how high you ride.

Gailt wrote 1869 days ago

Funny book, certainly lifted me up reading it..Good luck I am giving it a whirl on my shelf.

Alecia Stone wrote 1869 days ago

Hi Ben and Brianna,

Wow! Great imagery. And what splendid use of similes. I was pulled in right away.

Great prose. The writing is tight and the sentence structure well constructed and easy to read. You’ve created a realistic world with believable characters. Great pacing. the story is full of energy and truly came alive.

Vampire Pirates! Great stuff!

I’ve noticed throughout all three chapters that you use a period before a tagline as opposed to a comma. For example, in Chap 1: ‘Yeah, let’s spark up a Banny(.)’ Ken replied cheerfully… You should separate tagline and dialogue with a comma if they’re part of the same thought.

Example: ‘Only a smidge(,)’ Arrson lied.
‘Only a smidge.’ Arrson felt terrible about lying.

The only thing I would say is to get rid of some of the he said she said as I knew who was saying what.

Loved what I’ve read so far. You kept me glued.

Shelved!

Shinzy :)

Morven wrote 1870 days ago

Feck ! I am in biiiiig trouble.....this is a seriously hilarious book that is going to shoot up the charts like a phallic spaceship and blast my daft little book into oblivion. But what the hell, I love it! I love the insane, louche humour. The vampire pirate called Jim and his mate Les playing Nintendo ! LOL! Deliciously rude, imaginative and best of all - enormous fun. I would buy this in a heart beat.
Backed and wishing your book every success
( imagine this last bit spoke through gritted and gnashing teeth)

PATRICK BARRETT wrote 1871 days ago

So, Australian humour isn't just a rumour after all? This is great, one of the most striking features is the accurate technical detail (Centrifuges, cigarette in an airlock etc) it shows that intelligent humour is to follow. Love the battle with the pirates and the polio injections, that is original stuff. There is some great humour on authonomy , take your place amongst the best. On my shelf. Patrick Barrett (Shakespeares Cuthbert)

Elaina wrote 1871 days ago

Now I must admit I was drawn first by the amazing cover, the tongue-in-cheek name and then a glorious pitch. Would the book live up to all that??? It definitely does! There is major imagination and sly humour here...makes me read on- the sign of a book that works. Arrson and Ken are great characters, and Trojan is definitely the cherry on top, ha ha! Add to that vampire pirates, and you have a tale worth reading!

Steely Dan goes onto my shelf.

Small nitpick: dialogue punctuation. Need to insert commas before names.
Also: a few too many dialogue modifiers, especially in the beginning

All the best!
Elaina
Gathering of Rain

Ayrich wrote 1874 days ago

and the award for most sexuall inuendo goes to....trojan the robot. Steely dan is the name of a sex toy and a band and now a fine comedy from space. Shelved.
One thing, I am wondering if you might condesend to read the first paragraph out loud. I felt it needed a little fine tuning to make it more punchy.

edquinn wrote 1875 days ago

Hi Brianna and Ben

Your synopsis alone had me chuckling!!! Couldn't wait to start the book.

Hehe...comparing the advent of fireworks with kebab eating...loved it!!!

I like this book, as although science fiction is something i no longer read (did so when i was young)...i enjoyed when you explain the intricate workings of the solar system but compare it to understanding David Beckham. Nice!!!

Enjoyed the novel idea of the appropriately sexually charged steely dan....elliptical storage tanks and the mere mention of Ron Jeremy as the Tin Man was genius!!!

This is a clever, well-written piece. I have placed it on my shelf and look forward to that phallus moving up the ranks.

Much appreciated

Ed Quinn (Donkeys kill more people)

BHK wrote 1876 days ago

The book is complete and fully edited at 12 chapters and 63,000 words, (and book 2 is in its very early stages). We are still discussing how much more to post on authonomy, so watch this space!

Thanks for your support, and be assured I have a policy of returning reads!

JD Revene wrote 1876 days ago

Ben and Brianna

Wow! This is both humurous and educational. I love the whole mix of farce, space opera and solid science. The robot goat is a nice touch. And there are brilliant turns of phrase here (the one about a pub crawl and kebabs I think was the first to raise a smile, by the end my smile muscles ached).

This is great. Is there more than the three chapters you've posted?

I'm shelving this and expect many more will too.

Dania wrote 1876 days ago

This is great fun, glad to be amongst the first to spot it. I find that Sci-fi takes itself too seriously sometimes and yours is the perfect antidote. On my shelf and wish you the best of luck on this site and elsewhere.

1