The Zemlya Conspiracy

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The Zemlya Conspiracy (Paperback/EBook): https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01LWUXA6U

The Zemlya Conspiracy is full of energy and very assured in its touch  – Roger Pulvers

… greatest strengths are the action sequences, which move with break-neck speed and comic-book like vibrancy. The twists in the tale are often surprising and make it an enjoyable read. There’s little doubt that The Zemlya Conspiracy has the potential to be a fantastically enjoyable science-fiction novel – For Pity Sake

Zemlya is an isolated city, surrounded by an impassable tundra. The city is protected from the elements by a giant wall, and defended by cybernetically enhanced soldiers that make sure that no-one leaves the city. Many have tried but none survive.
Kate is one of these agents, and is recalled from patrolling the tundra to investigate a rebellion within the city originating in an abandoned industrial area. The rebels are treated as capital offenders and summarily executed. When flushing out a small cell she finds that they have recruited a young girl, who Kate refuses to kill.
Kate is then given orders to try to infiltrate the rebels, but her communication is cut off from headquarters. Following her judgment alone, she begins to sympathise with the young girl she spared and her confederates. Knowing she needs to hide her identity from her new friends whilst trying to stay loyal to the city’s central government, Kate toes the moral line between good and bad.

 

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This is a novel that I started working on in 2006, completing about 7 chapters before joining 4LS and writing Katawa Shoujo.

Since I left 4LS it has taken me a few years to finish this, showing just how long it takes me to write anything!
Thanks!

11 thoughts on “The Zemlya Conspiracy

  1. Hi there,
    I’ve gone through the first 4 Chapters now. I know you’ve done a lot of editing, so some Feedback is maybe redundant. I’ll use a brief style, which could be considered harsh, but it’s not meant to. Besides that I also put some questions which arose while reading and adding few notes. Please let me know if there’s a problem in my way of giving feedback, so I can do a better job in criticize your work properly.

    Chapter 0:
    * In the second paragraph it seem you try to build up suspense by referring Kate as “a lone figure”. Taking cultural structures into account, most people tend to think of a man, rather than a woman. By using personal pronouns in the next sentence this “secret” is revealed.
    * Kate is described barely in the Prologue (and also in the ongoing Chapters). I think you want to be vague but it’s hard for me to get a notion on how she could look like. I tend to suggest to flesh her more out. At least a bit more basics in the start and then consecutive in the following chapters (like in the lobby in Chapter 1 and morning routine in Chapter 4) to reveal more.
    * The helicopter scene left me behind with some questions: Shouldn’t the noise of the machines be audible first and then the light? Or at least: simultaneously? And how does the chopper look like? Conventional like today or futuristic (like, for example in CoD: Advanced Warefare)
    * How does Mr. Wingett look? He seem important.
    * How is his tonality while speaking? I think of him speaking with an arrogant voice, but lacking of information on how he look, I just can guess.
    * Does Kate present her Kodachi with the blade or grip pointing to Wingett? How does her voice sound? Is it more deep or higher?
    * What are E-types? The explanation in the helicopter through Wingett’s assitant is roughly. Through the ongoing chapters I get a notion, but this term is new to me.

    Chapter 01:
    * How does the city of Zemlya look like? Later it’s revealed that it has high walls, districts and I tend to think of a Mega-City. But at this point I thought more of an average modern city.
    * Which color scheme does the lobby has?
    * Corporate Spnsorship in a Department is very irritating. I think it’s intentioned.
    * Kates efford to be camouflaged as a worker is contradicted through her way of communication in a military style (“Roger, elevator nine”)
    * It was remarkable that the Depoc is referred as “the home of the most powerful men” and not “people” or “humans”. I know that in english “men” ist the generalized term for human too. The later sentence “(they were all men at this level)” could be moved forward to this paragraph.

    Chapter 02:
    * What’s the number of a standard platoon? –> Answered later.
    * I like the Idea that the CCTV feed is used as “wallhack” vision.
    * I questioned myself why the receptionists have arms below their desks. It was an unforeseen reveal, and by not mentioning anything more it seem very normal ‘these days’.
    * It’s a bit illogical that the CCTV feed work inside the reception, but just a few meters outside any camera vision and sensors are jammed. Maybe the lobby is shielded special, but it’s not mentioned.
    * Have the attacker a distinct look? Are they equipped with advanced technology or is their gear old fashioned?
    * Why is Kate blinded with a flashbang where it is said earlier, she has augmented eyes which adjust to the lightning? Can’t they react so fast? But when they are for combat purpose, they should protect against flashbangs and other lightnings which are intended to blend the combatant.
    * As Kate turn back to the reception desk to regroup, does she turn her back to the bombed entrance? It seem so, which would be a suicidal move.
    * FYI: The ant analogy should maybe replaced (see: http://news.sciencemag.org/plants-animals/2015/10/most-worker-ants-are-slackers)

    Chapter 03:
    * It’s a bit illogical that the appartment could be considered as a departments safehouse and used for an underground operation. Somebody who knows this would look eagerly on the traffic. –> Relevant for an story-arc?
    * As Kate arive in Area-17, what does she wear?
    * What does she wear when leaving to acclimatize?
    * That the bartender wiping his glasses feel very anachronistic to me.
    * Does the bartender bought her story of the weak spot in the wall? –> Relevant for a story-arc?

    Chapter 04:
    *Spelling: “I guess that’s //Intel’s// problem now”
    * Morning routine (see Feedback Chapter 0) as possibility to reveal some information about Kate’s physicality (scars, remarkable signs, Body modification etc.)
    * What is H-Hour?

    1. Thanks for the detailed commentary. I’ll admit that there were a few things that I had already picked up on; I think one of the first things I’ve written in my printed script was “Describe Kate!!”. I’ve tweaked a few of the things that you mentioned but the others I’ll clean up now.

      Thanks.

  2. In the following commentary I make some suggestion on editing of some scenes. I hope this is okay. Please consider it just as some thoughts and may or may not take them into account.

    Chapter 05:
    * It’s kinda surprisingly that she “had never felt so isolated in her life”, regarding her past in the ice-cold tundra. It could be more descriptive towards her feelings.
    * The fall into the scrap from the container doesn’t injured her much, but if the Augs started flooding her body with painkillers (although she stopped them) I think there at least some injuries which are probably ignored, but visible?
    * “Kate kicked the man’s gun from him and left him gasping for air, air gurgling from the sucking wound” reads haltingly, because of the doubled “air”.
    * “Keep moving. Keep alive” reads here like a life motto for Kate. Something she had said often to herself.
    * It’s unclear where the voice of the nearly dead man comes from. Why she haven’t seen him. Where is he located in the room?
    * Following that The room where Dani and the “leader(?)” lacks a bit of description. Are there windows? Are they broke? Is there a specific smell, maybe from him or his equipment?
    * The meaning of this meeting for Kate is not transported. It’s a devastating appearance that this man who’s clock had run out has. But it doesn’t look like that Kate is reminiscent. In the ongoing chapters this scene appear very vital for her scrutinizing, but right in the situation itself she doesn’t look very unsettled.
    * That the informant dies “at the right time” is very cinematic. For the scene and ongoing introspective for Kate it seem important, but maybe it could be done better. E.g. he pulls out his supplement or releases a dead-man trigger in the other hand which blow up his intravenous bag so he fade out on his own will.
    “Once again she was //c//onnected”
    * I questioned myself while I read the paragraph with cited sentence if there is no internal backup system which stores A/V-data a certain amount of time if the connection to HQ is lost and later be uploaded. (Later (End of Chapter 07) you write that there is logging, so why not A/V?)
    * It’s quite surprising that she doesn’t follow the orders and take Intel with her. It’s the first time there’s a sight she isn’t fully loyal and question her actions or supervisors.

    Chapter 06:
    * Here you describe the first time that she has really doubt, but her motifs are still unclear. What drives her the question her loyality? She is raised up the Department ( it reads so at least) and her world view should be hooked deep inside her. (But maybe there is a number of events before the actual story which made her more sensible on this ?)
    * When there is spoken firstly of “defectors” I asked myself “What are their motifs?” (Later it’s revealed that asking this question is not good)
    * “However it became immediatly apparent to here why her ‘link didn’t work her//e//.”
    * While the group of rebels are talking “saw her carrying Dani… couldn’t get to her… safe-house”, the mention of safe-house could also be read, that they’re talking about Kates safe-house (ewhich could be known, as she had said).

    Chapter 07
    * Why is her rebellious side suddenly so awaken? (This question seem subsequent to questions about what makes her disloyal) And why she put Dani at risk just to try how far her privacy mode reaches? It’s like playing with fire.
    * You should maybe mention earlier that there is the possibility that visual record can be taken.

    Chapter 08:
    * Why shouldn’t Dani remember Kate? They were face-to-face or had Kate worn a mask with her body?

  3. Starting with Chapter 09 you’re writing change remarkably. It’s very interesting. The reading flow is better and situations are fleshed out more.

    Chapter 09:
    * Why does Kate think that she stick out in Area-17? The contrast seem not that high through the previous chapters.
    * Have “the spooks” other characteristics besides that they wear suits? Can I image them like typical Federal Agents or sth. like that?
    * How do “the spooks” initially behave towards Kate? Have they a friendly attitude or more reserved? How is they’re tonality?
    * The bond and trust-level from Kate towards Hugh is pretty high, but besides he is her Operator and she had relied on him since tundra days, I can’t explain myself properly why she trust him so much that she let him into her unorthodox private thoughts. It looks like there is a general special connection between agent and operator (e.g. through common training or sth.), but it’s not revealed. So there’s just the point Hugh and Kate have a long term work-relationship, but that doesn’t mean automatically that they mutually trust each other so high to defect. It feels like there are more mutual intimate experiences.

    Chapter 10:
    * How does it look like after explosion? Are there people running into buildings? Lying in the mud to protect themselves? Are there citizens with weapons. Short: What’s the scenery when Kate steps outside? How it had changed to the time before the explosion?

    Chapter 11:
    * For me it feels a bit hesitant that Drew trust Kate so fast (or at least said it). They saw each other just a couple of times (3, i think) and before that, Kate has no track record for Area-17.
    * “Mark and Drew slept in the other room, respecting the privacy of the girls.” Why girls and not women? Girls make both of them young and it could be read degrading, because the connotation of girls is also childish, not developed. Also putting the sentence this way, make Drew and Mark as gentlemen and make Dani and Kate more passive.
    * As Dani speaks about her work as archivist, you use >>> ” <<< on new paragraphs although direct speech is not closed before. idk if this is something incorrect or just a style I don't know yet.

    Chapter 12:
    * See last point for Chapter 11 for paragraph "I can't fight, and I don't make that much money….

    1. I think that Chapter 9 is where I returned to the script after KS. I went back and “edited” some of the text, but I think that my editing skills need a little more work….

      1. Do you mean your current editing skills or the skills back then after your KS writing? Also, there’s always the possibility to work, improve…make something better. I think it never really stops to see flaws and that can drive you crazy.

  4. You have written in “The Fight Club Effect” (https://cplcrud.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/the-fight-club-effect/), that there aren’t many females in AG. I want to highlight that there also no PoC ’till Chapter 16. It makes it more obvious when you put skin descriptive adjectives to the persons first appearance description (whenever there aren’t anything – mostly it is “white”).

    Chapter 13:
    *How is Oscar dressed when he firstly appears through the subway tunnels? Is he full of dirt, has he a beard? It seems not that he’s dapper, but only because you mentioned that his hair is unkempt.
    * It’s not clear how long they had hidden in the safe house when Oscar said that they were declared dead.
    * “You’re ghosts, my friend//S(?)”
    * “When it was her turn to ascend through the grate, she was already drenched. S//he (?) quickly scanned her surroundings, (…)”
    * How is it possible with the loud noises around them, that Drew can explain her about the new safe-house in Area-22? It doesn’t read like he had to scream or were interrupted through the holes in the street.

    Chapter 14:
    * Kate wished thet he would keep himself a little less obvious – id the spooks could get into her head then they must be able to follow him as well. ” <– seems a wrong set quotation mark.
    * Mark firstly highlighted that the ticking clock doesn' only apply for E-Types (which I assumed till now) but for everyone in the city. I think this is a big reveal which needs more highlight and attention.
    * It's also the first time that it is revealed that they still use conventional combustion engines which is also surprising.
    * The chapter ending with Oscar Cole is very neat! I really liked it and questioned myself if Cole is the role for Oscar or the other way around. But it isn't clear for me how she gets the message. Does she heard it or was it on her eye display? Or even in her thoughts?!

    Chapter 15:
    * I would like to let you know, that your name for the dead Agent, Gareth, is also a city name from the PnP "The dark eye" (besides the ancient meaning). Just for possible readers connotations.
    * Drews story of how I get's involved with the rebels is pure gold for societal picturing, especially " -plotting to overthrow the Department, journeying beyond the wall in search for life and outliving your Clock. Utter rubbish." This shows a portrayal of common values, norms and agreed knowledge.
    * I wonder why they aren't suspicious about Oscar so far. He seems to have "superpowers" and had escaped various situations without any damage. They do know E-Types, so why they're not thinking Oscar is one?
    * It's really interesting to read how the information that Cole is Oscar and what Oscar has done so far, took Kates worldview and beliefs another hit.
    * Sword?! She shouldn't have sword as this time. Cole said that it is forbidden and she had agreed and left it in her house.

    Chapter 16:
    *nothing here.

    1. You are right – I haven’t gone into ethnicity here – and that’s not good for me. In my mind, we’re talking about a high altitude location (think Scandinavia or similar) but when you think about the origins of the story it would make sense to have a more mixed ethnicity. I might change that.

      Thanks as always

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