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  #1  
Unread 02-05-2019, 09:24 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default The Master Key

A half click south of you, where Varick Street
meets Houston, there are bollards and a very
tight-lipped office-building that contains
Homeland Security’s new subsidiary,
Cyber Defense. Its purpose: to defeat
everything from election-meddling
to flagrant blitzkriegs on the banking sector.
A special vetted corps of total brains
works here at all hours under the command
of SA Michael Sanger, the director
of this new branch’s speculative wing.

Sanger is now, like many times before,
standing inside a foyer with his hand
flat on a sensor so that it can check
his fingerprints against a file ID.
He is approved. Proprietary-tech
gadgetry disengages, and a door
unseals itself and opens, and he strides
into a laboratory whose insides
are spare: a desk, a chair, and a PC.
The room is specially designed to host
his toy, “The Master Key.”
his toy, “The Master Key.” A “Key”? What “Key”?
Software that tracks a given online post
back to its source and instantly provides
a target’s actual name and aliases,
current location (based upon his phone),
playlists, associates, home and work addresses,
and passwords for his personal accounts.
The military, then, can choose to pounce
with a precision airstrike from a drone
or just sit back and monitor, unseen,
his virtual and real-world whereabouts.

Sanger, the maker of the “Key,” had doubts
at first: What if a hacker found a hole in
their best defenses? What if it were stolen?
That’s why it dwells inside a lone machine
kept disconnected from the internet.
It is, at times, hooked up to do a hack
and then most expeditiously put back
in solitary. There’s too great a threat
the Russians, maybe, or Assange might get
ahold of it.
ahold of it. He hooks up the computer,
cracks his knuckles and begins to track
messages from an Al-Shabaab recruiter
through a Yemeni-masked Somali server
to fixed coordinates. The fellow’s fervor
and guarantees must have enticed enough
boys to the cause to make the Brass get rough.
But that’s not Sanger’s business. He’s a nerd.
He taps a final “Enter” on the keyboard
and then unplugs the thing.
and then unplugs the thing. A hurricane
is heading north along the Eastern Seaboard—
that is at least the news that he has heard
third-hand from coworkers. He will remain
to mind the tech toys while the storm blows through,
but he expects he won’t have much to do.

. . . . .

L3: "tight-lipped" for "concrete" for "nondescript"

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 02-11-2019 at 05:37 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-06-2019, 01:58 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Default

Hi Aaron,

In a bit of a hurry, but I have a few copyediting nits for you to consider.

I get 4 beats in line 5. I guess if you pronounce “meddling” as 3 syllables, but to my way of speaking that feel forced or awkward.

I’d capitalize “id” in S2L5, since lower-case “id” looks Freudian or Latin.

The “upon” in “based upon his phone” a little way down feels forced for the meter.

I’ll be back, to read or comment or both,

Andrew
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  #3  
Unread 02-06-2019, 08:56 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, Andrew.

I have revised "id" to "ID".

In "meddling" the -"ing" between two syllables that to have to softer than it. The contracted version, to my ear, sounds forced: "med-ling".

I am a great opponent of "upon" for "on" as a way to get the meter, but "upon" sounds fine to me here.

Thank you,

Aaron
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  #4  
Unread 02-07-2019, 04:26 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I continue to like it, especially Assange's fly-by appearance.
This is a weird sentence: "In "meddling" the -"ing" between two syllables that to have to softer than it."

Cheers,
John
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  #5  
Unread 02-07-2019, 01:59 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Aaron,

As usual this is a lot of fun. Since I was mostly gone for a bit I've missed enough of the plot to not be able to help you on this front.

No surprise, the meter is well executed, but one line I can't get to pentameter without awkward pronunciation:

nondescript office-building that contains

The primary stress on "nondescript" is at the end, and then it bumps into the "off" of office. No problem to have a pyrrhic-spondee, except your coming off a feminine ending from the previous line, so the reader is likely (and I did this) to elevate the secondary stress on "non" instead of getting that pyrrhic-spondee rhythm.

What about:

boring office-building

anemic office-building

humdrum? tedious?
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  #6  
Unread 02-09-2019, 08:14 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Aaron,
my only complaint is that you keep leaving us hanging when you stop. I am looking forward to the book!

Martin
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  #7  
Unread 02-09-2019, 10:23 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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There's little to say - but I mean that in a good way. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, and this one shows every sign of being just as good. I think your potential problems are more in developing the story and maintaining a blend of fiction and wise-assery and pure poetry that makes it clear that this is real poetry - not just a bunch of lines in meter - and at the same time there's a unique story and attitude, related in a very personal voice. You have to maintain the voice - and simultaneously tell the story.
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  #8  
Unread 02-10-2019, 07:55 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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You are slowly selling me (a hard sell given my ADD) to reading narrative poems. Promise me they will be as enjoyable as this...

I am less a critic and more a consumer of this. (I had been preparing notes on the dialog in the previous installment but fizzled out -- I may revisit and get back to you with it.) I assume you are posting this in sequence and that the sequence is not sequential, yes? Anyway, the story is wonderfully told and thoroughly relatable to current events, and so becomes a kind of therapy for me, being tired of current events and in need of artful rejuvenating. This hits the spot. Michael is about to be swamped.

I thesaurused "nondescript" and found "featureless" which made me think of "expressionless" and then I remembered Andrew's analysis and so never mind : )

In terms of villain and hero, who knows? I watched a terrible movie the other day (Taken) but the lead character (Liam Neeson) identity/skill set might be of interest to you in relation to development of the story.

I'll look more critically if I can, and come back with something if anything comes to mind.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 02-10-2019 at 08:02 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 02-10-2019, 11:55 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, all, gentlemen.

What to do about nondescript. I like using the superlative-maker "very" with surprising adjectives. I'm going to go with "concrete." "very/concrete office-building. . ." It conveys the same feeling as "nondescript" but isn't "nondescript."

Yes?
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  #10  
Unread 02-11-2019, 10:09 AM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Aaron,
The problem with concrete is that it suggests a bunker, but the section with the hurricane suggests big windows. Can you set that up here?

Best,
Martin
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