Sunday, February 14, 2016

Son of a Pitch: The Proxy Initiative

The Proxy Initiative
Adult Science-Fiction Thriller
80,000 Words


The Proxy Initiative is a government cybersecurity contractor founded to infiltrate people's minds through their wetware – computers implanted directly in the skull and Ethan Pryce is their lead programmer. But when he finds out the people he's working for are more interested in their own power than using the tools he developed, Ethan goes rogue. He downloads a head full of damning data that could destroy The Proxy Initiative and he taps into the Proxy system, so the next time they hack someone he'll take over instead.

Unfortunately he overloads his wetware and loses control.

Now, every night Ethan is forced into the bodies of strangers. He experiences the world through their eyes, feels their pain, and controls their bodies while a trio of psychopaths hunt these proxy bodies down. To locate the real Ethan, they'll murder and torture him as many times as they have to because he's the only one with the power to stop them.

Due to the glitch in his wetware, the data that he worked so hard to get is inaccessible without specialized hardware. Hardware owned and guarded by the very people hunting him down. With only the help of a rebellious young woman he'll have to find a way to destroy the Proxy Initiative before they destroy him and use their technology to overthrow the government.

First 250 Words

Drive full.

The message flashes in my brain. I grab the cable jacked into the base of my skull and scan the list of documents.

Shit. The Proxy software isn’t downloaded. I rearrange the files and send mental instructions to override the wetware-brain barrier. It will overwrite some personal memories, but I need that software.

My past is best forgotten anyhow.

“It's time, Ethan.” Meridian takes her eyes off the view of Central Park, and rises from my couch, dark face crinkling with anticipation. “Got everything?”

“Not quite. Proxy ‘ware’s incomplete.”

“You didn’t download it first?” Meridian draws a pistol from inside her jacket and chambers a round.

“Naw, parallel’s much faster. I just—”

Loud popping noises from the hall outside my penthouse apartment cut me off mid-sentence.

“Time to go.” She grabs my wrist.

“Don’t.” I recoil from her touch. “Almost there.” I hold the plug with quivering fingers, ready to yank it out the moment the download’s done. “I hijacked the Proxy system while I was in there.”

“Good for you.” Her body tenses. “Get ready.”

More popping noises from the hallway. Someone shouts instructions.

“You don’t get it…. Next time they hack somebody I’m going hitch a ride on their signal.” The download timer reads forty seconds.

My apartment door flies open and three men from my security detail burst through. “Ma’am, we’ve got a situation,” The leader addresses Meridian.
“Cover the door.” Meridian points her pistol at my head. “If they get past you, I’ll kill him myself.”


Elizabeth Hartey said...

This sounds so interesting. looking forward to reading it when its published!

F. Stone said...

This area of computer technology is beyond me. Is he a drone? Reminds me of the Borg. It sounds interesting but I'd like to be able to see the setting and what is being done. There was a sense of urgency which drew me to continue reading. I had the feeling the 'first 250 words' is not the FIRST 250 words. If it is, I'm lost. Sorry.

Dana Michelle said...

Good evening, Mr. Fenger.

Almost all great books that I've read, especially thrillers and sci-fi, start in the midst of the conflict and then take you back to the beginning. It's a literary convention that really works well in any kind of action plot. I'm already wanting to know more about Ethan, more about Miranda, and you've barely told us a thing! I can't wait to find out what happens!

What confused me was the present tense in the 250. Is the whole book like that, or is that a device to make us feel more immediate? I didn't DISLIKE it, it just made me stop.

The summary of the book in the query was concise but still exciting. A couple of potential corrections in the first sentence: the phrase "computers implanted directly in the skull" needs to be separated from "and Ethan Pryce is their lead programmer." Also, there might be a disagreement between subject and pronoun in that same sentence. You use "their" lead programmer, but you said Proxy Initiative (singular) or contractor (singular) as the subject, so I would think "its" would make more sense. Just my thoughts!

I really am excited about this book. Kind of like Bourne Identity meets Chuck.

William Alan Webb said...

You were kind enough to comment on mine and I'm trying to think of how to frame my thoughts here. The query was very well written, but there was so much detail it was hard to keep the overall picture straight. When the psychopaths showed up, I wondered where they came from and why they mattered.

The writing is quite good, in many ways reminding me of my own style. You don't describe characters (at least, not in this sample), and neither do I. You rely on their actions and voices to let the reader form a mental picture, and this I like and applaud.

However, as much as I enjoyed the style and the action here, I do think at least a bit of context is necessary. It's not that I would personally stop reading, I probably would not, but I read a LOT of SF and have for decades. Others might not be so forgiving.

Anyway, best of luck and if I may be of any help in the future, please just let me know.


Jacqueline Dooley said...

Thanks for reviewing my entry - returning the favor. A few specific points about the query: the first sentence is confusing. "The Proxy Initiative is a government cybersecurity contractor" makes it sound like the PI is a person, is that the case or not? Either way, this could be clearer. This query needs a hook - a one line summary of who's involved and what's at stake. That should be your opener. Also, if Meridian is the "rebellious young woman" than why not say so in the query? If she's not, then I wouldn't mention the "rebellious young woman" at all.

I agree your writing is strong, but clarification of the characters and what's at stake should be the focus of the query. This will make your (already strong) first 250 even stronger. Good luck!


Kristen Howe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen Howe said...

Mark,you have a fine concept for your storyline. Your query should have 3 graphs (hook, mini synopsis and closing). Is there anyway you can shorten your synopsis to the bare bones of the story? Adding comps would be a bonus. It does feel like techno-thriller than sci fi to me. I agree with the others on present tense and character clarification for your first 250 words to make it stronger. But it does have an interesting premise. Best of luck!

Roxanne Lambie said...

Even if you hadn't left comments on my work, I would've opened your blog post. You have an amazing hook. "Its about a young man who can't stop dying." I LOVED this line. It made me jump to your query. The query, however, gives me a little too much information. I got a bit bogged down, making sure I understood the story. Maybe, shorten it, if you can.

The first 250 is great. It does its job, and makes me want to know what happens next.

Good luck in the next round!

Unknown said...

The concept of being able to experience other people's memories & emotions through technology strikes me as fascinating & frightening at the same time (as scifi technology often tends to do in stories).

For the query, leading with the third paragraph or at least the themes in the third paragraph might be stronger because it acts as a strong hook for your novel. The idea of being killed/tortured multiple times while in someone else's body makes a reader want to read. I'm curious who the psychopaths are - were they hired by the Proxy? Also, the information that the Proxy seeks to overthrow the government could help explain the conflict if placed earlier in the query. Focusing on these plot points and less on the specifics of the hardware could tighten the query.

For the 250, it sets the scene as an action packed novel that will keep the reader jumping. Best of luck in the contest!