Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Mini-Challenge #1 - Rewrite

I read the following passage (from the first book of my Top 100 Challenge) and felt that something was missing.  The fight seemed to instigate to quickly.  I also didn't feel there was enough of a logical sequence of the main character (Rick Deckard) realising that Kadalyi was in fact the android he'd been hunting, Polokov.  I also couldn't find a reference to Deckard activating the sine wave.  Possibly I missed it, but I guess I felt there was a pacing issue.

So just for fun, I decided to rewrite the section (my attempt is in blue font below), trying to retain similar prose. I’ve repeated the original text beneath my version for comparison. 

Looking at my rewrite, I'm not sure if I accomplished what I intended.  What do you think?
Rewrite
‘Mr Deckard?’ the man asked with a Slavic accent.  ‘The bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department?’  The empty taxi rose, and the Russian watched it go, absently.  ‘I’m Sandor Kadalyi,’ the man said, and opened the car door to squeeze in beside Rick.
As he shook hands with Kadalyi, Rick noticed that the WPO representative carried an unusual type of laser tube, a subform which he had never seen before.
‘Oh, this?’ Kadalyi said.  ‘Interesting, isn’t it?’  He tugged it from his belt holster.  ‘I got this on Mars.’
‘I thought I knew every handgun made,’ Rick said.  ‘Even those manufactured at and for use in the colonies.’
‘We made this ourselves,’ Kadalayi said, beaming like a Slavic Santa, his ruddy face inscribed with pride.  ‘You like it?  What is different about it, functionally, is – here, take it.’  He passed the gun over to Rick, who inspected it expertly, by way of years of experience.
‘How does it differ functionally?’ Rick asked.  He couldn’t tell.
‘Press the trigger.’
Aiming upward, out the window of the car, Rick squeezed the trigger of the weapon.  Nothing happened; no beam emerged.  Puzzled, he turned to Kadalyi.
‘The triggering circuit,’ Kadalyi said cheerfully, ‘isn’t attached.  It remains with me.  You see?’ He opened his hands, revealed a tiny unit.  ‘And I can also direct it, within certain limits.  Irrespective of where it’s aimed.’
Rick returned the man’s smile, but felt somewhat uncomfortable.  There was something about Kadalyi’s accent that seemed odd.
‘Ingenious, no?’ Kadalyi said, then held his hand out to take the gun back.  Rick leaned forward to pass him the weapon, and as he did he slipped his left hand into his coat pocket, triggering the device inside.
The Russian smiled down at the gun in his hand, slotted the circuit back in, then pointed it at Rick’s face. 
‘I don’t even have to aim it like this to kill you, but old habits die hard.’
Rick shook his head slowly.
‘You’re not Kadalyi.  You’re Polokov,’ he said without humour.  ‘Why didn’t you just shoot me the moment you got in?’
Polokov shrugged with his eyebrows.
‘There’s nobody around now.  I can easily make my escape.  Again.’  He laughed.  ‘You bounty hunters are all the same.  Stupid and slow.’
‘I wouldn’t be so sure about that,’ Rick said.
‘Oh really?’ Polokov said and pulled the trigger.
The gun failed to go off.   Polokov fired again with no response.  He frowned down at the weapon. 
‘What …?’
Rick punched Polokov.
‘Sine wave, genius.  Phases out laser emanation into harmless light.’
Polokov swung, latching onto Rick’s neck before he could even blink.
‘Looks like I’ll just have to break your pencil neck instead,’ he said.
The android’s hands felt like an industrial clamp, crushing his throat so hard his eyes began watering.  Rick tried to yank Polokov’s arms downwards and away from his neck, but Polokov's grip held firm.  Rick could feel his head swimming, a blackness beginning to creep around the edge of his vision.
Struggling, Rick reached into his jacket pocket, felt the cool metal of the gun in his shoulder holster, and pulled the trigger.  The android’s face exploded inwards as the bullet tore itself through the circuitry and out the other end, shattering the car window.  
Lucky shot.
The death grip loosened, but was still firmly clamped around his throat.  It took Rick a good five minutes to peel the hands away, finger by finger, leaving him coughing and gasping for air.

Original
‘Mr Deckard?’ the man asked with a Slavic accent.  ‘The bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department?’  The empty taxi rose, and the Russian watched it go, absently.  ‘I’m Sandor Kadalyi,’ the man said, and opened the car door to squeeze in beside Rick.
As he shook hands with Kadalyi, Rick noticed that the WPO representative carried an unusual type of laser tube, a subform which he had never seen before.
‘Oh, this?’ Kadalyi said.  ‘Interesting, isn’t it?’  He tugged it from his belt holster.  ‘I got this on Mars.’
‘I thought I knew every handgun made,’ Rick said.  ‘Even those manufactured at and for use in the colonies.’
‘We made this ourselves,’ Kadalayi said, beaming like a Slavic Santa, his ruddy face inscribed with pride.  ‘You like it?  What is different about it, functionally, is – here, take it.’  He passed the gun over to Rick, who inspected it expertly, by way of years of experience.
‘How does it differ functionally?’ Rick asked.  He couldn’t tell.
‘Press the trigger.’
Aiming upward, out the window of the car, Rick squeezed the trigger of the weapon.  Nothing happened; no beam emerged.  Puzzled, he turned to Kadalyi.
‘The triggering circuit,’ Kadalyi said cheerfully, ‘isn’t attached.  It remains with me.  You see?’ He opened his hands, revealed a tiny unit.  ‘And I can also direct it, within certain limits.  Irrespective of where it’s aimed.’
‘You’re not Polokov, you’re Kadalyi,’ Rick said.
‘Don’t you mean that the other way around?  You’re a bit confused.’
‘I mean you’re Polokov, the android; you’re not from the Soviet police.’ Rick, with his toe, pressed the emergency button on the floor of his car.
‘Why won’t my laser tube fire?’ Kadalyi-Polokov said, switching on and off the miniaturized triggering and aiming device which he held in the palm of his hand.
‘A sine wave,’ Rick said.  ‘That phases out laser emanation and spreads the beam into ordinary light.’
‘Then I’ll have to break your pencil neck.’  The android dropped the device and, with a snarl, grabbed with both hands for Rick’s throat.
As the android’s hands sank into his throat Rick fired his regulation issue old-style pistol from its shoulder holster; the .38 magnum slug struck the android in the head and its brain box burst.  The Nexus-6 unit which operated it blew into pieces, a raging, mad wind which carried throughout the car.  Bits of it, like the radioactive dust itself, whirled down on Rick.  The retired remains of the android rocked back, collided with the car door, bounced off and struck heavily against him; he found himself struggling to shove the twitching remnants of the android away.
Shakily, he at last reached for the car phone, called in to the Hall of Justice.  ‘Shall I make my report?’ he said.  ‘Tell Harry Bryant that I got Polokov.’

No comments:

Post a comment