Author Topic: the best start  (Read 3384 times)

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: the best start
« Reply #25 on: 17 December, 2023, 08:31:32 pm »
Likewise Game of Thrones
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
the best start
« Reply #26 on: 17 December, 2023, 08:50:38 pm »
All this happened, more or less is perfect because it sets out everything and brings you in, in so few words.

Vonnegut doesn’t mess about, does he. Straight to the point.

Another Vonnegut gem of an opening line:
“A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.”
-God Bless You, Mr Rosewater

See also:
“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”
- The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford

Jane Austen’s “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” is a different kind of opener. It’s brilliant because a) it’s funny, and b) it tells you what the whole story is going to be right from the off. 

But I prefer openings like that passage from The Long Goodbye mentioned earlier - not a pithy one-liner but packs a whole lot of background into one short scene, none of it obviously expository.

Another favourite:
“On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen.”
- Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban

So much to unpack in just those few lines.

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Certainly for movies, The Matrix, more so if you went in with no clue as to what it was about.

Oh yes - first time I saw it, I knew practically nothing about it and the opening scene left me breathless.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Re: the best start
« Reply #27 on: 17 December, 2023, 08:57:51 pm »
"In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry”
Move Faster and Bake Things

Re: the best start
« Reply #28 on: 17 December, 2023, 09:48:29 pm »
As for films, I watched a crap film the other day that had a fairly good opening sequence. I looked up reviews on imdb later and spotted this gem:
"The best thing about this movie is the opening credits. Listen to the brilliant cover of Placebo's Running Up That Hill then go watch something else"  :facepalm:

Which reminds me that Baby Driver also deserves a you-can-stop-after-the-opening-credits award for good starts.

oh, oops, forgot to mention that the "brilliant cover" was the one from 20 odd years earlier by Kate Bush.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Kim

  • Timelord
    • Fediverse
Re: the best start
« Reply #29 on: 17 December, 2023, 10:26:19 pm »
As for films, I watched a crap film the other day that had a fairly good opening sequence. I looked up reviews on imdb later and spotted this gem:
"The best thing about this movie is the opening credits. Listen to the brilliant cover of Placebo's Running Up That Hill then go watch something else"  :facepalm:

Which reminds me that Baby Driver also deserves a you-can-stop-after-the-opening-credits award for good starts.

oh, oops, forgot to mention that the "brilliant cover" was the one from 20 odd years earlier by Kate Bush.

I thought that might have been a typo, rather than an xkcd://202 situation.  Placebo's cover of Running Up That Hill *is* rather good.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: the best start
« Reply #30 on: 17 December, 2023, 10:51:46 pm »
Loving that xkcd
It is simpler than it looks.

Salvatore

  • Джон Спунър
    • Pics
Re: the best start
« Reply #31 on: 01 January, 2024, 03:57:39 pm »
Well, I'm sure there are much worthier suggestions, but the first line sets the tone of what's going to come.
I rather like the opening line of Gavin Maxwell's 'Ring of Bright Water':

"I sit in a pitch-pine panelled kitchen-living room, with an otter asleep upon its back among the cushions on the sofa, forepaws in the air, and with the expression of tightly shut concentration that very small babies wear in sleep."
These photos by Gavin Maxwell of a sleeping otter  appeared in the Illustrated London News on Friday 17 November 1961



Quote
et avec John, excellent lecteur de road-book, on s'en est sortis sans erreur

Re: the best start
« Reply #32 on: 04 January, 2024, 01:48:09 pm »
The people criticizing Gibson because he 'wasn't looking towards the future' are completely forgetting when the books were written.

Neuromancer was released in 1984. No WWW. No flatscreens. No mobile phones. Hackers, computer viruses, AI, counter-intrusion software; they didn't really exist. You did have phone phreakers, but that was about it. Internet pornography - could be said that he invented that, as well! He certainly conceived of augmented reality decades before such a thing was possible.

He invented cyberpunk, and I'd say he invented cybercool.

<i>Marmite slave</i>

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: the best start
« Reply #33 on: 04 January, 2024, 01:55:53 pm »
Still a terrible writer though
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Re: the best start
« Reply #34 on: 04 January, 2024, 02:47:02 pm »
Gibson can only be considered the father of cyberpunk if you ignore what was happening in Japan in the two years before Neuromancer was published... :demon:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akira_(manga)

Or if you ignore the New Wave of science fiction in the 1960s and into the 70s. Take Samuel R. Delany's 1968 novel Nova, for example:

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Most humans have been outfitted with cybernetic control sockets in their wrists and at base of their spines. This allows them to control a range of devices and power tools, from vacuum cleaners to mining machines and right up to starships. It also allows people to be much more flexible in moving from career to career. Some reviewers have drawn a parallel between these sockets and the jacks that would later appear as a popular element in the cyberpunk genre. But unlike those jacks, which connect people with a virtual world that stands apart from the physical world, the sockets in this novel connect people to devices in the physical world, and allow the physical world to be sensed in different ways.
https://www.tor.com/2018/03/29/destruction-and-renewal-nova-by-samuel-r-delany/

Then there is Philip K Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, adapted for the big screen by Ridley Scott as Blade Runner. Released in 1982, I think you'd have to agree that said film played a big part in creating the cyberpunk asthetic.

Gibson isn't so much the father of cyberpunk as one of the obstetricians... :demon:

And personally, when it comes to 1980s cyberpunk, I am more of a fan of Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams. Published in 1986, it's more melancholy and cynical work than Neuromancer, and some dare to argue that it is a superior work:

https://screenanarchy.com/2012/12/books-to-be-scene-walter-john-williams-hard-wired.html

<lights blue touch paper, walks away whistling 'Spanish Harlem'>
"He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." ~ Freidrich Neitzsche

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: the best start
« Reply #35 on: 15 January, 2024, 06:54:10 pm »
Just stumbled back upon this thread, and on reading back through it I'm surprised this most famous of opening lines has not come up...

"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

ian

Re: the best start
« Reply #36 on: 15 January, 2024, 08:26:31 pm »
It also had the bonus that everyone who hadn't attended a public school had to reach for a dictionary. Oh, one of those.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: the best start
« Reply #37 on: 16 January, 2024, 08:03:25 am »
Just stumbled back upon this thread, and on reading back through it I'm surprised this most famous of opening lines has not come up...

"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

It’s a good opening line, sure, but feels a bit try-hard to me. Wilfully outrageous.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Re: the best start
« Reply #38 on: 16 January, 2024, 12:05:13 pm »
Just stumbled back upon this thread, and on reading back through it I'm surprised this most famous of opening lines has not come up...

"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

It’s a good opening line, sure, but feels a bit try-hard to me. Wilfully outrageous.

Of course it is - Earthly Powers was written by Burgess to be the first person POV of a retired novelist who's a bit of a hack.

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That first sentence is deliberately balanced not only to provide a striking opening – but to give us the impression of a writer self-consciously striving for that effect.

Five short sentences after that first, the narrator of Earthly Powers lets us know that he “retired twelve years ago from the profession of novelist”. Then he says:

“Nevertheless you will be constrained to consider, if you know my work at all and take the trouble now to reread that first sentence, that I have lost none of my old cunning in the contrivance of what is known as an arresting opening.”
...

Burgess knows that no one will take Toomey’s writing too seriously – and as the writer behind the writer, he himself, will be taken very seriously. But few others could go so expertly over the top.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/mar/14/earthly-powers-anthony-burgess-reading-group
"He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." ~ Freidrich Neitzsche

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
the best start
« Reply #39 on: 16 January, 2024, 08:53:01 pm »
Of course it is - Earthly Powers was written by Burgess to be the first person POV of a retired novelist who's a bit of a hack.

Ah! Well, my excuse for not picking up on that is that I’ve not read it.

Maybe I ought to. Sounds fun. And I did like A Clockwork Orange.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Steph

  • Fast. Fast and bulbous. But fluffy.
Re: the best start
« Reply #40 on: 16 January, 2024, 09:36:32 pm »
"There was a group of children in the street, playing with a dog. As I watched, one of them started to eat it from the tail end"
Mae angen arnaf i byw, a fe fydda'i

jwo

Re: the best start
« Reply #41 on: 16 January, 2024, 11:00:27 pm »
All the President's Men: https://youtu.be/ldMGOaMs4uw?si=jcNYJUbJbS6UqLJz&t=13

Stop Making Sense:

They're not the grand openings of a 2001, Apocalypse Now or Private Ryan but both, in their own way, equivalent to a well crafted opening page. Original, arresting and essential to what follows.

Re: the best start
« Reply #42 on: 16 January, 2024, 11:09:36 pm »
All the President 's Men also has a fabulous character introduction of Ben Bradlee. I know, different thread.

Re: the best start
« Reply #43 on: 16 January, 2024, 11:28:52 pm »
If you're having 'Stop Making Sense', I offer up 'Raging Bull':

https://youtu.be/3N4uXfnH2aA?si=G-x_FeaSv8lPDfd7

Steph

  • Fast. Fast and bulbous. But fluffy.
Re: the best start
« Reply #44 on: 17 January, 2024, 04:00:17 pm »
The first two lines of the 'Space ritual' version of 'Sonic Attack'

In case of sonic attack on your district, follow these rules
If you are making love it is imperative to bring all bodies to orgasm simultaneously
Mae angen arnaf i byw, a fe fydda'i

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: the best start
« Reply #45 on: 18 January, 2024, 12:24:14 pm »
Pithy one-liners are all well and good but I don't think you can beat this for a proper bit of scene-setting:

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LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes - gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another's umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time - as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln's Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.

Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."