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Paul Pless
07-06-2016, 02:30 PM
That's what the critics are saying at least.


The smell of rain caught them unprepared. It was spring, there was that smell of jasmine and it mixed with the hum of electric buses, and there were solar gliders in the sky, like flocks of birds. Ameliah Ko was doing a Kwasa-Kwasa remix of a Susan Wong cover of 'Do You Wanna Dance." It had begun to rain in silver sheets, almost silently; the rain swallowed the sounds of gunshots and it drenched the burning buggy down the street, and the old homeless man taking a s- by the dumpster, with his gray pants around his ankles, got caught in it, his one roll of toilet paper in his hand, and he cursed, but quietly. He was used to the indignity of rain.

http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/c/central-station/9781616962142_custom-db4b7f9d3826eb70ec0e236ff7c660c5de49ca5f-s400-c85.jpg

Bobcat
07-06-2016, 02:55 PM
Best opening sentence One Hundred Years of Solitude

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buenda was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Norman Bernstein
07-06-2016, 03:09 PM
Well, maybe the standards of science fiction are a great deal lower than I had imagined.....

...but if you want to read the best opening paragraph of ANY book, EVER, try this one:


Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

Paul Pless
07-06-2016, 03:11 PM
Well, maybe the standards of science fiction are a great deal lower than I had imagined.....

...but if you want to read the best opening paragraph of ANY book, EVER, try this one:I've read the book, its all downhill after Loomings. . .

Norman Bernstein
07-06-2016, 03:15 PM
I've read the book, its all downhill after Loomings. . .

Well, if you're suggesting that much of the book fails to live up to that stunningly beautiful opening paragraph, I won't disagree.

Ian McColgin
07-06-2016, 03:17 PM
There are many great sting leads in great literature. Another:

Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Trumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.

David G
07-06-2016, 03:37 PM
I don't recall whole paragraphs... but I do recall some opening sentences that stick with me. I had to look them up to be precise... but the hook remains --

"'I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one.'" - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

"I lived long enough to see the cure for death; to see the rise of the Bitchun Society, to learn ten languages; to compose three symphonies; to realize my boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World; to see the death of the workplace and of work." - Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow.

Gerarddm
07-06-2016, 03:41 PM
Norman's #3: Absolutely, drop mic.



Incidentally, the best ending paragraph belongs to The Great Gatsby.

Bobcat
07-06-2016, 03:58 PM
Norman's #3: Absolutely, drop mic.



Incidentally, the best ending paragraph belongs to The Great Gatsby.

Agreed as to Gatsby

Breakaway
07-06-2016, 04:31 PM
Nah.Best opening sentence. ( Its also the first paragraph and the entirety of the first chapter.) The Dark Tower by the Stephen King.

The Man in Black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.

Kevin

Captain Intrepid
07-06-2016, 05:20 PM
That's what the critics are saying at least.



http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/c/central-station/9781616962142_custom-db4b7f9d3826eb70ec0e236ff7c660c5de49ca5f-s400-c85.jpg

That reads like an entry in the Buller-Lytton contest.


Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest (hereafter referred to as the BLFC) was the brainchild (or Rosemary’s baby) of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line “It was a dark and stormy night.”

http://www.bulwer-lytton.com

CWSmith
07-06-2016, 05:34 PM
Incidentally, the best ending paragraph belongs to The Great Gatsby.

Nope. It's A River Runs Through It.

Sky Blue
07-06-2016, 05:38 PM
"He was a big man, wide shouldered, with the lean, hard-boned face of the desert rider. There was no softness in him."


http://www.fictiondb.com/coversth/th_0553280902.jpg

Bobcat
07-06-2016, 05:50 PM
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/32/Rye_catcher.jpg

Robert Meyer
07-06-2016, 05:57 PM
Not the opening but:

People aren't supposed to look back. I'm certainly not going to do it anymore.
I've finished my war book now. The next one I write is going to be fun (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fun).
This one is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt. It begins like this:
"Listen:
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Time)."
It ends like this:
"Poo-tee-weet?"

CWSmith
07-06-2016, 06:04 PM
How about a best second paragraph:?


When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.


On the first read, it probably seems innocuous. After reading the book, it says everything.

Reading it, I can hear the narrator of the movie speaking.

Chip-skiff
07-06-2016, 06:10 PM
As to the OP, my writerly feeling is that the paragraph is overloaded with detail and fails to establish a character or a voice.

Dave Hadfield
07-06-2016, 06:19 PM
Solar gliders don't mix with silent sheets of rain.

Art-over-accuracy.

Old Dryfoot
07-06-2016, 06:35 PM
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. -- Douglas Adams

Mcjim
07-06-2016, 07:13 PM
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole and that means comfort.

One night My son was loooking for something to read. I suggested The Hobbit but didn't get much response. I read out the first paragraph and he just about ripped the book from my hands and ran off to bed.

johnw
07-06-2016, 07:24 PM
That's what the critics are saying at least.



http://media.npr.org/assets/bakertaylor/covers/c/central-station/9781616962142_custom-db4b7f9d3826eb70ec0e236ff7c660c5de49ca5f-s400-c85.jpg

I find this a little more timeless:

"It is possible I already had some presentiment of my future. The locked and rusted gate that stood before us, with wisps of river fog threading its spikes like the mountain paths, remains in my mind now as the symbol of my exile. That is why I have begun this account of it with the aftermath of our swim, in which I, the torturer's apprentice Severian, had so nearly drowned."

Gene Wolfe, Shadow of the Torturer

For whimsy:

"The Second World War was over and there I was at high noon, crossing Times Square with a Purple Heart on."

Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Flying Orca
07-06-2016, 10:04 PM
Pah.

Ahem.

Fiction, and nautical to boot, but not (alas!) science fiction:

"It began in the old and golden days of England, in a time when all the hedgerows were green and the roads dusty, when hawthorn and wild roses bloomed, when big-bellied landlords brewed rich October ale at a penny a pint for rakish high-booted cavaliers with jingling spurs and long rapiers, when squires ate roast beef and belched and damned the Dutch over their claret while their faithful hounds slumbered on the rushes by the hearth, when summers were long and warm and drowsy, with honeysuckle and hollyhocks by cottage walls, when winter nights were clear and sharp with frost-rimmed moons shining on the silent snow, and Claud Duval and Swift Nick Nevison lurked in the bosky thickets, teeth gleaming beneath their masks as they heard the rumble of coaches bearing paunchy well-lined nabobs and bright-eyed ladies with powdered hair who would gladly tread a measure by the wayside with the gallant tobyman, and bestow a kiss to save their husbands' guineas; an England where good King Charles lounged amiably on his throne, and scandalised Mr Pepys (or was it Mr Evelyn?) by climbing walls to ogle Pretty Nell; where gallants roistered and diced away their fathers' fortunes; where beaming yokels in spotless smocks made hay in the sunshine and ate bread and cheese and quaffed foaming tankards fit to do G.K. Chesterton's heart good; where threadbare pedlars with sharp eyes and long noses shared their morning bacon with weary travellers in dew-pearled woods and discoursed endlessly of 'Hudibras' and the glories of nature; where burly earringed smugglers brought their stealthy sloops into midnight coves, and stowed their hard-run cargoes of Hollands and Brussels and fragrant Virginia in clammy caverns; where the poachers of Lincolnshire lifted hares and pheasants by the bushel and buffeted gamekeepers and jumped o'er everywhere..."

- George MacDonald Fraser, The Pyrates

Captain Intrepid
07-06-2016, 10:11 PM
I think my all time favourite opening line from a book has got to be...

"It was a pleasure to burn."

F451 is possibly the best book written. The shape of the language has an undercurrent of poetry to it that sweeps you along with it.

//Edit//

Awe hell, I'l quote the whole first paragraph. This is what a truly great Science Fiction writer sounds like.


It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.”

Gerarddm
07-07-2016, 12:03 AM
Incidentally, that's a retro 1950's sci-fi cover for the OP book. I loved those old evocative covers, they really juiced one's nave imagination back in the late 50s and early 60s.

Captain Intrepid
07-07-2016, 01:08 AM
Incidentally, that's a retro 1950's sci-fi cover for the OP book. I loved those old evocative covers, they really juiced one's nave imagination back in the late 50s and early 60s.

Have you seen these?

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/solarsystem/20160210/posters20160210-16.jpg (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
07-07-2016, 03:45 AM
It was a bright, cold, day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

1984

john welsford
07-07-2016, 02:11 PM
Thats one opening line that you can get involved with for real. The set, when rebuilt for "The Hobbit" was made to be permanent and functional.
Open to visitors.
http://www.hobbitontours.com/Home/tabid/38/Default.aspx

John Welsford


In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole and that means comfort.

One night My son was loooking for something to read. I suggested The Hobbit but didn't get much response. I read out the first paragraph and he just about ripped the book from my hands and ran off to bed.