David Rockwell

Our Friends and Neighbors

by David Rockwell
Our Friends and Neighbors is “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” of Social Networking.

Social media has become a nearly universal experience. We reach out to aliens through a website called SubSpacelink.org. One morning, the romantically challenged Brian Wyatt posts a simple statement to the site: “Brian Wyatt is alone in the Universe”. A larksome alien, identifying himself only as Galrick of Mars, responds and asks to borrow a cup of sugar.

Humanity does what it does best. It panics.

Government agents attempt to arrest Brian and some of his friends to try to make sense of this pandemonium. Galrick steals a ship to rescue them. A warship is sent to stop him. We, in an informational vacuum, conclude they are invading.

Emerging from this chaos, the newly sworn in President of the United States bravely attempts to calm people by going into space to greet these strange new visitors. As she makes first contact, more aliens arrive in the solar system. They are seeking revenge against our new neighbors. In a desperate battle to save the fleet and humanity, Galrick, Brian and the President are forced to make a decision that will change life for everyone on Earth.

Arielle: When the alien asks to borrow a cup of sugar, I fell in love with this book! That is such a great line. The intimacy between the lonely human and the alien in this moment come to life in a very ET way. Bravo. But I am confused by elements of this pitch. If social media is universal and we regularly reach out to aliens, why does humanity panic after this alien gets in touch? The setup doesn’t relate to the second half of the pitch.

David: This is a really fun idea for a story. And it plays wonderfully on this fear that we all have of being alone in the universe. And how we’d love to prove that we’re not by connecting with someone from a galaxy far far away. I don’t think you should use the comparable titles of the beginning. Again, I would save those for the end. And I don’t think you need to tell us that social media has become a nearly universal experience. The pitch doesn’t really start for me until “One morning, the romantically challenged…” I just like the way you write. “Humanity does what it does best. It panics.” I love this kind of declarative sentence. It’s very good. What I don’t get out of this pitch is the sense of who Brian and Galrick are. What kind of relationship do they form? What are these aliens from other planets like? The end of the pitch is almost there, but not quite, IMHO. I want to know graphically what the consequences of failure will be. What exactly are the stakes?