Writing Glitch #42

Today’s glitch:


First, punctuation. Second, diction and science.

Remember when I told you that just about everyone has trouble with commas sometimes? Well, the person who created this writing prompt is no different from the majority. (Tangent: Yes, different from. Difference is figurative distance, just as similarity is figurative nearness. Thus we say different from, but similar to. Different than is wrong, and different to is right out.) In this sample, we’ve got a comma splice, a couple of missing commas…

The government has been secretly hiding data encoding hard drives inside e-cigarettes. The data is transferred to the vapor, which is then absorbed through the body. Once it enters the brain, the code acts on neurons, which then make the smoker pliable enough for their needs.

I’m far from technologically clueless, and I’m not sure what the writer means by data encoding hard drives… inside e-cigarettes? Are they trying to say it’s nanotech of some sort? (I will not say nanites. I will not.) Do they mean the data itself is literally transferred to the vapor, or do they mean the nanotech that carries the data? Have they considered the blood-brain barrier? How does code act on neurons without some way of translating it into something the neurons can receive as signal? (Novels about Sumerian myth and virtual reality aside, a person could look at computer code for years and never have their behavior/personality rewritten by it. Also, if you’re interested in reading a novel that mixes Sumerian myth and virtual reality, I can recommend two: Donnerjack, by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold, and Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.)

As far as evil schemes go, it’s just not feasible. It would be a lot easier to do the same thing, more or less, with drugs of some sort.


About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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