Entry Nickname: Asteroid Snacks
Word count: 84K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Estranged form friends and family, Baku makes rent by doing odd jobs for her landlord and kills time flying her ship around the asteroid belt, hitting up seedy convenience stores for MSG chips. When she runs out of fuel and siphons some from a luxury cruiser, she sets in motion a series of misadventures that permanently alleviate her boredom.
The owner of the cruiser, Genevieve, forces Baku to pay for the fuel she stole. The only object of value Baku has is a silver coin she keeps as a good luck charm. Baku hands over her Siriusan denarius that, unbeknown to either of them, is worth millions of Ganymede Guilders.
The coin isn’t just valuable, it’s trouble. Possessing it leads Genevieve into the hands of paranoid but affable crime lord, Erik. Baku rescues her, but their subsequent attempts to evade Erik lead them into the world of forgery and organized crime.
When Erik captures Baku and holds her ransom, Genevieve forges art to secure her release. But Erik needs more than just art. He needs scapegoats to take the fall for the interstellar revolution he’s fomented by supporting two opposing sides of a Siriusan political conflict. And he isn’t afraid to doom Genevieve and Baku in his stead.
The Fly n’ Buy mechanic lay hibernating behind the checkout counter, his segmented body curled into a ball, his hundred eyestalks gently entwined. Above the till hung a sign that read ‘Pump Out Of Order.’
“Guess I flew here for nothing,” Baku said. “Better stock up on snacks in case I end up adrift for days.” She shrugged off her irritation. At least she’d gotten out of the house and filled a few empty hours.
Baku roamed the dim aisles. She loaded her hand basket with gummy worms, condensed potato starch chips, and a stale, greasy donut from a rotating hotdog heater. The Aldebaranians who worked this asteroid outpost never knew quite what to make of human food. They roasted coffee beans in the popcorn popper and dumped buckets of cold, gelatinous soup in the slushy machine.
Baku placed her basket on the counter. She fished in her coat pockets for coins and dropped a handful in front of the till. A Cordelian thaler and two Callisto rupees tinkled onto the silicon countertop.
The clerk trained one eyestalk on the coins, then on Baku. He motioned with a claw for more.
Baku dug deep in an inner pocket and found an Io yuan beneath a lump of lint. She dropped it beside the other coins. The clerk scooped the money into the till and placed the items in a bag, donut first.
“Thank you,” Baku said, having acquired all the accoutrements of identity she could afford. Maybe one day she’d spring for a soup slushy.
Title: Double Blind
Entry Nickname: Aliens, Catapults, Car Chases
Word count: 99K
Genre: Science Fiction
I am seeking representation for my completed, professionally-edited, 99,000-word science fiction novel, Double Blind, a story of alien contact. I was nine when Star Wars came out. I saw it in the theater seven times. I grew up, studied ecology and evolution, and became a biologist. But Star Wars stuck with me. The cantina scene stuck with me. I began to imagine how that cantina could exist, full of diverse aliens. How did it start? Let’s assume that one species was native there. Then another species arrived. They planted their own crops. They brought their own pets (and giant work animals). They presented massive challenges to the legal systems. Bartenders learned what the new folks drank.
I’m going to build that cantina, but out of hard science fiction. I’m not writing about the Star Wars universe. No Force in my world; no magic. Also no spaceships. If we’re honest about it, space travel looks too hard. We haven’t even gotten to Mars yet. Maybe interstellar travel is just not feasible. So how does my multi-alien world exist?
The aliens’ message reaches Earth in 2025. That message contains the instructions to develop alien life plus several thousand genomes. The aliens (Senders) seem to propose a swap, where humans raise aliens on Earth and the Senders raise humans on their planet. No mention of any spaceship.
Jose thought that his musings on alien biochemistry were theoretical and safe—go to a conference and spout some stuff. Now he’s growing alien species on Earth, and realizing that his project has determined enemies. When his remote African lab is raided, Jose scrambles to rescue the developing aliens. Soon the young and precociously violent Senders are loose in the African back-country. Jose’s past and that big scar on his scalp have taught him to avoid guns and danger, but now he has to decide how hard to fight for his cause.
Based on the genomes humans sent in a reply message, a Terran ecosystem has been established on a planet called Kaijo. But humans there live in an Iron Age society, with no sign of the alien Sender culture. Onso is a hunter who travels into the wilderness of Kaijo. That’s where he encounters the fierce Pachan and the odd species of their ecosystem. Onso isn’t really a “people person,” and now the people he’s working with are crab-like, semi-aquatic murderers. Onso must comprehend the Pachan in order to survive and possibly avert a war the humans seem sure to lose.
“You’re wanting Beta Hydri next?” asked Siyo, the telescope operator. Siyo put on his reading glasses and leaned into his screen.
“Please,” Oscar said. “Right ascension—”
“No, no, that one I got,” the operator interjected. “We get a lot of looks at her. Give me forty seconds and you’ll be on target.”
A hum shook the building. In the main chamber of the South African Large Telescope, heavy objects moved to take aim at the star. Oscar took the time to pull his trench coat over his slender frame. Even in November, the Southern Hemisphere summer, nights here were cold. He could see his reflection in the momentarily dark screen. Oscar’s hair was scarlet red, grown out from a Mohawk. Underneath the coat, his T-shirt sported a Higg’s boson joke.
The two men sat in the SALT control room in ergonomic blue chairs meant for sitting all night. A long bench supported computers and screens with wires snaking through the ceiling. One wall held a framed poster describing the main sequence of stars. Another had a small glass case with a hammer on a chain. Its label read:
In Case of Something Significant, Break Glass
The case contained a bottle of whiskey. Other than these two wall decorations, the space was relentlessly functional. It had only one small panel of physical controls, and half of that was the thermostat. A few mouse clicks controlled the movement of the 11-meter telescope. Eight screens were up and running on the long table, although Oscar and Siyo mainly used three.
Judges can reply with their feedback and vote here.ReplyDelete
Really good query. It pulled me in immediately, and did a good job of laying out the story. My one problem with it is that I don't know what kind of relationship Genevieve and Baku form between them. Is it friendship/love/etc that leads Genevieve to fake art to she can save Baku, or is she only doing that because Baku helped her before? Establishing their relationship will help with your stakes, as well as character motivation.
The first page is also amazing. I'd suggest a comma here ("coins, and dropped a") but other than that, it was good!
I confess, this query lost me. What I got from it is how the author came up with the idea behind the book, and not a lot about the book itself. There's the conflict on Earth, and the one in Kaijo, but how do both stories relate to each other?
The first page, on the other hand, I really liked. Although I wonder if you shouldn't open with the paragraph that starts with "A hum shook the building. In the main chamber of the South African..." have the dialogue, and then "The two men sat in the SALT control..." I think it flows better that way, and you establish a bit of the setting right off the bat.
Good luck to both of you! But now I must cast my vote and, and although I prefer the concept of Double Blind, the query and first page are more "solid" on Asteroid Snacks, so... VICTORY TO ASTEROID SNACKS!
I agree with Dancing Penguin that Double Blind's query was a bit confusing and although I liked the author's qualifications, I think that information overshadowed the story. Double Blind's concept seems very interesting, but Asteroid Snacks plot and motivations were more clear and easier to grasp, so... Victory to Asteroid Snacks!Delete
Thoughts on ASTEROID:Delete
- This sounds like a lot of fun! I love that the query is plot-driven.
- I enjoy how each character has different stakes, yet you’ve managed to convey all of them in the query. Very skillful.
- Overall, this query is in pretty good shape!
- Bravo for getting so much into the 250! I know so much about the world, about Baku, what she knows and what her situation is already.
- I don’t have much else to say, other than I don’t read sci-fi and I would keep going here.
Thoughts on ALIENS:
- You won’t get a cookie for saying it was professionally edited. I’d remove that.
- The first few paragraphs are totally unnecessary and if I may be so bold, leave a bad taste in my mouth. It feels a bit like bragging.
- The actual query is the last 2 paragraphs only. I would cut the rest, adjust an opening paragraph to include the hook and stakes, and put very brief personal info at the bottom.
- The rest is very voice-driven, which I like. I think with some modifications, this can really sing.
- Sci-fi is my least preferred genre, so please take this with a grain of salt. It often leaves me feeling like I’ve missed an inside joke—which is probably true—and this is no exception. I feel the 250 is bogged down with info and while I think you know you need to dive right into the action based on some of the choices here, it loses me as-is. I’d swap some of the description and explanation for dialogue or action that moves us forward.
- I’m also missing the humor that’s in the query. See if you can add it back in—I think it will really set your opening apart and grab any reader, even me!
My vote is for the entry that is ready to move on – victory to ASTEROID!
This is a really good query. I like the plot you've unfolded and it sounds like an interesting read. One thing I'd say about it though is watch out for the weird words. In scifi/fantasy there are always made up words to describe things, but without reading the book and knowing the rubric used to measure the value of something like a denarious or a guilder, those words are meaningless. I really enjoyed reading your first page and would be happy to keep on reading.
If you want to keep in the first couple paragraphs of the query, I'd drop it to the bottom. Always lead with your book since, unless you have some enormous platform, it's your writing, not you that you're selling. As for the 250, your writing is good, but you end at a less than interesting point. If you would've moved it around so that we thought that glass would be broken, that would leave me with a reason to want to turn to the next page.
Because I think it is the one most ready to move on to the agent round, victory to ASTEROID!
Replying as Chief Doodler!Delete
I had to read the query a few times before I felt like I had a good sense about the story. The first sentence had a typo, which distracted me! Switch "form" to "from". I'd also limit new words to about two, so as not to confuse the reader.
The 250 words were a blast read! So much voice and humor. The soup slushy had me laughing out loud. Great job! :)
I would STRONGLY recommend following the standard three paragraph rule when writing a query. Agents are reading with a NO in mind, and your job is to change their mind. I'm afraid you'll lose the agent reading by the middle of the first paragraph.
Your book is the star of the Query! Introduce the main character and their big desire/want in the first paragraph. In the second, write about the inciting incident and what stands in your character's way of getting what they want. In the third, highlight the stakes. What does your character lose if X happens? That's how you'll hook the agent. Lastly, only keep pertinent information in the query. All of the housekeeping stuff (title, genre, word count) goes at the bottom of the Query. This is where you briefly mention any qualifications—not why you wrote the book. That can come later when you get your agent. :)
The writing sample left me wanting more. It was too distant, I wanted to be closer to the main character. It had a lot of great setting info, but I missed seeing more of the characters.
Winner goes to ASTEROID SNACKS!
I’m intrigued by the concept, but the query feels a bit too much like a synopsis to me. Too many names sprinkled in and too much summary of what’s happening in the story. Instead, it should clearly set up what’s at stake and drive home the hook, preferably with some choice the main character needs to make.
First 250 Words:
The overall voice in this entry is working quite well as is. I get a definite sense of who this character is. On the other hand, the abundance of alien terms quickly becomes confusing, and the dialogue-to-self feels a bit too on the nose—as though the writer is trying to convey certain information to the reader directly via the character.
Aliens, Catapults, Car Chases
First, super cool premise. This sounds like a great hard science fiction story. Having said that, the query currently has a number of glaring issues. It’s almost twice as long as a typical query should be, and is too much of an explanation/summary than actual pitch (and for the purposes of the contest, the first two paragraphs should be dropped as they’re not part of the actual story pitch itself). Also, as presented it feels like two separate stories—that is, each of the final two paragraphs read like they could easily be their own stand-alone stories. So all of that needs addressing.
First 250 Words:
I quite like this opening. I’m personally not necessarily big on opening a story with dialogue (because there’s no context yet, and no sense of who the characters are), but otherwise found myself drawn in. Some nice little bits of humour (loved the bit with the glass case).
Oddly enough, the voice from the first two paragraphs of the query (which was more the author speaking directly to the agent) had the most engaging voice of the entry. If you brought that voice (or something similar) into the rest of the query and the narrative, both would be much stronger.
This is another tough one for me. In my opinion, both queries need considerable work before they’re ready. But while I would agree that the first entry is currently a little more polished, there’s something about the entire package of the second that makes with think, with a lot of work, it could go a long way. So for me it’s going to be victory to ALIENS, CATAPULTS, CAR CHASES!
This one is already decided, so I'm not going to vote. But I couldn't pass up the chance to talk about the Adult Sci Fi.Delete
For ASTEROIDS, the query is pretty solid. Love the concept. Not sure I get the threat of the gangster...paranoid but affable...neither of those things seem particularly dangerous, nor to necessitate rescue.
Love the voice in the first page. Love the alien, love the idea of a convenience store. Would like to get more out of it, though. Like she's digging for a coin...what's the impact of that? You hit it a little, with the line about all she could afford, but that's done in a bit of a clunky way. Tons of potential in this, though. Fun space opera is fun.
For ALIENS, I haven't read the other judges notes, but I'm guessing they say something about the query that suggests focusing more on the book than the cook. Agents simply don't care why you wrote the book. They care if it's good. So sell the story, not the author.
The first page, you do a wonderful job with setting. I can see the place. The description by the character of his own appearance as seen in reflection is a bit of a cliche, so I'd probably lose that. Sort of like the heroine who describes herself while looking in a mirror. We don't tend to spend a lot of thought on our own reflection, so when you do it, it pulls us a bit out of the point of view. As you want to keep a tight third person, it's best to keep the description to what the character notices. That way we as readers can learn about the character by what matters to them and what doesn't.
Critique: Asteroid SnackDelete
You’ve got a type in the 2nd word (I assume you mean from not form.) You mention her boredom is alleviated by siphoning fuel (which is a great inciting incident!) but you didn’t really establish she was bored. I was also unsure if “hitting up” means robbing or merely patronizing. She then say she hands of her “Siriusan denarius” without explaining that is the silver coin mentioned prior. I assume it is based on “denarius.” From there you provide a series of plot points, but don’t really connect them.
I think you query suffers from too much plot (but great job not getting bogged down in over explaining stuff about the world itself, as that tends to happen in SF queries.) and not enough character. I know a lot about what Baku, Genevieve, and Erik do, but not a lot about who they are. I’d like to get more character and less plot. This would make it easier to craft a stronger sense of the actual stakes.
First 250 words:
This is charming. I wasn’t sure of “an lo yuan” was a typo or not. You do a nice job of setting things up, but I would encourage you to really push character and voice. The humor of the Aldebaranians’ inability to make human food is gold, but based on this, I’d be more interested in a story about them than Baku. Try giving her some of the humor too.
Critique: Aliens, Catapults, Car Chases
This query is in serious need of help. The personal details are really sweet, but they don’t have any place in your query, and certainly don’t belong up top. At best it’s the final paragraph and even then you’d cut it to the bone mentioning only the word count, edit job, and affinity for sci-fi like star wars.
Similarly, the 2nd paragraphs needs to be cut entirely. Don’t tell us what your novel is by comparing and contrasting it with Star Wars. Just tell us what your novel is about.
The 3rd paragraph is sort of the start, but still…it’s a lot of telling us what it isn’t.
You then get to your first character Jose, and a confusing description of what occurs. You need to really re-do this query to establish the following:
1. The characters;
2. The stakes; and
3. Why your story is special.
I don’t need to know all the details of this work, and the less proper names thrown out the better. As it is now, I’m completely confused about everything.
I know (believe me!) that writing a good query is a very different skill set than writing a good book, so don’t think that your story is no good. I don’t think that’s the case, so neither should you. However, I think reading some other successful queries (just google it. Or look at Query Tracker that’s got a great set of them!) will help you see what a query needs to look like.
First 250 words:
I’m not overly hooked here. I think you could revise it a bit to avoid repeating names. For example, I don’t think you needed to repeat “Oscar” when describing his hair. I like the idea of the break glass joke, but other than that…this first page moves slow which isn’t great. I know 250 words out of nearly 100K is not enough to really give us a taste, but the writing is lacking in character. It seems more interested in the set piece and less focused on the characters.
Much like the query, there is room to improve here.
Verdict: Asteroid Snack is the clear winner here. Aliens, Catapults, Car Chases needs a lot of work.
WINNER GOES TO: Asteroid Snack
I think this is an incredibly interesting premise. I do wish I knew more about why Genevieve and Baku were so willing to take on what seems to be such a dangerous mission--saving one another. What's the relationship there. What are the consequences for not saving Baku there toward the end of the query? Who is the focus of this query? If it's all 3 characters, then you've distributed agency well, but if it's just one, or even just Baku and Genevieve, then we need to see them be the forefront. Give them more agency in the query.
DOUBLE BLIND CRIT:
I'll be honest - I skimmed the query because of how dense it is and had to go back and read it several times. There's a lot of information here that wasn't necessary. The work should speak for itself. It will convey your love of sci-fi before this history info drop will. This is the part of you that needs to sell to an agent first.
Once you get into the meat of the query, that's where you should be able to pique the interest of your prospective agent. Instead, I think we get a little lost in more info blasting--there are a lot of names and terms that might trip up your reader. You have only a limited amount of space to work with within a query--take that slow, give the reader an overview of the book and leave us hanging.
I will say that, where your query lost me, your 250 definitely had me won. This is what I mean by the work speaking for itself. Unfortunately, an agent wont make it to your pages unless the query is clean enough to compel them.
VICTORY GOES TO: ASTEROID SNACKS
Asteroid: I liked this one! The query was funny and the 250 full of aliens and technology. My biggest question was what's Genevieve and Baku's relationship? They seem to start as enemies yet they're willing to go to great lengths to rescue each other--how did that happen?ReplyDelete
Aliens: You have an interesting beginning to your query, but I thought it went on two long. The first paragraph was great. The second paragraph didn't feel necessary. The first 250 was great for setting the scene and I liked the hammer.
Great concept. Love the voice! Few things that went through my mind as I read:
- Why is she separated from her friends and family?
- Maybe leave out the phrase "series of misadventures," as it sounds kind of vague. Just go into describing the misadventures.
- I, too, wondered about why Genevieve is so eager to rescue Baku if they just met. Maybe some clarification would help there.
- I'd like to hear more about this interstellar revolution that Erik has planned. It sounds to me like that's going to be a large portion of the book, yet it's only briefly mentioned in the query.
First 250 are good. Nice, strong writing. I'm picking up on a humorous/sarcastic voice, which I love. Something I did notice is that you have the name "Baku" in there a lot. Maybe try to think of some other ways to structure your sentences that don't start with that name. Nice job, overall!
I've never read a query quite like this. While I appreciate the background information on why you wrote the book, I'm wondering if that's really the strongest way to start. I would like to hear more about the two characters you mention, Jose and Onso. Which one is the main character? That confused me. How do their stories connect? It also started out sounding like the aliens are peaceful with humans, but then you mention war, so that started me thinking that they're fighting. Clarification on that might help.
I would suggest taking more time to explain the plot/stakes of the book and less on the inspiration for writing it. I think you bring up some really interesting and valid points, especially about the realities of contact with life from another planet, but I'd like to hear more about the story itself because I think it's a really interesting premise.
The first 250: There was a lot of description of the setting. I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so maybe this is just world-building, but I'd like to hear more dialogue between the characters or something that adds tension to the scene. Why are they aiming at the star, what do they see, etc.
I like the thing about the whiskey, though. : )
Overall, both really great entries with very strong concepts. Good luck!
Not a judge. Take this this as one's opinion.ReplyDelete
Asteroid Snacks Q - Your Q is tight and to the point, but may go on a tad too long. What if you lost the last paragraph? And changed the last line of Para 3 to "forgery, organized crime, and interstellar revolution." I love the story and the idea. Humor element has me excited!
Asteroid Snack 250 - You had me at "...stale, greasy donut from a rotating hotdog heater." I love Sci-fi and would read this in a heartbeat. Your first 250 quickly establish a quirky and humorous side that is missing from a lot of sci-fi. I got a little confused with all the different coins/money, but I sense that's part of the charm. The sentence "Better stock up for snacks.." was the only line that seemed a little forced. Might work better to just be "Baku decided to stock up..." Great writing. Want to read!
Double Blind Q - Not sure if the non-traditional Q works. Might want to write a traditional, formulaic, shorter query and send both to see which gets traction. A scientific way to query and analyze results! If you do go with a more traditional Q, stick to as few names of characters and places as possible. Keep the query familiar to the reader. Our brains can only handle so many new names and ideas at once...they are easier to dole out and hook the reader in our pages. Sometimes it's best to write your story as one sentence then expand to two, then expand to one paragraph, then two until you get a nice, tight, Q.
Double Blind Q - Stronger than your query and more traditional. I love the "Break Glass..." idea. Hilarious. I already like Oscar and Siyo and want to read more of this scene. I want them to discover something and break open that whiskey (I hope it's bourbon). Your writing is solid and shows in this first page. My only tiny idea would be to change the first two words to "You want" instead of "You're wanting". Stronger. But also just an opinion.
Great job both of you! As a sci-fi LOVER, I want to read both of these.
The Crows of Phobos:ReplyDelete
Your query is very interesting. I love the first paragraph. It really gives me a good picture of Baku and a great setup for the action later.
In the second paragraph, I think we need more stakes as to why Baku hands over her good luck charm. As someone estranged from friends and family, you would assume she would avoid giving up her one possession at all costs. What was Genevieve going to do if she didn’t give her payment? Also, once she hands it over to Genevieve, how did Baku know Genevieve was in trouble so she could rescue her? Was she following her to get her coin back?
I love it that these two women appear to end up working together and the stakes are great in the last paragraph where they are being setup as scapegoats. It sounds like a very exciting and interesting story!
Your first 250 words drew me right in to the story. The only thing that made me pause was when she said, “Better stock up on snacks in case I end up adrift for days.” Was she talking to herself? While it was probably her thought process, it just seemed an odd thing to say out loud to no one. The description of the Aldebaranians not knowing what to do with human food cracked me up! It was hilarious that the put all her stuff on top of her donut. Reminds me of bread at the bottom of a grocery store bag. Great voice!
In your query, I felt like the first two paragraphs read more like a blog entry. Maybe one that discusses this book and the ideas that sparked it. You could rework the third paragraph as the opening to establish the setting with the genome exchange. The fourth paragraph was interesting. I loved how Jose thought his job would be safe then he is running around rescuing violent aliens.
The last paragraph was harder for me to follow. It didn’t seem to have the same setup as Jose. You could have a similar paragraph for Onso, as you did for Jose, then add a final paragraph to tie the two environments together.
In your first 250, you do a great job establishing the setting, but it didn’t really have much happen beyond that for me to comment on the voice, which is fine and for sci-fi makes sense.
Asteroid Snacks:Great concept! Your take on Science Fiction reminds me a little of Hitchhikers Guide. My critique for your query is to keep it focused on your MC's journey. We start with Baku, then switch to Genevieve, and the final paragraph is about Erik. Can you tell these events from Baku's POV?ReplyDelete
250:I loved the Fly N' Buy! I read a lot of sci-fi, and I can't recall any starting off in an inter-galactic convenience store. It's quirky and I'm really interested to see where you take us next. Her dialogue is a little strange, though. It seem like telling, and you do a nice job showing us her stocking up on snacks in the next part. Look for anyplace you can tighten your writing. For example, the last line could read something like, "Maybe someday she would be able to afford a soup slushy.
Small nitpick. Your aliens, from Aldebaran, remind me instantly of Alderann. I think any Star Wars would pick up on this. Consider a name a bit more unique. Overall, Great job!
Double Blind: I LOVE hard sci-fi, and there are plenty of great novels out there. I think you have a great premise here. However, no agent will care about your personal journey. And it's a given that a sci-fi writer loves Star Wars. You have such a limited amount of space in a query letter, tell us as much as you can about your story. Give us your characters journey and lay out your plot.
250: Very nice job describing the setting. I love the foreshadowing of the whiskey bottle, I'm assuming they will be using it soon! Maybe give us a little more detail and tell us what kind, be specific.
What I'm not getting is your characters though. I'm not sure who your main character is. Could you give us these details through his POV?
I am a sucker for these kinds of stories, and I would definitely want to read more of this one!
Asteroid Snacks: I thought the voice/humor was great in both the query and first 250. I agree with the comments about getting confused in the query with the shifting POVs. I liked the set-up for the final two sentences of the query (which maybe should be one sentence?), but was left wondering whether/what are Baku's and Genevieve's internal stakes, other than surviving.ReplyDelete
Double Blind: Agree with all the comments on the query. Everything I've seen kinda indicates that kind of stuff is irrelevant to fiction queries. In addition, here, I got confused in the transition to your actual story summary. For a moment, I thought that maybe you were narrating the query from a character's POV (also a no-no from what I understand). In the end, I was confused about how the two parts of the story made sense together.
The first 250, however, I thought were very well written. Lots of easy detail and voice.
Query is well–written, but it felt a little like a list of what happens up to a certain point in the book, and then it just ends. I wonder if we need all the details of the first few paragraphs, or if they could be summed up, and then we could hear what the big conflict/stakes are. I also wonder what the relationship is between the two women. And why Baku is estranged? It sounds like an intriguing concept. I want to hear more about it.
First 250: Would Baku really speak that long sentence outloud with no one around, or would she just think it? Otherwise, I loved the first 250. Well–written and I got an immediate sense of setting. Great grounding details. I'd love to read more!
Query: I don't think you need to say "I'm seeking representation for..." It's implied that you're seeking representation because you sent a query. Also agree with the other comments, it's fun to hear you're a Star Wars fan and how that led you to writing this book, but I don't think agents want that sort of explanation in a query.
First 250: Great. Strong writing, fun details. But maybe give us a little more about who the character is– his thoughts and feelings?