The sky above the port

by Rafael Beraldo

Every story should start with a memorable line. I can quote Gibson's Neuromancer first sentence from my head:

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

With this single sentence, Gibson sets the mood of his entire book. The first obvious element is the port, which is frequently associated with crime, a suspect place to be, where all kinds of things come from overseas. And Neuromancer has all to do with crime, suspect places and activities, not to mention weird objects.

Color of television is a beautifully crafted expression that caries both the sadness of the gray sky and the mention of technology. Finally, this television is tuned to a dead channel — I think we can all clearly see this image, and how the word dead plays a role here.

I have lots of books here. (I’d have many more, but I don’t have room for more than a few!) I like to browse through them, looking for better opening lines. Today I opened Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory by chance, only to read this amazing sentence:

Mr Tench went out to look for his ether cylinder, into the blazing Mexican sun and the bleaching dust.

I immediately pictured the vast western movie scenarios and No Country for Old Men. I saw particles of dust sweeping through the sky, sweat, mustaches and bottles of tequila.

But should there be an opening line contest, there’d be already a clear winner. The best opening line of all is from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.