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Orianna2000
04-20-2013, 08:20 PM
I've got a (modern) secret government agency in London that deals with all things extraterrestrial, e.g.: tourism, trade, diplomacy, etc. It's divided into branches and this particular branch deals with both security and investigation. They deal with alien invasions, go after aliens whose visas have expired, investigate weird stuff that happens, and so forth.

Question #1. I'm trying to describe the center of operations through the eyes of a visitor. It's an open area, with a few desks and PCs in the middle of the room. There's a whiteboard and a holographic map of London. What else might there be? I need easily recognizable stuff that a visitor would notice. The organization does have access to alien technology, so I don't mind adding some advanced tech, but I'm drawing a blank as to what might be useful to them.

Question #2. I'm wondering how many people should be employed in the office. It's a small branch, but they do vital work. Considering what they do, everyone is trained in weapons and self-defense, but each has their own specialty, too. They have a linguist, a security officer, a computer tech, a medic, plus their leader. Is that enough? It's a rough job, as well as being top secret, so I imagine it's hard to find employees. Torchwood manages with just three people, and I don't want to have too many folks wandering around the building, but at the same time, I want it to feel realistic. Any thoughts?

King Neptune
04-20-2013, 10:09 PM
Don't forget the file cabinets.

You might try visiting some government offices in your area and see how many people do nothing, or so little that no one notices.

If I were setting up such an office, then I would try to have more communications specialists and/or computer programmers. I would hope that they would try to have computerized translations from alien languages.

You might want to see what you can about the airline that the CIA used to run. I would think that this office would be similar in some ways, so have a front. They could be travel agents in front and alien communicators in the back.

mirandashell
04-20-2013, 10:35 PM
If they are a British Government agency, they don't need a front. Their job description would be Civil Servant and they wouldn't need to say any more than that.

Oriana, do they only deal with events in London? Are there other branches in other cities? If so, they would need some sort of lists of contacts. Which is usually on paper and pinned to a board.

Is it a very sci-fi office? Like in Primaeval? Or does it look more like a normal office? More like the one in Being Human. What kind of building is it in?
Remember, the Government don't really like to spend money on offices. Unless it's a politican's.

As for those screens that you swing your fingers across..... doubt there would be one of those!

waylander
04-20-2013, 11:05 PM
Bound to be a tearoom.
There would also be conference rooms for private meetings

Orianna2000
04-20-2013, 11:44 PM
Don't forget the file cabinets.
There's a separate filing room, where the MC works.



Oriana, do they only deal with events in London? Are there other branches in other cities? If so, they would need some sort of lists of contacts. Which is usually on paper and pinned to a board.
They have sister-organizations around the world, but only in large cities. I'll see about adding a memo board.


Is it a very sci-fi office? Like in Primaeval? Or does it look more like a normal office? More like the one in Being Human. What kind of building is it in?
Remember, the Government don't really like to spend money on offices. Unless it's a politican's.
The office itself is rather normal, not a lot of frills, but they have advanced alien tech, like holographic maps. The building is a three-story office building in a commercial/residential area.

ironmikezero
04-21-2013, 12:39 AM
I can't believe no one has asked if you've seen the Men in Black films... They might offer some specific insights.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119654/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120912/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1409024/

benbenberi
04-21-2013, 01:50 AM
Staffing: you probably need more communications & IT people, as mentioned above. Also: at least 1 or 2 admins to handle paperwork (it's govt, after all!), logistics, & general support. Someone who's responsible for accounts & budgets. Someone who does the PR (& coverups). Someone who manages records/archives/artifact storage. Someone in charge of the weapons. Someone to act as a dedicated liaison-to-bureaucracy/bosses. (Some of these roles can potentially be combined, of course, if you want a really minimal staff.)

Office setup: can be as posh or basic as you want. Don't forget conference setups with polycoms for conference calls, & screens/cams for videoconferencing, webmeetings, presentations, etc. If I were setting up an office like this, there would probably be a bland but nice waiting/reception area out front (with chairs, magazines, & PR brochures) for visitors & vendors, & the actual work areas with controlled access beyond it. Security locks & cameras. Supply closets. Printers/scanners/copy machines & paper supplies. Armory. Break room/tea room with fridge, microwave, water cooler, etc. Multiple whiteboards of different sorts, with erasers & markers. Detention & interrogation rooms for illegal aliens & invaders. Misc. decorative objects (or they may be functional too, if they're alien things). Tacked-up notices of blood drives, charity events, document shredding reminders, the Heimlich maneuver...

mirandashell
04-21-2013, 02:14 AM
I can't believe no one has asked if you've seen the Men in Black films... They might offer some specific insights.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119654/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120912/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1409024/


This is the British Government. It wouldn't look anything like that.

Orianna2000
04-21-2013, 02:23 AM
I have seen the MiB films, yes. They're what partly inspired this, along with Torchwood. The office, though, is much, much smaller, as it's only a single branch of the organization, not the entire world HQ.


Staffing: you probably need more communications & IT people, as mentioned above. Also: at least 1 or 2 admins to handle paperwork (it's govt, after all!), logistics, & general support. Someone who's responsible for accounts & budgets. Someone who does the PR (& coverups). Someone who manages records/archives/artifact storage. Someone in charge of the weapons. Someone to act as a dedicated liaison-to-bureaucracy/bosses. (Some of these roles can potentially be combined, of course, if you want a really minimal staff.)
This is a great list, thank you! The MC is hired as an office administrator and she deals with records/archives/artifact storage in her spare time. PR and coverups would be handled by someone at HQ, wouldn't it? I may have to go through and add a few background characters, just to fill up the office space.


Office setup: can be as posh or basic as you want. Don't forget conference setups with polycoms for conference calls, & screens/cams for videoconferencing, webmeetings, presentations, etc. If I were setting up an office like this, there would probably be a bland but nice waiting/reception area out front (with chairs, magazines, & PR brochures) for visitors & vendors, & the actual work areas with controlled access beyond it. Security locks & cameras. Supply closets. Printers/scanners/copy machines & paper supplies. Armory. Break room/tea room with fridge, microwave, water cooler, etc. Multiple whiteboards of different sorts, with erasers & markers. Detention & interrogation rooms for illegal aliens & invaders. Misc. decorative objects (or they may be functional too, if they're alien things). Tacked-up notices of blood drives, charity events, document shredding reminders, the Heimlich maneuver...So far, we've got an armory and infirmary, filing room, exercise/training room, shooting range, prison cells, recreation lounge, storage room for safe artifacts, plus a high-security storage room for confiscated weapons and dangerous artifacts. On the ground floor is their cover--a temp agency--with a receptionist and waiting area. At first glance, the place appears totally normal. Well, if you excuse the holographic map of London. ;)

mirandashell
04-21-2013, 02:27 AM
Aaahhh. So it's meant to look like a commercial operation, rather than a Government office. Fair enough.

Yeah, it would look different and have most of the stuff Benben mentioned.

Rufus Coppertop
04-21-2013, 03:58 AM
I reckon there'll be a noticeboard and some bright spark will have pinned up something that says, "It's difficult to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys."

There might even be a picture of a celebrity pinned to it with a tooth blackened out by a marker pen and a caption that's only witty if you're in the know.

frimble3
04-21-2013, 04:45 AM
This is the British Government. It wouldn't look anything like that.
More like Spooks/MI-5? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0160904/

Buffysquirrel
04-21-2013, 02:31 PM
I think if any of the functions could be covered by another agency, they would be. So instead of having their own personal shooting range, they'd use the nearest police range.

shaldna
04-21-2013, 09:40 PM
I've got a (modern) secret government agency in London that deals with all things extraterrestrial, e.g.: tourism, trade, diplomacy, etc. It's divided into branches and this particular branch deals with both security and investigation. They deal with alien invasions, go after aliens whose visas have expired, investigate weird stuff that happens, and so forth.

I've worked in government for a while. So happy to help.


Question #1. I'm trying to describe the center of operations through the eyes of a visitor. It's an open area, with a few desks and PCs in the middle of the room. There's a whiteboard and a holographic map of London. What else might there be? I need easily recognizable stuff that a visitor would notice. The organization does have access to alien technology, so I don't mind adding some advanced tech, but I'm drawing a blank as to what might be useful to them.

I'm going to assume they have already gotten past reception - usually pretty non-descript - a desk, computer, security guard, sign in book, usually in the lobby.

Assuming they get past security, I hate to burst your bubble, but Government buildings are really, really boring. They are huge office blocks with nothing exciting going on. Anything senstive - such as the set up you are describing will be well out of the normal visitor/client space that they won't see shit.

In addition, there is a 'clean desk' policy in operation in all government buildings - this means that there will be nothing on display on desks, walls, charts etc relating to day to day procedeures - so the map and whiteboard you have may be an issue. Sure, we have white boards, but any thing that isn't in the public domain is earased as soon as it's been conveyed.



Question #2. I'm wondering how many people should be employed in the office. It's a small branch, but they do vital work.

I've worked in several VERY specialised areas and you will normally have between 6 nd 10 people, depending on how big the area is.



Considering what they do, everyone is trained in weapons and self-defense, but each has their own specialty, too. They have a linguist, a security officer, a computer tech, a medic, plus their leader. Is that enough? It's a rough job, as well as being top secret, so I imagine it's hard to find employees. Torchwood manages with just three people, and I don't want to have too many folks wandering around the building, but at the same time, I want it to feel realistic. Any thoughts?

As a side note, Torchwood is a HUGE organisation - look at Ianto;s back story for clarification.

Bear in mind that government organisations are populated by civilians and you'll get a fresh perspective.

Orianna2000
04-21-2013, 10:03 PM
I think if any of the functions could be covered by another agency, they would be. So instead of having their own personal shooting range, they'd use the nearest police range.

Except, they're using alien weapons, like pulse rifles. Might raise a few eyebrows at the local police range.



Assuming they get past security, I hate to burst your bubble, but Government buildings are really, really boring. They are huge office blocks with nothing exciting going on. Anything senstive - such as the set up you are describing will be well out of the normal visitor/client space that they won't see shit.
Sorry, I was using the term "visitor" loosely. She's someone of interest to the organization. They're showing her around, with the intention of either wiping her memory afterward or hiring her on.


In addition, there is a 'clean desk' policy in operation in all government buildings - this means that there will be nothing on display on desks, walls, charts etc relating to day to day procedeures - so the map and whiteboard you have may be an issue. Sure, we have white boards, but any thing that isn't in the public domain is earased as soon as it's been conveyed. I may need to change things a little. Is it possible for them to be government funded, with some government oversight, but to be at least slightly independent? I could make them totally independent, I suppose, but I wanted them to be sanctioned by the government (as in, the government knows about the aliens and allows the group to do what they need to do). I also wanted some global unity (sister organizations in various countries) and this seemed more likely if they were a government agency. There may have been some other reason I chose to make them government-run, but I can't remember at the moment.

Buffysquirrel
04-21-2013, 10:42 PM
Except, they're using alien weapons, like pulse rifles. Might raise a few eyebrows at the local police range.

/me sneaks back into my post and adds "after hours" :D.

ClareGreen
04-21-2013, 11:28 PM
"What do you mean, the range is booked for two hours tomorrow, sir? It's our range!"

"Don't ask me, Sergeant. All it says here is 'booked, MI19'."

"MI19? There is no MI19."

"You're right, Sergeant. There isn't. And they haven't booked the range for two hours tomorrow."

"Yes, sir."

"And there won't be any spectators, either."

"Damn."

Cyia
04-21-2013, 11:28 PM
If there are offices worldwide, then an "inside" detail might be that - instead of a contacts list - the desks are set up to match a map on the floor (one that can't be seen except with certain lighting or some such). So, their NYC liaison sits "in" NYC. Lisbon sits "in" Lisbon. Johannesburg in Johannesburg. That way it's instantly obvious to anyone in the room where a problem is by virtue of knowing that the phone is ringing or an alarm is going off in Tokyo or some such, but to the casual observer, it's simply an office with a desk taking a call.

King Neptune
04-21-2013, 11:42 PM
I may need to change things a little. Is it possible for them to be government funded, with some government oversight, but to be at least slightly independent? I could make them totally independent, I suppose, but I wanted them to be sanctioned by the government (as in, the government knows about the aliens and allows the group to do what they need to do). I also wanted some global unity (sister organizations in various countries) and this seemed more likely if they were a government agency. There may have been some other reason I chose to make them government-run, but I can't remember at the moment.

If you are having them operate through a front, then you don't have to worry about any ordinary standards for government organizations, because they will operate as a separate entity with their own standards. You might have them operate the aegis of the Illuminati, rather than any government. Another kind of organization that might work would be a bank. Both commercial or investment banks operate in different places, and some of them seem to do little in some places. Banking would also supply them with funding that would be off the government's books, and that would explain the ared guards all over the place.

Orianna2000
04-22-2013, 12:15 AM
If there are offices worldwide, then an "inside" detail might be that - instead of a contacts list - the desks are set up to match a map on the floor (one that can't be seen except with certain lighting or some such). So, their NYC liaison sits "in" NYC. Lisbon sits "in" Lisbon. Johannesburg in Johannesburg. That way it's instantly obvious to anyone in the room where a problem is by virtue of knowing that the phone is ringing or an alarm is going off in Tokyo or some such, but to the casual observer, it's simply an office with a desk taking a call.

Wow, that would be a really cool detail. I don't have an excuse to show their headquarters in this novel, but maybe I'll go there in the sequel. Right now, you only get to see the small branch that deals with security/investigations.

ECathers
04-22-2013, 01:05 AM
Don't forget secretaries, a janitor and an IT guy or two who can handle both the regular systems and any alien tech.

Hendo
04-22-2013, 04:32 AM
I would like to think there would be some sort of high tech scanning device for when people enter and exit. Sort of like the metal detectors and full body x-ray machines you'd find in an airport. It could help keep people from smuggling stuff in and out.

As for size of staff
They deal with alien invasions, go after aliens whose visas have expired, investigate weird stuff that happens, and so forth. if they're going to be doing stuff like this then I think you would need several field agents as well. They would go out while others remained behind. Sort of like a detective bureau... the bureau doesn't(usually) just close down because the Detectives are out of the office working on something else.

and yes, like ECathers (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=63614) said... you'll need a janitor lol People tend to take them for granted. We didn't have one at my last job and HQ was always a mess. Sweeping the floors is something that really needs to be done daily. It would get so bad in the locker room that we had a Sgt. who would always sweep before his shift.

shaldna
04-22-2013, 03:37 PM
I may need to change things a little. Is it possible for them to be government funded, with some government oversight, but to be at least slightly independent? I could make them totally independent, I suppose, but I wanted them to be sanctioned by the government (as in, the government knows about the aliens and allows the group to do what they need to do). I also wanted some global unity (sister organizations in various countries) and this seemed more likely if they were a government agency. There may have been some other reason I chose to make them government-run, but I can't remember at the moment.

There are lots of organisations that are government funded but they still have to follow the same procedures etc and are audited to the hilt - bear in mind you might have more trouble with an external body being funded due to FoI etc - and you can bet your ass that someone, somewhere is going to ask exactly what that 10m out of the block grant is being spent on.



Don't forget secretaries, a janitor and an IT guy or two who can handle both the regular systems and any alien tech.

There generally aren't any secretaries any more - Ministers and some very senior civil servants may have personal secretaries, but on the whole no - they went out with the typists.

IT is outsourced, with the exception of a couple of guys who handle the day to day running of the systems.

Cleaning too is outsourced and the cleaners here work outside of office hours - so you aren't likely to ever see them.

Orianna2000
04-22-2013, 04:10 PM
I would like to think there would be some sort of high tech scanning device for when people enter and exit. Sort of like the metal detectors and full body x-ray machines you'd find in an airport. It could help keep people from smuggling stuff in and out.
Good idea! I'll add a scanner to the elevator. Of course, it'll have to be alien tech. The real scanners are pretty worthless. I know a guy who smuggled a pocket knife aboard an airplane (because it had sentimental value and he'd forgotten it was in his pocket).

They hire alien refugees as janitors, since they (obviously) have clearance. You don't see them, but they are mentioned in passing.


There are lots of organisations that are government funded but they still have to follow the same procedures etc and are audited to the hilt - bear in mind you might have more trouble with an external body being funded due to FoI etc - and you can bet your ass that someone, somewhere is going to ask exactly what that 10m out of the block grant is being spent on.
I did a quick search of the document for the word "government" and apparently I did not specify that they're a government agency. However, they are called the "London Extraterrestrial Home Office," a title I can't easily change because the initials work nicely: LEHO. (Pronounced "Lee-oh.") Could a non-government agency use the title "Home Office"? Or would that get them into trouble?

Actually, now that I think about it, your average American reader isn't going to know what the British "Home Office" is. I should probably find a way to change the title (hopefully while keeping the same initials) so it makes more sense to an American audience. That's going to be tricky.

Buffysquirrel
04-22-2013, 04:11 PM
I think non-governmental use of "Home Office" would be severely frowned upon. It'd be considered 'passing off'.

Handling Office?

Chris Graham
04-22-2013, 04:20 PM
Keep it real. It's the detail that makes the difference, the things that aren't anything to do with the organisation itself.
The crash helmet and gloves on top of the filing cabinet with the leather jacket on the back of a chair.
The bag of shopping, that was picked up on the way into the office, stuck in a corner.
The plants brought in by one keen gardener for another to take home.
All the signs that it's real people that work there, no matter how unusual their work may be.

Is there a specialist that is brilliant but a bit different?.. Think Abby in NCIS but less glam and more unlovable..... or maybe someone that is indispensable but has special requirements, say blind, and has a dog lying around the office, or has MS and needs to smoke a joint to carry on sometimes.

If it's a clandestine, back office kind of set up, then they could be much more lax in following the rules...... genius doesn't always like to be too tightly controlled.... and it's amazing the bad habits (and their visible accoutrements and paraphernalia) that will be put up with, if there really is only one man for the job.

Above all, make it 'lived in' and not like early sci-fi control rooms...much too clinical for real, living, breathing, farting, sweating people.

King Neptune
04-22-2013, 04:38 PM
I did a quick search of the document for the word "government" and apparently I did not specify that they're a government agency. However, they are called the "London Extraterrestrial Home Office," a title I can't easily change because the initials work nicely: LEHO. (Pronounced "Lee-oh.") Could a non-government agency use the title "Home Office"? Or would that get them into trouble?

"Home office" is not uncommonly ued for the principal offices of many businesses.

If the agency is put forth as an NGO, then you could get away with combining governmental and non-governmental jargon.


Actually, now that I think about it, your average American reader isn't going to know what the British "Home Office" is. I should probably find a way to change the title (hopefully while keeping the same initials) so it makes more sense to an American audience. That's going to be tricky.

Don't bother catering to the "average American", because such persons don't bother reading very often.

mirandashell
04-22-2013, 05:37 PM
Hmmm.... over here we use Head Office. 'Home Office' has a specific meaning with a specific role.

Orianna, I think 'Handling' would be better.

mirandashell
04-22-2013, 05:39 PM
More like Spooks/MI-5? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0160904/


ERmmmmmm.... NO!


Am I not being clear or are you just taking the piss?

Priene
04-22-2013, 06:20 PM
Having been in - and even worked in - a few government buildings in my time, I believe there are two main categories: prestige buildings, mainly in London, that have huge corridors and interesting architectural features and oak flooring; and the rest, which were constructed in a hurry in 1967, have asbestos ceilings, striplights and give you sick building syndrome just looking at them on google maps.

mirandashell
04-22-2013, 06:26 PM
LOL!

Unfortunately, I work in the second category.....

Orianna2000
04-22-2013, 06:32 PM
Oh, I think I figured out the reason they're government-run. They deal with customs and immigration, as well as diplomacy, trade, tourism, etc. That has to be government, doesn't it? Realistically, can you have a private agency controlling alien immigration?

As for the name, I've never heard of "Handling Office." It sounds like a Post Office, LOL. I'd like a phrase that readers can identify with, something that indicates what the group does. Either that, or a catchy name that's obviously a code, like "Torchwood."

Just off the top of my head:

London Extraterrestrial Agency - LEA
London Extraterrestrial Customs Office- LECO
London Extraterrestrial Security - LES
London Extraterrestrial Security Agency - LESA
League of Extraterrestrial Affairs - LEA

None of these are as catchy to me as LEHO. If any, though, I think I prefer the first and the last. They're more catch-all names, which works, since they have so many different branches that deal with different things. Although, they deal with time travel, too--not just aliens, but anything out of the ordinary.

As for the staff, I hadn't thought of making one of them truly eccentric. They all have different personalities and origins, but they're all fairly "normal." Might be interesting to give one a weird phobia or eccentricity. I'll have to give it some thought.

mirandashell
04-22-2013, 06:34 PM
LEA = Local Education Authority.

Are you planning on only publishing this in America?

Buffysquirrel
04-22-2013, 06:40 PM
Realistically, can you have a private agency controlling alien immigration?

I don't see why not, especially when you have a rabid privatising government in power. It could have come into being after the demise of the Border Agency.

Also, if this is only a sub-office of the agency, it would probably be something like Extraterrestrial Agency: London Branch.

Orianna2000
04-22-2013, 07:24 PM
LEA = Local Education Authority.

Are you planning on only publishing this in America?
I'll let them publish it wherever they want. The more countries, the better. Are you saying LEA is already taken in the UK? Is it bad to reuse initials? They do it in the US, but maybe I could come up with another "nickname" for the group. Like, instead of calling them LEA, they'll be referred to just as "the Agency" or something.


Also, if this is only a sub-office of the agency, it would probably be something like Extraterrestrial Agency: London Branch.

The group my MC joins is actually the Wandsworth Branch, a subset of the London agency. I suppose the group as a whole should be called (something like) the UK Agency for Extraterrestrial Matters, or the British Agency, rather than the London Agency, since they represent the entire UK. London houses the HQ, because it's the main point of entry for aliens visiting the UK, but there are branches in all the major cities. And sister organizations around the world.

shaldna
04-22-2013, 07:53 PM
Having been in - and even worked in - a few government buildings in my time, I believe there are two main categories: prestige buildings, mainly in London, that have huge corridors and interesting architectural features and oak flooring; and the rest, which were constructed in a hurry in 1967, have asbestos ceilings, striplights and give you sick building syndrome just looking at them on google maps.

The building I currently work in is a mix of the two - it's an old mannor house, stunning. With a horrible pre-fab extension.

Buffysquirrel
04-22-2013, 08:06 PM
It's not bad to reuse initials. It's just it could be confusing. When someone British sees LEA, they're likely to think educational authority rather than aliens. So you have a preconception to get past. That's all.

I'm pretty sure League of anything isn't something an official British agency would use. They're all agencies these days.

Steve Collins
04-22-2013, 08:38 PM
Could use a disused section of the Tube (London Underground) plenty of scope there as there are some branch lines closed since WWII. could use one of the old soundproofed tunnels as a range. In Police/Military jargon the Head Office is normally referred to as the 'Head Shed'.

Orianna2000
04-22-2013, 09:24 PM
Could use a disused section of the Tube (London Underground) plenty of scope there as there are some branch lines closed since WWII. could use one of the old soundproofed tunnels as a range. In Police/Military jargon the Head Office is normally referred to as the 'Head Shed'.

It's a good idea, but unfortunately, Torchwood already used this. Their shooting range is an abandoned Tube tunnel. I'd use it anyway, but my novel already shares several similarities with Torchwood and I need to work on keeping it distinct. But, perhaps I could incorporate abandoned tunnels into the sequel, somehow, because it would be a lot of fun!

Cyia
04-22-2013, 09:38 PM
The group my MC joins is actually the Wandsworth Branch, a subset of the London agency. I suppose the group as a whole should be called (something like) the UK Agency for Extraterrestrial Matters, or the British Agency, rather than the London Agency, since they represent the entire UK.

Would it not be a Ministry with local branches having nicknames unto themselves?

Officially The Ministry of Extraterrestrial Affairs, colloquially, they're called the Sellotape Men because you can't see them, but they'll stick to you like glue.

Corny, yes, but maybe you can come up with something akin to the Men in Black to call your guys.

King Neptune
04-22-2013, 10:36 PM
Is this the London branch office of the International External Affairs Commission? If it is, then a two part name: IEAC-LRO (London Regional Office. That would be unpronounceable and dull enough that not many people would borther inquiring what it was for.

Chris Graham
04-22-2013, 11:35 PM
Why not give it a slick one word name....a bit like the old 'Marriage Guidance Council' when it was renamed 'Relate'.

How about 'Others'...It fit's the brief, it's punchy, and it leaves you a lot of scope.

mirandashell
04-22-2013, 11:43 PM
It's not bad to reuse initials. It's just it could be confusing. When someone British sees LEA, they're likely to think educational authority rather than aliens. So you have a preconception to get past. That's all.

I'm pretty sure League of anything isn't something an official British agency would use. They're all agencies these days.

This is what I meant. If you don't publish it in Britain, then you call the org anything you like. But if you do, you will have a lot of confused readers.

Orianna2000
04-22-2013, 11:58 PM
Actually, I like the phrase "external affairs." It feels like a play on words, external meaning "outside," as in, "non-Earth." It's subtle--no one is going to guess that the Bureau of External Affairs is really the Bureau of Extraterrestrial Affairs. I believe someone said that you don't use "bureaus" in the UK, so would it be "ministry" or what? Remember, it's now a non-government agency.

Although, if I used "Extraterrestrial Affairs," I could use -ETA as the name and that has some interesting possibilities. If it was "Ministry" it would be META . . . a cool nickname. "Bureau" would be BETA, not quite as neat, but still doable. "Agency of ET Affairs" would be AETA, which sounds nice and sci-fi.

Now I'm going to have to choose between practical and cool-sounding. Hmph!

mirandashell
04-23-2013, 12:09 AM
You can't use Ministry if it's non-government, I'm afraid.

King Neptune
04-23-2013, 12:26 AM
Actually, I like the phrase "external affairs." It feels like a play on words, external meaning "outside," as in, "non-Earth." It's subtle--no one is going to guess that the Bureau of External Affairs is really the Bureau of Extraterrestrial Affairs. I believe someone said that you don't use "bureaus" in the UK, so would it be "ministry" or what? Remember, it's now a non-government agency.

Although, if I used "Extraterrestrial Affairs," I could use -ETA as the name and that has some interesting possibilities. If it was "Ministry" it would be META . . . a cool nickname. "Bureau" would be BETA, not quite as neat, but still doable. "Agency of ET Affairs" would be AETA, which sounds nice and sci-fi.

Now I'm going to have to choose between practical and cool-sounding. Hmph!

MEA: Ministry of External Affairs It is also Latin for "me" first person, singular, feminine.

CEA: Council (or Commission) on External Affairs
FEA: Foundation for External Affairs

Cyia
04-23-2013, 12:29 AM
Ah - missed the non-gov't part.

Maybe you could use "Society..." and have them front as a charity organization.

frankiebrown
04-23-2013, 01:00 AM
try watching Men In Black.

Buffysquirrel
04-23-2013, 01:47 AM
Agency of External Affairs is fine. It wouldn't be a Bureau. We just don't.

Chris Graham
04-23-2013, 01:54 AM
EAR......External affairs registry. (More UK than bureau)
EAT........ " " Team
FEAR......Foundation for External Affairs Resources.

mirandashell
04-23-2013, 04:26 PM
The thing is though.... if this is meant to be a secret organization, wouldn't a really dull name be better? Something people wouldn't ask about?

I mean, how many people ask chartered accountants what it is they actually do?

Orianna2000
04-23-2013, 10:52 PM
The thing is though.... if this is meant to be a secret organization, wouldn't a really dull name be better? Something people wouldn't ask about?

I mean, how many people ask chartered accountants what it is they actually do?

Isn't "Agency of External Affairs" dull enough? I thought it sounded like a generic name, something that wouldn't raise suspicions or pique anyone's curiosity. What did you have in mind, if that's not bland enough?

mirandashell
04-23-2013, 11:03 PM
Sorry Oriana, I was replying to the post above mine, not to you.

Yeah, that's generic enough.

ClareGreen
04-23-2013, 11:49 PM
You could always make a point of the name/initials having other meanings or being already in use. For instance, if they were External Affairs, known as EA, then...

"Good afternoon, External Affairs? No, madam, I'm afraid we don't have a register of eligible gentlemen. We aren't that sort of agency."

"Good afternoon, EA? Sorry, madam, we don't have anything to do with computer games. You need Electronic Arts. Their number is... just a moment, got it right here. It's 01..."

Chris Graham
04-24-2013, 12:37 AM
You could always make a point of the name/initials having other meanings or being already in use. For instance, if they were External Affairs, known as EA, then...

"Good afternoon, External Affairs? No, madam, I'm afraid we don't have a register of eligible gentlemen. We aren't that sort of agency."

"Good afternoon, EA? Sorry, madam, we don't have anything to do with computer games. You need Electronic Arts. Their number is... just a moment, got it right here. It's 01..."

But get the details right, London numbers begin with 0207 and 0208, depending on whether the number is in inner or outer London (but inside the M25)
Numbers starting with 01 are outside the cities. (01 used to be the London code but was changed quite a few years ago)

Also British organisations, whether Govt. or otherwise, would be very unlikely to be called 'Agency of XXXX'.
If they used the word 'Agency', as the government are at present doing occasionally, it would be 'the XXXXX agency'. (e.g. The Benefits Agency or The Driving Standards Agency.)
There actually was a Registry of Aliens (or something similar) at Lunar House, Croydon. It was a Home Office department concerned with immigration. 'Aliens' referred to foreigners.

In the UK, these kinds of set ups are usually called XXXXX office, Department of XXXXX, XXXXX registry, XXXXXX council, or if 'bureau' is used, then it's after the subject (like 'agency' is). 'Ministry of XXXXXX' is always a central govt. entity overseen by a Minister who is a member of the elected government.

I hope all this is helpful.

lbender
04-24-2013, 01:43 AM
I aliens could easily be understood to mean foreigners, the 'Alien Settlement Service' would provide a typically meaningful government acronym.

ClareGreen
04-24-2013, 03:35 PM
But get the details right, London numbers begin with 0207 and 0208, depending on whether the number is in inner or outer London (but inside the M25)
Numbers starting with 01 are outside the cities. (01 used to be the London code but was changed quite a few years ago)

I wasn't going to reply to your post, but I have to say something on this bit. Yes, London (and parts of the south coast) are 02 numbers, but the rest of the UK is 01, including the non-London non-south-coast cities, which are many. Birmingham is 0121, Manchester is 0161, and Leeds is 0113. Without looking up the EA Games call centre number direct, I doubt it's going to be anywhere as expensive as London and the south coast are. 08 would probably have been a better start, for the 'automatically-local' and 'free', but if they're getting that many calls they may well have the direct number with appropriate area code.

The other details about names etc. have already been debated at length - one reason I didn't include 'Agency' in my post - but the London-centric view of the UK is annoying.

Orianna2000
04-24-2013, 04:15 PM
The other details about names etc. have already been debated at length - one reason I didn't include 'Agency' in my post - but the London-centric view of the UK is annoying.

I believe Chris Graham was talking about London phone numbers specifically because my novel takes place in London. (Along with Boston, Cairo, New York, and a made-up city in 29th century Canada.) I'm not going to add the phone number gag to the story because it doesn't fit with what I've already written, but I do like being reminded about the little details, things I might have overlooked in my attempt at getting the British aspects of my story correct.

For instance, in one scene, I dumped my MC in Cairo, and she figures out where she is because she finds a two-toned coin with a Pharaoh on it. She found it fascinating, since she'd never seen a two-toned coin before. Then my husband took me to the UK for our wedding anniversary last year, and I immediately noticed that one of the common coins happens to be two-toned. I had to edit that scene so that my MC, who'd lived in London for a year, was already familiar with two-toned coins. Oddly, none of my British beta-readers caught this mistake.

As far as being London-centric, I picked London because it seemed the logical choice for housing the agency's UK headquarters. They get a lot of tourists there, so I figured a few hundred alien tourists are more likely to go unnoticed. As opposed to a small town, where anyone out of the ordinary is likely to stand out.

King Neptune
04-24-2013, 04:28 PM
As far as being London-centric, I picked London because it seemed the logical choice for housing the agency's UK headquarters. They get a lot of tourists there, so I figured a few hundred alien tourists are more likely to go unnoticed. As opposed to a small town, where anyone out of the ordinary is likely to stand out.

What do your aliens look like?

Oh yes, there are four armed, blue-green tourists in London in all seasons. I'm sure that the Londoners just say something neutral about the Martians.

mirandashell
04-24-2013, 04:40 PM
What do your aliens look like?

Oh yes, there are four armed, blue-green tourists in London in all seasons. I'm sure that the Londoners just say something neutral about the Martians.

Bit rude!

Orianna, you are right to put it in London as that's where most of the Government head quarters are. Not all big companies do that cos it's expensive to be in London. But yeah, if you want to hide people, hide them there.

As for the two-toned coin, I had to stop and think about that! It's the 2 coin but I think when you see something every day, you just stop noticing it.

Orianna2000
04-24-2013, 04:49 PM
LOL! Many of the aliens look human. The ones that don't are given contact lenses or other disguises. Those who can't be easily disguised have restrictions on when they can leave the embassy. There's a race that's really monsterish (think Slitheen, except ginger-colored), and they're only allowed out at night, and then only into the sewers and landfills. (They hunt rats.)

Chris Graham
04-24-2013, 05:21 PM
LOL! Many of the aliens look human. The ones that don't are given contact lenses or other disguises. Those who can't be easily disguised have restrictions on when they can leave the embassy. There's a race that's really monsterish (think Slitheen, except ginger-colored), and they're only allowed out at night, and then only into the sewers and landfills. (They hunt rats.)

Oh..... so you've been to a nightclub full of chavs then?

mirandashell
04-24-2013, 06:49 PM
Excuse me..... as a working class person myself, can I ask that you pack that in? Thank you.

King Neptune
04-24-2013, 07:33 PM
LOL! Many of the aliens look human. The ones that don't are given contact lenses or other disguises. Those who can't be easily disguised have restrictions on when they can leave the embassy. There's a race that's really monsterish (think Slitheen, except ginger-colored), and they're only allowed out at night, and then only into the sewers and landfills. (They hunt rats.)

Now are they all that different from some of the punks, spiky heads and all, or what? They should be a big hit at parties.

Parallel evolution is not unreasonable right down to hemoglobin and body size.

Chris Graham
04-24-2013, 11:05 PM
Excuse me..... as a working class person myself, can I ask that you pack that in? Thank you.

My apologies, Miranda....... but so am I.
Being working class is something to be proud of. You don't have to be a chav if you're working class. (The clue's in the name... 'Working' class)

Now, can I remove my tongue from my cheek?.... it's getting uncomfortable.

mirandashell
04-24-2013, 11:28 PM
Being working class yourself is no excuse. In fact you of all people should know better.

And no, it's not funny.

Chris Graham
04-25-2013, 04:10 AM
OK... no offence was intended, I apologise.
I'm sorry if it upset you.

Cath
04-25-2013, 05:51 AM
Chris, you're new so I'll give you the benefit. Chavs is a loaded term, which some may embrace but others don't. As an example, try replacing it with one of the more racially or sexual-orientation charged terms that have been reclaimed by their population and see if you'd still be comfortable using it.

Our one rule here is respect. As a writer, you're expected to understand the words you use and how they may influence others. Choose your words carefully.

Chris Graham
04-25-2013, 02:53 PM
Thanks, Cath. I hadn't considered 'chav' as a loaded term in that sort of way. Are you suggesting that individuals are actually referring to themselves as 'chavs' ? That one had passed me by, but I'll be aware of it in future.

I don't feel that it's in the same category as racial or sexual orientation terms. (or gender in general and disability) as they are identities that one has no choice over.
Any ill treatment or outright discrimination of those people is completely unforgivable. However, if you choose a lifestyle, then you choose its downsides as well as its benefits. I have been discriminated against because I'm a biker, but I accept it's going to happen (less these days) because it's my choice. I know punks that have not been given jobs because of their hair, tattoos, piercings ....things that they can't really leave at home... Strangely though, one's choice of religion is treated as if it's a disability or other unavoidable condition in a lot of legislative ways, but lack of belief (or belief in nothing) can be discriminated against with relative impunity in some cultures.
This isn't really the thread for this subject though, and members' sensitivities must be respected, so rules are rules, and I apologise if I've stepped over the line.
I'll be more careful in future. Thanks again for pointing it out.