kais

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1,111 Scadrian Waffle Cook

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About kais

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    Master of Cellulose (they/them)

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  1. Welcome, and congratulations on your first submission! Overall I think what you have here is a great exploratory writing exercise. You're investigating your world and the characters, which is all part of building a good story. None of the segments appear to have a narrative arc, which is something you can address in rewrites. I think a lot of this will eventually be condensed down into maybe the first half of a chapter, and then you can finish the character and world building arcs. For right now it's great exploration of where you want the story to eventually go. As I go - great opening line - pg 4: I am engaged, but all this mention of ash now at page four, and I'm starting to get a touch irritated. I need more info on why it is important to stay engaged - pf 5: oh, it's a prologue? It ends very chapter like. I'm not sure what its point is. Does it substantially add to the narrative? The beginning might, so it might be that you just need to condense it to maybe two pages or so, have it end with the dad's burial in the water, which was great, and leave us readers hanging on that intriguing high note to head into chapter 1 - chapter one starts around page 8 I think - pg 8: I don; t understand enough about the world to get what is happening here. The impact is lost - pg 10: Chapter one doesn't appear to have an arc. It has maybe a page of new information. Can this be condensed with chapter 2 maybe? - pg 14: I'm also not sure what the arc of chapter 2 is
  2. Overall The last beat is great, and fitting to end on. Loved it. This was a great wrap-up chapter and I have no complaints. It clearly sets up expectations for the next book. My main issue remains that I feel like a vital component of sci fi, particularly hard sci fi, is missing. I don't think the stakes raised sufficiently in the final third, like there was a missing plot element that got left out. Army command having more impact, seeing that impact, might just do it. As I go - pg 4: this definitely feels like an end of book one wrap up section, which is just fine. I still feel like this book didn't really manifest a final arc though - pg 11: Ah, the making of an angry young man to plot with in Book 2 - pg 16: I'm confused that he doesn't do more to find the author. I like the arc but I still think he should at least try, or we get more on why he physically can't do more - ZOMBIES,
  3. Overall I enjoyed parts of this a lot. However I am definitely antsy now. I'd like to see the stakes raising consistently at this point. We got some with the authority structures, but then it was more chit chat and summary. We are fairly close to the end of the book, yes? If so, I feel like we are missing the C beat, the one that starts real slow at the start and as the stakes raise it becomes more and more important until it has subsumed the A and B plots at the end (or merged with them). I'm wondering if we don't have it because it's more part of the short story you did for Distant Gardens? As I go - Mysterious Fling Series.... perfection - pg 4: It had become a tradition for their squad while flaming out infestations. <-- this sounds like flaming their squad mates had become traditio - pg 8: I feel like the colonists are being willfully obtuse at this stage about fungal intelligence. The biologists at least should have sorted it by now. Maybe even halfway through the book, which would have given I think the sort of climbing tension and amping stakes we are missing. It still feels early in the book here. They're fighting the same thing, in the same way. The fungus is evolving, but the people aren't - pg 12: this section through here is a lot of being told and summary. It isn't as engaging - pg 20: this power grab situation is great but I definitely expected it more in the middle of the book. This is the increasing stakes I've been after - pg 27: Afterwards, they got to open their presents <-- I think we're missing a beat before this. It comes abruptly - pg 34: the chitchat through here is long. I'm anxious for more uprising! The birthday party and kid stuff was good but I think the second half could be cut. We know all of that information already and it stalls the narrative - love the end bit but again, would like to see the stakes rise in person instead of summary
  4. Overall The changing of the biomass was neat and I enjoyed it. Notes below, of course. I'm starting to feel, however, that a greater plot is missing from this book. I love the characters and I love the science. I think I want more biomass POV, and needs more...I don't know. Clear direction? Is the purpose of the book merely to survive and thrive? I think there's a B-plot maybe that's missing, some sort of undercurrent, like a traitorous person working in league with the fungus, or just wanting to kill the colony so they have to go back in space, or the biomass maybe splitting off into two and one part helps the colonists and the other doesn't. Something like that. Tension should be doubling or tripling by now, and it's not that it's not going up. It's just not exponentially going up, like I would expect this far into the book. I keep waiting for the chapter where the stakes double, but that hasn't happened yet. Otherwise though, I love this, as always. Great maternal tension and understanding of the horrific balance between work, duty, self, and parenthood. As I go - pg 1: I'm not sure a new daycare would report on three year olds acting out. Anyone with child knowledge would know that it'll take a good six months before kiddos that age even start to calm down in a new environment. And three year olds are jerks to begin with, so I'm not sure what 'acting out' would entail. Even hitting and biting would be normal behaviors at that age. My kid stabbed another kid with a fork at four and no one thought it was a big deal (except me. I thought it was a big deal). - pg 5: The Generationals were as trained with the ‘throwers as Vagals were, by this point, but the ... <-- this section is redundant. We already know all of this - had tried to take all the writing chalk for himself. J said she’d talk to him about it. <--- this is deeply typical three year old behavior and wouldn't even ping for a parent discussion. Now, if the kid had eaten the chalk so all the other kids couldn't have any, that might do it. Or they, I don't know, shoved it in their underpants or ooooh, flushed the whole pack down the toilet. Then it would be a 'you need to pay for more chalk and talk to your kid' issue. But straight up taking from other kids is part of that age development - pg 7: Something that isn’t supposed to happen <-- the great tension here is spoiled by the use of 'something.' I'd like a more specific reaction, like this fungus does not follow the rules. At least, not the rules Earth fungi follow. They can't digest plastic. This isn't right! - pg 9: the birthday gift scene is adorable but now I want the fungus to come out of the toys and infect the kid but it's a good symbiosis and now kiddo is our new overlord - pg 10: I'd like more specifics here. How is it digesting plastic? That is a specific enzyme it needs, but unless it's eating the plastic, it's doing the enzyme as a secondary metabolite, not a primary. That has a big growth cost that would slow the biomass a lot. So it would be worth having someone debating this--is it actually eating, or just dissolving? - pg 12: I don't understand what 'capping' is or does - 'weathervane' samples would just be called 'site research plots' or something akin. It's common for fungal decay tests to do this - pg 13: I feel like we're overdue for a biomass POV - pg 18: oof, kid guilt - the last interlude is nice, but the tension slows again.
  5. Overall I really enjoy the premise of this. I assume it's a short story? I think this chapter has the bones to be a full novel, and one that I would read! The ending felt flat to me, because you'd built a neat world and then we didn't get to explore it. And the retrieval of the cat was too easy and not satisfying. But if this were expanded, even to a short story, I think it would be killer. Nice work. As I go - the second line has a redundancy on 'distance' - That first paragraph has the potential for really neat imagery, but the sentences need a bit of restructuring to make them easier to parse - pg 2: Good kitty, this is an interesting greeting for sentient, giant cats. Would they find it infantilizing? - pg 5: I'm stuck on the cat issue. They're extra large but still just basic house cats? I think we might need a line or two of exposition, or dialogue, or something, where we get a quick, Traditional cats had been lap sized. But irradiation (or whatever) turned them giant and did XX to their intelligence, and now they bond with humans like Cringer from He-Man or something akin - pg 6: we get a bit of explanation on page six but it isn't answering my primary question. And unfortunately that question is so big it's keeping me from engaging with the narrative the way I want to - pg 7: Like a boy being made to eat creamed spinach. <--- LOL I love this - the battery trade is a really interesting world building point and it's a great hook. I also am enjoying the cat hunters town. The world building is moving at a great pace - pg 12: I'm really interested in this no-cat town. I love the idea that the old people are just excited to have a young person. The MC may be afraid but there's something really relatable and comforting in this town that really draws the reader in, even though we know it's populated by cat-haters - pg 14: She should have followed her instinct and carried on past the town. It had been a fool's errand and now she was here and indebted. If they wanted to make trouble, there wasn't much incentive she could give to let her go. She could offer everything she had, and it would be exactly what they'd get if they just decided to steal her bag. <-- I don't understand. Everyone has been really polite. Aren't her batteries payment? I don't understand this or her paranoia - pg 18: the townspeople were just fine. I don't understand the MCs reactions and anger on this page. Is she being coded as autistic maybe? She seems to be following some sort of internal set of rules that the townsfolk, and the reader in theory, don't see. In this page she comes off as young and naiive, with a chip on her shoulder for no reason - pg 20: I don't understand what or who the 'feral queen' is - pg 22: she just...found her cat? That was really easy and bleeds a lot of tension from the narrative - and she just cut her free and they're off? Why did we get the backstory of the cat hoarder then? That seems like unfulfilled reader promises
  6. Overall For me, this installment dragged in several places. It didn't feel like we got enough plot movement to balance all the human interest pieces. I like human interest a lot! And there were a lot of neat scenes. But I think to counterbalance the homeyness you'll need more forward movement in the antagonism scenes, like with the fungus. Still very engaging! As I go - up to page 8: I understand the purpose behind this first interlude, but for me it dragged on and without much point. It was hard to stay focused as, aside from the acid in the fungi, didn't appear to give much forward momentum - pg 10: the fungus interlude is excellent - time to find a hobby, indeed! - pg 18: He could kill a weed <-- was this supposed to be couldn't kill a weed? Otherwise it doesn't make sense - pg 24: LOL spicy books - I adore the market scene - pg 30: I think A's sections might go on a bit long, as they don't seem to tie directly into plot progression -
  7. Overall I don't have much to comment on, as I didn't connect with most of the material. It was hard to stay focused on the narrative when I was connecting with S, but not the greater world. There was so much talking and set up without a lot of progression, so it just felt like talking heads trying to set the stage for future movement. As I go - ah, the handling of the intersex condition is much better! - pg 6: an evildoer <-- this is childish and makes me not take the narrative seriously. Can we get a more menacing term? - pg 8: it's chapter two and I still don't really have any idea what is going on. I'm engaged with our MC but the political situation, the greater world, I remain floundering - pg11: I'm much more engaged when they find the crystals. There was just too much talking in the first ten pages. It needs to be condensed down
  8. Overall An engaging piece! It has a lot of heart and warmth. It doesn't have an arc so much, so I'm not sure it's likely what the competition would be looking for, but there's enough substance there that I think some minor tweaks at the start could fix it. If we had a bit more about why the MC is helping the boy (does the MC also fear death? Is helping the boy helping him face death, too? Is the boy his son? etc.) it would allow the story to have a front part of the arc, and then allow the ending to be more satisfying. Right now the emotional beats are there, but the point of the story is not. As I go - how is the hangman allowing a story of this length to continue?? - oh I see, the boy is about to be hung too? Might want more blocking with that
  9. One of these days, I won't be behind anymore... Overall Again, not much to say. A few notes below. I liked the interspersion of babies/children and still battling the biomass. I liked the human political structures coming in, and of course I adored the biomass POV. The last beat of the sub didn't hold my attention the way the rest did, but I think it's because, narratively speaking, I was looking for the stakes to increase there instead of it being an emotional resonance beat. Other than that, another great installment. As I go - YESSSS fungus POV! - I adore Frank - pg 7: Her, without a womb, without a partner, had a child, a biological child that was all—nearly all—hers. <-- this is really beautiful - pg 14: started on their journey, she would have wet her panties <-- 'panties' is an interesting choice here, coming from a female POV. I'm mulling it over. Is she a b-word, a lesbian top... it's a loaded word, especially coming from a woman, and I'm wondering if it was chosen specifically for what it tells us about the MC. - pg 20: I suspect it’s sucking the minerals out of the ground, which is why we can’t find any <--- LOL this is not how fungi work - pg 23: little green and pink fur coats <-- adorable - pg 35: I'm laughing because fungi make major changes like that all the time
  10. Sorry for being so late. Overall It read pretty smoothly! Some comments below but generally it moved well and the chapters arced. This version has moved away from spooky caper and into mysticism, and while I'm not personally as interested in that, if it gets you the agent, do it up! As I go - pg 1: aww, that's sweet about the deadname - pg 3: wait, why can he come out of the doll now? I don't understand. This seems plot convenient - pg 3: A blur of purple slammed shut <-- I don't know what this means/what is happening - 'ahead of her time in terms of safety' and 'she killed them' doesn't seem like it fits. Is this supposed to be jarring? Because it interrupts the flow of what was otherwise a nicely progressing spooky vibe - pg 6: there are some great beats on this page, but the interior monologue goes on a bit too long. I'd suggest cutting at least one paragraph, like the one that starts with All my doubts about - pg 9: she's stealing someone's life I feel like could be more specific. The vagueness makes it lose punch. - pg 12: there's a lot more magic in this than I remember, a lot more of our MC having special powers and a lot less of solving a caper Scooby Doo style. - pg 13: but he was apparently out of energy again <-- again, when he is around and when he isn't is very plot convenient - pg 14: you're missing a period after Junk J on the second line - pg 15: LOL at the Breyer horse! - nice end line to page 18, though I think I'd have liked a little more time and backstory on their weapons. That's the funny caper part I'm here for
  11. Overall I remain confused and curious about humans born outside a womb. So much of what we learn comes from what we hear in utero. How does this affect the colonists? I wonder if they wouldn't have maybe detachment disorders? Immune system problems for sure, there's a lot of research about immune systems of kids born vaginally (stronger immunity) versus C-section. The stuff they pick up in the vagina on the way out primes their immune system and significantly lowers their risk of asthma and such. I'm wondering if this could be worked in somehow, to discuss maybe how tube babies get sick more, adapt faster, or something, to the biomass, while the human body born have more/fewer problems? #sciencemusing Loved this chapter though. I was thinking D might pull through with some superpower, but understood his death. I think his partner's emotions might need better grouping to evolve organically, but other than that it was fun! As I go - pg 1: A baby boom was just what they needed. She didn’t know if she needed a baby. <-- WRS maybe, but don't they both have to be wanting one to have one? Or is she getting cold feet? Emotions here are unclear - pg 4: Our MC's emotions seem out of order. I feel like we are getting them in pieces instead of a narrative whole - pg 6: do..do babies snore? I think if they do something is very wrong! - pg 10: The hyphae come from that spot <-- the spore head, or fruiting body, is what it's called - pg 12: A new life. A horrible burden <-- this is such a relatable emotion of parenthood
  12. Finally have some time! Overall The first POV dragged a bit for me, but I liked the context and action a lot. The second was a lot of fun and I loved the lab and honey bits. Nothing really to report below, just some real life fungi that may be of interest. Fungus honey, I would totally eat. As I go - I feel like vile stuff should be in caps since we don't get specifics on it - That first paragraph needs a quick tightening. 'Supposedly derived from...' without a specific, makes it sound like the hand was derived, not the drink - BAHAHA killer tree fungus - pg 9: I giggled at 'steel strong mushroom' - pg 12: The green and pink filaments weren’t hairs. They were hyphae—fungal roots <-- consider instead that fungi can literally colonize hair follicles and turn the hair colors (see Scytaloidium cuboideum). This would be more plausible than forming macro fruiting forms. Amusingly, this fungus colors things bright pink. - decanting babies...I laugh every time - love that end line
  13. Overall Some interesting points in this chapter, but it lags in places, too. In @Mandamon's quote above, he really nails the issues I had, too. The good parts, the tension parts, are saturated in fluff. Once those get trimmed back I think this will be an interesting chapter As I go - I'm enjoying the darts and grandfather portrait scene - pg 6: I don't understand what is going on - pg 8: slow going through here. The grandfather portrait revelation was good, as was how it got there, but there's a lot of filler in between - pg 12: I'm interested in the poisoning and the friends/enemies, not so much our MC. We're pretty far into the book for her to still be doing the 'poor me' thing - would be better to end on what the news is, instead of just saying there is news.
  14. I agree with everything @Silk said, and I want to emphasize that you should use the pronoun in line with your character's gender. Their physical form has nothing to do with that. Being agender, if that is what you are going for, is in fact, a gender, and one that would then use they/them/theirs or some form of neopronoun. But gender isn't tied to what your body looks like, so it's important to keep those distinct.
  15. FIRST! Overall Generally, pretty smooth. This part didn't move as quickly as the last part, but there weren't noticeable lag areas, either. I like the children touchstones, so that kept me invested even without action. Nicely done. As I go - pg 2: they can keep the biomass from encroaching on the animal pens. <-- there's a whole story in here somewhere about how the only way to defeat the biomass is to cross it with pig DNA and now the whole planet isn't kosher and Jewish people are so conflicted - yay they get to have a baby in a ....tube. Honestly if tube pregnancy had been offered to me I might have taken it - pg 6: Well, gentlemen, ladies, and others <-- opportunity missed for my favorite whimsical guys, gals, and nonbinary pals - pg 8: had a sprinkling of salt and paper, <-- assuming you meant pepper, not paper - pg 10: we have enough to Beta Radian <-- verb missing - love the ending