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284 Silent Gatherer

About industrialistDragon

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  1. Technically yes, but if you're talking about wine and spirits, "wine" is specifically made from grapes, and "fruit wine" is the same process using any other kind of fruit (that doesn't have its own special name like perry (pears) and cider (apples). Mead and dandelion wine can sometimes be called a "fruit wine" even though they're made from honey and dandelions, respectively, just to make things even clearer). I understood immediately what it was, but then, I have a bunch of alcohol-trivia-and-history aficionados in my family. Unfortunately, I don't have much to add beyond that. I agree on pretty much all counts with @kais and @Mandamon. It's a bit slow to get going, but I don't mind because I did get invested in it. Though, like Mandamon, I got a bit antsy by the end of the third chapter waiting for something to happen. This is easily the best piece I've read from you, and with P's connection to the stars and astrology, I agree with Kais that it'd be a good fit from what I know of that anthology. I also agree that it'd be great as a novella, but it would need a really meaty inciting incident to make what I've seen so far feel like it could support the length of a novel. Sorry this is mostly a RAEBNC
  2. This is a really good question! English doesn't have a gender neutral formal address word or general honorific that I know of. The equivalent for Mr/Mrs/Ms is Mx, but I can't think of an equivalent to Sir. I think most of the books I've read have made them up. I remember one that just called everyone Sir, and I've seen ones that only used people's titles (like Captain, General, Professor, Doctor etc, which are all gender-neutral by default). One book I distinctly remember used hom or homme. I think another used ser? (though that has Game of Thrones connotations now). Wiki says Ind (for individual) is one. There's always the option of reformulating the sentences to simply not use ANY terms like that. So "Excuse me, sir!" becomes just "Excuse me!" or "Excuse me, please!" English is at least nice in that we don't have to gender anything to be polite if we don't want to. Looking to other languages, several have gender neutral particles, like das for German, that you might be able to use as a starting point. For that matter, the German formal pronoun, Sie, is gender neutral. Japanese has san, which is also used for any gender, if I recall, but is closer to a Mr/Ms/Mx analog I think. @kais? Any ideas from the other languages you're familiar with? @shatteredsmooth? Is there one that I'm missing?
  3. Absolutely!
  4. I was thinking about this a bit, and while the background information on the scifi elements is certainly important for you as the author to think about and know, most of where it pops up in the plot feels pretty superfluous to me. I feel like you could probably just cut the words out of the story without much trouble or need for rewriting.
  5. I have seen the show! I thought the did a good job of making him seem like a whole person and not some kind of alien, but there's been some pushback from the autism community (I think one of the links I had was specifically about the Good Doctor). From what I was reading of the criticism, The Good Doctor is more Hollywood autism, and the doctor basically only exists to explain autism to his neurotypical friends and/or make them feel better about themselves when they treat him with the basic level of respect.
  6. The questions: -Is it enjoyable? Hard no, almost 100% because of L. -Is the magic system and worldbuilding clear? Yes, but I have at least some background in it from reading other pieces. -Are the characters engaging? Again, no because of L. Infuriating, perplexing, took-me-two-and-a-half-days-to-get-through-it, but not particularly enjoyable at the moment. I can see where it would be, if L gets treated differently. To be clear, I don't think he needs to be reworked to be less autistic, I think the text needs to do a much better job of treating him like a fully-sentient, rational character of the same calibre as rest of the cast. -Does the story make sense? More or less. Some fridge logic moments (why can't the mother use the song in the hostage situation?), and one very pedophilia-laced scene with the Mother and L (seriously, yeesh), but otherwise pretty clear. As I go: (I read the updated sections too) The council in the beginning seems more in line with what I know of them from elsewhere. I still think O's being a little logic-missing taking them to task for an intraplantary war, but it doesn't feel as pronounced and the rebuffing makes a lot more sense. O's reasoning inside the pixie battle is more spelled out, and I like that the one he interacts with is at least annoyed by him now. However, I still find it a bit odd that he's basically ignored or treated like a piece of the landscape for 95% of the fight and then is suddenly chased by the attackers when he drops his shield. Right now it feels to me like the warriors are attacking the hive specifically to go after O, and that doesn't seem to jive with the way he was being ignored, or with what you've said about wanting to show him stepping in places where he doesn't belong. "Council said he could and could not do" -- I would like to have heard more about this, at least in passing. it makes more sense for him to rebel or lash out if he's been specifically told he can't do things and has been chafing under the rules for some time. Can the council ground a mage for being annoying to Heads-of-House? ". Finally, recognition" -- again, I would have liked a bit more sense of this early on, as it doesn't seem to be supported by the rest of the text. So far, pretty much everyone from the council guards to the Council itself, to nearly every pixie he's interacted with, have recognized or treated him specially in some way. Desire for accolades is also a pretty good reason to go be a hero in a war, as well, so seeing it earlier would make some sense. I agree that if he's supposed to be affected by it, then the reaction to the first death could be punched up more. The mother singing is cool, but it kind of makes me wonder why she didn't do that with the guard holding her tail hostage....? I feel like the end could be punched up a bit more, but I do like him being chastised for saving the day. L and Hollywood Autism I've pulled this out to it's own section because by far and away, L, his "affliction," and L's treatment by O, K and the text itself was the thing I had the most problems with. So, L. @kais was much nicer about it than I would have been (or am going to be), but L is just a huge collection of unfortunate implications right now. Nearly every single description of him, action performed by him, or interaction with him infantilizes a mature, fully sentient being or treats him like an actual animal incapable of rational thought. The text outright describes him as a pet at one point. He's vulnerable. He growls and mewls. He crawls. He can't be trusted to understand basic things like recognizing pain or danger. Both K and O treat him disparagingly or condescendingly. None of that is great for a character that's supposed to be viewed as fully sentient and rational, but then there's the obvious call-out to autism layered on top of it and it just gets so much worse. L has a textbook case of Hollywood autism, which is problematic in it's own right. But infantilizing people with autism (and people with disabilities in general) is one of those pernicious stereotypes that causes real harm to real people, and even though I know that's not what you intended, that's what's coming across in big neon letters. For K, she treats L with condescension, impatience and a lack of understanding, and says he has "mental differences." But he doesn't, does he? From a Pixie's perspective and from what you've said, isn't L's behavior normal for a male? Plus, this is described as just how the males are, so in theory at least, the Pixie civilization as a whole is one that has evolved with what's basically autism as the baseline normal for an entire gender (and I think that's a really cool idea!). Even if K had never seen a male of her species before this point (which is untrue, since it's clear K has had interactions with L before this), how is it that she is totally unequipped to deal with him? Did the Pixies just never develop any part of their culture or society to handle interactions with the opposite gender? After the scene in L's rooms, K doesn't even acknowledge L's existence until the end where she does the reveal with L's sudden heretofore unknown genius-level field surgery skills, and to me it feels less like she's appreciating a fellow rational person's abilities and more like she's showing off to O what clever pet can do. For O, he mostly just treats L as an infant or a pet, despite the lengthy description of him having a friend with autism as a child. That whole section of getting L out of his rooms just seems weird to me, with K unable or completely unwilling to interact with a valued member of her own species/family to the point that it's only O, the interloper, of a completely different species, that's able to see through the symptoms, reach out to him, and save the day. O is our POV character and so I take most of the textual descriptions as coming from him, and the text never misses an opportunity to reinforce how babyish and animalistic L behaves. It feels really at odds with the way the text portrays O as the one who understands L earlier. I really think the idea of a people for whom the neuroatypical is just normal is really really cool. But as it stands right now, all I'm seeing from the text is a lot of stereotypes and lack of thought.
  7. Polar Vortex Days are my excuse for the tardiness of this post. Overall: This sections reads a bit rougher than the first part, just from a technical standpoint. I think, like the first part, I'm also missing enough description to really give me a foothold into what's going on.I think the background information here is good, but I feel like it should be the focus of the story, and at the beginning instead of at the end. I like the revelations in this section however I feel like they need to be built up or foreshadowed more and earlier. Like the first section, I felt reading this like the focus was off. I like E and U and their interaction and want to read more of that. I'm not particularly interested in the assassins. The Nine of the title feel like almost an afterthought for me, and I wonder if they should even be named and described at all -- a generic assault by an enemy force or assassin-bots would serve the same purpose and not take up description space that I feel like would be better used to flesh out the three primary characters (E, Eld, and U). As I go: I was also confused by the arm part. I didn't understand who was where when it happened, and how everyone was suddenly elsewhere afterwards. I think E just had a flashback but it was difficult to tell when in time the events were happening, due to the verb tense issues. the single tear is kind of an overused cliche, and I am also a little unclear why E is shedding it. I'm really confused after E goes into the closet. Blocking, again, mostly. What is going on? The room seems to start out empty, and lit, but then becomes dark and filled with people? There's a hidden room? or hallway? It's very confusing to me. Eld twist feels like it comes from nowhere. I'd much rather have more interaction and possible foreshadowing with Eld than the information I got about the Nine, since the Nine weren't even "onscreen" at all.
  8. Over all: Man, I never think I'm going to have much to say, and then I write a book. It definitely has promise, but I'm not really sure the motivations are quite there yet, and the pacing is a little uneven and abrupt. I really am looking forward to reading more about the pixies, that seems really cool! The questions: --Is it enjoyable? More or less. I didn't really get interested until K showed up, though. O right now is not a super enjoyable POV for me at the moment. --Are the characters engaging? I like seeing K again! O is more puzzling/confusing than engaging right now, L has potential but nearly zero screen time in this section and everyone else is just walk-ons, so. ::shrug:: -- Does the story make sense? Yes for values of "sense" that mean "follows a chronological order that is easy to ascertain." I question the logic and reasonableness of just about the entirety of O's decision-making process, and the pixies' bland acceptance of a O randomly appearing out of nowhere seems a bit off. So, if that's the definition of "sense," then it's closer to "not quite" for me. --Would this make you want to read more of this series? Honestly not as yet. The back half might change this, still. However, so far, I've not seen the either the dangling hooks I'd need to really clue-in to the fact that it's part of a series, or the sort of amazing characters that would make me run to google to see if there was any more out there. As I go: Despite the talk of war this feels like a bit of a slow open. Council politics are inherently kind of boring, I think, and without more of a reason to care, it's not really grabbing me. "intimidation display" -- Some odd, distancing word choices coming from someone describing a person of the same species as themselves. I wouldn't say of another human I was interacting with, "he moved closer to me and crossed his arms in an intimidation display," so it feels off. I am somewhat confused as to why O even thought the fighting was something in the maji's jurisdiction, much less that somehow one broadsheet article out of an apparent continuing trend of articles somehow merited breaking into a closed meeting of his superiors. Like, yo where's the fire my dude? I only know what I've read of this world from your subs here, but it seems like the non-violence policies of the one-house maji bureaucracy is well and firmly established (since wasn't the super-secret secret war preparedness mission a big part of the super-secret secret 2-house cabal story? Unknown unknowns and all that?). I feel... sort of like this establishing information could be better delivered in a different way? Like, that's the main point of this council, yes? Get O to the battle while reminding readers of the basic world setup? So like, I keep picturing him as a grad student ranting to his fellow TAs over a huge pile of papers to be graded and endless coffee.. Somebody tries to get him to shut up with some variant of "put your money where your mouth is" and then he actually does... I don't know. That's probably not any better. Hmm... I think I'm just having a hard time with O's thought processes in general. Rather than seeming arrogant, he's coming across to me as rash, and possibly a little deluded. Naive, yes, but to me it feels like the sort of willful naivete of someone who feels entitled to special treatment, which I feel like is at odds with him ranting about how the maji get special treatment and won't help the little guy. ...Yeah, the more I think about it, I think entitled, capricious, and callow would be the words I'd use to describe O here. That's K from the other thing isn't it? I enjoy the interactions with her. (though, I think I missed the tie-in to the other story the first time I read this, partially because every other pixie O's interacted with so far has just been so blase in their reactions) So, at the end, there's a lack of emotion and reaction that I think is endemic to your early drafts just in general, but I think also maybe here there's a lack of ... foundation? I feel like I need to know more about what made O decide to take such a drastic step as to go awol on his job and/or studies, or at least stay in the N longer to build up more frustration with the bureaucracy... but at the same time, I also feel like if that's not the point of the story then I'd care much less about why he decided to go there if the story started when he'd already arrived, if that makes sense?
  9. @kais has the TLDR of it -- the voice of the narrative, not just the characters, needs to refute the bad opinions, and I would add that both the characters holding the opinions and the characters to whom the discrimination applies need to be fully fleshed out with depth, and not stereotypes. It's not just what the characters say, either, it's the voice of the author as it comes through the prose as a whole, and unfortunately silence or neutrality will be perceived as acceptance of the problematic views. By saying that E's not supposed to grow out of these beliefs, you're already making the job much more difficult for yourself. Characters growing out of problematic ideas, while it can become a bit gimmicky or mawkish, is one of the more common ways of showing that the problematic views on display aren't being portrayed positively. Likewise, using your narrator to show that these beliefs are not something acceptable to modern audiences is another common way to avoid making the work seem like it is praising problematic ideas. Simply upping the horror is not going to be enough to refute the entire cast's sentiments, and in fact, it would likely go towards proving authorial support of them. Two possible suggestions I have as a way to start addressing this problem would be to introduce characters who don't share the prevailing views of the time, and to make the maid a more fully-realized character instead of a caricature. Even when the prevailing thoughts of an era say horrible things, there are always people who believe otherwise and work towards changing those beliefs. Acknowledging that such alternative points of view exist will help keep the opinions contained to the characters that have them. Secondly, the maid seems to be the underclass character that will have the most contact with E, and so playing the maid (or any other characters marginalized character E comes into regular contact with) sympathetically and with depth instead of for cheap, shallow laughs will go towards showing that E is not stating facts of her world, but merely her own opinions. Lastly, I have some links, essays and other tips that I think will help as you navigate this issue: For general "quick 'n' dirty" tips: the TVTrope's article on How to Avoid Unfortunate Implications is a good place to start. It talks about writing fully-fleshed out characters and avoiding writing for the lowest common denominator (which is sometimes here called going for the "low-hanging fruit") Also this Legit Writing Tip talking about how to write problematic characters in general (you'll see a couple options noted there that have already been mentioned). More specifically for your work, I would suggest these two Writing Excuses episodes. In the season 9 episode, Mary Robinette talks about her experience writing a historically-based fantasy story and how she managed to balance maintaining accuracy in portraying historical biases while also writing something acceptable for modern audiences. In the season 11 one, DongWon Song talks about how to write characters whose opinions you don't agree with. Writing Excuses season 9, episode 3: Character Perception vs. Narrative Perception with Nancy Fulda (transcript is here: ) Writing Excuses Season 11, episode 48: Elemental Issue Q&A with DongWon Song (transcript is here: Finally, here is a link about modern "problematic opinions:" Writing with Color on writing racist characters -- Writing with Color is a great blog for questions about how to handle racial issues in writing. I know this is not precisely the issue at hand here, but I believe there are tips that would be applicable.
  10. The Baen Fantasy Adventure Contest is back. Deadline is April 30.
  11. Overall, I had a hard time getting into this. There are a lot of interesting ideas in this piece, but I feel like they are coming at me too quickly for me to really get a handle on them. I feel like maybe narrowing the focus to be more on E and U rather than having so much of the world info up front around them might help anchor me to the story a bit better. As I go: The invented curse words aren't really landing for me, I'm afraid. The dialogue is feeling a bit stilted here and plot-ful at the beginning here, too I think I agree with the lack of stakes. Nothing really goes wrong for E. They have a plan in place for everything, and I tend to find that kind of perfection to be a bit boring. Honestly, I'm feeling more for U at this point. It seems like she's being kept out of the knowledge that would contextualize why her Big Important Party is being ruined and I can sympathize with that kind of frustration. I've also seen more emotion out of U than I have out of E. I feel like a lot of what E does is summarize, and while the context is nice, I don't know that I need so much of it in a short story. I feel like I want more action and emotions, and maybe a bit tighter focus on the main players, rather than the overview of everything related to the event. I also feel like this might be front-loading some of the information, especially about the assassins and other kingdoms, earlier than it really needs to be included. I would rather hear about what makes the threat so credible than what the assassins are made of before I've even seen them, for instance. I am a little confused as to why the assassins shot up a random village, too. Wanton random destruction seems outside their purview. I like the dynamic between E and U, how they used to be close and aren't any longer, and I think they are really good protagonists.
  12. Hello and welcome to Reading Excuses! Overall, the world seems very interesting and I don't mind the subjective omniscient narrator so much, though it is rather uncommon nowadays. However I'm afraid I found this section very confusing, both in the plot aspects and from a technical standpoint. Plot-wise, I'm with the others. I have no context for what is going on and receive little sense the characters as individuals. The characters come so many so quickly that I had a hard time keeping them all straight. Since I couldn't get a handle on the characters, I couldn't really figure out what was going on with the plot. either. A small summary of the important events from book one would probably have helped me. Comments as I go: Having sentences of varying length and order is a good thing, since it keeps readers engaged in a work. However, I found many of the sentences in this piece were so long that I lost the thread of what was going on, while others were so confusingly arranged that I couldn't figure out what they were trying to say. Be careful of run-on sentences, sentences with too many dependent clauses, or multiple clauses that need to be broken up into their own sentences. I like the narrator's personality, and that it's in a style that's not often seen nowadays. It feels to me like you are very comfortable with it as well. However, like @Mandamon, I do think it's overdone at times and comes across as a bit twee. Likewise, the descriptions are very evocative but at times seem to me to be a bit overwritten. None of it is wrong, but I feel like it could be dialed back a couple notches. The switch to first person for the narrator caught me by surprise and confused me. Is this a character in the story or just a commentator? Either way is fine, it just needs to be consistent. "Simian" is a really awful way to describe a human, much less a servant, if they are not an anthropomorphised gorilla or monkey. It has some really unfortunate implications. From your summary the story seems very interesting and I would like to see where this goes.
  13. Close! It's more like "mix" or "miks." Coined in the 1970s, it's the M from Mr/Miss/Mrs plus the variable 'x' meaning an unknown element.
  14. Overall -- this is improved. I'm not frustrated at the text anymore and I'm getting more of a feel for the character as her own person. The action happens faster, but I think E's motivation and the story's through-line is still somewhat lacking. As I go: I do not think they're hunting animals anymore, at least. Though, now I'm wondering why N is there at all. She's an interesting character and the interaction's not bad, but it doesn't seem to do much for the forward momentum of the story. It seems like now that the order is the primary thing that gets E moving, and most of the info about T -- and N for that matter -- comes out in internal monologue anyway, I feel like N's character could be just as easily conveyed in a personal PS to the bottom of the message itself, and the official text or whatever could establish the plot more concretely early on. I feel like since E's already prone to internal wandering, that the plot should be clear and bold as early as possible so E can embroider around it effectively. I agree with the others that a more recent death would make more sense and give E more of a reason to go hunting in the desert. It would also give a little more believably to the is-she/isn't-she reveal around T's death. Queen being all female still feels weird, but less so now. I also don't understand why there are beetles on top of the flyer. It seems impractical and redundant and not especially good for camouflage if the suit can spot them that far away. I honestly feel like it would make more sense for E to save the headband and that as a side-effect saves the M, than for her to decide no other human needs to die today after she's just spent this time calling M in general all sorts of disparaging things and generally having the story show that none of the colonists care at all about them. Or maybe E decides that the headband means T isn't dead at all and thus saving the M becomes the only way to find out where T is now... or just... something decisive? It just doesn't sit right with me and I can't quite place why. It's like after E fires the rocket all her higher reasoning functions just turn to mush. The scene at the tree doesn't sit right for me either, but I think I know why I'm feeling it. E is mostly catatonic in the scene -- she's passive and doesn't take her own initiative to save herself. She's short-circuited from too many emotions before, but that was brief, and quickly followed by action. Here, the M (which E would rather see dead than alive) has to repeatedly prompt E to take a basic lifesaving measure that apparently she already know how to do. E listens to the M and passively follows instructions. It's a very Foxfire So sort of reaction. I feel like the stabbing makes even less sense now that the M know E's name. If they're looking for her, and since they don't try to kill her (and also this isn't flash fiction) I assume it's not to assassinate her, then what's the purpose of stabbing her like that? Drugging, knocking out, that I could see... maybe a bit of roughing up as payback for the rocket...
  15. Hello and welcome! Thank you for letting us be the first ones to see your work outside of your friends. I know how tough that can be! Overall, I thought this was a very well-done piece! I enjoyed reading it, and am interested in the world and the characters. Technically I thought the piece was outstanding. I usually don't care for present tense narratives and usually have difficulty following what's going on in them, but the prose here flowed so smoothly and so well that I barely noticed it was in a format I disliked. Well done! That said, I do think the beginning could be tightened. It felt to me that the carriage ride went on a bit long; I found myself wanting to skim through parts of it. Also, I was confused by the long block of italic text in the beginning. I didn't know what was going on and the tense switch between it and the rest of the story threw me off for a while. My main issues with this piece are not so much issues as worries. As I read, I found myself becoming worried about certain aspects of the text and characters. Nothing's risen to the level of being outright problematic for me yet, and I feel like I need to see more before I make any final judgments, but the way certain things are set up is making me uneasy. I was worried about: Skin tone -- like @kais , I also picked up on this. It's not bad yet, but it has the potential to be pretty easily, so I'm worried. Albinism -- Additionally, if she really does have albinism, then I'm troubled by the pairing of it with a people that's apparently being stereotyped as otherworldly or evil. People with albinism in the real world face massive amount of discrimination world-wide and are even murdered in some places (their body parts are thought to have mystical properties. The articles I found about this are from 2014, so it's in no way an ancient problem). Again, only having one chapter to go on isn't indicative of much, but when I read the descriptions of the princess, her appearance in connection with her demon and her heritage sent up some warning flags for me. Inner demons -- This is a cool idea and I like it in the text, however, I'm also worried that it isn't an actual demon, but either the princess' negative emotions, or an actual mental disorder. Again, linking mental health issues (including anger management) to demonic possession is a harmful stereotype that does real damage to real people. I'm not saying it's bad right now, but in conjunction with the rest, I feel a little worried about where it might go. Tropes -- This piece seems to be dealing with a lot of very traditional, well-worn stereotypes and tropes. While having tropes in a work isn't necessarily bad, it's not necessarily good, either. When dealing with well-worn tropes it's important for an author to make sure they are differentiating their characters and plot from all the others stories out there using the same archetypes. How is the author turning the work from just another Trope X tale into something uniquely their own? That's what readers of genre fiction look for in trope-heavy stories. They want to see how this story makes something new out of something familiar. Or at least, that's what I look for. The Western European, medieval, pale-skinned royalty searching for a spouse scenario is very generic for a fantasy setting, and I feel like I need more than just the demon to really counteract how unremarkable it is right now. The worth of a woman is her womb -- Additionally, the extent to which the trope of "women only being valued for their ability to have children" is in use here makes me uncomfortable. This piece appears -- because the lack of individualizing details means I fill in the gaps with archetypes -- to be headed for a setup where the princess finds someone who loves her despite her demon/heritage and then she decides that marriage is great and she has found her self-worth in producing babies for whomever-it-is. I came to this extrapolation because, despite her saying in the beginning she didn't want marriage and would be a "horrible mother," by the end she's wishing she could care for a random child off the street, wanting to show "them" that she is as good and caring a woman as any mother, and calling her subjects her beloved children. Once again, reinforcing these stereotypes causes real harm to real people, and yes, this is a lot of conjecture on my part, but at the same time, I saw enough indicators in this text to make me feel the need to point it out. I just want to reiterate after all that negativity that I really did enjoy this piece. I think the princess has the makings of a good interesting character, and I feel like her servant has intriguing hidden depths as well. Technically the writing is smooth and about as flawless as anyone can expect a draft to be. Don't get discouraged, and I look forward to your next sub!