Ace of Hearts

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About Ace of Hearts

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  1. Thanks @Silk! I agree with your assessment and I think part of the issue is that S doesn't really know since it's too important for the authorities to want him to be involved with. Which I think is all the more reason he does need to come to those conclusions. I think reframing Samai's expository thoughts in light of how much he trusts people and what he makes of their motivations could kill two birds with one stone: 1. gives the opportunity to show rather than tell and 2. gives us the grounding that you're missing.
  2. That's good to know. I think that will help but ultimately I also don't think we're going to see the revolutionaries as a huge threat until we see them actually revolt.
  3. Unfortunately I don't have the time to give this the attention it deserves (especially since it has a lot of real potential!), but I'll leave what thoughts I have. This is basically how I feel. I like L's character but I also didn't feel like this was really a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Another thought is that while I think L's character shows us a lot, J comes off as much more standard, and acts as a plot device for L to play off of more than a real fleshed out character. The story understands that L not approaching the situation in the usual way is important for being compelling, and I think there has to be another character with that complexity for him to play off--J is right here as an option but it doesn't have to be him necessarily. Thanks for subbing! Was a fun read.
  4. I continue to be an overworked grad student so my critiques will continue to be succinct. Hope it's still helpful! -I feel like at this point we might need more answers about the first page blurb. Interesting setup especially with the narrator but we don't really have payoff for these sections yet -2nd section with Ji is solid and I like her and F. I feel like there should be more communal support for A though, even if she doesn't think it's necessary, just out of necessity given how scarce resources probably are. It feels like they're operating under the 21st century western idea of a nuclear family but that's not really the culture they come from as generationals right? -3rd section with Ja didn't quite hit the mark for me. We get a lot of exposition for the admins who are talking but really what I want to know is what motivates their different perspectives and how that leads to conflict. The discussion feels a bit low-stakes right now despite the important matters which makes the whole thing feel like an info dump at times -The next couple of Fr sections were mixed for me. I continue to really like the bees but the problems presented here don't seem particularly new and we don't get a ton of motion in those conflicts -The An section was very engaging for me but again what I really want is for this to come to a head soon which it sounds like it's not going to. I also continue to like An's voice as a total a-hole who is afraid of the masses rising up. Another thought here is that this is one of the first times that (some of) the Gens have actually tried pushing back to get a policy change. If the message here is "people need to not fight each other when they need each other to survive" I think that has to come from the Admin side too. If the Gens are so critical like we're being told they should be willing to make at least a few concessions, right? So long as the Admins understand the gravity of the situation anyways which it seems like they do -Okay so the Ja section after gives me more info on what the F sections were supposed to do. I think what I need more focus on is why they're turning to this now specifically -Why don't the Admins want communal raising of kids? If anything that should make it easier for them to keep them from developing dangerous ideas in a centralized manner, right?
  5. Thanks for the feedback @Mandamon @Warmacky. I had a feeling this chapter was a bit info-dumpy. Me trying to take a bunch of time to show character aspects in the first draft took up so much space that there was no real story to contextualize it, and so this draft I leaned hard the other way intentionally and tried to condense info into exposition to get the story moving (especially since these characters stand out a lot in the world; for example in the first draft when we see C it's all about them being nonbinary for 3k words but here it's not mentioned yet at all since they don't have a reason to out themself yet and it's not really plot-relevant). Now it's about finding that middle ground while further cutting dynamics that aren't needed.
  6. Hi everyone, Thanks for your feedback on the first chapter of this a while back. I'm going to sub a couple more chapters and then try to rewrite and restructure the rest of the story based on feedback. Any and all feedback appreciated! Since I'm basically scrapping the first draft this is exploratory, so prescriptive advice is welcome.
  7. I'll have a slot for the 25th, please! And I know @Mandamon only suggested subbing twice if nobody else is taking a slot, but in general I'm fine bending the one sub per week rule so long as we're clear and consistent about when it's okay. Though if we want to stick to something more rigid that's fine too.
  8. First part: As usual I really like the political maneuvering and since it's not fully coming to a head this book I think my expectations might need to be tempered. If the generationals are acknowledging the issues but are explicitly seeing them as problems for well down the line with proper reasoning then I'll be more okay seeing it delayed. Second part: Woo this is really exciting. One thing I want more clarity on is why D should be dead already (brain being crushed in skill by biomass?) and why he might still be alive. I'm wondering if there's a chance some parts of his body really aren't working and he's a quasi-fungus-zombie. Third part: Really solid, and the recap of the situation really hits hard. There's something really powerful about the child being what's remains of D's dreams and goals.
  9. First part: Most of what I'm interested by here is the trees, and less so by all the specifics of them fighting the fungus off. I think the broad strokes (that they need the mortar) are important for setting up the stakes, but if you're looking for places to cut this could be an area to investigate. Not that it was ever outright boring though; I just didn't quite feel like I got a full ten pages worth of story dynamics with all of the action Second part: I was really engaged here! I'd been wondering for a while about potential coexistence with the biomass and seeing what it does to the bees complicates the situation in a good way. I am curious about some of the broader implications here, though. It might be worth spelling out that honeybees being eusocial means the fungus can spread across the entire hive very easily, and I assume they're using the bees to pollinate their crops. Since we know that the fungus can do something that looks like hybridization with plants, there seems like a real risk of fungi hybridizing with crops during pollination--or just spreading fungus onto the surface. I'd be curious what F thinks about that. Also idk how much F falls on the evolution/genetics side of biology but when those kinds of people talk about "adaptation" it specifically refers to evolution, so him talking about humans adapting to the planet doesn't make sense from that perspective. But then again, there are terms like "adaptive immune system" that have nothing to do with adaptation so it can be pretty loose. Just a minor rambling.
  10. Catching up with short critiques: Overall: Like others mentioned, this was pretty smooth albeit a bit slow. No huge concerns from me. 1st section: I'm guessing this isn't normal from D? Is A worried at all that the fungus is messing with his brain? The PoV is distant which is fine but we might need more of her thoughts to parse what this means 2nd section: How much of this exposition do we actually need? I think the story's going for J navigating the scene deftly enough by making them give the reports so she can swoop in at the right time with her plan, but is that even necessary if she says that nobody's questioning her?
  11. Gonna try to catch up with short critiques today: Overall: Agree with the others. Some good moments in here, especially with the portrait, but it didn't quite come together for me. I'm not sure focusing so heavily on Is' paranoia rather than establishing external threats as being real is the way to go. The chapter seems set up as a journey into Is' psyche since we don't really know how much of her interpretation is overactive fear, but that's not what the rest of the story has been and imo that's not what the story is as its strongest. I'm more interested in what happens when we get out of Is' head and know definitively what the threats are rather than the creeping suspicion around characters like K. pg 4. The portrait is a good way of showing the hatred of royals in action pg 5-6. Agree with Is that the symbolism doesn't mean a ton, so I don't know if it even needs to be brought up pg 8. I think the reason it's hard for me to get invested in these side chars is that they really only have ties to each other and not to Is pg 15. I like the hook at the end but I'm not sure if it really completes the chapter
  12. Happy to help! Most of my comments were in the moment and now that I've thought about it a bit more I want to clarify/expand. As usual I'll try to be more thorough than is maybe necessary given how you seem to have a good grasp of this stuff, so apologies if any of this comes off as obvious. In terms of infection by inserting DNA into a hostile cell, viruses are indeed the easiest comparison point from earth, and I think a lot of theory about viruses could be useful here. One thing to keep in mind with this though (that I initially didn't consider) is that for viruses, the "purpose" of this DNA insertion is to make the cell create more viruses, which also gives it a mechanism to expand after infection. Right now, it's not clear if the fungus has this. How does the fungus spread once it's infected? This sort of ties into how the chapter deals with hybridization. Right now, there are some limitations in how this concept can explain what's going on. Hybridization implies that the apple plants are the offspring of the biomass and an apple that mated together. If this is the case it's 1. not really an infection and 2. shouldn't really appear in seeds that were taken from earth. Unless of course the fungus has some way around this which is fine but F needs to note that. Overall, I think the most important thing we need clarity on is how the apple tree ended up the way it did. Hybridization makes sense from the perspective of all the cells being part fungal since the zygote it started from is half-fungal, but if that's the case the story needs to explain how it hybridized in the first place, and shouldn't discuss it as an infection per se (though it can still have qualities similar to that of an infection). If it's a pathogen and spreads by infecting more cells, why insert DNA into apple cells? Sounds less effective and more resource-intensive than just killing cells and stealing their resources like many conventional pathogens.
  13. As I go: pg 4. How big of a deal is uncovering iron? I assume a big one but I might need to know a bit more about what they could do with more access to iron pg 5-8. I think most of my questions still remain. Seems like they're ignoring the iron for now which seems logical but makes me wonder why we're spending 8 pages on it. Maybe it's the cave itself that's important? If that's the case I need to know more about that. pg 9. J's claim about not minding being a stepping stone is interesting, and while I can kinda put the pieces together I think we need to delve deeper. My guess is that she feels that way because her meaning comes from the idea of having kids, and she thinks the world will be better for them. I think I need 1. a confirmation of if that's true and 2. why she thinks the world will be better for her kids. She's mentioned before I think that they'll outnumber the admins' kids in future generations but that doesn't mean much on its own. Maybe we're supposed to read around her about that and if so that could also be clearer imo. pg 10. Oh yeah she's trans right? Tbh I think it's a good sign that I forgot because it means the story is focused on who she is rather than her role being "the trans character" pg 11. Might help to hear about the way she wants to raise kids that is so different from certain people. I want to be able to picture the dream she wants for herself as a parent and right now I can't Overall: My favorite part of the chapter is J's section since it really deals with character emotions and stakes I understand. The rest of the chapter contains good, engaging information but I feel like I'm losing track of the story as a whole a bit. We don't really have any new threats that aren't immediately resolved so it feels like the tension and stakes aren't fully holding.
  14. Better late than never, right? As I go: pg 1-3. I'm liking A's voice but not sure how this is going to move the story along pg 4. Hmm I wonder if the fungus is influencing his thoughts? Or he could just be kinda like that. Either would make sense to me pg 5. An additional note F could make here is that apples tend to store (I'm assuming these are apples from storage and not the field but it also doesn't hurt to clear that up) very well to the point that storage industry and research is apple-dominated. So it's extra strange that they would be the problem crop here. -hybridized? That's also surprising in itself since earth pathogens would just infect the thing rather than breed with it. Especially since it's not like apple fruits really have sex cells iirc pg 6. Oh we are looking at field apples -I think that for me the comparison of the apples to the mold growing on other crops is confusing since they're fundamentally different things -Imo the fact that it's a crapshoot isn't really surprising since what's happening here isn't really a disease or infection (in the conventional sense for fungi at least), so I don't think it should be a surprise to F either. Tbh the most surprising part of it being a crapshoot for me isn't that it's uncorrelated with disease resistance, it's that there's so much variance in how well it works across plants in general -If I were F I'd be really scared for animals and humans. Plants should be much harder to invade the cells of and mix DNA with due to their cell walls -Overall I think the easiest comparison point here are earth viruses since they do the inserting DNA into other organisms thing. From a genetics perspective it makes more sense for the fungus to be inserting entire genes/protein sequences than for proteins to be riddled with biomass DNA -Another easy comparison point with viruses here is that burning crops to the ground is sometimes what you have to do in the case of viral infections. My plant pathology prof said that telling a farmer about a virus infection is the hardest part of the job and the worst outcome since there's no way to treat it and you tell the farmer they just have to get rid of all of it (and since farmers are on such thin margins it's quite possible that it totally ruins their livelihood). Earth plant viruses are rare, and if they were more common it would be a huge issue for agriculture. Having F ground his observations in some of that knowledge could help anchor it maybe. -So yeah overall my suggestion is to compare what's going on to a viral infection rather than a fungal one. And if it behaves more like a fungal infection in terms of stuff like breaking into the plant maybe we need to know more about that. -I guess another question here is when did the fungus insert the DNA into apple cells? Since F is talking about hybridization my first thought would be before the seed that the tree comes from is even formed but that can't really be the case here. pg 9. Not that I'm a history buff but besides the sciencey mixing DNA stuff there is quite a bit of precedent for communal living and raising of children in this kind of circumstance, right? Since they probably don't have resources for each household to have everything we do in a 21st century capitalist world I'm surprised that everything isn't more communal out of sheer necessity. pg 11-14. I like the dynamic of J feeling isolated from her own social group of people but I think that needs to go somewhere besides "oh she failed and she's going home for now" for it to be satisfying. Overall: As usual I was engaged by the writing though I think I need more help seeing how this all connects to the plot. My current idea is that the alien fungi are going to start mixing with human cells for people like A (given that we know it can do so for plants and A is being even weirder than usual and his response to his tech is changing in a way that none of the other Vagals have mentioned), but if that's the point I think we need more to work with and if it needs to be a surprise we need plot threads to keep us moving in the meantime. If the direction is heading somewhere else, I didn't catch it.
  15. Hi everyone, From the first four chapters I got the feedback loud and clear that there wasn't a strong central plot. As such, I've tied together the events of the first eight chapters, condensed them into three, and put them in a situation where it's more clear from the start that bad things are going on. To do this I cut a lot of discussions of character personality and how they fit into the world since those didn't seem to carry much weight on their own without a strong central plot. Any feedback is welcome, and in addition to general comments I'd like to know: 1. I'm leaning more on exposition to set up the world since trying to show character and setting dynamics in scene resulted in both confusion and so much space taken up that there wasn't a clear central story. Is this a good direction? 2. Is what Z shows S strong enough to feel like it's kicking off a central conflict? Would it be better if I contrive something where they catch violence happening in the moment instead? Thanks!