Ace of Hearts

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  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. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. As I go: pg 1-2. I think I need a little bit more here to hook me in. Right now this is all pretty abstract pg 3. I'm curious what the holdup is in getting these fungicides. From the genetics side it shouldn't be too hard to identify weak points to attack with the type of data they have available, though I have no knowledge about the chemistry side pg 4. This is more of what I was hoping to get earlier. Honestly it still reads to me like there's going to be a big resistance/revolution soon. If the point is that these people need to learn how to coexist I think we need a lot more of the admins grappling with how to achieve that since they're the ones creating the inequality here pg 5. Maybe this is intentional but I don't really buy D's argument. Just because there will be more generational children doesn't mean they won't be oppressed pg 6. ...I'm now expecting one of them to die after they jinxed it pg 10. Are we talking evolutionary adaptation here? In which case meaning that it has a high mutation rate that allows it to generate new random gene variants quickly? Or is it a different mechanism? Overall: I like what I'm reading though from your previous comments I do think that if I were reading blind my expectations would be growing for an eventual confrontation between the generationals and admins this book--and honestly not too much further in. I think part of the reason for this is that most of the discussion of this has been on the generational side, and for that to go anywhere it feels like it needs to come to a head. The admins have the power to mediate the dispute, so if the focus were on some admins trying to change a caste system to prevent a revolution and ensure coexistence then I think I'd be on the right track. But the generationals really only seem to have the power to resist here, given that their lives are being thrown away for the "greater good" so anything they say is unlikely to hold much weight.
  17. I'll have a slot for tomorrow, please!
  18. Congrats on your first sub! As I go: pg 1. I like the opening line and imo the rest of the paragraph is unnecessary -The descriptions we get feel pretty long-winded. I'm on the fence about whether it's a problem with the story or a personal hangup of mine pg 2. Maple syrup? Are we in Canada? (/s) pg 3. To me this seems like the first real story dynamic we're getting. The dynamic of him being a soldier later in life who has to start from scratch is one I'm willing to be engaged with, though I think it has to do more than put him into a state of fear like it is now. Almost anyone would be afraid in his situation so it doesn't really tell me a lot about him. -It seems like the story wants the leaf to be a point of focus but I don't really feel a big weight to it pg 4. Huh so G's 21? Given their talk I assumed he was a good deal older. Though I guess 21 would be pretty old to start fighting in medieval fantasy pg 5-6. I get G's confused but I'm having a bit of trouble following what's happening. I think the issue might be that there's too much description for me to focus on so I end up not really getting a big-picture view of what's going on pg 8. I think I need a bit more about what this battle means for the characters and dynamics set up by the story. The pieces are there but I think the story isn't quite putting them together. pg 10. The soldiers haven't felt like fleshed-out people in the story so them dying doesn't mean much to me pg 12. Why is G especially so important? I'm assuming he's a noble but aren't some of the other characters his family? Let's start with the good. I think the story's biggest strength is that the end of the chapter gives us a good path forward, and that we get a decent idea of G's backstory and what his whole deal is. I'm interested to see how they regroup at this fort. What I'm missing from the story is 1. What the story is really about and 2. How the battle ties into that. Right now the events of the story (especially the fight) seem to exist mostly to push G and crew in a specific direction. If this is all it's doing, it can easily be background summary rather than us needing to see it in action. I think the story's trying to play around with ideas using the leaves and blood imagery, but for me this doesn't work because of how broad it is. There are plenty of stories about war and death. What is this one really about on a personal level? Congrats again on your sub! Hopefully it wasn't as nerve-wracking for you as it was for me... though I'm sure some element of it is universal.
  19. I think this could work to a degree though it has to be used in a specific way. Basically: -It would be difficult to create functions out of nothing from this, but modifying or breaking existing functions is reasonable, as is inserting external functions -Doing this in short time periods is unlikely. But if it's been curating this over many years (I'm thinking thousands or even higher) then yeah it's possible -If we're going over long timespans, the fungus doesn't need to directly control what's going on here so long as it can react to it (and even that's optional). Almost anything's possible over macroevolutionary time Again, maybe some of this is obvious but I want to be thorough.
  20. As I understand it lots of DNA is going to be bad for fast growth no matter how you slice it, since the fact that more DNA = more stuff to produce when you grow can't really be avoided. Though that's not to say it's a hard and fast rule. And in this case "slow" growth could mean it just banks a lot of resources and distributes them in a way that allows for lots of cells to be made in short bursts. Like how fruit trees are slow growing but can produce fruit relatively quickly. As for developing complex systems when needed, I'm not totally sure but I'm leaning towards yes that could work with a little bit of fudging that sci-fi allows. My main concern would be does incorporating stray chromosomes from other genomes allow it to actually perform complex functions of that organism given how interconnected genetics is. It's not an easy sell, though I think it's easier with plants than animals, since they're much less likely to just fall apart without all of their DNA, though I'm also not sure the distinction matters for 99% of people. Either way to me it sounds like a tricky thing to navigate, though I'd think it should be possible. Also, if you want the fungi to have more plant/animal DNA packed in without exploding its genome size (to make it more believable that it's capable of performing complex functions from those organisms) you could have it cut out some noncoding regions to fit more actual protein-coding genes in. I'm guessing you've heard that only 1% of the human genome codes for proteins, for example. Of course, you can't cut out all of the other stuff since a lot of it is very important for regulation but it's something to keep in mind (and I'm guessing a decent chunk of the regulation should be happening outside those chromosomes anyways?). Also it's not like organisms on earth can choose to splice out DNA regions they don't like (so far as I know), but some fungi do sometimes directly "intentionally" create lots of mutations in parts of the genome that are likely to be viral so it's not the craziest idea for a creature to have fine control over their genome like that. Though this is all me spitballing. Oh and I'm guessing you know this but just in case I'll say that scientists can disagree about a lot of stuff and just because it meets my approval doesn't mean it will meet others' (or vice versa). And while genetics is related to what I'm studying I'm by no means a geneticist by trade. I think if this is the goal there's room for the characters to be more explicit about this because the way I read the generationals is that they're so trained to accept the power structure (even if they complain about it) that they can't imagine another way of living, not that they are actively choosing to depend on the admins.
  21. as I go: pg 1. I say it's a 50/50 toss up as to whether A has actually thought about a lingering infection from it given his track record. There's a part of me that kinda wants him to turn into a mushroom zombie pg 3. A is making some actually kind of intelligent points, which is a surprise but not an unwelcome one pg 4. There's a lot of commenting about the power structure between generationals and admins. I like that the generationals aren't totally conscious that they could try to revolt but I do think something needs to happen with this soon. A bunch of generationals died from the collapse while all of the admins were safe and there's no way they aren't deeply bitter about that pg 7. I feel like the questions here should have pretty clear answers unless fungi work differently than on Earth. Maybe Al doesn't need to know but surely someone does so I don't think this pondering really adds much pg 8. A few comments from someone who works with a lot of genetic data (apologies if you already know some of this but I want to be thorough): -higher base pair count generally just makes analysis take longer rather than making it messier. Messy results tend to come from sequence data that's low quality, which is quite possible for alien fungi -for genetic data we typically talk about gene combinations rather than protein ones. Doing protein analysis for protein combinations is totally doable though -From genetic (assuming we're just talking about DNA here) analysis alone you can't tell which chromosomes are inactive. For that you either need RNA or chromatin analysis. Chromatin is the best bet since you can physically see chromosomes that are all condensed and inactive (RNA tells you which genes are currently expressed/active). It's worth noting that entire chromosomes can sometimes be inactive in humans too, most commonly in humans with more than 1 X chromosome (okay kinda a lie; some of the X is active after X inactivation but it's mostly inactive). Is this similar to that? -High chromosome count generally discourages fast growth since replicating cells is more costly with more DNA needed (which is why bacteria have small genomes). Since the fungi grow quickly here it might make sense for Al to call it out -Incorporating external genetic material into the genome is something Al would probably know about from earth. As I understand there are two ways this is typically done: horizontal gene transfer in bacteria and viruses inserting DNA into the genome. Viruses carrying entire plant/animal chromosomes with them would be unlikely on earth and probably unlikely on an alien planet unless specifically engineered that way (that is how we do genetic editing here on Earth after all). Horizontal gene transfer does what's being described here but generally on a smaller scale and mostly only for bacteria transferring other bacterial sequences. How similar is this to those? -The idea that there's 100% accuracy implies that differential mutations haven't set in, which implies either: 1. This all happened very quickly and recently 2. cells with any mutations are recognized and killed or 3. Mutation works differently here. All of those seem unlikely so I'm guessing the easiest thing to do is say "basically 100% barring some expected, harmless mutations." -Now that I think about it if the analysis is messy you wouldn't get 100% similarity even if you sequenced the same cell twice because of sequencing errors pg 9. I feel like this is more than "wouldn't be surprised" isn't that the only logical conclusion? ...Though I don't know about fungi so maybe there are other explanations -oh they mean one growth for the whole planet. Yeah that is more of a "can't conclude this yet but wouldn't be surprised" moment pg 10. They should probably do research on fungicides that could work against the thing. If some of the genes are similar to irl fungi then there are probably some essential ones that can be targeted and shut off. Single-site fungicides based on those genes should work even if the entire rest of the organism is different -A really spicy solution would be developing a disease to kill the thing. That's the reason why huge genetically identical growths aren't super common on earth after all (and are even seen as evolutionary dead ends that inevitably lead to extinction by many biologists). Of course since fungi are more similar to animals in this world it risks the disease infecting the people and animals too... -Another point of topic here is how much the fungi can communicate with itself across different areas of the growth. If they try to burn part of the fungus will the other part know? This kind of communication is possible with earth fungi as I understand it (though again my knowledge of fungi is very limited) though I think it's fairly unrefined pg 12. I do like the hope that's here and I feel like it's going to all come crashing down for the generationals. Honestly I'm astonished there hasn't been more tension already pg 13. I'm not sure what this tells us that J's PoV didn't pg 17. Honestly I feel like An is lucky to only lose a hand Overall: There's lots of stuff happening here, and I think the meat of the chapter is where F is talking to J about what the fungi being one entity means for the community. As for A's section, I like his voice but I feel like it's pretty obvious that his hand got infected. It doesn't have to be obvious to him but I'm not sure we need two scenes of him before he goes to the doctor. The signing the brick thing feels disconnected from the rest of the chapter but I don't mind that, so long as it leads up to something like it feels like it is. Overall, I think F talking to J could be potentially expanded and the other parts could be cut down. I'm also still waiting for tensions to flare up and with the collapse of Kh I find it strange that nobody is bitter about how certain classes of people are thrown in danger and others aren't.
  22. As I go: pg 1. I think some of the details here weren't present in the previous draft and I like all of them pg 3. It feels like the stakes are clearer here. I think it's the right choice to be straightforward about what's going on even if it involves telling some stuff to the reader -That being said "It would kill them all" is redundant with the hurricane bit pg 5. Because magic is so abstract, I think important moments like when he loses control might have to be called out with more than a simple statement pg 6. Good end to the prologue. Great job overall; this generally feels like what I expect from a strong prologue in a published fantasy book pg 6-7. voice is strong here but unlike the prologue where the conflict is clear I don't really have a reason to care about L or C--and this doesn't feel like much of a conflict for Is herself. -I do like the line at the bottom where Is jinxes C not paying attention to G pg 8-9. I think the drifting towards treason is supposed to be a strong moment but I don't have enough context for this to feel impactful. pg 11. This feels more like stakes for Ala's story than it does for Is'. Could R tell Ala this instead? Him being like "yeah they kinda stood up for you but now that you're here it's all on you. Good luck you'll need it" could be a good way to drive home early conflict pg 13. Getting even more new names right now is probably going to be tough for incoming readers pg 15. Every time I read R's lines I really enjoy them. Even the second time around he's just as funny 1. In the prologue, yes. In chapter 1, I have some comments that I think take precedence. Basically, I think that what's really missing here is stakes. I know you've mentioned it's by design that Is isn't seeing the cracks in the kingdom even if she recognizes everything isn't perfect, but with the context of everything being mostly fine nothing here feels like it's dangerous enough that I need to care. There's a lot of "what if" talking but there's no solid threat to back any of it up, so it all feels hypothetical for now. Which is a problem I'm working on in Red Angel as well. That being said I disagree with some of the comments here that the politics are the problem. For me it's that the politics aren't contextualized in a manner where I care about them because the characters aren't under any real threat currently. 2. A little hard to tell but my guess is that it's all right if the story is changed to give these events more stakes. 3. I would expect a lot more court intrigue in the story from this than we've gotten, especially after part 1. I do like Is' story better after she gets sent away but it does make the early parts feel a little misleading to me. Ha glad I'm not the only one who came up with the idea of jumping later and using flashbacks as necessary. I think the first chapter of part 2 where she's focused on recovery from being poisoned is a good entry point with a dynamic that's easier to convey than what we have here. Another option is to focus the first chapters more heavily on Ala since he is the main person who's vulnerable here. Overall, though, I think the prologue especially is really impressive. I'm excited to see what else you come up with!
  23. As I go: pg 1. No admins dead I notice. I'm sure to some extent they knew the situation was dangerous and were removing themselves. I feel like this tension is getting closer to flaring up now that it's costing lives and I'm here for it. pg 4. I think by this point I need more feeling of motion. Right now the chapter is mostly A summarizing stuff to us pg 6. This feels like the kickoff to some conflict and I'm not sure it needs to take us a full six pages to get here pg 7. I like A's character voice probably because he's so easy to hate (I think this is the same a-hole from last chapter though I did skim that one) pg 9. The V getting antsy without drugs is a fun note. The situation seems more fragile by the moment pg 11. Well that's gnarly. This seems to be where the action really gets going so it could help if the story gets us here sooner My main comment is that as someone who is reading for the social dynamics, this chapter felt a little slow and most of what engaged me and got me thinking were a few offhand comments. Which again, makes me wonder if the story needs more of that or if I'm not engaging with the story in the way that a sci-fi reader would. Thinking about the state of the colony, most of the action happens near the end of each of the two sections so maybe the story can heavily trim before then. Though again it's not like that action is what I personally am reading the story for so maybe I'm missing the work that the earlier parts in each section are doing. I will say that even when I try to think outside my own preferences I do believe that the events here work well as setup but could be explored more as the meat of the chapter. Killer mushrooms are exciting but don't convey an emotional arc on their own. I don't really know what the larger implications are for the colony--and while I can guess I think there's room to be more precise about how this will affect the characters we care about.
  24. Here to drop in a few thoughts after skimming again: -The main things I like are the admins clearly screwing things up (like torching all the fungi) and the military presence (seems clear to me that they're there to suppress any generational insurrection and the fact that they haven't picked up on it adds tension) -Overall with things going bad I do get a feeling that we're creeping closer to major conflict between the generationals and admins which is what I want -A bit confused at the collapse at the end and it also felt like it came a bit out of nowhere though I was skiming
  25. Didn't have time for a full critique but I skimmed through to know what was going on for this week's critique so I might as well leave some quick comments: -I love people sitting around talking about political stuff but the first part of the chapter didn't grip me because I didn't understand the real threat or conflict -F didn't grip me last chapter but he did this time and I felt okay taking a break from the plot to geek out over science stuff. Though while I'm not a fungi expert my impression is that animals and fungi aren't that different even on earth? Maybe that's just a perspective of a plant scientist though, since plants are pretty different from both. Maybe it's worth going into the features that are similar between the two on this planet (do they have hyphae? cell walls?) though I also don't know if non-biologists care -overall the main plot I'm reading for is the conflict between generationals and admins which is discussed but doesn't advance, and I'm not sure whether to stick with that thread or give up and focus on other aspects I wasn't initially as hooked by