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Mandamon last won the day on February 26 2013

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About Mandamon

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    Complex and Unnecessary
  • Birthday May 26

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    North Carolina
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    Practicing and Teaching Karate, Reading, Writing, Gaming, Tinkering
  1. From what I remember of last time, this was a fairly solid chapter and I think it's gotten better. The beginning definitely works better and introduces a good air of menace and suspense. Makes a good mystery for how this will connect to Q&M. Like @Ace of Hearts and @industrialistDragon, I had a problem with the "bi" line. I have a couple suggestions below. I think it does reflect what E would do, but the phrasing needs some work so it doesn't convey the wrong idea. I really like the hybrids, but @Ace of Hearts does bring up a good point of why this is happening when they already have androids. I assume they could modify the body to be just as dangerous as the hybrids without going through the genetic engineering aspect. Of course this creates problems with the plot, but I assume you can come up with some suitable hand-wavyness for why androids won't work (more expensive, can't program right behaviors, etc...) Notes while reading: pg 8: "E had decided to be bi at university, where she had discovered that women still had to fight for what they wanted using all means at their disposal, even against each other." --Some problems with this sentence. Maybe "E had decided to pursue bi relationships" or "E had decided to let the bi side of her out in university" or something like that. I don't think she decided that she suddenly liked women. pg 12: "Deep down, she was glad about her decision to reassign T. It would be hard to let go, but it would free her of this compulsive desire." --There's a lot of these side comments in this area. I think it's good, but even more show rather than tell on E's emotions would increase the tension. In fact, the sentence before this works a lot better than this one. pg 14: "thousands of miniscule nanomachines carrying a microscopic load of C4X that would rush to meet at the creature’s neck..." --Life, uh, finds an explosion... pg 16: "They shared an interest in history that, in the outside world, was declining now that they didn’t teach it in grade school." --*shudder* pg 17: The ending has some good tension, but the last line is sort of confusing. Because E distinctly refers to whatever is in the enclosure as a "he" it makes it seem like the last line is referring to him. However, I guessing this is actually referring to a person this creature has killed? In any case, I am confused.
  2. This could probably be edited down quite a bit. I didn't really get invested until near the end, once J starts tending bar and talking to the out of towners. Before that, it's just a lot of rustic life that doesn't progress things much. We know it's been a half year, and J sold the farm. Aside from describing townfolk, there isn't a lot else happening. The description of her injuries after taking the Channels is good, once we get there, but also doesn't need to take up that much space. This is prescriptive, but you could probably cut everything prior to the bar scene, and have J fill in the relevant information in thoughts while B and A are asking questions. I also might have figured out what's bothering me about the Greek/frontier, noted below. Notes while reading pg 4: some interesting things about the frontier/Greek fusion religion, but it's starting to drag about now. No one's doing anything except telling what going on, which true to a frontier town, is not that interesting. pg 5: I think I know what's putting me on edge with the frontier/Greek mashup. It's too like the evangelical US south, but replacing one big beard in the sky with another. There's really no difference to actual western culture, just a name change to the deity. Actual Greek culture was so different from this that it's almost an appropriation--taking a name from one place and pasting it on another thing just so it sounds different. pg 5: "the day after she’d been released from Doctor G’s care and went to see her uncle D’s body" --Oooh...this is the girl from the first chapter. I did not get that until now. pg 7: "“Yer pupil’s all mushy-looking and the iris’s gone all black to match." --1) ew and 2) What happened to her eye? Was this something from the first chapter I'm forgetting? It's been a few weeks. --Ah. it seems like this is an effect of the three things she drank at once. I still don't completely remember the connection to her eye. pg 11: "thinking that there would be no consequences to drinking three different Channels at once" --Right. That's what I thought. pg 12: "After a half-year of studying recipes" --oh, has it been that long since the accident? pg 16: “A Spyglass, an Iron Knuckle and an Elixir," --Ah, so there was one that affected vision. pg 17: B and A are the most interesting characters so far. pg 19: Well, an interesting end to the chapter, but not a lot happened up to that part.
  3. Why? Real question. I'm not really sure how long a "generation" is anyway, and then on top of that I don't know if they change the definition because people don't live as long and so on and now I have no idea. 15 years? 25? 35? Do they have kids earlier?
  4. Honestly, I don't think this will add anything as a prologue, and may just dilute the story. It could work as an interlude, but again, I don't think I really learned anything from this that I didn't from reading the other chapters you submitted. Is this before the story starts? At the same time? Do any of these people feature in the story? There were soem big infodumps in here that could easily be shown in the other sections I've read. I think starting with a few chapters of Z is a good idea and would bring across the concepts in this section just as easily without seeming forced. Ah. I though that name sounded familiar. I really like the soul lanterns and the tech/magic mix. However, I think the apathy comes more from the way it's presented. Just having a worldbuilding element isn't interesting. Anyone can come up with a really cool idea. On the other hand, having a character that you are invested in make an amazing discovery about a worldbuilding element can really make a story snap. So I think readers will be more invested in the worldbuilding aspects once we have a good character to see them through, which in this case is probably Z. Notes while reading: pg 3: "This last was directed at the soldier..." --I thought all the description after this was for T., not for this random soldier, who has so far gotten the most description of any character. pg 4: "more afraid of what that might mean than the chance of a demon attack." --Even after reading the stuff that comes after this, I'm not sure what this means. I still don't know anything about the soul lanterns, and I also don't know how bad a demon attack is, so the comparison at the moment doesn't mean much. pg 5: "If the girl’s soul lantern really was gone, that meant she had become what was called a shadow..." --ok, you explain here, but it's basically an infodump. Can this be shown instead? pg 5: "R. knew the medic" --We've been given a whole bunch of names already, and I don't think most of them are needed. We also get these strange long descriptions of random people. Does R. for some reason take notes on people's appearances? pg 6: "though everyone knew " ...Bob. pg 7: "we have seen in generations" --using this term where people only live about 35 years is kind of confusing.
  5. Yeah, see I don't even know about this. From 2005:
  6. Like @Robinski, I think this is much improved, but still has some issues. Overall, this is definitely better. I think there's a lot in the extra parts you added that can be tidied up to get this back to the original wordcount. A lot of the interactions with the students is awkward, and doesn't really add anything. I'm still not fully on-board with the Greek/frontier culture mashup. Aside from the names, the big city basically sounds like Chicago. I'm waffling between wanting more worldbuilding to explain it, or less so that I don't have to worry about it making sense. Last, J's motivations are still too scattered. He wants to kill her for being involved in his daughter's death. He wants to hire her. He's been tracking her, except this whole dig was a set-up, which means he knew exactly where she was and could have done this at any time. I think when this gets cleaned up, you could also solidify his motivations. Notes while reading: pg 3: I don't know that the "small talk" with the grad students really adds anything. pg 4: This part is better, learning about the difference in tech levels, but this whole section could be tightened up. pg 6: "one six-shooter bow" --Not sure what this is. like it rotates a chamber around to then fire arrows from a string? My engineering mind is baffled over it. pg 8: "Her words cut off as he smashed his palm right into her nose, which broke with an audible snap." --His attack seems to come out of nowhere. pg 9: "But why would a university professor know a wanted criminal," --This adds some good tension pg 10: “I’ve been searchin’ for ya for a while now.” --but he knows the professor. We all know he knew she was here. pg 11: "J’s ten-year-old daughter had died in those flames, and the city-folk Confederates had rejoiced, thinking that it would sap all the fight from him. ---I feel like this would be have more impact shown than told. pg 13: "Ya gotta earn yer pay." --There's a weird mix between them casually talking, J attacking for revenge, and him testing her abilities. It's too big a mix of motivations for their meeting and it makes their interactions jumbled. I can't figure out what J will do because I'm not sure where he's coming from. pg 15: “This was all set up in advance...." --hmmm...Yes, it works as motivation, but it clashes with J tracking her down. I think a more solid single motivational throughline will clear this up a lot. pg 16: "She didn’t buy that; there had to be more to this deal," --especially for all the work he went to. pg 18: The bloody handshake is pretty cliche.
  7. Overall, I wasn't really invested in this. Warning: this is going to be negative, not because of the content, but because the story just tugged on all the wrong strings for me and personally I can't separate that from the writing critique. I was pulled in at the beginning. It sort of reminded me of Seanan McGuires' Wayward Children series, but once I realized it was commentary on a particular IP, I lost interest. I do actually agree with the intent of the piece, but would rather read a news article about this than a SFF story. Putting very specific social commentary in stories is always really hard. One purely craft quibble: I don't recognize the twins. Are they supposed to be from the program as well, or are they your creations? In any case, I thought they were the most original part of the piece, simply because I didn't recognize them. This was structurally good, but one where I was turned off by the content, unfortunately. Notes while reading. pg 1: I like the twist of the monster being the scared one. pg 2: “I grew up with you, if you remember," --this is very Maid and Butler. Obviously they both know this. --in fact, you show this the paragraph after with the flashback. You could just delete the line and be fine. pg 3: "If monster wants something..." --It's weird that they keep repeating his label. I mean, yes, it's meant to degrade, but it's almost too much even to read. pg 3: "The monster remembers how colorful the Street had been." --oh no. Is this going where I think it's going? pg 4: “Say it!” they command. “Say, 'Cookies are a sometimes food!'” --errr...this may just be me, but I'm losing all interest in the story now. I remember a lot of memes and such coming out when this switch came about, but's just sort of tired? pg 5: "It’s clenched between two of his three, sharp fingers. Tendrils of smoke rise against the fluorescent light." --also flipping these particular puppets with an M just rubs me the wrong way. Chalk it up to happy childhood memories I want to keep. pg 6: "I do not create for the sake of my audience but tolerate my audience only so I can create." --and now we've gone meta. I was on board with the evils twins tormenting a poor fluffy monster, but tying it to this particular IP isn't working for me. pg 6: "Because we let ourselves be controlled by—" "By popular opinion," --hmm...this is very quickly running over into the "preachy" area. Not that I don't agree with the sentiment, but unless this is for a specific prompt or collection, it's not something I would read. pg 7: "The monster understands." --I don't. Are they going to do something to her?
  8. I agree with @JWerner and @Robinski. There's not quite enough here to catch me. Overall, this seemed short even for flash fiction. It's only 500 words, and flash usually goes up to 1000. My main problem was we only saw one example. To really turn the knife, we need to know mother better, and really understand why/how the MC came to this path in life. If we can have another interlude with mother, maybe a few years later, then we would have more ammo to understand why she took so much time to teach the MC about wizards. I think this is one of the other big issues. There's not a real threat from the wizard. They'll threaten to kill you if you don't...collect blood samples for them? On the plus side, this was grammatically much cleaner than some of your other submissions, so good job on that part! Notes while reading: pg 1: "“Once they have your blood, they can use it to use you. They can boil you from the inside or make blood congeal in your arteries." --repetition of "blood." Could adjust this sentence so you don't need to say it twice. pg 1: “That your other mother?” --meaning she has two mothers, or is there some other meaning to this? Nothing is said about another parent, so this is kind of confusing. pg 2: "but if I refuse, M.M. will clog my heart valves." --seems like wizards are kind of dumb, capturing kids to collect blood samples? If that's the extent of their power, it seems almost a waste of time.
  9. Yep, there's a lot of them, especially with the indie authors I follow. I'm planning to release book 3 maybe a couple months after 2, which of course means I need to finish both of them up first!
  10. Interesting. I'm trying now to think of examples of this being done in written form (as opposed to TV, where it happens all the time, obvs). It's popular as a selling technique in a lot of indie markets, so I'm trying it out with this one. My plan is to release book 2 and 3 together, give a little space, then release 4 and 5. I plan for there to be more of a complete arc after book 3. We'll see how it works...
  11. Pretty much the same reaction for me on this one as last time I read. There's two main problems which are: 1) the other jobs sound cooler than the one for this book, and it's sort of a letdown. I really want them to go to Mars or the Swedish ladies cricket team. 2) They're wandering around bored for half of chapter 2. At this point, they should be gearing up for adventure and getting us back into the old Q&M banter. Some of the banter is there, but there's not enough plot to hold my attention yet. I think this chapter could be cut down by at least a third, or joined up with another chapter. Notes while reading: pg 2: "coffee, black", "black bob" --some repetition pg 3: "age 33" --huh, I always picture him as a little older. pg 3: Not really enamored of the recap paragraph of the last book. I'd prefer it to be peppered into dialogue or something. This is witty, so that helps, but my mind still wanders while reading through it. pg 4: "It was almost comforting, especially now he wasn’t dangling two thousand metres above the lunar surface on the end of the android’s arm." --this sort of thing is a lot better for the recap. pg 4: "as if testing for rain" --lol pg 5: I think the upside-down text lends too much complexity to this. We're already trying to figure out what the job is, and now we have to turn the page around. Just say that Q read upside-down. pg 7: "I’m pleased you know where that is" --lol pg 7: "“Comic effect would be maximised by referring to Uranus,” offered S. --and even better... pg 8: I'm still of the mind that listing all these other jobs is sort of pulling the chair out from under you. My mind can come up with hijinks that might be more interesting that this story, if you give the prompts, so unless they are going to be future stories, it might be better to resist giving the reader that ammo against you. pg 10: "That leaves boring old Rowland." --this does not help your case against all those other cool contracts... pg 10: "to the grizzled, serious man" --why is this in italics? pg 10: "They would wait in C to meet R and decide whether to take his job, repatriate his package and move on." --I'm wondering if anything after this point in the chapter adds to the story? This seems like a good point to break. pg 15: Ah yes, I do love the Shakespeare banter, but I'm still not sure it adds anything to the chapter. pg 16: Hmmm...I keep to my earlier analysis. Except for the stinger at the end, which is good, nothing between pg 10 and 15 really does anything for me. It's a bunch of waiting around, and this early in the story, I want to be drawn in by every detail. Is there any reason to show us the time between Q&M accepting the job and going to meet up with R?
  12. Thanks @Robinski! I think this pretty much needs to be stamped all over my first drafts... Lol...That's why he's in so many books! Yep. I think I completely missed this on the second half of the book. Hopefully I can correct that this edit. This is a fault of my setup. You're supposed to know what the voice is but I didn't set it up enough. Lol. I'm working through the audiobook now, which is really helping me see how S developed in that one and shows how much I regressed him in this one! I'm going to go back and give him a lot more agency... Fair point. I'll ponder. Glad this is still hitting, at least, but I'll punch it up. Yep. S. needs more agency. Will correct. This one I may keep at least mostly similar. I'm intending book 2 and 3 to come out very close together, so I don't see ending with things still in motion as a huge problem.
  13. Thanks, @Robinski! The LBL catches are very useful as always. *dons engineering nerd glasses* Technically, I'm referring to a type of kinetic energy which is specifically vibrational. *gently pushes up nerd glasses, which had been sliding down my nose* The natural frequency is the one that a substance responds to and if you hit it correctly, you can start a destructive resonance. It's also the way to tune a system to respond/recoil the way you want Yep yep. Agree. I really like M's timeline, but I'm afraid it may be a darling that needs murdering, whether to turn it into epigraphs or a side novella or something... Yeah...I think the ending is missing structure from sections I missed earlier, so it doesn't have enough to build on. Great. @shatteredsmooth liked this as well, so this is something I can build on. Yep. I'm getting some good ideas on where I need to build up tension and character background earlier in the piece (especially for the LC members). Very good comments and it will help with the next draft immensely!