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Asmodemon last won the day on December 28 2012

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  1. Overall: There was some good stuff in this chapter. I liked T.’s emotional rollercoaster, as well as seeing the disaster unfold through T.'s perspective (it was pretty exciting), but I was concerned about having yet another POV character as well as knowing all the information of the mystery I presume Q&M are going to have to solve. POVs: I think I had this same concern the last time I read these submissions, but so far there have been a lot of point-of-view characters, without a real focus on any of them, or why the reader should care – something is happening in the facility and we’re getting to see it from several perspectives. I feel this would work better in a visual medium as a sort of montage, rather than in a book. The titular main characters haven’t had much time to shine in this so far and personally I’d rather figure out what was going on along with them rather than having it all shown beforehand. But maybe that’s just me Forward and back: I had to pause a bit at the five minute later part, where we start with the fallout of what M. had to say to T. and then double back to what has just happened. At first read it felt like we were skipping over the interesting part, where M. tells T. what he knows and wants from her and then seeing her reaction along with that. Instead we skip to the end and have T. brood on it. Emotional: I liked the emotions the scene with M. and T. invoked. Powerful stuff, and it helps in quickly getting us invested in T.. Blackmail: I can sort of get why she’d go along with something to prevent her affair from coming out, but looking at it objectively it doesn’t feel a compelling enough reason to go along with M.’s plan – the cost to the affair coming out versus to cost of getting caught, or even succeeding in what she’s going to do, feels disproportionate. Convoluted plan: M’s plan in this feels overcomplicated, and hinges from the very start on everything going his way. If T. had refused at any point, and just accepted what he had on her and faced the music, it wouldn’t have worked. For a man who has the kind of security access to scrub security feeds, wouldn’t it be easier to get T.’s credentials from the system or from her, do the work himself, use an android to open the gates, leave T.’s body for food for the creatures, and then scrub every security feed with him on it? Additionally, the contact for M. at the end (the Old Man?) knew the plan was most likely going to fail because it was too convoluted – then why let M. go through with it?
  2. Likewise
  3. Sounds good I'm not participating in any panels. This is also my first WC, so I'm looking forward to see what it's like.
  4. First of all, it’s nice reading about Q. and M. again. Despite the flaws I really enjoyed the previous submissions. For this chapter I have to agree with Mandamon. The banter between Q. and M. is good, but most of the chapter is them not doing anything. And when it comes to them going through the available jobs every other job sounds more interesting than the one they are going to take. R job: Doesn’t sound to interesting for the reader, or for Q. and M., and they say so themselves. Knowing what I know from the previous times I read your submissions I know there’s more to the job than R. is letting on, but maybe a bit more of that should show through the request rather than it being a standard ‘fetch quest’. Or have it make more sense for them to take an easy task as a sort of holiday. Library job: I like that Q. accepts the library job, because he doesn’t think the R. job will take a lot of time and it makes sense to take that job instead. I don’t think that was in the last submission I read and I really like this addition. Maybe the library job can actually help sell the R. job as well. So, if they accept the library job, and that jobs requires them to be in Europe in 10 days, then they have some time to kill (maybe the timeframe can be a bit larger?). I can imagine that after the last book they would have had to take some time to recover, so taking another break would not be good for business. That could prompt them to take the R. job to kill time and make some easy money locally, not knowing it’s going to lead them into trouble. Father-in-law (1): One the one hand the ending of the chapter is a zinger to get us interested in an otherwise easy sounding job Q. and M. and have just taken, but personally it doesn’t work for me. It reads a lot like a PI novel where the main character is stuck on a case, but the bad guys make a move to take the PI out, thus revealing something to the PI that helps move the plot along. In this case, if the father-in-law hadn’t called, Q.’s interest wouldn’t have been piqued, and if something were to happen to R. it’s likely Q. would have just dropped the case. Instead, because of that phone call, Q. is committed to it. It’s like you’re trying to force Q. and M. to take the case, and stick to the case, because the plot requires it even though it doesn’t make sense for them to do so. Father-in-law(2): The fact that the father-in-law knows Q. accepted the job so quickly shows that the man has power and connections, but it feels a little convenient that not five minutes after Q. spoke to R. he already knows and calls personally.
  5. Yeah, I am, looking forward to it too
  6. I also think changing it from a few years to a few months would work better. Rather than having accepted that T is gone forever, as the three year difference has done, E would still be in the middle of mourning her wife as well as holding out hope that she isn’t gone, that she’s out there somewhere. It would explain why a successful doctor, who could get her own type of tree to grow on that planet, would be out there serving as a sentry. If it was just about avoiding her family E could have locked herself away in a lab and focus solely on work. This way her motivation for being out there could be that the rational part of her is looking for T’s body, but another part is hoping to see T alive, just over the next dune. That would be a good motivation for E to break cover and get close to the M when she sees the headband.
  7. Yeah, that's probably better done in a longer piece, rather than a short story like this was supposed to be, where the through line is about something else entirely. In this submission the addition of the paragraph stating E.'s gender nonconformity feels a little tacked on and its additional or removal wouldn't actually affect the story in any meaningful way. It does I don't traumatize easily
  8. This reads a lot better than the first iteration. There’s a little more urgency in what’s going on without the extraneous moping, but it’s still a slow start. The fact that the M. are looking for E. helps with hooking me in, but like Mandamon I feel like there’s something missing. Beetles and flyers: The visual is confusing to me. The M. are riding flyers (e.g. machines that fly, just like the one N. used) but they are also riding the beetles. Are the flyers mounted on the beetles? If so, are the flyers creating the movement (if so, why need beetles?) or the beetles (if so, why the need for flyers with engines that create dust clouds?)? We need to talk – I mean stab: This came very much out of the blue in this version. The M. know E.’s name and title and they couldn’t just have guessed this from E.’s appearance alone – the gear would hide most of it. So they were indeed looking specifically for E., which I take to mean that the M. wasn’t just trying to distract E. and gain the upper hand in a struggle. So why stab E. with a sharp implement? I could understand some kind of taser, because though E. appeared to want to listen, if I was in the M.’s shoes I wouldn’t just take it on good faith that E. would stay to listen to the end and/or come along. But this wasn’t a taser. This was a very sharp implement in a place where medical attention could be a big problem. Some of my points from the last version: Planet’s worth: The previous version really had me wonder why this planet was colonized if it was so horrible. While I’m still wondering what the worth of the planet is, now that there’s less introspection by E. about how horrible everything is the question about the planet’s value is no longer a burning concern, now it’s just a question I’d like answered along the way. Female planet: This works better, leaving it as a mystery what the original reasons were for making an all-female planet, but do making clear that there was a reason to do it, even though E. doesn’t know what that reason was. The addition of the technology for reproduction also helps. It’s still a risk to do colonization that way, for should the technology fail and none of the other colony ships make it, the human species would still be doomed, but the mention that there was a rationale for this decision makes me less bothered about the risks of doing colonization that way. E's likeability: E's character is also helped by being less moody and introspective. It sets E. apart from So., the previous main character who came to mind. It makes sense that E. would drift away from the people she loved after losing T., rather than E. being an introverted lonewolf type character like So. was.
  9. It’s been a while since I did this, and that seems to be a recurring trend as well. So, here we go Info dump: There is a lot of information in these first pages. Some of it was a bit redundant, I think you explain what the sun side and the cold side of a tidally-locked planet mean at least two times in the first couple pages. Most of it though is E. remembering what life used to be on Earth with seemingly equal parts longing and hate, and each time E. remembers it slows down the pace of the chapter. Likability of E: Seems fine to me so far. E. is a tough character with a bitter history and that shines through – for the most part it’s understandable, like losing her wife, being stuck on a shithole of a planet. What I don’t like so much is the constant reminiscing of Earth and lamenting her lot in life. Also, and this is not necessarily a bad thing, but E. does remind me of a certain other main character from another book you wrote, and I wonder if you’re not rethreading the same ground here. Inciting incident: I’m not really feeling an inciting incident here. As far as I can tell there are three things going on: E. hates her life on Q., and people who care about E. want E. to stop moping and get on with her life. E. however does not want this, and makes no move to do so, so there isn’t really an inciting incident there. Then there’s the M., but I’m not really feeling the threat here, since E. has already made it clear that they are dying out anyway and it seems this small incursion was stopped rather easily. There’s the question of what happened to T. out in the dunes, and if she encountered the M., but at its heart T. is still (most likely) dead due to terminal cancer (if not the environment), so where the body is and what happened to it is not all that compelling to me. And it’s not really all that compelling to E. either because, as E. says in the beginning, she had three years to look for T. and didn’t. Given the above the first chapter so far is a character hating their lot in life on a horrible planet. Hologram: This confused me. When N. first appeared you describe a sand tornado and then N. wiping the dust from herself. I thought she was actually there and had stepped through a dust storm to get to E., but nowhere in there did I ever think she was a hologram. Earth’s shadow: Not sure what you mean by Earth’s oppression of the colony world, since you just described how Earth is gone and therefore there is nothing to oppress. The planet itself still gets some help and colonists from the outside galaxy, but for the most part the planet is left to fend for itself – not really seeing the oppression. Tidally-locked planet: I like this, it’s interesting to see what you’re going to do with this. All female planet: Seems like an odd thing to do, create a colony full of people who – without artificial or outside help – can’t naturally reproduce. If anything goes wrong with their technology and/or their off-planet sperm supply the colony can do nothing except slowly die out. Seems like a bad investment, considering the cost of colonizing a planet and the fact that the planet that started the whole colonization process was on the verge of being destroyed and now actually is. Planet’s worth: E. wants to get off the planet, so there are other colonized planets out there apparently and an Earth II as well, so it’s not like there’s a need to stay on such a horrible planet when there are better planets out there. So if Q. is so horrible, what’s the worth of the planet that would have: Drawn colonists there in the first place. Keeps them there when there are, potentially, more hospitable worlds out there. M.: I thought these had to be aliens, but they seem to be human? Is that correct? E. converses with one of them but I’m still not sure what they actually are. Rough start: I do want to see where you’re going with this, since you’ve written cool stuff before, but I agree with you that this is a rough start and I’m not really hooked by it yet.
  10. I agree with Mandamon and ICanDream, that there is way to much exposition at the start of the chapter. The latter parts of the chapter were better, as R. is finally doing something and the amount of exposition goes down a little. I get that you tried to make the info-dumps as interesting as you could, but in my opinion you’re better off cutting most of it, focus on the character instead and sprinkle in the information later when we’re more involved with the characters. At the end of the day an info-dump is still an info-dump. Setting: I like the setting and want to see more of it. I don’t like how it’s basically being told to me rather than being shown through the character’s thoughts and actions. Disconnected sections: There doesn’t seem to be a lot of connection between the sections of this chapter, especially in the beginning. There’s exposition on one subject, then exposition on another, then the character briefly does something, then several more sections of exposition, and then when we get back to the character doing something else I’ve already forgotten what he was doing in the first place. Very jarring. Name: Getting to know the main character’s name on page three, after two pages of exposition, is a bit late for me. Scrap hunt: After all the exposition I was really hoping for something interesting to make all of it worthwhile, but to me the scrap hunt was a little anti-climactic and the other characters involved in it, T. and W., read very much like caricatures to me. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but so far this chapter has way to much exposition, a main character that is hardly present because of it, and the antagonists are more comic relief than a threat. I mean, W. is even literally rolling on the ground, laughing. Who does that? Especially in a junkyard with sharp objects all around? Setting the scene: There’s a lot of exposition, and maybe that caused me to skim read parts, but while there is a lot of background information on the setting there isn’t much setting the scenes of where R. actually is. For instance, up until R. suddenly mentioning there’s a ground manager I had no idea there were other people around other than R., T. and W.. I wouldn’t mind a little more time spent on painting the scene.
  11. It's the clothing thing. Granted it's a bit weird to find someone you're looking for in a random forest in the middle of nowhere, but you did establish that this is what A. does. But A. is a professional, she wouldn't be wandering the forest in those weather conditions in those clothes. And I feel that S. should have picked up on it sooner. Ah, I did not have the impression that M. snuck out to do this. In that regard it makes sense that there are no guards around now. From what I read before I got the impression that M. had a temporary headquarters in a tavern, which was known to the guards and other officials, and that she was basically operating closer to the people rather than from afar from the palace. Which is probably what she wants S. to believe. I do think that keeping the number of irrelevant characters low is a good idea. Even in epic adult fantasy this is probably a good idea. Suggestion: Introducing a guard detail early on in the chapter, then having the guards move with M. against the bandits wouldn't have to take a lot of words. Especially since we're in S.'s perspective, who at that time is focussing more on being reunited with M. as well as riding a horse to pay much mind to an escort. We don't even need any names for them and we don't need to see any fighting, since S. goes into the forest early in the encounter. Then rather than M. having chased off the bandits (which felt odd anyway and lessens their impact), she could stumble on S. while fleeing, while the guards form a perimeter to give M. time to flee. Other suggestion: Have M. avoid guards more when they're in the city, so the reader can get a feeling about what's going on. Like I mentioned above, the behaviour of the bandits (attacking, then running away) feels weird and lessens the threat posed against M. and S.. The feeling I got was that it was a band of bandits, meaning M. is heavily outnumbered. Running in that scenario is strange. Now if it's just one or two bandits, amateur, country folk, and they get confronted by M. charging at them, that might surprise them enough that fleeing would make sense. But like I said, in my mind there were more, at least five to ten bandits.
  12. I also liked the pacing of the chapter just fine, and I also believe that S. is really sheltered. What I didn’t quite believe is that only three years have gone by between the interlude where S. was beaten up by Sam, and the present where neither of them recognizes the other. It’s not like this encounter didn’t leave an impression on either of them, Sam’s hate and anger are strong, and you don’t forget such a heavy beating or the one who did it to you. Interlude: After reading the chapter that comes after Sam’s hostility towards S. makes sense, but while reading the anger Sam had towards S. felt like it came out of nowhere and that was a little surprising. It also reads as a little convenient that we get an interlude showing Sam and S.’s past together just before the chapter where he’s introduced as an adult. Age confusion: At first I thought that Sam had to be around five years old, because he’s referred to as ‘the boy’ just after someone who’s referred to as ‘the girl’ was said to be five years old, and the entire group S. is with is described as ‘children’. Now, since the POV comes from S., and S. is fourteen, the fact that S. thinks of them all as children would make them a few years younger than S., at least in my mind, so ranging between 5 and 10 at the most. So when S. is beat up by one of the kids that surprised me, since S. has a few years on them and it’s only one boy doing the attacking. M. is gone alone: That doesn’t seem very smart, since there already was an ambush by bandits and M.’s easily recognizable, going off without at least letting S. know where she went is careless. It does fit with her character, since she’s already gone off to who knows where without guards with no one by her side aside from a not-so-reliable childhood friend – whose mother may or may not be involved in the disappearance of the queen…but the carelessness doesn’t feel really believable. Breasts: Is this weekly reader syndrome or edits I may have missed? Because I distinctly remember that S. didn’t like them at all – now all of a sudden S. doesn’t mind them… Also, the discomforts of the binding are suddenly described as being a lot worse than the previous chapters alluded to. Now the binding causes lightheadedness and being out of breath, but I don’t remember that being the case before. Size of the spirit house: The size of the spirit house wasn’t immediately clear to me. S. walks into it, painfully, and from that I assumed that the house was at least S.’s height. Yet later S. has to kneel down to touch the shingles of the roof, which makes the house a lot smaller than I thought it was. As a center piece to a festival it also feels a little small. No immediate recognition: The interlude says that at that time S. was 14 years old, and I take it that Sam would be a little older than that, since S. has no recollection of Sam ever living with them. Yet in the present S. is 17 years old, so only three years have gone past. With only a difference of three years I’m surprised neither of them recognizes the other. Or are both of them actually a lot younger in the interlude? Curses: I get that Sam is angry, but his curses come across as feeble, like ‘go run yourself through with a sword’. And ‘drown in a factory’ is more confusing than threatening, especially since this is a fantasy setting and we haven’t seen a factory yet. How does one drown in a factory? Is there a lot of water there for some reason? What kind of factory is it? Loss of recognition on page 7: On page 6 S. realizes who Sam is. At least, that’s what I’m getting out of it, since S. realizes that Sam has a longstanding grudge. But then on page 7 S. wonders again who this man is – when that was made clear mere paragraphs ago. You probably mean that S. wonders what his damnation motivation is for his grudge, but on first read it didn’t come across that way to me. Page 8, full recognition at last: I like how it all came together for S., with how similar the two of them look. Part of me does think that S. should have realized this a little sooner in the encounter. Witch threat level: I’m confused about the threat level of witches in this setting. From the previous chapters it felt like witches are a big thing, then when S. wishes that the smoky form is a sending and not a witch, I also felt like witches are a big deal. Yet practically the next sentence about witches is that ‘it’s only a witch’. So, are witches a big deal or not? Because I can no longer tell. Confusing ending: The chapter ending was a bit confusing, because things were happening that have no visual component in S.’s POV. What S. sees is an empty factory, but what S. hears is one that is in action (just like what Sam purportedly heard). Is S. hallucinating the smoky form and the empty room, or is the other way around and is S. hearing things that aren’t there? I’m hoping the next chapter will clarify that.
  13. Can't believe I didn't notice this sooner (should spend some more time looking at the Lounge topic ). I'm also going to Dublin 2019 - first Worldcon ever, so should be interesting.
  14. Good chapter, I really enjoyed the tension between S. and M.. Three boots: “I knelt and removed her other boot”. Small oversight on page 4 I think, because on page 1 you have one of the boots already on the ground, and on page 2 S. helps the other boot off of M.’s injured leg. Info-dumping: The explanations of the festival as well as guild/un-guild laws to S. feels a little info-dumpy, I’d much rather see these things in action rather than have M. explain it to M. We already know the salient points from last chapter, which is that there are no physicians available during the festival, and that the guilds are in decline. The rest doesn’t seem that important at this point. Passing as a commoner: S. observes that M. wasn’t passing as a commoner as well as she thought. From my perspective M. isn’t trying to pass herself off as a commoner at all – everyone seems to know who she is, she spends a lot of money and her behavior is too haughty for a commoner. If M. is trying to pass as a commoner, and that going around in disguise rather than with guards is her big plan, you may need to rework that a bit more, because I’m not seeing it. Stayed in between: “People started talking because I didn’t, finish. Because I stayed in between.” I’m not sure what this means. Didn’t finish what? Stayed in between what? Human: “She looked human” as opposed to what? I wasn’t aware that there were non-humans around? Barrier: I’m trying to wrap my head around how the solvent works and what S. does. S. has a solvent that will bind to the skin and form a film on top of it, but it doesn’t bind in water. I take this to mean it also won’t make a film either, since that’s the end result of binding to the skin of whatever it touches. So when S. makes the wound wet, so the solvent doesn’t bind with the open tissue (and get internal, yet S. also remarks that small quantities shouldn’t be a problem anyway, so why even bother), it still forms a film on top of the thin layer of water on the wound…I thought it couldn’t bind when it was wet?
  15. Don’t have much to add to what ‘s already been said. I liked the chapter, though I was a bit surprised that S. knew absolutely nothing about the decline of the guilds. If the guilds are in decline, that might reveal itself in the amount of orders they got, hiding away in the woods, which might have given S. an inclination. And though S. hated going into the village I was under the impression that S. still went there, from time to time. It’s hard to believe S. never picked up any rumors whatsoever. Aside from that, the biggest thing that still bugs me (and that isn’t going to go away) is that M. and S. are out alone, without any guards, and without a proper disguise as even an innkeeper in a border town knows the royal daughter on sight. Even forgetting about the missing queen and missing guild masters, and whoever’s behind those troubles, they’d get in trouble with any small time thug wanting to make a bit of money out of kidnapping the royal daughter.