Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Mandamon

20220207 - Of Mycelium and Men - 5293 words - Sub 3 - Mandamon (L)

16 posts in this topic

This is all of chapter 3, slightly over the limit. I'll have to divide up the rest of the chapters into sections.

I'm guessing the first section of this needs to be cut down a bit, but I just love all the political machinations! Anyway, let me know what you thing, and as usual, any and all comments are welcome: plot, setting, character, grammar, etc.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall

The frequent addition of the planet-fungus POV is excellent and keeps things moving. I love this thus far and have only a few minor quibbles, as noted below. I did have some skimming in select parts of the admin maneuvering, but mostly this was all perfectly entertaining and great hard sci fi set ups. Tension is solid and I'd have a hard time putting this book down now--which is saying a lot since we don't have a couple for me to ship yet.

 

As I go

- that first sentence is hard to parse due to how its constructed. I had to read it a few times. Might shorten to make it land easier the first time

- pg2: It has been over four hundred years for them <-- I was expecting this to be followed with an empathy statement. It isn't, which makes me wonder what purpose it serves

- pg 5: I was engaged until the end of this page. Now the political maneuvering is giving me eye glaze. This is, however, likely a me thing as I dislike political discourse (when reading)

- pg 6 I was engaged again

- pg 7: I went glazed again

- the alien lifeform section was fantastic

- pg 11: mycelial kingdom: It's the Kingdom of Fungi. Mycelium is one small part of the growing structure. This is like saying 'root kingdom' to talk about plants

 pg 12: especially since you still use 'animal kingdom' and haven't changed it to like, 'bone kingdom' or something

- pg 16: Some pockets with sensing structures were abandoned, left to function independently for the first time in eons <----oooh I like this!

- solid ending 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @kais At least we seem to enjoy reading each other's stuff. I just left you feedback on yours, not that there was much.

14 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg2: It has been over four hundred years for them <-- I was expecting this to be followed with an empathy statement. It isn't, which makes me wonder what purpose it serves

Good point. This is a great place to expand on Admin/Gen relationships.

15 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 11: mycelial kingdom: It's the Kingdom of Fungi. Mycelium is one small part of the growing structure. This is like saying 'root kingdom' to talk about plants

Noted! There will be some places in a few chapters where I'll need some expertise and error checking...

 

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have very little to say about this

I was getting a little tired of the politics by the end of the first scene, but most of it was good, and makes dislike the admins and side with the generationals. 

The first fungus-mat POV scene was great! I love seeing what they think of the ship. (used they because it seems like the thing is really multiple things sentient things all in one?)

I was really liking A though I admit I skimmed the last paragraph on page 10 a little.  Maybe trim that one a teeny bit? 

A & D's scene was great, and D's enthusiasm just gives me the sense he is doomed.

Spoiler

(I mean, I know he from reading the short, and I don't want him to be!)

I think F's scene was my favorite though. 

And by the end of the last one, I felt bad for the bio matt. Darn colonizing humans...

Overall, I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to reading more. 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I was getting a little tired of the politics by the end of the first scene, but most of it was good, and makes dislike the admins and side with the generationals.

That's to be expected. I probably need to cut it down a bit. But it does seem to have done what it was supposed to!

16 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

The first fungus-mat POV scene was great! I love seeing what they think of the ship. (used they because it seems like the thing is really multiple things sentient things all in one?)

Great! Sure, "they" is probably right. This is actually one reason I'm using only passive tense in these sections. I can completely avoid referring to "a being" at all and leave what exactly this consciousness is amorphous. Is it the accumulation of all the parts? Is there a separate consciousness? I want it to be a completely foreign type of existence.

16 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

D's enthusiasm just gives me the sense he is doomed.

Poor D... ;-(

16 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I felt bad for the bio matt. Darn colonizing humans...

Nice!

Thanks @shatteredsmooth

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I read:

“Who would have thought a suitable chuck of rock” First of all, should be chunk. Also, dang, these people really don’t know anything do they.

Oh. Oh so this is THAT kind of group. Figures.

P3 "These Gens were stepping stones..." They really don't think of the Gens as people at all, huh.

“on the original procedure…” Which procedure? Landing procedure?

Yes. Brilliant. Find a new, life-bearing planet, and then destroy the “biological mat” – that we haven’t even sampled yet – that covers the WHOLE PLANET.

(Sorry, I’m just having fun snarking these people now)

p4 “If all went well, they all” should be “they’d all”

What does the population of Gens. have to do with whether or not they’re insubordinate/whether or not they like the Vs?

“...a few instances between squatters” a few instances “with” squatters? There’s no subject other than the squatters, i.e. it doesn’t say between the squatters and whom. Unless the squatters are fighting amongst themselves.

“what did not show on the face of a senior administrator…” But she never actually follows up on this comment, we don’t then see her trying to read the assistants’ faces.

So have the Gens been awake this entire time? I thought they were being brought out of sus-ani in shifts.

P8 I love the way the ships are described in this interlude.

“...carry on the advantages gained. Though the method” Should this be a comma instead of a period?

P9 “gained as much knowledge and” should be as

Hmm, in addition to the bone supplements, I wonder if they would have all been assigned some kind of exercise routine to help them adjust to gravity on the planet? Astronauts do this to prevent muscle and bone loss.

“Gravity precluded nearly sixty eight percent of the storage…” Great detail.

p11“it’s been exposed to a monoculture…” but he was just going on about how the diversity in the samples vastly outstrips the variety seen on Earth.

“The nutrient ratio is probably far out of calibration” They have samples, wouldn’t this be one of the top priorities to confirm?

P12 Hmm… If the ‘animals’ have the same cellular biology as the fungus, then what is F defining as “animals” here? Is he just going off the fact that they’re more mobile?

P13 “which includes making sure the colony is…” Which should be capitalized

p14 would this entity have a frame of reference for “cherry-red” light?

I almost didn’t comment on the above because you have to be able to give us some visual information, but this one stuck out to me a bit.

Also, the narrating entity doesn’t seem to recognize this phenomenon as the ship entering atmos[phy

“...against such pressures that much” that “must”?

P15 “...solid ground flowing like rivers” Oooh. Does this planet have rivers?

Normally I’d remark that you’d think that would be a priority for the spaceships to confirm, but at this point I think we can leave the rest of my “these people are bad at their jobs” comments unsaid. Except for the one I just made, I guess.

Overall: Since it was commented on... I didn't think thought the political machinations scene was just long enough (though I like this stuff). I'm not especially connected with the POV character on an emotional level, since she seems to be motivated by entrenching her own power and that's about it, but it didn't seem to me that the purpose of the scene was for me to do that, so I was fine with it.

I really have nothing to add other than what's in my LBLs. Nicely done, carry on.

Edited by Silk
Edited for very confusing typos
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @Silk! Great catches on the grammar and other misses.

I love all the comments on the bureaucracy. That's pretty much exactly the responses I intended so I'm glad that's coming across.

22 hours ago, Silk said:

“what did not show on the face of a senior administrator…” But she never actually follows up on this comment, we don’t then see her trying to read the assistants’ faces.

I think I realized this when I did a read-through and still didn't correct it.

22 hours ago, Silk said:

So have the Gens been awake this entire time? I thought they were being brought out of sus-ani in shifts.

All the Gens have been awake the whole time. Vagals come in a out of sus-ani.

22 hours ago, Silk said:

Hmm, in addition to the bone supplements, I wonder if they would have all been assigned some kind of exercise routine to help them adjust to gravity on the planet? Astronauts do this to prevent muscle and bone loss.

Probably. I think I was assuming exercises would be standard procedure for everyone, but they probably need extra exercises too. I'll make a note of it.

22 hours ago, Silk said:

p11“it’s been exposed to a monoculture…” but he was just going on about how the diversity in the samples vastly outstrips the variety seen on Earth.

“The nutrient ratio is probably far out of calibration” They have samples, wouldn’t this be one of the top priorities to confirm?

Doh. Will adjust.

22 hours ago, Silk said:

P12 Hmm… If the ‘animals’ have the same cellular biology as the fungus, then what is F defining as “animals” here? Is he just going off the fact that they’re more mobile?

Basically, yes.

22 hours ago, Silk said:

p14 would this entity have a frame of reference for “cherry-red” light?

I almost didn’t comment on the above because you have to be able to give us some visual information, but this one stuck out to me a bit.

Also, the narrating entity doesn’t seem to recognize this phenomenon as the ship entering atmos[phy

Interesting on the light observation. And yes to the last point!

22 hours ago, Silk said:

P15 “...solid ground flowing like rivers” Oooh. Does this planet have rivers?

You'll see one in a couple chapters!

22 hours ago, Silk said:

I really have nothing to add other than what's in my LBLs. Nicely done, carry on.

Thanks! I keep waiting for something to be really wrong with these chapters, but they seem to be alright so far...

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall, very enjoyable.  Most of my issues are in the first scene, but I’ll just point you to details in the LBLs, since I tend to go into more detail there, anyway.
Pg 1:
So, is C her assistant? The wording in the introduction is a little unclear. Is there a reason C has a “modern” name if he was there in the initial generation?
Chuck -> chunk?
Pg 2:
“sari artfully clipped…” Hah. Yeah, that would be a problem there. Though I’m curious what you mean by pantsuit.  I also wonder if this is meant to be a full traditional sari (which would require far more than clipping) or some altered version.  A sari is basically a 6 yard long piece of fabric wrapped/tucked/draped into place. I’m not sure it would even be possible to wrap in a low/no-grav situation. Some sort of highlight embellished salwar kameez might be a good alternative, since she knew she’d be going into this gravity situation at the start (and it would still probably need some clipping).  For reference, here’s an “easy sari draping tutorial”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6rX0cWf-_M 
Pg 3:
Why would him being woken up early mean a risk of losing command to him?  It was to deal with an issue on his ship, right?  And even if it had been for a full fleet thing, wouldn’t her being kept in sus-ani just mean it wasn’t important enough to bother the higher-ups?
“eyes took in everything.” This seems similar to the take-away feature of the person on page 1. 
This is a lot of people to be introducing in one conversation. Especially when each one has a paragraph of description added in. It doesn’t help that it feels like we are going to each person at the table in turn for their relevant, character-defining comment, which feels a little forced.  Is there any way to have a smaller group of the characters who will be most central first, to nail down those characters, and bring the others in later?  Especially if we’re supposed to be able to remember all of this as we go. I’m always up for a political discussion (clearly), but it’s really tricky to make them sound natural while introducing characters and plot-relevant details. 
Pg 4:
I like the city name/title.  Should it be capitalized if it’s the name? Or is it just a descriptive term for the type of city (“it’s not a city, it’s an arco…” vs. “The city’s name is..” ?)
“three or four hundreds” How far along this are they?
Missing the e from J’s name in the last paragraph.
Pg 5:
“even if they must share…” I’m sure this will go fine, without any unfortunate consequences that make anyone upset. Yep. Definitely.
So J is the one formally in charge of the Admins. Was that stressed in her previous appearance? Because while it seems to be assumed (despite her mentioning concern that one of the others might make a play for that control), it’s not really clear what that means. Does she have a command-position-title that everyone decided on back on earth? Is she just the one who is more naturally stepping up to make decisions? Not knowing how concrete her power is makes it hard to tell if there’s any real risk to her losing it. But at this point, no one has even second-guessed anything she’s said.
Pg 6:
“Over the next hour…” it’s unclear how much of this we should be tucking away for reference later.  There are a lot of names and a lot of details attached to those names.  If the point is more to create a sense that J is in charge and knows how to keep order among the rest of them, it’s getting bogged down in specifics.  If we’re supposed to latch onto specifics, I think we need a bigger lantern hung on the ones we need to keep track of.  At the moment, they’re all coming across as equally important, and while the names are helpfully distinct, there are a lot to keep track of without any more in-depth interaction with anyone specific.
“No offence,…” I assume this is the same Ales-? I thought she’d been referring to someone else at the table at first. Also, is offence considered a more standard spelling? I’ve always spelled it offense. Silly English language…
“face registered confusion” This isn’t the reaction I would have expected.  He’d clearly put a lot of value on being the centerpiece of the city (makes sense. It’s the legacy of all their work that will stand as the focal point of the civilization). To pull that away, call his ship ugly, and cover it up with a meaningless platitude? I can’t see him having any response but to get bitter about it (at the very least).  Insults hold more weight for people. They get held more closely. And they’re going to affect the way people receive information following them.  Might make more sense to have her play into his pride first. Have him pleased with all he’s accomplished and assuming that those accomplishments will also be part of the legacy of their new civilization, then tug what he wants out from under him and end the meeting before he can process.
The strategy with W pans out quite well, though. Nobody likes sitting in meetings when their part of it is over. 
Pg 7:
I don’t buy that this goes this smoothly. There’s not enough push-back, and emotions aren’t all that high. There has to be a good deal of impatience and anxiety going into their back and forth here.  This is what everything has been building up to, and setting the stage for the rest of their new civilization going forward. I’d expect tensions to be much higher.
Pg 8:
I continue to like the planet perspective scenes.
Pg 9-10.
Aw. Poor Al. I just want to pat him on the head and let him sit in a spaceship just outside of the atmosphere for the rest of his life. I like his desperate attempts to get someone to be worried about something. Anything. To slow or stop their approach. 
Pg 11:
“…was going to be chaos.” I feel for ya, bud. 
Pg 12:
“We’ll just have to carve out our own little place…” I’ m sure that will go fine. 
Pg 13:
Not sure if Ag- is pushing back because she doesn’t want kids at all, or because she’s anxious having them at this point in time.  While it might seem like a thing, it’s pretty character-defining in how she deals with conflict with people she loves.  Is it an anxiety that he’s aware of, and just finds it hard to contain his excitement, because he figures it will work itself out? Or does she not want kids at all, but is unable to confront him with the fact?  Getting some implication of one or the other would be helpful in understanding the character better.
Pg 15:
“…there was fire. There was death…” So…not the best first impression from the humans, then.
 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @C_Vallion! Good points.

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

This is a lot of people to be introducing in one conversation.

I was wondering what the reception would be on this, but doesn't look like there's too much confusion overall. At any rate, no you don't need to remember their names and part of this is the to show this is a beg meeting and give triggers whenever one of the Admins pops up later. This is partly why I have the Dramatis in the beginning, for reference, but also I'll note the individuals when they show up again. I guess let me know if it's confusing the next time one of them shows up.

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

I like the city name/title.  Should it be capitalized if it’s the name?

It isn't a proper name, just a specialized description, so no, not capitalized. That said, I haven't actually named it in the text, but I'm not completely sure I need to, at least yet. I'll ponder.

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

This isn’t the reaction I would have expected.

Good points. I'll see if I can make it a bit clearer.

 

5 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Not sure if Ag- is pushing back because she doesn’t want kids at all, or because she’s anxious having them at this point in time.

It will become clearer later on...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

See notes at the beginning of my chapter 2 review for a summary

Overall

Overall, the deeper I get into the story, the less I'm feeling pulled out of the story by the writing and the more engaged I am in what's happening, because of that the nitpicks stand out more but there are less major issues / confusions. I consider that a good thing.

The Good

I really liked the section from Al's perspective here. It feels much more like I'm in his brain and the questions are coming from him, so I don't feel like I'm seeing your hand as an author in the story telling as much as I did in chapter 1. I really enjoyed that section.

Issues / Confusions

I felt like there wasn't enough conflict in the board room scene when they were discussing how to divvy up the planet. I understand that you're trying to show that J. is politically savvy and good at managing things and getting her way but it feels like it was too easy for her to get her way and too high level an overview of the conversation. I felt like I was reading an outline summary of what should happen more than being involved in the scene. Let the other admins speak out, contradict her etc. Let me see their personality in the way they act not just the way J. thinks about them. This could be a really interesting scene but just kind of fell flat.

The aliens use a lot of human terms for things (sun, lightning, children) which breaks the immersion of it being in an alien mind. An example that is really common in fantasy literature is to call lightning sky-fire or something similar. I feel like the alien mind is supposed to be more primitive (maybe it's not but that's the impression I have of it) so using technical terms is strange. Also, children, that word implies nurturing caring and a two way relationship, so the alien life thinking about the space ships birthing children implies that the fungus lifeform has distinct separate offspring that they nurture and raise as opposed to seeds (plants), spores (fungi), or larva (insect based) which are all offspring but have different connotations of the type of offspring the lifeform expects.

Nitpicks

'Suitable chuck of rock' - typo

'they all live to see' - typo

'It was assumed that this was a method to pick' that's a very wordy phrase

"In all it's anxiety" - the surface of the planet has anxiety?

'happening in our lifetime' - awkward, possibly unneeded

You had a paragraph start 'which includes' with a lowercase w.

Edited by Mythranor
removed unused other thoughts section
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @Mythranor!

1 hour ago, Mythranor said:

Overall, the deeper I get into the story, the less I'm feeling pulled out of the story by the writing and the more engaged I am

Great! This is probably also a function of me figuring out what the heck I'm writing.

1 hour ago, Mythranor said:

I felt like there wasn't enough conflict in the board room scene

Yep, this one will get a good revision when I edit. I like the shape of it, but it needs some fine-tuning.

1 hour ago, Mythranor said:

The aliens use a lot of human terms for things (sun, lightning, children) which breaks the immersion of it being in an alien mind.

Good feedback. Also something I'll look into on edits.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not much to add by now!

I'm enjoying the story, which hasn't changed. Just a couple things that caught my eye as I read:

"Overtime the population of each ship has expanded..." is this tied to the discussion about food production races between ships? Because it seems like that kind of growth (from the mention of reducing quarters size, I assumed 2x to 3x growth) would have been catastrophic to supplies and equipment on the ships over centuries of travel. I took comments about the wear on the ship's to have been related to the trip being much longer than expected, but perhaps this is also linked? 

This really belongs in the previous chapter, but something in this chapter sparked it so I'll mention it here: Meat livestock in zero g. Unless they are getting exercise and some serious hormones, it seems like their muscle mass would be pretty meager. This nags at my suspension of disbelief that so much feed, water and energy would be put into a non-essential and inefficient food source when the ships are already overburdened. Not sure if something this small is worth worrying about, but just in case.

Acropolis: Cool name. Something about it also brings a sense of impending doom, likely fueled by me reading too much dystopia and space empire fiction :-)

I'm really glad you addressed muscle mass, but I wonder how they are going to adapt to blood volume/blood pressure issues once under 80% gravity. You're probably already on top of this, but many astronauts also have immune overreactions when returning to earth after a long stint in space, going from an ultra clean environment to a messy and pathogen filled planet. I am totally willing to accept they have a booster for that though :-)

I wasn't 100% what was happening in the first planet view section. At first, I thought we were skipping straight to the landing.

I very much liked the second planet view section where we do see the landing. Great detail and ominous beginning to the colony. 

Sorry if I seem nit picky. Honestly I found very little to comment on which probably led me to dig deeper for problems than I normally would have. Feel free to ignore!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks @Sarah B!

If you're finding nit picky things rather than overall problems, that's great!

Good point about zero-G meat. There are some issues with that and the transfer to the ground. I think I need to add a booster for muscle mass, or have the cows doing workouts or something!

4 hours ago, Sarah B said:

"Overtime the population of each ship has expanded..." is this tied to the discussion about food production races between ships? Because it seems like that kind of growth (from the mention of reducing quarters size, I assumed 2x to 3x growth) would have been catastrophic to supplies and equipment on the ships over centuries of travel. I took comments about the wear on the ship's to have been related to the trip being much longer than expected, but perhaps this is also linked? 

I can expand this out in the story to answer this question, but basically the populations did expand, but they also had ways of getting resources from space (water, minerals), and were pretty good about efficient recycling. So even if they expanded 2 or 3x, they added more space for agriculture and divided up living sections while controlling population growth. By this point, they weren't depending on any stores from Earth, as they had already been traveling many times longer than the original voyage was supposed to take.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/23/2022 at 6:27 AM, Mandamon said:

I think I need to add a booster for muscle mass, or have the cows doing workouts or something!

As hilarious an image as this is, can they maybe just have lab-grown meat?

Edited by Silk
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Silk said:

As hilarious an image as this is, can they maybe just have lab-grown meat?

Yeah, maybe have that on the ship and switch back to real meat when they land.

Although I'd imaging that's going to cause some squick with characters as they find out what has to happen for them to get meat...

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.