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Mandamon

20220214 - Of Mycelium and Men - 4771 words - Sub 4 - Mandamon

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Welcome to the first half of chapter 4! In which the colony has its first troubles...

Let me know what you think, and as usual, any and all comments are welcome: plot, setting, character, grammar, etc.

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Overall, this one started a little slow then picked up as it went on. I'm having a hard time keeping track of who is who because there are so many different points of view and we are only get short bursts of each character before it moves onto another. I feel like I don't have time to really connect any of them, which is hurting my engagement with the story. The big picture is just interesting enough to keep me reading without getting a chance to connect to the characters, but just barely. No matter how goods the concept is, I need a character to latch onto and that is hard when it keeps switching POVs so quickly and introducing so many new POVs.

As I read:

p.2

"Did they think there were going to be fighting off aliens on whatever planet they landed on?" I’m guessing they did though a small force against a whole planet worth of people probably wouldn’t have done much.

"but A would have guessed the ratio was higher, before the mass sus-ani" Higher in what way?

"...it was incredibly fast-growing." Yet they’re landing anyway…probably because the admin didn’t want to go back to sus-ani?

P. 3

This first scene feels like more of an update than a full scene. It was mostly just telling. Nothing happened. I’m okay with some scenes like this but hope there won’t be too many.

“This day is absolutely stormed, sir,” A told his commanding officer... " Ok, this scene maybe has more promise of something happening.

"Ever since he’d been thawed out like some half-forgotten turkey in the bottom of the freezer, he’d felt out of place" Lol distinct voice for this character though I feel like we already have a lot of POVs and am not thrilled about adding a new one.

P. 5

Even though I’m not thrilled about the new point of view, this scene did seem to have more action and forward motion.

“Have you tried turning it off and back on?” Lol This advice is eternal, apparently.

Also, I can't remember if we've met J before or not. Part WRS, part too many characters. 

"The Galaxy Gloss polish resisted chipping " Yesss!! I having this little easter egg.

P.8

“They’re saying sixty percent of the cattle are showing a strange infection, likely fungal in nature." That doesn’t bode well. I see many, many disasters coming.

"Things will get better soon.” Which of course makes me think they will get worse.

P.9

"at for" Missing word, it? "at it for"

"which she would have caught if she hadn’t been nearly asleep." Then how does she know it’s low? Did you mean she would’ve caught it sooner?

P10

“No, not there, here.” The exchange this starts threw me out of the narrative. It went on too long without signaling it was being overheard.

P. 14

This last section was he most engaging by far. We got a good chunk of time in one characters head and something significant happened. 

 

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Overall, I like seeing the different angles of settling in. I also like the fact that something does go horribly wrong in the construction, but had a lot of trouble picturing the play-by-play of it, and what I was picturing wasn't quite matching the physics described.  Specific nit-picking/thoughts/etc. in LBLs below.

Pg 1:

“people had been stored…”  A funny, but fitting word choice.

Pg 3:

I like the contrast between Ag’s optimism about how the day’s going and And’s opinion.

Pg 6:

Ear-splitting, and thumping seem to be opposite sorts of noises in my head.  Not sure if that’s just me, though.

“week-schedule”  What have the Gens been using all this time?  Have they been following some sort of five day work week plus weekend?  Seems odd that they wouldn’t have established something different based on the needs of the ships.

Pg 9:

“earth culture.” Gotcha. That would do it.

Pg 10:

“metallurgist”  I feel like a metallurgist would know the properties of the metal itself well (and the methods of forming/strengthening/processing it), but wouldn’t be the one to know where the stress points are going to end up in a construction project.  That sounds more like a civil/mechanical engineering specialty.  

“Doesn’t matter.”  What could go wrong?  I have a feeling the answer is a lot.  A lot could go wrong.

Pg 11:

Odd to me that some of the profanity has stuck around. Saw someone swearing by the stars earlier, which makes sense. Feels odd to have sex-related terms used as profanity this far down the road, though. Though I guess if the V have been sleeping half the time, they’d have less perceived time/culture change.

Relatedly, what does “a foul” mean to them, culturally? Since I assume we aren’t playing baseball on the ships.

Pg 12-13

The blocking through here as she’s running away is a little confusing.

Air blast from the piece falling? How big are these? How far away is she? Having trouble seeing this as credible physics, but I’m not sure if I’m just not visualizing it correctly. It’s not an explosion. Just whatever air was underneath the falling panel being displaced. Very quickly, sure (though even that depends on gravity and air density. Gravity is less here than on earth, right?), but it’s not getting additional propulsion from some explosive force.

“gashes in her legs” Again, this seems excessive. But I could be misunderstanding the blocking/events.

“Buried ten feet deep” So it landed on an edge?  Then how did it displace enough air to create an air blast? Does it have any lingering ringing noise going on from residual vibration? (contrasting the stated silence)

Pg 14:

“A thousand times worse.” Yeah. This I believe will be throwing out some debris.

“Ship hadn’t been designed for forces like these” This seems like an odd observation for her to have. Not belittling the sewage-maintenance team, but does she know what forces the ships had been built to withstand? And if the original builders had intended the ships to become buildings, wouldn’t they have taken that into consideration? Where they would have intentionally made them to withstand such forces? And probably overcompensating on the factor of safety in case they were in a higher-gravity environment than earth?

I think this is why I don’t read a lot of sci-fi…it’s hard to turn off the engineer-brain.

I’m having a lot of trouble picturing this last section. Both how the top is falling (is it not going to hit anything that’s going to slow it down? How has it gotten that far free of the rest of the building/ship? It’s not going to fall any faster than the single plate. If anything, if the other landed on-end, the ship piece is going to have more air resistance and reach terminal velocity sooner. Though it will also be displacing far more air as it lands. Depending on the shape of it. It could funnel a lot of the air upward depending on the structure/shape of the piece). Okay. I’m done poking at things no one else cares about...

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Excited to read this!

As I read:

p2 “Did they think there were going to be fighting off aliens…” Oh, A. Also “there were” should probably be “they were.”

“The Gens still outnumbered… but A would have guessed the ratio was higher.” At first, I thought this was implying that a bunch of Gens had somehow died during the revival. It took about three reads to figure out that A was referring to the population growth of the Gens and not realizing how many Ads/Vs there were.

Augh. They don’t know how seasons work and they don’t have any drones at all dedicated to reconaissance? These people are bad at their jobs.

You know what, from this point forward, please just assume that I’m repeating that every few paragraphs or so.

P3 “The Gens were given no such...” suggest “had been given”

Hmm. So are the Gens completely genetically unmodified, as opposed to receiving mods that enabled them to live in space (say, withstanding radiation) but that might be maladaptive on the surface of a planet? Just a thought.

“...and what felt like a cow riding on her back.” Gravity, or just getting older? You decide!

Also, I 100% pictured one of @Snakenaps’ characters for the cow…

“This day is absolutely…” Hah! Great transition here.

Also I sure hope I’m not supposed to sympathize with this guy, because I definitely don’t.

“fight fungus with fire,” yes, excellent

Score another point for a certain nail polish…

The poltergeist line is great. 12/10.

p6 “...faster without eighty percent of the populations” should be population

p7 “threatening, but not immediately.” Maybe “not immediately so”, to make it clear that the antecedent here is actually “threatening” rather than the fungal jungle (say that five times fast) which is what it currently reads like.

If the ships are pepperoni, how big is the radian? How did they transport that much material?

P8 Why… why do they need a VR rig to read emails?

P9 “Any why twenty four…” Should be “And”

“they’d had to add five leap minutes” as opposed to just adapting their units of measure to the new planet (which nobody’s explained to the Gens, apparently)? WHY? These people are – you know the rest.

“They’d traveled at relativistic speeds for four hundred years…” Here’s Ji using earth metrics when she was literally just complaining about them.

“...and she’d been at for too long” At it?

Oh no. This is the scene where Bad Things start to happen, isn’t it. Poor J.

P10 “Until they got a viable, renewable power source up and running” How were they charging the batteries during spaceflight, and why is that not an option now?

(Also, these people are… etc.)

“Ji had seen the supersoldiers in the weight room…” I mean she’s also personally been decked by a V, wouldn’t that be the more prominent memory here?

“The supersoldiers had no emergency reflexes…” This is a hilarious flaw for a supersoldier class.

Well, that’s not the bad thing I was expecting to happen, but I guess I called it? Hope those cuts don’t give Ji the same problem the livestock are having…

“As if the Kh had decided to grow a gaping mouth…” That… that is some foreshadowing there. Whew.

Overall: Again, not much to add. I was a bit surprised to see us spending more time with J and the administration this quickly, as I'd assumed they were going to be an occasional sort of thing, but not sure that it's a problem; I just took it as a cue that the scope is a little broader than I'd expected.

One thing that I think is worth mentioning is the way the narrative is currently drawing a fairly bright line between the administration and the Gens, with the former being fairly unsympathetic as a whole. They're not just frustrating our protagonists via incompetence and cultural differences, they have a pretty overt disregard for the Gens that is painting them fairly unambiguously as villains (in addition to antagonists). Might be worth considering whether you want a little more grey in their portrayal, especially if we're going to be spending more time with them, as this chapter seems to suggest.

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Overall

Progressing along in mostly all the right directions. I'd say what's missing at this stage is at least one identified main character set, and the 'home life' setting for them. In most hard science I read, even ones with large POV casts, we still get one person (or couple) to touchpoint back to most chapters. And with that person (or couple) we get a few intimate scenes per beat to keep us grounded in the humanity. All the surrounding elements are here, but the intimate moments part is missing. I think if you can add that in, it'll be darn near perfect. 

 

As I go

- pg 2: I think this is the first time they've identified the mass as a 'fungus.' It's a big jump to me, because before they were calling it a 'vegetative mass' and vegetative, to me, says plant, not fungus

- pg 4: Ever since he’d been thawed out like some half-forgotten turkey in the bottom of the freezer <-- I love this line!

- pg 4: Here, we’re going to fight fungus with fire <-- okay do these people not know how fungi work? This is a terrible idea

- pg 5: haaaaaaaah the nail polish

- pg 7: It wasn’t horrible, but it was a musty, funky smell, like she’d stirred up layers of rotten leaves and detritus on the forest floo <-- since we are discussing an entire kingdom here, it's worth noting that many fungi have very unique smells. I think this is a missed opportunity to work with some of the more unique smells. Like there are some Ceratocystis fungi that smell like fresh cut apples

- pg 7: and fungal caps piled on one another <-- huh? This doesn't make sense. Why are the very limited to one type of fungus-spore dispersal mechanisms piled up?

- that first paragraph on page 14 kills the tension and I think it should go. This is also an excellent place for a chapter break. Keeps tension high

 

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Thanks to @C_Vallion, @Silk, and @kais!

On 2/18/2022 at 8:43 PM, C_Vallion said:

“metallurgist”  I feel like a metallurgist would know the properties of the metal itself well (and the methods of forming/strengthening/processing it), but wouldn’t be the one to know where the stress points are going to end up in a construction project.  That sounds more like a civil/mechanical engineering specialty.  

I might just change this to "metallurgist and engineer."

On 2/18/2022 at 8:43 PM, C_Vallion said:

Air blast from the piece falling? How big are these? How far away is she? Having trouble seeing this as credible physics, but I’m not sure if I’m just not visualizing it correctly. It’s not an explosion. Just whatever air was underneath the falling panel being displaced. Very quickly, sure (though even that depends on gravity and air density. Gravity is less here than on earth, right?), but it’s not getting additional propulsion from some explosive force.

Ah. I don't think I put in the size of the plate here. I can add. I'm imagining a 1-2 cm thick sheet that's probably 10-20 meters long, falling from 1/2 kilometer in the air. I didn't actually do the calculation on terminal velocity for a planet with about 0.8 Earth gravity, but I'd imagine this still makes a big blast, even landing on edge.

On 2/18/2022 at 8:43 PM, C_Vallion said:

Does it have any lingering ringing noise going on from residual vibration? (contrasting the stated silence)

Oooo. Good point. Need to add this in too.

On 2/18/2022 at 8:43 PM, C_Vallion said:

“Ship hadn’t been designed for forces like these” This seems like an odd observation for her to have. Not belittling the sewage-maintenance team, but does she know what forces the ships had been built to withstand? And if the original builders had intended the ships to become buildings, wouldn’t they have taken that into consideration? Where they would have intentionally made them to withstand such forces? And probably overcompensating on the factor of safety in case they were in a higher-gravity environment than earth?

Yeah, I thought of this when writing, but decided the ships would have to be optimized for 100+ years of travel, resisting mini meteorites and other forces in space. The actual landing and conversion is supposed to be fairly quick and the support structure is being removed at the time, so there's no real way to guarantee structural stability, thus it can't really be in scope for the design, except to make it easy to remove parts in the right order.

On 2/18/2022 at 8:43 PM, C_Vallion said:

I’m having a lot of trouble picturing this last section. Both how the top is falling (is it not going to hit anything that’s going to slow it down? How has it gotten that far free of the rest of the building/ship? It’s not going to fall any faster than the single plate. If anything, if the other landed on-end, the ship piece is going to have more air resistance and reach terminal velocity sooner. Though it will also be displacing far more air as it lands. Depending on the shape of it. It could funnel a lot of the air upward depending on the structure/shape of the piece). Okay. I’m done poking at things no one else cares about...

Okay, so my thought process on this is that the errant sheet compromised the skeleton of the ship on one side, causing it to list. Then the top structure didn't have enough support and sheared off about 1/3 of the way down, so a third of a kilometer of ship is falling, hastening the shear. There's some description of the damage in the next section, so let me know if that clears it up.

Thanks for the engineering talk, @C_Vallion!

12 hours ago, Silk said:

It took about three reads to figure out that A was referring to the population growth of the Gens

Ahhh...thanks. Will clarify.

12 hours ago, Silk said:

So are the Gens completely genetically unmodified, as opposed to receiving mods that enabled them to live in space (say, withstanding radiation) but that might be maladaptive on the surface of a planet? Just a thought.

Yep--completely unmodified. They're basically the monkeys running the ship until it lands.

12 hours ago, Silk said:

Also I sure hope I’m not supposed to sympathize with this guy, because I definitely don’t.

Uh huh...I'll just back away from this one.

12 hours ago, Silk said:

If the ships are pepperoni, how big is the radian? How did they transport that much material?

I need to put in the size of the total arcopolis somewhere in here...I'm thinking the burn-out space is 8-10 kilometers in diameter, divided into 8 radians.

12 hours ago, Silk said:

How were they charging the batteries during spaceflight, and why is that not an option now?

I'm assuming some sort of ramscoop to charge the batteries in space, but I didn't actually say it.

12 hours ago, Silk said:

“Ji had seen the supersoldiers in the weight room…” I mean she’s also personally been decked by a V, wouldn’t that be the more prominent memory here?

This is what happens when I write the first scene after the second scene...

12 hours ago, Silk said:

the narrative is currently drawing a fairly bright line between the administration and the Gens, with the former being fairly unsympathetic as a whole. They're not just frustrating our protagonists via incompetence and cultural differences, they have a pretty overt disregard for the Gens that is painting them fairly unambiguously as villains (in addition to antagonists).

Heh. Just wait.

You're picking up on a lot of the conflict coming later, so that's perfect. Thanks @Silk!

1 hour ago, kais said:

I'd say what's missing at this stage is at least one identified main character set, and the 'home life' setting for them. In most hard science I read, even ones with large POV casts, we still get one person (or couple) to touchpoint back to most chapters. And with that person (or couple) we get a few intimate scenes per beat to keep us grounded in the humanity. All the surrounding elements are here, but the intimate moments part is missing. I think if you can add that in, it'll be darn near perfect. 

The section right after this is a section with Ag. and Da, so I'm hoping that will serve this purpose? Let me know what you think. Ag. has a scene in every chapter (oddly, except the first chapter...) so I'm regarding her as the main character.

1 hour ago, kais said:

- pg 2: I think this is the first time they've identified the mass as a 'fungus.' It's a big jump to me, because before they were calling it a 'vegetative mass' and vegetative, to me, says plant, not fungus

Good point. I'll try to clarify. I'm sure there will be some frustrating lapses through the book. I may need a science pass from you, if possible.

1 hour ago, kais said:

Here, we’re going to fight fungus with fire <-- okay do these people not know how fungi work? This is a terrible idea

See above. Also, I'm interested to see what you think of the next section.

1 hour ago, kais said:

pg 7: It wasn’t horrible, but it was a musty, funky smell, like she’d stirred up layers of rotten leaves and detritus on the forest floo <-- since we are discussing an entire kingdom here, it's worth noting that many fungi have very unique smells. I think this is a missed opportunity to work with some of the more unique smells. Like there are some Ceratocystis fungi that smell like fresh cut apples

Lol. See above #2... Will add some things.

1 hour ago, kais said:

- pg 7: and fungal caps piled on one another <-- huh? This doesn't make sense. Why are the very limited to one type of fungus-spore dispersal mechanisms piled up?

And again...I probably just need you to tell me all the things I've done wrong...

1 hour ago, kais said:

that first paragraph on page 14 kills the tension and I think it should go. This is also an excellent place for a chapter break. Keeps tension high

Chapters are weird in this book. I may convert them to sections, and have a bunch of little chapters within them. I haven't decided.

Thanks @kais!

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Oops...Also thanks @shatteredsmooth! I thought I'd replied to your already.

On 2/15/2022 at 1:40 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

The big picture is just interesting enough to keep me reading without getting a chance to connect to the characters, but just barely. No matter how goods the concept is, I need a character to latch onto and that is hard when it keeps switching POVs so quickly and introducing so many new POVs.

Yep, I think this is going to be what turns some people off from this book. As I mention with @kais above, I regard Ag. as my main character. She's not in this half of the chapter, but she is the "reaction" scene that's coming up next. Let me know what you think of that next week. 

On 2/15/2022 at 1:40 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

This first scene feels like more of an update than a full scene. It was mostly just telling. Nothing happened. I’m okay with some scenes like this but hope there won’t be too many

Agree. I need to add some more character connection in this one.

On 2/15/2022 at 1:40 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

Also, I can't remember if we've met J before or not. Part WRS, part too many characters. 

Yep, in the first chapter. She was the one who decided to land.

On 2/15/2022 at 1:40 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

"which she would have caught if she hadn’t been nearly asleep." Then how does she know it’s low? Did you mean she would’ve caught it sooner?

Oop. Yes. Will rephrase.

Thanks again!

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30 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

This is what happens when I write the first scene after the second scene...

:D

Just sliding back in here to say that I am unreasonably enthusiastic at the idea of fungus that smells like apples (or whatever). Being able (for the admins, I guess, not the Gens) to identify something that smells like home when it absolutely shouldn't would be a great way to turn the creep factor up a notch.

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Just now, Silk said:

:D

Just sliding back in here to say that I am unreasonably enthusiastic at the idea of fungus that smells like apples (or whatever). Being able (for the admins, I guess, not the Gens) to identify something that smells like home when it absolutely shouldn't would be a great way to turn the creep factor up a notch.

That's a great idea and I will likely be stealing it for edits, as well as while writing the second book...

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

I'd imagine this still makes a big blast, even landing on edge.

I'd look into this a little more. You'll get a blast wind from an explosion, or from something like an asteroid hitting (where the impact forces are being taken on by the asteroid and causing the explosion), but I don't think you'd have a significant blast from a metal plate landing knife-edge first from that height. The volume of air displaced by the falling object over that cross-section isn't all that significant (though it would definitely sever almost anything underneath it), and while there will be some whooshing from turbulent airflow around it (I think), there's not enough friction the air and the plate to "pull" the air down with it. You'd get a decent shock-wave through the ground, though.  Especially since the ground is going to be what's absorbing the impact forces. It might be enough to knock people off their feet (I'm not even going to start thinking of the calculations that would go into that...), and I'd accept that the shockwave was enough to give the rest of the ship a good shake (to help dislodge the top bit that needs to fall) without too much complaining.

https://youtu.be/3g2Nf-6WfsU

 This is the closest thing I could find to a helpful visual reference. 1000 ft vs. 1/2 km is not insignificant, but if you look at the sandbag drop at 4:26, there is some dirt kicked up (though it's hard to say how much of that is just the sandbag exploding, which would make it a more traditional blast wind), but it's not significant. There's some dirt kicked up when the dummy is dropped as well, but it's not extensive either.  And while the plate falling is a massive difference in mass and overall size, I can't think of any reason that the greater mass would have an impact on the air being displaced (except in its effect on the fall speed) when the cross section landing in the ground is as small as it is. 

Feel free to throw correcting resources at me. Airflow dynamics weren't something I did advanced study on (and it's been...several years since I've taken classes on these sorts of things), so there could be forces involved that I'm missing.

Either way, you're probably fine for the more catastrophic building fall at the end (though I'd make sure the blocking of it is clear), and the plate falling is still going to be plenty terrifying enough to make people go running screaming out of the way, even if there isn't a wind blast. So there's plenty of room there for similar injuries/terror. And I bet the lingering ringing of the plate is going to be its own terrifying thing. 

2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Okay, so my thought process on this is that the errant sheet compromised the skeleton of the ship on one side, causing it to list. Then the top structure didn't have enough support and sheared off about 1/3 of the way down, so a third of a kilometer of ship is falling, hastening the shear. There's some description of the damage in the next section, so let me know if that clears it up.

So it's sort of crumpling around where the plate was? For lack of better phrasing.

This helps a bit, though I'd have questions about how much of it has been disassembled at this point, to have enough flex that it would list that far (assuming that the forces would be taken on by some inner cage at that point, once the outer shell is removed?). Also, maybe stressing that for some reason, they were removing some lower plates before upper plates (maybe some teams are working faster than others). If the missing support is closer to the ground with more weight over top of it, that "hinge point" that it's listing toward is going to be having more forces on it. I think if the "metallurgist/engineer" is worried about removing the lower plates before the upper ones because there isn't enough support to hold the top (maybe with a less technical visual from our pov character about how it looks like some twigs holding up ...something heavy? A specific thought isn't coming to mind at the moment. And that it already looks precarious. Also, is she imagining things, or is it swaying slightly in the wind?), it might be easier to picture when it falls. 

Unless my description there is also contrasting with what you're picturing. In which case I'll see how the description of the damage clarifies things.

 

As previously mentioned, I assume 95% of people probably won't be bothered by most of this. And if it hadn't been for the blast wind, I probably wouldn't have been pulled out of the story to think more about it. But at that point it turned into a puzzle.  This one's not too far short of my husband and I trying to put together force diagrams and theoretical equations for.  We're super fun to have at parties... 

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22 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

You'd get a decent shock-wave through the ground, though.  Especially since the ground is going to be what's absorbing the impact forces. It might be enough to knock people off their feet (I'm not even going to start thinking of the calculations that would go into that...), and I'd accept that the shockwave was enough to give the rest of the ship a good shake (to help dislodge the top bit that needs to fall) without too much complaining.

This is a good idea. I can change to make the effects come from the shockwave instead.

22 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Feel free to throw correcting resources at me. Airflow dynamics weren't something I did advanced study on (and it's been...several years since I've taken classes on these sorts of things), so there could be forces involved that I'm missing.

Bleah. I always hated fluid dynamics. I'm much more into kinematics, so I'll lazily admit you're probably right...

22 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

So it's sort of crumpling around where the plate was? For lack of better phrasing.

Pretty close. I sort of handwaved it at this point, assuming things would generally Go Bad.

22 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

As previously mentioned, I assume 95% of people probably won't be bothered by most of this. And if it hadn't been for the blast wind, I probably wouldn't have been pulled out of the story to think more about it. But at that point it turned into a puzzle.  This one's not too far short of my husband and I trying to put together force diagrams and theoretical equations for.  We're super fun to have at parties... 

Always great to have another engineer's (or two's) input!

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

Overall

This chapter was interesting overall and I mostly enjoyed it; but, the stuff about the Vagus nerve doesn't make sense from a medical perspective and so I wanted to correct that a bit. Just by way of background, I am a registered nurse and spent ten years at the bedside but left the clinical side of things about 6 years ago. Obviously I don't know you or your background, so maybe you have some updated medical research that I haven't seen (and I'd be fascinated to read up on it if you do), but based I did not find anything on a quick search of either google or some of the medical databases. Based on that, your description of stimulation of the Vagus nerve is not accurate so I've included some details below along with some decent references for you to review to make things more accurate from that perspective.

The autonomic nervous system is the term to describe the involuntary actions of the system. It is divided into three parts; efferent, sympathetic and parasympathetic. We can ignore the efferent nervous system because it is not relevant to the discussion. What is important is that feelings of restlessness (can't sleep) and agitation are effects of the sympathetic nervous system, specifically the effect of the hypothalamus releasing ACTH into the blood stream which causes the adrenal glands to release epinephrine (colloquially known as adrenaline). Epinephrine, in addition to the feelings described above, causes an increase in heart rate and a constriction of blood vessels resulting in an increase in blood pressure. This is the flight, fight or freeze response that is often talked about, and it does not involve the Vagus nerve in any way.

The Vagus nerve is the central proponent of the parasympathetic nervous system, it is the system that is often referred to as 'rest and digest', because it stimulates an increase in the release of gastric fluids, increased action of the digestive tract, a general slowing of the heart rate, dilation of the blood vessels (and a corresponding drop in BP), etc. Stimulating the vagal nerve will not cause someone to feel jittery, excited or anxious, it will trigger the urge to rest and may cause the person to pass out from a sudden drop in BP. It is important to note that stimulating the Vagus nerve DOES NOT cause the hypothalamus to release less ACTH or the adrenal glands to stop releasing epinephrine so, stimulating the Vagus nerve does not interrupt or inhibit the flight, fight or freeze response.

Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders has a great section on the basics of the Vagus nerve function as part of the autonomic nervous system before getting into information of how it can treat some disorders which wouldn't really be useful for this discussion.

Understanding the Stress Response has a pretty good primer on the sympathetic nervous system and the interaction of the hypothalamus and adrenal glands which is probably what you were meaning to describe being triggered by the E-Vapors and Vagal implants.

If you have any specific questions from about what you're trying to accomplish, feel free to reach out to me directly and I'd be happy to discuss a way to figure out something that will accomplish what you want to accomplish in your story that makes sense from a medical perspective.

The Good

I loved the commentary on how they're trying to adapt to a sense of time on the new planet. It shows how stuck in their ways the admins are, how frustrated the generational are with it and is pretty relatable. It's just the type of squabble to humanize the social structure.

The action sequence was solid, and I love how the problems were caused by a conflict between the different groups.

Issues / Confusions

Other than the vagus nerve issue my only question was about the implication that those in suspended animation do not leave biomass. Patients in a coma atrophy most of their muscle mass very quickly and I would anticipate that would be likely to happen with any sort of long term suspended animation unless it completely shuts down the cellular metabolic processes, maybe this is a trope in hard sci-fi that deals with this type of thing, but I questioned this from a medical perspective.

Nitpicks

The phrase 'was a major foul' is a phrase that is really specific to modern sports (basketball specifically) since it doesn't seem like those sports have continued on the ship, it just felt a little out of place.

The term 'grounder legs' felt awkward. I know what you meant but it just didn't land quite right to me.

 

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Thanks again, @Mythranor!

57 minutes ago, Mythranor said:

the stuff about the Vagus nerve doesn't make sense from a medical perspective

Yep. I'm aware of this. Thanks for the info, though. I was intending this name as one of those things that gets a name because it marginally affects a system, even if that's not the extent of what it can do. That said, it sounds like it's tripping people up, so I'll likely do more explanation and/or change the name. I did enough basic research on it to be dangerous and then ran with it. You'll notice the concept evolves a bit going through the story, so I'm going to keep writing (I'm on book 2 now) and come back at the end with a more definite name/explanation for what it does.

1 hour ago, Mythranor said:

the implication that those in suspended animation do not leave biomass

*mumblemumblescifihandwaving...*

 

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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 

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