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Mandamon

20220328 - Of Mycelium and Men - 3869 words - Sub 9 - Mandamon

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This is the first half of chapter 7, and we're almost halfway through the book. from here on, the passage of time will speed up a bit, skipping months, and later even years, so I'm interested how it reads!

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

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Posted (edited)

“They’d been in touch since…” I think you could probably delete this sentence and jump right to the important bit, the message about D.

BICYCLES! I firmly believe that sci-fi needs more bicycles. (Why aren’t there more of them in zombie apocalypse books?)

Also, now I want to see a mushroom bicycle.

I’d like to feel a little more of Ag’s alarm over this initial section – the first page mostly feels like her explaining how D ended up on the crews. Which is fine – I’m not bored – but I don’t get a real sense of her worry until she arrives at the scene.

P3 “…and can’t be reprogrammed in time.” Is this “can’t” as in “we can’t pull them off the construction crews because the boss said so,” or “can’t” as in “it actually takes more time to reprogram them than that”? Ag doesn’t squawk at this line so I’m assuming the latter.

P7 “I want… a complete wall around…” Wasn’t this already the plan?

P9 “At least then they still had a full suite of… supplies” Getting this in the chapter after J was injured would have made her quick recovery easier to swallow.

I really like this exchange between F and J, but I feel we’re missing an intermediate scene between the last we had of F/Ji and this one – one where we see J continuing to strikeout, or F starting to think about how he can support her, or something that serves as a bridge to F making what is a pretty big decision here.

Heh, poor regular Al.

P16 “..had finally responded to his five request” should be “requests”

“…it was the first time Al thought he might actually live comfortably…” *wryly* so he's doomed as well, I take it?

Overall: The biggest thing I noticed this time around was that I was stumbling on the time jumps – which has happened before, notably when Ji was hurt, but I put it down to not paying enough attention to the timestamps at the start of each chapter. Now that I’ve had it happen again, though, I wonder if what I’m actually stumbling on is what feels like a lack of immediate aftermath of big moments, Ji and D both getting seriously injured being one of them. I don’t exactly want to suggest slowing things down, but I  wonder if the characters need a little more space to react to the stuff that is happening to them rather than skipping from crisis to crisis.  

Edited by Silk
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On 3/28/2022 at 5:41 AM, Mandamon said:

the passage of time will speed up a bit, skipping months, and later even years,

Okay, having just read this (I have got to start reading people's commentary before I leave my comments!) I feel even more like having a bit of an endcap on important incidents would be helpful, to get some sense of closing things off before leaping ahead in time. I'm thinking of something like Fonda Lee's Green Bone saga, which manages this really well for the most part. 

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As I go:

pg 4. How big of a deal is uncovering iron? I assume a big one but I might need to know a bit more about what they could do with more access to iron

pg 5-8. I think most of my questions still remain. Seems like they're ignoring the iron for now which seems logical but makes me wonder why we're spending 8 pages on it. Maybe it's the cave itself that's important? If that's the case I need to know more about that. 

pg 9. J's claim about not minding being a stepping stone is interesting, and while I can kinda put the pieces together I think we need to delve deeper. My guess is that she feels that way because her meaning comes from the idea of having kids, and she thinks the world will be better for them. I think I need 1. a confirmation of if that's true and 2. why she thinks the world will be better for her kids. She's mentioned before I think that they'll outnumber the admins' kids in future generations but that doesn't mean much on its own. Maybe we're supposed to read around her about that and if so that could also be clearer imo.

pg 10. Oh yeah she's trans right? Tbh I think it's a good sign that I forgot because it means the story is focused on who she is rather than her role being "the trans character"

pg 11. Might help to hear about the way she wants to raise kids that is so different from certain people. I want to be able to picture the dream she wants for herself as a parent and right now I can't

Overall:

My favorite part of the chapter is J's section since it really deals with character emotions and stakes I understand. The rest of the chapter contains good, engaging information but I feel like I'm losing track of the story as a whole a bit. We don't really have any new threats that aren't immediately resolved so it feels like the tension and stakes aren't fully holding. 

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Thanks @Silk and @Ace of Hearts!

On 4/1/2022 at 4:34 PM, Silk said:

I don’t get a real sense of her worry until she arrives at the scene.

Noted. I'll fix.

On 4/1/2022 at 4:34 PM, Silk said:

I wonder if what I’m actually stumbling on is what feels like a lack of immediate aftermath of big moments, Ji and D both getting seriously injured being one of them. I don’t exactly want to suggest slowing things down, but I  wonder if the characters need a little more space to react to the stuff that is happening to them rather than skipping from crisis to crisis.  

On 4/1/2022 at 4:40 PM, Silk said:

I'm thinking of something like Fonda Lee's Green Bone saga, which manages this really well for the most part.

I think you're right on this, and great example. Legacy was brutal! I had no idea that much time would be covered when I started reading, and it ended up being a bit of an inspiration for this book (except this one's half as long, or less). Adding some more of that in will help.

On 4/1/2022 at 4:34 PM, Silk said:

I feel we’re missing an intermediate scene between the last we had of F/Ji and this one – one where we see J continuing to strikeout, or F starting to think about how he can support her, or something that serves as a bridge to F making what is a pretty big decision here.

I just mentioned missing something in last week's submission. That's a good idea for an endcap to that arc.

7 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

How big of a deal is uncovering iron? I assume a big one but I might need to know a bit more about what they could do with more access to iron

Looks like I need to add a bit more background. They're basically out of metals at this point because they've used more than that wanted on protective plates and haven't found any sources yet.

7 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I think I need 1. a confirmation of if that's true and 2. why she thinks the world will be better for her kids. She's mentioned before I think that they'll outnumber the admins' kids in future generations but that doesn't mean much on its own. Maybe we're supposed to read around her about that and if so that could also be clearer imo.

Can do.

Thanks again!

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As I read

“He has some serious breaks, but he won’t need anything like this.” I wish I could believe you, An.

I’m not sure this is the right POV for this scene? It went fast and had some good emotion from Ag, but she was also very passive in it. I think either An or D would feel more active.  

I like seeing Ja’s reaction to the discovery of the iron. It gives a good sense of forward momentum. It also made the POV switch feel smooth because the action was related. 

"...waiting for her place on the List." I liked this scene—it was deep—lots of good emotion and a left me with a bit of a hear-warming feeling. Wholesome. The only downside is it felt disconnected from the first two chapters.

The Al scene wasn't as engaging too me even though it did tell the readers some critical information. 

"he starting installing" did you mean "started"?

"thought he might actually live comfortably on the surface of 11d" and now, something must go wrong, in the next chapter. Or the next scene.

Overall, this chapter felt unified around one event with the first two scenes. The second two feel more disconnected from it. Well, the last one does show the result of it, I guess. But the baby one, even though it had the best emotion and character interaction, also felt the least connected to the chapter. The overall arc and connectedness of everything as a whole isn't quite coming together for me. Granted, this isn't the whole thing, right? Maybe when I read the next part, it will all click. 

 

On 4/1/2022 at 4:34 PM, Silk said:

Ji and D both getting seriously injured being one of them. I don’t exactly want to suggest slowing things down, but I  wonder if the characters need a little more space to react to the stuff that is happening to them rather than skipping from crisis to crisis.  

I think this is some good insight. 

On 4/2/2022 at 1:29 PM, Ace of Hearts said:

My favorite part of the chapter is J's section since it really deals with character emotions and stakes I understand. The rest of the chapter contains good, engaging information but I feel like I'm losing track of the story as a whole a bit. We don't really have any new threats that aren't immediately resolved so it feels like the tension and stakes aren't fully holding. 

I more or less agree with this. 

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Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Overall, this chapter felt unified around one event with the first two scenes. The second two feel more disconnected from it. Well, the last one does show the result of it, I guess. But the baby one, even though it had the best emotion and character interaction, also felt the least connected to the chapter. The overall arc and connectedness of everything as a whole isn't quite coming together for me. Granted, this isn't the whole thing, right? Maybe when I read the next part, it will all click. 

I think the next part will help bring everything together? I'll have to wait until tomorrow at least to see!

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

"thought he might actually live comfortably on the surface of 11d" and now, something must go wrong, in the next chapter. Or the next scene.

Heh. I'm hoping the eventual conclusion on this plotline will work. Not saying anything yet!

4 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I’m not sure this is the right POV for this scene? It went fast and had some good emotion from Ag, but she was also very passive in it. I think either An or D would feel more active.  

D isn't a POV character, but I suppose I could do it from An. Hadn't thought about that. I'll have to see how it would change things.

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Late, but didn't forget!

Overall

Quite enjoyed this one. Some thoughts below but generally good progressional around and good character growth. Nice to see melanin cameo (if that's what it was)

 

As I go

- thinking about this cow situation...did they not take any Hindi people on this generational craft? There must have been issues with what animals to bring? What about Jewish people and pigs? Seafood? I feel like there's a missed opportunity to talk about how they only have chicken because dinosaurs are the only meat everyone on Earth can agree on

- pg 5: all good through here. Enjoying it

- pg 10: for her, as well as whole sub-category of women she belonged to <-- this is really interesting wording. WRS for sure, but she's trans, right? This wording almost reads to me as intersex, which of course I find fascinating. I'm wondering if 'sub category' is the best way to phrase it? But that's better left to a trans woman sensitivity reader. If she is intersex, I think the word works fine

because she feared there being another one <-- could you chase this with something like Humanity and law had moved on generations ago from trans bigotry. Individuals, on the other hand, remained unpredictable.

- Aww I love Frank

- pg 15: Clog the water source with the strange red and brown growths <-- if this is melanin, there are a few species that secrete it like this in water. Science approved

- pg 16: was left was not enough to start a hyphal network inside a body <--- hahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that's not how fungus works! One spore, buddy. ONE SPORE

 

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14 minutes ago, kais said:

- thinking about this cow situation...did they not take any Hindi people on this generational craft? There must have been issues with what animals to bring? What about Jewish people and pigs? Seafood? I feel like there's a missed opportunity to talk about how they only have chicken because dinosaurs are the only meat everyone on Earth can agree on

Good thoughts. I can address this in the beginning chapters.

14 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 10: for her, as well as whole sub-category of women she belonged to <-- this is really interesting wording. WRS for sure, but she's trans, right? This wording almost reads to me as intersex, which of course I find fascinating. I'm wondering if 'sub category' is the best way to phrase it? But that's better left to a trans woman sensitivity reader. If she is intersex, I think the word works fine

Yes trans, although she could easily be intersex. I'll ponder which works better, but yes, will probably need to pass it though a sensitivity reader.

15 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 15: Clog the water source with the strange red and brown growths <-- if this is melanin, there are a few species that secrete it like this in water. Science approved

Suuuuure. That's exactly what I intended. I'm glad you figured out my carefully hidden secret allusion to melanin. *scribbles notes*

16 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 16: was left was not enough to start a hyphal network inside a body <--- hahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that's not how fungus works! One spore, buddy. ONE SPORE

Yeah, I'm going to need to adjust this throughout. I like @Ace of Hearts's idea about a viral pathogen versus, or alongside spores.

Thanks @kais!

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Wow. I hadn’t realized how far behind I was on critiques.  Sorry about that!

Pg 2:

“ran from its source” “Source” seems too directional for me to associate it with a street.   I actually checked back to make sure I didn’t miss a stream somewhere.

Pg 3:

Hi, A!

“around the lip of the hole”  “around” implies to me that he’s circling the whole thing.

Could use an extra line break around the time jump.

Pg 4:

Do they have the equipment with them and set up to actually mine and process iron? That’s going to be a big load on their already-small energy supply.

Pg 5:

“need to rout construction…” -> route? Or reroute, maybe? Not sure what this is going for. 

Pg 8-13

I like this scene, but it seems to come in at an odd spot. I think the main thing I'd say about these pages is that we don't have a good sense of what "normal" child-rearing was like on the ship (or what it's expected to be now), to know how F or J's ideas fit with it.  How do things like a single parent trying to balance work and parenting work in this setup? How much are the parents responsible for raising the child, and how much of that has special workers assigned to things like education and childcare? There isn't really a clear place to summarize that information that I can see, but I think having a sense of it would give us some context for characters' motivations in having kids or not and how they would want to raise them.

Pg 14-17

I like Al, and I can see the benefit of going back and forth between his current project and the work with the river, but I feel like the transitions could be less jumpy.  Some sort of veering off points from his current work that makes him think of something related in the filtration struggle. I’d been expecting this is the paint trading paragraph, and was waiting for the reason the filtration workers happened to have extra paint or had tried using it in the sterilization efforts or something.

Instead of thoughts of one feeding into the other, it just feels a little disjoined at the moment.

What’s he putting in the hanging plant holders?

Developing a new building material and setting up the infrastructure to mine the resources, process them, and put them to actual functional use in a couple months? Without entirely wiping out their energy supplies?  Managing this sounds like something far beyond the capabilities of our admin team.

Well…enjoy your happy little apartment, Al. I have suspicions that things will be going downhill again for you soon.

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Thanks @C_Vallion!

On 4/11/2022 at 11:27 AM, C_Vallion said:

I like this scene, but it seems to come in at an odd spot. I think the main thing I'd say about these pages is that we don't have a good sense of what "normal" child-rearing was like on the ship (or what it's expected to be now), to know how F or J's ideas fit with it. 

Yep, some others have mentioned this. I'm starting on rewrites now and this will be going in the first few chapters.

On 4/11/2022 at 11:27 AM, C_Vallion said:

was waiting for the reason the filtration workers happened to have extra paint or had tried using it in the sterilization efforts or something.

Ah, good catch. I'll adjust.

On 4/11/2022 at 11:27 AM, C_Vallion said:

Developing a new building material and setting up the infrastructure to mine the resources, process them, and put them to actual functional use in a couple months?

I think I need to add something about how they have the processes in place to refine resources but didn't have any sources to get minerals from.

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4 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I think I need to add something about how they have the processes in place to refine resources but didn't have any sources to get minerals from.

That would definitely help. 

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