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Mandamon

20220403 - Of Mycelium and Men - 2959 words - Sub 10 - Mandamon

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The second half of chapter 7 is pretty short, and only two POVs, but (hopefully) gives the tipping point between re-action and pro-action for the book.

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

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FIRST!

Overall

Generally, pretty smooth. This part didn't move as quickly as the last part, but there weren't noticeable lag areas, either. I like the children touchstones, so that kept me invested even without action. Nicely done.

 

As I go

- pg 2: they can keep the biomass from encroaching on the animal pens. <-- there's a whole story in here somewhere about how the only way to defeat the biomass is to cross it with pig DNA and now the whole planet isn't kosher and Jewish people are so conflicted

- yay they get to have a baby in a ....tube. Honestly if tube pregnancy had been offered to me I might have taken it

- pg 6: Well, gentlemen, ladies, and others <-- opportunity missed for my favorite whimsical guys, gals, and nonbinary pals

- pg 8: had a sprinkling of salt and paper, <-- assuming you meant pepper, not paper

- pg 10: we have enough to Beta Radian <-- verb missing

- love the ending

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Thanks @kais

2 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 2: they can keep the biomass from encroaching on the animal pens. <-- there's a whole story in here somewhere about how the only way to defeat the biomass is to cross it with pig DNA and now the whole planet isn't kosher and Jewish people are so conflicted

Now I want to read this...

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I'm trying to picture the overall arc of the chapter in my head and the whole thing isn't quite coming together for me, though maybe it's because I read it in pieces instead of all at once. However, I do like the note in ends on. That is propelling me more into the next phase of the story. I didn't really make too many notes as I read, which is a good thing. I was engaged and not seeing problems with the individual sections. 

Here are the few as I read notes

"We think the alpacas might have a good run though. They seem much less  resistant to the fungus" Less resistant or more resistant? The context makes me think you meant more but I could be reading wrong. 

" It was a beautiful symphony." The paragraph ending in this made me think that he has some type of connection to the fungal network now, like it's in his brain or something and none of the characters realize it yet. I could be completely wrong, but if 'm right, then it's some good foreshadowing

“But you’re right. Let’s pick out everything for our perfect child. Maybe in a year or two, we can have a second." Something about this line feels forced. Maybe that is the intention.

And that is it for this time! The chapter gave me a good picture of how people were adapting, and it ends on a good note. 

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Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

12 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

Less resistant or more resistant?

Oops. More resistant. Thanks.

12 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I could be completely wrong, but if 'm right, then it's some good foreshadowing

*eyebrow waggle*

12 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I'm trying to picture the overall arc of the chapter in my head and the whole thing isn't quite coming together for me, though maybe it's because I read it in pieces instead of all at once. However, I do like the note in ends on. That is propelling me more into the next phase of the story.

I'll take a look at the whole chapter and see if there's anything that seems incomplete. Glad that it's propelling you on though. That's definitely the intent!

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Overall: I thought this was pretty smooth, there wasn’t much that lagged for me. I would like a bit more setup/better understanding of how Ag actually feels about the kid thing before this chapter, as she’s seemed a bit ambivalent about it in previous chapters but not strongly so, so I better understand if she’s actually happy about this, happy only for D’s sake, etc.

I like the note the chapter ends on, I think it works well emotionally, but I wouldn’t say I felt it was a “tipping point.” I think the reason I didn’t feel that way is because, okay, J gives a stirring speech, but she doesn’t actually attempt/accomplish anything concrete here, even less so I think than previous chapters: She doesn’t propose anything specific against the biomass itself (“make it ours” is not an actionable plan!). And, since the Ads are presented as already being pretty much under control, this speech isn’t about her bringing them into line. So this honestly feels very similar to me to the other scenes that we’ve already had with her and not like the start of anything new.

As I read:

P3 We think the alpacas … seem much less resistant to the fungus.” Shouldn’t this be “more” resistant if they are doing better than the cows and sheep?

…“someone will eventually need to venture out into the biomass.” Oh. Oh dear.

P6 “rather than the usual Amin assistants” either this is a new named character or missing a D.

p10 “Will we have enough to Be Ra?” missing word here, I think.

She needed them all to realize the scope of their situation.” I stumbled on ‘scope’ here; scope is a fairly neutral word and it doesn’t seem like what J is going for. The seriousness, the gravity, something similar?

On 4/4/2022 at 1:56 PM, kais said:

<-- there's a whole story in here somewhere about how the only way to defeat the biomass is to cross it with pig DNA and now the whole planet isn't kosher and Jewish people are so conflicted

I would 100% read this

On 4/7/2022 at 6:40 PM, shatteredsmooth said:

The paragraph ending in this made me think that he has some type of connection to the fungal network now, like it's in his brain or something and none of the characters realize it yet.

This was also my assumption, yep.

 

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Thanks @Silk

Sounds like this one's reading fairly smooth at any rate.

2 hours ago, Silk said:

I would like a bit more setup/better understanding of how Ag actually feels about the kid thing before this chapter

I think this is going to get added in way early, like the very first chapter.

2 hours ago, Silk said:

but I wouldn’t say I felt it was a “tipping point.”

Ok, fair. Might be that this is a tipping point, but I'm not getting that across well. The next chapter will show some of that, but I'll work on bulking up J's speech and decisions to make them more definite.

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Overall:
As usual, this is enjoyable to read, and I like the direction the story is progressing. 

Two things I noticed on this one, though. 
1. Ag, again (sorry). I like that she's been shaken/scared/something about what happened to D to have been driven to a choice about kids when she's been hesitant about it.  But I don't really see the emotions about that on-page. Last time we saw her, she was hemming-and-hawing, and now she's lining up for a child. If we'd started in this section, I don't think anything in this scene would have told me that this was a big change in her mindset, so if she's doing it for D (whatever the more complicated reasons underneath that) that dedication or fear or whatever it is isn't as powerful as it would have been if we had a little nervousness or self-doubt or second-guessing here, even if she's determined to do it. 
2. J's scene isn't hitting as powerfully as I feel like it's supposed to be. I think partly because it feels very meeting-y, with no one really speaking out of turn or visibly concerned even though the civilization they're trying to build is falling apart around them. It seems like a pretty relaxed environment. The reports aren't good, but they have ideas of paths forward, and with no one visibly upset, it's hard for the stakes/emotion of J's speech to hit home.


Pg 1:

What happened to Ag’s concerns about kids? Even if she has decided to go down that route after all (I assume what happened to D prompted a change), I’d expect a clearer indication of old reluctance/hesitation

Pg 2:

“watched a few kids…” lambs?

Pg 3:

“alpacas…” more resistant?

Fungus dreams seem entirely unremarkable… Yep. Nothing concerning there at all…

Pg 5:

Had everyone on the ships been on sterilization hormones the whole time?  What sort of side-effects is that level of constant hormone adjustment having?  Knowing several friends who have had horrible side-effects from mild hormonal birth control, I can’t think that even some futuristic version of long-term hormone adjustment is going to be without side-effects.
And do they expect bodies to just snap right back to “normal” fertility when they’ve spent their whole lives (or multiple generations) under the effects of the sterilization hormones?

Still bothered by the fact that we’ve gotten almost no real emotional response or thoughts from Ag about wanting or not wanting kids except for vague hesitance. She’s clearly changed her mind here, and while it seems to be an attempt to give up some of her own fears/desires in favor of D (or because she’s worried she won’t have him much longer or just to distract him from his pain/trauma. Not entirely sure), that doesn’t have nearly the impact it would if we knew what her previous thoughts on the matter had been. She wants a kid now. Her primary goal in that seems to be to make D happy. But what is she giving up, or what fears is she facing to make that decision?

Pg 6:

“harnessing…for their own use.” Who is “they” here?

Why the nod to Ah?  Are we supposed to know this person or have any understanding of who they are?

“Everyone was busy…running the colony itself.”  I’m always a fan of wordplay of this sort, but this isn’t quite hitting right at the moment.  I don’t think it’s quite clear what the distinction is between what she is doing and what the others are doing. Keeping things running is clear enough. But I’m not sure how the emphasis on “running the colony itself” is distinct from it.

“not relishing the cleanup…” So, this, for example, I’d jot down under “keeping the colony running.” So what is “running the colony itself”, when J seems to still expect to be involved with said cleanup.

Pg 7:

Would the fungal remnants be enough to foul turbines this quickly? I know they haven’t been able to fully filter their water, but I remember them describing it as clear, so there aren’t stringy masses that would interfere like seaweed or something like that. If the remnants aren’t building up on the sides of the river, would it be building up that much more on a turbine? There are already a lot of hydrokinetic systems that work in unfiltered, free-flowing water (fish, seaweed, dirt, general debris, and all). Even if they have to clean the system more often, it seems unlikely that it would get fully fouled up.

Pg 9:

I like the idea of chickpea water use, but I think chickpea flour paste is supposed to be even better as an egg-substitute (though aquafaba is better for egg-white-specific things like meringues). Supposedly you can even make vegan omelettes/scrambled “eggs” with chickpea-flour batter, though I’ve never tried it.

Pg 10:

J is still the one in charge, but she doesn’t seem to have anyone pushing back against that.  I’m still not seeing any real conflict for her when all of the other admins seem to go along with what she says and we don’t have a great sense of what her goals are or what’s threatening them (survival is there, but it’s not something she seems to have any emotional attachment to or real fear that she won’t achieve it)

“Fortunately, that Gen…” this feels a little “As you know, Bob”. Especially when it’s been several months (?) since this event.

“gave it two more seconds to increase the tension.” I’m not really feeling the tension that’s supposed to be here.

“she needed them all to realize…” how is giving them extra time keeping them from drifting off to read e-mails? None of them seem all that concerned, really.  Even Raj-, who is apparently worried enough to speak up and ask about it just sighs and adjusts her sari.

Pg 11:

“let her face show…” but are they shocked and outraged?

I think there are just too many people and too many jumps in topic here for this to hit with as much weight as it should.  We can’t focus in on the emotions of every individual person in the room when there are so many people. Going down a checklist of how different admins’ responsibilities are going feels inherently low-stakes even though it’s all going badly, but having some sort of shout-fest that would portray heightened emotions from various corners would be difficult to follow with so many voices and characters. It all comes across as a pretty standard civil conversation, and not zoning in on reactions makes the admins seem pretty unconcerned/detached. I’m having a hard time suspending disbelief in regard to J’s attempts to draw out pauses to increase the tension of the room. No one really seems to care that they’re in a life-or-death situation with fungus moving in to destroy them all.

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Sorry for such a short critique but everything I made notes on has already been covered. One small addition:

"DN looked like if an unjust God had given.."

"as if"?

The end definetly felt like a turning point. Reading that in a paper book I would expect to see a big "part 2" on the next page :-)

Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks @C_Vallion and @Sarah B!

21 hours ago, Sarah B said:

"DN looked like if an unjust God had given.."

"as if"?

The end definetly felt like a turning point. Reading that in a paper book I would expect to see a big "part 2" on the next page :-)

Will fix. Also, glad it comes across as the end of an act!

On 4/13/2022 at 11:03 AM, C_Vallion said:

 I like that she's been shaken/scared/something about what happened to D to have been driven to a choice about kids when she's been hesitant about it.  But I don't really see the emotions about that on-page.

Thanks for the comments. I'm working on revisions now and clarifying Ag's thoughts toward kids

On 4/13/2022 at 11:03 AM, C_Vallion said:

J's scene isn't hitting as powerfully as I feel like it's supposed to be. I think partly because it feels very meeting-y

Also working on J to add a lot more tension to her character!

On 4/13/2022 at 11:03 AM, C_Vallion said:

Had everyone on the ships been on sterilization hormones the whole time? 

Another place I'm adding some more information on ship life to the beginning so this will make more sense.

On 4/13/2022 at 11:03 AM, C_Vallion said:

Would the fungal remnants be enough to foul turbines this quickly?

I'll clear this up. More that the fungus is growing into the turbines and clogging them.

On 4/13/2022 at 11:03 AM, C_Vallion said:

J is still the one in charge, but she doesn’t seem to have anyone pushing back against that. 

Another good point. I'm adding in some more resistance from the other Admins.

On 4/13/2022 at 11:03 AM, C_Vallion said:

No one really seems to care that they’re in a life-or-death situation with fungus moving in to destroy them all.

Great catches overall. I usually end up missing a lot of emotional stuff on the first draft, so the second draft is where I add in a lot more of the emotional layer. I'll make sure this gets revved up. 

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Catching up with short critiques:

Overall: Like others mentioned, this was pretty smooth albeit a bit slow. No huge concerns from me. 

1st section: I'm guessing this isn't normal from D? Is A worried at all that the fungus is messing with his brain? The PoV is distant which is fine but we might need more of her thoughts to parse what this means

2nd section: How much of this exposition do we actually need? I think the story's going for J navigating the scene deftly enough by making them give the reports so she can swoop in at the right time with her plan, but is that even necessary if she says that nobody's questioning her?

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Thanks @Ace of Hearts!

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

The PoV is distant which is fine but we might need more of her thoughts to parse what this means

I'll be working on the emotions in the second draft, so hopefully will fill this out.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

but is that even necessary if she says that nobody's questioning her?

This is another thing I'll be adding in, with more pushback from the other Admins.

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