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Mandamon

20220411 - Of Mycelium and Men - 4114 words - Sub 11 - Mandamon

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Here's the first half of chapter 8 which is only two POVs this time. Things are getting real! This also contains one of my favorite parts, because I get to geek out a bees a little.

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

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Congratulations on the creepiest trees since the Wizard of Oz! The tree was creepy on the wall, and then just kept getting worse :-)

I really loved the action scene, the pacing felt right and it was clear and suspenseful. The ticking time bomb of the lights going out was a great touch. 

I was a little unclear on N's line before the battle, "Not tonight A. Had enough children to take care of for the past year." Given that A takes this as innuendo, this line seems like N is saying they don't want to be with anyone tonight and end up with an accidental kid. Given all the details about reproduction in the colony already in the story, I assume this isn't what they meant?

Eating the sparkle honey: This didn't ring true to me. For someone as apparently cautious and detail oriented and especially now that he is worried about his and J's child on the way, this seemed out of character.

I really enjoyed this chapter, so I'm afraid I don't have very much that's useful to say about it. Thanks for sharing!

 

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I read this a few days ago but didn't post because I didn't really have any comments on it.

I think this was one of my favorite chapters so far! I was engaged throughout the whole thing and liked the amount of time I got to say with each character. I also liked having the quieter more geeky bee chapter follow the more action heavy one. 

It would be interesting to read this all together instead of in such small segments, because sometimes, when I read chapters like this, I don't have much if any criticism for the individual chapter but feel like I'm on the verge of seeing a bigger picture issue that I can't quite pinpoint yet. 

Looking forward to the next part. 

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Thanks @Sarah B and @shatteredsmooth! Sounds like this one went pretty well. I'm interested to see what you think of the next one.

On 4/15/2022 at 4:06 PM, Sarah B said:

I was a little unclear on N's line before the battle, "Not tonight A. Had enough children to take care of for the past year."

Ah, I can clear this up. I think I meant N had been taking care of the Vagals and Gens for a year, regarding them as "children."

On 4/15/2022 at 4:06 PM, Sarah B said:

Eating the sparkle honey: This didn't ring true to me.

I'll see what I can do with this section too.

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Finally have some time!

Overall

The first POV dragged a bit for me, but I liked the context and action a lot. The second was a lot of fun and I loved the lab and honey bits. Nothing really to report below, just some real life fungi that may be of interest. Fungus honey, I would totally eat.

 

As I go

- I feel like vile stuff should be in caps since we don't get specifics on it

- That first paragraph needs a quick tightening. 'Supposedly derived from...' without a specific, makes it sound like the hand was derived, not the drink

- BAHAHA killer tree fungus

- pg 9: I giggled at 'steel strong mushroom'

- pg 12: The green and pink filaments weren’t hairs. They were hyphae—fungal roots <-- consider instead that fungi can literally colonize hair follicles and turn the hair colors (see Scytaloidium cuboideum). This would be more plausible than forming macro fruiting forms. Amusingly, this fungus colors things bright pink.

- decanting babies...I laugh every time

 love that end line

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3 hours ago, kais said:

- pg 12: The green and pink filaments weren’t hairs. They were hyphae—fungal roots <-- consider instead that fungi can literally colonize hair follicles and turn the hair colors (see Scytaloidium cuboideum). This would be more plausible than forming macro fruiting forms. Amusingly, this fungus colors things bright pink.

OOoooooo.

You know this is going right in the book. Pink bees!

Thanks @kais!

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Overall:

I enjoyed this section a lot.  I’m not sure if my noticing more grammar/flow sorts of issues was because I wasn’t jumping onto other things to whine about or if it just needed a little more proofreading than some of the others.

 

Pg 1:
“gripped…hand” this is making the first sentence a little clunky. Especially if it’s not hugely important which hand he’s using.

Something feels off in the second sentence as well.  Maybe the assumed subject in the first half, then the “it” in the second?  Might flow better to keep the structure the same between the two spots.

Might be worth specifying that they’re at the 1-year celebration. I had a moment of confusion about what N was celebrating. Not sure if that’s more due to WRS or being used to bigger time jumps between scenes than we had this time.

“that had followed before”  they had followed? There’s some extra wordiness in here that I don’t usually notice reading through your submissions, but it may just be being on high alert so close to the front.

“…hoping it was too busy…”

Ah. We get the party detail here. Might be worth moving it right to the front, though.

“Nothing was nearly as tall” ?

“highest” feels unclear to me here. I know it’s not referring to floating buildings, but at least to me, it implies “farthest removed from the ground”. Especially when combined with “soared”

Pg 2:

“now that the sun had set”

“a proposition” This came across to me as N reading A’s comment as a proposition and not exactly turning it down. Might want to reword slightly if you want it to come across as A’s idea.

Pg 3:

“Sitrep” took me a couple seconds to figure out. I don’t think it’s a common enough abbreviation to go without explanation here. If it was introduced somewhere else, maybe, but it’s hard to refer to context when what’s going on around them is uncertain/changing.

I might suggest cutting the “in a stray beam from the Admin building” phrase here. Or rework without “he saw” since were in A’s pov anyway.  As written, I wasn’t connecting the “stray beam” with “he saw”, but with some description of how the HUD was flaring to life.

 “against the people”  against feels off to me here, though I get not wanting to use toward twice in the same sentence. Maybe against the tide of people?

 Jigged also sticks out against the urgency around it. It definitely cuts tension a bit to be thinking of someone dancing a jig away from mysterious dangerous falling objects.

Pg 5:

“fingers had been going loose” Maybe something with a little less implication that the fingers were about to fall off… “regular use had been loosening up the joints over the past week” or mentioning that one of the joints had been jamming during training or something. Though I approve of the maintenance detail :) 

Pg 6:

“Get it back u—" is this supposed to be “up” cut off mid-word? Might be better to go with a multi-syllable option. Or even just “Get it back—” It would be really hard to get cut off in the middle of saying up. At least in a way that’s perceivable in a chaotic, noisy environment.

Pg 8:

“Five meters across” Dang. Are all of the “trees” this size?

Twenty-meter (need hyphen)

“fifty mortar” fifty what?  I think using “fifties” and such in their quick back and forth above is fine, but adding in the description here would be helpful to those of us unfamiliar with mortars. (It’s me. I’m unfamiliar with them)

Pg 9:

“trotting” seems less urgent than the situation would demand.

Oh boy. I bet this wasn’t the post-celebration cleanup J was expecting last chapter….You know what? I’m sure it will be fine.  Spores? Fine. Fungus-tree fallen into the city? Fine. All of it. Fine, fine, fine.

Nice job on the action scene here. Even while distracting myself by nit-picking at little details, the tension held through.

Pg 11:

“a few” months felt vague, and made me pause enough to then wonder how they’re even defining months. This doesn’t really matter for the text, but I’m curious. I don’t remember anything being mentioned about moons or how long the year actually is or anything along those lines.

“The V said they’d cleaned up…”   nice try, though…

Pg 12:

Enjoying our bee study.

Pg 13:

Intestinal tract

Pg 14:

He rifled

Baby’s progress ?

I'm enjoying the whole  "What? You think I care about the baby? I don't care about the baby. Nope. Not at all. It's J's baby." here

Pg 17:

But these were amber

Where they had landed meant

Even if he knows he’s probably been contaminated by the honey already, he seems too cautious to just eat some. At least without making some sort of formal study out of it.

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P1 not within the regulations that had followed” that they had followed?

“… for the year-end party” So are they using the years of the new planet? I could see the Ads wanting to stick to Earth years…

p3 “It was at least twice as tall as the thirty-meter wall…” So did they not notice the giant tree until it was too late or did it just grow really quickly?

Also, wait – if they have a thirty-foot wall but no roof, they have no way of avoiding spores and such, so wouldn’t that allow the biomass to propagate inside the R. anyway? They’d pretty much have to have something airtight.

P4 “like an old piece of celery” ooh, great description here

Clouds of maybe deadly, maybe not spores” here it sounds like he’s saying they’re maybe not spores, but I don’t think that’s what you mean. “maybe deadly spores” probably gets the point across just as well.

P5 “biomass-related complications” is exactly the kind of sterile nonsense the military would come up with, I love it

p9 “EVA’s with me” should just be EVAs here, no apostrophe

The instant the tower came crashing over the wall, A. R. was doomed…” Yeah, I’m going to struggle with this, I think. I could see it exacerbating an existing problem, but I can’t imagine it wasn’t already a problem to some degree.

P14 “Even if he had promised to have no hand…” awww.

P15 “Plus, F found he liked Ji’s company…” I mean, they were already friends. Maybe tweak this so it’s clearer he’s enjoying her company without the presence of Ag and D.

p16 He’d have to contact Ad before anyone started experimenting…” I mean they’ve probably already been eating it…

p17 “...when he’d up cured blemishes on their tomatoes.” delete “up”?

Overall: So far, so good. I thought this was a great chapter overall, with good action in And’s section and some great emotional resonance from F.

Not to beat a dead mushroom, but I am having some suspension of disbelief issues now, that things were apparently going so well in the colony before the tree thing happened, since they’ve apparently been open to the skies this whole time, so I don’t see how they aren’t getting some spores. Maybe they have some sort of filtration system and/or the smaller amounts they’re getting are easier to handle?

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First part: Most of what I'm interested by here is the trees, and less so by all the specifics of them fighting the fungus off. I think the broad strokes (that they need the mortar) are important for setting up the stakes, but if you're looking for places to cut this could be an area to investigate. Not that it was ever outright boring though; I just didn't quite feel like I got a full ten pages worth of story dynamics with all of the action

Second part: I was really engaged here! I'd been wondering for a while about potential coexistence with the biomass and seeing what it does to the bees complicates the situation in a good way. I am curious about some of the broader implications here, though. It might be worth spelling out that honeybees being eusocial means the fungus can spread across the entire hive very easily, and I assume they're using the bees to pollinate their crops. Since we know that the fungus can do something that looks like hybridization with plants, there seems like a real risk of fungi hybridizing with crops during pollination--or just spreading fungus onto the surface. I'd be curious what F thinks about that.

Also idk how much F falls on the evolution/genetics side of biology but when those kinds of people talk about "adaptation" it specifically refers to evolution, so him talking about humans adapting to the planet doesn't make sense from that perspective. But then again, there are terms like "adaptive immune system" that have nothing to do with adaptation so it can be pretty loose. Just a minor rambling. 

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Thanks @C_Vallion, @Silk, and @Ace of Hearts!

On 4/19/2022 at 9:20 PM, C_Vallion said:

Even if he knows he’s probably been contaminated by the honey already, he seems too cautious to just eat some. At least without making some sort of formal study out of it.

Thanks for all the corrections! Those will go into the next rounds of edits. I'll go back and look at F's reaction too, see if I can rationalize that better.

On 4/22/2022 at 0:40 PM, Silk said:

So did they not notice the giant tree until it was too late or did it just grow really quickly?

More that it was really tall, but away from the wall. They hadn't cut back the length of the tower away from the wall. I can clarify.

On 4/22/2022 at 0:40 PM, Silk said:

Maybe tweak this so it’s clearer he’s enjoying her company without the presence of Ag and D.

Good point. Can do.

On 4/22/2022 at 0:40 PM, Silk said:

since they’ve apparently been open to the skies this whole time, so I don’t see how they aren’t getting some spores. Maybe they have some sort of filtration system and/or the smaller amounts they’re getting are easier to handle?

Yeah, this has been in the back of my mind the whole time. I'm changing up the delivery system a little in the second draft so spores aren't so dangerous.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I just didn't quite feel like I got a full ten pages worth of story dynamics with all of the action

I'll look into this on the next edit.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I am curious about some of the broader implications here, though. It might be worth spelling out that honeybees being eusocial means the fungus can spread across the entire hive very easily, and I assume they're using the bees to pollinate their crops. Since we know that the fungus can do something that looks like hybridization with plants, there seems like a real risk of fungi hybridizing with crops during pollination--or just spreading fungus onto the surface. I'd be curious what F thinks about that.

There's a little bit about this in the next chapter!

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

But then again, there are terms like "adaptive immune system" that have nothing to do with adaptation so it can be pretty loose. Just a minor rambling. 

It's a bit of each...which will have more ramifications in the second book ;-)

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