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Mandamon

20220418 - Of Mycelium and Men - 2830 words - Sub 12 - Mandamon

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Whoof. So, here's the second half of chapter 8, and only one POV. That thing that's been foreshadowed with a giant neon sign? That happens here, so plan on emotions accordingly.

You'll also notice I've started marking each section with the date. I'll be doing this throughout the book, and I'm changing the "chapters" to "parts" because they're so long. Let me know of any thoughts on this.

Also tell me thoughts on anything else, any and all comments are welcome: plot, setting, character, grammar, etc.

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I really enjoyed this! Very engaging, pacing was good, events were interesting, strong emotional content, setting was unique and seemed to matter a lot to the story.  I am missing a lot of background on the story since this is the first section I have read so I have tried to avoid commenting on references to earlier events that I lack the context for.  Some thoughts/questions, some of which may still be sourced in a lack of context:

I am confused about how A really feels about having the child.  Some places she sounds ambivalent (pg1. "She didn't know if she needed a baby.") and in others she is almost angry about it (pg3. "the last thing she needed") and then in others it feels like she is blaming D for it (pg12. "D had been the one to push for a child."). Maybe she is trying to figure that out herself and hence the confusion?  While reading just this small section it wasn't 100% clear to me where she stood on it.

Small typo on A's name on page 2: "Aeg..." instead of "Age...".

I am very intrigued to learn more about any accident that is described as "wondrous" on page 4 :)

Page 9 the interaction with the Doctor I was a bit surprised by how hesitant the doctor was to give the bad news and how much F took the lead in this discussion.  I generally think of Doctors as being highly trained and experienced with breaking bad news and their calm collected demeanor giving people strength and confidence.  Obviously that could be totally different in your setting or with this character in particular so I may just lack the context.

Page 10 "...bees are doing better, adapting...": This may be expanded upon elsewhere, but I was definitely asking myself "better how? adapting how?" trying to piece together the relevance of the black spot being inside of D and what that could imply about his future.

Page 11 "It's been torture" and "It's been a living hell." I may lack the context of how tough the last year has been for A but this language was really strong, almost accusatory towards D (though he isn't there to hear it), with only the context of this chapter it felt overly strong for what I had seen.

Page 11 "gave her use of construction drones" not sure what A's profession is, but would she know how to use these safely?  Also, if you were living on a planet fighting to eek out living space against the biomass would using space for graves to bury the dead still be a tradition?  Just asking the question from a speculative fiction perspective of what might be different in those circumstances.

Can't wait to read more from this universe!

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Thanks @Warmacky!

20 hours ago, Warmacky said:

I am very intrigued to learn more about any accident that is described as "wondrous" on page 4

Most of that happened in a previous chapter, but there will be some more repercussions moving forward.

20 hours ago, Warmacky said:

Page 9 the interaction with the Doctor I was a bit surprised by how hesitant the doctor was to give the bad news and how much F took the lead in this discussion. 

Interesting. I can change this around if needed. I'll see what others say. Mainly I was thinking this was something outside the doctor's area, so he wasn't as confindent.

20 hours ago, Warmacky said:

but I was definitely asking myself "better how? adapting how?"

Ah, that was in the previous submission!

20 hours ago, Warmacky said:

"It's been torture" and "It's been a living hell." I may lack the context of how tough the last year has been for A but this language was really strong, almost accusatory towards D (though he isn't there to hear it), with only the context of this chapter it felt overly strong for what I had seen.

Another good point and another one I'll need to see what others say. It might be this is because you haven't read the previous sections, and it might be that I'm just missing some emotion here.

20 hours ago, Warmacky said:

"gave her use of construction drones" not sure what A's profession is, but would she know how to use these safely?  Also, if you were living on a planet fighting to eek out living space against the biomass would using space for graves to bury the dead still be a tradition?

Drones: yes. There's a bit earlier about that. On burial customs, This is actually a point I was planning to change, as those from the fleet would be used to recycling their dead into the ship's systems.

Thanks again!

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Overall

I remain confused and curious about humans born outside a womb. So much of what we learn comes from what we hear in utero. How does this affect the colonists? I wonder if they wouldn't have maybe detachment disorders? Immune system problems for sure, there's a lot of research about immune systems of kids born vaginally (stronger immunity) versus C-section. The stuff they pick up in the vagina on the way out primes their immune system and significantly lowers their risk of asthma and such. I'm wondering if this could be worked in somehow, to discuss maybe how tube babies get sick more, adapt faster, or something, to the biomass, while the human body born have more/fewer problems? #sciencemusing

 

Loved this chapter though. I was thinking D might pull through with some superpower, but understood his death. I think his partner's emotions might need better grouping to evolve organically, but other than that it was fun!

 

 

As I go

- pg 1: A baby boom was just what they needed. She didn’t know if she needed a baby. <-- WRS maybe, but don't they both have to be wanting one to have one? Or is she getting cold feet? Emotions here are unclear

- pg 4: Our MC's emotions seem out of order. I feel like we are getting them in pieces instead of a narrative whole

- pg 6: do..do babies snore? I think if they do something is very wrong!

- pg 10: The hyphae come from that spot <-- the spore head, or fruiting body, is what it's called

- pg 12: A new life. A horrible burden <-- this is such a relatable emotion of parenthood

 

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Thanks @kais!

2 hours ago, kais said:

I remain confused and curious about humans born outside a womb.

I'm going to have to prop this up a lot in the book. Maybe they get spritzed with goop derived from the parents? Immunized to certain common diseases? And fed lots of sounds and sensations. I'll need to add some more at the beginning but I don't want to weight it down too much.

I'm pulling the inspiration for this from Bujold's Vorkosigan saga, and because it frees up all genders in relationships. So I want to keep it, but I need to make sure it works.

3 hours ago, kais said:

I think his partner's emotions might need better grouping to evolve organically, but other than that it was fun!

Sounds like this is consistent, so I'll adjust.

3 hours ago, kais said:

WRS maybe, but don't they both have to be wanting one to have one? Or is she getting cold feet? Emotions here are unclear

Partially WRS. They did both agree, but I'm also working on upping A's emotions a lot during this rewrite to make that clearer.

3 hours ago, kais said:

do..do babies snore? I think if they do something is very wrong!

Do they not? I swear I've heard them do so...

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Just putting my two cents in on a couple comments from before:

Baby snoring: In my experience some babies breath loud, maybe not quite a true snore but audible. 

The doctor hesitating: Not the same but I have run into something similar to this in nursing. Even someone who is normally outspoken or forthright will sometimes hesitate if someone of equal qualifications is around when bad/complicated news has to be given. For me, sometimes it's a matter of 'sizing up' the other person to see who would be best to do it or who is most willing to. I could see this happening between the medical doctor and the guy with a science doctorate with personal ties pretty easily.

A couple things while reading

I'm not sure it could be avoided, but the opening paragraphs felt a little maid and butler. Even so, it set the stage very quickly. 

The ceremony, particularly right before D collapses felt a little rushed. This might have been intentional or perhaps seemed to come faster due to forewarning in the email :-)

I loved the cloncuding lines for this section/chapter. Actually, I overall liked this section period. 

Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks @Sarah B

2 hours ago, Sarah B said:

Baby snoring: In my experience some babies breath loud, maybe not quite a true snore but audible. 

Good to know.

2 hours ago, Sarah B said:

The doctor hesitating: Not the same but I have run into something similar to this in nursing.

That's sort of what I was intending here. I see if I can make it clearer.

2 hours ago, Sarah B said:

I'm not sure it could be avoided, but the opening paragraphs felt a little maid and butler.

Noted

2 hours ago, Sarah B said:

The ceremony, particularly right before D collapses felt a little rushed.

I'll check this part out.

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P3 “And because she was a ruthless b…” We as readers know that, but the interaction between the Ads and the Gens has actually been pretty limited on-screen, so I have no idea how that’s been trickling down to the Gens for Ag to say this now.

P5 mild blocking confusion here. I thought D was reaching out to take the child as they were decanted, but then Ag does instead.

Getting a chance to finally see Ag’s mixed emotions here is fantastic. I think it’ll hit harder once you’ve had a chance to go back and flush this out in the beginning parts.

Oh no, D!

P6 “We’d like your opinion as well…” Oh boy.

Hmm. Have they not been monitoring for this sort of fungal growth all along? They’ve already seen it in And, and presumably others.

“He’s probably got a few days left…” The reluctance here doesn’t quite work for me; doctors have to do this all the time.

You foreshadowed D’s accident really well, and I almost wonder if we need a bit more of that before the section where he dies. I think the only thing we got in D’s/Ag’s previous section was the dreams and I think more of a hint that all is not well would be helpful.

P11 “whether he would promise his love forever to her, or if he was just pretending all this time” Wait. Was the fact he loved her ever in doubt? Because if so, I totally missed that.

Ooof. That last line.

On 4/19/2022 at 8:14 AM, Mandamon said:

Mainly I was thinking this was something outside the doctor's area, so he wasn't as confindent.

This was sort of my assumption but I did stumble on this too. I didn't have a problem with it until we got to the delivery of the prognosis. Maybe he becomes a little more confident here because he's on more familiar ground, as awful as it is? Or, as @Sarah B suggests, seeing a little more of that "sizing up" happening.

On 4/19/2022 at 8:14 AM, Mandamon said:

Another good point and another one I'll need to see what others say. It might be this is because you haven't read the previous sections, and it might be that I'm just missing some emotion here.

It was mostly fine for me, but I do think that we could get a little more of this from Ag in the earlier sections as well - so that we see her struggling in addition to seeing her helping D as he struggles.

Alternatively, maybe she's surprised by her own emotion here, if she hasn't had a chance to/hasn't let herself acknowledge it until now.

On 4/19/2022 at 3:20 PM, kais said:

I remain confused and curious about humans born outside a womb. So much of what we learn comes from what we hear in utero. H

I actually thought that the decanting made sense from a "colonizing new worlds" perspective: less risky and less impact on the folks who would otherwise have to carry the child, and more potentially more equitable when thinking about infertility, the time needed to have and recover from a pregnancy, etc (at least in theory; almost certainly not in practice the way this world works!) But @kais raises some really good points here.

And uh, babies with compromised immune systems 'cuz they're born from a tube is probably not great on a world with aggressively colonizing fungi. I'm just throwing that out there.

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First part: As usual I really like the political maneuvering and since it's not fully coming to a head this book I think my expectations might need to be tempered. If the generationals are acknowledging the issues but are explicitly seeing them as problems for well down the line with proper reasoning then I'll be more okay seeing it delayed.

Second part: Woo this is really exciting. One thing I want more clarity on is why D should be dead already (brain being crushed in skill by biomass?) and why he might still be alive. I'm wondering if there's a chance some parts of his body really aren't working and he's a quasi-fungus-zombie.

Third part: Really solid, and the recap of the situation really hits hard. There's something really powerful about the child being what's remains of D's dreams and goals. 

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Pg 2:

“first-year” should probably have a hyphen

“far away from… As much as possible” Should both of these sentences be in terms of distance? The shift from how far to how much/how often feels a little odd. Unless I’m misreading the intention of the second sentence.

Pg 3:

“didn’t think” Is this her knowledge or her citing something someone else has told her? This line makes me wonder what the people in the colony think of how the biomass functions. It would make sense if a lot of them got the idea that it was outsmarting them and planning ahead.  Ag isn’t a fungus expert, so having her assert that the biomass doesn’t think doesn’t convey as much weight as her citing that someone who is a fungus expert has assured them all that the biomass doesn’t think.

“ruthless”  Have we gotten any of the Gens impressions of the Admins before now? I don’t feel like I’ve gotten this sense of J from the Gens or from her interactions with the Admins. Everyone sort of just listens to her, so we’ve never seen a risk of her losing her control, and she’s never really been ruthless on-page.

Pg 4:

“that had ever happened”

This is definitely the sort of thought processing and inner conflict I’ve been looking for from Ag all along. It comes across as a little out of the blue without the earlier build up, but I think once that’s fleshed out more, this (combined with where things are going) is going to be a big hit right in the feels.

Pg 10:

For the most part, the hesitation on the doctor’s part comes across as trying to figure out if he should be deferring to a specialist on a topic or deferring to a specialist-and-friend-of-the-patient to deliver difficult news, but I think there could be a little more clarification of that at the end of page 10 and beginning of 11.  Just to avoid it coming across as inexperienced nervousness.

Pg 12:

“if he was just pretending” This thought seems out of character. I don’t think we ever got any sense of doubt in their relationship from her.

 

Overall:

This was a really strong chapter. I enjoyed it a lot (in the readers loving being in misery sense), and can’t wait to see how it plays out once the early setup of Ag’s conflict is fleshed out.

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

On 4/22/2022 at 1:16 PM, Silk said:

but the interaction between the Ads and the Gens has actually been pretty limited on-screen,

 

3 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

“ruthless”  Have we gotten any of the Gens impressions of the Admins before now?

Check. I'll see if I can address this.

On 4/22/2022 at 1:16 PM, Silk said:

Have they not been monitoring for this sort of fungal growth all along?

Good point! I'll have to address this.

On 4/22/2022 at 1:16 PM, Silk said:

I almost wonder if we need a bit more of that before the section where he dies.

Could be. I'll check this out.

On 4/22/2022 at 1:16 PM, Silk said:

Was the fact he loved her ever in doubt?

 

3 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

“if he was just pretending” This thought seems out of character.

Yeah, that line may go.

On 4/22/2022 at 1:16 PM, Silk said:

And uh, babies with compromised immune systems 'cuz they're born from a tube is probably not great on a world with aggressively colonizing fungi.

I'm adding in some more description and showing the extra immunization steps taken.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I think my expectations might need to be tempered. If the generationals are acknowledging the issues but are explicitly seeing them as problems for well down the line with proper reasoning then I'll be more okay seeing it delayed.

I think that's more what it will be. I'm adding some more conversations in this edit about how the Gens know what their placement is in the colony, even if they're not happy about it.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

I'm wondering if there's a chance some parts of his body really aren't working and he's a quasi-fungus-zombie.

Lol. Now you're giving me ideas.

9 hours ago, Ace of Hearts said:

Really solid, and the recap of the situation really hits hard. There's something really powerful about the child being what's remains of D's dreams and goals. 

Nice! That's exactly what I wanted.

3 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

Ag isn’t a fungus expert, so having her assert that the biomass doesn’t think doesn’t convey as much weight as her citing that someone who is a fungus expert has assured them all that the biomass doesn’t think.

Good point. I can have someone more "official" say this too.

3 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

I think once that’s fleshed out more, this (combined with where things are going) is going to be a big hit right in the feels.

Cool. I'm working on that part now.

3 hours ago, C_Vallion said:

I enjoyed it a lot (in the readers loving being in misery sense), and can’t wait to see how it plays out once the early setup of Ag’s conflict is fleshed out.

Awesome. I'm glad this is working.

 

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I procrastinated reading this because I liked D and was not looking forward to his fate. It was sad, but didn't quite have the impact I expected. It had all the ingredients do be devastating and emotional chapter but it felt muted and moved fast. I would really dial up the emotion throughout the chapter, but particularly in the last part after D dies and A goes home alone with the baby.

There was one part where I think  it said they were about the equivalent of 20-years-old and that surprised me. A seemed like she was in her 30s to me. I don't think this is the first time you talked about age though, so it was probably just WRS that I forgot. 

Looking forward to the next installment! 

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11 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I procrastinated reading this because I liked D and was not looking forward to his fate. It was sad, but didn't quite have the impact I expected. It had all the ingredients do be devastating and emotional chapter but it felt muted and moved fast. I would really dial up the emotion throughout the chapter, but particularly in the last part after D dies and A goes home alone with the baby.

There was one part where I think  it said they were about the equivalent of 20-years-old and that surprised me. A seemed like she was in her 30s to me. I don't think this is the first time you talked about age though, so it was probably just WRS that I forgot. 

Looking forward to the next installment! 

Thanks @shatteredsmooth!

Emotions always seem to suffer on my first passes. I'll try to dial it up the next edit.

Yes, all the main characters (except for J) are early 20's. I know I've mentioned it before, but it's been a few chapters. I'll see if I can find another place to slip it in.

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