Robinski

Robinski - 170410 - TMM, Chapter 17 and 18- 4924 words (LVST)

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Hello everyone,


Thank you kindly for reading if you have the time and the inclination. This is Submission 10 out of 16 in total – all going according to plan, and we are now past halfway in the story. As usual, anything goes as far as comments are concerned. There will be some aspects that have been commented upon previously which are not fixed all the way through the story. I would ask that you bear with me on these elements.


This chapter might be a little rough for some in one particular place; be warned. I have included the ‘T’ rating for torture. I will say no more, but please notice the ‘S’ rating also. And not forgetting the omnipresent ‘L’ rating. To try and categorise a bit, to help you make a decision about reading, the ‘V’ is there to modify the ‘S’ not the ‘T’. The torture does NOT involve hacking-and-slashing, but a more passive form – more like Cruelty. There is no ‘G’ore, but the passage in question is quite graphic.

If you want an edited version, I will provide a sanitised ‘cut’ if you email me or post on the forum thread. This will involve me modifying a couple of paragraphs and simply stating the bald facts of what happens there.

So, I hope that’s not too much to cope with. Thanks for (thinking about) reading.
 
Best, Robinski
Edited by Robinski
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For me, the more content warnings, the better!

Overall

I'm please, mostly, with the pacing, although the first android chapter I think could be cut entirely. I see a bit more of old-Quirk in here than I have recently, and it's good to see the Moth/Quirk interaction growing and evolving. I'm still not sure what you are expecting from the reader in terms of emotions re the android, and I think your first chapter with Moth and Quirk should actually lead your book early on. It is a strong, directed chapter.

Looking forward to more next week!

As I go

Androcon stands to lose everything and that is a lot.” This sentence is really vague. Give me specifics! Hook me!

- 'plass' on page 140 should be 'pass'

- 141: so they are rehashing something we have already seen. This would be more gripping if we hadn't seen the incident with the android, or maybe were just led up to it and left hanging, and then we got the rest here

Dark hair greying, his thin arms were crossed, but the thin fingers of his right hand drummed on the desk - repetition on 'thin' here

- LOL at toe sucking

“I wouldn’t be any more or less aroused.”  - really? Recently you've had him sort of wishy washy on this. Here is confident again, like early chapters Quirk

- page 147: wait, why is Schuler sweating now? He's seemed so impassive before

- top of page 148: ah, so here we have at last the plot direction. I would actually suggest moving this MUCH earlier on, perhaps even second chapter. It gives us everything an agent/reader wants in terms of book outline, and provides a very decent hook. 

- 149-150 seem more info-dumpy and telly than anything else. I don't yet have empathy for Callan so his wanderings don't move me

- 150: yes, this chapter drags, especially after the last one. It has no arc. :(

- 152...... okay but why? Are you trying to show a severe mental imbalance? If you were trying to drive sympathy at all for Callan, I just lost it. Solid villain territory now

Let’s have a look at any reports of assaults or domestic disturbances in the last two weeks.” Wait, why are they assuming Callan would just commit another crime? What if he just wanted to escape and live out a life uh, surfing or reading Cat Fancy

Quirk sneered. Sneered seems wrong here. Maybe 'sniffed'?

- I'm confused as to why they didn't want to see the apartment first thing. Wouldn't that be normal for an investigation?

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On the plus side, there are some ideas here I really like: the mental clock-face orientation, there being other handhelds than cLife™, that kiss at the end was sweet (sort of), ...

I always felt C was kind of sex-obsessed, but this chapter just lifted it to a whole new level.

Downside, like @kais points out, there's not much arc here.
I feel some of the bite has gone out of the M vs Q interaction. It's good their relationship is evolving, but in these few chapters it feels confused, as if you're doubting how acidic to be at this point.

p155 the phone call is a bit hard to read, took me a few read-throughs to get it all. Compared to your usual prose it also leaves too rough a feeling, IMO.

p155 "Mary looked fit to be tied." Huh?

p159 minor quibble with "sputum", it's not actually the same thing as saliva.

Contrary to @kais, I'm surprised they were so quick to go to the apartment, at this point there's no connection to C that they know about, and Mi has been dead for nearly two weeks by then. Q doesn't explain why he wants to see the apartment, which I think would help, as right now it feels like a rather random thing to do, especially with such urgency.
I hope I'm not overstepping any bounds here (so feel free to ignore) but if I were writing this, I'd have Q request the files first and then have him decide to check out the apartment too (just in case there's anything Mi left out of the main file or something). 

 

Thanks for providing a fun read, as always.

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Generally similar thoughts to @kais and @Eagle of the Forest Path, though I seem to have taken a lot of notes. There's some good stuff in these chapter, some of which, I think, needs to come earlier to help set up the plot--mainly the scientific breakthrough and more information on Callan's specific type of mental instability. I wasn't really on board with the sex/torture scene, at least without a lot more buildup.

I'm also feeling Q&M's banter is waning, and that was what drew me in with the first couple chapters. especially with the late information about the androids, their characters have been driving the story.

Looking forward to the next submission!

 

Notes while reading:

pg 140: Ms. Quon picked up the sampling unit then closed her bag, stood quickly..."
--Do Q&M know where to go to meet up with the legal officer?

pg 140: "The light outside the cafe was low enough"
--this is a sort of random interlude, between talking about the murder. It pops me out of the story.

pg 140: "But if they’ve still got his body on life support…"
--so I guess Q&M were filled in on everything. I for some reason think the company wouldn't tell them about such a new (assumedly proprietary) procedure. Yes, they signed an NDA, but working for a large company, I've seen that those still don't generate a lot of trust. Do they need to know this to track the android down?

pg 141: "There’s obviously something big and science-y that’s preventing Androcon from coming clean, and I'm afraid we’ve signed up to keeping their secret."
--this, in addition to the above comment.

pg 141: "She looked up at him and, for the first time since he’d known her, Q couldn’t see her defiance"
--what happened? Just because they've got a wierd case, now M goes all lethargic? She seems stronger than that.

pg 142: "M didn’t even stick out her tongue as he left."
--still not sure of M's sudden change. Is she just tired? 

pg 142: "He felt right at home in the office of Androcon’s Head of Research"
--why?

pg 143: "You don’t imagine correctly, Dr. Schuler"
--ambiguous. Could mean that Q does or does not.

pg 143: "‘Help me,’ it said. ‘Please, help me.’"
--like, this was an entire month's report? Or this happened at the murder?

pg 144: "He had reached the tipping point, but was leaning back from the edge."
--not sure what this means.

pg 144: "Take off your clothes, Mr. Q"
--wait, what?

pg 145: "why was Schuler giving him the breakthrough before the body search"
--I don't understand why this is happening in an office at all.

pg 146: "The enormity of Androcon’s discovery struck Quirk as the android’s touch returned from his feet to his scrotum. "
--Really? It didn't search well enough the first time?

pg 147: "there is the possibility that, if S-083 interfaces with another android, Callan’s consciousness could transfer from one machine to another"
--Ok, this is the big thing. I feel like there's been some evasion on what was the Big Deal in this story. You might need more setup at the beginning to determine that the sensory feedback is nothing new. I thought that was also what was being tested on Callan, not just that his mind was uploaded. They're subtly different things, and if the difference is important, it needs to be clearer.

pg 148: "Clearly, there was work ongoing there"
--How does he know?

pg 149: "What if they were searching for him"
--I'd think, even he wasn't fully rational at the time, he'd know they'd come after him.

pg 149: "as the days went by"
--you've probably marked this in the chapter headings, but I haven't done the math. How many days are between the murder and Q getting to the moon? Might be good to spell out somewhere.

pg 150: "he could use his old mining trick, and treat the space he could not see as a clock face"
--Eh? Not sure what this is doing or how it works, even after the explanation.

pg 151: "he had been inhabiting since the previous day"
--So I guess he can switch bodies?
"he could touch the outside and get tactile feedback,"
--this is very creepy.

pg 152: "Callan took a pillow and pressed it down hard on the man’s face"
--ugh. There's a difference between a mentally disturbed mining patient and a sex offender/murderer. When did C cross over? This comes up very suddenly. Before he was just confused. Now he's actively assaulting people.

pg 153: "maybe more in the last twelve days"
--aha-question answered.

pg 154: "Please call him Callan, Eight.”
--why is this distinction important?

pg 154: "He couldn’t help smiling, but managed to keep it on the inside."
--so was he smiling or not?

pg 154: "compromising situation with their male and female androids"
--worldbuilding question: if the androids are designed as fully human, with all "functions," then is it not commonplace for human/android sex? Otherwise, what's the purpose? We don't need our servants to look like us, and in fact generally don't prefer it (in most cases).

pg 155: "Not black?” asked M.
“It clashed with my ensemble,” Q sneered"
--Love it.

pg 155: PPF = ?

pg 156: "Couldn’t you have asked for access when we met"
--well, she didn't even tell them how to find the offices...

pg 158: "His baby-blues narrowed in answer"
--sort of out of POV for Q...

pg 160: "leaving Q nonplussed"
--Not a very strong end to the chapter. Also, why nonplussed? He should expect
M to do irritating things.

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So... the "offness" of recent sections continues here for me. I agree with much of what's already been said, and here's my bit... 

 

". I don’t think you appreciate what’s at stake here" And this would be a great chance for you to tell us, madam lawyer, 'cause goodness knows we haven't gotten it anywhere else yet

 
Her precipitous departure without giving them any kind of directions is definitely odd. 
 
I am pretty darn confused as to what's gotten M so down. They spent a ton of time in previous chapters speculating on the big thing, and this seems right in line with their speculations. She's lived with a mobster uncle (that she knew was a mobster uncle) for years (?) how is the thought (not details or photos) of one fairly pedestrian death (of someone she has literally no connection with) affecting her so much? 
 
"felt right at home in the office"  -- Why? Also, what does the front half of this sentence have to do with the back? 
 
"through positive reinforcement" --  I'm... not sure that's how positive reinforcement works. At all. >_>;;
 
"resigned to the inconvenience" What? Why? Where did this come from? Why is he getting naked in an office and totally not caring about it? Because dude, random requests like that are reasons independent contractors like Q exercise their rights as non-employees and nope the heck out of there. They want to give him the run-around and then spring full cavity searches out of nowhere for no apparent reason whatsoever and a high-expertise pro like Q wouldn't stick around for it. His time's too expensive for that kind of folderol. He'll take his commission minus whatever breach penalties there are and go hire himself to someone who acts like a professional
 
"but a paraplegic, a blind person, a deaf one"  Okay this is... this is not right. This scientist is making sweeping generalizations on a host of issues that don't jive with what he's purporting to do. First of all, there's the implied notion that all the disabilities he's listing off make someone somehow less of a person than a fully abled individual, so that he can sweep in and "relieve" them all from the squalor of their existences -- what if they're just fine as-is and don't want to be "cured?" -- and that's just straight up bad. Secondly, it's assuming that all of those disabilities are of uniform severity, and caused by the same issues (meaning they can all be cured in the same way -- with his VR), which is flatly untrue (additionally, i'm pretty sure comas don't work that way, either >_>;;;).  Thirdly, the lack of focus is blatantly unscientific. It's arrogantly overbroad, and edging into ableism.  Plus, it's close enough to existing technology that the dissonance is even more pronounced (seriously, brain-controlled prosthetics already exist IRL). Go somewhere like Ars Technica and look up some recent medical advances -- they're all really cool and they would be easy to upgrade into a scifi breakthrough. 
 
and how in nine fresh h*lls did C manage to get through all of the screenings necessary to even be *in* this position in the first place?! They can upload your consciousness to the cloud, but can't screen for obvious psychosis? 
 
In fact, at this point, I question the inclusion of Callahan as a POV character at all. His beginning chapters have nothing to do with the main plot, and now that the cards are on the table, he is actively sucking any tension or mystery out of Q and M's investigations.
 
Sorry to be so negative, but I feel like there are some serious issues with the basic premises underlying this section. :(
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Hey Kais, thanks for reading - always appreciated.

On 11/04/2017 at 5:18 AM, kais said:

Androcon stands to lose everything and that is a lot.” This sentence is really vague.

Yeah - I added "Androcon stands to lose everything. A hundred-billion-dollar technology and probably every government contract it has. That’s ruinous – end of the line stuff."

On 11/04/2017 at 5:18 AM, kais said:

I would actually suggest moving this MUCH earlier on, perhaps even second chapter. It gives us everything an agent/reader wants in terms of book outline, and provides a very decent hook.

Cool, I think! How in the heck am I going to do that, I wonder. That's a real poser, but a good one - thanks.

On 11/04/2017 at 5:18 AM, kais said:

chapter drags, especially after the last one. It has no arc

Okay, I'll take a longer look at that in the next edit.

On 11/04/2017 at 5:18 AM, kais said:

Wait, why are they assuming Callan would just commit another crime?

I've tweaked the wording. It's a place to start.

On 11/04/2017 at 5:18 AM, kais said:

why they didn't want to see the apartment first thing

I've tweaked the wording. They did get sent straight to meet Mary, then Schuler - I figured their time was kind of taken up, but as I say, I've tweaked a bit.

Thanks for those comments, challenging as ever - ideal! :) 

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Hey Eagle, thanks so much to reading. I'm glad that you found some interesting nuggets in there.

22 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

there's not much arc here

Yeah, I'm going to tackle that in the next edit. Thanks for flagging.

22 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

as if you're doubting how acidic to be at this point

I could be glib and say this reflected Moth having those same feelings, but we're not in her POV at this point. I'll mull on that.

22 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

Mary looked fit to be tied

Colloquial expression in the UK - agitated, aggravated. An online search gives me the definition 'very angry, livid, furious'.

22 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

minor quibble with "sputum", it's not actually the same thing as saliva

Ooh, neither it is - that's my reason for today - thanks for catching that! :)

22 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

Q doesn't explain why he wants to see the apartment

I figure this is fair game - standard procedure - gather as much info as possible.

22 hours ago, Eagle of the Forest Path said:

I hope I'm not overstepping any bounds here

Not at all - that worst thing to happen would be me respectfully disregarding. Actually, this was niggling my slightly already, so I did change it up.

I'm so pleased you used the 'fun' - excellent! Glad it's keeping you onboard :) 

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Hey Man, thank you for reading - much appreciated...

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

though I seem to have taken a lot of notes

...err, yikes! Yes, great :unsure:  Seriously though, I do love a challenge and every note makes the story better, dos I really do appreciate you taking the time.

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I think, needs to come earlier to help set up the plot--mainly the scientific breakthrough

Ah-ha. I just had an idea for including this much earlier - thanks for the spark!! :D 

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

I'm also feeling Q&M's banter is waning, and that was what drew me in with the first couple chapters.

While their relationship, rightly, is evolving, I appreciate that this is a USP, so I need to keep it dialled up. I'll get that next time around - by unanimous request!

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Do Q&M know where to go to meet up with the legal officer?

Automatic assumption of the And. Building

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

The light outside the cafe

Edited up a bit.

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

Is she just tired?

I've tweaked this section a bit. Essentially, yes.

15 hours ago, Mandamon said:

He felt right at home in the office of Androcon’s Head of Research"
--why?

Fair question! Answered now.

16 hours ago, Mandamon said:

‘Help me,’ it said.

This is Quirk imagining a cry for help in Schuler's expression. I've tried to tidy up the presentation.

16 hours ago, Mandamon said:

They're subtly different things, and if the difference is important, it needs to be clearer.

I'll look to include more on the sensory feedback earlier on.

16 hours ago, Mandamon said:

"Clearly, there was work ongoing there"
--How does he know?

I changed the sense of this.

16 hours ago, Mandamon said:

How many days are between the murder and Q getting to the moon? Might be good to spell out somewhere.

Fair comment. It's 11 days. Might be messing things up, I might contract a bit. I think Eagle may be the one who's noted the time difference. I appreciate it's probably too hard / irrelevant to keep track of.

I'm going to post up this first instalment of response, in case I lose it! Thanks again for reading - I will return to the second half of your comments :) 

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And we're back...

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

treat the space he could not see as a clock face

He's groping around in the dark, essentially.

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

"Please call him Callan, Eight.”
--why is this distinction important?

Quirk's thought is that Callan should not have the courtesy of being called 'Mr.' whereas the droid does not distinguish, until instructed.

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

this is very creepy

Excellent! :)

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

so was he smiling or not?

Fair point - edited.

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

then is it not commonplace for human/android sex?

I guess the guy's wife didn't think so?

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

“It clashed with my ensemble,” Q sneered"
--Love it.

Super - I guess it just serves as another nudge for me to get Quirk's mindset back on track where it goes off the rails :) 

On 11/04/2017 at 4:16 PM, Mandamon said:

PPF = ?

The lawyer firm that Mary works for 

Thanks again!

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Hey ID, thanks for reading. It's great to be challenged like this. I will do my best to answer and address your concerns.

15 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

great chance for you to tell us, madam lawyer

This is edited now, as noted above in reply to Kais.

15 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

"felt right at home in the office"  -- Why?

I added this "It reminded him his first office, back when Quirk had been a corporate shill."

17 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

how is the thought (not details or photos) of one fairly pedestrian death (of someone she has literally no connection with) affecting her so much?

She really is just tired. It's going to catch up with Quirk too.

17 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

His time's too expensive for that kind of folderol.

Kudos on rolling out 'folderol' - nice one. I've included more of Quirk's thought process. I think that is something that is missing in several locations throughout the story, which I will be working to rectify in the next edit.

On the big issue, I hear what you say, I've read it several times, but I'm not going to take it up point by point. What I would say is that this would not be the first time that a scientist or institution had employed sweeping generalisations or misdirected efforts in pursuit of an unwanted 'solution' or technology.

17 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

but can't screen for obvious psychosis? 

There is an statement later on that is relevant to this question.

17 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

I question the inclusion of Callahan as a POV character at all. His beginning chapters have nothing to do with the main plot

You could consider him to be a McGuffin. On the other hand, in a sense, he is the plot.

Thank you for those comments, ID. I really do appreciate them, and have made some changes in various cases, and notes in others. I'm sorry there was so much that didn't work for you in these chapters, but... I feel like the story has benefited from the challenge in several ways - so, I am really grateful for that and all your input.

<R>

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16 hours ago, Robinski said:

What I would say is that this would not be the first time that a scientist or institution had employed sweeping generalisations or misdirected efforts in pursuit of an unwanted 'solution' or technology.

This is an instance of the problematic side of the Truth in Television trope -- Yes, at some point in real life some scientists somewhere probably have overstated the application of their experiments in this way, but that doesn't make every instance of every fictional scientist doing it in any way either believable or realistic. Put another way, it's the air duct problem: air ducts exist in real life. small flexible people exist in real life. the probability exists that a small flexible person has crawled through an air duct at some point in real life. These facts in no way make all of the gigantic air-duct escapes peppered throughout television and popular media in any way believable or realistic or even probable. Why leave that in your writing when small changes can fix things? 

 

Sciguy: Our invention has shown great promise in restoring mobility and expediting a return to independent function in a host of accident victims and amputees who would otherwise require assistive devices or in-home care for the rest of their lives

Q: *considering, imagining* Heck, Doc -- you could cure blindness -- even kittening depression -- with that thing!

 

and there, you have let the scientist be believably sciencey (especially if he hems and haws at Q's broadening of the applications), and kept the wide-ranging claims. Non-science people make those claims ALL THE TIME -- that's where the popular idea of overgeneralizing scientists comes from. Check out the news articles on any kind of cancer research. It's the journalists going "this discovery could cure cancer!" and the scientists going "Well... no... kinda... but see, this thing is showing promise on this one specific type of cancer under these set laboratory conditions and humans are really different from mice and--" "IT CURES CANCER RIGHT? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CURING CANCER?!" 

 

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