Mason Wheeler

Skyward first impressions

32 posts in this topic

I'm about halfway through the story right now, (chapter 29,) and here's what I think so far:

  • Fun main character!  Spensa is weird but her weirdness actually makes sense from the perspective of her POV, much like Wayne.
  • Why was Spensa surprised to learn that Cobb was the one who shot her father down?  It says in the prologue that he was shot down by his own flight in retribution for breaking and fleeing, which really narrows it down to a few candidates, and with the way he behaves towards her, it seemed pretty obvious from the start that he felt guilty and was trying to atone for something in his past, with "being the one to shoot him down" the most likely candidate.
  • I love the AI.  I'm a computer programmer, and Brandon's done a pretty good job of taking the bizarre ways a program with corrupted data can behave (while having no idea anything is wrong because its code is still operating exactly as designed) and mapping it onto a sentient being.
  • I'm really liking the character of Jerkface.  He was set up as... well... a real jerkface, by casting him in a specific character archetype, (OK, let's just say it; he was basically introduced as this book's Draco Malfoy,) but every time we get a closer look at him we see those expectations subverted.  It almost feels like he's being subtly set up as a potential love interest for Spin eventually.  (Possible love triangle with Rig?  Not sure, but I could see it happening.)
  • Cytonic hyperdrive! :D:D:D
  • Doomslug is not, as some people on here were expecting, the ship's AI.  So then what is it and why is it so important in those first few chapters? (And why has it fallen off the radar ever since then?)
  • On Writing Excuses, Brandon & co talk a lot about "promises," the idea that when you set up certain questions or expectations at the start of a story, they need to pay off by the end of the story.  Here's what I feel we've been promised:
    • Learning who/what the Krell are (this one might wait for a later book)
    • Learning what really happened on her father's last flight (this book)
    • Getting to fly M-Bot in battle (this book)
    • Learning where M-Bot came from (this book)
  • I think Spin is going to "break" at some point.  She's going to end up running from a battle, and she's going to have a very good reason to do so, which others won't understand/believe, leading to her being branded a coward.  By the classic trilogy formula, that should happen at the climax of book 2, but pacing-wise it kind of feels like it's going to happen in this book.  Guess I'll have to see...
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Books 1-3 are standalones and book four is the sequel of all tree of them.

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2 hours ago, MountainKing said:

Books 1-3 are standalones and book four is the sequel of all tree of them.

Wait what? Do you have a source on that?

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MountainKing is misquoting a WoB. Brandon said that the first three will reasonably stand by themselves, but the fourth will really require you to read the others. That does not mean that Starsight is not a sequel; it obviously is, it's just Brandon means that it won't be a disaster if you didn't read Skyward first for it. 

Specifically: 

 

 

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I definietly loved it. And if anyone wants a soundtrack to listen to when they fight in the air, I suggest this: 

:D

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Said this in discord but I'll repeat it here for anyone not there:

Really good book guys. Love how it all tied together but I do have to say I kinda figured it was a prison planet about halfway through. Of course I had read DE beforehand so the seeds were planted. Also: Doomslug has FTL. Fight me.

 

Liked the characters a lot. Brandon has gotten really good with varied personalities and motivations. Some were archetypal, but most were pretty original, including M-Bot who was a stand out for me. He was hilarious. Brandon hit the nail on the head with him.

The only negative I would say is the repetition of the dogfights. There was a progression to them, but there were quite a lot of them and they all started to blend together for me by the end.

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I just finished despite the fact that it is November and I should have been doing Nanowrimo. I love the message behind Skyward, especially coupled with the talk Sanderson did at the book release about the fear of failure, especially as this book sprouted from troubles with Apocolipsis Guard. It has a great message about fighting for dreams, but also about how sometimes what we always wanted isn't what we thought. Spensa's character growth was excellent, and I was pleased to see Jergen (I could never figure out how is name was supposed to be pronounced, probably from taking too many Spanish classes. I am sure it is not meant to be [her-hen] but that is how my brain kept reading it) was not just a the typical flat jerk(face) that always ends up in this type of book. Made me love them both (though I am anti-romantic and would have settled with just respect from the two rather than romantic hints). Kind of like Ender's Game, but it avoided all the bad stereotypes displayed in that story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Too much. I really should have (and should be) writing.

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On 11/7/2018 at 8:20 PM, Callsign: Necrosis said:

I just finished despite the fact that it is November and I should have been doing Nanowrimo. I love the message behind Skyward, especially coupled with the talk Sanderson did at the book release about the fear of failure, especially as this book sprouted from troubles with Apocolipsis Guard. It has a great message about fighting for dreams, but also about how sometimes what we always wanted isn't what we thought. Spensa's character growth was excellent, and I was pleased to see Jergen (I could never figure out how is name was supposed to be pronounced, probably from taking too many Spanish classes. I am sure it is not meant to be [her-hen] but that is how my brain kept reading it) was not just a the typical flat jerk(face) that always ends up in this type of book. Made me love them both (though I am anti-romantic and would have settled with just respect from the two rather than romantic hints). Kind of like Ender's Game, but it avoided all the bad stereotypes displayed in that story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Too much. I really should have (and should be) writing.

I kept flip-flopping between pronouncing it Yer-gen (with a hard 'g') because that's how I think it's really supposed to be pronounced, and Jer-gen (with a Hard J and hard G) because that gives better alliteration with his callsign of Jerkface.

I'm also doing NaNoWriMo this year, and ended up reading the book on Sunday.  I was supposed to be rewarding myself with an hour of reading every day that I made word-count, but my brain was like, "You made work count yesterday, same day you got the book, but it was so late you only read for 30 minutes!  You earned another 30 minutes of reading before you start working!"   .... And then it was 10pm and the book was done.

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14 hours ago, ZenBossanova said:

Best non-Cosmere Sanderson

Yes, I 100% agree.

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I feel like each and every time I finish a Sanderson book that I feel like it's the best one.  This one exceeded my expectations ten fold.  I was actually surprised by how much I liked it seeing as I more apathetic toward it when it was first announced.  I think what really made the book was the characterization.  I think Sanderson continues to improve with each and every book he writes in that area.  

 

I'm quite excited for the next installment!

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Am I the only one who thought as soon as Spensa saw Jerkface and started describing him that it would turn into eventual coming around and possible love interest?

 

I'm not sure exactly why I thought it, just the constant thinking of "Jerkface" (which would change to "Jorgen" later a lot of the time) seemed like such irrational hatred that I saw it turning around.

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I thought it was obvious from the beginning too, but that didn't make it less fun. =)

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16 hours ago, Journey Before Pancakes said:

Am I the only one who thought as soon as Spensa saw Jerkface and started describing him that it would turn into eventual coming around and possible love interest?

 

I'm not sure exactly why I thought it, just the constant thinking of "Jerkface" (which would change to "Jorgen" later a lot of the time) seemed like such irrational hatred that I saw it turning around.

It's definitely the obvious pairing.  I'm glad that Brandon didn't cram it into book 1, I think that would have forced.  

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18 hours ago, Journey Before Pancakes said:

Am I the only one who thought as soon as Spensa saw Jerkface and started describing him that it would turn into eventual coming around and possible love interest?

It feels like the tropey pairing to me, and as such I was against it from the get go. But, during my reread it definitely seems like that's how it'll play out. I think the only out is if Jerkface dies.

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24 minutes ago, Govir said:

It feels like the tropey pairing to me, and as such I was against it from the get go. But, during my reread it definitely seems like that's how it'll play out. I think the only out is if Jerkface dies.

Pairing them up was his original plan, but it didn't quite mesh, so he threw it out. And I think it is stronger for avoiding that cliche. 

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33 minutes ago, ZenBossanova said:

Pairing them up was his original plan, but it didn't quite mesh, so he threw it out. And I think it is stronger for avoiding that cliche. 

I was misremembering this WoB.  I thought it was more explicit about him pushing romance off to later books, but I guess it's ambiguous.  

Quote

Michael M. Jones

One thing we tend to expect in YA is the presence of romance. There's no real sign of it in Skyward, though. Was this your intention from the start, or did the characters just not work out that way?

Brandon Sanderson

It was more the characters. In my first draft, I tried to shoehorn a romance in. I like romance; you'll find them in my adult books. But here, it didn’t fit the characters or the theme, and it felt inappropriate. This is a very traumatic time for Spensa, who's focused in every way on becoming a pilot and finding out the secrets of her past, and romance just didn't work. So I revised in the direction the characters demanded.

The obvious pairing was Spensa and Jerkface. That’s where I was trying to go, but it felt like a cheesy romance in the middle of an action-adventure story about finding out who you really are, and about going into battle, and all of that stress and pressure. Maybe someday I'll release the deleted scenes and people can see how poorly it worked.

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1 hour ago, ZenBossanova said:

Pairing them up was his original plan, but it didn't quite mesh, so he threw it out. And I think it is stronger for avoiding that cliche. 

The seeds are definitely there. Either Sanderson didn't do as good a job excising the arc from the first book, or he's setting up for future books. I tend to think it's the latter.

Multiple times later in the book, Spensa starts thinking of Jorgen in what I would consider a "romantic" way. Each time, Spensa thinks to herself "Why am I thinking of Jorgen like that?". Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but at least one of the scenes implies she's daydreaming about being Jorgen's date to a fancy dinner party.

And although we don't get any viewpoints from Jorgen, I think he's falling for Spensa too. The scene where Spensa talks to him in the carport / hanger (where she tells him about the eyes), his responses to her are definitely crush material.

Like I said, with the setup in Skyward, I think the only thing that can keep them apart is if one of them dies. And since Spensa is the main character, that means Jorgen. There may not be time for a true romance(i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend dating), but I think Jorgen is the one Spensa will continue to turn to for emotional support. He actually seemed decent at it in the scene I mentioned above.

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7 minutes ago, Govir said:

The seeds are definitely there. Either Sanderson didn't do as good a job excising the arc from the first book, or he's setting up for future books. I tend to think it's the latter.

Multiple times later in the book, Spensa starts thinking of Jorgen in what I would consider a "romantic" way. Each time, Spensa thinks to herself "Why am I thinking of Jorgen like that?". Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but at least one of the scenes implies she's daydreaming about being Jorgen's date to a fancy dinner party.

And although we don't get any viewpoints from Jorgen, I think he's falling for Spensa too. The scene where Spensa talks to him in the carport / hanger (where she tells him about the eyes), his responses to her are definitely crush material.

Like I said, with the setup in Skyward, I think the only thing that can keep them apart is if one of them dies. And since Spensa is the main character, that means Jorgen. There may not be time for a true romance(i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend dating), but I think Jorgen is the one Spensa will continue to turn to for emotional support. He actually seemed decent at it in the scene I mentioned above.

I was getting the impression that Jorgen had feelings for Spensa like halfway through the book.  He was always moderately respectful to her, she basically hated him because of his background.  He seemed to speak well of her most of the book.  He also would never have made a move even if he knew how he felt.  There was a rule about Cadets having relationships, and Jorgen is least likely to break the rules.

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Like many of you, I spotted Spin & Jorgen (I'm pronouncing it like Robert Jordan's last name, but with "genn" instead of "dan") as a couple pretty early on, and guessed about halfway through that Detritus was a prison.

I'm here because I'd like your insights on something that seemed ... off to me.

In chapter 55 (bottom of page 501 in the US print edition), there's this sentence: "And ... and the minds of thinking machines somehow relied upon the same technology to process quickly."

When I read that, it was a "Wait - what?!?" moment for me. I didn't feel that Spensa had enough context to jump to that conclusion, and I as a reader felt left behind and/or blindsided by it. Other than M-Bot, what "thinking machines" does Spensa know about? Where prior to this, including in "Defending Elysium," do we run across thinking machines?

What did I miss? Can you all help me?

This point has got me wondering if the "eyes" aren't the consciousnesses of thinking machines - that they somehow found a plane to exist on, apart from the living beings who made them. And if that's the case, what if cytonic ability is an invasion of their plane?  ... and since maybe machines wouldn't accommodate dissent very well, Primary Intelligence would be something they impose on living beings who use cytonics? BTW, my theories are ALWAYS wrong, & I don't expect to be right here either, but speculation is so much fun!

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21 minutes ago, Lump-wing said:

I didn't feel that Spensa had enough context to jump to that conclusion, and I as a reader felt left behind and/or blindsided by it. Other than M-Bot, what "thinking machines" does Spensa know about? Where prior to this, including in "Defending Elysium," do we run across thinking machines?

It's something that Cobb says to her.  He talks about legends of "machines that can think."

Quote

Chapter 27

"There are theories," Cobb continued. "The old people, who lived on the Defiant itself, talk of things impossible to our current understanding. Maybe the reason we never find anything but armor is because there isn't anything else to find. Maybe the Krell are the armor. In the old days, there were legends of something strange. Machines that can think."

 

It definitely stood out to me too.  It's a pretty big leap to go from "Krell supercomms" to "Cytospace enables AI."  It does kind of sound like Brandon is straight up telling us how Skyward AI works, though.  I guess it could make a kind of sense - tech meshing with Cytonics is what powers FTL travel.  

I doubt that the causality goes AI -> Cytonics.  We know that the various alien races were all much farther behind on technology when they developed Cyto, so it's unlikely they got to true AI.  

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I thought the line about computers using the same technology might have related to how she also seemed able to access M-bot's capabilities as she was "sinking into the ship".  With that, and the line in Chapter 55, I took it as something she realized as she was working with M-bot.

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@Scion of the Mists - It sounds like you're equating AI (artificial intelligence) with "machines that can think;" I wonder if that's where Brandon will go? Because to me those 2 things aren't necessarily the same. Interesting. :-)

@Journey Before Pancakes - It sounds like you didn't sense a discontinuity where I did - cool.

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@Lump-wing I wouldn't say I didn't sense it, I felt the same way that it was a huge logical leap in the actual story.

 

That's more of a head-cannon assumption about why she went there for me.  I could be very wrong.

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