kais

04/29/19 - kais - Queen, Chapter 1 (3895 words) (L, V)

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I swear this is the last time you have to read this first chapter.

This story started out as a potential short for the anthology, then I realized it would be better suited for a novel. I’ve changed the tone around a lot and tried to add humor more into narrative to actually help draw out the feelings of loss and hope. 

I’m going for a very specific feel with this book—I’d like to echo ‘older’ sci fi and feminist literature on the tropes of single gender planets and ‘utopias’, and somewhat brutally deconstruct them. However I’d like to keep some of the flavor and a bit of the camp. I’m still not entirely certain I’m doing that well, so I’m especially interested in your thoughts and suggestions if you are familiar with campy older sci fi, or older feminist utopia literature (like ‘Herland’). 

Otherwise, please destroy at will. It’s a bit early for LBL level grammar and punctuation passes, but if that’s your jam, go for it. I’m particularly interested in voice, buy-in to character, and buy-in to world.

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I think you're on the right track with the tone and voice. Having the envirosuit be a foil really helps since E is out all alone for most of the time. It ads a bit to the old sci-fi camp. You could potentially push it even further into having an old suit that's broken and has a distinct personality, even though E hasn't set up the AI. It would give a chance to add even more humor, if you want.

I'll have to see more of the world before I have a good idea on how well it works with old feminist utopian fiction.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: the first few paragraphs are definitely running to the old sci-fi novels. Tone is lighter as well. The description of the world as a starting sentence will definitely bring in people looking for that kind of story. 

pg 3: "She cinched her mouth into a caricature of a frown."
--might be going a bit purple...

pg 4: "fields that wafted the silage perfume of cooked cauliflower."
--huh?

pg 4: I like the younger sister being older. Glad you kept that in.

pg 4: “Dune’t forget your-”
--Lol. This works a lot better this time around.

pg 6: "T may be gone, but see mom, at least. See T’s mother. Talk to her about her daughter.”
--Is "mom" T's mother, or are you talking about two mothers?

pg 10: "resemblance to Earth click beetles"
--huh, that's pretty much what I was thinking in the first version. I like that you don't really explain the five legs.

pg 11: "Drunk was condition E would have preferred." -> "A condition"

pg 11: "she looked like an over-baked potato when she moped"
--funny, but I'm having trouble picturing this.

pg 14: "with WANTED under their chins and occasionally, bad moustaches drawn on in marker."
--lol

pg 14: "Bottom line, there was no way this M knew who she was unless…but that was ridiculous. It’d been a month. T had been less than a day from multiple organ failure. She was dead."
--even having read this before, it took me a second reading to follow the logic here, that T had told them, I think becuase you segue into T's cancer, rather than what she might have done. 

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Posted (edited)

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: For demographic information, keep in mind that I am a white male nearing his thirties, married, with two young children, and come from a background of being LDS, conservative, and with a long history of chronic depression, so these things may color what I say during review. I try to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible.

I'm excited to get to read one of the novels from the beginning! Hopefully my comments will be helpful. Before I get into my general impressions and thoughts, there were a few inconsistencies I wanted to point out:
 

Spoiler

 

Page 2:

Quote

Silica=100%

 

Silica=97%, Chitin=3%

 

Silica=88%, Cellulose=10%, Lignin=10%, Chitin=2%

 

Suggest moving 1.7 chains northeast for better visibility

 

The third line reads to 110%, not 100% like the other two.

Page 8:

Quote

Her faceshield registered the distance in miles and kilometers

Normally, a society like this would have adopted one or the other. Even in modern-day Earth, metric is much more standard than imperial, including within US science laboratories and NASA. It doesn't make much sense that--considering the way Earth is considered a "singular" body by E, that they wouldn't have universalized which system they use. Further, you actually use metric exclusively in one of the readouts.

The faceshield--

The faceshield itself is kind of weird. It doesn't make much sense that the faceshield is an autonomous entity to TOPA--usually in a sci-fi setting like this, the AI would be in control of the readouts on the faceshield, not the faceshield automatically doing these things itself. Basically, the faceshield is just the monitor, while TOPA is the computer/person doing the work--and a lot of the input coming through the faceshield, therefore, should be attributed to TOPA, like "TOPA chirped an alert on her faceshield. Wind dropping to 14 knots. Funnel increasing in width by .3067 meters per second." etc. (A computer would output the math result. No computer would output "4.6 meters in width in fifteen seconds", it'd do the math and say it was widening by that amount per second.)

Another example of this would be this line:

" Beetles have closed distance by one third "

AIs are at their heart, computers. An AI wouldn't read this as closing by 1/3, but rather would probably tick down the distance, alerting E when certain thresholds were reached--like "Beetles 50 meters away. Time to interception 10 seconds." Plus, this would give a more immediate sense of danger, since it tells E precisely when and how close the danger is.

Make sense?

 

Now, onto the general critique.

First, I really like the changes you've made. I feel like the story is clearer and more focused, with E much more grounded and believable. The change to a month is a much easier time frame to work with, as it still allows us to see E in a more raw grieving state.

There are a few world-building things that concern me a little bit--such as the use of "rabbit leather". Unless these are pretty big rabbits, one envirosuit is going to require a lot of rabbits, especially if it's layered for protection. Further, what's protecting the inside of the suit from the elements? Leather isn't exactly porous, but the amount of stitching that would be required to bring that suit together would leave plenty of space for dust and sand to get in, especially considering how strong the winds are. That said, it seems like this is supposed to be a fully sealed environmental suit, with electronic equipment and presumably a power supply of some sort to run that equipment. There would need to be a layer lining the inside of the suit to protect an environmental breach, as well as another layer within that for the electronic wiring and power to be contained in. Unless you've created a sci-fi material that can transmit data and provide protection, these suits will get a little bit bulky (for example, astronaut suits), which will limit the movements of the wearer. And unless they have built in cooling, they'll be hot. Especially in desert sun. You don't have to go into all of this detail in the text, but you should still be aware of how these things all work together--and that would give you some room for potential catastrophes when, say, the lining layer is breached or punctuated.

Another concern I have is TOPA itself. AI is a very tricky--though prevalent--existence within sci-fi. You mention a "personality" upgrade for TOPA, yet there doesn't really appear to be a default presence as of yet. Usually, within sci-fi settings like this, a personality upgrade implies some level of interactability with the artificial intelligence--yet all of the interactions seem to be E --> TOPA, with TOPA just outputting to the screen. There's nothing to upgrade--it's basically the equivalent of saying I have a really nice software upgrade for my computer, but all my computer is capable of doing without it is output to the console (which is kind of silly if they've reached the point of autonomous AI). If, however, TOPA actually spoke to E through her suit's speakers, and for example the default presence was flat and woody, like Siri, it'd give us more insight into not only E's personality (such as why she keeps it at this dull, wooden voice), but also into the capabilities of TOPA itself.

Voice

I feel like E's voice is generally consistent within this chapter. She tends to fray a little bit during her interaction with Nadia--but this isn't unreasonable and I would need another couple of chapters before I could really say if the voicing is overall consistent, as she'd need to interact with more characters. There were a couple of nitpicks I had with certain phrasings, such as on Page 12: "desert--but Queen had taken Taraniel. Queen's complete lack of resources had taken Taraniel and the Mella stole what few resources..." which would work better as just "desert--but the Mella had stolen what few of Queen's meager resources they managed to store, taking any hope Taraniel might have had." (Or something like that.)

Also "Nadia Anne-The-Frying-Pan O'Grady" caught me off guard. I get that it was supposed to be a joke, but since there was no mention of any kind of nickname humor in their interaction, it broke me out of the immersion because I hadn't seen anything like that from E yet.

Buy-in (Character)

Ember - I like E as a character. As I said in the beginning, I think she's more grounded than in previous versions, and her raw grief works better with the slower timeline.

Nadia - I don't have any feelings on Nadia yet. I feel like there's a slight disconnect between E & N, though, possibly due to the loss of T, but also possibly due to the difference in time. Going from a younger sister to a much older one (or so it reads to me) would be weird.

TOPA - Considering E talks to it, and there is the option for TOPA to be named later, I'm treating it as a character--one I'd like to see more of. AI is always an interesting sci-fi concept.

Buy-in (World)

It's a good intro--I'm looking forward to seeing more of the politics that are hinted at with the colonists, "Earth", and whoever the companies funding these colonies are. A world of red sand and dirt would be a difficult place to live, and seeing the interactions between the colonists and how the politics have been shaped by the environment and the Mella piques my interest. (I like political drama in fiction)

There are some sci-fi elements I worry haven't been entirely thought through--I've already listed the big ones. But overall, and without getting nitpicky on line-by-lines, I think it's a good start, and I really want to see where you take this.

Edited by Alderant
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Interesting.

Page 1 

- "couldn’t keep out the smell" - Isn't the smell inside the suit, and don't the filters work to keep outside smells from getting inside?

- The boredom and science line is awesome :) 

Page 2

- After the first page, I haven't laughed yet. I know it's not comedy, but you've alerted me to look our for humour. Do I need to cue on the first page that this is going to be a camp and humours book? Not sure I've had one.

- 'chains' really?

- "It was the same reason..." - grammar. Suggest, 'For the same reason,'.

Page 3 

- "whipped her words away but" - missing word?

- "It’s two day’s ride" - I reckon days', but solved by saying 'It's a two-day ride.'

- "They could get there before I do" - Certainty plays better then uncertainty, I would say. 'They will get there before I do'?

- "when you have the antennae out like that on the headpiece" - Redundant. That's the only place the antennae are going to be.

Page 4 

- "too young to be put into stasis" - Missing word, but 'go into stasis' is shorter.

- "crinkles of her eyes" - Sounds like her eyes are crinkly!! 'wrinkles (or crinkles) around her eyes', surely?

- "She joked because she didn’t want to leave" - This seems to be a promise to the reader that there is some kind of exodus planned.

- The opening promises the story's first joke but "Dune’tforget your" - just made me wince.

Page 5

- "...her insides." - Great sentence, I really feel the emotion here, and the next two about sisters really drive it home. Nice work here.

- "You’re no good to anyone like this" - Really? I get no sense that Em is incapacitated by grief. In fact, patently they are some use, as they are on guard duty, and sending back exciting soil samples. The statement just isn't true.  

- "meet the one we’ve just found" - confused. The group they've just found? My first thought was they'd captured one and wanted Em to question them.

- "send the GPS coordinates" - redundant, and you mention GPS in the next line anyway.

- "Just take the job" - Hang on. If they know where they're going, why do they need Em to send coordinates? Surely they can just send the flyers to ambush them?

Page 6

- "leaned against the side of a dune" - the angle of friction of sand is such that the side of the dune is going to be about 30 to 40 degrees (see below). If you're leaving on a dunes, you're lying down on it.

5ccd6ace21fe8_ScreenShot2019-05-04at11_34_30.thumb.png.f11a53b66fcf9ffe7cb2ead7050a9c2f.png

- "Someone has to." - Ouch, direct hit.

- "sand catch the edges of the spray and whip them up" - confused, I don't know (can't picture) what's happening here.

Page 7

- Half way through the chapter I'm really not getting much humour, or this dampness of which you speak.

- "T’d had cancer" - double 'had' way awkward.

- "take her to Outpost Seven" - so, it's the case that they don't know where Outpost Seven is? Seems really odd.

- On this page, you've used word repetition for emphasis three times (a) expected, hoped, hoped; (b) had cancer, had cancer; and (c) back to her lab, back to main settlement, back to the people, back to the restaurants (four repeats!!). At best that is very repetitious.

Page 8

- "4.6 meters in width" - diametre, surely. Isn't it a twister-light sort of thing? If it's a funnel, it's circular, ergo has a diameter.

Page 9

- "blinked the words" - There were two words.

- "exploded from the sand" - Wait, these are additional beetles lying in ambush? How close are they? I guess these ones are much closer, but there's nothing to convey that.

Page 10

- "three legs on one side, two on the other" - This puts me in mind of Larry Niven's moties, which had uneven appendages. Very unusual and worthy of explanation. I presume the two legs are longer than the three, or they would go round in circles, surely?

- "around a short, sloped dune, she was once again reminded" - typos.

- "closed distance by one third" - This is pretty useless info. If the AI knows it's a third, give us the distance! And I still don't know if there are two sets of beetles.

- My disorientation comes from the fact that the AI says there are two beetles, then two beetles explode from the sand. I interpret these as being two additional beetles, making four.

- "before they were close enough for her to see" - But Em saw them bursting from the sand? Well confused, about distance and still slightly about number of beetles.

- "They swelled out of a mahogany sand funnel" - or is it a missing word? Also, is this the same sand funnel or another one? I'm so confused :huh:

Page 11

- "Drunk was a condition" - missing word.

- Confused. They sent Em to intercept.

- Capitalisation of 'presidium' is a bit variable.

Page 12

- "its warning keel" - isn't it 'keen'? I've heard of wind keening, but not keeling.

- "die by it too" - typo.

- "that strangled itself to the sand" - Huh?

Page 13 

- "N. A.-The-Frying-Pan O'G." - What the actual frel is this about? I'm bemused.

- "The words caught in the suit’s auditory sensors and piped it both to" - With this construction, it's the words that are doing the piping.

- "Follow arrows" - Eh?! If the suits knows where the sounds is coming from, it would say so, surely.

- "The M gave precious security on the branch" - Kind of generic and vague, compared say to 'surrendered'.

Page 14 

- "could give her blue" - great line, full of emotion.

- "scavenged clothing from a grave-robbing pirate" - but the pirate's not giving her the clothing. Better to turn around and say 'grave-robbing pirate's scavenged clothing'.

- "storm all" - This means 'nothing'. As in 'I'm giving you storm all.' I don't understand the usage here.

Overall

Good. There are several changes from previous versions that I think improve this a good deal. I'm really not getting anything in the way of camp tone, and not much in the way of humour, I've got to say, but I do enjoy this version of the chapter more than the earlier versions. Decent sense of character, although Em is of course totally dominated by one thing, which makes them tend towards one-dimensional. I wonder what the overall driver of the story is. I don't think that's entirely laid out here, but there's a good strong hook to take is into the next chapter, so I'm fine with where I am and what I've got.

<R>

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On 4/29/2019 at 10:10 AM, Mandamon said:

You could potentially push it even further into having an old suit that's broken and has a distinct personality, even though E hasn't set up the AI. It would give a chance to add even more humor, if you want.

This is the plan! I'm hoping to have a malfunction in the next few chapters which traps E with a pissy TOPA. I'm also toying with TOPA becoming a fairly long-term character, though not sure if that will play out or not. I'm only about halfway through drafting but I know if I don't start subbing now, I never will.

On 4/29/2019 at 10:10 AM, Mandamon said:

huh?

I wonder if this is a thing you have to have experienced to know? I can easily cut it if people trip on it, but OMG in the spring the fields out here just... REEK of cooked cauliflower due to the silage spray. It's enough to put you off vegetables forever.

On 4/29/2019 at 10:10 AM, Mandamon said:

--Is "mom" T's mother, or are you talking about two mothers?

I was originally talking about two mothers but I've edited this line, as I've decided E's parents did not come with them to the planet. Much more fun that way.

On 4/29/2019 at 10:10 AM, Mandamon said:

funny, but I'm having trouble picturing this.

I'll try to get a bit more descriptive here

On 4/29/2019 at 10:10 AM, Mandamon said:

I think becuase you segue into T's cancer, rather than what she might have done. 

Actually, I think it works well if I'm clear, so I'll take out the ....

Thank you, @Mandamon

 

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

I'm excited to get to read one of the novels from the beginning!

It's probably a more painful process than you think since a lot of us regulars on here are discovery writers (I think? or is it just me??) so our subs are... pretty raw drafts. But I so appreciate the feedback!

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

The third line reads to 110%, not 100% like the other two.

Aheh. Thank you. Good catch

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

Further, you actually use metric exclusively in one of the readouts.

This is an old editing artifact, so thank you for catching it! I actually want her suit just to output in chains, which is a logger's unit of measurement, so I need to go back and clean up all the old units

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

Make sense?

Perfect sense, and I think we're on the same page. I didn't want TOPA to just be the shield, but I wrote it poorly. The main system is in the suit, so I need to make that clear, earlier.

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

Further, what's protecting the inside of the suit from the elements?

I've got this in a later chapter, I believe. Leather is just on the outside. Good catch!

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

If, however, TOPA actually spoke to E through her suit's speakers, and for example the default presence was flat and woody, like Siri, it'd give us more insight into not only E's personality (such as why she keeps it at this dull, wooden voice), but also into the capabilities of TOPA itself.

This is quite clever and I need to sit and think on it for a bit. TOPA gets damaged in a later chapter and the personality kicks in, and I want TOPA to be a fully fledged character. I think I was gunning more for AIs being clean slates that get wiped routinely so they don't get a personality, but there are personality upgrades you can do that install a safe, pre-determined one for you. I think this still needs development. 

On 4/30/2019 at 11:13 AM, Alderant said:

nd whoever the companies funding these colonies are. A world of red sand and dirt would be a difficult place to live, and seeing the interactions between the colonists and how the politics have been shaped by the environment and the Mella piques my interest. (

I'm hoping the book works in this kind of direction. What I want is to take some of the tropes from pulp scifi and move them into something more modern space opera like, while also delivering a rebuttal on feminist utopia scifi (mostly older, although some surprisingly modern, too) that dealt with single sex/gender societies. I've got a lot more worldbuilding to deepen, I think, but right now I'd like to get characters and location established before I fling everyone into the broader universe. 

Thank you so much for the quality feedback! I need to go noodle about AIs for a while now.

 

 

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On 4/29/2019 at 10:36 AM, kais said:

humor more into narrative

I wasn't seeing humor, though it's possible I just wasn't "getting" it. I can be a bit too literal, so sometimes things that are supposed to be funny go way over my head. 

On 4/29/2019 at 10:36 AM, kais said:

if you are familiar with campy older sci fi, or older feminist utopia literature (like ‘Herland’). 

I'm not, so I won't try to comment on this aspect of it. 

Overall, I liked this chapter. There was plenty of emotional buy in for me, and I was engaged with the character. Her grief was tangible, visible in her thoughts, words and the way she saw the world in general. There was lots of beautiful imagery, both of the world E is on and of earth but at times, there was a little too much. I found my self getting lost in these borderline purple descriptions and losing track of what was going on. I think you could pick  which ones you really think are necessary and tim some of the excess so the ones you do keep mean more.

As far as buy-in to world goes, I had no trouble accepting the planet and colony, though I was getting confused about a few things early in the chapter, particularly around the distinction between the dome and the habitable zone, and the placement of people. Specifically, I got very confused about how the conversation with N was taking place. I was highlighting on my kindle and commenting back and forth, trying to figure out of this conversation was taking place soley over some kind of video through the screen or if N was actually physically in view of E.

First off:

I know E is on the edge of the habitable and non habitable zones, so it is plausible that someone could be visible in one even if E is in the other. 

E's AI says the air is not breathable in front of them.

"The winds were too fierce outside the colony dome to hear much..." implied that N was physically in sight of E. However, if  there is a dome, my brain wants to assume that everything outside the dome is the inhabitable area.

"...transmission showed her just outside the dome." This implies that E isn't near the dome and this is just some kind of video chat with N.

"but her face sheild down..." so it is breathable right outside the dome but not on the edge where E is? How far is E actually from the dome? 

"for another three days....you're the closest..." This section of conversation implies N isn't actually nearby and that this is all some kind of video chat, but if so, then why did the TOPA just not call E directly? 

But then, the "the wind in the habitable zone whipped her words...." implies they are standing in sight of each other, otherwise, the wind would be irrelevant. 

There might have been a few more back and forth notes like this, but it probably isn't necessary to include them all. So is N actually physically in sight during this conversation? OR is it all video chat? 

 

Other as I read:

"problematic rabbit population" Did colonist bring rabbits from earth? Can they breathe in the inhabitable zone? Do the tunnels in the inhabitable have breathable air even though the surface doesn't? Or did the rabbits adapt in a way that humans have not? 

"fields that wafted the silage perfume of cooked cauliflower." This is too over the top. Or it is a joke going way over my head. Or both. 

"always managed to bring out the inner adolescent" Feels a little forced. Do you really need it?

"I thought...hard time recruiting sentries. Clearly I'm good for something...like dying." Not completely following this snipped of dialogue. I'm missing something. How does dying come in here? 

"dried red blood of the barren...whop them up and into oblivion." This came across a little too dramatic. 

"...soil science is lame..." This came across a little random and unnecessary.

"...filtering the air it brought in." This part of the sentence seemed redundant. 

"Back to her lab, or if she refused that..." So this sentence made it sound like she currently had a lab but then the second clause made it sound like she used to have one. Maybe make this a little clearer?

"the swelled out of mahogany sand..." typo? 

"the M riders wore wraps upon wraps..." do they have face shields to let them breath in this area with unbreathable air? 

"Altercation is was then." "is" should be "it"

"S... Again?" What "Again?" I might be missing something. 

 

 

I think with  a little cleaning up and clarifying, this will be a great opening chapter. I'm looking forward to reading more of this story. 

 

 

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On 4/29/2019 at 1:10 PM, Mandamon said:

You could potentially push it even further into having an old suit that's broken and has a distinct personality, even though E hasn't set up the AI. It would give a chance to add even more humor, if you want.

Good idea!

On 4/30/2019 at 2:13 PM, Alderant said:

Unless these are pretty big rabbits, one envirosuit is going to require a lot of rabbits, especially if it's layered for protection.

I was wondering about this too.

 

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

"leaned against the side of a dune" - the angle of friction of sand is such that the side of the dune is going to be about 30 to 40 degrees (see below). If you're leaving on a dunes, you're lying down on it.

Yeah. I've never been in a desert, but in my corner of the world, there are still some surviving coastal sand dunes, and surprisingly, one place that lets you walk on trails through them (with lots of signs about not actually leaving the trail because the dunes are fragile and disappearing). Anyway, I don't think I've come across any I could lean on, though it's possible I tried once and just kind of fell over. Unless these are like sand walls, then leaning on the dunes probably won't work. 

12 hours ago, Robinski said:

not much in the way of humour

Glad to hear this. Sometimes I can't tell when humor isn't there and when it's going over my head.

4 hours ago, kais said:

discovery writers (I think? or is it just me??)

I am very much a discovery writer. 

4 hours ago, kais said:

I wonder if this is a thing you have to have experienced to know? I can easily cut it if people trip on it, but OMG in the spring the fields out here just... REEK of cooked cauliflower due to the silage spray. It's enough to put you off vegetables forever.

as you probably saw, I got tripped up on that line too.I don't think I've experienced what you described. 

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7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Do I need to cue on the first page that this is going to be a camp and humours book? Not sure I've had one.

Oh, apologies. I wasn't aiming for a campy and humous book all around, I just wanted to flavor it a bit. The humor was more me taking a lead from Gideon the Ninth, which is probably my all time favorite book of this year so far. I don't know if it will work, but darn it, I'm going to try!

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

"She joked because she didn’t want to leave" - This seems to be a promise to the reader that there is some kind of exodus planned.

I see you found my through-line

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

just made me wince.

Mission accomplished!

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

The statement just isn't true.  

Good call. This needs editing.

8 hours ago, Robinski said:

If you're leaving on a dunes, you're lying down on it.

Okay this is really interesting to me because I've leaned on sand dunes, but was sitting down at the time. Is the idea here that the higher ones wouldn't support weight?

22 hours ago, Robinski said:

Confused. They sent Em to intercept.

I'll need to go edit this. The idea was that she was sent to identify location, not interact

22 hours ago, Robinski said:

I wonder what the overall driver of the story is.

I'm really glad you actually caught the through line in your notes, however subtle it may be. I may have to go back and up it more, but I was shooting for a through line switch about four chapters in, which I've noticed is more common in books now. We'll see if it works! Thank you so much for all the excellent feedback, @Robinski!

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, kais said:

I wasn't aiming for a campy and humous book all around

Ah, okay. Maybe I read too much into that comment.

2 hours ago, kais said:

Okay this is really interesting to me because I've leaned on sand dunes, but was sitting down at the time. Is the idea here that the higher ones wouldn't support weight?

I think there would be (is?!) a significant difference between dunes that are pure sand, and sand dunes the structure of which is reinforced by vegetation. However, I may well retract my earlier dogmatic rejection of the premise. After some loose research, a more accurate answer may be "It depends...". Here are some fun pictures ion sand because... sand dunes, yeah!

mui-ne-sand-dunes.jpg.thumb.jpg.63d110b03d91ab00378a3f4f2493e9f3.jpg  Image 1

1492604265283453327.jpg.f6fa66a488d0305a0633254a4edd5eda.jpg  Image 2

khuri-sand-dunes1.jpg.3c2413dfc57badafd7d91ad483e2fd97.jpg  Image 3

Clearly, there are localise spots in Images 1 and 3 where the stable angle is more than 40 degrees, up to maybe 70/75 degrees: definitely steep enough to lean on.

Namibia-2018-234_new.thumb.jpg.90b6aa9464ecdd67f9a618eefd932225.jpg  Image 4

u-g-PTZ6X20.jpg.7894adba44b4eda2c6dd8f91ffae953e.jpg  Image 5

Images 2 and 4 are more on the lines that I was imagining, where as Images 3 and 5 clearly show the influence of vegetation. Image 6 - picture of cute lizard!! :D 

astrakhan-oblast-russia-sand-dune-9.jpg.017ed465d3bc4f20a57d77673d90a588.jpg  Image 6

2 hours ago, kais said:

The idea was that she was sent to identify location, not interact

Right. I thought it was curious that the target location has a name, which implies to me a known location. So, why would Em need to locate it?

Edited by Robinski
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1 hour ago, Robinski said:
3 hours ago, kais said:

Okay this is really interesting to me because I've leaned on sand dunes, but was sitting down at the time. Is the idea here that the higher ones wouldn't support weight?

I think there would be (is?!) a significant difference between dunes that are pure sand, and sand dunes the structure of which is reinforced by vegetation. However, I may well retract my earlier dogmatic rejection of the premise. After some loose research, a more accurate answer may be "It depends...". Here are some fun pictures ion sand because... sand dunes, yeah!

Jumping on sand dune picture bandwagon. 

If I was sitting, I could lean on some of the dunes in my pictures, but standing, the angle wasn't really steep enough. The one in the first picture really looks like I could lean against it, but it actually slopes to gradually, hence falling on my rear end. I got the impression the mc was standing in that scene.

The edge of the dune in the distance in my first picture might be steep enough, probably from the vegetation holding it in place. However, that angle isn't from wind, it's from storm surges chomping at the edge of the dune, so in desert, I wasn't picturing getting that kind of angle from wind alone, but I've never been in a desert, only seen pictures, so I could be wrong about the kind of dunes you are talking about. 

I know there is nothing for scale, but the dune on the edge of the beach is probably about ten feet high. Further inland on the peninsula, some of the dunes were more like 15 or 20 feet, but their slopes were much more gradual and you definitely can't lean on those. 

Maybe I just reacted the way I did because I'm used to seeing coastal dunes (what's left of them anyway. These ones in my picture have probably shrunk in the past 7 years since I took the picture) so my brain was stuck with the wrong kind of dune. 

 

2012-03-13 12.55.07.jpg

2012-03-13 13.44.36.jpg

2012-03-13 13.44.48.jpg

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this is reading a lot less clunky and infodumpy than the first version, however, I feel like it's been stripped of personality again, and I'm getting lots of Ard and Nee in here again. Why is the president here caring about this one person again?

I'm unclear why N has to stand outside to talk. It's better than driving out there, this part flows better than last time, but it doesn't make much sense if they're talking via some kind of communication device why N has to stand outside to do it. Also, unrolling the message makes much less sense now. How would E see it to read it? How is she seeing the exterior of any part of N?

I also picked up on the odd dialogue from the AI. It doesn't seem impersonal enough to be "personality-less," but at the same time, it feels too colloquial and seems to be making too many assumptions to be fully robotic. 

The rabbit hide threw me off as well, since that's traditionally a very thin, weak hide, I thought. 

To your questions, unfortunately, this doesn't really remind me of any classic scifi tropes, from any decade. It reads very modern, with modern tropes and modern tone, and modern structure. I also did not pick up on much of any humor in it, nor did it seem particularly light to me, unfortunately. That's not to say it's uninteresting or that I dislike it -- it is and I do -- but right now I feel like it's not really meeting the requirements you've set for it. 

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Apologies for the late reply. Been a hectic couple of weeks and just now got around to finishing my read of this. 

Overall impressions - it's good, enjoyable to read for the most part. I like how you're not afraid to spend time on the world-building - it can take confidence to do this when you're aware that it slows the pace. The chapter as a whole had a pretty good balance between character, setting and plot/action. That said, I found the first part of the story to be a little bogged down with exposition and tangents, for example.. 2nd para on p2, She was supposed to have keyed...etc... I appreciate you're trying to communicate what she's like, but this felt like a distracting tangent for me, and it slowed the down the story's unfolding even more - something I think you need to sparingly when you've already committed to spending a lot of your chapter's opening words on the enviro-suit.  

 

Humans could live without vegetation.  - I found myself feeling a little sceptical about that, especially without any detail about how that's possible in your world. Not sure it's the best way to include this in the story opener. 

Some of the modern phrasing pulled my out of the story, for example p.1: Gore-Tex was still a thing. This feels like present day American slang. Didn't help my immersion. 

There's some effective description in the chapter, like the second para on p8. It has enough specificity and movement for it be immersive, and it reads well. 

There's also some less effective description, e.g. p1: a chalky, bland bouquet of boredom and science. Chalky works, but 'boredom and science' are too vague and abstract to help me imagine what it's actually like to experience a breath filtered through this envirosuit. 

And an example of mixed quality description: p4 - For E it was a way station. A bad aftertaste. A future gone horribly wrong. The first two sentences work well for me, but the last felt a bit vague - an phrase I feel like I've heard hundreds of times. I wonder if you could say this in a more specific and unique way on your next rewrite. 

P.1  Dunes and small valleys surround her.  - Here's an example of description which is ok, but could be made more unique and specific on a later draft. Also worth mentioning here that I thought it was pretty cool how her faceshield gives her a readout of the dune's composition. Helps communicate this feeling of distance from nature I think you're going for. 

P.4 N still smiled and joked liked Q wasn’t a desolate, isolated colony planet. Like Earth’s memory didn’t oppress them hundreds of light years away. This last sentence is my favourite part of the whole chapter. It's a really interesting idea and I would to see that elaborated on, and perhaps even threaded throughout the story in a way that gets a little deeper into it each time. 

 

Good stuff! Please keep writing.

 

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