kais

06/24/19 - kais - Queen, Chapter 7, (5030 words) (L)

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Back with a new chapter. Edits that have happened since last time—please now assume that Earth not being a wasteland has been well foreshadowed without being outright noted except as in Chapter 6. 

Although I’ve been through this chapter a number of times, I have some concerns with how the reveals come through. I’d really appreciate thoughts on pacing, as well as if the power dynamic that I’m trying to bring forth. I’d also be interested in thoughts on the two-front power dynamic I’m trying to bring up between N and V.

But as always, any thoughts welcome. This chapter is roughly the end of the first act of the book. 

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Comments!!

(page 1)

- Interesting epigraph. It seems to be a huge generalisation. I mean, I like the concept, it just seems a stretch that there were only three types of people left on Earth. In fact, I'd totally read that story. Kind of like the happy(?!) version of Cormack McCarthy's The Road.

- "but the neck of his e-suit still had the zip under his chin" - clumsy phrasing.

- "Everything about his body posture" - Pretty sure this is redundant.

- "but would get them him shot out here" - Lands the point better, imo.

- "she academically outranked him academically" - infinitives have right too.

- "her fingers through it from the bottom up" - how does this work then? By bottom, do you mean the root, which I can understand, or the tip, which I'm not sure would work, because hair's floppy.

(page 2)

- He's a guy. How is he supposed to pass for an M?

- "Untuck your collared shirt" - typo.

- "I am not cool" - ROFL. Brilliant.

- "they’re going to know we’re from the colony" - Again, V is a male person.

- "Move like it’s tenure review" - Oh g-o-d, N's POV is just so much more entertaining. I've LOL'd three or four times already.

- "tenure committee this year. Uh" - I wanted this to be 'Huh.' Huh feels more like the noise one makes when one has a unexpected realisation. 'Uh' is the noise one makes when the next word won't come out ones mouth on schedule, as in "Uhhhhh..."

- "gross imbalance of power" - Did you mean 'abuse of power'?

(page 3)

- "took it off without a reminder" - How about 'without prompting', to me that's more elegant and accurate.

- "didn’t unzip his fly" - Why on Earth would he?

- "won’t be familiar with everyone" - okay, so he can get away with being there, but it was referenced that 'they' would look like M, he still can't do that.

(page 4)

- "and a storm-all attitude" - storm-off attitude, I think.

- "more than anything with rich organics in it" - 'rich with organics would be smoother. Sorry, I've got to learn to stop giving style comments, but I just founding myself tripping over this line.

- "It felt like smooth under her boots" - typo?

- "collar now was ringed with sweat" - missing word, I think.

(page 5)

- "due to the substantial Thai population" - Whaaa? Where did this come from? Did I know this?

- "invite V out for beers" - hurray!

- "angle of light off from a nearby lamp" - surely.

(page 6)

- "a small potato" - LMFAO.

- "A small breeze" - very weak description.

- "always stabbed people a lot" - these are clashing. I'm thinking one of the other.

- "too tight to really conceal a knife" - the blows the rhythm of the line, imo. 'too tight to conceal' skips sweetly through the alliteration before it delivers the punch.

- "The other two they had on lot for women" - grammar's not working here, missing word too, I think.

- "There were no ship lots" - typo.

(page 7)

- "transport ship that passed by" - passed by implies not stopping, imo.

- "got to shave her legs" - lol.

- "added, stepping next to N" - not keen on the phrasing, sounds like something's missing, like 'stepping up next to N', maybe.

(page 8)

- "end up relieving myself" - typo.

- "Otherwise they wouldn’t have been on the planet to begin with" - I believe there was a comments about there being a smaller number of males, so this seems inconsistent.

- "white ceramic foot guides"

- "there was no way to hide differences" - again, seems inconsistent after the line about everyone having the same plumbing.

- "then there were men with more equipment than V" - Huh? Confused.

- "That was a big, big problem" - Why? More confused.

- All that bathroom stuff, meh, it feels messy to me, scattergun somehow, in the hope that something will stick :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

(page 9)

- "time to cover his half-formed wai" - Huh? It's just one confusion after another for me here. I'm not understanding what's happening. Did N grab V's little Richard just now? Oh, is 'was' supposed to be 'wail'?

- "Well don’t be outbidding me now" - I know this will be a good line when it's clear :P Is S implying that V is trying to outbid her with N? But V isn't hitting on N. If he's hitting on anyone it would be S, who he's addressing, but she's the other bidder, I presume, and so... I don't think this line works yet.

(page 10)

- "star-shaped ship" - hyphenated.

- "opted against any of them" - grammar: I'd said 'opted for none of them' was closer.

- "him being mistaken for male" - I don't remember this at all, is this retconned? I always thought he was male.

(page 13)

- "added a moustache to the woman" - typo.

- "making concrete on one planet and hauling it to another" - Thank you, but I say again, sand is not the most important component of concrete.

(page 15)

- "bluffs they could do" - I feel like you make a bluff?

- "so many times they’d pass, because before they got hauled" - typo, I think.

(page 16)

- "gave them one of yours" - typo.

(page 17)

- "you die" - really? Really? That seems over the top to me.

Overall 

I enjoyed this chapter a good deal. It seemed to ramble a bit towards the end, but I can forgive that as N trying to process all the weird that has dropped in her lap in the preceding 10 minutes or so. I like the pace. I'm rather confused by what's going on, but I like that there is a conspiracy of sorts and that there are people who shouldn't be here, and a bit secret at a government level. All good. Not entirely sure what you mean by two-front power dynamic. I hadn't registered before that V was not male, which confused me a bit. I like some of the character notes and relationship points, the bit about N undertaking to go for a drink with him, but it was undermined a bit by my own misunderstanding, however that came about.

I think I have the right amount of confusion about what's going on. I like the quartz angle. I can get on board with electronic grade quartz being the thing that has led to this secret facility being established. I thought the note about them being killed at the end was weird. That smacks of criminality to me, not a legally operating concern, and yet you referred to police. I cannot believe that interlopers are killed, I think that actually weakens the surprise/reveal/rationale for this unexpected quartz operation. I think it would be more powerful if it's all legal and above board, but it's the presidium that is hoodwinking its people. I think that's what's going on, but really unsure at this point.

Good work. I'm still onboard.

<R>

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Like @Robinski, I was sort of confused for most of this chapter. I think that was part of the intent, with all the new information, but it was too much for me. It was hard for me to keep my attention on the chapter with all the new information flung at me. I think seeing the changes you made in the earlier chapters would help, but there's so much that the chapter feels very heavy and hard to parse.

I'll also agree with @Robinski that I was very confused by all the gender references. Was V retconned not to be trans? I feel like there's an undercurrent that I'm missing on power dynamics.

Speaking of which, I'm also not really sure of what power dynamics you're trying to bring up on the planet. Are the M allied with whoever these people are? Are the three factions? etc. As to N and V, I didn't really get a lot of conflict either. N was more snarky and biting to V, but I'm not sure what she was trying to achieve by doing that.

Overall, mostly confused, but interested in finally getting to know what the heck is going on behind the scenes with the planet.

 

Notes while reading:

Pg 1: This epigraph helps bring some of the backstory we were missing to the fore.

pg 1: N and V seem to be vying a lot for...something? I know you said you were experimenting with a power play between them, but I'm not sure what over. Was it something changed in a previous chapter?

pg 2: "maybe unzip your fly"
--I don't think that's advice anyone has ever been given to help fit in...

pg 3: “I’ll need your tenure packet next month. Just, uh, put it in my file on the server. When you can.”
--I'm actually not sure whether N is being funny or not. A lot of this banter seems sort of forced. They're doing a lot of talking without any real movement in the chapter so far.

pg 3: "scientist swagger"
--is that a thing?

pg 4: “Plenty of the M have PhDs, too."
--Hmm. This shows one of the problems I have with the attitude toward the M. THey're not just uneducated desert scavengers. They're literally the same people as in the colony, except they've chosen a different side. Yet they're treated as if they live in the dirt and bang rocks together.

pg 5: "due to the substantial Thai population that really enjoyed the color."
--Ah, that's a really good explanation. I was wondering about this.

pg 7: "There were not ship lots on Queen, retail or otherwise."
--Still wondering how the colony is so clueless about all of this. What's the status of their surveillance tech? Saying something about it might help set up how isolated it is from the rest of the planet, assuming that's the case.
--Ah, you answer this about two paragraphs later. Good. I still think a little more setup earlier would help.

pg 8: "Q’s satellites get a little too close on occasion and who knows how good the cameras are."
--ok, well now I'm confused again. I feel like there are several factions at play here that I don't know about.

pg 8: "because everyone had the same external anatomy on Queen."
--Except they don't do they? I would assume there are trans woman, as V is a trans man? and E is intersex...don't know how that translates to anatomy, but I assume there might be some difference.

pg 9: "Nope. Too much new information."
--Ah, this is sort of my feeling for the chapter as well. This might be tied to the other changes you've made in earlier chapters, but I'm really lost as to who is on the planet, what genders are allowed, and whose interests are at stake.

pg 9: "she reached back to V, grabbed a section of his pants, and squeezed."
--Do what now? What does this mean? Is she trying to tell V to act more "manly?"

pg 9: "giving V time to cover his half-formed wai"
--typo? Or something I don't understand?

pg 10: "but if the worst thing that happened on this trip was him being mistaken for male, well."
--but...he is male, yes? He's just trans. I'm very confused.

 pg 10: “And the quartz,” 
--was also wondering about that.

pg 11: "She needed to not think about that."
--lol. Poor, frustrated N.

pg 12: "Nadia’s stomach rumbled."
--Is undercooked hamburger particularly appealing? Vegetarian, so maybe I'm just missing this.

pg 13: "very quickly remembered the perks of an all women planet."
--lol

pg 14: "Their concrete got used for only the most basic structures though it was ridiculous, when she thought about it, to be making concrete on one planet and hauling it to another."
--yeah, I'd been thinking this couldn't be cost-effective.

pg 16: "where a creek meandered around a small riffle"
--what's a riffle?

pg 17: "You violate the treaty, you die.”
--Ok, this is a good lead-in to find out what the M have been doing.

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I like N much more in this chapter. I think she has much more personality. I love how thirsty she is, and I think I would like to see more of that in earlier chapters to make her more of her own person. Just make her so very thirsty, lol. I'm not sure I entirely believe her reaction here to just the sight of men, but I want to. Maybe more senses reactions? Smell? More descriptions? 

I think I would like more description of this location, or maybe previous locations? I'm still not getting a very clear picture of things, between the M, Q-colonist, and this office lady landing. This is better at description than I've seen out of your drafts, but I could definitely use more. They do not feel connected to each other. 

I have no idea what "two-front power dynamic" means, or how it applies to the the V/N relationship, sorry.  It's also completely opaque to me who the political players are in this story. I see three, possibly 4 so far, but I have no clue what's going on with them or how they're interacting with each other. 

This book seems to be having a lot of gotcha reveals at the end of chapters that hinge, not on things that have been hinted at in the text, but on previously unknown facts. It's not a bad way to create tension, but it's not great to do too much of, I feel like, and I'm starting to get fatigued. Part of my confusion about the factions involved here stems from the fact that I keep getting blindsided by gotchas, I feel like.  

 

 

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Catching up so I can read 8: 

I’m honestly not sure what to make of this chapter. It lacks the direction and realistic characterization of your previous submissions. I’m just left feeling as lost as N.

Why is N so blatantly ignorant? More importantly, why is our attention drawn back to this ignorance so often?

She spends the entire chapter thinking about how “everyone knows this and this about the planet” only to be immediately proven wrong. I can buy into that to a certain extent, but honestly while this type of device might work in like a fantasy setting, you’re writing a futuristic science fiction about literal scientists. These people are more technologically advanced than we are, aren’t they? Like S points out, there are satellites orbiting the planet that can zoom in on someone taking a piss. The lack of information transfer doesn’t really seem to be pivotal to the plot in most situations. Also when everything is a surprise...

So, I have to ask myself, what point does all this secrecy serve? Wouldn’t it be cooler if these different factions were contesting each other out in the open?

It takes four pages to basically say that the M have a swagger to their step, a fact that doesn’t pay off since we don’t actually see any Ms in this chapter and N later reveals she wouldn’t actually know an M if she saw one. Yet by page 14/15, N is clear that there is absolutely no way these people could be mistaken for M, the major reason being that nobody is Thai. Yet she spends the pages leading up to it wondering if they are M or not? Based on what she says (thinks) about the M, it really seems like she would have known from moment one that these people were something else.

What do Thailand and pink have to do with each other?

I don’t understand the use of pink. There’s so much time spent on it, too, but it all really boils down to: Pink is for girls; Blue is for boys. Again, considering this is the future, there has to be a far more interesting way to show gender bias.

Which leads me to horny N who can’t look away from penises and who is too scared to talk to boys because, what, she might splooge on them? I’m sorry, but… whaaa?

I was already having a hard time taking N seriously, but when she said it was the wrong time of the month, I had to stop reading for a minute. I’m fine with a woman having a healthy sexual appetite but this just felt unhealthy and out of character.

N was such an active protagonist before, but this chapter, with the exception of maybe the opening and a few bossy sentences throughout, she’s suddenly a passive and reactionary character. It seems way more in character for her to understand (or at least figure out shortly) some of the more obvious plot points much sooner than she does and then act accordingly.

Your descriptions have gotten better and more concise and your dialogue flowed well. I like a lot of the ideas being put forth, and the new characters were well done. The mostly female population, the secret organizations, the fact that what we’ve been told before might be a lie, these are all things I’m interested in. And I really really liked that they were accused of being M at the end.

Overall, though I feel like you could cut most of the second guessing, the redundancy, and the intentional misinformation and the chapter would be much stronger for it.

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I liked the tension in this chapter created by the reader knowing these aren't the M, so it was fun trying to see when the N and V would. However, the ease with which N and V moved around the secret place took some of that tension away. 

I loved the academic banter. That had me snickering a few times. For a brief moment I thought there might have been a little too much, but I changed my mind because I thought the amount of humor fit the tone of the text. 

When they first ran into another person, I expected trouble right away, and was surprised at how easily the person assumed they were supposed to be there. 

I was surprised they didn't have to show any ID badge when they went into the building. The whole place seemed very lax for a secret whatever it was.

N's drooling over the guys seemed a little forced, but I'm not sure if that is because it was or because it just isn't a reaction I would have. There probably are plenty of women who would get all drooling over men if they hadn't seen any in years.  

I think the moment they saw the real M fell a little flat or went to quickly. 

Because everything was so lax, I was almost surprised when they got caught getting gas. 

On 6/25/2019 at 1:55 AM, Robinski said:

- He's a guy. How is he supposed to pass for an M?

 

This is a good point. People in the colony may know he is trans, but the interaction with the person in the ship show his outward appearance is masculine enough to "pass" so I don't get why others would assume he was a M if all the M are female.  

 

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On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

By bottom, do you mean the root,

Sorry, yes. This is what I mean

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

He's a guy. How is he supposed to pass for an M?

Apparently I did not set up well enough that he is a trans man

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

Did you mean 'abuse of power'?

I think I meant imbalance but will double check

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

Why on Earth would he?

Ah, because she suggested it earlier

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

Whaaa? Where did this come from? Did I know this?

It's been hinted at several times, via clothing, coloring, names, and customs. This is the 'hanging a lantern on it' section 

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

I believe there was a comments about there being a smaller number of males, so this seems inconsistent.

Ah. There are a small number of men, not males. I've gone back into the early chapters and just flat out hung lanterns on this whole situation. You can't be on the planet without a vulva. Hands down. No exceptions. So even trans men, though they are there, have not had bottom surgery (which is actually pretty common anyway).

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

again, seems inconsistent after the line about everyone having the same plumbing.

I may need to hang a bigger lantern on E's intersex issues, too, it seems

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

it feels messy to me, scattergun somehow, in the hope that something will stick

Might have been trying to do too many things at once. I'll go through and see if I can clean it up

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

Did N grab V's little Richard just now? Oh, is 'was' supposed to be 'wail'?

She was just meant to grab a piece of clothing for steadying. I've changed it to shirt. A 'wai' is a Thai greeting (also used in India and a few other countries). I've added 'Thai-style wai' to hopefully have it land better

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

you die" - really? Really? That seems over the top to me.

Argh. Okay. Will rework.

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

Not entirely sure what you mean by two-front power dynamic

This was apparently too subtle for anyone to pick up on so I'll either need to just get rid of it, or bring it out more. 

On 6/24/2019 at 10:55 PM, Robinski said:

Good work. I'm still onboard.

Hoorah! Thank you so much for the thorough review and catching those typos. I swear I proofed the thing!

 

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

but it was too much for me. It was hard for me to keep my attention on the chapter with all the new information flung at me. I think seeing the changes you made in the earlier chapters would help, but there's so much that the chapter feels very heavy and hard to parse.

Yeah, after chapter 8 (this week) I'm going to have to resubmit from the beginning. I haven't actually added all that much but it's critical worldbuilding for less of a gotcha feel and more an inevitable one, and I think if I don't resubmit then people will just keep bouncing, hard, off the chapters.

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

Was V retconned not to be trans? I feel like there's an undercurrent that I'm missing on power dynamics.

V has definitely always been trans. The discussion on anatomy requirements for Queen was likely too subtle. Vulvas only. Ive stuck that now right in chapter one. 

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

I'm also not really sure of what power dynamics you're trying to bring up on the planet. Are the M allied with whoever these people are? Are the three factions? etc. As to N and V, I didn't really get a lot of conflict either. N was more snarky and biting to V, but I'm not sure what she was trying to achieve by doing that.

The planet power dynamics are only just coming through, starting in this chapter. The power dynamics were supposed to be the power of academic rank (which she pulls routinely and I think people likely got) and her implicit bias around trans issues. I don't want to make it anything more than subtle, however, so I may just leave it there. If you miss it, not a huge deal, but will enhance the narrative for those who catch it.

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

A lot of this banter seems sort of forced.

Ah yes. And here again I have to walk this line between how academics actually speak, which sounds ridiculous, and what a reader will accept. I'll have to revisit these.

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

is that a thing?

Yes and it is so ridiculous

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

Yet they're treated as if they live in the dirt and bang rocks together.

Yes! This is a big problem and if you're tripping on it then I've done something right!

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

What's the status of their surveillance tech? Saying something about it might help set up how isolated it is from the rest of the planet, assuming that's the case.

I put more about the satellites in chapters one and two to really drive this in. Most of the planet does not have satellite coverage, just the habitable zone and a bit around it.

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

Except they don't do they? I would assume there are trans woman, as V is a trans man? and E is intersex...don't know how that translates to anatomy, but I assume there might be some difference.

Only vulvas on the planet! Trans women would be there only if post full surgery--actually I should include one in the cast because that's a good point to include. V is a trans man but has not had bottom surgery, so qualifies (in fact it's not all that common to get bottom surgery, even today. Not all trans men want it). E is intersex but she noted in one of the earlier chapters that she didn't have fundamentally different equipment. I plan on spending a bit more time with her in particular on that later. 
 

At any rate, I've made it much more clear in the opening chapters about the vulva-only situation. Hard line. No penis allowed! This is a utopia, after all!

On 6/25/2019 at 11:25 AM, Mandamon said:

but...he is male, yes? He's just trans. I'm very confused.

Word semantics. He's a man, but he's not male, as male is a sex. The distinctions seem silly but they matter on a number of fronts, especially with the specifications of the planet and E being intersex

Thank you for this! Good stuff to get edited all around

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On 6/27/2019 at 7:41 PM, industrialistDragon said:

Just make her so very thirsty, lol. I'm not sure I entirely believe her reaction here to just the sight of men, but I want to. Maybe more senses reactions? Smell? More descriptions? 

Looking into this, there really isn't an ideal place to do it since she's mostly in panic mode earlier. Her reaction in this chapter... wow so I had it written way differently and then put it past my in-person writing group and WOW they had opinions. Being almost entirely middle-aged heterosexual women I got a firm grounding in what the demographic wants to see, even noting the character has been on a woman-only planet. I did my best to integrate the ideas. 

On 6/27/2019 at 7:41 PM, industrialistDragon said:

This book seems to be having a lot of gotcha reveals at the end of chapters that hinge, not on things that have been hinted at in the text, but on previously unknown facts. It's not a bad way to create tension, but it's not great to do too much of, I feel like, and I'm starting to get fatigued. Part of my confusion about the factions involved here stems from the fact that I keep getting blindsided by gotchas, I feel like.  

This is the issue with me subbing a working draft through, I'm afraid. Apologies for that. I'll end up resubbing these first few chapters now that I've edited and backfilled them, and I'm hoping that will help things work better. Thank you! Thirstier N in the future. Check.

 

 

On 7/1/2019 at 9:08 AM, hawkedup said:

What do Thailand and pink have to do with each other?

I don’t understand the use of pink. There’s so much time spent on it, too, but it all really boils down to: Pink is for girls; Blue is for boys. Again, considering this is the future, there has to be a far more interesting way to show gender bias.

Well, it's doing two things. First, hot pink-magenta is considered a very beautiful color in Thailand, so it'd be common in a place with a lot of Thai people. But on the non-resident side, the book as a whole is steeped in gender bias in varying forms. The colors are a nice way to show how little people have moved on in this time frame.

On 7/1/2019 at 9:08 AM, hawkedup said:

but this just felt unhealthy and out of character.

Why? She's heterosexual, on a planet with only vulva-owners. She's bound to have a very active imaginative sex life to deal with it. 

On 7/1/2019 at 9:08 AM, hawkedup said:

she’s suddenly a passive and reactionary character. It seems way more in character for her to understand (or at least figure out shortly) some of the more obvious plot points much sooner than she does and then act accordingly.

Ah, okay. I'll take a look at this for sure. Thank you!

 

On 7/1/2019 at 10:47 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

However, the ease with which N and V moved around the secret place took some of that tension away. 

Ahh okay. Adding this to the list to look at. Solid point

On 7/1/2019 at 10:47 AM, shatteredsmooth said:

f all the M are female.

the m all have vulvas, like everyone on the planet, but are not all women. I've hung a giant lantern on this in the early chapters to aid understanding. Thank you for the feedback!

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3 hours ago, kais said:

I've gone back into the early chapters and just flat out hung lanterns on this whole situation. You can't be on the planet without a vulva. Hands down. No exceptions. So even trans men, though they are there, have not had bottom surgery (which is actually pretty common anyway).

Ah, good. My sensitivity to such things in fiction is greatly increased, I hope, but it started from a very low base (as I'm sure you remember).

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3 hours ago, kais said:

I swear I proofed the thing!

So you say, and yet here we are...   ;):lol: 

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11 hours ago, kais said:

First, hot pink-magenta is considered a very beautiful color in Thailand, so it'd be common in a place with a lot of Thai people.

You're opening up a HUGE can of worms here. Colors in general play a much larger part in Thai culture than most others of the world. If you are going to specifically tie a color to them, the reason needs to be much stronger than "they think it's beautiful" and you're going to have to go into the meanings of other colors as well. I think this would add a really cool dynamic to your story. But you can't just be like "Thai people like magenta" and boom, done. It's borderline racist.

11 hours ago, kais said:

The colors are a nice way to show how little people have moved on in this time frame.

I don't think they're doing what you think they're doing. The whole "pink is for girls; blue is for boys" thing has been a boring cliche in the real world for decades. You also have to realize you are up against some of the greatest writers of all time when you tackle these gender issues. People reading this book will have read Le Guin and Sturgeon and Butler. If I've read The Left Hand of Darkness and then I try to read a book that in any way tries to tackle the issue of gender and that book's biggest in world consequence so far is "pink is for girls; blue is for boys" I wonder if I should keep reading.

11 hours ago, kais said:

Why? She's heterosexual, on a planet with only vulva-owners. She's bound to have a very active imaginative sex life to deal with it.

An active and imaginative sex life is fine (would also desensitize her not the reverse) but she's still a logical normal human being who is literally in a situation where she has reason to fear for her life. The way it's written, belittles her. It's not that she notices. It's not that she has tingly feelings. It's just too much, and you accidentally erase the character that you've been building. This is how the character development reads right now:

A scientist on a god forsaken plant searching for family. She has a great many problems she has to deal, the most recent of which is getting fuel at a place where she could be discovered at any moment, where the threat of death his very real, and--IS THAT A PENIS!? Yup, that's a penis alright. Two more over there. This person's crotch is flat so they don't have a penis. That's good cos it's that time of the month.

You've just fundamentally altered my view on the character. As a reader, I have two options: a] Pretend that didn't just happen, which I think the narrative is trying to force me to do, or b] Completely start fresh with a character I now know is so sexually repressed that she can't focus if there is a penis in the room.

Sorry, but N was by far my favorite character and that killed her for me. I'm not even saying you're wrong or that it's unrealistic. I know for a fact that there are women who would react exactly that way. But, man, it put a brick wall down on N's character arc. At least for me. *shrug*

The N I knew before would have noticed the men, maybe one penis leer, paused a moment, had an extremely graphic and raunchy thought that maybe even made her shudder, and then moved on to the problem at hand.

Also, think about if this was written as a man looking at vaginas and being afraid he couldn't control himself. 

 

 

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Right-o, catching up on this, notes on ch. 8 will follow. Notes will be light.

(pg. 3)

-Show me those standard-issue lab pants.—Missing hyphen

-They lived in the desert and in the snow and slept with giant beetles, and wore colony textile scraps, but that pirate freedom clearly boosted the psyche.—I would replace the bolded 'and' with a comma.

(pg. 4)

-N walked into the shipyard like she’d just gotten a big grant. She walked like she’d just come off a transport from New Earth, well fed and well clothed and ready to smack Q into shape. Like she imagined a sand pirate would, full of freedom and a storm-all attitude.—I'd cut down the similes to just one.

(pg. 5)

-The entire thing was painted-bubblegum pink with little white polka dots.—Missing hyphen.

(pg. 6)

-Though she also wore a faded t-shirt, it had no logos, pit stains, or frayed hems.—Would replace bolded part with 'that'

- The ‘wanted’ feeds and posters also made them out to be a lot taller, and never so well-dressed.—Missing hyphen

(pg. 9)

-“Receptionist and inside. I have it. Thank you.”—I'm not sure what's being talked about here.

(pg. 10)

-A quick glance to her left showed V's conflicted face, but N kept her mouth shut.—This phrasing seems off to me. Would you consider changing to something like "N glanced at V. He looked conflicted." A glance 'showing' something doesn't quite gel.

(pg. 12)

-V pushed her forward as the desk lady looked up with a bright smile filled with bleached-brilliant teeth.—I would switch this around to 'brilliantly bleached'.

(pg. 12-13)

-V pushed her forward...N had no idea.—So much in this half-page paragraph is exposition. It's not doing a lot to move the story along. Can you find a different way to integrate the information?

-She mentally took a fat permanent marker and drew giant triangles over the woman’s faint suggestion of eyebrows.—Hee hee. Funny image.

(pg. 15)

-N glanced down at her bare arms, weathered and freckled and distinctly olive in their undertones, especially when compared to E, who hated being out of her envirosuit, or this guy, who looked like he’d been birthed two days ago as a fully formed human.—Run-on sentence. Would you be willing to break it up into smaller ones?

(pg. 18)

-a Q standard-issue ground flyer sat on its struts with a fuel line stuck right into its port.—Missing hyphen

 

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