kais

07/01/19 - kais - Queen, Chapter 8, (4459 words) (L,S)

7 posts in this topic

S for innuendo and some mild flirting

L because it’s me

 

I’m backseeding a lot plot elements so apologies for the ’this should have been better foreshadowed’ issues. I’m fixing as I edit. Please do keep pointing them out, along with anything else that strikes you. I really like this chapter so I hope it lands well. 

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Good progression here, and glad we finally start to get some answers to what the deal is with the M and the equator. I think I like N's POV better. E is almost exhausting to read, as she has to be dragged into absolutely everything. I was hoping the AI would give her a good foil, but right now they're both so antagonistic, it's hard to figure out what their relationship will be.
Which brings me to A. I get the feeling she's going to be the "other woman," but there's a lot of telling as to how E finds her attractive. It feels a little forced. I want there to be a more natural relationship forming, but I think if E had her choice, she'd just walk back out into the desert out of spite, and leave everyone alone. I'm hoping we'll get some more solid development between the three of them. Note this is not necessarily a bad critique. Just that, as I said, E is currently very unlikable as a character and so it's hard to be sympathetic to her.


Notes while reading:
pg 1: “I thought if I jostled your shoulder I might get hit. Good aim.” 
--but she did get hit? This sentence doesn't read quite right.

pg 2: "without the backlight E noticed A’s clothes changed"
--She changed her clothes, or they actually changed?
--Also, I'm getting the impression these two will be a thing.

pg 3: “You read the manifest I guess?”
--Maybe WRS, but what manifest?

pg 5: "E dumped the rest into her mouth, washed it down with a cup of cold water A offered her that E hoped didn’t come from the lake with T’s dead body. "
--long and awkward sentence.

pg 5: . “Why don’t you have dinner first? Also the ship sounded adamant on the manifest.” 
--First she wants E to look at the ship, now she doesn't. Also, now I remember the manifest, but not much about it.

pg 6: "cleaned the floor from the last time"
--I vaguely remember something about cleaning the floor from a couple weeks ago, but nothing about why it was important.

pg 8: “If she breached the snow equator perimeter, the presidium will never let her back out into the general population.” 
--I have to say I'm sort of getting tired by the lack of information by this point. We know there's some secret research/production center and the M are connected to it somehow, but every time it's mentioned, everyone tiptoes around it. I'm ready for some solid information. Hopefully this is part of the backseeding process, but E's reaction to it makes me think it's not.

pg 9: "It turned into a high-level con job, courtesy of Earth"
--ok, well, spoke too soon. Lots of explanation on this page...

pg 9: She could listen to that voice for hours
--I not sure why there's this thread of E getting turned on by the voice when it's telling her important information. More than that, why did the AI start speaking like this? Is it trying to get her attention or something?

pg 10: “It’s our fault."
--Glad she finally fessed up. But the ship doesn't know this? It seems to know everything else.

pg 11: "every inch of her dripping smugness and hotness and it was a very bad combination."
--You keep telling us this, but I don't really feel it yet.

pg 11: "E swore she heard the AI snicker."
--at what?

pg 12: "Ember was far too self conscious to even uncross her legs."
--I'm really not sure why E is so turned on.

pg 13: "ushered the women to standing, and all but pushed them out the door"
--They all trooped in there, and now they're all trooping out...not sure why they didn't handle all this before.

pg 14-15: I want to say that E is really over the top with all the hitting doors and things, but it is consistent with her personality.

pg 17: I like the resolution (or stalemate, I guess) with the AI at the end of the chapter.


 

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I think mostly, the biggest issue I had here are that the interactions in this chapter feel unearned to me. This might be the accretion of editing differences piling up, but it also sort of feels like E and A go from being direct antagonists to snarky colleagues very quickly, and a little conveniently. It's a good interaction and I enjoy it, but it isn't sitting quite right with me. 

"The colonists are the problem" -- This feels like another gotcha. It isn't explained, and goes counter to what we've seen in the POVs to this point. Again, maybe I'm missing things that were edited to make this more apparent, but right now it feels like a reversal with no lead-in. How are they a problem? In general, or in specific? Problem to whom? In both E and N's POVs, the colonists are the protagonists, the ones we associate with, the ones we're rooting for, so to just baldly state they're the problem with nothing else, feels like a gotcha to me, especially in the context of the rest of what I've read. 

"ex-girlfriend" --- Who what now? Who's the ex girlfriend? The dead wife reference I get, but not this. 

The interactions with the ship still feel off. It doesn't feel like an AI robot, but neither does it feel like a human personality. I don't mind the AI using her programming to manipulate E, but it's not landing right as a character yet I think? I think I'm sort of not believing the personality in the ship is or was a part of T? The ship feels flat to me, manipulative, and a little narcissistic. T, from what we've heard from E and others, is not like that and is more rounded as a person. Or as rounded as a person-defined-by-their-absence can be. There's a disconnect somewhere. E being all over the place reacting to both the ship and A is understandable, but not particularly helpful with either problem. 

The banter does feel natural and flows better than I think I've seen from you, I just don't feel like the emotional beats are there yet to back it up. 

 

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I didn't make any notes while I was reading, which is a good thing. I was engaged with the chapter and how it was progressing. E seems consistently cranky in a way that somehow makes me like her more. 

The flirting with A seemed a little out of nowhere. I believe it could  happen with those two, but to me as a reader, I didn't buy in to it happening in that moment. I also felt like I was being jerked around a little bit with emotions. I agree with what @Mandamon and @industrialistDragon say in the following quoted comments:

On 7/2/2019 at 1:30 PM, Mandamon said:

Which brings me to A. I get the feeling she's going to be the "other woman," but there's a lot of telling as to how E finds her attractive.

 

21 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

E and A go from being direct antagonists to snarky colleagues very quickly, and a little conveniently. It's a good interaction and I enjoy it, but it isn't sitting quite right with me

 

The bit with the ship finding N was a little too easy. I was kind of hoping E was going to try and contact her for some kind of goodbye then realize she was missing. Ember hasn't done much willingly, so finding N and making a decision to get her, maybe even having to persuade the M to get her might have shown a little more agency than she has had so far. 

Otherwise, I enjoyed the chapter. And even if the above things weren't resolved, I'd probably keep reading anyway.

 

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I made this point in an earlier chapter, but the names are really taking me out of it, considering that they seem to be pulled out of different genres. E you could maybe get away with, but T is just too hardcore fantasy (I Googled the name and got a hit on a WoW character) for me to believe that it's used in a sci-fi world where Earth exists. I was glad when the AI got an abbreviated version of her name, but at the same time, I think having the living character have that name would do wonders for consistency's sake.

Notes below:

(pg. 1):

-or wandering around the m encampment until she irritated enough people that they let her go—The m aren't capitalized anymore? When did that start?

(pg. 2):

-dragging E to late-night lab parties where they mixed shots in tiny beakers and used the lab-grade ethanol for cheap drinks.—Missing hyphen

(pg. 3):

-You in particular, Dr. S, are well-published—Missing hyphen

-New Earth than you could ever possibly do, so grants shouldn’t have matter.—Delete 'have'

(pg. 6):

“Private conversation. Go storm yourself.”—Why is E always so quick to be hostile with A? Did I miss something in the early chapters I didn't get to read? 

(pg. 8):

“I mean, what more could this sinkhole possibly have?—Corrected misspelling 

-Hey, the AI said, all soft gentleness. That sent E right back up to rage on her emotional roller coaster.—Nothing thus far has led me to believe that E would explode at just 'hey'

(pg. 9):

-And Q hadn’t been platted as a high commerce, high value planet—Both 'highs' need hyphens after them

(pg. 11):

“Point. But she’s not. Let’s go get her.”

 

“To the other part of the equator?”—Formatting issue. You've got an extra space. 

-You’re a jackass—Nothing A has said or done thus far makes me believe that she deserves being insulted. Are you deliberately trying to make E seem unsympathetic? 

(pg. 14)

-Don’t make my need for emotional cleansing about you. You suck.—Why does E act like everyone who is trying to be nice to her drowned her goldfish?

-E stormed to the door and banged so hard she felt the vibrations in her shoulders.—I'm confused. Did she slam the door, or did she walk into the door? 

(pg. 15):

-I don’t have to respond when users are callous assholes.—Indeed. I'm a lot more sympathetic towards the AI than E.

(pg. 17):

“Take us up,” AI,”—Extra quotation mark


 

 

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Okay, I think I've recalibrated my understanding of certain characters and I'm ready to go again.

(page 1)

- "lost their stigma" - great, this is just great. As a gardener, I can appreciate some of the issues here!

- "Good aim" - It's sands: it's going to go everything. Pretty hard to miss with sand, as with grapeshot.

- I'n not sure sarcasm is ever compelling. Certainly not when called out in it's own paragraph and thereby placed centre stage. Remember there is a worryingly large subset of the human race that doesn't understand sarcasm.

(page 2)

- She doesn't actually have to dig her feet out though. This description doesn't engage me because it's not accurate.

- "A moved [missing word] E's side"

- "E noticed A’s clothes changed to a tight t-shirt" - This sounds like A's clothes transform as E is watching. I think you need 'A had changed her clothes to' for flow.

- "Ethanol choices aside, E trusted T’s friend choices" - The ethanol choice and friend choices are not directly linked, so this sounds weird.

(page 3)

- "shouldn’t have matter" - typo.

- "The hair on Ember’s arm rose and she" - IMO.

(page 4)

- I haven't followed any hints there might be about the manifest. I've not idea what may or may not be on it.

- "She’s one of ours" - She'd have to be, surely. What's the alternative, born in the town and kidnapped by the M?

- "E’s eyebrow raised" - Raising is something that is done by someone to something inanimate, IMO. Whereas is something rises without an obvious external impetus, I think it's 'rose'.

(page 5)

- "the lake with Taraniel’s dead body...[in it?]" - Something missing here, IMO.

- "ship The upper track lighting had turned on" - Missing period. Also, this again sounds like the lighting turns itself on, whereas 'had come on' or 'had been turned on' allow for an external force (the ship's system is external to the lights themselves) to have instigated the action.

- Bit confused. Didn't A want E to look over the manifest? Is the manifest not on the ship?

(page 6)

- "Her fists balled" - This sounds like she's going to have a temper tantrum: it sounds childish.

- "E deflated" - This sounds like she's a beach ball. Is it not the case that her temper deflated, her mood deflated, something like that?

- "that made her emotions feel like they were going through a cheese grater seemed like a great idea" - grammar/typos. Seems like they're competing to see which one can make the biggest mess ;) 

(page 7)

- "what more could this sinkhole possible have?" - This is a weak line. What more...what?

(page 8)

- "you're not a lot of use without background information" - I don't understand, this line. Don't really follow E's reasoning that follows either.

- "She's M now" - good line, but it doesn't land for me because the build up doesn't work, IMO.

- Ooh, so is S M now too?

- "E could potentially see herself lounging" - No, this means may or may not be able to picture herself.

- "small ship camera whirred" - Why would it whir?

(page 9)

- I've said it before, but not recently: the capitalisation is all over the place, Mel vs mel; present vs Pres.

- "hadn’t been platted" - Huh? Slated?

- Totally confused by T and A's explanation. Sun side equator? Disappear? Burying? Escape? No clue what this all means.

- Why does the AI use a 'come hither' tone? Why is N screwed? I've completely lost track of what's going on.

(page 10)

- I don't think the M leaving the suit Top -A on make sense. Why would they? I just attracts attention, and any kind of attention is the wrong attention. If there is not trace of N people would just assume the M had got her a trashed her suit. Why make it look like a trap? What not make it look like murder, which is what everyone will assume anyway?

- "you’re spooning me to a tree" - Did this happen? I don't remember it. I don't think it did.

(page 11)

- "And I have a potential crew"- Wishy-washy and vague. Go confident or go home :P

- "smugness and hotness" - This is horrible, cataclysmic, armageddon-level telling, when it comes to hotness, you've just GOT to show us.

- "a mosh pit" - No, really. Just not.

- Why would the AI snicker?

- Who is pui?

(page 12)

- "winked at E" - What is the tone here? I'm lost. It's turned into an episode of Charlie's Angels (original series).

- "Will she be alive when I come back?" - No, you've lost me completely on the tone. I don't know what all the innuendo and tips and winks are supposed to indicate.

(page 14)

- I'm trying, I really am, but I don't feel any in vestment in the relationship between E and the ship, between E and the memory of T. T is forever absent.

- Top -A. Where did T-o-p-a come from at this point?

(page 15)

- I think I've on the source of my frustration. Every time E drags me bag into this hand-wringing about T it feels like the story is being held back. We get to a point of progress of the plot and as with the last time, E digs in her heals, fighting against it, and we have to got through another bout of her having her grief placated. I know it's possible to write reluctant MC's, but I don't find it engaging in this case.

(page 16)

- "Gratefully, no retort came" - This isn't the right sense of the word. 'Thankfully' would be okay, or 'E was grateful no retort came', but this doesn't work because it's not attributable to E.

- "the M strode back in" - the crew are described as if they are one person, which is very dismissive. The perform three actions is a totally homogenous way. Not at all compelling, makes it very easy for me to dismiss them as unimportant. If they are going to be along for the whole rescue of N, and they are potentially going to be acting individually, they need to be better established as individuals. You did that at first (and it didn't engage me), but at least you identified them separately.

- "Take us up,” AI," - typo, and I think you've changed this from T, because the next reference to AI doesn't coordinate with this one.

(page 17)

- "juvenile mouth" - I figure this means in terms of the language E uses, but it actually comes cross like 'small mouth of a young person' to me.

- "when you curled it right" - wrong tense: the rest of the sentence is present, so, 'curly', or maybe 'thing you did with your tongue'.

OVERALL 

I don't know how much I've got to add that's different from things I've said already. Of your five works that's if critiqued (all or part) of on here, this is the one I'm least invested in. That's going to happen sometimes, of course.

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Posted (edited)

Went to do some critiques for this week and noticed I missed this one from last week. My bad.

There was a lot I liked about this chapter. I'm glad some of the plot holes (at least perceived holes) are starting to be filled in. I'm still not sure why T programmed the AI to talk like her so most everything with the AI currently feels forced. A simple explanation could fix this. Like she had to create the AI by linking with it because she was short on time or something. But why program the pet names? How is there not a setting to change the voice? Even with modern technology you can chance Siri to sound different.

I'm glad the ship isn't called T. 

My biggest gripe right now is that the characters are feeling less and less unique. They are all snarky females with short tempers. They are either snarking at each other or checking each other out, and it's really starting to come across as sexist. 

Also, the narrative seems to have lost its direction. Before when it felt directionless I could always remember that N was looking for E and E was tracing down T, but now I'm not exactly sure what the story is. Things just seem to be happening with no end goal.

On 7/2/2019 at 11:30 AM, Mandamon said:

I get the feeling she's going to be the "other woman," but there's a lot of telling as to how E finds her attractive.

Yeah, there's definitely some male gaze going on here, and it feels really out of the blue.

On 7/2/2019 at 11:30 AM, Mandamon said:

I have to say I'm sort of getting tired by the lack of information by this point. We know there's some secret research/production center and the M are connected to it somehow, but every time it's mentioned, everyone tiptoes around it. I'm ready for some solid information.

Agreed. 

2
- "Taraniel had always been the more social one—dragging Ember to late night lab parties where they mixed shots in tiny beakers and used the lab-grade ethanol for cheap drinks." I love this.

4
- "A double entendre N would be proud of, and you could joke with another lesbian far more than you could with the straight women of Queen." This makes it sound like N is a lesbian, but we know from the last chapter that she is (putting it lightly) attracted to men.
- "She took the dish from the girl, who skipped off with a half twirl, her braids whipping around her head as she giggled." This is great. I have aphantasia when it comes reading usually but I had a very clear image in my head when I read this.

8
- I'm starting to feel really disconnected to E's emotional arc. 


10
- I don't mind E's hornyness right here as much as I did with N's penis obsession in the last chapter because the ship is using T's sexy voice or whatever (again, why).

12
- I liked the device of comparing the AI's voice to whatever tone E remembers from T but it's becoming a crutch. Not only that but it's becoming about as effective as adverbs. I hate the advice "show don't tell" but this device is becoming a tell and I'm having trouble finding any unique voice to the AI.
- "E was far too self conscious to even uncross her legs." - I rolled my eyes at this. It's one thing to have characters with sexual appetites, it's another to have their hornyness interfere with their activities. It's not nearly as bad as N in the last chapter, but still.

14
- "She could already see the start of a bruise on her palm." I don't think this is actually possible.

17
- "juvenile mouth" This is really creepily worded and I'd suggest a change.

 

Edited by hawkedup
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