Robinski

Robinski - 191216 - TCC Chapter 16 (22) - 3208 words (LV)

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Hey all,
 
A submission from me on a Monday!! What is going on! Sadly, this is an all too remarkable thing, but here is the next chapter. You know the drill. Many thanks for any time you have to spare for this :) 
 
Best, Robinski
 

Chapter Summary:

01 - In small town in British Columbia, Q and M close out the Not-All-That-Curious Case of the Stolen Art;
02 - Q and M decide on what to do next, all the options seem to have some issue or other. Q's ex-father calls;
03 - After some political machinations, we meet EM (the administrator) and TT (the scientist) who at GX in Yellowknife, NWT;
04 - T is coerced by M into releasing the MTs. They are meant to kill her, but it does not go to plan for M. Now he has a problem
05 - Back with Q and M, they speak to R before going to meet him at the airport, but the plane crashes in 'unexpected' circumstances;
06 - Q and M are questioned at the sheriff's office then taken to the hospital to see R who they manage to speak to briefly before M appears and kills R;
07 - Q and M are in the frame for R's murder. M decides they should run. Car chase thru small town. They collect 80, 'borrow' N's plane and run;
08 - E discovers T's disappearance, is suspended by DM then goes to see the YK sheriff. He takes her to a kill site, but it's only animals, not T;
09 - After some chat about the past and Mor, Q dumps N's plane on the tarmac, QME are recovered by EMS and taken to hospital, where they escape;
10 - E runs the gauntlet of the press then releases the Vuls. Q and M progress to YK. Q gets a mystery call. K is on Q's trail and intends to make him pay;
11 - Q calls E and leaves her a message, the Five-Star gets wrecked by a bear, DM is travelling back to YK and speaks with TOM;
12 - Q learns M about a local church, Q and M encounter a bear, Mor talks to TOM;
13 - Q and M reach Golden, learn of the election's status, call EM and then learn that people are dead in YK. Their plan will get them to YK this evening.
14 - EM is interviewed by the FBI and given an ultimatum. DM seems to be working with her, but springs an ambush, tries to kill her, but she escapes.
15 - WK continues north, speaks to his office, speaks to the RCMP, considers his moves.
16 - DM takes full control of things at GX, speaks to TOM, issues orders to increase the chaos.
17 - EM escapes YK, goes to a village to abandon her tech, then makes a choice about her future.
18 - In Canmore, the press of time is getting to Q. WK spies waiting for a train north, a chase on foot ends in a one-sided shoot out. QME escape by drone 'copter. 
19 - Journey to YK in drone chopper. Q and M learn how bad things are in YK. They and MC exchange views on a range of subjects. Q learns MC has been manipulating him for some time.
20 - Finally, after some prep in the chopper, Q and M arrive in YK. They meet E and a friend of her's who is helping her. They are attacked my a couple of Mts, then see a pair of VRs.
21 - Our heroes drive to BR's house, encounter a roadblock and pull a ruse on the National Guard there. At the house, they search until they are 'set upon' by more nasty T/F.
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This was a fun chapter to read. Just a couple small things I caught:

First paragraph feels out of tone with the rest of the chapter, maybe it was a warm up? Nothing technically wrong with it, but the flow starts paragraph two. I can't put my finger on why, sorry.

About 50%: "I choose to beleive that the OM's controll extends to the" the statements around this sentence and the context suggest that Q chooses to beleive that OM's control doesn't include government agencies. 

"But there were be no more pictures of the couple" 'there would be', or 'there were to be' 

About 70% "I'm sorry but I had to ask. Needs closing parentheses.

Plot question: does the current android have memories of his predecessor? If not, there might be a continuity issue with why he remembers a plumber at the convent. I wasn't here for the first book so maybe this was explained.

That's all I've got. Looking forward to the next chapter.

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Not quite 5 minutes later this time... ;-) I'm not even first! 
Overall, I'm unsure about the direction of the chapter (at least until the very last sentence). I feel like the lull with the medics drags down the tension a lot, especially after running and fighting last chapter. I guess things had to finally catch up to them, but I'm just very unsure what the rest of the book will be about or even what the crew is planning to do. There were a couple bombs dropped about Q's son which we haven't heard confirmed before. Is this related to a change earlier on? If not, then I don't think anyone's given that information concretely yet.

I think one place I'm confused is that I'm getting mixed signals between Q/TOM/DM and E/T/Row. It feels like the stories aren't really connected, and that the only constant between them is DM. But why Q is dragged in is still unknown, especially since we don't know who the mystery caller is. My guess is that it's his son, reaching out, but again, I don't really know how/why that connects with the scheme DM has been running at Gen.

I'm sure we'll find all this out in time, but the story could probably do with a bit of tightening up to align the different stories and objectives.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "tearing at synthetic flesh."
--interesting that they can't tell. I don't think we've got a good description of how "real" android skin is. I know they can't pass as human.

pg 3: "techs in royal blue hazmat suits," and "black-and-white camouflaged soldiers"
--so are they not together then? I assumed the soldiers were also from Gen, but it seems not?

pg 4: "recalibrated his assessment"
--I like there's some enby representation, but what triggered Q to reassess? The paragraph starts with "she" and ends with "xe" but I don't think xe stated xir pronouns. So what happened?

pg 4: "drag you back to command"
--why should they? They were the ones attacked. Or is this because they're outside quarantine?

pg 5: “Yes, Xa’am."
--I like this.

pg 6: "There would still be Q’s son, somewhere in Yk."
--what now? Did we know this?

pg 6: "M must know Q’s son was here"
--this seems like common knowledge then, and something the reader should have known as well. It will give some more urgency to why Q wants to go to YK.

pg 7: "Eighty stood slightly apart, still subject to Tenet Zero, presumably."
--and with his skin ripped to shreds?

pg 7: "Was she smirking?"
--but she was subdued before...

pg 9: “You must hate the stink of all this,” said Q. “Wasn’t E the enemy?”
--was she? Do we know anything about D and E's interactions before this?

pg 9: “You’re a piece of work,” E spat. “I ought to bust you in the mouth.”
--Is this to D or Q?

pg 10: "Frying pans and fires sprang to mind."
--I'm a little concerned that the group doesn't really have any agency or direction as to what to do or where to go. At the moment their goal seem to be "kill monsters" and "wander around until they find T."

pg 10: “It will strip skin and pseudo-flesh from my skeleton"
--Is that a problem? How much is gone already?

pg 10: "not having to deal with B"
--I honestly don't remember who this is at this point.

pg 12: Ok, glad we finally get a confrontation between DM and Q (next chapter, I assume) but I was very worried for a little bit with them trapped in cells. It seems like they're losing all agency. I don't see how DM would be willing to get them out, either. Can't he just shoot them in the cells and walk out?
 

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There was some good action at the beginning, taking care of the fish, but then we're back to travelling and being stymied by law enforcement/military. I think, again, that some of this is necessary, but it's become too much because of the sheer amount of it in the story, especially when I felt like I was being set up for a different kind of story. There's just so much "getting there" and it never feels like it leads to a satisfying "we have arrived," just "now we need to get somewhere else."

I am still having some trouble placing and keeping track of all the various law enforcement and other agencies, departments, and companies involved in this and why/how they relate to each other. It's all starting to run together a bit. 

I think @Mandamon has the right of it with mentioning the agency of our protagonists. They've largely been reacting instead of taking action, and they've several times now been captured or contained so that they don't have any agency at all. The plot, the murder mystery, it's been revealed and figured out and presented to us predominantly by other supporting or bit characters. Besides "getting there," what are M&Q doing? 

M found a clue, and that's good, I really liked that, but it's almost immediately countered by the capture and Mor coming to them. It almost feels to me like they're being punished for making some forward progress.

 

As I go: 

"red menace" -- o rly? Um. There are some, ah, alternate definitions for that phrase... Are they intended? 

"Yes, Xa’am" -- Quandary well solved, I say. I like it. :)

 

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I was pretty engaged all the way through this chapter, though I did feel like it would help to have a tiny bit more description going from the house to the jail cell. I had a hard time keeping track of where everyone was. 

I agree with the others that just as the characters are finally making progress, just when things finally feel like they are really moving, they get caught, again. 

I'm excited to see neo pronouns, but I do have some feedback about how that was introduced here. 

p. 4

"As her squad went about confiscating their weapons,  Corporal D... (according to her name patch) removed her tactical glasses. Q recalibrated his assessment of the NCO. Xe was short," 

What made Q recalibrate his assessment of xir? How did xir appearance tell him what xir pronouns were?

And why did xe just automatically assume everybody else's gender? Just because people look like their assigned gender doesn't always mean they're cis and their pronouns are obvious based on their appearance. It's one thing for Q to automatically categorize most people into binary genders, but sometimes people who are not cis tend to be less inclined to make assumptions about genders. Nothing is universal, but it is something to think about when you go back to the scene where xe starts calling people gendered things like sir.

 

 

 

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I wish my email would stop acting up!

Overall

A reasonable chapter that felt a bit flat at the end, for me. I also feel like M has been a bit absent in these past few chapters in terms of getting her dialogue and actions and such. I wouldn't mind seeing her interact with E, either. I think that could be gold!

Quite keen to carry on and see the resolution, for sure!

 

On 12/17/2019 at 9:25 AM, Mandamon said:

Overall, I'm unsure about the direction of the chapter (at least until the very last sentence).

Yes I had this same issue.

On 12/17/2019 at 9:25 AM, Mandamon said:

I'm getting mixed signals between Q/TOM/DM and E/T/Row. It feels like the stories aren't really connected, and that the only constant between them is DM. But why Q is dragged in is still unknown, especially since we don't know who the mystery caller is. My guess is that it's his son, reaching out, but again, I don't really know how/why that connects with the scheme DM has been running at Gen.

Yes. I agree with @Mandamon

 

As I go

- pg 2: why are they drawn to the droid?

- pg 3: his head like a some medieval thing <-- typo

- DEATH SPARKLES RETURN

- pg 4: Corporal D (according to her name patch) removed her tactical glasses. Quirk recalibrated his assessment of the NCO. Xe was short, blue-eyed and business-like, appearing unwilling to tolerate any opinions contrary to xir own. <-- WRS and confused? She or Xe? And how does Q know to xe? That part WRS?

- pg 5: very into the Xa'am

- hmm. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It feels like they got movement and then it was taken from them again. I think I'm getting to the place where I feel like Q&M just get dragged around by the plot, that they have no real agency or control. I think I'd like them plotting something active at the very least, at the end of this chapter, before Mor comes in

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As I read:

 

Wait, automatic weapons? And now techs in hazmat suits?

Okay, I see, they’re supposed to be Gen techs – but this fight can only have been going on for maybe a minute – it seems to me they’ve arrived much too quickly, even if the call was placed immediately after the DS were released. It might make sense if the call was placed before Mor’s team actually delivered the DS, but that seems like an excellent way to get caught, and also like a good way to help Q and team not get killed.

Corporal D’s pronouns change abruptly. Also, how common are xe/xir pronouns—common enough for Q to default to them? Unless perhaps they’re listed on Corporal D’s badge (which I'm guessing is what triggered Q's reassessment of xir pronouns, but it's not entirely clear).

P4 “I’d be obliged if you’d why” if you’d say, if you’d tell me, etc.

...he rather shouted due to his ears still ringing.” True, but Q probably has no idea he’s shouting.

If the corporal doesn’t consider R’s home a crime scene, xe’s very bad at xir job.

Secondary aging, eh? Good to know. This solves some of my concerns with the characterization of Mystery Caller.

P6/7 notes that the android is still subject to TZ, but it’s been more than ten minutes by now, surely?

Android says “I have no web access within this vehicle” but he’s been cut off from Internet access for ages now. I don’t think this was ever established as fixed?

P9 “… I had to ask said Q.” need closing quote marks after “ask.”

Identifying the location of the photos and deciding that they need to go there seems a bit of a jump in logic. There are a couple things that could explain it: that it was deliberately left for Q and crew to find, though that doesn’t seem to be the case here, or that it’s a vacation home or something that has become a refuge for Mer and TT now that their home’s not safe. The latter makes a lot more sense but is probably worth spelling out that the characters are making this assumption. Also, seems safe to think that Mor would know about the place or could find out.

The E-C satellite link… is that the one that MC’s been using? If so, when did we establish that the android could use it to dial out?

P10 “YSD parking lot, I reckon” - this line of dialogue comes from E, but – and this is a total nitpick - “I reckon” is a relatively regional phrase, at least for the definition of regional that means “basically every Commonwealth nation but Canada, somehow.”

p11 - Breaking and entering and impeding an investigation? Was there an ongoing investigation going when Q, M and company wandered into BR's house? because that certainly didn't seem to be the case. If there was an ongoing investigation for them to interrupt though, that might be an opportunity for them to find a little more than what they did.

Overall:

The biggest thing for me is that I wanted more payoff from the photos. As noted above, it seems like we’ve skipped a logical step or two in terms of getting from “I recognize the place in these pictures” to “Mer and TT are at the place in these pictures.” (Not to mention it leaves us on a very similar narrative beat as we’ve seen before, with Q and M racing towards something and getting stopped along the way.) At the very least I think we need a more definitive confirmation that Mer and TT are going to be where we expect them to be. If you want to continue the ticking clock that is Q and M versus Mor, then we also need something that communicates that he’s closing in, but (probably) hasn’t gotten there yet.

That being said, I really was hoping to see something more than the next breadcrumb here, so to speak. Is there opportunity to learn, say (and I am just throwing out random examples here, don’t take the specific suggestions too seriously but you get the idea) something new about Gen and its plans? Maybe BR learned something before he died, or TT has been able to put some pieces together in the interim? Has Mystery Caller maybe interfered in some way that could give further confirmation of their identity, or maybe their motivation? Have TT and Mer maybe been putting some plans together to resist Gen and E-C in the meantime? I see others’ comments about how we’re seeing a lot of the same story beats over and over again and I feel the same way to an extent, but I think it can be addressed at least partially by giving us a more measurable sense of progress.

 

On 12/17/2019 at 9:25 AM, Mandamon said:

I feel like the lull with the medics drags down the tension a lot,

Hmm, not entirely sure I agree here; having a bit of a "breather" scene seems helpful. It's true that that scene is almost all introspection from Q though, so maybe a little more active conversation  might be helpful?

On 12/17/2019 at 9:25 AM, Mandamon said:

There were a couple bombs dropped about Q's son which we haven't heard confirmed before.

The artificial aging thing is new, but I believe Q's son being a clone has been mentioned once or twice before. I didn't experience this as a particularly big revelation.

On 12/17/2019 at 9:25 AM, Mandamon said:

I don't really know how/why that connects with the scheme DM has been running at Gen.

Aside from the familial connection there's been one or two hints of this, at least one of which happened pretty early on; I agree that one or two mentions of Q's son's current connection with Gen and E-C, interspersed throughout the text before now, could be helpful.

On 12/17/2019 at 9:25 AM, Mandamon said:

pg 5: “Yes, Xa’am."
--I like this.

and

49 minutes ago, kais said:

- pg 5: very into the Xa'am

Seconded. Thirded?

On 12/19/2019 at 9:10 AM, industrialistDragon said:

"red menace" -- o rly? Um. There are some, ah, alternate definitions for that phrase... Are they intended? 

To be honest, I read right over this, I think because the context is so different from where we might counter alternate versions of the phrase, but yeah this is probably worth rejigging.

I think everybody is spot on with the comments about Q and M feeling like they're lacking in agency, and the frustrations that they keep running into setbacks when they make the tiniest bit of progress. We do see a little bit of that here with them stealth-calling K--which I liked--but they're still going to be relying on K to (I assume) save the day, and once he does they still won't be in the driver's sheet thanks to the rather impressive rap sheet they've worked up.

I do think @Mandamon is right when he says that that stuff has to catch up to them eventually, and in a general structural sense, this seems about the right place for that to do that. I think part of the frustration here is that they've made what feels like so little progress to begin with that it's frustrating when they rattle to a halt. This would maybe be - not less frustrating, perhaps, but hopefully frustrating in a more rewarding way -  and probably have more emotional impact if they actually got somewhere before coming to a standstill.

I think the other issue regarding Q and M's agency is that because they've experienced so many setbacks, they are dedicating a lot of their time and energy to fixing the setbacks rather than progressing the main goals, and I wonder if there is more room for them to do the latter even when struggling with the former. Obviously they need to do both, but I think it would be helpful for the balance to swing the other way.

Well, this ended up being a rather scattershot critique, didn't it? Sorry. Hopefully there is something helpful somewhere in all of that.

Edited by Silk
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Now working to catch up on this story, though coming in the middle, I'm not sure I'll be of help.

p. 3 - "grasping the handle as unbearable pain lanced his shoulder" - seems like the pain should come first so we know why he's grasping the doorknob.

"scintillating" - I use/have seen this word mostly used as a synonym for "fascinating" as is "scintillating conversation." This use of the word struck me as odd.

"Ignorant to the fact it wasn’t food, tearing at synthetic flesh" - sentence fragment, though possibly intentional? I couldn't quite tell, so thought I'd point it out.

p. 4 - " two, three, four pistol shots made him wince, wince, wince." - Three winces for four shots? I couldn't figure that out.

"hoody" - Generally I see this spelled "hoodie" and the google docs spell check agrees.

p. 5 - I was also tripped up by the pronoun switch. Couldn't tell what triggered it. You should make this very clear, as I at first came to the conclusion that we were discussing yet another person. I also got confused over the takeover of the android. I wasn't sure if xe was talking to Eighty or another android that came in with the team. But could be a "new reader in the middle of the book" mistake.

p.6 - I was confused by the hospital/shipping container description. Maybe it's my unfamiliarity with the situation, but why is their medical facility in a shipping container? Or is this just a metaphor? I am confused.

p. 11 - You mention that getting a line out will cause E to strip the flesh from its fingers, but then you never show the android actually doing that. Did it happen? Did people wince?

Not many comments on the rest as I couldn't follow the logic of the case, being new. I'm going to keep trying to understand before commenting on it.

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Thanks so much for reading, Liz. It's certainly useful to have line level comments like this, and I think a 'non-plot' perspective (as it were), is an interesting counterpoint to the rest of the feedback. Much appreciated.

On 18/01/2020 at 10:45 PM, lizbusby said:

p. 3 - "grasping the handle as unbearable pain lanced his shoulder" - seems like the pain should come first so we know why he's grasping the doorknob.

Check. Lazy writing there!

Quote

"scintillating" - I use/have seen this word mostly used as a synonym for "fascinating" as is "scintillating conversation." This use of the word struck me as odd.

Okay. Dictionaries seem split on what is the 'first' definition of the word. I'd have said it's the literal sparking, but if it's caused in issue for one reader in six, that's a lot of readers statistically (if any number of folks ever read it, of course!! :lol: ). And, I've always liked 'coruscating', so I'll consider that as an alternative.

Quote

"Ignorant to the fact it wasn’t food, tearing at synthetic flesh" - sentence fragment, though possibly intentional? I couldn't quite tell, so thought I'd point it out.

Yeah, no way that's a new sentence. Thanks.

Quote

p. 4 - " two, three, four pistol shots made him wince, wince, wince." - Three winces for four shots? I couldn't figure that out.

Guilty. I found the phonetic progression of two, three, four more satisfying, but that don't make it add up!

Quote

"hoody" - Generally I see this spelled "hoodie" and the google docs spell check agrees.

Thanks, I swithered over this. I've seen different usage, but I will now adopt your adoption of 'ie'.

Quote

p. 5 - I was also tripped up by the pronoun switch. Couldn't tell what triggered it. You should make this very clear, as I at first came to the conclusion that we were discussing yet another person. I also got confused over the takeover of the android. I wasn't sure if xe was talking to Eighty or another android that came in with the team. But could be a "new reader in the middle of the book" mistake.

I think I've fixed this. Thanks for flagging.

Quote

p.6 - I was confused by the hospital/shipping container description. Maybe it's my unfamiliarity with the situation, but why is their medical facility in a shipping container? Or is this just a metaphor? I am confused.

No, it's in a shipping container. Ease of transport. I mean, I guess the military does not necessarily do this presently, but in my head, we have a global network of standardised freight equipment designed to deal with standard container sizes. You can put anything you want into one and the system just handles it (apart from the ones that end up floating in the ocean <cough> minuscule percentage <cough> all insured <splutter>). So, I figure it's a med centre that fits in a cargo plane and you wheel them out on a standard container cradle and plug X no. containers together and, hey presto, field medical centre.

Quote

p. 11 - You mention that getting a line out will cause E to strip the flesh from its fingers, but then you never show the android actually doing that. Did it happen? Did people wince?

Check. Good point. An opportunity missed--no more!! No some slightly icky detail included. Thanks :) 

Quote

Not many comments on the rest as I couldn't follow the logic of the case, being new. I'm going to keep trying to understand before commenting on it.

To be fair, there are those still pulling me up on logic after reading 1.75 books at this point, so have at it; no problem.

Many thanks for those comments, Liz. Very helpful thumbs-up.jpg.199cc747635891d13fbad2538aa75105.jpg

Edited by Robinski
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