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Mandamon

20200316 - Fall of the Imperium Ch 3 - 5588 words - Sub 14

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Chapter 3, which is a combination of the old chapters 2 and 7, with some new stuff. I've moved I's POV up, and worked on his personality, which last time was too much like S's. Let me know what you think, and how the rewrite works.

Previously:
S/E/I arrive in the other facet with their news of the Elg. The Eff and court are there, E has problems with trust, and E/I learn about their folks. The Eff faints shortly thereafter. E battles the voices inside her as they travel to the Ari, and attacks S.

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This double posted for some reason. @Silk can you remove it?

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Overall

I thought this was a very strong chapter. Good impressions from I, nice forward momentum. Good wonder and reveals. The way the information is presented now is easier to digest and I'm enjoying this facet a lot more than last time. I also really enjoyed E and I working together, and the information on Ari society. I've always been very interested in the Ari, since the first book in this series, and it's neat to get to see them through E and I's eyes. Nice emotions around S, too. The boyfriend angle is really gaining steam!

 

As I go

- pg 1: Accretion? It's capitalized so I assume important but...WRS? I don't know what this word means/is referring to

- pg 3: pronoun question: how does I know to use 'they' for Mati? Does the Net give him that info? I makes a note of the pronoun used by Wo but he'd already used it. Was I using it as a generic pronoun and then it got confirmed as a specific one by Wo?

- pg 3: I like the simple explanation of the binary in Ari society

- pg 6: I's impressions and emotions are coming through very nicely in these pages. I'm well invested in the story

- pg 7: She should rely on it more <-- dropped noun somewhere in this paragraph. I wasn't sure what 'it' was for a minute

- pg 10: I don't understand the paragraph that starts with M broke in, "Yes... The differences in aging I think need to be explained a bit better. Advanced age is how you tell a blessed Ari, like... all at once? How is that different from looking old if you're a pillar?

- pg 15: aww, I love the E and I working their magic together scene!

- I like the ending!

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Thanks @kais!

Glad this one worked better. It was fun to get more depth into the Ari society, and I think that will set up better for dinner and such in the next set of chapters.

2 hours ago, kais said:

how does I know to use 'they' for Mati?

hmm...yeah, I'll try to express this better.

2 hours ago, kais said:

The differences in aging I think need to be explained a bit better.

Good catch. I'll try to tidy it up.

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This draft is so much clearer! I am really enjoying your rewrite.

My only comment is that ending the chapter with "we'll stay here a few days" feels like an invitation to put down the book. There doesnt seem to be a tie to a crisis at hand or a burning question to pull the reader forward. 

The selective details in your descriptions add depth to the world and the people. I feel like I am being given a tour. Well done

Thanks for sharing

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Thanks @Sarah B!

56 minutes ago, Sarah B said:

"we'll stay here a few days" feels like an invitation to put down the book.

Good point. This is the close of this set of chapters, moving to a new POV, but I'll see if I can make it tie into the next set of S/E/I chapters better.

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Other than the one more meta problem I had with this chapter, it was really good.Much more consistency of feeling from In, more logic about the crown, and the combining houses scene was really engaging! 

 

As I go: 

I am still fairly uncomfortable with the idea of a "voluntary" ghetto, fantasy or not. Does this also imply fantasy redlining or "voluntary" defenses to extreme fantasy racism and fantasy Exclusion Acts, since most of these sorts of areas -- especially with fences around them -- don't happen naturally? That said, this is better incorporated than the first version. 
 
I am also confused by Accretion. Did this get renamed in a rewrite or did I just miss it?
 
And then the gate itself seems more like a fantasy expensive gated community, which would to me impute a fairly high degree of fantasy racism and fantasy xenophobia to the Ari which seems odd given the way they're persecuted and enslaved throughout the other books. Which would put it back at Exclusion Acts and redlining and internment camps and I'm just really uncomfortable with the whole idea and especially the way everyone is so okay with it. Maybe it's just a call-out to the Wizard of Oz movie, but I find it hard to simply take the "ethnic quarter of a large city with a pop-referential gate" at face value given the rest of the way the Ari are treated in the prior books and lore. 
 
There are more sensory details and they are better incorporated into the narrative, that's good. None of them make me feel any less upset about this fantasy ghetto/internment camp/gated community.... 
 
I like these hints about the crown a LOT. They're setting a good foundation. The crown in general is much better integrated into the story. 
 
In is sounding more himself this time around, too, I think. He is feeling different from S now. 
 
I'm catching some pronoun errors around Mat. 
 
I think my problems with this Ari settlement is the promises it seems to be setting up to me. For two books we've had much about how hated, feared, disenfranchised, enslaved, murdered, discriminated against the Ari are in the first facet. Then there's this second facet that seems to me to be set up to be the opposite: ruled by an Ari, Ari incorporated into society, no murder, no discrimination, no marginalization, no-no-no they're peaceful really. But then there're hints that all's not daisies and kumbaya around the edges of the second facet, in both this book and the previous one. I feel like it keeps getting hinted, implied, that there's more going on, and this fenced-in "voluntary" ghetto is a really big hint.  I have this set up of two facets with multiple cast members making comparisons between the two; I have these hints that no, you really can't beat fantasy racism not even with an Ari ruler; I have two books' worth of Ari treatment; I have two A-team, primary members of an ensemble cast who are Ari and who are getting a ton of focus this book; and this all sets up expectations. I expect these issues to be addressed. But that isn't happening, hasn't happened. We're just sailing along like it's a non-issue, just ignorable background flavor. I feel like I'd be cranky even if the issue not being addressed was more innocuous than the effects of fantasy racism in two different incarnations, with the sort of long set up I feel like I've been seeing. Ethnic sections of a city like this aren't a natural part of city formation, they're a response to outside stressors. If the intent is to deal with these outside stressors, then I think I'd appreciate more of an indication it's going to happen; but if that's not the intent, then I think that some of these details need to be rolled back or altered so that they become less prominent. 
 
I like the ending. The descriptions of the magic were good. As always, i wouldn't say no to more emotion, but I was much happier with this end than I was with the previous chapters. I get much more of a feeling of anxiety but determination from S and his decision to stay this time around, and I'm less frustrated by them deciding to stay. 
 
Other than the systemic/meta thing this is a really good update!
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Thanks @industrialistDragon!

Sounds like most everything's working. To your biggest point:I'm not quite sure what to do about it.

To sum up. The species was basically fighting a civil war, so decided to fence themselves off while they "fixed" it. They did so. Now their community is pretty insular because of that history, but they can freely interact with the rest of the beings there when they want. There are interspecies tensions between them and the others, but I've also had that in the background of all the other books. Homeworlds in the other facet are largely populated by their own species. Travelers might be looked down on or treated with distrust.

It's a background theme, but not one I intend to make prominent in this book. They largely exist as-is, and everyone's fine with it.

I'd love to hear other opinions on if I need to work on this more, or change the narrative if it's problematic.

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

To sum up. The species was basically fighting a civil war, so decided to fence themselves off while they "fixed" it.

I've been thinking about this and I can see a couple things. One, would be to go back into the second book and this one and reduce the "other tensions exist around Ari" references. File it under second facet wanting to put a good face on things and the POV characters being too overwhelmed with new things and immediate crises to see what's going on in the margins. Come back in with a bonus story or novella or something to show that the utopia has shadows, too, when it can be dealt with as a focus.

Two would be to roll back the detail about the fence and its "voluntariness" itself. I know that goes counter to mine and everyone's exhortations to "more description always forever," but I feel like if it wasn't there, or was purely ornamental and not given any focus, I wouldn't be getting as strong of a signal. Move the sliders around and focus way more on the house details and other sensory details like smell, color, and memory rather than the city layout and spatial setup. It wouldn't make me terribly happy, but it would probably keep most other people from noticing overmuch. ;) 

Three would be to lampshade the "hey this looks like a ghetto I thought you said they liked you here" directly. It would be a pause in the story to handle it, and probably not great, but it would be out there so it no longer looks like its being ignored. S probably got Exclusion Acts in school, albeit briefly, or could make other connections. I could also see E and In being hyperaware of perceived inequities and suspicious about believing how good things are in the second facet after their treatment and persecution in the first facet.  

Four would be remove the "voluntary" again and set up an explanation of the civil war like you told me. Again, a tangent, but I feel like a group having a violent identity crisis yet still maintaining enough outward awareness to protect others from their fighting is enough of a departure from irl "reality" to be an interesting bit of backstory. It could even be dispositive on the character of the "good" Ari. Maybe this is a dinnertime discussion? 

Five would be to just let everybody be nice. Racial tension is no more "necessary" to the "reality" of a multispecies setting than rape is "necessary" to the "reality" of a medieval one. 

Or, something completely different. :) but that's what I thought up last night in the shower. 

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For this one i'm going to stay general.

The story itself captured me quite well. I loved the enclave. I can't pinpoint why but it felt really REAL and really home-y which is the intention I believe. 

The biggest worry I have and the biggest annoyance is that prety much every sentence starts with the subject. 

another minor annoyance is that they keep referirinf to 'other instance' which feels clunky, something so personal and often used in conversation would have gotten a shorthand i think 'my other' for example since everyone would know what they mean and its easier in conversation.

I do like the trickle of history and explanation we get, though some of it is confusing me still. probably either because i don't know what comes before, but still i feel like i need to mention it?

Also, taking over the diadem is only really discussed quite briefly but i feel it would be a bigger  deal, both for the potential information it could give as well as the potential massive violation of privacy IF she ever woke up. 

 

Those are my main thoughts. I migth come back to this with more specifics once i'm no longer ill.

 

Sorry for late and brief response

 

 

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Thanks @killersquid! Still very useful 

4 hours ago, killersquid said:

they keep referirinf to 'other instance' which feels clunky

I might try to play around with that. Maybe these Ari use "my other" as a shorthand.

4 hours ago, killersquid said:

i feel it would be a bigger  deal, both for the potential information it could give as well as the potential massive violation of privacy IF she ever woke up.

It does come into play later. I'll make sure to keep this in mind when I get back to that part.

 

@industrialistDragon, I have already reduced the tensions in the second book, so it's possible your reading is colored by remembering an older version. Still, I'll ponder the options you give. This will probably be a adjustment for next edit, in any case. Thanks!

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Comments. Sorry they're so late.

(page 1)

- I like the epigraph and it reads nicely. The phrase 'medical ward' is throwing me off though. If it's a ward, it's medical by default, IMO, so that phrase reads like tautology to me.

- I struggle with the phrase 'In stopped with S and his sister'. I don't think the sentence scans right, because the reason for him stopping is separated from the action, but there's no need for that.

- I'll email some LBLs.

(page 2)

- "more similar to those in the Im" - more similar than what? Ah, okay. Mm.

- "mounds of their caravan off in the darkness" - Not a clear image, IMO.

- "didn’t believe he’d ever see another community of A" - Kind of vague. I'd like this to be more certain and therefore more compelling.

- "They were not as another species, but as themselves" - Again, unclear. Missing word?

(page 3)

- "They have won every single vote in the last several centuries" - This seems irrelevant to the present situation, which is super tense!

- There is a lot of exposition about gender here. Very important, I have not doubt, but it starts to sound repetitive and it's getting in the way of the tension. V is lying injured, may be dying, and In is caught up in his own intellectual meanderings.

(page 4)

- "joining as they walked" - how does this help? Too many cooks springs to mind.

- There's an Automatica assumption in the wording that a different scent from Meth would be unpleasant. I don't think 'though' belongs there.

- I enjoy the description of the Ar, very good, the eye colours especially make them feel very different.

(page 5)

- "nodded back affably" - Still don't see how this is helping.

- "dragony" - I see the point, but I'm not keen on the word. For some reason, 'dragons' sounds classier to me.

- "Can we help her when we get to the medical center" - This is a real nothing question, to me. Of course they can, otherwise why take her there? Or, on another level, who knows? Probably not M, since he's not a medic?

(page 6)

- In the space of two paragraphs, In says the same thing multiple times, about there being a connection / link / resonance / echoes / feedback between the two dia.

- deposit > repository

(page 7)

- "didn’t even remember his other instance" - repetitive of an earlier comments, I think.

- I think the expression 'Little wonder' is used when something specific happens or is done by someone for a very specific reason. This comment however, to me, is far more general a broad reaching. The phrasing sounds off to me.

- "and to history long forgotten" - How can information be vital to forgotten history? It can't affect the history now.

(page 9)

- "accident" - this is a very tame and quite inaccurate word for what happened to their family, surely.

(page 10)

- "He broke off for a moment, swallowed, then continued" - I guess this is him feeling the weight of the Ar war, but I don't think it comes off that well, and just wrecks the flow of In's dialogue here, IMO.

(page 12)

- "she gestured with all three arms" - gender typo?

(page 14)

- "that might be needed" - what might be needed, the surrender of notes? Unclear, IMO.

(page 17)

- I think In's rationale for he and En staying in this facet was good, much clearer and easier to accept than previously. S's agreement however, I though, came too easily, without any real consideration of the duty that he might owe to the people he left behind.

Overall 

I thought this was much better than the way things were laid out before. I think bringing the chapters together works, although I'll need to read more to understand how things fit together now. Still, this flowed much better for me than the previous version. Good job.

LBLs in the mail. Cheers, R

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Thanks for the LBLs, @Robinski! Very helpful.

15 hours ago, Robinski said:

The phrase 'medical ward' is throwing me off though

At least in the US, "ward" can also be used as a district, so it's not as much a tautology. However, it's also sort of a hostel, so I change the name of this anyway.

15 hours ago, Robinski said:

"she gestured with all three arms" - gender typo?

Dangit. Yes.

15 hours ago, Robinski said:

- I think In's rationale for he and En staying in this facet was good, much clearer and easier to accept than previously. S's agreement however, I though, came too easily, without any real consideration of the duty that he might owe to the people he left behind.

This seems to tie with comments on the first chapter that S is not reacting enough. I'll keep that arc in line as I edit.

15 hours ago, Robinski said:

I thought this was much better than the way things were laid out before. I think bringing the chapters together works, although I'll need to read more to understand how things fit together now.

Glad this is working better. Thanks for all the great feedback to get it there!

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I liked this chapter much better! I's voice is more distinct here. I was very invested throughout the chapter. I enjoyed the description this time. It felt relevant and connected to I and what was going on in his head as he walked through the Ari neighborhood. I loved how linked it was to his memories and emotion. 

If I step and look at the big picture, the whole narrative from C. 1 to 3 feels much better now. It no longer has that indecisive back and forth feel but a sense that the characters are moving forward somehow. 

As I read:

"Even smells like out parent's wagon" This line and everything around it really brought me into the moment. 

"the pronoun used for leader" Is there a missing article? 

"He suspected Ari... presentation of gender tied strongly into how all..." You said something very similar to this in the previous paragraph. It's getting a little redundant now.

"Welcoming without words, even as they saw..." Still lots of buy in for me. Still feel well immersed in the world and emotions. :-)

"Quite handsom, in a dragony, catlike sort of way" I love this! 

"Surely he had told someone...I found his boyfriend's hand..." Another nice moment. I like how it translates from I's internal thoughts about Eff P to reaching out to S.

 

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Thanks @shatteredsmooth! Glad I's voice is working now.

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

the whole narrative from C. 1 to 3 feels much better now.

Glad to hear it. There's a few quibbles still, but from the feedback everything sounds like it's working better.

2 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

You said something very similar to this in the previous paragraph.

I think this got missed with all the cutting and pasting I did. I'll check it.

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5 hours ago, Mandamon said:

At least in the US, "ward" can also be used as a district, so it's not as much a tautology. However, it's also sort of a hostel, so I change the name of this anyway.

Ah, yes, same here, like an electoral ward, for example. I did not think of that when I read 'medical ward', as I'd never thought of 'ward' in that way. We have NHS regions, I think, here in the UK, or a GP practice would have a catchment, I think, in the same way a particular school would have a catchment (district).

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Posted (edited)

4, "but he pressed onPg 1, introduction: Wouldn't house(s) be capitalized?

Pg 1, "He found many things harder to believe": Cynicism through experience. Unfortunately realistic.

Pg 1, "Would that happen to him or E if the other died?": A concerning question I have, especially since their bond is closer than between the two Eff's.

Pg 2, "rapped it back and forth on the silk, first one side and then the other.": I had to reread this sentence a couple of times. Is WW hitting with one side of the hammer at a time, or is xyr one side of the door and then the other (like the right side, then the left side)? This sentence is awkward for me. I feel like this just needs a little readjusting, like, "Xy rapped it on the silk, first on one side of the hammer and then the other." My opinion, though.

Pg 3, "What has happened to you?": I am sensing that M is a bit of a jokester, considering they are asking this of an unconscious person. Are they saying this in a chidingly way? Sarcastic? 

Pg 3, the paragraphs about pronouns: At first I found the first couple of sentences to be confusing, because I was wondering why pronouns suddenly mattered. Historically, what I like most about your books was that they never really talked about the different pronouns, but just took them with the same stride as the sky is blue and aliens exist. Once I realized where this was going, I like how I. addressed how this Ari is genderless, rather than using "they" to refer to multiple instances absorbed.

Pg 3, " affected the factions": I wonder, is one instance more likely to join on fraction, and the other the second fraction? For instance, if instances are like ying and yang, will one instance be more likely to join a certain fraction? 

Pg 4, "Roofs poked above rubbery plants fat with water.": Did you mean "Roofs poked above with rubbery plants fat with water?" or "The roofs above were poked with rubbery plants fat with water?" ...Does it rain in the Nether?

Pg 4, " It doubles as a place for unattached Ari to stay while transitioning to new homes or life situations.": Are we talking more of a shelter, a hostel, or transitional housing? Because my brain hopped to shelter, which might be my own bias. We have a large homeless population in my city, and I come from a city with an even worse homeless situation. So I pictured the rather...rough...shelters of my city, and thought that it would be rather...questionable...to put a medical center so near a place that is the exact...opposite...of sanitary. Although somehow I doubt the Ari have anywhere near the drug abuse we have here. This might be personal bias shading my reading, though.

Pg 4, " others sloping soft hats that fit between their upward-pointing and mobile ears": This made me rather happy because it made me think of horses with hats and I love horses with big droopy hats. 

Pg 4, "but he pressed on": *wipes tear* My little boy, all grown up.

Pg 5, " assume his species’ traditional form." Oh man, I really want to see this. Somehow I think it will be E the first to change, and my guess is she won't be in control.

Pg 5, "Why would their connection be so affected if they hadn’t seen each other in centuries?" I love it when characters ask the questions I am wondering.

Pg 6, "M looked a question to her." 

Pg 6, "the stuff of the Nether" The crystal of the Nether, correct? "Stuff" throws me off.

Pg 6, "We were quite the pair back then.": Oooooooh. Relevant gif: https://images.app.goo.gl/FpFpLc1GpQc7AsG87

Pg 7, "in order to protect us from them,": Them as in the memories, the history of the war, or the Ari enemies?

Pg 9, " vital to the workings of your facet": Well, that's terrifying. Please don't loose what essentially is a hard drive full of state secrets. 

Pg 9, "though that was not why he’d asked.": What's your interest in this, hm? Wanting to find out more about the Ari? I wonder if the diadem could remove I and E's memories of being tortured.

Pg 10, "used parts of their teachings.": Much more than their teaching. Used parts of their bodies as well... Ooof, gives me the shivers. I wonder if E will become ostracized for her actions?

Pg 11, "but made no motion to restrict the doctor from hearing.": I hadn't even thought of the doctor being privy of that information. Good catch. I like this detail.

Pg 12, "even before the war": I am sensing a link to the Dissolution.

Pg 12, "she gestured with all three arms": Wrong pronoun for M.

Pg 13, "even pretending": I am going to take this as pretending to keep busy, and not as pretending to heal V but actually not doing anything to save her.

Pg 14, " I was willing to give up that part of himself for her": But would E be willing to make the same sacrifice? 

Pg 16, "How had they not heard each other’s music before?" I am guessing that this is an instance thing, since I don't recall it happening with O.C. or R.A. 

Pg 16: I just have to say, I really enjoyed the entire part of I and E using the Symphony together. I loved seeing the two siblings bond, especially after all the mess that they have been through. Plus, it makes me wonder how they can meld their music together in the future.

Pg 17, " she ground out": Wrong pronoun for WW.

Pg 18, "f the [masters] can’t handle it, I don’t know how we can help.": Good reasoning to stay behind and get stronger. I still worry that the party will assume them dead, but on the other hand, crossing the wall when there are known Elg on the other side immediately may be too rash.

Excellent as always, and now I'm moving on to the next chapter! Slowly catching up!

 

 

Edited by Snakenaps
Came back once I finished the last couple of pages.
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Thanks @Snakenaps! That's some quick reading!

14 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I had to reread this sentence a couple of times. Is WW hitting with one side of the hammer at a time, or is xyr one side of the door and then the other (like the right side, then the left side)?

Yeah, I was trying to be all experimental with how they knock, but I think it's just confusing.

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Are they saying this in a chidingly way? Sarcastic?

More chiding.

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Once I realized where this was going, I like how I. addressed how this Ari is genderless, rather than using "they" to refer to multiple instances absorbed.

Cool. This seems to be a universally liked section!

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

For instance, if instances are like ying and yang, will one instance be more likely to join a certain fraction? 

I actually have an unpublished short story about this, which may get released as bonus content for the kickstater!

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Roofs poked above rubbery plants fat with water.": Did you mean "Roofs poked above with rubbery plants fat with water?" or "The roofs above were poked with rubbery plants fat with water?" ...Does it rain in the Nether?

Meaning the roofs were above the plants. And yes, it rains in in the Nether!

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Are we talking more of a shelter, a hostel, or transitional housing?

More like transitional housing. I can make this clearer.

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

" assume his species’ traditional form." Oh man, I really want to see this. Somehow I think it will be E the first to change, and my guess is she won't be in control.

Just wait!

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

"We were quite the pair back then.": Oooooooh. Relevant gif: https://images.app.goo.gl/FpFpLc1GpQc7AsG87

Lol. You have divined correctly.

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Please don't loose what essentially is a hard drive full of state secrets.

Heh...good point.

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I wonder if the diadem could remove I and E's memories of being tortured.

*blinks* I hadn't even thought of that.

16 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

"she gestured with all three arms": Wrong pronoun for M.

Doh. Thanks.

 

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:
18 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I wonder if the diadem could remove I and E's memories of being tortured.

*blinks* I hadn't even thought of that.

@Mandamon

Further more, if the diadem is capable of removing I and E's memories of being tortured, could it be used to remove the memories of the absorbed Ari? To reduce their power over E? Could the diadem store these poor souls, and remove them from E entirely?

I don't expect answers, more of a train of thought I had that probably has no relevancy to the plot itself. Might be useful to you, might not. 

Anyway, I've got two pages left, which I'll edit into my critique above. 

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18 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Plus, it makes me wonder how they can meld their music together in the future.

There will be more of this!

17 minutes ago, Snakenaps said:

Further more, if the diadem is capable of removing I and E's memories of being tortured, could it be used to remove the memories of the absorbed Ari? To reduce their power over E? Could the diadem store these poor souls, and remove them from E entirely?

Interesting thoughts! I feel like it gets too much into a magic answer to a problem rather than the characters working through it, but there could be some potential there.

Thanks @Snakenaps!

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@Mandamon

1 minute ago, Mandamon said:

There will be more of this!

Interesting thoughts! I feel like it gets too much into a magic answer to a problem rather than the characters working through it, but there could be some potential there.

Thanks @Snakenaps!

I actually 110% agree on it being a magic answer, and that it could be an easy, unsatisfying way out. In all honesty, if you did that, I'd probably be pretty disappointed. I love character development, and I adore struggling with a character as they have to come to grips with their own problems. So my hypothetical question is: if I or E knew that they could potentially take the easy way out, why would they not? Like S and his anxiety. S specifically chooses not to take the easy magic answer, and that makes him stronger for his choice.

Food for thought. 

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@Snakenaps, just wanted you to know that I stuck a kernel about the diadem being used to wipe memories in *checks notes* chapter 13, so thanks!

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1 hour ago, Mandamon said:

@Snakenaps, just wanted you to know that I stuck a kernel about the diadem being used to wipe memories in *checks notes* chapter 13, so thanks!

Cool! I'm helpful!!!

This makes me super happy! :D

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