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Mandamon

20200330 - Fall of the Imperium Ch 5 - 3878 words - Sub 16 (V)

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Chapter 5, which was the second half of Man's first chapter. Once again I've marked it as  (V) for violence. I've tried to put some more emotion in this half. Let me know what you think!

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. In the Ari enclave, I struggles with his image, we learn of the Ari, and E and I use each other's houses for the first time.
M arrives with the society to the Imp and is attacked by Elg. People die and Man finds himself with more and more responsibility as they attempt to figure out what's going on.

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Over all: Another good improvement, but it's still lacking a more human element. I think you could also lean into the horror aspects a bit more for more spooky fun. 

 

As I go:

Nice bit of foreshadowing on the top quote

I'm getting more flashes of Man treating the people under him as things and devices instead of people. I was sort of under the impression previously that he had some compassion? 

If it's not intentional, I definitely think he needs more reactions. He seems like he treats the ruining of his shoes with the same emotional energy and intent as he treats the death of a person. 

I like the more decisive action-oriented end note, as well.  

The reordering of the chapters has broken up the meta-similarities I was picking up on the first time, so I'm not feeling as unhappy to be in M's POV as I was last time. I am thinking more about the differences in the two POVs than the similarities by the end and that's better, I think. 

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I just read through this, and didn't make any notes while I read. I don't necessarily have specific suggestions in mind, so I'll just share my reaction. 

M seemed very tired and a little numb. His age and exhaustion seemed to be what set the tone for the chapter. If that is what you are going for, then you got it! If not, then you may want to work on it more. 

I liked having the two M chapters back to back. It's keeping more engaged than the rapidly switching back and forth. 

I liked the thought progression regarding how M came to figure out the portal thing. I don't remember exactly how it played out in the old version, but I definitely like this better. 

I also enjoyed his attention to detail when studying and describing the El.

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Overall

The plot movement is good, and the blocking strong. I think you could amp the creepy to make it more engaging, and I definitely think Mand needs to emote more. He's very mechanical right now and that makes it difficult to be in his POV. There was one really good line I flagged below that really helped me connect with him. More of those types of lines would be great!

 

As I go

- pg 2: I feel like we're just being told Mand's emotions, instead of experiencing them

- pg 4: So much for his new Society Gah. I want emotion! People are just dying everywhere. THIS IS VERY TROUBLING

- pg 6: I'd like to see more on Mand's guilt over whether he maybe brought this on because of his meddling. That's a really interesting thought process

- pg 7: little feet patting the ground is adorable and I like the combination of cute and destructive they have

- pg 10: He liked those shoes <-- I think this is the most voice I've seen from Mand in this book. Love this line

 

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Thanks to @industrialistDragon, @shatteredsmooth, and @kais!

Glad this seems to be moving better, except of course for lacking emotion. I'll be adding a lot more of that in with Man the next edit.

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

He seems like he treats the ruining of his shoes with the same emotional energy and intent as he treats the death of a person. 

 

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

M seemed very tired and a little numb. His age and exhaustion seemed to be what set the tone for the chapter.

 

8 hours ago, kais said:

I definitely think Mand needs to emote more. He's very mechanical right now and that makes it difficult to be in his POV.

All good comments. I was going more for the "tired old man" who is seeing his labors fall apart, but I've gone too far away from caring for the people as well. Will address this.

16 hours ago, industrialistDragon said:

The reordering of the chapters has broken up the meta-similarities I was picking up on the first time, so I'm not feeling as unhappy to be in M's POV as I was last time.

 

10 hours ago, shatteredsmooth said:

I liked having the two M chapters back to back. It's keeping more engaged than the rapidly switching back and forth. 

Glad this is working as well. Adding more content and breaking up the chapters into two parts seems to be helping.

 

8 hours ago, kais said:

I'd like to see more on Mand's guilt over whether he maybe brought this on because of his meddling. That's a really interesting thought process

Yes, I think this is where I can really lean into M's emotions.

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Great sub! Most of my issues with last week were resolved with the second half this week. I really enjoyed the movement and pacing if this chapter as a whole. 

I agree with @industrialistDragon that the creepy factor could be dialed up for more impact. Your monsters have a great unstoppable and (nearly) industructable quality. The famous movie monster the Blob was terrifying even moving at a fraction of your monster's speed because of those qualities. See also: Doctor Who episodes 'heaven sent' and 'hell bent', SG-1's replicators, and many other great monsters. I think you have made great nightmare material if you decide to show it off. 

Canon hypothetical question: sorry if you've already covered this, but could someone save themselves by removing the part the Es have attached to before they dissolve? Understandable if you want to avoid that level of gore but it might be a way to up the emotional impact of the Es. 

My only real editing thought is that a few of the sentences have embedded thoughts that make the overall statement feel clunky. Ie: paragraph #22 the sentence starting, "Aside from the six speakers..." This may well just be my preferences though. 

Thanks for sharing!

 

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Thanks @Sarah B!

By popular demand, I will work on adding more creepiness!

36 minutes ago, Sarah B said:

could someone save themselves by removing the part the Es have attached to before they dissolve?

Haven't covered that before and I hadn't even thought about it! So far the dissolving has only taken a few seconds, so there wasn't time, but now I may have to include that somewhere...

 

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Like normal, did not read the other critiques before I dived in.

Pg 1, introduction: Something I have noticed since I'm kinda binging these chapters: sometimes Houses is capitalized in the introduction, sometimes it is not. I'm not sure if it varies on source material (kinda like the Bible vs the bible), or if it is something unintentional. 

Pg 1, introduction, "aspect of portals no one speaks of. They are slices out of the universe": I'm not sure if this is grammatically correct, or if it should be "aspect of portals no one speaks of: they are slices out of the universe,"

Pg 2, "pikes down and ready": Would they have pikes or muskets/blunderbusses? I feel like I'd want some long range artillery here, and I swear I can remember guns being used during the attack on the Assembly in Seeds. I may be wrong, though, and mixing up my literature. Still, pikes are better than swords.

Pg 2, "Symphony as it if were paper.": Fix to "Symphony as if it were paper."

Pg 3, "chunks of themselves, One glowed white.": Fix comma to period: "chunks of themselvesOne glowed white"

Pg 3, "ambient temperature with no ill effects": Noted: Elg not affected by severe heat or cold. Not affected by much at all. 

Pg 3, "The other creature was fileted from a hundred cuts": I Googled it, it should be filleted

Pg 3, " before dissolving into the ground,": Yes! First one killed!

Pg 3, "they couldn’t protect two guards": This makes it sound like both guards died. I had to go back and double check.

Pg 4, "M had known for more than fifty cycles":  Oh man, that has to hurt. Losing a friend of five decades is hard, even if they weren't close.

Pg 4, "So much for his new Society.": I would mourn less the Society than the people who just died. I'd expect that kind of callous thinking from WW, but not necessarily from M. Maybe I misinterpreted M's character. 

Pg 4, "completely filled with them in a ten-day": That is going to be an extremely high death toll.

Pg 4, " he was drained by the death and loss": I want to see this more, rather than just be told. 

Pg 5, "She looked around as one might descend on them from nowhere": You were just talking about the masters who were either fleeing or evacuating people, and it took me a second read to realize that "one" referred to the Elg, not the masters. I would switch the "one" to a word describing the Elg. 

Pg 5, " He doubted all of Mid Imperium and Low Imperium were so deserted" We see so much of High Imperium and the Assembly, that it didn't even occur to me how the rest of the city might be faring. 

Pg 6, "His knuckles cracked as he clenched a fist.": Yes, I like this. Show us how you feel, M!

Pg 6, " But he hadn’t thought it would be so hard.": Hindsight is 20/20, and old habits die hard. 

Pg 7, "he was not one to wallow in past decisions.": I was getting this feeling from M, but he at least has more emotions that the workaholic WW. It's funny, WW used to rub me the wrong way because of xyr's inability to pause for anyone's emotions, but I'm beginning to this xy will be very helpful in making sure that plans are logical and well-reasoned. 

Pg 7, " try not to spook it": I wonder if Elg need sleep. Do they eat energy or the Symphony? I kind of imagined them as a monster who never stops moving and isn't necessarily intelligent enough for sneak attacks, but now I'm revising those thoughts.

Pg 7, "You, me, T.D, L, and G stay here.": Make note, if T.D. dies, I will be upset. 

Pg 8, "as if searching for something." Vibrations? Do they sense with vibrations? 

Pg 8, "Can it sense the traces of portals that have been here": Nope, not vibrations. Unless you count vibrations in the Symphony?

Pg 8, "it sees the connections that have been there": Oh man, can the Elg somehow pick up on these connections to create portals to homeworlds it has never seen? If so...that is terrifying. 

Pg 9, "Faster than a cheetah charging an elk back on Not-Earth": On Earth, these two animals live in very different biomes. Is it different on Not-Earth?

Pg 10, "He created the portal sideways, edge-on in the air,": That is freaking awesome. 

Pg 11, "It was as if the thing was solid purple flesh inside.": I am not sure why, but I pictured a Jelly Bean cut in half. I am not sure this is a helpful observation. 

Pg 11, "He liked those shoes.": I like little moments like these. A one second remark that makes a character less of a character and more of a person.

Pg 11, "each half of the creature dug a hole of stolen ground before it disappeared": Great, they can burrow too? Man, I hate these things! Can they eventually recombine into one creature? Grow another half so that it turns into two creatures, like a cell splitting? Also, note: Elg can split themselves in half, forward and backside, and this causes them to die after a moment. Elg can split themselves in half, left and right, and dig a hole and maybe survive. 

Pg 12, "The group was moving quickly.": Fast walk, sprinting, dashing? Jogging from so much running?

Pg 12, "a lone...guard, telling people to evacuate": This guard needs a raise and a metal of honor. 

Pg 12, " He reached out, trying to find something to steady him." Ah, poor M. My heart goes out to the old geezer. 

Pg 12/13, " Now—he wished he had pried a little harder." Pried a little harder because of the power of the diadem? Because of Eff's longevity? Because he should have gotten to know such a powerful person better?

Pg 13, "—the deadly ones never taught by the Council.": I am very curious to see what can be done when nothing holds a master back.

There was something about this chapter that was missing the tension from the previous chapter, which I nearly had to set down to give myself a break. I'm not skilled enough to know what is off, though. I'm hoping that will come with experience. The Elg weren't nearly as creepy in this chapter. I am beginning to like M more and more, though. 

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Thanks for the quick read, @Snakenaps!

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

sometimes Houses is capitalized in the introduction, sometimes it is not. I'm not sure if it varies on source material (kinda like the Bible vs the bible), or if it is something unintentional. 

Yeah, this is one of those things that gets fixed up in later drafts. Technically, if it's "House X," then it's capitalized, but if it's just talking about a "house" then it's not.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Would they have pikes or muskets/blunderbusses? I feel like I'd want some long range artillery here, and I swear I can remember guns being used during the attack on the Assembly in Seeds. I may be wrong, though, and mixing up my literature. Still, pikes are better than swords.

Guns are around, but pretty rare (worldbuilding-wise). They haven't developed because of a dependence on the maji.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Not affected by much at all.

Yeeep.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I would mourn less the Society than the people who just died. I'd expect that kind of callous thinking from WW, but not necessarily from M. Maybe I misinterpreted M's character.

He can be pretty ruthless, but is more caring than WW. This is me not getting enough emotion in this draft...

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

" he was drained by the death and loss": I want to see this more, rather than just be told. 

Check!

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

We see so much of High Imperium and the Assembly, that it didn't even occur to me how the rest of the city might be faring. 

We see a little bit of this later on.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I was getting this feeling from M, but he at least has more emotions that the workaholic WW. It's funny, WW used to rub me the wrong way because of xyr's inability to pause for anyone's emotions, but I'm beginning to this xy will be very helpful in making sure that plans are logical and well-reasoned. 

Interesting! Good take.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I wonder if Elg need sleep. Do they eat energy or the Symphony? I kind of imagined them as a monster who never stops moving and isn't necessarily intelligent enough for sneak attacks, but now I'm revising those thoughts.

They're pretty strange...sort of like drones with individual intelligence.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Make note, if T.D. dies, I will be upset. 

Noted!

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

Oh man, can the Elg somehow pick up on these connections to create portals to homeworlds it has never seen? If so...that is terrifying. 

There is something to this that will be developed in the second half of the book.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

On Earth, these two animals live in very different biomes. Is it different on Not-Earth?

Basically, yes.

12 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I am not sure why, but I pictured a Jelly Bean cut in half.

That's similar to what I was thinking.

13 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

There was something about this chapter that was missing the tension from the previous chapter, which I nearly had to set down to give myself a break. I'm not skilled enough to know what is off, though. I'm hoping that will come with experience. The Elg weren't nearly as creepy in this chapter. I am beginning to like M more and more, though. 

Great comment. I'm guessing some of this is that I haven't fully fleshed out emotions in this chapter. But this gives me a good indication of what to change.

Thanks again!

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A thousand apologies for the lateness of this critique.

(page 1)

- "they have been the one part of the Symphony held in a sort of awe" - The only part, really?

(page 4)

- I'm doing LBLs in a tracked file, so less comment here. It's been all mechanical stuff up to now, but... "would be completely filled with them" - How do you define filled? Seems to me there is no way to define it adequately, because you can always with another one in the gap between people. When is New Your full? I bet they are still cramming folk in!!

(page 5)

- "are leaving for the home worlds, until authorities are figuring out what to do about..." - Yaaaah. So prophetic. What an eerie resonance to present times.

- "He doubted all of M Imp and L Imp were so deserted" - not sure about the accentuation of the negative here. I feel like this would be more evocative if he was commenting on there still being hundreds of vulnerable people remaining in this area, panning, afraid and not being looked after.

(page 7)

- "gain some small measure of value in the deaths today" - but they could have caught one without anyone dying today. I don't see the link between these two things. I don't see that the deaths in any way contribute to their ability to catch one of these things, really.

- "you walking mousetrap" - ROFL. These two are the Thomson and Thompson of this escapade. Excellent!

- "they were at heart a bunch of scientists, after all" - Oh, no!!

(page 10)

- "which only one person had managed to affect" - I don't understand this reference. What is 'which', the voids, the creature? I don't think it's clear from context.

(page 11)

- "The other four found them there, recovering from their brief fight" - I find this kind of vague, like it's in the wrong POV, or maybe it's passive. I tried to think how I would say it and came up with "They were still recovering from the fight when the other four returned."

(page 12)

- "The Eff had looked much as he did" - this paragraph, I have several issues. For one thing, Man has not seen the Eff for some time I believe, whereas this sound like he just saw him. I don't think he's well placed to make this judgement, or to judge that there was something different about him. Also, I think Man jumping to the conclusion about the dia. is based on nothing. It's too easy and why would he care, or be thinking about something abstract like that when he's just received the shocking news that he has? It felt to me like a big old plot point dropped in from nowhere.

- "No more hiding" - I was not under the impression that they were hiding. Also, his plan is basically to go hide in Pol and study the creatures, so this kind of undermines the plan, or the plan undermines this line, I think. To me, the line means taking the battle to them, but that does not sound like his plan, not yet.

(page 13)

- If 'home' is going to be the punchline at the end of the chapter, I'd suggest not using it again just before the punchline.

- "the skills that were common back in the Society" - I want more from this. The skills were abhorred by society and led to the society being disbanded. I'm not feeling how 'wrong', how feared these skills were by the general populace.

Overall 

For me, this chapter was not as cohesive as the previous one. Lots of good scenes and moments, but also moments and lines that made me stop and go 'Huh', as noted above. I think the attack on Man can be stronger. Somehow I didn't feel the fear and danger there. Also, Man's moment of taking charge: I wanted it to resonate more, to be a bigger moment. I wonder if it would have more 'grander' if someone, more than one, of his companions were to tell him he needed to take charge, that he was the leader now, and they all murmur in agreement and gather round him. It just seems to be glossed over as a 'moment'.

I did enjoy the chapter, but I wanted to enjoy it and the its key moment a bit more.

LBL sent separately.

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7 hours ago, Robinski said:

- I'm doing LBLs in a tracked file, so less comment here. It's been all mechanical stuff up to now, but...

Thanks for the LBLs, @Robinski! Very helpful.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "are leaving for the home worlds, until authorities are figuring out what to do about..." - Yaaaah. So prophetic. What an eerie resonance to present times.

Yeah, I originally wrote these chapters before everything turned to poop, but reading back through them is eerie.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

I feel like this would be more evocative if he was commenting on there still being hundreds of vulnerable people remaining in this area

Good point. Will adjust.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

"which only one person had managed to affect" - I don't understand this reference.

Yep, my brain pinged this as clunky when I read but I didn't fix it...

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

I think Man jumping to the conclusion about the dia. is based on nothing. It's too easy and why would he care, or be thinking about something abstract like that when he's just received the shocking news that he has? It felt to me like a big old plot point dropped in from nowhere.

Agree. I'll adjust.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

- "the skills that were common back in the Society" - I want more from this. The skills were abhorred by society and led to the society being disbanded. I'm not feeling how 'wrong', how feared these skills were by the general populace.

Good suggestion. I also felt this didn't have enough of a punch.

7 hours ago, Robinski said:

Also, Man's moment of taking charge: I wanted it to resonate more, to be a bigger moment. I wonder if it would have more 'grander' if someone, more than one, of his companions were to tell him he needed to take charge, that he was the leader now, and they all murmur in agreement and gather round him. It just seems to be glossed over as a 'moment'.

Ah, yes, that helps. I think I'll do just that!

 

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