kais

12/28/2020 - Kais - Pruitcu - NEW Prologue (L) - 9105 words

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This is a double slot (approved by the mod), so know that going in this is just over 9K words

FORGET EVERYTHING you already read. There was too steep a learning curve so I’ve gone and changed up the prologue entirely. It’s now a 9K word short, previously published on my Patreon, which was part of a little mini series I did to bridge the first trilogy into the second. I think including it at the start of this book will help a ton, since it’s a prequel to the first trilogy and does a lot of native worldbuilding. 

Anything and everything is game, but I am particularly interested in if this gives you a solid grounding in the world without overwhelming, and if you would keep reading to the first chapter. If you’re an old reader, is this an interesting start? It should be new information, so is the voice consistent from previous books?

Thank you for sticking with this as I try to get a more solid start to the book. Turns out book five in a series is surprisingly hard to write.

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So this is my first review. I like to read things twice, once for the fun of it and then once for nit picks and such.

Overall, I’m torn.  There were most excellent moments. I loved the world building with all the different kinds of species (and why Russian shuttles, I wonder- in a good way.) But I was also so, so confused through most of it.

If you are looking for a book that anyone can pick up without having read the other books in the series, this does not appear to be it- at least not as written right now, and not for me personally

 

By the end of my second read through much of the confusion was gone- but it took way too long to get simple answers such as is N. a person, place, religion or language or a combo of some or all of those things. 

 

I have to admit I like a good prologue- and to me that is one that sets the tone for the series I’m going to read. Kind of a prologue palate cleanser to help ease me from whatever book I just finished into the new book. The tone of this prologue, for me, was mainly space opera and humor. Both of which I love, marred by too much proper pronoun dropping that bogged down my ability to immerse myself fully in the story. 

 

Anyway- below I ask some “questions” no need to answer them- they are just questions I had during first or second pass.

 

Nit picks:

 

“stacked one deep” can one of something be considered a stack?

 

Horribly confused by the first paragraph. I’m very dyslexic  and thus have a reading comprehension level of about a 5th grader. So perhaps blame that but I had to read it about three times and still was confused. Is this N person a person or a place? Was the main question I was trying to figure out. 

 

In all honesty, from the first page read through- if I had picked this up from a bookstore I’d have put it back on the shelf.  I don’t like feeling stupid. To take any sting out of that comment- I did the same thing with Sanderson’s Way of kings because it was just too much. (Still haven’t been able to read Guy G. Kay’s book Tiagana for the same reason.) I guess I’m prattling to say you may be in very good company? There is a reason I listen to a lot of audiobooks- my listening comprehension is a bazillion times better than my reading. But... if you want this story to be enjoyed by 11 year olds- this adult with an 11 year olds reading level is saying you may want to make the first pages less confusing. 

 

Okay- so N is talking about no need to cover the plant things. But then says they’ve never covered the plant things before, why start now? This is repetitive and confusing to me. Which is it? Were they planning on covering them or have they never covered anything before? Or is it both, that they never covered anything before but had planned to this time? As written I’m not sure if it is the latter or an editing mistake.

 

Further, after the paragraph discussed above Y talks in the past tense about covering the plants and I’m confused all over again.

 

In the paragraph that begins “In another life...” there is a sentence where the the pronoun Xe is used. It took me a few re-reads to realize this pronoun referenced K, as there was quiet a bit of proper nouns/ name dropping before the pronoun was introduced. At first I wasn’t sure who the pronoun referred to.  But I def picked up that is was a pronoun! (Also still wondering at this point if N is a person, place, religion, or group of people at this point...)

 

The first two paragraphs after the break with the opening words “can we please...” 

Gah! Now this is more my cup of tea. If this was the opening of the prologue I’d giggle and sit back in my comfy chair. It flows, it has humor. It isn’t confusing. It sets up that the characters are on a spaceship without name dropping a bunch of fancy proper nouns that mean nothing to someone picking up a book for the first time. 

 

Perf- is suppose to be capitalized or not? Both versions are present. Later there is an M word that sometimes is capitalized and sometimes not that is used to refer to the K person’s species I think.

 

Paragraph that starts “N. Waved at her with...” is confusing to me. Once more are they now transporting dead trees? I thought they were alive but wilted trees? Were they dead? The last three lines in the paragraph I can’t make heads or tales of at all. 

 

“We have this one back on earth where...” that line got a chuckle out of me.

 

“N. Reached under... wrapped her hand around.” How big are her hands? Before the balls were described as being twice as big as her head- seems a lot to wrap a hand around- or does she have a really small head?

 

Okay- how did the strange texting person know she wanted seeds? I thought they were there to do a direct transfer and get the plants + atmospheric conditions? The seed thing just seems to be an idea from a conversation she’d just had with her uncle.

 

also: no idea even after two reads if the A people are real, some sort of gods, or make believe.

 

Overall thoughts:

No- it does not give me a solid grounding and I would not read on to chapter 1

It was mega frustrating. It was a hard read. The bones feel solid but the fleshing out a bit patchy to me. My frustration is that those bones, the core of the prologue is marvelous- excellent idea and fascinating world for sure sure. But I just don’t like reading something that doesn’t make sense and then continues to not make sense for pages and pages. Too many times I was like- wait- what? And not in a good way.

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As a new reader, this is a much easier entry point than the last one! 

Starting with nothing, I felt like I was missing some key information to really dive in:

What does the MC look like? From reading, I know she is not human, but that's about it for quite a ways in. I read on assuming she was basically human looking until told otherwise. 

What is st. ? From context it seems to be a kind of sticky sweat pouring out of the mc at all times. Does it drip off of her? Soak her clothes? Does she leave a trail of it? Is it just her hands or her whole body? 

Why is the religion on her homeworld destructive/harmful? Is it just an academic objection, or is there a reason she is so repelled by it? Since the MC has rebelled at great personal cost, I'm assuming something bad is happening, but I don't know what. I feel like knowing why her rebellion is worthwhile would help me root for her as a reader.

The pacing was calm and ponderous. Most of the plot involved watching and discussing things. I felt like this was a que to settle in for a long story that will be more about philosophical questions and mysteries than action. Will it be attached the book as a prologue, or is it a junction short story to be published on its own? Sorry, I wasn't clear on that. 

Overall, it was a nice read. I caught myself skipping over some of the names and titles but for the most part I felt like I had a hold on the important parts of what was happening and why. 

A few small things that stood out:

"They were just below the ard in power..." this sentence was confusing as a new reader.

The architectural critique sentence "It all looked the same too..." is very long. I'm sure it's grammatically correct, but that is a doozy to read.

"St. Shaped teardrops" no idea what to picture there. 

Thanks for sharing!

 

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I thought this was a much better prologue than last time, and does a great job of easing a reader back in. I noted a few of the points the others did above, but I think they can be cleaned up with a few sentences.

 

On 12/28/2020 at 0:01 AM, Valerie said:

it took way too long to get simple answers such as is N. a person, place, religion or language or a combo of some or all of those things. 

I completely missed that this would be a problem in the first paragraph, as I already knew the information. I did comment about it on pg 17 where it's directly referenced. I think for new readers, there needs to be a quick rundown of N - name and how it is used.

 

4 hours ago, Sarah B said:

What is st. ? From context it seems to be a kind of sticky sweat pouring out of the mc at all times. Does it drip off of her? Soak her clothes? Does she leave a trail of it? Is it just her hands or her whole body?

Lol. I had this question through the whole first series, but it also didn't impact me reading.

 

4 hours ago, Sarah B said:

What does the MC look like?

This is explained well on pg 11 when it says she could pass as human, but I think pulling this and the eight fingers explanation earlier would help.

 

On 12/28/2020 at 0:01 AM, Valerie said:

It took me a few re-reads to realize this pronoun referenced K,

Also noted this. I think it just needs a quick callout as to how the pronoun is used, and it will be fine.

 

The only other thing I had a problem with was, why was her neck itchy the whole time? I don't think it was ever explained. I was assuming it was the same disease that was causing the yellow leaves, but I guess not?

 

Notes while reading:

pg 1: 14 years! Has it been that long before the new books?

pg 1: I think this gives a lot of good cues to help the reader remember what happened in the first book, and to give new readers a little bit of background as to what's going on. It's a good way to set the scene, but you also have the question of why the trees aren't thriving.

pg 2: "unless a mythical Ar. showed up"
--This might be a bit too on the nose for a reintroduction...

pg 3: "screamed I evolved from the mating of an amphibian and a fruit salad."
--lol! This is a great description of them.

pg 3: "temporarily stuck to their hull with a substance N. didn’t want to think about."
--Why would she not want to think about it?

pg 4: "mostly overhyped fluff in bad outfits."
--another great line.
--I'm definitely enjoying this so far. This seems to be introducing a couple new concepts a page, easy enough for a new reader to get around. There are the new pronouns here, however. Would it be worth it to note that "xe" and "hir" are pronouns, for new readers?

pg 5: "Possibly because I wanted to see how close we could fly to a star about to go supernova."
--I'm wondering if this is what actually happened or if N is just giving MK crap.  Honestly not sure...

pg 6: more good descriptions of the Ris. I like how they are innately dislikeable.

pg 7: "She’d maybe, maybe, get to go home."
--good stakes

pg 8: "Gifts by unbelievers are not wanted."
--harsh, and also tells a bit about why N is exiled.

pg 9: "had come and unified the Charted Systems"
--another good reminder.

pg 10: "shoving her eight-fingered hands"
--I think this is the first mention of this? I wonder if it can come earlier, because this is a bit of a shock to N's mental description.  I see from the next paragraph why it's here, but maybe mentioning it earlier, when working with the trees, will set it up better.

pg 11: "who smelled the worst of the lot."
--lol. Also good rundown of the species.

pg 11: "passing her off as a Terran"
--good for description.

pg 12: and a good re-introduction of the "pets."

pg 13: "Her neck still itched."
--wondering what this is...

pg 13: "just for the buffalo?”
--not quite sure what this means.

pg 14: "This thing felt like a pulse of raw voltage"
--good description of the tech, too. I think this prologue is actually giving me a better intro into the universe than the first book did.

pg 15: Not fully sure I get this. Is the ball a way to keep the seeds healthy?

pg 16: "Like water buffalo.”
--Is this referencing A's origin on Earth? Not sure what this means.

pg 17: "the biped stared"
--I can see how this explanation might still be confusing to new readers unless it's spelled out directly.

pg 20: "does have a line about a mother’s illness stabilizing"
--that was decent of him.

pg 21: "We have this one back on Earth where people from this tiny little island kept consuming other countries. It’s riveting.”
--lol.

pg 23: Interesting history through here. Definitely good for readers of the other books. Not sure how much new readers will be interested.

pg 27: Ah, I'm guessing this is #4 from the old prologue.

pg 28: “Your secret frigate friend just saved us a lot of trouble.”
--a little convoluted in here, and might require a little more explanation, especially to new readers. are they stopped because otherwise the president would have tried to kill N if they landed on the planet?

pg 29: "YOUR WORDS ARE NOT FORGOTTEN, NOR ARE YOU."
--Is this referencing a speech N gave? Not sure.

pg 31: Much better intro for #4 is this prologue.

pg 33: "Maybe she hadn’t been completely rejected by her planet."
--cool.

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Overall: After a few paragraphs, I’m already seeing that my tendency toward fantasy over sci-fi is going to color my thoughts on this a LOT.  I enjoy some sci-fi, but I haven’t read enough hard sci-fi to have developed the tools to absorb things as quickly as I do with complicated magic systems.  So something that has a steep learning curve in regard to alien species and tech assumptions is going to take more work on my part to read.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t enjoy it, but it does mean that I’m more likely to reach for something else if I just want a fun, casual read.

General thought on profanity usage (honestly, I don’t know how most sci-fi settings approach this)- If our protagonist isn’t human, is she likely to be using familiar human profanities?  I don’t know enough about the biologies of the protagonist or other characters to say, but it seems like the things that Ne and those around her would find offensive enough to make into a useful swear word are probably not the standard things our cultures would - specifically when they are related to sex and biological functions.

Continued thoughts after finishing:  Once we’d gotten past the barrage of opening details that I didn’t understand much of, I enjoyed it a lot more.  It raises questions that I found interesting.  I’m really curious about the reasons that she was exiled, and how that’s dealt with. 

However, I’m not sure that the plant-transportation plot details caught me.  I can see that they are both a valuable resource and have some sort of religious significance to Ne, but I don’t really know why, so it’s hard to be too concerned about it.  I think the overall world is interesting, and I like the characters, but this section doesn’t convince me that the direction it’s going to be going in is the direction that I am interested in.  That, combined with the difficulty of processing concepts that are dropped into the world without explanation would make it hard for me to keep reading.

Pg 1

A LOT of unfamiliar terminology in the first paragraph.  The first few paragraphs took far too many read-throughs to make sure that I had all of the information that it did present, and to confirm that the details that I was looking for weren’t mixed in among them. If it was something I was just picking up off a shelf, I don’t know that I’d be excited to take it home and keep reading.

“stacked one deep” – this is an odd way to put this.  Maybe something about it being a single layer? If it’s necessary at all?

Despite my lack of familiarity sci-fi, I do love seeing people trying to wrestle with perceptions of time. :D

I am very confused by Ne seeming to be used as a name, a place, and an adjective in the first two paragraphs.  [checking back later.  We need a little more information about Ne’s appearance/species earlier, and some clarification on how the various Ne-associated terms work.  Adjusting images of a character or understandings of a world 10 or 15 pages in is tough]

Also, settees?  As someone who spends free time reupholstering old furniture, I am very confused about what this is referring to at first use. I am familiar with a settee being a real thing (I have one in my living room. I can see it) but it is quite obviously not the sort of thing you are describing. I think.  Unless sofa technology has come a long way in this world. But I have no idea because it’s not described.  This is probably more of a sticking point than it should be…

Pg 2
That comment about emotions.  Man. Yeah.
Also, the description of comfortable friendship. Excellent.

Pg 5

Oooo. HVAC discussions.   See…these are the sorts of things that make me wonder why sci-fi doesn’t click better with me.  My mechie brain just wants to badly to find hypothetical solutions to crazy physics problems.

Pg 13-15

Buffalo- I am understanding this as an example of Ap not being as familiar with Common?  Other than that, though, their conversation doesn’t seem to carry any of the communication difficulty that I would have expected from Ap’s supposedly poor grasp of Common.  She’d be familiar with the jargon associated with her business, but they’re just chatting a few times, and there’s no sign of misunderstanding.

 

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Comments.

(page 1)

- "stacked one deep" - How else would they be stacked? You don't stack plants on top of each other, surely.

- "but whatever nutrient supplement he’d put in the water" - Why did N not specify the nutrient? Why would Y think he knew about such things?

(page 2)

- "I’ll start hauling pots to our entry point" - This seems crazy. Why would they not put them on pallets instead of having to lift them individually? They must have little automated lifter/forklift kind of things, surely?

(page 3)

- I'm struggling. The opening of this story seems to be about daily drudgery.

- "as the two ships attempted to remain parallel" - From the POV of orbital/flight mechanics, I would think it is virtually impossible to fly two ships side-by-side, with a solid connection. This is why docking in space is rigid, port to port, surely. I'm not expert, but this feels wrong to me.

- "footsteps clip clipped down the walkway" - This is where I start to get interested. This is where the tension and conflict begins, it seems to me. Feels to me like we were 'in early'.

(page 4)

- "losing over half to replanting on our moon" - I don't understand. Are they not losing half to...death because the saplings are in such poor shape? Are they planting them somewhere, then replanting on the moon? I don't follow.

- "gave him a yearly contract" - This is a renewing annual contract. Is that the intention? Something makes me think the intention is a contract that lasts for one year. Don't know why. Probably the use of the word yearly instant of annual.

- "he’s already spent both our shares" - this tends to confirm my feeling that the context implies a single, finite contract. If it was an annual contract, there would be more money due at renewal, presumably, and they would not want to piss the client off.

(page 5)

- "He purchased new thrusters the year before" - Huh, okay. Maybe it's me.

- "They played this game every shipment" - Why would MK not just hire another haulier then, another freighter?

- "N didn’t give a This post has been reported for attempting to skirt the rules" - Not for the first time, Y and N come across unlikeable. This chap is paying for a service, a product, and they are serving him a pile of carp, and expecting him to suck it up. He hasn't done them any wrong, on the page, so far. He does not seem to deserve this treatment.

- "cutting the whole line of transfer, functionally" - What does this mean?

- "maybe some coils or something" - Like 1,000 years ago.

(page 6)

- "Three times our yearly salary" - I know it's N and she's free to use the wrong word in dialogue, but a salary implies MK employs them directly, which it seems to me he does not, and that he's paying for their time, which it seems to me he's not, but is paying for a product?

- "Do we have a tentative deal?" - vague. I don't see that MK would use this term. If he's unlikeable and unscrupulous, he would try to get her to make a promise that binds Y, surely.

(page 7)

- "with way more authority than she felt" - See she says this like she's making a firm deal. What's the point of a firm acceptable of a tentative deal?

- "trying to stay upright as the bridge between the two ships swung up and down" - I just...

- "narrow hall" - so not the kind of parlance for space 'ships', and N is a pilot.

- "She’d maybe, maybe, get to go home" - Yeah, clear enough stakes for N. As a prior reader, but what feels like quite some time ago, I'm trying to place this in the timeline of Books 1 to 4. That aside, it does not read like a prologue, IMO, but a chapter.

(page 8)

- "we’re going to die" - LOL, no shortage of the expected 'tone' from N. I think I always enjoyed her more as N than as At. When she was N things were simpler, more seat-of-the-pants, jiving, jibing, smart-mouthing fun. Those were simpler times: no commitments, a bar in every port...

- "F--- if I know anything..." - F---ed if I know...' surely?

- "not wanted" - Ouch.

- "I need a p--f break" - What is p--f?

- Oh, right.

(page 9)

- "embraced perf the way the CS embraced bare feet" - Huh? Confused. The bare feet thing. I've never liked it. I makes no sense to me. Shoes are there to protect feet, which are a particular vulnerable part of the biped anatomy, not least because they are the part of the biped in contact with the world 67% of the time*.

(* - based on sleeping 8 hours per day.) 

- "didn’t believe in anything other than straight lines" - I mean, the thing it a ball, so there must be a load of curves somewhere.

(page 10)

- "N wandered" - While the narrative is well written, has voice and flows fine, nothing its happening, so wandering seems about right.

(page 11)

- "She passed row after row of unfamiliar faces" - But the faces are not all lining up in rows for her to pass. This sounds like she's walking down the aisle in a cinema.

- I do now remember reading this story before. I'm struggling a bit to understand how it performs as a prologue to Book 5, when its events site before Book 1? What does it tell us, really, about the world as it exists at the start of Book 5?

- "AU"- Is this a person? A company? I don't follow.

- Oh, okay, but I thought the slender Terran was walking past. I did not realise that they were in a shop.

- "a pair of unused goggles on her head"- Is this not a steampunk cliché yet?

(page 12)

- "smoke from her soldering iron" -Oh, right.

- Does smoke wobble?

- "Got close to one with a genome analyzer one." - Like the tech, but why would AU have one and use it on a person?

- A bit puzzled as to why N got all hot and bothered about the biped, and why AU went to the lengths of trying to analyse them. Seems plotful.

(page13)

- "no issues in lumbering up to a woman" - with.

- "Always just Yorden and I." - I mean...'me', but who cares?

- "the only other space big enough for a biped to lay down"- Not the impression I've carried with me about the size of the MP.

- "just for the buffalo"- Eh? I thought they were fish people?

(page14)

- "I think Y may be under some sort of unwritten long-term contract" - Further confusion in relation to the pay from and relationship with MK.

- "I’m a galactic celebrity" - How? Why? I don't remember very well, and I think a new reader would have no idea what this was a reference to.

(page15)

- "This part technically belongs to" - won't it be missed when they try to put the cutter back together?

- "And grew only on N"- This feels like the sort of critical detail that a reader would need way up front. It colours so much of the discussion.

- "If she coated each ball" - seems like a huge coincidence to me that this person just happens to be making the exact thing that they need to transport the trees, and solve their problem. And N didn't go hear to look for it, she was just wandering about and wandered to the exact shop with a solution to her problem? Way, way plot-ty.

(page 16)

- "brushing dander" - What is dander?

- "I return the balls and pay their value. Deal?" - The stakes involved in the story so far seem all to be monetary. It's not the most involving of plot lines, especially not at the start of a novel.

- "With a ball in each hand" - I thought one ball was twice the size of her head? I'm really confused trying to picture what this thing is.

(page17)

- "And money talked on her homeworld" - right, but sell me on how this converts into interesting personal stakes. If she needed the money to save her family, fine. I guess the idea is if she's rich enough she can buy herby out of exile, but that needs to be very clear from the start as a motivation. I don't think it is here.

- "She ached. It started in her chest, a blooming pressure of loss and guilt" - Her are the stakes and the passion that I need at the start of the story. This could be the start of the book, this section. Of course, the problem is, in the real world, all this has been resolved. I think it will be super confusing for a new reader.

(page 18)

- "As if letting in a drop of emotion would ruin this one chance for her" - Massive personal stakes, largely absent in the first half of this prologue, I think.

(page 19)

- "she wasn’t a technical adult" - This is an LBL I will stop for. Grammar: 'she wasn't an adult, technically' OR 'technically, she wasn't an adult'.

(page 21)

- "We have this one back on Earth where people from this tiny little island kept consuming other countries" - LOL, guilty as charged. Confused though, why does Y have to read the text? He's not an exile.

- "N was so bored she had to fight to keep her eyes open"- I can sympathise. Is this discussion of religious dogma going to take long?

(page 22)

- "I believe in literal interpretations, yes, when they are plausible" - There's a lot of dry world-building here.

- "wrapped her hand around one of the b/m balls" - I repeat, I though these were supposed to be twice the size of her head.

- "Are all the plantation trees N gives to R from hybrid stock" - so, hang on, has she once again stumble--with no agency or freewill or personal choice at all--into another part of the solution to her and Y's problem? It seems like the plot is the main character in this story.

(page 23)

- "Or were preserves left for historical something-or-other?" - What does this mean?

- "such as the one you grew up on" - So in fact, she already knew the answer to the question she just asked?

- "That does seem like an excellent idea"- why is she interested in trying to solve a problem that nobody else seems to be caring about? She seems to be interested in improving the services to the R's, even though there does not seem to be anything at stake for her in doing that.

- "We could start low-hybridization plantations, certainly" - I'm pretty much glazing over at all this technical stuff. I can't see how it affects the plot, or even really what the plot it, now that I think about it. The plot, as best I can see, is N finding a way to get back to her planet, which she misses. So, is the plot homesickness?

(page 24)

- "Dock at the landing pad?" - But you don't dock at a landing pad, you land at a landing pad. You dock at a dock or docking station.

- "weekly or monthly basis?"- vague, pick one, IMO. If he gives her the choice, she's going to pick the longer one, you would think, so why would he?

- "flanked them, above, below, and on both sides" - IMO, flanks are the sides, not top and bottom.

(page 25)

- "We have permission from the R" - But it was the N that gave permission, not the R. The R made a request the involved landing, did it not?

(page 26)

- "WE HAVE FOUR OLD GROWTH AS REQUESTED."- This seemed to take about two minutes. Way too fast. N left orbit instantly. How did they have time to do this, and more importantly why? I don't understand why anyone is doing anything, apart from N and Y doing it for the money, in order to eat.

(page 27)

- "No other spaceships were there" - Not great to describe what's not there. Suggest: the plaza was empty.

- "reeks of an object lesson" - What does this mean? Object lesson in what?

(page 28)

- "She’d imagined her parents’ embraces" - need this way at the front of the story.

- "partially hidden behind pointless shrubbery" - so, not actually pointless then, and even before that, it must have had some purpose, or they would not have put it there.

- "R would certainly overturn" - See, a new reader is not going to know anything about the Rs, and their role in the universe, which is not explained in this story, as far as I can remember. Have already forgotten something from the beginning? If I have, forgive me?

- "sending you to your death again" - I'm not sure that the reason for her exile was explained, or how serious it was. Okay, there was a passing reference, but I wouldn't call it an explanation

(page 29)

- "TAKE THE SEEDLINGS AND GO, BEFORE HE SENDS THE GUARD ORDERS TO GROUND YOU" - So, what? It was a trap? Because they got official clearance to land, I'm sure they did. It was all a trap for the Pres to get his hands on her? Why did he not send agents to try and capture her before, or make attempts to lure her back. It would have been quite easy, it seems.

- "as if the very act could cement her" - Great line.

- "four and samplings" - typo, saplings, I presume, however, are saplings and seedlings the same thing? The terms seem to be used interchangeably.

- "can send them a...fruit basket" LOL. Y is the best.

(page 30)

- "a skirting of a line just far enough to be irritating" - Far enough from what? Confusing phrasing.

- "An actual Ard" - I don't think this story explains the relationship between Ard, And, and Ne to a degree that any new reader could absorb.

- "as skillfully as a toddler pouring milk into a glass" - This sounds like something with a very dubious and unreliable degree of skill.

- "The seeds tipped out" - seedlings or saplings: they're not just seeds, surely.

- "which she’d conveniently stored in the cargo hold" - This phrasing is not I think as intended. That then her storing the containers here for her convenience, it sounds like it's the narrative admitting that the whole plot has been very 'convenient'.

- "its cockpit door open, a woman standing right on the edge" - Eh? This is a single-seater, right? How is she doing that?

(page 31)

- Love this encounter with G4. Love the description of G4, the set up of her as a childhood hero. Love the description of the setting, the wind, the roar. This is all great, and would be a triumphant scene if what has gone before worked. But, as noted, I don't think it does, because of the jumbled, rather weak plot (IMO), and the not insignificant confusion as to anyone's motivation apart from money (not an engaging premise).

- "She mouthed the word ‘At'" - No, wait, what the actual...what?! I so don't understand.

- "spraying a gold and green exhaust trail directly over the president’s skiff. A fine particulate fell from the exhaust, coating the skiff and blinding its viewscreen" - repetitive phrasing.

- "A few pieces flew back into the hold" - Don't buy this. Particulate is something like sand, grit. You don't get particles of paper.

- "and an over-the-top rub with plenty of plausible deniability" - I don't understand. What is a rub, in this context?

(page 32)

- "Very easy to argue that it’d be left to hammer home what N had lost" I'm lost. What is 'it'?

- "These will have to stay on my lap, probably" - Huh? Really? So, this solution is in no way practical, given the volume of produce they are required to transport?

- "But if these can get the R colony underway" - Was this explained at the very start? I'm not going back to check. Maybe it's DRS, but I don't remember a clear explanation of what the Rs wanted the seedlings. It must have been there, I've just forgotten. The underlying motivation thought is still money, because N don't have any stakes in the R having a successful colony.

- "we won’t have to do too many more of these runs" - Which will affect their income adversely, will it not? So, in doing what she's doing, N seems to be helping the Rs, who she dislikes, helping the N hierarchy, who she dislikes, and causing she and Y to have to find new employers. Comes back to me concern about motivation, and why she would help the R.

(page 33)

- "hand-delivered her and seeds" - saplings or seedlings surely?

- "G4 said she looked good in gold" - I don't understand. How has G4 seen N in gold? 

Overall 

It feels to me that there are a lot of details that would totally confuse a new reader, assumptions of knowledge or lack of explanation that result in what feel like leaps. My memory for the stories , the novels themselves, is a bit all at sea, BUT, I'm hampered from not having read them recently, and reading them spread over a quite considerable time period.

I really struggled with the lack of plot, and the lack of personal motivations. I had very little understanding of why anyone was doing anything. Why did the Dis want the seeds anyway? Just for their technical and commercial applications? In other words, just another group wanting to make money? Even N's motivation to reach the planet is not explained. Her family are hinted at, and there is description with great emotion attached to it, but I'm not really sold on it when she works for Y and presumably will fly away again after a bit.

The ending: so, this really is a prologue for Book 5? It's just so long, and reads exactly like a short story, and I think that undermines its effectiveness as a prologue. It's supposed to provide basis for the novel, but all it seems to do is set up the events that played out through Books 1 to 4. I can't seem any impetus to now read the novel that I'm still holding in my hands, presumably. To me, this reads like an ending, not a beginning.

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Wow everyone has such in-depth analyses and I feel like I don't have too much to say, though a lot of that is because I really liked most of this.

I did feel like I got a much better understanding of the world than before. Being in the dark didn't really bother me before, though now I feel like I'm more prepared to go into the main story. One thing I'll say is that I feel fairly comfortable with the concepts presented about the planet N, including the seeds, but some of the interplanetary stuff didn't stick as well. I don't think it needs to right now but if the concepts mentioned at the space station are going to be key I'll still need to be eased into them. What I liked the most about this prologue is that we get a clear emotional centering of N's desire to return home. Whenever N's doing something to try and achieve her goal of landing, such as listening to her uncle talk about their religion, I'm grounded in a clear enough emotional plot that the story's allowed to slip in worldbuilding info without it being too confusing/dense to me. 

If I had to identify one area I wasn't as certain about, it was the plot about the seeds. Right now it feels like we have some scenes that focus on the seeds and some that focus on N's desire to go home, with the two interacting in some capacity like when the uncle is talking about the religion and N finds a way to ask about the history of plant breeding (super cool, by the way). For me, N's emotional plot about wanting to return home is the more interesting focus here, and whenever we're only focused on the seeds like at the beginning I wasn't as engaged (because I studied plants in undergrad I found myself getting interested in the plants themselves, but not in a way that drew me into the story if that makes any sense). This also goes for the space station scene, where I was more interested in N being an outsider and having to keep her hands in her pockets than her ideas for the seeds when talking with A. The story rationalizes the seeds as being important since they allow N and Y to have jobs and maintain an income, which is fine as a background detail and important in their lives on a practical level but isn't sufficient as a narrative device to me. N doesn't seem to be primarily motivated by work/profit, so I don't get a good sense of stakes for what happens if she loses money from the seeds not doing well. My first thought is that the seeds could be connected more directly to her desire to return home, either through some emotional value N places in the seeds that represent home or more practical circumstances that prevent her from getting home if the seeds fail and she and Y are out of jobs, though I'm sure there are other ways to raise stakes here. I think it also depends on what the larger story wants to do with the seeds. If they're not going to be important in the main plot, I don't think we need nearly as much as we get about them here. If they are important, I think there are ways to more directly weave them into N's emotional plot.

On 12/30/2020 at 0:40 PM, Robinski said:

Even N's motivation to reach the planet is not explained. Her family are hinted at, and there is description with great emotion attached to it, but I'm not really sold on it when she works for Y and presumably will fly away again after a bit.

This didn't bother me as much but I certainly wouldn't say no to more specificity about what home means to her and why it's so appealing. 

On 12/30/2020 at 0:40 PM, Robinski said:

I really struggled with the lack of plot, and the lack of personal motivations. I had very little understanding of why anyone was doing anything. Why did the Dis want the seeds anyway? Just for their technical and commercial applications? In other words, just another group wanting to make money?

I was reading the prologue for N alone really so this didn't really bother me. If I felt like the focus was supposed to be on the larger world of the story and interconnected planetary systems then I'd want to know more about this, but if it's just supposed to be about N's experience (which is how I'm currently reading it) then it works for me as is. 

One last comment is that I think the character moment at the end is quite strong, but only if the story follows up on it by focusing on the changing society of the planet moving forward. 

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So! I started this last week but had a hard time getting through it (because life and also the reasons I explain below), so that’s why it took me longer to reply to this. Honestly, I’m probably not the best person to read this because I just don't read a lot of scifi, but I still wanted to offer what I could. 

 

Page 1

-upon my first reading of this page, it all made sense for the most part. N is concerned about these saplings, got it. I'm trusting that this will lead somewhere. there is a pretty big gap between the first line of dialogue and the next. when i first read it i was wondering who N was talking to.

-the whole “a N year not an earth year” gave N character, i liked that, because i would be the same if i were in the same position. Time is wild.

-I think the second paragraph can be cut down or reworded so that we get to Y’s line quicker. There’s still a lot of info on the first page that i'm not sure we need yet, like the mention of the HG pilots. I don't know what they are yet so it might be better to mention them after I'm more grounded.

-also, i'm not sure if N is a name or a species.

 

Page 2

-so either i'm really out of it, which is totally possible, or this is over complicated, they’re just hauling plants and i feel like i had to do more work than necessary to comprehend that 

 

Page 3

-i glazed over a bit at the description of the doors/film sheath.

 

Page 5

-oh so the film in the doorway is for the plants? I see now

 

Page 6

-”maybe K just really got on her nerves” ha, good line.

 

Page 8-10

-i had trouble staying engaged on these pages. There was a lot of good stuff that was bogged down by terms/things/places i didnt know. 

-also we are only just now learning that N has 8 fingers on her hands (pg 10). I feel like descriptions like that should be noted earlier. 

 

Page 15

-a lot of stuff is getting explained on this page and i feel like it should come earlier if possible.

 

Page 16

-im hoping these seeds go somewhere

-i think N’s goal is to get money? Im not clear on her motives yet.

 

Page 17-19

Im connecting more on these pages, with N on the ship not wanting to hear her high priest uncle

 

Page 20

-”because she was a masochist at heart,” lol nice

 

Page 21

-”I’m a huge fan of colonization narratives.” I think I said this before but I really like Y. he seems like a fun person.

 

Page 23

-i think this is the first time it's mentioned that N has copper skin. It might be the second and if it is, I missed it.

 

Page 27

“Zoom in”

Spoiler

RB1I4Q4.png.766d8476cda793d740ae50215f65886e.png

 

Overall: This definitely had its moments, but I had a hard time overall connecting to the story. I don't want to repeat what everyone else has said, but there was just so much that I didn’t understand. There were so many things set up that didn’t pay off for me. This felt like an actual chapter setting up a long story rather than a prologue. As a prologue, it lacked punch. It didn’t draw me in and keep me hooked.

Did it give me solid grounding in the world without overwhelming? Ehhhhh, it was better than the last sub but I was still overwhelmed. Would I read to the next chapter? Mehhhhh, probably not. Again though, I might just not be the right person for this story.

I did really like the characters though, this definitely has a lot of potential! I really liked N and Y's personality but because I had a hard time picturing everything, it was hard to connect with them. I think once you clear some things up, it will help readers like me connect more and focus on the important things.

Aside from all the confusing bits, the story did flow really well. I think the voice is consistent (by itself, Idk about compared to other books) and I would be interested to learn more about N and Y once things are more clear in the story :)

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