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Silk last won the day on September 20 2012

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    Inciter of mobs and resident trombonist
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  1. Yeah, I found I felt pretty similarly about these scenes as previous ones. I think it's a mix of there just being so many of them, these scenes often adhering to the same formula of 'everybody has a trinket,' and the fact that we often get several of them at once. In this chapter, the thing I missed most was the sense of forward motion. Last chapter was talking about finding the dspeaker--down to having a culprit even!--and I was looking forward to some sort of confrontation, but that didn't happen. You do bring the referendum back at the end, but we don't seem to have made any progress on it aside from it being closer in time. As I read: P1 I had completely forgotten that L was here. Where has she been this whole time? P3 “I know you see [trees] all the time as a minister.” Not sure why this is different for ministers vs soldiers? Even if the soldiers are confined to the beach (not sure on that one?) the beach in J did not seem to be so far from town that they wouldn’t see trees. P4 “I did mean to hurt him” this seems like a fairly sudden change of heart. P6 “How could she get through to X” if she’s having trouble getting through to X, why was he helping her with g? “She needed someone to don the mantle of leadership… and X didn’t seem interested” then why X? Also not sure whether the focus of this scene was supposed to be D or X. P7 “Not alone alone…” Harassing them into volunteering seems kind of counter to the point? P9 “A normal life” so I think the overall sentiment here works well, is this something the soldiers think of as “normal”? I forgot all about the deal she had made with D. I suspect this needs to either be made more of or less of, depending on the changes you make elsewhere. But, keeping it might be one way to mix up one of the “A connects with her people” scenes if need be, and maybe draw in some of the larger threats?
  2. Overall: I'll pretty much echo Mandamon’s comments here – it felt like it took a while for the chapter to get where it was going, partially I think because it felt like the “find the dspeaker” thread was mentioned at the beginning and then closed at the end, but without really being apparent in the middle. Also like Mandamon, I don’t really understand the politics at play here or why A came to the conclusion she did, so without that understanding it doesn’t have the same impact that it otherwise could. (I do remember M, but didn't realize she was going to be important, or clock her absence from the narrative as particularly suspicious.) As for the dynamic between A and Am, I like the conversation and what A ended up revealing (even though its starting to feel like the worst-kept secret in the world), but again like Mandamon, I’m not sure where it’s going. Am seems to be really sanguine about all of these big revelations. What does this knowledge mean for him, for A, how might it help or hinder their other objectives in the story? Pacing-wise, though, aside from some possible trimming in the middle bits of the chapter, it does seem like a good spot in the narrative to end where it ended. As I read: P2 “He was making the situation sounds so hopeless.” I’m struggling a bit with what the stakes are here, beyond “C has to resign if she loses.” A guy we don’t like very much and disagree with ends up in charge and then… what happens next? Are we talking “people are going to get mad about taxes” or “fundamental threat to democracy” (actually I’m not totally clear on what form of government this is)? “It’s never fun seeing someone’s idealism getting shattered to pieces.” I do love the juxtaposition that’s been set up here. I won’t belabour the stakes point as I think that’s what’s needed to really make this hit home. P3 “It’s harder to give people a voice…” great line. P4 “…and H’s point about needing more protection…” True as far as it goes, maybe, but… would people actually vote that way? Or is this more about A’s ignorance as to how this system of government works? P5 “The Ix believed that the D was a J minister…” haven’t these two islands been almost totally cut off from each other? Or is it more that J has been cut off from Ix than the other way around? P6 I’m not quite sure what to make of the encounter with the two booksellers—what the booksellers were after or what the narrative purpose is aside from letting us know that Am can write (and that this is unusual). P11 “Am’s eyes widened…” Some confusion on the dialogue tag here, I thought Am was speaking and then the dialogue tag made me question it (though on re-read, I think it’s his own harshness he’s surprised at?) P12 “You said I could drop this conversation?” I’m really curious to get more of a sense of the emotions that come with this remark—tone of voice, body language, etc. P13 “‘Makes you sound bad…’ No, it really didn’t.” I’m glad A said it, because I was thinking it… A’s question to B here caught me completely off-guard. But also, if this is a secret, it’s starting to feel like a very badly kept secret. The conversation between A and C at the end here also seems to come a little bit out of nowhere—I don’t really understand the politics at play, and A takes this gamble with a confidence that seems at odds with her protestations that she’s not a politician or diplomat.
  3. “Nice little houses and their nice little gardens” – I’d actually love to get a few descriptions like this for J itself, too. I already feel like I have a better sense of layout here than I did for J. P2 “Often in one that fits their gender better than…” so A is a dspeaker? P6 “After I learned a bit more about you…” how did C learn this information, and why? Or is this in the conversation between A and C that we skipped over? P9 “H isn’t supposed to do this.” Uh, did he do something to C? Because this seems ominous. So… why didn’t C do anything to stop him? Especially if he’s not supposed to me making announcements but claiming some “official” authority. Overall: I’m struggling a bit with this chapter, and having a hard time figuring out why, which admittedly isn’t super-helpful from a critique perspective (sorry!) I like the “A experiences a totally different culture which might cause problems in the future” aspect, but the political stuff feels like it’s going mostly over my head. I think I don’t have a clear enough idea yet of what specifically A is trying to accomplish, so all of the politics stuff is just going over my head rather than feeling like an obstacle. I’d also echo Mandamon’s comment that this chapter felt like a lot of setup, where we’ve already had a fair bit at the start of Part 2. This is definitely something you can do, and I think my experience of the text has been a little different than Mandamon's so far insofar as I was sort of getting some of it, but I definitely agree that it needs more setup; as is, it feels fairly nebulous (I was speculating, but not sure, that that was what you were going for) and also took me quite a while to come to that realization, which meant it was jarring when I first started encountering things like "Oh, A doesn't know what a woman is even though she's been using she/her pronouns." So yes, more setup would definitely help. Food for thought, what would happen if A and the other people from J didn't use she/her or he/him pronouns? What if they used gender neutral or neopronouns instead? Would it help disrupt that idea of, for lack of a better word, more traditional gender norms earlier on, which most readers are probably going to assume from the start and then the text has to do the work of correcting them? ooooh I love this. And seeing this happen, even if A didn't recognize it, could be a neat way to tie some of these different threads together. I wondered this too!
  4. This is very funny, especially since I initially misread it as saying the implication was TMM is nothing but one massive run-on sentence. It was actually "in angle" that got me more than "schlumping," which was clear enough, though onomatopoeic. And yes, you can totally slouch when sitting.
  5. Right into it, then! “She needed quite a bit more line to reach T” – okay, wow. I had not realized he was that close. P2 “in the traditional way.” Er, how else…? “but being drenched in pee” – not what the original line says, of course, but Shard will yell at me if I write that, and also this is M forgetting her promise not to swear. (I know other people questioned in the last round why she was sticking to this promise in her head, but it worked for me, is pretty much one of two ways I would see that going for M; the other, of course, would have been if in the privacy of her own head she’d decided to swear more. ) So… does (antagonist) J have eyes on M, or does he at least have the potential to be able to see what she’s doing? Does that increase the risk of whatever she’s up to, for M or her buddies? P3 “The tenuous silver capable” cable? I’m confused on a couple of things. One is just the blocking of the various ships and what M is trying to do, how T was positioned before she came to get him and what he was trying to accomplish or if his ship was just drifting, etc. But I’m also confused as to the why of it: The antagonist has already stated his intent to go get T. Presumably so he can eliminate all the witnesses, sure, but what does M gain from trying to do the same thing stealthily? P4 “he’s too professional to kill us himself” because… then there would be witnesses? I think I’m with you, but it took me a minute and a couple of reads to follow M’s line of reasoning here. P5 “in that moment she stopped caring about the jinx…” 1. nothing specific seems to have preceded this, aside from them actioning the plan they’d already agreed on. 2. no swearing follows, at least not in this scene. “the chill of vacuum” yeah, so, the chill of vacuum is going to be… significant, yes? Dangerously so? P6 “...told me your name before he died.” Didn’t we establish in the first submission that his life was not in danger, I mean aside from the murderous smuggler planning to kill them all to leave no witnesses? But the original gunshot wound was not supposed to have killed him, as I recall, so this caught me by surprise. Unless this is a deception on M’s part? Oh, here’s the swearing. Btw, I assume this ends with the team rescuing themselves and T changing his mind about who M is supposed to be kissing. “M had run the numbers in her head, and they didn’t look good.” This is one of the areas where I’m not sure not knowing the plan serves the story well. Do they not look good in a way she was expecting, or do they not look good in a way that is going to make things worse than they already are? P7 “which fit pretty snuggly” snugly, as in something that is snug, rather than something that snuggles Oop, we’re back to not swearing in M’s head again. “T tilted his head down…” well that happened sooner than I expected, but I guess it works. Side note: with the exception of the last couple pages, the romance has been pretty subtle up to this point—not absent, but it escalates notably at the scene that starts on p6. Not sure it’s an issue, but it is noticeable. P8: I, uh… I can’t say that it would have occurred to me that masturbation was a tool for dealing with nightmares. How mobile are these suits, by the way? M complains about them, but they must be considerably less bulky/more flexible than your average space suit considering some of the details we’re getting here. P10 “more expensive in energy” so… the idea is that everyone has suits that are battery-powered and they’re trying to wear the antagonist down first? “C edged around the racking…” Where did she come from? She couldn’t have been on the plan, could she? (Same question about the other C, when he joins in a few paragraphs later.) P11 “The MLB turned up their collective nose” should we know this acronym? P12 “...through the helmet mic of someone called Brown.” Now I’m confused – when did they change suits/helmets/etc? Hm, I’m not sure I was prepared for the sudden reversal of fortunes here – in the last scene the antagonist seemed thoroughly defeated, really only the relative length of the piece led me to expect that we were not at the end. Maybe the “doodad” can be set up prior to it being used off-screen? P13 “A view of--” without having read beyond this line yet, this is a place where I feel like having information withheld is actually working. Edit: maybe just a brief reference to M lying about the lieutenant being dead? The reference almost works as the brief reminder of his existence we need to set this up, but as-is is also confusing. Is the “hands free” spaceship operation courtesy of B? (Or wait: Oh dear. I just realized what this possibly really is. Which, well, that’s ominous, but hm, not sure how this will land for folks who haven’t read TCC? And perhaps, while M is angsting about having killed N, one reference to her not being sure he’s really, fully dead to set up the “ghost in the machine” here?) Overall: I touched on this already, but—I know one of the major subsets of heist stories is not knowing the plan, but I’m not sure it serves us well here. It may be partially that there are two plans we as the audience know nothing about: the antagonist’s and the protagonist’s plans, so it’s hard not to feel like the narrative is withholding information from us just because it can. And, not knowing the plan means that some of the dramatic scene changes lose their impact, because I don’t know if the plan is going, well, to plan or not. “Yes” or “no” are both options that can increase tension, but not knowing isn’t having the same effect. I know I’ve mentioned this above too, but it also feels like the story skips over a lot of kind of important scenes: whatever happened to T, the sudden reversal of fortunes in part 14. I suspect there is room to trim the beginning, maybe work some of the interpersonal dynamics we see there into scenes that focus a little more on the action at hand. What’s on the page is great but it feels like there are a few scenes that are getting short shrift! So like I said, I think I got who unlocked the controls. As for whether or not M and T are a thing, I was fine with where things were left, but did not understand what prompted M to realize they wouldn't work out long-term. FWIW I did clock this one. I think this might be a better solution than my suggestion.
  6. So G pretty much immediately becomes someone I dislike intensely, but I assume this is deliberate. Edit, p2: yeah, okay, definitely deliberate then. Carry on. “An hour of emergency operating time for three people” unsure if this is an hour each or an hour between the three of them (as in a man-hour), though not sure it matters given the setup so far. P2 “Once close enough, he slashed the fabric…” I wonder if we can get a transition that is just a tiny bit more ominous here, something that better signals the shift from “I have a plan” to “the plan is murder.” “Her mistake had caused the ragged tear…” “her mistake had caused” just to clarify that this refers to the previous crash, not something that is happening right now? P3 “the extra thirty minutes of air—extra two hours once…” Not sure the math adds up here: killing the first person adds thirty minutes but killing the second adds an extra ninety minutes on top? I stumbled on “can’t delegate discipline.” It’s a great line, just not sure what it has to do with making sandwiches. P4 “He would have strangled Q…” stumbled on “he” here, maybe just because the reference to N was a couple sentences ago? “She thought about shooting Q’s son in the head” Oh, but THIS, this very baldly stated juxtaposition with very normal things, this works very well. (The sentence is missing a period at the end though :P) p5 “...bought the concern to remind her of choosing to anoint him” Tripped on this sentence – it’s a bit convoluted, even for someone who’s read TMM. Also, I’m assuming from all the glances off-screen that Something Is Up with M’s friend. P6 “Where the… did that come from?” Because you’ve italicized Q’s dialogue throughout this snippet the italics here make it easy to read as a continuation of the dialogue when it’s not. You might be able to get away without? “even schlumping in angle of front and side windows” I’m using the word “stumble” a lot, but yeah, here too. I don’t actually know what this means? P7 “Wasn’t like the calories… went into data processing.” HAH. This, however, is great. “Hard to tell the waking nightmares…” this is astoundingly forthright of M, really. P8 “genuine 2000’s compressed would pulp” should be “wood” of course. P10 “busy making serious face” missing word in here somewhere p11 “As J decided on how to rescue T…” Wait, is this an actual rescue mission? If so, I feel like that needs to come up earlier in the scene. We get M’s anxiety that he’s been separated from the rest of the crew, but until now I had thought that was her feeling anxiety about a planned operation, not that something had gone wrong. Unless this is a drill? P12 “You’re relieved of temporary command” – repetition of M’s “took over command” comment above “…no more danger than we are.” Hah. Great line to end the scene on. “...and shot Lieutenant S…” Well that escalated quickly. More seriously, we already know that whats-his-pickle is a bad dude, but I wonder if a little more buildup of “all is not well” is in order here. Could be as simple as M getting a chance to expand on what’s not right, as opposed to just “something” while S ignores her. P16 I been through the sims a thousand times.” missing opening quote “alien barbecue” noooooo p17: so in this scene, M references the first-aid thing as a chance to communicate with S. Great! Good cloak-and-dagger, counter-espionage stuff. Except… then that doesn’t happen. God, this guy is such an a-hole. I’m a little surprised he doesn’t at least put up a show of “totally not going to kill you all, UNLESS,” though, if only because “do what I say and everything will be fine” seems like a more convincing way to get people to help you without melting into screaming panic than “do what I say or I’ll kill you sooner,” as M so astutely pointed out, So far, I have no idea what’s happening with T and the heat shield, or what M is attempting to accomplish by throwing herself off the ship. I’m on board for finding out though. Overall: Just because it’s a short piece, I wonder if it takes a little too long to get to “there’s an escape pod out there that shouldn’t be;” maybe not to actually arrive there but at least to get the setup that something’s out there that shouldn’t be. I’m engaged with M and co’s antics just fine, but it does take a while for the story to actually spell out the connection between the two POV characters (even though we’re expecting a connection). That said, once the two stories do intersect, things start happening very quickly – possibly even too quickly. We skip over things like what happened to T and how much danger he’s actually in, or at least would be under normal circumstances, and the team’s discovery of the bodies and G putting them to work. Granted, the latter is stuff we already know, but it did strike me as a bit of a weird jump. I’m also very curious as to what the antagonist’s plan actually is. I’d sort of wondered up at the top, then discarded it because it was too early to be complaining about not knowing, but I can only assume he wasn’t expecting to run into M and her crew. All that said this is pretty minor stuff. I’m bought in and enjoying watching M try not to swear her way through this adventure I had to read the sentence a second time (it was the "mean" comment that made me do the double-take) but once I did I did cotton onto the the "omg an actual clipboard" thing, so this is probably just one of those YMMV things. The conversation remains delightful, and is a fun little nod to TBB but - since one of the common comments seems to be that we could get to the core of the story a bit quicker - do we need it at all? The only thing it adds to the Q&M canon is the "where does that come from" comment from M, which is lovely and is going to play well with people who have read other Q&M stories and with those who haven't, not at all - especially since I'm assuming Q does not figure into the rest of this story either.
  7. Right off I was confused about the geography in this scene. It starts with them already in the under-ocean tunnels but then they take a lift down. Also, A seems to be paying attention to the soldiers which makes it especially weird that L came out of nowhere. I think taking some time to actually describe the scene here would be good (and maybe a good place for some sense-of-wonder stuff, given the scenario?) and could also be a chance to sneak in a reminder of who is actually going on the trip. “We all have that right.” Interesting character moment here. P2 “The trek was… a good couple hours” again I wonder about the geography. A couple hours by foot is not necessarily a huge distance! P4 Given the revelations they’re being confronted with, I’m surprised the soldiers were allowed, let alone encouraged, on this mission. This seems like a good way to start a rebellion. If that’s what the queen (or whoever) is actually aiming for here, maybe hang a lantern on it? The “tell them about sex” bit feels like, well, a bit, but if it’s supposed to be funny it’s landing oddly for me. P6 “Men get away with being unpleasant…” This seems like an awfully soft touch when it comes to describing systemic sexism, especially given B’s later comments about how living in Jac seems so much better. There is the discussion of abuse just below, but I wonder if this could be rejigged to make the consequences of this kind of system a little more, well, consequential. Things like wage gaps, career glass ceilings, body image issues, or whatever is appropriate to the setting. Might be a good opportunity to establish some world-building too. P7 “some… soldiers on top of the wall” Unsure if we’re referring to soldiers as a gender, a profession, or both Also, I was expecting the look down from the wall to confirm whether or not the fears of a civilian on the beach are justified, since it seemed to be a “what if” at first. Is it common for people to be on the beach? Also, I didn’t realize until the soldiers were referenced just down the page that A still had them with her. P11 “what was that about being fine?” Stumbled here. This might be a response to some earlier dialogue, but if so it’s been long enough that whatever line X is responding to here has vanished from my mind. Hmm... did we know A was going to need to talk to the mayor? A little more setup of this encounter before it happens might be helpful, I think. Especially since it's apparently not normal for civilians to be on the beach, but the one person on the beach this time was the mayor's son - right now it feels a little too coincidental. Overall: I do think this pacing has improved here compared to last chapter--it feels like we're now moving toward the next goal as opposed to the last chapter, which feels almost preparatory for this one--but the actual goals are still a bit nebulous. What are the aims of A's investigation, and how specifically does she think she might accomplish those goals (even if she ends up being wrong about how she actually achieves what she needs to. Or fails to do so!) I think I want to see A acting, not just reacting (as she does with the monster attack) and that will help feel like we're moving quicker. I'm certainly interested in what happens here! It seems to me A and her crew are being exposed to some ideas and revelations that could have a big impact on the dynamic of the crew and I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out.
  8. “So far, not a fan of clothes” – um, so they haven’t been wearing clothes under their armor? Wouldn’t that chafe? Edit: Wait, wait, hold up. These folks frequently de-summon their exoskeletons, do they just walk around nude otherwise? Because that is definitely not what I have been picturing. “…walk up to the throne and sit down.” Where did she come from? I don’t have a very good sense of the layout in the room. P3 “…So you’re saying I was supposed to let Z…” I’d be curious to get any sort of reaction from the Queen here, even if that reaction is no rection. A is being fairly heated, but G and S are both being fairly understated and we don’t get anything from the queen at all. P4 Possibly WRS since I don’t remember whether this info has been raised before, but I’m not sure if the revelation that there’s another island is a surprise to A. P7 “I need to get out of these clothes and…” His base is under attack and his priority is to get out of his clothes?! P8 “‘Where were you?’ L snapped” – we’ve already established that L was aware of A’s meeting with the queen P9 “Remember how I faced all of them down?” she’s going to have a hard time doing that again if she’s leaving. Or, wait, is she bringing the deserters with her? Who’s protecting the base? P10 “If people think you’re on the loose…” Confused here. He’s not a prisoner. P11 I’m not feeling hugely invested in the argument between N and T here. I think because we are basically watching A watch them talk? She doesn’t really participate much. P16 “being a woman” – this seems strange since we’ve established that “man” and “woman” are foreign concepts to A. It seems to me that the text is trying to establish that this is a discussion about being trans, and I get why you’d go for a clearer confirmation of that here, but it feels like a bit of a break from A’s POV and I’m not totally sure the confirmation is needed? Overall: I felt antsy while reading a lot of this chapter. I think the main thrust—being handed a new and different mission—is a good and important beat to have, but I wonder if a lot of this could be whittled down to a single scene that establishes that, rather than a full chapter. I’m totally on board with small character moments, but a lot of it fell flat for me this time. I think it’s partly the break we had from this story, partially that the cast is pretty large to begin with, and partially that it felt a bit like this chapter was spending time whittling the cast down to a more manageable level. Another thing is that the previous part had some strong, specific throughlines – saving P, and saving the base from the rebel attack – but both of those have been resolved, and they haven’t yet been replaced by anything new. A has learned some fun twists but her goals at this point are pretty nebulous. Can she decide she wants to do something specific (rather than just “treat soldiers better”) or find some specific information? Can the queen give her more specifics about the mission she’s being sent on? Etc. I think this is a good thought. I'd also second that I was having particular trouble remembering the deserters and the healer--so the newer characters. The other ones I had an easier time following. For a second I thought we'd somehow shifted gears to talk about musical chord sequences (until you got to 'X' )
  9. Like I mentioned on Discord, I ended up getting what I needed, but when they inevitably reject it I'll sub it again and you can tell me all the things I missed (it genuinely could have used another round!) So I dumped a bunch of filler from this story in exchange for hopefully hitting the notes everyone mentioned. Plus: a big "eff you" space window that overlooks the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way (you can see stuff falling into the event horizon, of course!) around which the characters' space station is in orbit because they are actually part of the Super Massive Hadron Collider "publish or perish" academia jokes and adjacent A new shade of Galaxy Gloss programmable nail polish (IYKYK) smash-cut style scene changes (sometimes with flashbacks!) a little bit more flirting a ridiculous weapon a distinct lack of uncouth jokes, which is honestly a bummer, but you can't win 'em all. I did get halfway to Mandamon's "large hardon collider" joke, so maybe I can be forgiven?
  10. Go right ahead! I'll be catching up on last week's subs this week. Sorry for the delay!
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