Date: 06/17/2007 12:18 AM Title: Chapter 3
When I read a story I do for pure enjoyment, and if I really enjoyed it then I like to say so.
I really did enjoy this one. I liked how it came together in the end and all the hints that led to it.
I did read it twice to get all the plot twists, but I soo like it when you have to think about the story, and it is not totally predictable. For me it worked well that way and kept me interested in reading it to the end.
I did get a bit confused about the mine, just the picturing it. But I liked the concept and It was one of the first fanfics that I read in the old arhives.
Thanks for a good story.
Date: 06/16/2007 5:40 PM Title: Chapter 1
I'm afraid that this is going to be an iron-and-clay review for this story seems to be made up of really strong and really weak parts that don't mix. Or at least parts that I really liked and really disliked. Fortunately, the iron parts carry the story.
What I liked about this story: I found this a convincing and horrifying portrayal of multiple personality disorder brought on by trauma and the tragedy of not having it recognised. One thing I found very irritating in the first part was Princess's habit of ascribing various behaviours to her cerebionics. It's the sort of thing that gets to me because it's like hearing 'thanks to my 20-20 vision, I can read the Stop sign at 40 feet' -- it's part of her and it is extremely unrealistic to allude to them as a separate entity. However, once I finished the story, I realised that that was the point: Princess devolves responsibility for her actions to other things in order to avoid facing them. It worked brilliantly as the story developed: we come to realise that her 'interrupts' are periods in which her alternative personality takes over. The language Princess uses in this story is wonderfully integral to our understanding the nature of her plight. It is that deadpan, precise tone that one uses when you're aware that something is very, very wrong, but you don't understand what it is yet and are examining the various disparate symptoms of the problem in the hopes that they'll eventually crystallise into the big picture -- and there's also a part of you that doesn't want to understand, at least not for a while longer.
One last thing on the language: I really like the name for her alternate personality. It works on so many levels: adult versus child, actual power versus potential, scheming matriarch versus innocent ascendant, and then when one thinks of the insect world, that alien and dangerous individual with the power to generate and command millions.
For me, the true depth of the outrage and pity one feels on her behalf doesn't begin with her abuse at the hands of her uncle. *The* image for me was when she noted that she was given injections that meant she menstruated every three months. I started to think 'Why Depo-Provera? Why not use Seasonale which lasts a year at a time or any of many other alternatives?' and then I realised that that wasn't the point. The point was while controlling menstruation was a necessity in her job, it wasn't something Princess had been able to discuss, consider and decide on rationally. Even in matters this trivial and personal, she has no agency: that's what made it striking. When she was with her uncle, he did things to her and there was nothing she could do about it save take refuge behind the Queen. Things are still being done to her: in falling into the Chief's hands, it is more accurate to say that she has changed hands than that she has been rescued. The Queen is more needed than ever given that her 'benefactor' has the ability to do almost anything it pleases.
Even her uncle's conviction isn't a relief: in having fabricated a truth, it confirms that her benefactor is more powerful than the justice system and in prosecuting him for a crime he didn't commit, it served for them the purpose of getting him out of the way and in declaring her to be a non-existent person (legally dead!) and had nothing to do with obtaining redress or acknowledgement of any crime against her person. It has as little to do with justice as rape has to do with love. And she gets the message, all right. It's clear to her that the score still is you're safe only as long as you are useful to me, there is no one who can save you and that a lot of the things I'm going to ask you to do are not nice. Fortunately, the Queen can deliver. What makes it outrageous is that it's not a mis-impression on Princess's part: throughout the story we get plenty of confirmation that this really is the case. In particular, the Chief has had no concern for their mental health beyond if it affects their ability to keep working or her disorder would have been spotted a long time ago, an act of hideous and needless neglect that just makes you want to howl.
The plot is like watching a train on a collision course with another: you're hoping against hope that it's not going to end in tragedy, you know you ought to look away but you can't. The ending you posted on the mailing list is a much better one than the one in Scramble: it follows more logically, it more accurately gets to the heart of how deep and serious a split personality is, illustrates how lightly the Chief has taken it in allowing Keyop access to her and whether Keyop makes it out of the Queen's clutches or not, our worry for his welfare is balanced by that little sense of poetic justice that at last, something of the Chief's is coming back to bite him.
The clay: while I like the physical set up of the asteroid mining ventures, I have to say that the political and social set up of them was... unbelievable and even repulsive. The notion of mining asteroids being a dangerous, highly skilled and well-paid job taken on so one can provide long-term for self and family (which I see and can agree with entirely) doesn't fit at all well with the notion of importing said families. You wouldn't do that on an oilrig and this is considerably more fraught an environment where you *need* to have every last molecule of air imported and accounted for. Not very smart. Compounding my negative view of them is their happy happy habit of spacing offenders. No company and still less one that has spent billions on exploration and exploitation is going to appreciate having its employees (and there's no space for extra people here -- well, save for the wives and children hauled along for no sane reason) arbitrarily killed. No society will stand for it either -- and they *do* have to go back. It does nothing for company morale or trust. And this is space, not a magnolia tree in the Deep South -- any body spaced will STAY where you put it, frozen and endangering both the asteroid and any traffic. Just how dumb are they? As far as I was concerned, the Spectrans could keep them.
While I'm here though, I do have to mention that the manner of slavery the Spectrans subjected mining colonies to is very modern indeed -- not ownership, but control and disposability being the defining characteristics of modern-day slavery. Very good!
I started reading the rescue attempt with interest -- at least up to when I read what the song was. A lullaby... there aren't many things that make my jaw hang open in disbelief but this was one of them. I kept reading on with increasing disbelief in the hopes that there would be a great big payoff, but unfortunately that didn't happen as the scene just stopped. I confess though that this was a mixed blessing. On one hand, I really wanted to see exactly *how* they proposed to actually rescue the miners after all that set up, but on the other, the fact that the story did shy away from delivering and that it turned out that all I needed to know was that Princess locked Keyop out of the asteroid allowed me to divide what didn't work off from the rest of the story and continue to enjoy it.
My final take: overall this is a really good story. I also truly appreciate how you've continued to experiment and push your writing style and what subjects you'll tackle. However, it's also a really flawed story in some ways. But hey, if you don't want to stumble, you also don't want to get anywhere.