Chapter 208: Illusory Conflicts

on April 4, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 6: Career Counseling, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Mackenzie Gets Things Turned Around

The idea of walking into anywhere like I owned it was easier said than done. Even the dorm room where I kept all my stuff… and that I was respnosible for half the board on… was really Amaranth’s room, in my head. I couldn’t use the bathroom we shared with our suitemates without feeling like I was intruding on their space.

It wasn’t that my roommate or suitemates made me feel that way. That’s the point… nobody needed to. It was just an in-built feature of my brain.

Or if it hadn’t been built in from the beginning, it had been retrofitted fairly seamlessly.

But it helped to know that if I was faking it in lieu of making it, I wasn’t the only one… and I didn’t mean my partner in fakery, Andreas. I meant Acantha. The fact that a third of the people in the cozily intimate space were elves might have been the most intimidating thing in the world if it wasn’t so easy to imagine her internally screaming in terror when she took a moment to compose her thoughts .

Okay, that sounded more sadistic than I meant. I didn’t like the idea of her screaming in terror… I liked the idea that I wasn’t the only one.

I was pretty sure that neither Memphis or Wisdom were putting up a front on the same level that she was, but knowing for a fact that there were at least some elves who were only pretending to be cool as polished marble made it plausible to think that maybe the rest weren’t quite as put together as they looked from the outside.

Actually, once I started thinking about it, it occurred to me that the only elves I’d known who definitely didn’t have any doubts about anything had been either completely monstrous or monumental dickholes. Acantha, though at least a little sketchy and dishonest, wasn’t. Glory and Grace were both full of doubts… Grace more so than her older sister… and both pretty decent. Dee had elevated… or lowered, in her metaphorical framework… second-guessing herself into a form of religious devotion.

Of course, once I’d had this thought, I realized that the same was true of anyone, not just elves. My grandmother saw her lack of doubt as being the same thing as strength of faith, and the certainty on certain subjects that I’d carried from her house to the university had resulted in some of my… less shining moments.

Taking it a step farther, I realized that if a lack of self-doubt would turn anyone into a very obvious sort of giant steaming dickhole, then it must follow that anyone who wasn’t a very obvious sort of giant steaming dickhole must suffer from self-doubt.

As much as Memphis was kind of grating in a hard to define way, nobody in the group was so manifestly a jerk as to meet the criteria for not having any self-doubt.

Therefore, I reasoned… or rationalized, anyway… everybody in the room I was about to walk into probably felt kind of similar to the way I did, at least on some level and to some degree.

It was a very roundabout way of reassuring myself that everybody else was more or less mortal just like I was, but my brain found this kind of thing way more compelling than simple platitudes about how people put on their pants.

After all, I’d spent so many years of my life using similarly large and convoluted arrangements of words to convince myself that my failings were unique and everybody else was as constantly and acutely aware of my apparent deficiencies as I was.

Turning that kind of line of thinking around was a bit like turning a long caravan laden down with baggage around after a thousand miles of cross-country travel: you had to expect it would take a while to get the whole thing facing in the right direction, and you wouldn’t even have begun to cover the distance back at that point…

“You ready for this?” Andreas asked, and I realized we’d arrived outside the lounge.

“Yeah, just steeling myself up a little,” I said.

“A very dwarven phrase,” he said. “We’ll make a poet out of you yet.”

“Remember, this is our project,” I said. “We’re just as qualified as anyone else… you’re probably more qualified. And either way, we have just as much right to be there as anyone else.”

“Let’s say we have more right to be there, so even if we’re only half-convinced, we still hit the mark,” he said.

“Deal,” I said, and we stepped across the threshold of silence.

“Welcome back,” Acantha said. I had a momentary reflex towards a guilty start when I realized that she’d been waiting for us to begin, but I quelched it. We hadn’t been keeping her waiting on purpose, and I was pretty sure we were still within five minutes of the designated starting time… and while it would have been dickish to do it on purpose, the fact that she’d waited was a nice confirmation that our presence was necessary. “I’d say that I hope you’re all ready to get down to business, but actually, I think tonight might be as much play as it is work for some of you.”

She gestured to a table where there a couple of dozen small stone figures in various stages of completion and customization. A couple of them could accurately have been described as “blanks”… they were little more than the suggestion of a humanoid figurine on a base. With a little imagination, you could see them pared down to a human, elf, or even skeleton or zombie. Others were clearly unfinished, but more solidly leaning towards a particular type of figure: a swordsman or pikeman or wizard. The remainder were basically done, but had some details that were obviously unfinished, like big blocky helmets and shields that were waiting to be carved down into specific regalia.

“I thought it would be a good idea to represent some varying degrees of detail,” Memphis said. He pointed to the blanks. “Normally at this stage, there would be large stone shapes around their arms, to be made into weapons or shields. Removing the excess material makes them useless for my production purposes, but raises more possibilities for illusory enhancement.”

“I’m sure we all appreciate your sacrifice,” Acantha said.

“I’d prefer your appreciation in the form of a receipt,” he said. “I know that no one asked, but when I looked at my stock, it seemed like these might answer the need better than the others.”

“I’m glad you trusted your judgment… I can certainly see the potential there,” Acantha said. “Now, we’re going to need to break up into groups. Who here has expertise in illusion or glamour?”

Sapphire and Wisdom both raised their hands.

“With me, that makes three of us,” Acantha said.

“Of course it’s the girls,” Micah said.

“It’s so typically defensive to make a remark that devalues a skill that you lack right at the moment when it proves valuable,” Wisdom said.

“Typical of what?” Micah asked.

“Men… humans… take your pick,” she said.

“Please, let’s keep it civil,” Acantha said. “Wisdom is correct, though: right now, this is the expertise that we need. We’re going to break up into three groups of three… and since we illusionists and glamour artists have the skills that are in demand, we will make the selectiosn. Wisdom, I give the honor of first pick to you, for realizing that you have the leverage.”

The mention of numbers made me realize that Andreas’s prediction that the numbers would start to drop as the project became more of a time commitment hadn’t yet come true. All eight of us were still there: me, him, Micah, Memphis, Wisdom, Sapphire, and the two human girls who hadn’t said enough yet to make an impression on me. In fact, not only could I not remember their names, but they kind of ran together in my head. Not due to any pronounced physical similarity, but just because they hadn’t done much to distinguish themselves from each other or anyone else.

“Mackenzie,” Wisdomsaid, without hesitation. Something fluttered across Acantha’s face, almost too quick for me to register and way too quick for me to identify. She’d gambled on Wisdom picking someone else.

“And now Sapphire,” Acantha said. I had a feeling that if Wisdom hadn’t picked me, Acantha would have gone second… having someone else go first would have made it seem less self-serving, but with her first choice gone, she could go full humility.

“Um… Micah, I guess,” she said.

“Don’t sound too excited,” he said, moving beside her.

She had said his name without much enthusiasm. In fact, she sounded downright begrudging about it, like she was fulfilling some kind of obligation. It occurred to me for the first time that they might be related. The similarity between the sound of Sapphire’s name and Wisdom’s original elven name had distracted me from considering that her and Micah both had mineral names… and both had very slightly dwarven features.

It was now Acantha’s turn. She glanced at Andreas, and then called Memphis. I had a feeling that she’d wanted to either separate the two of us or possibly try to pick his brain a little about how he was feeling or what we might have talked about while we were out clearing our heads, but she was probably conscious about giving him some space after having made him uncomfortable.

That more than any particular merit of myself was probably why she’d wanted to pick me. I had no illusions about my ability to keep my thoughts and feelings off my face, but the fact that I kept sticking around anyway probably made her think that I could be pushed a little farther.

…and that was a useful realization in and of itself. I hadn’t been a complete pushover, but I definitely needed to assert myself more often.

“If you don’t have a preference for our third, would you mind picking Andreas?” I asked Wisdom. It wasn’t the most assertive way I could have phrased that, but I wasn’t trying to prove anything to her in particular, and it was her choice. “We sort of have a decent working relationship already.”

“That could be interesting,” she said. “It would certainly help to have someone who is more familiar with the game, don’t you think?”

“Definitely.”

“We’ll take Andreas, then,” she said.

“Uh… how about you?” Sapphire said to the girl who had darker hair, after a few seconds of hemming. I realized she didn’t know either of their names, either. Suddenly her choice of Micah against what was obviously her better judgment made a little bit more sense… whether they were family or not, she definitely knew his name.

“Maybe I retired the name tags too soon,” Acantha said. “That’s alright. It takes some people longer to blossom in a group setting. If you get nothing else out of this experience, I hope that you… you ladies in particular… learn to embrace the necessity of putting yourself forward. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone. It’s not something that’s always safe or easy to do. But often it’s useful, and sometimes it’s necessary.”

“I’m Samantha,” the girl said to Sapphire. “Sam.”

“Okay,” Sapphire said.

“And that means Linda is with us,” Acantha said. “Welcome aboard!”

“Thanks,” the girl whose name was apparently Linda said, or at least mouthed.

It was funny, I’d spent so much time and energy ruminating on how the rest of the group was probably also a little insecure and I hadn’t even considered that I wasn’t even the biggest wallflower of the bunch. That was the thing, though… not only were my problems more immediate and real to me because I experienced them directly, but the ones who were least secure about their place in the group were also least likely to stand out.

At least, as long as they weren’t defensive about it, as Micah had been.

“So here’s our game plan,” Acantha said. “Tonight we’re going to be trying things out. We’re exploring the viability of using illusion or appearance alteration to turn rough or blank game pieces into something more impressive. Our secondary goals are to find a point of balance between exquisite detail and energy efficiency, and to find ways to make the enhanced figures compelling so that they are not seen simply as a substitute for what we might call ‘the real deal’, but as an enhancement tothem. Since only one person on each team can work the necessary magic, you’ll have to work together with your team’s artist. Feel extremely free to play around and to try your ideas out on figures at varying levels of detail. At the end of the session, we’ll compare notes about what we’ve learned. Let’s keep all three of our goals in mind, and above all, have fun.”

“Fun,” Andreas repeated. “Aye. Right.”

“And as a special bonus, I have… well, I have a bonus,” Acantha said. She reached into an inner pocket of her suit and pulled out a Sternbauer jewelry box. “A professional-grade ring of image preservation to the artist whose team comes up with the design voted best by the others.”

“Won’t everyone just vote for their own team?” Sapphire asked.

“I’m recusing myself, so if that happens, you just have to convince my teammates.”

“What about the other people on the winning team?”Micah asked.

“We’ll have other tasks on other nights that are suited to other talents,” Acantha said. “For now, think about this as an incentive for the future to be a little more broad-minded about the skill sets you pursue.”


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33 Responses to “Chapter 208: Illusory Conflicts”

  1. Dani says:

    I would have preferred this chapter to be longer. This isn’t meant as “I’d like more words per week” (though who wouldn’t? 🙂 as “this chapter didn’t cohere”.

    In terms of plot, Mack and Andreas walked into the room, Acantha had people split into three groups, each with one illusionist, and. No ‘and’; the chapter stops. Aside from plot, what the chapter brings to the table is that Mack introspects about self-doubt, but that introspection does not give the chapter structure either.

    I have been disappointed by this ‘season’. A recent discussion raised the question of whether focusing on one storyline at a time (instead of moving multiple storylines along chronologically) was working. I’d rather cast the question as “How can it be made to work better?” Three suggestions:

    1. A chapter should carry its own weight. Even if its purpose is to set up a subsequent chapter, or two bridge two arcs, it will be more enjoyable if it has a structure, with a lead-in, a high point, a recognizable ending, and some emotional payoff.

    2. A sequence of chapters requires its own structure and variety. Turning a conversation in three chapters of the same conversation doesn’t do that, for example. In some respects, the focus-on-a-storyline approach supports this, because it is possible to diagram the story and think about its overall structure.

    3. Other storylines can be allowed to intrude in interludes, or to interact with the main story, without disrupting it.

    Current score: 14
    • Potegoe says:

      I miss the side stuff, like all the other classes

      Current score: 8
    • zeel says:

      It certainly seems like the last few chapters could have been condensed into fewer longer chapters. It feels like the story isn’t moving mainly because it’s moving at about 5-10 minutes per week. Were you reading straight through it might feel different.

      Current score: 0
  2. Order of Chaos says:

    It is a bit slow but we should be getting some juicy “how magic works” next so we can look forward to the technical stuff.

    Current score: 2
  3. Grant says:

    I am really enjoying this story arc, but I have to agree with Dani in the lack of payoff in some of the chapters. I find myself at the end of a chapter anticipating the next chapter in a “that didn’t quite hit the spot” kind of way, rather than “can’t wait to see what happens next.”

    Current score: 2
  4. x says:

    Typos:
    respnosible
    She gestured to a table where there a couple of dozen small stone figures {missing word}
    selectiosn
    tothem
    team?”Micah asked. {missing space after quote}

    Current score: 1
    • Nigel says:

      “Mackenzie,” Wisdomsaid, (missing space)

      Current score: 1
      • Lunaroki says:

        Typo Report

        Most of the typos I spotted have already been pointed out, so I’ve only got 2 more to add.

        if it wasn’t so easy to imagine her internally screaming in terror when she took a moment to compose her thoughts .

        Added space between “thoughts” and the period.

        I was pretty sure that neither Memphis or Wisdom were putting up a front on the same level that she was,

        “Neither” pairs with “nor”, not “or”.

        Also:

        It was a very roundabout way of reassuring myself that everybody else was more or less mortal just like I was, but my brain found this kind of thing way more compelling than simple platitudes about how people put on their pants.

        No typo here. Just quoted it because I love this line so much. ^_^

        Current score: 0
  5. Zathras IX says:

    Walking anywhere
    Like you own it is hard when
    You yourself are owned

    Current score: 8
  6. Sophi says:

    I really want to like the last 200 or so chapters as much as I liked the early ones, but in my mind there are three major challenges with the current structure that the author might want to consider:

    1) First and foremost Mackenzie’s introspection and navel-gazing has become bloated, distracting, and completely irrelevant to the story- it rarely builds her character beyond what we’re already aware of, and the greater majority of many chapters consists in her standing in one place thinking in circles. Her tendencies toward distraction and introspection can be conveyed without iterating through every thought, and very little of this introspection is either relevant to the narrative or useful in understanding her character.

    2) Acantha’s storyline is, at least to me personally, extremely unengaging. The idea of a corrupt or excessively cutthroat elf businessperson is interesting in theory, but the entire plotline has very little inertia, and I don’t feel the reader is given a compelling reason to care about its outcome.

    3) The chapters are becoming increasingly padded and rambling, to the point that it feels like reading a 800-word book report about a book the writer only had 200 words worth of things to say. I would really rather read 2,000 words a month that move the story forward than slog through 8,000 words of filler and Mackenzie navel-gazing trying to find the plot.

    Those are the main constructive structural observations I have- my only other comment is purely based on my personal tastes, and not relevant to compositional standards, but I really miss the presence of kink in Mackenzie’s life- I’m not saying every chapter should be a pointless smorgasbord of cheesecake, but her submission and general use of D/s in her daily life is consistently the part of these stories that I enjoy the most- my very favorite section in book 2, by a huge margin, was the shopping trip around chapters 86-89 where Two matter-of-factly exerted her dominance over Mackenzie to calm her down and make sure she had a nice day- it was smart, sexy, and very fun to read without descending into either doldrum tedium or excessive fanservice.

    In summation, I just want to thank the author very much for taking the time and effort to make a story and universe that people care about reading, I really hope that she finds the interest and enthusiasm to write about these characters and universe for some time to come. ^^

    Current score: 4
  7. Readaholic says:

    I like both the introspective and the more “active” stuff. I liked this particular bit of introspection especially. Not too long or involved, and good insight.

    Current score: 6
    • Calia says:

      I agree. I know some people have been disappointed in this arc, but I’ve always loved Mack’s roundabout thought processes. Where some people see a lack of payoff, I’m seeing some pretty impressive character growth, which is a type of payoff in its own right in my mind. I don’t think Mackenzie has ever been this, well… “strong”. Maybe it’s because I recently did a re-read so I’ve got older chapters on my brain, but Mack coming to these sorts of realizations is exciting, to me.

      I understand that, because we get chapters one at a time rather than reading it straight through like a traditional novel, some people want each installment to be “complete” as a standalone. I just don’t think that’s necessary for a good read. I mean, if this were a once-a-week comic, like Earthsong, would people be complaining that there are pages with no text because it doesn’t feel “complete”? Or if you were to read a traditional novel at the pace of one chapter a week, would you say it wasn’t successful because some chapters were more “active” than others?

      Anyway, all this is to say that I’m enjoying the hell out of this arc, and it’s compelling enough that sometimes I sneakily check for updates at work because I’m excited to find out what’s next 🙂

      Current score: 3
      • Anvildude says:

        It’s the difference between Serial content and Episodic content. For some people, they’d like to come by every week and read a new ‘mini story’. For others, they’d prefer it to be treated more as a single novel that they get to read ‘in progress’.

        Both are legitimate storytelling systems, and ToMU could very well support either. The question is, should it support both- Episodic content for some storylines, and continuous serial publishing for others.

        Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      This introspection about doubt and assholes was good, but in the majority I agree that Mackenzie’s navel has taken on a gravity all of its own and is slowly sucking the book into an event horizon.

      Current score: 1
  8. pedestrian says:

    I agree with Calia, that we readers need to be more patient and forbearing with our expectations of Alexandra’s productivity.

    Think of writers such as Alcott, Stevenson, or Doyle just to name three. We see the published, edited books but originally many of their stories were weekly installments published serially in newspapers. Which would become Film serials of Flash Gordon and Roy Rodgers. Radio and television series of course. And today mutate into WWW blogs and Epublishing.

    As frustrating as it is for us fans, who have read AE’s work several times and await more. Awaiting is what we will have to do! Let’s not get petulant about it.

    Current score: 2
    • Zergonapal says:

      Sure, I can see your point, but I believe I may inadvertently be speaking for a substantial percentage of the readership when I say I was happier following Mack from class to class than reading just the one arc.

      Current score: 8
    • Cadnawes says:

      I want to make it clear before I say anything else that I love Tales of Mu, have for years, think AE is a marvelous writer, and will keep on reading and sending people here. But I’m sending them to earlier chapters. Everything and everyone involved have made this among the most engaging stories I have ever read.

      Most of us I see having a problem with this arc aren’t talking productivity, we’re talking content and pace of story.

      I didn’t start reading a kinky college story set in an RPG world to read about corporate espionage. It’s a fine enough topic to add but oh wow, that’s all we’ve been dealing with for so long. All the great serial novels of the past had what this one usually does- a wide cast of characters with multiple plotlines and a boatload of flashback. Neither Dickens nor Thackeray ever spent this long on one subject. (And yes, we were warned. I gave it a shot, but for me the jury is in.)

      I really, REALLY miss the old format, but if I can’t have that, the next best thing would be a resolution to this arc. Either would make my month.

      Final thought- if it were my story, and I wanted to handle one subject at a time, I would probably format it closer to a series of interrelated short stories, rather than chapters. Kind of how the extra tales are handled.

      Current score: 0
    • Order of Chaos says:

      All 3 of you made great points and as I said we can at least look forward to some technical spellcraft.
      With AE trying something different from book 1 I don’t think it’s hurting anyone to try to work out what might work for us all and hope this leads to something even better, after all AE does this for us and only changed things to try and make things better.

      Current score: 0
  9. WorBlux says:

    selectiosn should be selections

    Current score: 0
  10. Ilya says:

    I agree with Dani.
    As much as I like concentrating on single plot like every finite novel does, I’m not sure it works for chapter per week never-ending-story (hopefully).
    Also I can’t really imagine how Alexandra will be able to get back in time later to tell us how other classes and relation story lines went at the same time.
    I don’t really miss history lesson, but it’s important for more world-building insights.
    Aesthetics class was giving us new point of view for Mack.
    And, of course, I always anticipated evening’s melee class which always brought something new. By this point we already missed, how much, like 3 or 4 lessons? Mackenzie’s self power realization and fight tactics was one of the most interesting chapters in volume 2.

    Current score: 4
  11. scree says:

    Not going to join the dogpile when it comes to how bland and uninteresting the recent chapters are; I have nothing to add to that that wasn’t said better than I could already.

    Yet I want to point out that when I get to line 2 in a three-days-late update to read “respnosible”, all I can think of is: The author doesn’t give a shit.

    What text editor do you use that doesn’t underline stuff like that in squiggly red lines if it doesn’t automatically correct it? I’m going out on a limb but I’m willing to bet money on three things regarding this chapter and the previous dozens
    1) They were posted less than 24h after the first draft was completed.
    2) Nobody proof-read them before they were posted.
    3) There was no second draft.
    Editing is a large chunk of the work. If you’re not willing to do any of it the quality of the story will keep deteriorating until there is no reader left.

    To answer the question you asked me when I last posted a comment, dear author, the reason I still read your prose is the labyrinth. It was the most engrossing part of the story so far, the peak of quality from which you launched yourself, and from which you’ve been cruising ever since.

    I leave you with some words of wisdom from Randy Pausch: “When you screw up, and nobody says anything, it means they’ve given up on you.” Look at all your comments and DO SOMETHING.

    Current score: 2
  12. William Carr says:

    Hm.

    Dwarvish Poetry is heavy on the metallic allusions?

    In a parallel thought; the Dwarves AND the Science Geeks in the Mu Universe would LOVE the movie Real Steel.

    Current score: 0
  13. Arkeus says:

    That more than any particular merit of myself was probably why she’d wanted to pick me.<=== Ah, MAckenzie, you have been ignoring all the big-ass warning bells showing that Acantha -needs- you more than the rest of the group put together.

    Whether she needs you because she is planning to sell you as the instigator of something illegal or even just use Mack as deniable plausibility for the mockboxes…

    Current score: 2
  14. Lyssa says:

    I cannot be the only one who is getting fed up. I love this story, I cherish it, I have followed it for years. I followed it through my own college career. This story is like a friend to me, and I am getting tired of the cavalier way the author treats it. I’m sorry, AE, I get that you have issues that get in the way sometimes, but how many times are we supposed to believe you’re going to have a schedule? How many times are you going to tell us “Updates MWF” or “Updates Wednesdays” or “Updates Tuesdays and Thursdays” or whatever, and then not stick to it?

    There are amazing, detailed webcomics out there which update three times a week, every week, and have done so for years. They have to figure out the writing, the plots, and have art on top of that, but they manage to come up with a schedule and work hard enough that they have backlog. They don’t just throw schedules to the wind on a whim they way you seem to. They are vastly more successful than you, and this is a huge part of why. But your story is more interesting, more compelling, and I wish you treated it better.

    Your excuse of “the book would be low quality if I don’t make myself late all the time” is tired.

    I just want to enjoy this story again, and between everything Dani said (that I would echo) and this, it just isn’t very enjoyable. Maybe I’m wrong and everyone else disagrees, but this is really getting old.

    Current score: 1
    • Order of Chaos says:

      I’m ok with a few late updates (it would be great to have it always on time but you get what you pay for) but the not knowing why is worrying. If AEs just busy then things should get back to normal I just worry she might be sick of something.

      Current score: 0
      • Lurk says:

        Sick of us whining about how much we hate the new style, maybe. A constant stream of negativity, however politely worded, tends to constitute an enormous drain on one’s motivation and creativity.

        Concerns are valid; I feel the same way about a lot of them. And I imagine they have been noted by now. There’s no need to belabor the points. Especially for those of us (including myself) who don’t contribute financially.

        Current score: 0
    • Iain says:

      It’s just… it’s not fun lately.
      Now admittedly I’ve skipped past a few pages, but I thought she and Andreas were leaving this? I thought we would get back to the imperial history, technicalities of magic, elementalism, the fighting classes?
      Good Lord, when we were told that Mackenzie would be going into the Arena I was excited because it seemed like she’d eventually face off against Puddy or Tiny.
      But instead we’re getting a lesson in business practice. That’s not an immersive fantasy world to me. It’s just a world.
      It’s not what I started reading this for.

      Current score: 1
      • Order of Chaos says:

        I liked business ethics for the same reason I liked Lee talking about legal ethics. AE can explain stuff in a way that feels like the person saying it believes it without them being preachy.
        Also it was fun trying to guss what plan Acantha had.

        Current score: 2
  15. Arancaytar says:

    Taking it a step farther, I realized that if a lack of self-doubt would turn anyone into a very obvious sort of giant steaming dickhole, then it must follow that anyone who wasn’t a very obvious sort of giant steaming dickhole must suffer from self-doubt.

    Sudden Clarity Clarence to the rescue! 😀

    Current score: 1
  16. Mist says:

    Typo, paragraph 31. “We will make the selectiosn”

    Found this entry marginally more interesting than the last. At least this was about people and relationships, hopefully the length sets things up for future, and wasn’t just filler.

    It does remind me of much womens’ literature. A lot of personal dialogue and pointless posturing at others’ expense, and the introspection and status issues. Like I mentioned I hope it develops into something more vibrant. At least it’s more vibrant, more dramatic, holder, than allegory of developing a business plan. Not that business plan isn’t interesting at times, just not really suited for the first person monologue.

    Current score: 0
  17. “Of course it’s the girls,” Micah said.

    “It’s so typically defensive to make a remark that devalues a skill that you lack right at the moment when it proves valuable,” Wisdom said.

    I’m catching up now on Tales of MU, and just wanted to mention that I absolutely loved this articulation. Thank you. I can feel it settling into my quiver for future encounters.

    Current score: 2
  18. Mickey Phoenix says:

    I love your work, AE. I particularly liked watching Mack out-think Acantha in this one. I also really liked the gender politics, and I really appreciated Acantha’s final comment.

    I disagree that this chapter felt like filler, or that it was anticlimactic. It had exactly the kind of story arc that people were complaining about it lacking–it just had it in the realm of human interaction rather than in the realm of “conflict”.

    I did like the more interwoven style of Volume 1 more than the one-plotline-at-a-time style of Volume 2. But I’m enjoying them both quite a lot. 🙂

    Current score: 0
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    Current score: 0