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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 650 Response

Oikos Nannion and Science

with Elous Telma

in Elous Telma’s “A Bottom-Up Approach to Keeping Things Alive,” the chapter departs from the narrative begun in chapter 1.

  1. Can chapter 2 be called an “info-dump”? Or is it a digression? If yes in either case, why do you think so? Or is it something else?
  2. Chapter 2 gives the readers an idea of what to expect in the lake. What other, general insights does it provide?

[Elous T.] I think I can address both (a) and (b) together: There are reasons why scientists may perform experiments within their field of science (e.g., tackling existing open questions, finding solutions to pressing problems, etc.) and other, more primal reasons why they chose their field in the first place (e.g., fascination with physical phenomena, disappointment with biological and cognitive limitations of our own species, etc.).

The purpose of chapter 2 is to give the reader the primal insight that a scientist may have had when he/she decided to be part of the experiment that I will address in chapter 3.

In other words, if I were to tell you, “Hey, we are embarking on a vast and weird scientific journey in chapter 3”, I want you to understand why we would do that and thus be an intellectually and emotionally informed observer (n terms of the perspective of this particular story). Also, biology can be pretty cool!

[Don Webb] Thank you, Elous. I’m sure all readers will agree with your observations about science. And chapter 2 is quite interesting; its audience seems to be that of a Nature documentary. And that is a good thing.

Since our editors’ function is to represent the readers to our authors, please keep in mind that the Challenge questions focus not on the content but on the narrative. Now that five chapters have completed, as of this issue, the Review Editors have reached something approaching a consensus.

Chapter 1 “hits the ground running,” as the saying goes. It introduces two characters: Nannion and an old lady who befriends her. And it concludes with two mysteries: What has happened to the old lady? What will Nannion do next? Those implied questions are guaranteed to keep readers “turning the page” and following the story with interest.

Chapter 2 is a “lecture” that is interesting in its own right, but chapters 3 and 4 continue in the same mode. In chapter 5, the story shifts to that of a young marine biologist, Meni. Nannion and the old lady have been all but forgotten. Some readers will be okay with that.

Others will prefer to stay on the page with you. The characters could bring in the science when it’s needed. They need only avoid telling each other what they already know. If a lecture is needed, an apprentice could be made to listen to it. Of course, the lecture would have to be very short; we don’t want the apprentice to fall asleep and topple overboard!

Copyright © 2016 by Elous Telma
and Bewildering Stories

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