I was looking for something to read on the fly and so I clicked on this thing. This has everything I have ever wanted to see on the Citadel. It is written with a consistent perspective, and it builds its world subtlety around characters. This might be the best thing I have ever read on the Citadel. It certainly has a lot of the qualities I have aspired to and experimented with, I truly admire this piece. Forget those banal self-important distinctions of whether or not this is “useful” or the content ascribes to my biases or preferences regarding genre; I love what this represents in as much as it has the ambition to be a completely immersive piece. The bar at the Citadel keeps getting raised (which may shrink and change depending on the community), and I believe that you have raised the bar. I would say this is transcendent: You have character driven world building and story-telling in a speculative fiction genre (with a big bit of wish fulfillment thrown in). This is well-realized character and world, and you have communicated a great deal here with a single narrative. Thank you.
As for the content, I just want to note that I respect every choice you made in writing this.
The author/narrator clearly has a lot of respect and almost adoration for his subject. Only when noting that she may not have resented being so positively featured in the documentary does he ever dig into his subject or question her at level beyond face value. It would be an interesting experiment and very telling of the conflicts in your world to hear about the events alluded to and described from the opposition's perspective. Could you paint a sympathetic picture of one your villains or antagonistic characters?
Another thing I found jarring (another word would be notable), but not in a bad way per se, was your take on superheros here. The Silver Age fantasy of the superhero is some mild mannered or over looked person who can suddenly burst out and do something fantastic. The super powers become allegory for the overlooked potential, emotional turmoil, super-ego or inner life of the nerd or the put upon individual. Here your characters (including Silver’s) are Grammy winning artists, best selling authors and beautiful young people living hipster lives in NYC. In many many ways they are departures from the lifestyles of people who plan than their lives around live chatting RPGs on a Saturday night. Are you really writing what you know?
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Finally there is one thing I just don’t buy. I don’t believe that this Juilliard educated woman in her 30s who is thoughtful and considerate of meaningful communication, AND born in 1988 or 1989 could reference Rocky III with esoteric precession and complete assurance that her reference would be caught and understood. Even if she was some how a fan of early 80s pulp cinema, it was incredulous that this New York Times author and his editor were both on the same page and felt no need to explain this reference to his audience. In that moment I saw the aging fanboy behind the text. (But I completely loved it.) This is not believable...unless your alternate history promotes Rocky III to the ranks of Pooh Bear, Shakespeare, and Star Wars in terms of Western pop culture allusions. If Rocky III is a universal classic in your world... then well done sir.
The scene in which she throws herself at Sarah Voltaire only to conclude that she didn’t want to seem obvious…that was funny. I particularly thought this line rang true.
I smiled, unable to resist the urge to show off my knowledge just a little. "For example, they now think raptors used their wings for stability and flapping to stay on top of their prey while hanging on with their hooked claws and eating it alive." I paused and blushed slightly, suddenly embarrassed at sounding like some kind of Dino geek in front of the girl.
This sounds like every undergraduate science major I’ve met (ahem…or maybe use to be). Those kids are ready to drop knowledge at absurdly inappropriate moments, and without any real understanding of what they are talking about. Eve may have the ability to understand Velociraptor mongoliensis in a way that guys scratching at fossils cannot, but I am sure she does not understand the research she is talking about. This is a brave (internet brave) choice having your narrator be flawed and a little unreliable. Brave because I know that uncertainty turns off some readers. But I really like and enjoy what you are doing with her voice. It adds a layer of realism.
However, the story within the story was a little rough. I think a little more imagery and making the language a little more explicit would help communicate Sarah Voltaire’s story as the narrarator and thus the world understands it, and would keep the flow of the story going. For example
As soon as the professor begins speaking she sat up, yanked out her ear buds, and whipped off her shades. That’s when, while the professor made introductions, I recognized Sarah Voltaire. Here you have three events: Girl in green shirt removes shade Professor starts talking Eve recognizes Sarah Voltaire.
The events are explicitly connected. For all we know that moment Sarah Voltaire could have materialized behind the professor, or the professor is Sarah Voltaire in man form, or the girl in the green shirt is Sarah Voltaire.
You could tighten up the sentence a bit by adding
I recognized the girl in the green shirt was Sarah Voltaire aka Quantum.
Then as you go through the flashes of images things get vague and unclear. I know it is easy to expect the readers of genre fiction to fill in the gaps. (Of course my genre bias tells me warhammer was a supervillian, but it wouldn't hurt to tell us that. Or tell us Eve's opinion of Warhammer versus the media's opinion. Eve is telling us this in retrospect so she could reflect more on these flashesthan she did at the time)
But you leave a lot of gaps in that story of Voltaire, it kills the flow of this piece and there is no reason to do it.
You should add another clause or sentence to each to specific memory Eve has regarding Voltaire. These should help to connect things temporally and draw out the details.
I know they are supposed to be just short flashes, but the flashes are very vivid and important images in Eve’s mind and you should paint vivid pictures with your words.
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Lastly, undergraduate paleontology is really pushing my suspension of disbelief. I know the details don’t really matter, she just need to learn about dinosaurs so she can shape shift and may be there can be so allegory for evolution and extinction with Delta humans and normal humans. But you could show the field a little more respect. Paleontology is a sub-discipline of what they call “Earth Science” these days (actually they have called in Earth Science since the 80s, and not deep enough into the field to tease out the symantics of the different Earth Science disciplines. She would either be in either a geology, biology or anthropology program depending on what department the university dumped its paleontologists. Would be Paleontologists focusing on dinosaurs would likely be studying biology or geology. I am sure there are Paleo 101 classes out there, but they would be survey classes for non-majors. Eve should talk to her academic advisor and dump that useless class. I know I am being silly here, but hey science deserves respect.