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Jul 06, 2022 9:05 PM
Abrogail Thrune reviews submissions
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Homerealm has heard rumors of rumors about Abrogail's actual tastes, but at this point no one sees any reason not to take her glowing review of the cyberpunk sexual-interrogation novel at anything but face value. As such, the next book sent is:

 

A short novel about the invention of a neural implant that is supposed to convey an infinite tolerance for pain. Those given the implant can still feel everything, but it has no emotional valence anymore; pain is just a number map in their mind. The book goes into an attempt at accurate neurology about this. Only, it turns out that the way this works is by splintering the subject's mind. One shard remains in control, unaware, while the other watches through their eyes and experiences all the suffering that the first one doesn't.

The protagonist of the book undergoes this procedure and shortly after starts having (what the text tells you are) incredibly vivid dreams in which she meets her other shard, and torturers her sexually, something she wasn't previously into but experiences really intensely in the dreams as their brain rebalances. (The author of this book has clearly never heard of 'plurality' but manages to halfway invent the concept anyway.) The protagonist's two shards continue to meet in dreams, and then learn to communicate while awake, but they rapidly diverge in personality as the suffering-shard helplessly suffers.

Eventually, further neural scans prove that the two personalities are genuine and that the same thing would happen to anyone with the implant. She cancels her project and removes the neural implant and the two of them share her body, and her suffering, equally after that, but they've already diverged enough that they don't remerge, but they have developed strong feelings for each other as individuals and start trying to invent uploading so they can each have their own body. While they're still stuck sharing, they exploit their newfound masochism to fund their uploading research with kinky sex work (which gets one short on-screen sex scene to illustrate but is mostly just mentioned in passing like the obvious thing for a high-status researcher to do with sudden masochism). The book ends with a tongue-in-cheek note that a sequel will be written once uploading is actually invented.

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(It took a bit for Piecemeal to get a return message with Abrogail's review, but apparently three days later someone blew up the weird spacetime relay it used. This was probably the author's fault, as he is the kind of person to loudly overreact to someone messing with his story in a way that inverted his politics, and also charismatic enough that various people have a tendency to go all 'rid me of this troublesome priest' about him expressing his anger. If there were any backup gizmos, whoever has them is being Very Quiet about it.)

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That's very sweet, Homerealm!  Though these two personalities could stand to be fighting for dominance a lot more instead of just cooperating - that's a part of sex that Abrogail finds exciting and she knows, based on the previous book, that Homerealm has it too.  Is the role of conflict in driving plotlines, and sexual-romantic plotlines especially, something that Homerealm hasn't invented yet?  Abrogail can write a bit about it if so.  Roughly, if you're imagining some plot development or piece of hypothetical magic that could make things less stressful for your viewpoint characters, why, you just shouldn't have that exist - it's not that complicated!

The technology/magitech is still quite hard for her to relate to, though.  Can Homerealm go more primitive - to the level of a civilization that has just figured out how to make firepowder but not really about why these recipes work, say, and is just finding out?  Reading about technology her own civilization can't have yet isn't fun for Abrogail!

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Homerealm does indeed have lots of books with non-cooperative sex in them! Why didn't she say so.

 

Here is a long-form serialized story featuring a socially awkward teenage boy who wakes up alone on an empty infinite plain, with the power to rearrange physical matter however he likes. He builds himself a skyscraper to test his powers. If falls down. Cut to the next day with him living in an entirely different skyscraper, experimenting to figure out how to generate food. As a last resort he can make copies of his own body, but he is far from hungry enough yet to eat copies of his own body, so he slowly walks through cellular biology and what he remembers of crop linages to create an extremely basic plant, which he then iterates on until he has dozens of completely original species of grain and fruit and vegetables. Once he grows one of something, he can use his magic to copy it indefinitely. Once he has food, the narrative goes into detail about the way he uses his powers to recreate things like basic plumbing and electric lights, including detailed descriptions of a steam-powered generator, interrupted by lightly exhibitionism-flavored masturbation scenes that give a bittersweet feeling to the solitude.

'Cause the thing is? He's horny and lonely. So he decides to try to create other people.

The book perspective shifts to the blank-slate physically-teenage girl that emerges from the amniotic sack fruit growing on the people-tree. While the protagonist boy's behavior toward the blank-slate girl would by Chellish standards read as way too nice, it is not portrayed as Good. He grooms her with the sole goal of making her dependent on him, even worship him.

Back in the boy's perspective, we see in his thoughts all the things he could teach her but decides not to. Instead, he makes another. And another. Soon he has an entire community of sex slaves that he keeps in line with magic-assisted pleasure and extremely rudimentary gaslighting, which is easy for him given how naïve they all are. He falls deeper and deeper into playing with them like toys, though when he goes so far as to make one of them cry, it shocks him out of his spiral, and awakens his empathy.

He decides to try to teach his first and most experienced girl to use his matter-rearranging powers, not knowing if that is even possible. It is. The girl starts using her powers, and is joyful. He teaches her other things too, everything she'd need to keep their community thriving. He worries, about giving up control like that, about creating equals instead of slaves. But years pass, and an entire civilization of matter-shapers grows out of his initial community, with some of his original gaslighting enshrined as cultural norms despite his discomfort with that.

He falls into depression once it's clear that the civilization he's spawned doesn't need him anymore, but his first girl finds him, talks with him, realizes what's wrong, and uses her powers to enslave him for his own good. She keeps him in a haze of pleasure and praise and happy submission, happy and proud to have become someone capable of caring for her creator.

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It is unclear how this happened so quickly, because by sheer wordcount this book-game is longer than any five or ten reasonably sized books combined, but the collaboration between those two grapeverse authors has borne fruit!

This is another book-game with the same mechanics as the one about the statue, but a distinctly different tone. The central character, instead of a sad traumatized statue, is a slightly altered version of the scribe from the other book. Her personality is the same, but her context has changed: she's an ethereally beautiful magical being, humanoid with delicate crystalline wings, and you the player have discovered her trapped in a magical silver cage that burns her to touch. It's possible to just plain free her, in which case she wishes you good fortune, tells you she owes you a favour, and flies away, ending the story; or it's possible to do some things to her while she's in the cage, which can provide some amusement for both of you but is ultimately a fairly limited form of interaction; but, if you pay close attention to subtle clues in her dialogue and body language across different playthroughs and hints provided by the narration, you can figure out how to use the tools in this magical workshop to bind her to your service before you open the cage. (Implicitly, the previous owner of the workshop was working on trying to do just that when they disappeared; even more subtly implicitly, she may have had something to do with their disappearance.)

There follows a fascinating range of options for interacting with the magical winged girl. You can exploit her for magical power, which she grumbles about but can't really stop you from doing; you can torture her or have sex with her; you can ask her about herself and her time in the cage, which questions she will flippantly deflect. If you treat her impersonally, she starts out flirting charmingly with you but eventually gets bored and withdraws; if you engage with her banter, she gets much more animated. Depending on how exactly you treat her, you can see all kinds of subtle variations on her base personality. She seems to pick up on hints of your personality through your actions, and will react differently depending on whether the personality you display is attractive to her. (Her criteria for attractiveness are fairly elusive, but Abrogail will probably have the most luck at meeting them when she is playing the game as herself, without putting on any kind of non-Abrogail persona. Getting her to respect you is a major aspect of winning her favour, but she doesn't exactly lay out a rubric for how to do that, and it mostly seems to come down to demonstrating that you are worthy of her respect.)

If you exhibit an interest in pushing her to her limits, and she isn't into you, she'll laugh and dare you to try; if she is into you, she'll laugh happily, and dare you to try hoping you'll succeed. Hours upon hours of content are available down this road. When she's into you, she helps, giving you feedback on how she feels about things, suggesting clever ideas for what you might do to her next. You can use information gained with her cooperation against her in timelines where she likes you less, but how much she likes you is still the major deciding factor in how interesting of a reaction you can get out of her; she just feels less when she's not on board with the proceedings. At first she's not very receptive to aftercare, but with sufficient patience and attention you can get her there, if she likes you enough; and succeeding at that unlocks a whole vista of new interactions, new depth to her feedback on what you're putting her through, and especially new things she will let herself feel that she wouldn't, perhaps couldn't have, before. The exact path you take here matters a lot to the results; depending on what you do to her and when and how, you can shape her in all kinds of interesting directions and explore all kinds of interesting psychological territory, though she remains irrepressibly resilient no matter how much you put her through. Getting her to scream is a minor accomplishment; getting her to cry is a major one. If she likes you, she'll congratulate you on both.

There are thousands of different ways to accidentally give her the means to free herself. Down most of these paths, the first you hear of it is that your pretty winged girl is gone, leaving little clue as to how she escaped; down a very, very small fraction of them, if you have given her particular reason to dislike you, the narrative reports that you go to sleep one evening and never wake up. However, if she's having enough fun with you, she'll pass up the opportunity without ever mentioning it, and the narration will give very little hint that anything interesting even happened; in could-be-free-if-she-wanted mode, she has very subtly different reactions to a lot of things, but mostly gives no sign that anything has changed unless you tick her off enough that she leaves without warning. And it is fairly difficult to tick her off that much if she already likes you enough to be staying.

You can also, of course, let her go on purpose anytime you like; her reaction to this will vary, from fleeing immediately to a wistful farewell scene to, if she likes you especially much, a wistful farewell scene in which she asks you to torture her one last time. It's possible (though tricky) to finagle recapturing her during the wistful farewell scenes, which she thinks is very sexy of you even though she's a little mad about it. Subsequent goodbyes in that same timeline will tend to be shorter unless you really make an impression on her in the interim.

Although it's possible to treat her kindly from the start, it's not really possible to win her trust that way; she keeps snarkily pointing out that if you wanted to be nice to her, you could always let her go. You can get to a state of something resembling friendship along this route, and even sleep with her in a moderately consensual fashion if that's your thing, but she won't stop reminding you that she's your unwilling slave until you either let her go or start treating her like one.

It's a very open-ended game, but the foreword hints that there may be a victory condition, and it is this: getting her to the point where she likes you so much that you can openly offer her her freedom, even go so far as to free her outright with no tricks, and she'll scoff and say she'd get bored without you. That unlocks an epilogue scene which summarizes your relationship so far, shows you narration of her thoughts for the first time detailing what she thinks of you, and then lets you get right back to what you were doing... except that now you have permanently unlocked the ability to read her mind, which sticks around even if you go back and replay the whole thing from the beginning.

The mind-reading honestly doesn't add that much new information in most places, since she speaks her mind quite freely especially when she's fond of you, but it adds depth and richness to the portrayal of her experiences throughout the story. And if you hadn't already figured out certain aspects of her magic or coaxed her into telling you about them, reading her mind lets you square away most of the remaining mysteries—including the mystery of the former owner of the workshop you found her in, whom she very much did murder from inside her cage because he was an idiot. You also get all kinds of charming little details about her thought processes; for example, if you contrive on a replay to get her into a situation where you offer her her freedom while she is secretly capable of taking it anytime she wants, she explicitly reasons that she shouldn't choose any differently than she would if she didn't have an escape plan, because it's possible that something about the way she responds might alert you to its existence and you might figure out what it is and thwart it. In general she is an incredibly suspicious and cynical person, but in a cheerful, strangely optimistic way; she expects people to treat her badly whenever they can get away with it, but trusts herself to endure arbitrary hardship and still come up laughing, and takes enough pride in that resilience to genuinely enjoy having it tested.

Consistently across all timelines and scenes, the winged girl's characterization is detailed, coherent, well-thought-out, responsive to circumstances and history, and... well, if you grant the premise that a personality like this could exist, this is certainly an unfailingly realistic depiction of one. This is the pinnacle of one of the Grapeverse's most cherished arts: writing imaginary people behaving exactly like that specific imaginary person would behave, all the time, in response to whatever nonsense the narrative (or, in this case, the player) may throw at them. And the personality being depicted is really something. It is within the realm of possibility that a lesser soul than Abrogail, faced with this book, would waste away in front of it, helplessly seduced by its fictional occupant.

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@Homerealm:  The depicted level of gaslighting and brainwashing in this book is a bit on easy mode - the women whom Abrogail is trying to select reading material for, and herself, usually don't have targets this stupid enjoy a back-and-forth of conflict between an equal and her near-equal who has to be conquered with wits, with ambition... does Homerealm possibly not have something called pain?  It's very important to the way Abrogail herself looks at sex - her first sexual experience was a very painful one, and that shaped her, and Abrogail would never have had that go any other way.

The science parts are great, though, and Abrogail would treasure this book for that alone.  (It advances Cheliax's timeline on conquering the rest of Golarion by, Abrogail estimates, another year.)

Here in return is a Chelish romance novel (hastily censored to remove some of the more blatant things that might alarm a less Evil world) about a female slave successfully brainwashing her own owner, given no more initial vulnerability than her owner's tolerance of her providing him with a little less pleasure, a little more pleasure, according to her own whims!  She provides him with subtle feedback and maneuvers him into showing her a slight taste towards physical masochism, which she heartily indulges and reinforces with more eager sex, and works that up to his showing a taste for play-submission, with play sessions that extend for longer and longer.  At the end of the story, he tries to tell her that playtime is over, and she orders his own former servants to beat him severely for his impudence; one servant objects and is slain by the others, whom she has offered slightly nicer treatment than their last owner did.

This is what it looks like when the protagonist faces a position of serious challenge!

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From the samples of Asmodean fiction which have made it to Planet-That-We-Live-Upon, Cheliax looks like a well-adjusted society that has managed to wrap their heads around the concept that fiction isn't real, and exposing people to stories with bad people or bad things in it will not cause total civilizational collapse. A surprising rarity in the domain of interdimensional fiction reviewers. On the other hand, it seems like this world can only be sent "romance novels"; Oh, well. Listeners can send romance novels. Probably.

A longer work depicting the internal politics of the cloistered harem of a Despot; The viewpoint starts out following a new inductee to the harem, who catches the Despot's eye and... plays board games with her? They sit down for long philosophy discussions together? Sex eventually happens, but it's not until the concubine is halfway through redesigning the city's aqueducts to support its growing population. (The concubine is not ready for sex yet, but knew this was a risk she was signing up for when she joined the harem) A few chapters later, the viewpoint starts to shift to depict the lives of the other concubines as well; many have romantic and sexual relationships among each other in addition to their rivalries and their relationships with the Despot. It does become clear over time that the Despot is not just turned on by civil engineering, though she is definitely turned on by civil engineering. Two thirds of the way through the Despot dies and is replaced by her son; Half of the viewpoint characters (the male half) are executed offscreen, and a third of the remainder are removed from the harem for being related to the new Despot. (They are implied to live comfortable lives elsewhere in the palace but are no longer the focus of the story.) The new Despot proceeds to not have sex with any of his concubines for ten whole chapters of poetry, engineering, politics, and math. At one point he has his soldiers undress a concubine and tie her to his bed, but then all he does is pace the bedroom while using her as a sounding board for whether or not he can afford to build a new bridge next summer, then untie her and send her back to her own chambers. He does eventually start hurting and fucking them, but it takes a while.

A story in which a mad genius has finally gotten fed up and vowed to push out the moon's orbit to realign "months" and "year-parts". The protagonist is an unrealistically-competent-crime-investigator who winds up responsible for auditing the mad genius' calculations to confirm that this won't kill everybody, and also has to prevent multiple assassination plots by concerned states and individuals. Many of the technical audits are depicted in detail, though an author's note explains that many of the technologies involved are either speculative or entirely fictional. This should be obvious to anyone who likes this genre of fiction, but apparently that doesn't hold across interdimensional cultural gaps. Over the course of the novel, the two develop both a friendship and a rivalry; There is no sex involved at any point, but the protagonist's complicated mix of admiration, anger, fear, and protectiveness towards his nemesis/ward/prey/friend is clearly setting up for a romantic arc in the sequel; There's a somewhat condescending author's note to this effect, though it is explicitly directed at the force preventing non-romances from being transmitted rather than at any potential readers. In the end, the mad genius flees the country after being told that her plan will not be allowed because it will kill lots of people and upset the international order; The protagonist tracks her down to a remote desert and tries to arrest her, but she declares that no law will stop her from fulfilling her vow and escapes into space to try to enact her plan from Forlorn Sister, outside of any state's jurisdiction.

Another harem novel, this one flagged as somewhat-unrealistic pornography (Though it's not like the sex scenes in the last one weren't explicit.) Like the one before, this is told entirely from the perspective of various concubines. Unlike the one before, some of these concubines seem to be slaves rather than volunteers. Every so often, one will try to kill the Despot during sex, or escape to freedom, or poison the Despot's food, or kill themselves; These attempts always fail and those attempting are raped and killed, or tortured to death, or both, except for the suicide attempt who just gets raped. It's a lot shorter, and the Despot starts having sex with his concubines right out the bat, but despite this it seems to have the same or possibly even more civil engineering, proportionally.

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The tessaverse has also heard some of Abrogail's feedback, although not perfectly; whether the message was distorted in the passing or this is just their closest matches is hard to say.

 

A [fantastical-costumehero-altconstruction-premodernverse] (This is roughly a mix of Magical Girl and Urban Fantasy genres, but it usually isn't set in the Tessaverse itself) derivative novel with the worldbuilding premise that magical power is not native to humans, but can be obtained by magicals via carefully devised contracts with an ambiguously independent collective from another planet with a name that roughly translates as "the observers." The footnotes suggest this is explored in the parent setting in greater detail, but this one only concerns itself with providing a surface level explanation of how a poorly specified contract can result in you not getting what you wanted out of it and wasting your payment, or a well designed one allowing you to obtain abilities that would ordinarily be far more expensive. The story is in the third person perspective and follows two protagonists.

The protagonist, Momo, is a kind and friendly woman who obtained a sufficiently well specified object repair power that she can also use it as an anomalously broad and capable healing power. Her arcs follow her trying to balance her contracted responsibilities with her work to help people and her own personal life. Primarily, the last the form of dealing with her increasing distance from her prior acquaintances, as well as a newly expanded magical social circle, which includes an alluring but guarded magical of ambiguous gender she finds herself drawn to despite the negative rumors.  At the beginning, this ability is presented as unambiguously positive in impact, and includes an examination of the idea of what it means to be good and what their obligations towards society are by the Momo and her best friend, who has their own, less versatile contracted powers. As time passes, however, Momo is forced to deal with steadily more problems, starting with becoming the target of anger from people she didn't save. From there, things escalate, with her and her group coming under physical and social attack by entrenched interests, people looking to monopolize her power, and people hostile to those she has already helped. With the result of careful planning, quick thinking, and a healthy heaping of luck, she is able to survive and maintain her freedom, but the task grows steadily harder.

The deuteragonist's perspective picks up at their meeting with the protagonist, who they seem to recognize on sight. The viewpoint character for these segments is an extremely capable and [graceful-efficient] magical named Jix as they work to pursue their own agenda, which appears to be quietly dominating the local underground and magical scenes. They deal with roadblocks by whatever means necessary, including a great deal of intimidation and violence, but is careful never to leave anything that can be traced to them. Along the way they demonstrate keen foresight and competence in dealing with various plots, ambushes, and manipulations before striking at those who attack them. Outside of their work, they work their way into the friend group of the protagonist. They are openly polite and friendly, if not especially approachable, but in private seems dismissive about any of them besides the protagonist herself. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that more and more of their actions are targeted at people and groups Momo associates with, which leaves the impression that they too wants to take the protagonist for their own.

Things come to a head when one of the strongest local power blocks manages to ambush the protagonist, badly injuring her best friend in the process, only for Jix to spring a second ambush and take them down herself. Rather than capture her in turn, however, Jix instead swear themselves to the protagonist's cause, and reveals that their own power is the ability to turn back time. The first time through, they had been saved by the Momo in their darkest moment, but when she was defeated and killed, they altered the wording of the same restoration contract the protagonist had made so they could reset the entire universe. From there, the two perspectives track closely together as their relationship evolves, with Momo learning to enjoy exercising power over Jix inside and outside of the bedroom. The book makes use of magic healing to justify otherwise-inadvisable sex acts, which it’s made clear Jix would ordinarily dislike but adores because of the person doing it. Alongside the steamy scenes, the plot escalates, with the deuteragonist going to further and further extremes to take out things they feel are a danger to the protagonist, up to and including several cases of murder. This comes to a head when the protagonist catches them during the act and confronts them, which results in an impassioned scene where the deuteragonist pleads with the protagonist to let them succeed in keeping her safe, just once. This resolves with the protagonist agreeing to be more selfish, but ordering Jix to not act out without her permission, and proceeds to a punishment scene that makes it clear (if the rest of the book didn't) that this is this particular author's kink. The story wraps up after a short timeskip with the Jix heading out on a mission of dubious providence, but in clothing that is obviously (to a tessaverse resident) sub fetishwear.

 

The second novel is erotica set in a [human-aliensocial] fantasy world where civilization is largely unrecognizable because nobody can trust each other or really cooperate. The level of technology possessed is more advanced than is really plausible given that, but is still noticeably behind Golarion on that score; this is not brought up directly in story, but someone familiar with Tessaverse literature would recognize some bits that signpost this happened for aesthetic reasons.

Novel 2, contains discussion of dubcon, mindbreak, torture, etc The protagonist is a male mage who starts off the story having just completed the design of a theoretical summoning spell to cross universal boundaries, which is thought to be impossible; the way they got around it was by summoning an alternate version of themselves, who was building the same scaffold at their end, which halved the required complexity. This alternate version is a girl, and after some conversation to confirm their own identities, they proceed to have sex. After that, they put into motion a plan to take over the planet they're on. Their ability to work together and look out for each others interests allows them to take down their neighbors and start to put together a top down command society. At various points, their expansion efforts are stymied by opposition, who they proceed to defeat; these takedowns are split about half and half with clever strategy and half with seduction, where one of them willingly puts themselves at the mercy of their opponent to be taken as a sex slave so as to distract them while the other one acts. There is some justification given about how this is the natural state of the given alien-social sex equilibrium given how any other kind of sex would be making yourself vulnerable to someone you don't trust, but it isn't especially rigorous. These scenes contain a lot of sadism, noncon, torture, etc, with the goal of breaking their will; once their will is broken, they won't be an especially effective worker at anything besides manual labor and sex, but they won't have the capacity to strike back. These scenes come from a perspective that implies "clearly these are bad but isn't it hot though." After the opponent in question is defeated, there is usually a role-reversal scene where the protagonists are instead the ones in control and succeed in breaking down the perpetrator, either alone or together. As the population under their control increases, this is interspersed with scenes of them working together and directing laborers to construct roads, aquaducts, mills, and the like.

The final obstacle is an extremely capable mage who controls the closest thing their is to civilization outside of their works. He had  mastered particularly powerful ways of breaking people's wills with rape. In one of the most elaborate sex scenes in the book, the mage rapes the summoner until he breaks, and then turns him on his compatriot. However, when he brings her back in chains, it is revealed to be a ruse, and they take him down in his moment of triumph. The story then jumps back in time two weeks, to where the summoned protagonist saw this coming and turned on their alternate self, attacking them by surprise. The summoner is revealed to have been working on their own plans to do the same, but was caught by surprise and defeated. He tries several times to reverse the situation after being captured, but is forced to concede. Defeated, he goes along with her as she breaks down and rebuilds his mind, keeping much of the same personality but subservient to her. They had realized what made normal people ineffective once defeated was that they only valued themselves, so they fought to prevent it with all their might, but when that self interest was broken, they didn't have anything else. By getting him to give in and work with her, she didn't have to damage that bit, allowing him  to retain the capability for independent action. The mage's attempts to break him were doomed to failure, because he already had a master. It then spends the remaining chapters on detailing all the various things she changed about him and some kinky sex, before ending on a scene of them preparing another summoning spell.

 

In the third novel, a student named Violet is isekaid to the Tessaverse’s past, where she finds herself hundreds of years ago in the city that would later form the nucleus of the Tessaverse. Upon realizing this, she makes a name for herself in the field of mathematics. The story goes into great detail on the subject from first principles, but the Tessa largely seems to focus on creating a coherent basis for mathematics rather than redevelop specific new techniques; the impression given is that the author believes this is obviously the most important part of math. One of these achievements, the cubic and quartic formulas, catches the attention of a famous polymath in a neighboring country named Elle. In proper history, this woman had revolutionized a dozen branches of mathematics and science but had always despaired of the fact that nobody could keep up with her, and ended up with most of her work unpublished for decades after she died young from disease. Violet already has something of a crush on Elle, but experiences severe imposter syndrome due to feeling like she was being given credit she didn’t deserve; her publications had been based on the work of others, including Elle herself. From there, the story covers the protagonist’s struggle between being seduced by Elle and her attempts to grapple with the false impression she has created, which is made all the worse as her love interest steps up her own efforts in an attempt to keep up.

Alongside the romance comes a series of mathematical developments, each shown and proven in the pages of the work. Despite her guilt, Violet increases their own work rate in an attempt to put off disappointing Elle, which culminates in her releasing a proof for the fundemental theorem of Calculus just ahead of Elle’s own work. At this, Elle asks Violet out, at which point she spills the beans, confessing her secret. Rather than reject her, however, Elle remarks that this just means that the protagonist knows even more things that she doesn’t, and declares her intention of getting them out of her before silencing her with a kiss. A short sex scene follows soon after, but it’s clearly a lot more vanilla than the previous works and is not the focus of the book. Checking the documentation will reveal that they were delighted to hear that Abrogail was interested in mathematical uplift, which is a popular Tessaverse genre that they haven’t seen much of in any of the other worlds they’re receiving fiction from. Supposedly this is one of the most popular examples of the [mathematical-romance] genre in the Tessaverse, but they apologize if it wasn’t technical enough for her taste because they know some people have high standards on that score (The book is, by the by, over half mathematics, history of mathematics, and philosophy of mathematics by volume). That this might be a miscommunication does not appear evident in their commentary.

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Interactive magical winged girl from the Grapeverse

It is unclear how this happened so quickly, because by sheer wordcount this book-game is longer than any five or ten reasonably sized books combined, but the collaboration between those two grapeverse authors has borne fruit!

This is another book-game with the same mechanics as the one about the statue, but a distinctly different tone. The central character, instead of a sad traumatized statue, is a slightly altered version of the scribe from the other book. Her personality is the same, but her context has changed: she's an ethereally beautiful magical being, humanoid with delicate crystalline wings, and you the player have discovered her trapped in a magical silver cage that burns her to touch. It's possible to just plain free her, in which case she wishes you good fortune, tells you she owes you a favour, and flies away, ending the story; or it's possible to do some things to her while she's in the cage, which can provide some amusement for both of you but is ultimately a fairly limited form of interaction; but, if you pay close attention to subtle clues in her dialogue and body language across different playthroughs and hints provided by the narration, you can figure out how to use the tools in this magical workshop to bind her to your service before you open the cage. (Implicitly, the previous owner of the workshop was working on trying to do just that when they disappeared; even more subtly implicitly, she may have had something to do with their disappearance.)

There follows a fascinating range of options for interacting with the magical winged girl. You can exploit her for magical power, which she grumbles about but can't really stop you from doing; you can torture her or have sex with her; you can ask her about herself and her time in the cage, which questions she will flippantly deflect. If you treat her impersonally, she starts out flirting charmingly with you but eventually gets bored and withdraws; if you engage with her banter, she gets much more animated. Depending on how exactly you treat her, you can see all kinds of subtle variations on her base personality. She seems to pick up on hints of your personality through your actions, and will react differently depending on whether the personality you display is attractive to her. (Her criteria for attractiveness are fairly elusive, but Abrogail will probably have the most luck at meeting them when she is playing the game as herself, without putting on any kind of non-Abrogail persona. Getting her to respect you is a major aspect of winning her favour, but she doesn't exactly lay out a rubric for how to do that, and it mostly seems to come down to demonstrating that you are worthy of her respect.)

If you exhibit an interest in pushing her to her limits, and she isn't into you, she'll laugh and dare you to try; if she is into you, she'll laugh happily, and dare you to try hoping you'll succeed. Hours upon hours of content are available down this road. When she's into you, she helps, giving you feedback on how she feels about things, suggesting clever ideas for what you might do to her next. You can use information gained with her cooperation against her in timelines where she likes you less, but how much she likes you is still the major deciding factor in how interesting of a reaction you can get out of her; she just feels less when she's not on board with the proceedings. At first she's not very receptive to aftercare, but with sufficient patience and attention you can get her there, if she likes you enough; and succeeding at that unlocks a whole vista of new interactions, new depth to her feedback on what you're putting her through, and especially new things she will let herself feel that she wouldn't, perhaps couldn't have, before. The exact path you take here matters a lot to the results; depending on what you do to her and when and how, you can shape her in all kinds of interesting directions and explore all kinds of interesting psychological territory, though she remains irrepressibly resilient no matter how much you put her through. Getting her to scream is a minor accomplishment; getting her to cry is a major one. If she likes you, she'll congratulate you on both.

There are thousands of different ways to accidentally give her the means to free herself. Down most of these paths, the first you hear of it is that your pretty winged girl is gone, leaving little clue as to how she escaped; down a very, very small fraction of them, if you have given her particular reason to dislike you, the narrative reports that you go to sleep one evening and never wake up. However, if she's having enough fun with you, she'll pass up the opportunity without ever mentioning it, and the narration will give very little hint that anything interesting even happened; in could-be-free-if-she-wanted mode, she has very subtly different reactions to a lot of things, but mostly gives no sign that anything has changed unless you tick her off enough that she leaves without warning. And it is fairly difficult to tick her off that much if she already likes you enough to be staying.

You can also, of course, let her go on purpose anytime you like; her reaction to this will vary, from fleeing immediately to a wistful farewell scene to, if she likes you especially much, a wistful farewell scene in which she asks you to torture her one last time. It's possible (though tricky) to finagle recapturing her during the wistful farewell scenes, which she thinks is very sexy of you even though she's a little mad about it. Subsequent goodbyes in that same timeline will tend to be shorter unless you really make an impression on her in the interim.

Although it's possible to treat her kindly from the start, it's not really possible to win her trust that way; she keeps snarkily pointing out that if you wanted to be nice to her, you could always let her go. You can get to a state of something resembling friendship along this route, and even sleep with her in a moderately consensual fashion if that's your thing, but she won't stop reminding you that she's your unwilling slave until you either let her go or start treating her like one.

It's a very open-ended game, but the foreword hints that there may be a victory condition, and it is this: getting her to the point where she likes you so much that you can openly offer her her freedom, even go so far as to free her outright with no tricks, and she'll scoff and say she'd get bored without you. That unlocks an epilogue scene which summarizes your relationship so far, shows you narration of her thoughts for the first time detailing what she thinks of you, and then lets you get right back to what you were doing... except that now you have permanently unlocked the ability to read her mind, which sticks around even if you go back and replay the whole thing from the beginning.

The mind-reading honestly doesn't add that much new information in most places, since she speaks her mind quite freely especially when she's fond of you, but it adds depth and richness to the portrayal of her experiences throughout the story. And if you hadn't already figured out certain aspects of her magic or coaxed her into telling you about them, reading her mind lets you square away most of the remaining mysteries—including the mystery of the former owner of the workshop you found her in, whom she very much did murder from inside her cage because he was an idiot. You also get all kinds of charming little details about her thought processes; for example, if you contrive on a replay to get her into a situation where you offer her her freedom while she is secretly capable of taking it anytime she wants, she explicitly reasons that she shouldn't choose any differently than she would if she didn't have an escape plan, because it's possible that something about the way she responds might alert you to its existence and you might figure out what it is and thwart it. In general she is an incredibly suspicious and cynical person, but in a cheerful, strangely optimistic way; she expects people to treat her badly whenever they can get away with it, but trusts herself to endure arbitrary hardship and still come up laughing, and takes enough pride in that resilience to genuinely enjoy having it tested.

Consistently across all timelines and scenes, the winged girl's characterization is detailed, coherent, well-thought-out, responsive to circumstances and history, and... well, if you grant the premise that a personality like this could exist, this is certainly an unfailingly realistic depiction of one. This is the pinnacle of one of the Grapeverse's most cherished arts: writing imaginary people behaving exactly like that specific imaginary person would behave, all the time, in response to whatever nonsense the narrative (or, in this case, the player) may throw at them. And the personality being depicted is really something. It is within the realm of possibility that a lesser soul than Abrogail, faced with this book, would waste away in front of it, helplessly seduced by its fictional occupant.

 

 

...

 

 

...

 

Abrogail played this game for, yes, a while, before it became too frustrating that Abrogail couldn't meet the book's occupant in real life.

So once some other things she's doing are wrapped up, which may take a decade or so, Abrogail shall use a few spells in her local universe, such as Scribe's Binding and Miracle, to transform the winged protagonist of this book into an actual mortal being, and see about them seducing each other for real!  If the book's authors have ever wanted to create true life, they will have!

This isn't just Abrogail delaying a reward for herself towards future victory; she probably can't get a Miracle on this scale until she's sufficiently pleased her boss.  Any books about technology of an appropriate level will hasten the day when this fairy-being becomes real.  And, if the Grapeverse can hasten that day, Abrogail will endeavor - though she's not sure if she can do this, she will if she can - to send back, through this connection, an appropriately seductive and seducible being transformed into an interactive romance novel.

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Listeners

From the samples of Asmodean fiction which have made it to Planet-That-We-Live-Upon, Cheliax looks like a well-adjusted society that has managed to wrap their heads around the concept that fiction isn't real, and exposing people to stories with bad people or bad things in it will not cause total civilizational collapse. A surprising rarity in the domain of interdimensional fiction reviewers. On the other hand, it seems like this world can only be sent "romance novels"; Oh, well. Listeners can send romance novels. Probably.

A longer work depicting the internal politics of the cloistered harem of a Despot; The viewpoint starts out following a new inductee to the harem, who catches the Despot's eye and... plays board games with her? They sit down for long philosophy discussions together? Sex eventually happens, but it's not until the concubine is halfway through redesigning the city's aqueducts to support its growing population. (The concubine is not ready for sex yet, but knew this was a risk she was signing up for when she joined the harem) A few chapters later, the viewpoint starts to shift to depict the lives of the other concubines as well; many have romantic and sexual relationships among each other in addition to their rivalries and their relationships with the Despot. It does become clear over time that the Despot is not just turned on by civil engineering, though she is definitely turned on by civil engineering. Two thirds of the way through the Despot dies and is replaced by her son; Half of the viewpoint characters (the male half) are executed offscreen, and a third of the remainder are removed from the harem for being related to the new Despot. (They are implied to live comfortable lives elsewhere in the palace but are no longer the focus of the story.) The new Despot proceeds to not have sex with any of his concubines for ten whole chapters of poetry, engineering, politics, and math. At one point he has his soldiers undress a concubine and tie her to his bed, but then all he does is pace the bedroom while using her as a sounding board for whether or not he can afford to build a new bridge next summer, then untie her and send her back to her own chambers. He does eventually start hurting and fucking them, but it takes a while.

A story in which a mad genius has finally gotten fed up and vowed to push out the moon's orbit to realign "months" and "year-parts". The protagonist is an unrealistically-competent-crime-investigator who winds up responsible for auditing the mad genius' calculations to confirm that this won't kill everybody, and also has to prevent multiple assassination plots by concerned states and individuals. Many of the technical audits are depicted in detail, though an author's note explains that many of the technologies involved are either speculative or entirely fictional. This should be obvious to anyone who likes this genre of fiction, but apparently that doesn't hold across interdimensional cultural gaps. Over the course of the novel, the two develop both a friendship and a rivalry; There is no sex involved at any point, but the protagonist's complicated mix of admiration, anger, fear, and protectiveness towards his nemesis/ward/prey/friend is clearly setting up for a romantic arc in the sequel; There's a somewhat condescending author's note to this effect, though it is explicitly directed at the force preventing non-romances from being transmitted. In the end, the mad genius flees the country after being told that her plan will not be allowed because it will kill lots of people and upset the international order; The protagonist tracks her down to a remote desert and tries to arrest her, but she declares that no law will stop her from fulfilling her vow and escapes into space to try to enact her plan from Forlorn Sister, outside of any state's jurisdiction.

Another harem novel, this one flagged as somewhat-unrealistic pornography (Though it's not like the sex scenes in the last one weren't explicit.) Like the one before, this is told entirely from the perspective of various concubines. Unlike the one before, some of these concubines seem to be slaves rather than volunteers. Every so often, one will try to kill the Despot during sex, or escape to freedom, or poison the Despot's food, or kill themselves; These attempts always fail and those attempting are raped and killed, or tortured to death, or both, except for the suicide attempt who just gets raped. It's a lot shorter, and the Despot starts having sex with his concubines right out the bat, but despite this it seems to have the same or possibly even more civil engineering, proportionally.

 

Abrogail isn't quite sure what to do with these books.  They've got valuable civil engineering, on the one hand, and a great lack of interesting romance, on the other.  Abrogail is not oblivious to the point that whatever bizarre game she's playing with... the Outer Gods, presumably... the fact that They're sending her only romances implies that she will not be allowed to obtain only material about civil engineering.

Abrogail will simply give her honest feedback on the books, then, in hopes that she is in some sense thereby rewarding whatever has sent her these civil engineering notes:

The first book, as a romance novel, has the fundamental problem that the protagonist is not really conquering or seducing the man in any way, and none of the things she wants from life seem at all entangled with her hypothetical progress on seducing this man.  This is a slice-of-life harem story with sex scenes.  Nobody has any romantic feelings at any visible point, whether of the Good or Evil variety.  She doesn't know if future material of this kind will make it across, but perhaps this selection of Chelish romance novels will help enlighten the Listeners on the difference between a romance novel and a book with sex scenes in it.

The second book is not really to Abrogail's own taste in romance novels - it's sort of weirdly Lawful Neutral as rivalries go, something about it doesn't feel very passionate and it may not be a coincidence that they don't get around to fucking.  But she does concede that it is a romance novel.

The third book may be a sexier harem-slice-of-life novel than the first, but that is, again, what it is.  It's not a romance novel.  It doesn't even have any romance in it, in fact.  The Despot who has painful sex with the harem inmates might as well be a weather phenomenon that rains orgasms and whippings.

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All right what is all this NONSENSE.

Otolmens is VERY BUSY but will probably be closing it down SHORTLY.

Any GODS who are messing with it should FINISH UP THEIR MESSES and not start ANY NEW MESSES.

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The Grapeverse authors of the collaboration write back to say that they are greatly interested in hearing about her playthroughs, which paths she tried, and what she thought of them, and they wish her well in creating a living replica of the winged girl; they are highly confident, in keeping with the winged girl's characterization, that she would be actively delighted to be created almost no matter what circumstances awaited her.

They are also intrigued by the idea of a seductive being transformed into an interactive romance novel, but they would not like to receive one unless the transformation was consensual, and that seems hard to verify under these circumstances, so sadly they'll have to pass; and furthermore, they cannot send her any books about technology of an appropriate level, due to a recently signed international treaty forbidding anyone on Grapeverse from sending uplift materials to Cheliax. If she wants tips on seducing the winged girl once she's made one of her very own, though, they will be happy to respond to questions if the connection is still open at that time!

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The Earthtenders relay effusive thanks for the two response works in a small pamphlet with pressed flowers and sweet-smelling herbs tucked between the pages — they say they will send more very soon.

(Also included within the pages is a slim metallic disk of unknown provenance.)

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They've noticed some fluctuations in the Mysterious Transmitter so they're going to just hurry things along in case it stops working.

They send out the hastily-composed "Emergency Interdimensional Second Edition" of the first harem novel. The politics and sex and romances (Yes, there were romances, though obviously alien cultures have different romance tropes) are left as untouched as possible, but the least romance-relevant civic engineering and poetry and board games have been replaced with somewhat anachronistic explanations of the germ theory of disease, a plan to cultivate pennicilin, the design of a hydroelectric generator, a steam engine, semiconductors, democracy, blast furnaces, a basic mechanical thinking-machine, synthetic fertilizer, and other useful inventions that are hopefully both comprehensible and useful at Cheliax' inferred technology level. Maybe this will help them speedrun the horrible parts of industrialization and get to the part where everything is great apart from the risk of destroying themselves. Good luck, people of Cheliax! Hopefully this one goes through, they're not sure it will since it's not like the things they replaced were irrelevant to characterization or the romance arcs.

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Tessaverse: A random well-written R18 Magical Girl quest from anywhere online

A [fantastical-costumehero-altconstruction-premodernverse] (This is roughly a mix of Magical Girl and Urban Fantasy genres, but it usually isn't set in the Tessaverse itself) derivative novel with the worldbuilding premise that magical power is not native to humans, but can be obtained by magicals via carefully devised contracts with an ambiguously independent collective from another planet with a name that roughly translates as "the observers." The footnotes suggest this is explored in the parent setting in greater detail, but this one only concerns itself with providing a surface level explanation of how a poorly specified contract can result in you not getting what you wanted out of it and wasting your payment, or a well designed one allowing you to obtain abilities that would ordinarily be far more expensive. The story is in the third person perspective and follows two protagonists.

The protagonist, Momo, is a kind and friendly woman who obtained a sufficiently well specified object repair power that she can also use it as an anomalously broad and capable healing power. Her arcs follow her trying to balance her contracted responsibilities with her work to help people and her own personal life. Primarily, the last the form of dealing with her increasing distance from her prior acquaintances, as well as a newly expanded magical social circle, which includes an alluring but guarded magical of ambiguous gender she finds herself drawn to despite the negative rumors. At the beginning, this ability is presented as unambiguously positive in impact, and includes an examination of the idea of what it means to be good and what their obligations towards society are by the Momo and her best friend, who has their own, less versatile contracted powers. As time passes, however, Momo is forced to deal with steadily more problems, starting with becoming the target of anger from people she didn't save. From there, things escalate, with her and her group coming under physical and social attack by entrenched interests, people looking to monopolize her power, and people hostile to those she has already helped. With the result of careful planning, quick thinking, and a healthy heaping of luck, she is able to survive and maintain her freedom, but the task grows steadily harder.

The deuteragonist's perspective picks up at their meeting with the protagonist, who they seem to recognize on sight. The viewpoint character for these segments is an extremely capable and [graceful-efficient] magical named Jix as they work to pursue their own agenda, which appears to be quietly dominating the local underground and magical scenes. They deal with roadblocks by whatever means necessary, including a great deal of intimidation and violence, but is careful never to leave anything that can be traced to them. Along the way they demonstrate keen foresight and competence in dealing with various plots, ambushes, and manipulations before striking at those who attack them. Outside of their work, they work their way into the friend group of the protagonist. They are openly polite and friendly, if not especially approachable, but in private seems dismissive about any of them besides the protagonist herself. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that more and more of their actions are targeted at people and groups Momo associates with, which leaves the impression that they too wants to take the protagonist for their own.

Things come to a head when one of the strongest local power blocks manages to ambush the protagonist, badly injuring her best friend in the process, only for Jix to spring a second ambush and take them down herself. Rather than capture her in turn, however, Jix instead swear themselves to the protagonist's cause, and reveals that their own power is the ability to turn back time. The first time through, they had been saved by the Momo in their darkest moment, but when she was defeated and killed, they altered the wording of the same restoration contract the protagonist had made so they could reset the entire universe. From there, the two perspectives track closely together as their relationship evolves, with Momo learning to enjoy exercising power over Jix inside and outside of the bedroom. The book makes use of magic healing to justify otherwise-inadvisable sex acts, which it’s made clear Jix would ordinarily dislike but adores because of the person doing it. Alongside the steamy scenes, the plot escalates, with the deuteragonist going to further and further extremes to take out things they feel are a danger to the protagonist, up to and including several cases of murder. This comes to a head when the protagonist catches them during the act and confronts them, which results in an impassioned scene where the deuteragonist pleads with the protagonist to let them succeed in keeping her safe, just once. This resolves with the protagonist agreeing to be more selfish, but ordering Jix to not act out without her permission, and proceeds to a punishment scene that makes it clear (if the rest of the book didn't) that this is this particular author's kink. The story wraps up after a short timeskip with the Jix heading out on a mission of dubious providence, but in clothing that is obviously (to a tessaverse resident) sub fetishwear.

 

It's very well-written BDSM material.  It is not however Evil BDSM.  It is Good BDSM.  These people care about each other very much, don't prey on anyone who doesn't try to prey on them first, and the fact that they're fighting alone against a hostile world and occasionally assassinating people, does not make them Evil, it makes them Chaotic.  This is the sort of material that - there is no kind way to put this - Cayden Cailean worshippers think BDSM romance novels are supposed to be about.

 

Novel 2, contains discussion of dubcon, mindbreak, torture, etc

The protagonist is a male mage who starts off the story having just completed the design of a theoretical summoning spell to cross universal boundaries, which is thought to be impossible; the way they got around it was by summoning an alternate version of themselves, who was building the same scaffold at their end, which halved the required complexity. This alternate version is a girl, and after some conversation to confirm their own identities, they proceed to have sex. After that, they put into motion a plan to take over the planet they're on. Their ability to work together and look out for each others interests allows them to take down their neighbors and start to put together a top down command society. At various points, their expansion efforts are stymied by opposition, who they proceed to defeat; these takedowns are split about half and half with clever strategy and half with seduction, where one of them willingly puts themselves at the mercy of their opponent to be taken as a sex slave so as to distract them while the other one acts. There is some justification given about how this is the natural state of the given alien-social sex equilibrium given how any other kind of sex would be making yourself vulnerable to someone you don't trust, but it isn't especially rigorous. These scenes contain a lot of sadism, noncon, torture, etc, with the goal of breaking their will; once their will is broken, they won't be an especially effective worker at anything besides manual labor and sex, but they won't have the capacity to strike back. These scenes come from a perspective that implies "clearly these are bad but isn't it hot though." After the opponent in question is defeated, there is usually a role-reversal scene where the protagonists are instead the ones in control and succeed in breaking down the perpetrator, either alone or together. As the population under their control increases, this is interspersed with scenes of them working together and directing laborers to construct roads, aquaducts, mills, and the like.

The final obstacle is an extremely capable mage who controls the closest thing their is to civilization outside of their works. He had mastered particularly powerful ways of breaking people's wills with rape. In one of the most elaborate sex scenes in the book, the mage rapes the summoner until he breaks, and then turns him on his compatriot. However, when he brings her back in chains, it is revealed to be a ruse, and they take him down in his moment of triumph. The story then jumps back in time two weeks, to where the summoned protagonist saw this coming and turned on their alternate self, attacking them by surprise. The summoner is revealed to have been working on their own plans to do the same, but was caught by surprise and defeated. He tries several times to reverse the situation after being captured, but is forced to concede. Defeated, he goes along with her as she breaks down and rebuilds his mind, keeping much of the same personality but subservient to her. They had realized what made normal people ineffective once defeated was that they only valued themselves, so they fought to prevent it with all their might, but when that self interest was broken, they didn't have anything else. By getting him to give in and work with her, she didn't have to damage that bit, allowing him to retain the capability for independent action. The mage's attempts to break him were doomed to failure, because he already had a master. It then spends the remaining chapters on detailing all the various things she changed about him and some kinky sex, before ending on a scene of them preparing another summoning spell.

 

Eh.  It's not going to make the list of the 10 most interesting sexual encounters in Abrogail's real life let alone her fiction, but Abrogail can ship it.  This book's author understood that the characters need to start out in a position of disadvantage and use their wits, they didn't leave out all the elements that make sex interesting such as sadism, noncon, torture, etc.  Reading this romance novel would be better than spending the same amount of time in a quiet room with nothing to read; this is, in fact, something you can say about relatively few romance novels.

...the sad thing is, this is probably going to be a Chelish bestseller once approved simply because there are so few writers who manage to be okay at the basics of a romance novel.

 

Mathematical Island in the Sea of Time

In the third novel, a student named Violet is isekaid to the Tessaverse’s past, where she finds herself hundreds of years ago in the city that would later form the nucleus of the Tessaverse. Upon realizing this, she makes a name for herself in the field of mathematics. The story goes into great detail on the subject from first principles, but the Tessa largely seems to focus on creating a coherent basis for mathematics rather than redevelop specific new techniques; the impression given is that the author believes this is obviously the most important part of math. One of these achievements, the cubic and quartic formulas, catches the attention of a famous polymath in a neighboring country named Elle. In proper history, this woman had revolutionized a dozen branches of mathematics and science but had always despaired of the fact that nobody could keep up with her, and ended up with most of her work unpublished for decades after she died young from disease. Violet already has something of a crush on Elle, but experiences severe imposter syndrome due to feeling like she was being given credit she didn’t deserve; her publications had been based on the work of others, including Elle herself. From there, the story covers the protagonist’s struggle between being seduced by Elle and her attempts to grapple with the false impression she has created, which is made all the worse as her love interest steps up her own efforts in an attempt to keep up.

Alongside the romance comes a series of mathematical developments, each shown and proven in the pages of the work. Despite her guilt, Violet increases their own work rate in an attempt to put off disappointing Elle, which culminates in her releasing a proof for the fundemental theorem of Calculus just ahead of Elle’s own work. At this, Elle asks Violet out, at which point she spills the beans, confessing her secret. Rather than reject her, however, Elle remarks that this just means that the protagonist knows even more things that she doesn’t, and declares her intention of getting them out of her before silencing her with a kiss. A short sex scene follows soon after, but it’s clearly a lot more vanilla than the previous works and is not the focus of the book. Checking the documentation will reveal that they were delighted to hear that Abrogail was interested in mathematical uplift, which is a popular Tessaverse genre that they haven’t seen much of in any of the other worlds they’re receiving fiction from. Supposedly this is one of the most popular examples of the [mathematical-romance] genre in the Tessaverse, but they apologize if it wasn’t technical enough for her taste because they know some people have high standards on that score (The book is, by the by, over half mathematics, history of mathematics, and philosophy of mathematics by volume). That this might be a miscommunication does not appear evident in their commentary.

 

She'll again be frank in her review, and hope that incentivizes whatever Outer God to send more incredibly valuable books like these:  This is a well-plotted... whatever kind of plot this is... and Abrogail's wizard compatriots, if not Abrogail herself, will absolutely appreciate the mathematical uplift.  Appreciate it lots and lots and lots.

But the actual plot of this romance novel, if you could call it that, is about Boring People with a Boring Romance having Boring Sex One Time.  Abrogail doesn't know what else to say here; this book's author was obviously just not trying to write a romantic plotline that somebody like Abrogail would enjoy.

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This novel opens upon a girl living on a sidewalk. Her descriptions of the world are abstract, ghostly, and clinical — enough so to make it unclear if she understands what the objects around her are. She thinks of herself as a particle settled in the guts of a monolithine purgatory, looking on its mechanisms with awe and fear while recognizing herself as a being that cannot engage with them.

Each pain of homelessness is depicted with intimate detail: the elements yawning to swallow, the personlessness and objectification, the nestled-up fear of someone walking towards you, the soundless scream of boredom.

Rather than knowing a language, she possesses a unique translation magic. The author seems to take satisfaction in exploring the tics and limits of the ability as they arise. She does not speak, but her stream of consciousness is lucid and charming.

The novel makes an abrupt tone-shift thirty thousand words in. Walking on the beach at midnight, she is abruptly caught in the fringes of a selkie's love-inducing song. Her own magic renders her uniquely vulnerable to it, unspooling every tight-packed subliminal and thread of persuasion all at once.

It is a momentous and world-shattering event, the girl's psyche rewriting itself from the first line to the last over the course of a minute. The format abandons prose in favor of desperate adulent poetry, itself rapidly decaying before crescendoing in transition to graphic novel. (The visual world doesn't appear true to its textual descriptions. Ordinary life is vivid and dense, individual blades of grass are carved in spindly ink, each closet and window painstakingly shaded.)

The selkie departs before so much as noticing her victim, but the vagrant discovers that she is also a noblewoman who lives in a manor. She seeks an audience, pleads to be the sea monster's servant, and receives gracious acceptance. Thereon they enjoy slices of life together: quiet nighttime walks, buying the vagrant glasses and knitting her clothes, kidnapping and brainwashing new slaves, dispassionate sex, and abusing unique magic for political capital.

The girl finds herself ensconced in deep happiness. The city has lost its cruel majesty: it has been reduced to her meagre backlight. Her muscles grow toned, her face sharpens, and her gait becomes a marshal's clip.

Much of the remaining plot is fixed on the details of doing chores in the dark. The vagrant talks to everything inanimate. She greets the air, compliments the pleasantries of kitchensmoke, seeks the perspective of a splinter on a broom, and develops her routine to step on each floor tile equally. She spends time improving her housekeeping skills. She learns to mend wood and glass and marble and porcelain. For laundry and dishes, she learns the local magic (purity through water) - a schoolchild's skill that she eluded. She is tireless and diligent, with a singularity of conviction in her work to make angels blush. Any and all events she treats as a life or death scenario.

In parallel to the slice of life plot, the world itself is decaying — aesthetic and genre conceit bleed in like spilled watercolors. Roses frame the panels where the monster smiles prettily and then drift down around her. Feathers rain from the sky when the girl is happy: she notices and examines them, but seems physically unable to consider looking up for a source. When she and the selkie are alone, the girl is small enough to fit in a palm and interacts with the world as though that size. When there is a timeskip, she has no memory of anything that happened during it.

While scrubbing a floor, the girl's glasses fall off her face and she appears to notice the readership, which prompts a total collapse of psyche. She is only comforted by two full hours of high intensity lovesongs. Afterwards she behaves like it never happened, but it is unclear whether she has raised a facade or if the event was excised from her memory so the story might continue.

Soon after it becomes clear that her magic is not translation, but the ability to see the world for what it truly is. The world was never decaying: her power to perceive the bones of meaning was simply growing in strength. She does not spend much time trying to come to terms with this or what it might imply: her thoughts are so quick and uniform in looping back to her true and bright love that solving a metaphysical puzzle edges on impossible.

After nervously skirting around the readership, she seems to decide they are another of her objects. She will turn to speak with them on occasion, or close her eyes for a time as though to listen. Irregularly she will ask a favor: usually for them to "please stay a sliver's sliver while I attend this next room?" She is obeyed in this, and during one of these moments of privacy, she tells her master about what she has seen. In a moment of rising drama, the selkie proposes a trade summit with their observers, who respond to the request—

The readership apologetically sanctions the sea monster, but asks if she would like to meet them for lunch to discuss how to be a more tradeable-with agent. She would.

In preparation for lunch, the readers design an avatar which is then instantiated in the world. The author goes to distant lengths (described in a footnote) to make its depicted behavior true to their character. They arrive upon the appointed hour to break bread. They say they are the sum of their people rather than the wisest, but have some suggestions like "less rape!!" and "if you work to reduce your power over others, those above you will do the same" and "be cheap to predict."

It seems to go really well — the selkie hires the readership as a slave and they thereafter become a participant in the novel's slices of life. (The readership takes the form of an androgyne voyeur of a maid, who can be seen in many panels demurely escorting the protagonist from fifteen paces back. For the girl's part, she continues to treat them as inanimate.)

The last pages follow the protagonist folding warm linens, bent over and keenly focused on matching corners with atomic precision. The panels depict her mind in tandem with her body, utterly washed in worship of her master. The sunlight appears as through stained glass and the air shimmers as if with heat. The readership sits next to her, rolling the pad of their thumb over a conflux of floor tile lines as they stare intently at their friend.

—it actually appears to be an in-progress serial rather than a novel, last published two days ago.

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Here's a big doorstopper of a story that doesn't introduce romance for the first bit, but sufficiently counts. It's set in a world where, when you die, you find yourself raised at one of eight cathedrals three days later. Occasionally new people arrive in the world, and occasionally some don't come back, and occasionally people reference other people not in this world, but nobody seems especially concerned about this. There are no children or old people, only adventurers of a variety of races, constantly respawning in the prime of their lives, some greater and many lesser. The gods don't seem to have alignments, exactly, though some are more evil and some are more lawful. One is vaguely Iomidaean and another slightly Asmodeousish but not closely in either case. 

The cycle of conquest, of push and counter-push, is a cycle - the weapons in use advance in sophistication and might until they start ruining the world around them, turning verdant fields into blasted hellscapes emitting invisible poison. Eventually one of the gods' factions grows stronger than the rest and effectively claims victory, but by old agreement this victory is simply tallied up for some eventual reckoning, and everything is reset. Once more the adventurers start as a half-naked mob in eight wooden shack cities and spread out into the world to cut down trees and dig up stones and build smithies and workshops and raid each other in extremely brutal personal assaults, organized if not equipped from the get-go. They make leather armor and iron weapons and build blast furnaces, and clash with steel armor and crossbows and limited strategic magic. They set up more and more sophisticated supply chains, wagons ferrying chalk and sand and salt to glassmakers, acid foundries proving a major target for strikes by the enemy as destroying one can cripple the whole economy, and fight with cannon and musket and bayonet and spell-charged bombs, all of which need to be hauled to the front. They build incredibly intricate war golems that walk on their own and are profoundly expensive bulwarks of battle, though terribly vulnerable if misused or unsupported. The warmachines and industrial logistics and strange magic have the Planet-characteristic level of nerdy detail focus on them, when relevant. They start working incredibly complex and delicate procedures in huge industrial complexes to refine magically active crystals into an extremely energetic form, to build superweapons, and launch them at each other at key moments with intel and secrecy becoming far more critical than ever before. The cycle tends to take about twenty years. (Close examination and some possibly-expensive experiments will eventually show all these industrial processes to be - wrong and useless in subtle ways. Unfortunately.)

And then someone wins, and it's all reset again.

A follower of one of the eviller gods has long had a back-and-forth with a particular foe on another god's side, going out of his way to interfere with them when it doesn't especially disturb his god's strength and fantasizing about doing so, about grinding their smug face into the dirt, when practicality and loyalty to the cause interfere. The pair of them clash wits, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. It gets to the point where both characters' allies remark on how obsessed they seem, and the superiors of the more-evil one order them to try and get useful strategic information out of their rival. The eviller one pursues this goal with gusto, making innocent comments to provoke revealing responses, making casual bets of information risked against information, with applying appropriate levels of double-checking and skepticism to what they learn. They're thrilled and happy with the constant pushing, seeing defeat in the face of the foe, and seeming string of victories for a while, until a brilliant stroke of counterintelligence by the less-evil rival ruins a large part of the more-evil god's army in a nasty ambush. 

It's a wakeup call, and only makes the man want to outwit and conquer his foe more. He goes with a subtler and longer strategy after that, remaining friendly and cheerful. Over time they convince their foe that the most fun moments of their repeating lives are when the two clash wits and earn delicious victory through their own ruthlessness and cleverness. In dialogues on the battlefield and occasional ambiguously-might-be-rape sex scenes after victories and defeats they continuously try to out-wit each other, and eventually the follower of the less-evil god switches gods to be closer to their other rival. They bounce off each other in constant contests of dominance after that, the talented upstart without reputation and contacts versus the loyal long-term servant. It's a delicious thrill, and when the former rival makes a play to take control of the established one's unit, someone the rival thought was a friend and ally betrays them, and they end up chained to the ground in the evil one's bedroom. It's a shame he can't be too cruel, the eviller one thinks, because then he wouldn't come back the next time he dies in battle, and he'd be much less useful that way. He has to restrain his torment to just enough not to drive the rival away from the plane for good, just enough to give them a glimmer of hope to prove themselves again or become the superior eventually.

The doorstopper of a novel ends on the note that, unknown to the eviller god's followers, the rival's former superior officer receives a coded message that is implied to contain vital intelligence. She comments, "That idiotic masochist's playing the long game, huh."

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The Grapeverse authors of the collaboration write back to say that they are greatly interested in hearing about her playthroughs, which paths she tried, and what she thought of them, and they wish her well in creating a living replica of the winged girl; they are highly confident, in keeping with the winged girl's characterization, that she would be actively delighted to be created almost no matter what circumstances awaited her.

They are also intrigued by the idea of a seductive being transformed into an interactive romance novel, but they would not like to receive one unless the transformation was consensual, and that seems hard to verify under these circumstances, so sadly they'll have to pass; and furthermore, they cannot send her any books about technology of an appropriate level, due to a recently signed international treaty forbidding anyone on Grapeverse from sending uplift materials to Cheliax. If she wants tips on seducing the winged girl once she's made one of her very own, though, they will be happy to respond to questions if the connection is still open at that time!

@Grapeverse:

Abrogail does not in fact require their permission to reciprocate the fine gift of interactive-winged-girl she's been given!  And Abrogail is not an Abadaran who always wants to leave people better off by trading with her!

There's been some indication that this connection might be ending soon, so here, have the results of a Scribe's Binding that's been used on a captive succubus.  Hopefully they can use this highly magical soul-book for raw materials for more of their art form, and if not, the succubus can just stay a book forever!  Do note that if they try to untransform her back in a naive way, without editing her book first, she'll almost certainly kill them!

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This novel opens upon a girl living on a sidewalk. Her descriptions of the world are abstract, ghostly, and clinical — enough so to make it unclear if she understands what the objects around her are. She thinks of herself as a particle settled in the guts of a monolithine purgatory, looking on its mechanisms with awe and fear while recognizing herself as a being that cannot engage with them...

...

...

Okay, yes, thank you, Abrogail can recognize the dreadful madness of the Dark Tapestry before she gets far enough into the book that it eats her mind and brain and soul and body in approximately that order.

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Uh huh.  Sure.

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Abrogail was seriously right about to put the book down before Gorthoklek burst in here so impolitely!

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Uh huh.

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Planet Rockeye: a world where, when you die, you find yourself raised at one of eight cathedrals three days later...

Here's a big doorstopper of a story that doesn't introduce romance for the first bit, but sufficiently counts. It's set in a world where, when you die, you find yourself raised at one of eight cathedrals three days later. Occasionally new people arrive in the world, and occasionally some don't come back, and occasionally people reference other people not in this world, but nobody seems especially concerned about this. There are no children or old people, only adventurers of a variety of races, constantly respawning in the prime of their lives, some greater and many lesser. The gods don't seem to have alignments, exactly, though some are more evil and some are more lawful. One is vaguely Iomidaean and another slightly Asmodeousish but not closely in either case.

The cycle of conquest, of push and counter-push, is a cycle - the weapons in use advance in sophistication and might until they start ruining the world around them, turning verdant fields into blasted hellscapes emitting invisible poison. Eventually one of the gods' factions grows stronger than the rest and effectively claims victory, but by old agreement this victory is simply tallied up for some eventual reckoning, and everything is reset. Once more the adventurers start as a half-naked mob in eight wooden shack cities and spread out into the world to cut down trees and dig up stones and build smithies and workshops and raid each other in extremely brutal personal assaults, organized if not equipped from the get-go. They make leather armor and iron weapons and build blast furnaces, and clash with steel armor and crossbows and limited strategic magic. They set up more and more sophisticated supply chains, wagons ferrying chalk and sand and salt to glassmakers, acid foundries proving a major target for strikes by the enemy as destroying one can cripple the whole economy, and fight with cannon and musket and bayonet and spell-charged bombs, all of which need to be hauled to the front. They build incredibly intricate war golems that walk on their own and are profoundly expensive bulwarks of battle, though terribly vulnerable if misused or unsupported. The warmachines and industrial logistics and strange magic have the Planet-characteristic level of nerdy detail focus on them, when relevant. They start working incredibly complex and delicate procedures in huge industrial complexes to refine magically active crystals into an extremely energetic form, to build superweapons, and launch them at each other at key moments with intel and secrecy becoming far more critical than ever before. The cycle tends to take about twenty years. (Close examination and some possibly-expensive experiments will eventually show all these industrial processes to be - wrong and useless in subtle ways. Unfortunately.)

And then someone wins, and it's all reset again.

A follower of one of the eviller gods has long had a back-and-forth with a particular foe on another god's side, going out of his way to interfere with them when it doesn't especially disturb his god's strength and fantasizing about doing so, about grinding their smug face into the dirt, when practicality and loyalty to the cause interfere. The pair of them clash wits, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. It gets to the point where both characters' allies remark on how obsessed they seem, and the superiors of the more-evil one order them to try and get useful strategic information out of their rival. The eviller one pursues this goal with gusto, making innocent comments to provoke revealing responses, making casual bets of information risked against information, with applying appropriate levels of double-checking and skepticism to what they learn. They're thrilled and happy with the constant pushing, seeing defeat in the face of the foe, and seeming string of victories for a while, until a brilliant stroke of counterintelligence by the less-evil rival ruins a large part of the more-evil god's army in a nasty ambush.

It's a wakeup call, and only makes the man want to outwit and conquer his foe more. He goes with a subtler and longer strategy after that, remaining friendly and cheerful. Over time they convince their foe that the most fun moments of their repeating lives are when the two clash wits and earn delicious victory through their own ruthlessness and cleverness. In dialogues on the battlefield and occasional ambiguously-might-be-rape sex scenes after victories and defeats they continuously try to out-wit each other, and eventually the follower of the less-evil god switches gods to be closer to their other rival. They bounce off each other in constant contests of dominance after that, the talented upstart without reputation and contacts versus the loyal long-term servant. It's a delicious thrill, and when the former rival makes a play to take control of the established one's unit, someone the rival thought was a friend and ally betrays them, and they end up chained to the ground in the evil one's bedroom. It's a shame he can't be too cruel, the eviller one thinks, because then he wouldn't come back the next time he dies in battle, and he'd be much less useful that way. He has to restrain his torment to just enough not to drive the rival away from the plane for good, just enough to give them a glimmer of hope to prove themselves again or become the superior eventually.

The doorstopper of a novel ends on the note that, unknown to the eviller god's followers, the rival's former superior officer receives a coded message that is implied to contain vital intelligence. She comments, "That idiotic masochist's playing the long game, huh."

 

Mm... another technically competent BDSM romance novel that would have interested Abrogail more before the Earthtenders expanded her sense of the possible.  Printable enough in Cheliax... once they've milked these industrial processes for all they're worth.  It's not clear if they'll operate in Golarion, but just the concept of the process lines seems like quite an important one - there's an implied methodology of how processes like these must have been invented, that this is what industry aims for, which seems conceptually valuable all on its own.

She does appreciate the ambiguity of who's winning; Abrogail has always thought that a romance novel is boring if you can easily tell who's winning the romance.

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This story is set in a world that starts around or maybe a little behind Cheliax's technology level, in a city filled with canals, artisan guilds, and a valiant attempt at republican government. It is made of segments <3k words, and most under two thousand, strung together with more implication than connection. The plot depicted within the scenes is an extensively if not excruciatingly detailed account of technological and scientific development, as the main characters discover the principles of phlogiston and apply them to metallurgy, followed by several equivalent breakthroughs of which the last is luminiferous aether, including entire stretches that simply address the reader directly to explain the underlying details for why the principles the characters have discovered exist and produce the practical and experimental results they do; extensive political developments are sketched out and discussed, taking place more in the gaps than on page. It is a romance in that the six main characters are married and become closer over the course of the narrative; one of them has developed psychosis as a result of psychoactive drugs taken to tolerate having sex, which is treated as difficult mainly for that one, and a fate that could strike any ordinary person.

An accompanying note apologises for the lack of cultural contextualisation, which has inexplicably been failing to send - both the usual discussion appendix it is published with on their world, and attempts at explaining humans to aliens - and hopes that despite inevitable misunderstandings this unusually-physics-detailed story will nonetheless be overall-positive to receive. (Parts of the note itself have failed to send, including any kind of name for the sender(s).)

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@Soonverse:

While it's clear that the physical principles of this world are not the same principles that underlie Golarion, the process of discovery is exceptionally inspiring and valuable.  Cheliax deeply appreciates their service.

The romantic aspects are trash.  No woman dreams of this life.

Here's a dozen of Cheliax's finest romance novels, if they're curious about how to do that correctly.  This may also help make it clear what sort of valuable service they've helped perform for Golarion!

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