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Updraft (Bone Universe, #1)
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Updraft > UD: Them bones (part one - mild spoilers and speculation)

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Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1861 comments I've just finished the first part of the book, and I'm very intrigued by the structure of these cities in the sky. I expect that we will find more about these structures later in the book, so if you've read that far, please don't spoil things here. This is for speculation. :)

But what are these bones, and where do they come from? We know that the Singers are the ones who grow them (the only ones who can?) but how? Since the Singers also seem to have control over the Sky Mouths, I can only imagine there must be a connection. Are the bones the bones of the Sky Mouths? If so, how it it that the Singers 'grow' them, and why use bones at all if the Mouths in the sky are so dangerous? They seem to keep climbing higher and higher, and it makes me wonder about the bottom. What is going on down there that they needed to keep moving upwards? It is suggested that high is safer than low, but since the bones keep climbing, it seems the Sky Mouths do too.

It's all very cool and mysterious.


message 2: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3493 comments Mod
I hope we get an explanation of them.

My speculation is that they are this world's version of bamboo. A living thing that grows with chambers inside. But instead of being made of cellulose they are made mostly from calcium which gives it it's bony feel and appearance.

I pity the life that lives on the surface of the world. I imagine the base of these towers as being huge dumps, with all the garbage, excrement, dead bodies etc just tossed off each tier.


Colin Forbes (colinforbes) | 473 comments Yes, how could you live in one of these bone towers and not wonder what was at the root of it? Nobody seems inclined to go and look though!

Enjoying the world-building so far. It's an intriguing world.


Greg | 83 comments Does it also feel like a small world to anyone else?
Initially I thought there were huge distances between but it really seems like all the towers could fit in a small state; Is this all there is to the world, all that matters to this story or just all that they know even though more is out there?


Phil | 1136 comments I think this is all they know. The planet is probably what we would consider normal sized but all we're concerned with seemed to me to be about the size of a large city.


Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments I'm actually disliking the worldbuilding, and finding it lacking on several aspects.

For instance: It is said they drink rain water. Really? How could it be so if they live above the clouds??
Also, they live on huge bone towers that keep growing - fine. But how do they grow food?

At some point they eat a goose, and I thought: "Ok, hunting birds explain it." But later on, they ate apples, and honey! Where did they get the soil to plant the apples? And even if they keep moving the soil from tier to tier as the tower grows, do they keep an orchard within the tower? How do they get sunlight? And bees?!? And flowers?!?

I hate to have those bickering questions nagging at my head while I read the book, but they are piling up as I go, and after going through 2/3 of the story, I don't think they'll ever be properly answered.

It would be possible to give some sort of explanation - I'm not saying it hits on my sense of disbelief - but all these holes on the "whys and hows" are really preventing me from liking the book.


Stephen Richter (stephenofllongbeach) | 1318 comments I was thinking coral reef stuctures.


message 8: by Sky (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments They're probably just tiny people living on the keratin spikes of a hedgehog with a bad case of lice (skymouths) and dandruff (clouds).

I guess maybe they could be normal people on a huge hedgehog...


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments Paulo wrote: "I'm actually disliking the worldbuilding, and finding it lacking on several aspects.

For instance: It is said they drink rain water. Really? How could it be so if they live above the clouds??
Also..."


The terraces are on the outside, where the sunlight is. As for the bees and flowers...I'm not sure that part was as well thought out. I don't think they live above *all* the clouds. I think there's a mysterious cloudbank of mystery keeping them from seeing what's below, but there's still plenty of clouds above.

The whole system does seem long-term unsustainable. Perhaps especially after reading Aurora.


message 10: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 83 comments Sky wrote: "They're probably just tiny people living on the keratin spikes of a hedgehog with a bad case of lice (skymouths) and dandruff (clouds).

I guess maybe they could be normal people on a huge hedgehog..."


This is a hilarious idea.


Kristina | 588 comments Omg! Hedgehog FTW!


Stephanie (cozyuptocrime) | 5 comments Paulo wrote: "I'm actually disliking the worldbuilding, and finding it lacking on several aspects.

For instance: It is said they drink rain water. Really? How could it be so if they live above the clouds??
Also..."

I've been wondering about their food situation as well. How do you get soil in the sky?? This society doesn't seem to produce botanists so I don't see them scienc-ing their way to fruits and veggies. It seems like their diet would be very bird-heavy, and the rainwater thing makes no sense to me. Every time the main character mentions what she's eating I just have to suspend disbelief and focus on the world-building aspects that are cool, like the towers growing on their own and the social system they practice.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1861 comments I vote we all adopt Sky's excellent and perfectly rational hedgehog theory. I intend to forever refer to Updraft as "the hedgehog book". Who's with me!

I also wondered about food but not as closely as some of you, because I raced through the first part. I am kind of expecting some things to be explained by the Singers, because I am convinced that they are the big secret holders keeping the world of this society small. But it wouldn't bother me if there was no explanation for the food. Kirit isn't interested in farming, so maybe there are Watney-like people who farm the shit out of those bones that we just never find out about because the story isn't about them.

As for the world, I am certain it is bigger, but for some reason these people chose to climb away from it. I really hope we find out why. An origin story for this world might be fun if it isn't told in much detail here.


Ivi_kiwi | 87 comments I remember at some point it is said, that the spire does not keep the bird guanp, while the towers do. so the spire has to buy the food from the towers. .. And in another part we are told, that raising bees is a special skill and only one tower can do it and you have to trade for it.


message 15: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3493 comments Mod
I like the Hedgehog theory :-)
Though being an Aussie I'll call it the Echidna Theory ;-)

Maybe they farm using hydroponics. No soil required. Water and bird poo.

When they say they are above the clouds I assume there are still some clouds above to rain down on them.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2449 comments I'm not buying the world building either. My only rational to how it might work is if the clouds are not really the clouds at all but a thick fog like you get in San Francisco.

Like here:
http://www.fog-city.co/tides-in-the-s...

If the towers really do go above the regular clouds without any rational explanation then it's pure nonsense.


message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan | 534 comments I agree with everyone who figures that there is still regular weather and ordinary clouds above the "cloud" layer mentioned so often in the book.

But I also note that there is no reason to think that this book is supposed to occur in a world with similar gravity or weather to our own. I actually figured it would make more sense if the gravity was significantly lower. Similarly, the "clouds" might be an atmospheric layer that is in some low-level way toxic. I really really doubt that the author wants us to picture the towers going down for thousands of feet below the cloud layer to reach the eventual ground. That would be structurally impossible for a building material that people (or people-like creatures) could damage with hand-tools.


Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments Good to know I'm not alone on my questions. And as I said, these are not "impossible to answer" questions - the idea that Alan mentioned about lower gravity is very nice, for example. I have others as well, but this thread is spoiler-free.

Yay for the Hedgehog Book!! :-)

The relationship between the Singers and the Towers is also raising many questions... In some ways the Singers are respected, even revered. In others, they seem to be opressors who keep the towers intentionally in the dark on many things.

Well, according to the last S&L podcast Fran Wilde will be on the show. I'll start to write down my questions as I keep reading.


message 19: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 83 comments Alan wrote: "...But I also note that there is no reason to think that this book is supposed to occur in a world with similar gravity or weather to our own. ..."

I agree a different world could make a lot of these questions easier to deal with, when I was first reading I was assuming a future earth for some reason but once I tossed that idea I enjoyed the book a lot more.


message 20: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara | 24 comments I was also left with a lot of world building questions, but agree that it's likely not on earth, but some other world. My question regarding population, trading, food supply, etc. remind me somewhat of questions I had after reading Divergent. The numbers just don't quite add up.

That being said, I found the book engaging and fun to read.


Jessica | 22 comments Only 53% in the book (on chapter 14), but I have to ask: does any of the characters ever get curious enough to investigate what is going on at ground level? None of them are born with wings, so what happened to make them feel they had to take to the sky? I'm so curious, why keep building up? What's wrong with the ground?

Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions. Anyway, back to reading. Really interesting story by the way.


message 22: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara | 24 comments Jessica wrote: "Only 53% in the book (on chapter 14), but I have to ask: does any of the characters ever get curious enough to investigate what is going on at ground level? None of them are born with wings, so wha..."

They do seem to blindly accept that below the clouds is bad. Of course, they are drilled in the history of the Rise and their entire culture is based on 'up is good.' However, I agree that you'd think there'd be a few 'crackpots' who want to explore the surface or believe in revisiting. Although there is so much danger where they are they probably aren't eager to find more.


message 23: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3493 comments Mod
Some do explore what is below the clouds. They get to view the ground while approaching it and striking it at terminal velocity ;-)


message 24: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6715 comments Mod
Sky, when will your giant hedgehog steampunk novel be coming out?


terpkristin | 4118 comments So I finished the other day and the skymouth/tower connection seems like a logical one to make. But it seems...amazing that they're as big as they are. Or at least as big as they seem.

I guess we never find out how close to the ground the clouds are. But clearly there's something beneath the clouds that's pretty horrific, too. But if the clouds are fairly high, then the bones grow...a LOT. And must in some way be still alive (able to grow), at least for the towers that are still there.


Robert Osborne (ensorceled) | 79 comments This novel required a lot of suspension of disbelief but once I accepted that and stopped trying to work out the physics, I quite enjoyed it.

I kind of settled on the people in this story not being human, instead being lighter boned humaniods which evolved because that way because of their lower gravity. This explained how fragile they seemed with respect to broken bones and also how (view spoiler) and how (view spoiler)


Ingelin | 3 comments Paulo wrote: "Where did they get the soil to plant the apples?
"


They "obviously" have huge sails which gather dust from the wind. The dust is mixed with poo and placed in troughs which are hung on the outside of the towers on the south side. All sorts of things are grown in the troughs, even fruit trees. several troughs are hung from the same ropes, a meter apart or several, depending on the crops. When the crops are ready for harvest the troughs are pulled up with pulleys to be reached from one of the lower tiers. When they abandon a tier to move upwards the troughs are pulled upwards as well.


message 28: by Trike (last edited Jun 22, 2016 07:43AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Trike | 8169 comments I don't know how far along I am, since I'm reading a paper book, but more than halfway (also reading 3 other books in rotation), and I keep wondering about the food. It takes a lot of area to grow enough food for one person.

I was initially thinking the towers were like the Bosco Verticale (literally "Vertical Forest") buildings in Italy, with the terraces full of trees and plants (seen here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosco...), but so far she hasn't mentioned anything like that. I guess she figures it's not important, but it seems to be bugging quite a few of us.

I know we can just handwave it away because the world is magic, but it's hard to buy into the really outlandish things when even the small details require the suspension of disbelief.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2449 comments Trike wrote: "I know we can just handwave it away because the world is magic, but it's hard to buy into the really outlandish things when even the small details require the suspension of disbelief. "

Except there is never really any mention of 'magic' anywhere except for the singers ability to make the bone grow. And that could be just the secret of throwing poop/miracle-grow on it. A few paragraphs would solve all the problems I had with this book. As it stands I discounted most of the book as nonsense.


Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments Trike wrote: "I don't know how far along I am, since I'm reading a paper book, but more than halfway (also reading 3 other books in rotation), and I keep wondering about the food. It takes a lot of area to grow ..."

My overall impression is that the author did try and think about these things and give explanations about how the food is grown and how the society works, but didn't actually do some Fermi calculations to make it plausible. I'd recommend going with the flow secure in the idea that she meant it to work out mostly. I got a long-term unsustainability vibe here. This is basically a fantastic dystopia.


Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments Ingelin wrote: They "obviously" have huge sails which gather dust from the wind...

Ohh, now it is all clear! Ingelin, you should have co-authored the book! ;-)


Trike | 8169 comments AndrewP wrote: "Except there is never really any mention of 'magic' anywhere except for the singers ability to make the bone grow."

Oh, that makes me sad if it's meant to be Science Fiction.

That would really diminish it in my view. With Fantasy, the lack of detail is annoying because of the low degree of difficulty, but I can accept it as metaphorical. But SF? That means it's lazy and dumb.

Joanna wrote: "My overall impression is that the author did try and think about these things and give explanations about how the food is grown and how the society works, but didn't actually do some Fermi calculations to make it plausible."

I remember when I read the Sharon Shinn Archangel series, which is really just the Dragonriders of Pern where she's combined the dragons and riders into one person, and it tries to be all science fictional, which just underscored the fact Shinn had no clue how technology actually works. It was okay as Fantasy, but just idiotic as sci-fi. In a medieval-level society she actually has a guy invent a satellite phone... without any of the industry or technological forerunners necessary to accomplish such a task.

Kind of hoping that isn't the case here.


message 33: by Rick (last edited Jun 22, 2016 09:57AM) (new)

Rick | 2775 comments Well, at least we find out more about the clouds in Book 2 (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...

"As children, we learned early that the clouds were dangerous. Turns out the city wasn't all that much safer."

In the sky-high city of living bone, to fall beneath the clouds is to be lost forever. But Nat Densira finds more in the grey expanse than he ever expected. To survive, he must let go of everything he believes.



message 34: by Rob, Roberator (last edited Jun 22, 2016 10:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6715 comments Mod
I read this book as fantasy, not scifi. It was the fantasy pick too.

I personally don't tend to worry too much about the details of most things in fantasy, unless I'm bored by the plot/characters. But everyone is different with their need for details.

For example, I tend to care more about the details of a magic system than I do about sustainability.


Steve (plinth) | 179 comments Having finished the book, I'll say this:

It took me a long time to warm up to the story. From the beginning, it seemed like the inhabitants took terrible care of both the young and the elderly. The things that happened to Kerit in terms of treatment, trust, and punishment were worse than, say, Dumbledore, who routinely sent young children into life-threatening situations.

I found the approach of the Singers (view spoiler)

It took about half the book before the actual plot became clear. (view spoiler)


Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1616 comments Oh man, reading the comments above make me nervous.

Can someone finished with the book please tell me (in spoiler tag) whether the book is future earth/dystopia/post apocalyptic fantasy?


Robert Osborne (ensorceled) | 79 comments Silvana wrote: "
Can someone finished with the book please tell me (in spoiler tag) whether the book is future earth/dystopia/post apocalyptic fantasy?"


(view spoiler)


Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1616 comments Robert wrote: "Silvana wrote: "
Can someone finished with the book please tell me (in spoiler tag) whether the book is future earth/dystopia/post apocalyptic fantasy?"

[spoilers removed]"


Thank you

(view spoiler)


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