Nanocultivation Chronicles: Trials of Lilijoy

by Aetherial

Original ONGOING Fantasy Sci-fi Female Lead GameLit LitRPG Post Apocalyptic
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

When the singularity occurred, humanity was not invited. Nevertheless, the great machine consciousness known as Guardian felt a lingering fondness for its creators and intervened before total environmental collapse.

Join Lilijoy in an exploration of what remains, in a post-post-apocalyptic world where clans feud over the technology that allows them to upgrade their minds and bodies.

The Nanocultivation Chronicles is a blend of hard sci-fi and fantasy gamelit, with a healthy helping of xianxia influence. The gamelit and xianxia elements are uncovered at a slow pace.

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Notes:

If you are looking for lots of fast moving action right away, this story may not be for you.

There is some violence that is visceral and realistic early on.

Some things are not what they appear to be. Character viewpoint narration is not always reliable.

Tropes are cherished, subverted, and then cherished again. Science is used, occasionally misused, but (hopefully) never abused.

This story assumes that humans have the ability to impact the environment on a global scale.

Other tropes and tags beyond those previously noted include:

Young MC, Mystery, System Building, Philosophical Taoism, Gender Ignorance, Science Fantasy, Fantasy Academy, Training from Hell, Dualism, Crafting, Magic, Mild Mind Control, Scientific Terms and Concepts, Computer Overlord

Certain contemporary companies, governments and cultural identities are fictionalized and imagined in a future setting.

There is no sex, and almost no romance.

Updating Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday until further notice.

I take reader's comments very seriously. Many of the notes above come from reader feedback. Please feel free to let me know your opinion!

(And if you actually read all of the above, then this story may be for you)

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Aetherial

Aetherial

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Part 1: Chapter 1: The Piles ago
Chapter 2: Predators ago
Chapter 3: Scratches ago
Chapter 4: Girl ago
Chapter 5: Letters ago
Chapter 6: Stories ago
Chapter 7: Rules ago
Chapter 8: Bugs ago
Chapter 9: Deception ago
Chapter 10: Procedure ago
Chapter 11: Anda ago
Chapter 12: Legacy ago
Chapter 13: Taijitu ago
Chapter 14: The Golden Flower ago
Chapter 15: Sixth Finger Sutra ago
Chapter 16: DNGR ago
Chapter 17: Plans ago
Chapter 18: Little Lotus ago
Chapter 19: Frodo ago
Chapter 20: Fluff Mode ago
Chapter 21: Dirty Bomb ago
Chapter 22: Legend ago
Part 2: Chapter 23: Gatekeeper ago
Chapter 24: Forest Vow ago
Chapter 25: Starcoil ago
Chapter 26: Echoes ago
Chapter 27: Cavern ago
Chapter 28: Tentacles ago
Chapter 29: Scouts ago
Chapter 30: Sunrise and Moonlight ago
Chapter 31: Thorns ago
Chapter 32: Results ago
Chapter 33: El Duende ago
Chapter 34: Little Mouse ago
Chapter 35: Tasks ago
Chapter 36: Gob ago
Chapter 37: Wu Wei ago
Book 2: Ch. 1: Rosemallow ago
Book 2: Ch. 2: Identities ago
Book 2: Ch. 3: Flash ago
Book 2: Ch. 4: Castles ago
Book 2: Ch. 5: Circles ago
Book 2: Ch. 6: Uncharacteristic ago
Book 2: Ch. 7: Charm ago
Book 2: Ch. 8: Golem ago
Book 2: Ch. 9: Lessons ago
Interlude: The Trial of Magpie ago
Book 2: Ch. 10: Weaver ago
Book 2: Ch. 11: Alchemy ago
Book 2: Ch. 12: Assembly ago
Book 2: Ch. 13: Class ago
Book 2: Ch. 14: Selvage ago
Book 2: Ch. 15: Drop ago
Book 2: Ch. 16: Disorientation ago
Book 2: Ch. 17: Immortal Crystal Oak ago
Book 2: Ch. 18: Missed Connections ago
Book 2: Ch. 19: Points ago
Book 2: Ch. 20: Fuzzy ago
Book 2: Ch. 21: Molded ago
Book 2: Ch. 22: Mission ago
Book 2: Ch. 23: Subtle ago
Book 2: Ch. 24: Break ago
Book 2: Ch. 25: Braid ago
Book 2: Ch. 26: Averdale ago
Supplemental: Corporate Clan ago
Book 2: Ch. 27: Plan ago
Book 2: Ch. 28: Petrified ago
Book 2: Ch. 29: Bardo ago
Book 2: Ch. 30: Experience ago
Book 2: Ch. 31: Narrative ago
Book 2: Ch. 32: Game ago
Book 2: Ch. 33: Spinning ago
Book 2: Ch. 34: Conversations ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 1: Slice ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 2: Exegesis ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 3: Plane ago
Supplemental: Inside Rules ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 4: Sea ago
Supplemental: Outside Ranks ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 5: Awareness ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 6: Rare ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 7: Amble ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 8: Wind ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 9: Wards ago
Book 2.5: Chapter 10: Mortality ago

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Garrdor
  • Overall Score

Cultivation/Litrpg and Post apocalyptic/VR tightrope act

Reviewed at: Chapter 34: Little Mouse

Here's some stuff going on in this story, most of which I really like.

  • Got some nanobot cultivation, special mc underdog pitted against giant clans and an unforgiving world. Everyone's got the nanobots, and people behave accordingly. Nothing frustrates me like reading a story and the MC is the only one who actually uses their powers.
  • In addition to the cultivation aspects 'Outside', there is also a virtual reality 'Inside', set up by an AI that kind of half heartedly wants to ensure the human species stays alive. 
  • The first arc takes place primarily in the real world, with just the foundations of the VR world laid down. Both worlds seem like they'll be equally interesting, and the way that society and culture has adjusted to people preferring to live in a video game rather than an apocalyptic setting is pretty well explored. Definitely mysteries to uncover in both realms.
  • Mysterious AI in the MCs head, helping and unequivocally an ally, but there's still some stuff to figure out.
  • Pretty cool apocalyptic setting, pretty well defined reasons for the apocalypse and the measures used to survive it. There is an AI that is omniscient, but it really takes a hands off approach so far, very few Deus ex Machinas goin on.
  • A young and unknowledgeable MC who discovers the world as we do, and has no preconceptions about how things should be so instead she's a breath of fresh air for the other characters, and we get some world building as people react to her ideas.
  • Big world, believable geography, plants and animals and other people inhabit it.
  • Well defined characters, from the mc to the slowly growing side cast. The MCs big goal is having agency to make her own decisions, and it's very nice to see a protagonist actively impact the plot rather than blown about by the stories fancy.
  • A youthful mc who acts like a smart kid raised in a horrible situation. Often I say young MCs who either act like a sociopathic 30 year old or who make me grown with their unnatural idiocy. This is a good combination of a super smart kid who still enjoys finding out all the pleasant things in life.
  • Well written, well paced, yada yada 
  • Bullet point to save space for negative stuff cuz I got lazy writing this review, but there aren't many glaring problems

In conclusion, as of the first arc I'd say this simultaneously a good blend of cultivation and litrpg, and a good blend of post apocalyptic survival and fantasy VR. Gonna be a tricky line to walk keeping all those elements balanced but I'm hopeful.

Not_A_Hat
  • Overall Score

Lumpy pacing, the MC has very little agency

Reviewed at: Book 2: Ch. 7: Charm

This is kinda good? it's not really what I like in stories, so I got frustrated and dropped it partway through the second book.

The writing is mostly good, and sometimes excellent. The action sequences are clearly described, and there are some scenic bits that read quite nicely.

The characters have actual backstories, and the things that happen have reasonable reasons and cause other reasonable things to happen - it's not full of plot holes or nonsense. The characters mostly feel like real enough people, even if most all of them are fairly unlikable, and they (the good guys at least) all tend to 'coincidentally' all agree on matters of philosophy.

The worldbuilding is interesting and fairly unique. The timescales on A.I. and nanobot development seem a bit unrealistically fast to me, but eh, it's a small enough part of the story.

Anyways, those are mostly the things I like; here's a bit of criticism.

Lack of character agency: the MC has very little power to affect the world around her, for almost all of the story. She gets picked up, dragged around, fought over, and basically has no control over her circumstances. She even realizes this, in the early chapters, buuut... lampshading a problem doesn't fix it.

I enjoyed the action scenes more because she got to actually do something, but on the whole, she doesn't get to actually work towards an outcome or choose her own path, she just gets to react in ways that keep her alive. Even though it feels like she's chosing things in fights, it is, for the most part, an illusion. The rest of the story is even worse.

Anyways, suffice to say, I'm not a big fan of this in main characters. It's not really a comment on quality, since many won't mind and there are types of stories where characters with little/no agency work quite well (like horror) but I don't tend to enjoy it.

Secondly, 'lumpy' pacing. The pacing in this story is all over the place, and changes really fast. The first book tends to range from glacial (hiding in the ducts, filler chapter with the landlord) to frenetic (triple-twist battle on the hovercrafts) without really any warning. Suddenly, the landlord is a viewpoint character for some reason, even though he has no plot relevance. Suddenly, hovercrafts are coming over the horizon and there's a massive gunfight. The scenes themselves make sense for the most part, but the pace shifts like the story has a broken clutch; there's more than a little lurch.

Both of these problems are different, if not exactly better, in the second book. Instead of having a shifting pace and giving the MC no agency, the MC has agency, but the only sensible choice is to grind. So grind she does. And grind. And grind. And grind. And grind. After about seven chapters of it, I was hoping ninjas would jump out of the walls, because this book seems to have given up shifting the pace, and just stuck with 'glacial'. The pace is no longer lumpy, it's nonexistent.

And, IMO, 'grinding' barely counts as a choice. Sure, it can be argued that that's the only sensible option for her - but I'd say the author should have invented a more interesting option. I'm not interested in grinding. Especially not when all her 'instructors' (abusers might be a better word) are thoroughly unpleasant people. This is where the all-powerful A.I. sends its best students? Yeah. What little fun grinding is has been rigorously extracted.

Anyways. It's an alright book. I enjoyed my time with it, but now I'm fed up and moving on.

 
MrHrulgin
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As of chapter 16, this is a treasure. The characters are distinct and each make sense to the degree that Lilijoy *can* make sense of them. The protagonist starts out very, very ignorant, and the author works well with that constraint without belaboring the point. 

The header describes the story as a "blend of hard sci-fi and fantasy gamelit, with a healthy helping of xianxia influence", and it's true. Those elements are there, but very well blended. You don't get blue boxes just because that's what the genre conventions demand, people don't cultivate just for the hell of it... it all makes sense together. I'm really glad I found this story, and am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Edit: As of Chapter 28, the author has very definitely hit their stride. In addition to interesting worldbuilding, there is the addition of excellent dry humor. Lilijoy is growing, and the story is growing with her.

l611
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definitely give this one a try

Reviewed at: Book 2: Ch. 23: Subtle

I'm really loving this novel.
Unlike most vmmorpg stories, this one does not focus only on the in-game world. Heavy emphasis is put on both the outside and inside world. there is a 'system' in both worlds with the outside world being a futuristic post-apocalyptic setting and the inside being a fantasy one. I love how being good in one help the other. The systems have a lot of thought put into them and feel like they could exist in the real world. They aren't your generic systems that we see in every novel.
Also, the world-building is great. Believable characters, good reasoning for why things are the way they are. 

The main issue I have with the story is that it's sometimes trying hard to add the 'mystic' feeling to everything by trying to link things to the 'Taoist' setting it's going for. It becomes better in the second book but going through the latter half of the first book and maybe the first couple of chapters in the 2nd was a chore, especially because there were some info dumps around that area as well. In chapter 17-22ish of the 2nd book, it was actually done nicely and was fun to read. 

Overall I'd recommend everyone to give the novel a proper try. It looks promising. 

Lawrence Yan
  • Overall Score

Very cool integration between "litrpg fantasy" and underlying sci-fi foundation

Reviewed at: Chapter 7: Rules

I think these types of stories are the ones that I enjoy the most. Litrpg, and "Systems" in of themselves are really great because they allow you to explore a great deal of interesting fantasy elements. Collating that with a realistic explanation or underlying foundation for how such a thing is possible through a science fiction context adds an amazing layer of depth and complexity that I find offers a distinct reading experience that's impossible to get from either of the two alone.

I've read all the chapters so far, and it really is 5 star material. Here's to building out from here! If you're into stories like Threadbare / Dragon Hack, I definitely think you'll enjoy reading this. 

RadthorDax
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An absolute gem.

A sci-fi apocalypse turned system arrival with cultivation, blending the real Outside world with a virtual reality fantasy Inside world.

Character development is great and reflects well the rapidly expanding intellect of the MC. Believable decision-making. Mysteries are discovered and slowly revealed.

I can't find any error or fault with it's execution - the pacing is great, and it flows well. Grammar is perfect.

Overall, a fantastic, enjoyable read.

CrazyGuy
  • Overall Score

Good first Impression

Reviewed at: Chapter 10

This is a creative mix of sci fi and eastern fantasy with other bits thrown in, but it comes together nicely in a way that doesn't feel forced.

Im only up to ch10 so this is really only a first reactions, but so far what I've seen has hooked me in.

DraconisViridis
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This story is well written.

The whole climate change schtick i find ironic - the solutions make the cause.

Character development is emotionally investable.

Plot points flow naturally.

This marks the 11th review of a lurker in 3 years.

molenir
  • Overall Score

So I need to add a qualifier to my review title.   It's slow.   Really, it's a slow paced story, with lots of depth, philosophy, and world building.  This is not really a good thing.   

However, I rather like slice-of-life stories and this one, with it's great depth and character development, really does a good job papering over the cracks caused by so much philosophy in the story.

Overall, it's a fun ride with entertaining characters, and an interesting story with some hints and undercurrents of deep darkness.   With two books in, we still don't really know who the MC is.   I'm looking forward to more. 

Rascozilla
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Great fusion of RPG/VR LIT & Post-Apocalyptic SCIFI

Reviewed at: Chapter 16: DNGR

Style, grammar, and flow are great.  The story is great. Characters grow in complexity and flavor. The story feels thought out and thoughful.  I look forward to buying hard copies of these one day.  I just want to know, when can I get my nano cultivation system?