Reincarnated into a land of cultivation, Yuan Zhou uses his Earth knowledge and assumptions to become a genius under the heavens for both business and cultivation. However, he walks the path of defiance, exceeding all rational cultivation bounds. His business ideas struggle against the stagnant culture that pervades the land, but the things he doesn't lack are his drive for immortality and power.
What to Expect:
-Business and an actual economy that makes sense
-Cultivation system with legit stages that build off each other instead of just names
-Beefy 5k word chapters
Updates Bi-Weekly at 7 PM EST Mon & Wed, Patreon 5 Chapters Ahead
Cover and General Credit: Cover and other art by Zonked Eye
Story Wiki: Calculating Cultivation Wiki | Fandom
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Cultivation stories tend to have great emphasis on "using resources to power up," but very rarely we see the cultivators actually managing those resources, and instead they just plunder the world like locusts
Not in here
This MC has to find ways to make some dough to afford all the pills, and other magical steroids required to properly dope himself into a roided murderhobo
This gives us two types of progressions, as in one hand its a mercantile novel, with the MC setting up businesses and managing comercial relationships, and at the same time he has to cultivate, following clear steps, where having a strong foundation makes sense, but also creates other problems down the line
Be it money or cultivation, its clear there are drawbacks to everything, cultivation requires a careful balance of potential, momentum and lifespan, making sure the MC can progress in force, before he dies of old age
On the other hand, the MC's businesses require actual thinking and assesment of the civilization he is in, the guilds actually enforce a craft monopoly, set up an apprentice system and patents, while requiring to make contacts in order to have future prospects, he cannot just muscle in, and has to rely on his social assets
The MC makes full use of his status, both fragile as the son of a concubine, and impressive as son of a big merchant, he learns and develops as many skills as he can,while also managing the servants and their skills, to make up for his age and ignorace of specific details
Yet, the problems the MC faces when making momey, get dwarfed when we realize how little he is actually making, as compared to his needs
As in, the MC can make enough money for a mortal to live in luxury, but that barely affords him the cheapest cultivation supplement, of which he is going to need thousands, if he is going to make any significant progress
Its a curious case of the MC having a mercantile cheat and a cultivation cheat, and yet the tasks at hand are still as big and daunting as they are supposed to be
Its a perfect balance of potential and difficulty, but approached from a worldbuilding angle, instead of the classic battle viewpoint
One thing to bear in mind if you are thinking of reading the story is that it is not a typical cultivation story. Up till now the story has been primarily focused on the MC building a business empire in order to be able to fund his eventual cultivation efforts.
Its an intereting take on the formula that I have not seen done in this fashion. It is only in the past two or so chapters that Yuan Zhou has actually joined a sect full time, so it will be interesting to see if we transition to a more traditional cultivation story at this point.
In terms of the plot, the overaching goal Yuan Zhou has is to reach immortality and not die of old age. There is not really much more going on that that at this stage in terms of overaching goals. However what is presented is an enjoyable fairly low effort read.
Where the story suffers most is with its characters. Most characters are only there to facilitate a business venture and even Yuan Zhou's family is of little importance in the long run. We rarely get to see how he feels about things as everything is treated as being very clinical.
There is a point in the story where his master dies, this moment which should have been important is treated like a footnote in its own debut chapter. Yuan Zhou seems more interested in going back to making money than aknowleding that someone who did quite a lot for him has passed. There is no emotional range in the story.
For what its worth I think its an enjoyable read, I would say give the first 3 or so chapters a go to see if you like it.
I can see how this story is loved by many: fast output and a cultivation isekai.
For me, I consider dialogue the mark of a good story. As a baseline, characters must talk, and meaningful information conveyed. Elliciting laughter is a sign of higher level dialogue.
Unfortunetly, the dialogue in this story leans towards the lower end of the spectrum. I've noticed that all conversations follow the pattern: mc asks question, character replies with perfect exposition, mc considers, mc asks another question and so on so forth. Most dialogue has felt like thinly disguised exposition. It makes characters feel like empty mouthpieces, and leaves little mystery of the world.
I tend to like cultivation stories, but with this I am going to have to pass. The MC experiences nothing that really changes him in any way. To say it a different way he is a static character right from the start to where I read. As far as emotions he ranges from feeling nothing to feeling slight annoyance at things. There is no real struggle at all in the story either. He only has surface level interactions with other people. All the characters could easily be interchangable with everyone else. Rather than a cultivation novel this is more like a business venture set in a cultivation world.
The story isn't bad, but its not very good either.
True to its name, the story reads in a very... calculative way. Its hard to describe, but it feels like I'm reading about a bunch of robots pretending to be humans.
There's no passion, no emotional investment. Just cold, logical, calculative, story progression.
I think the straw that broke the camel's back for me was when a certain character has their final farewell in chapter 11 before their almost inevitable death, and the only descriptor we get at for the protagonist's emotions was that they 'wiped their eyes' after everything was already finished.
I'm not sure if that was supposed to be an emotional moment or not, because the dying character barely had any screentime or qualities that me as a reader could use to grow an emotional bond to, so the whole sequence fell flat to me, and it doesn't help that protagonist seems to be more interested and happy about inheriting an artifact worth a fortune, than to actually mourn the loss of the departed one for even a few minutes.
This last part is just me nit-picking a bit, but I find it super off-putting how a child is starting businesses, taking out loans, negotiating trade deals, and what not, starting from the age of four, and everyone in the world just seems to take it as if its perfectly normal. There's even a whole part dedicated to specifically labelling him as not a reincarnator for plot armour reasons, despite it all. Heaven sent genius or not, I find the protagonist's actions to be creepy as heck for his physical age.
But yeah, TLDR very scientific, logical, and calculative story. It feels more like I'm reading a textbook sometimes rather than a web-serial. Maybe you'd like it more than me, but I think I'm done.
The story is fascinating! It's got realistic business in a world that's become stagnant thanks to long lived cultivators at the top.
Unfortunately, that stagnation leads to a depressing reality that, even with the MC's abilities and royal status, it's hard even for him to make a living, and people with any possible power over him may abuse it.
I haven't detected a grammar or style error through all the chapters I've read either, so no complaints there.
The problem is...
This is hell.
The setting we find ourselves in is a hell created by cultivators through old age and old ideals. I can't imagine how anyone in it would survive if they don't follow the paths of their parents. In fact, it seems like many don't, since the first business venture is buying a business about to default on its credit from a bank, even though the owner is good at his woodworking craft. The story doesn't show the mass graves that could result from this society, but maybe they're monster fodder.
No characters seem like they'd help a stranger. They'd rather force that stranger to buy expensive food for them as a show of faith to get their help, and then dump someone with a disability on them as that help, because of course there are no disability benefits. Compassion might not ever extend past one's family in this world.
And the MC is arguably worse. He hates the cultural norms, but only because they make things hard for him. He wants to cultivate, but only to live forever and gain power. He even hates his own mother, because she might steal money from him, and his father just represents a test that must be passed.
The characters are so cutthroat that I would rather read about a villain or monster killing off all of them, because it would at least be cathartic. Heck, it might even make them a relatable villain just by comparison.
Still starting but with a lot of potential. Skip all of the setup time you normally have in a reincarnated MC and start with building out the character. More of an economic take then you get from a novel so interested in how this pans out. Only critiche currently is the age issue.
(Slight spoiler below)
Still waiting to see if more background on how a 5 year old is taken seriously. Goes into some details about MC being a genius and how culture "tests" him but hoping we get more exposition.
When one plunges into the realm of cultivation stories, we often encounter a familiar narrative of protagonists embarking on a journey of self-enhancement, typically with limited regard for the resources they utilize along the way. However, Calculating Cultivation remarkably deviates from the conventional path, adding a fresh breath of air to the genre.
The story doesn't just limit its attention to the cultivation process but places significant emphasis on the resource management required to fuel the protagonist's ascension. The protagonist is not simply a cultivator; he is a shrewd businessman who needs to acquire resources, establish enterprises, and negotiate trade deals to fund his path of cultivation.
It's as much a story about a cultivator as it is about an entrepreneur. The duality of this narrative provides a unique sense of progression, offering the thrill of cultivation and the intricacies of a mercantile novel. Such an approach lends a certain realism to the tale that can be quite compelling, allowing the worldbuilding to shine from a perspective not often explored in similar works.
However, the story's strength also presents its greatest challenge. The protagonist, while intellectually impressive, lacks a strong emotional depth, rendering him seemingly robotic and detached at times. He navigates his life's ups and downs with an almost clinical detachment that may be off-putting to some readers.
Additionally, there's a notable lack of character development outside the protagonist's sphere. Supporting characters are often relegated to mere facilitators of business transactions, resulting in a world that, while rich in detail and potential, feels somewhat lacking in personal relationships and emotional weight.
The dialogue could also benefit from more nuanced exchanges. There's a recurring pattern of conversations functioning predominantly as vehicles for exposition. This could be improved with more organic dialogue that allows characters to reveal information about themselves and the world more naturally, thereby creating more authentic interactions.
While the focus on business and cultivation is commendable, the story could benefit from a more substantial emotional narrative. Important life events and interactions, such as the inevitable death of a character in chapter 11, often fall flat due to a lack of emotional resonance.
However, it is worth noting that the story remains true to its name, providing a novel that is as much a cultivation story as it is a business simulator set in a fascinating world of guilds, monopolies, and patents. Readers looking for an innovative take on the cultivation genre, with a more realistic approach to the struggles of resource acquisition and management, may find this story appealing.
In conclusion, Calculating Cultivation is a promising and innovative work that combines cultivation and commerce in an intriguing manner. While it may benefit from greater emotional depth and character development, its unique premise and commitment to logical, problem-solving oriented storytelling hold great potential for future chapters.
Rarely do we see the srruggle of gettingvto the sect in the first place and how much it costs to send someone to be tried. The struggle to be recognised and to get resources to even get to the first stage is an interesting read and this even with the MC having some manner of cheat.
Furthermore the fact he was isekai'd and has to really rack his brain for profitable ideas is a breath of fresh air compared to stories where MC does something iltra basic and is instantly made a Baron with money no longer being a concern.
I'll definitely keep reading.
I'm also a huge fan of MisterVii's story The Systemic Lands, and this story takes everything great about that one and improves on it.
Style Comments: The writing is direct and very focused on being as rational as the main character, with little space for 'drama', and much more space for problem solving, progress, and indepth explanation of our main character's motivations, plans, and eventual success/failures.
Story Comments: The world building is excellent so far, and being up to date on the Systemic Lands I have high hopes for the future.
Grammar: No issues.
Characters: The main character is significantly more fleshed out than the side characters, although the side characters are explained enough to understand why they go along. I expect that as the protagonist ascends, significant characters will fall to the wayside, and more important long-term characters will begin to appear.
Side note: Authors work hard, and they're putting their stuff out for us to read for free, so it only makes sense to me to give 5 stars if I like the story, since every author makes a point of saying how important reviews are to being able to continue. This is a story I got on early, so my ratings are 5 stars but my comments are more my actual thoughts(which are still very positive).