I had a dream I had to re-do my qualifying exam for my outside proposal.

But this time, I had to present the detailed plot of the Sci-Fi novel in which my experiment was going to be employed, and defend both the actual science proposal AND the believability and creativity of the story arc.

In my struggle to get to the exam location, I dreamed parts of the plot for my novel:

Someone pulled a level, and behind all the Bruns lab chemicals, there was a stairway down to a hidden chamber featuring a giant, 12 foot across spider carcass. (Remember this spider. The spider returns to the plot in a bit.)

I express concern at the giant alien spider, but more importantly, I am starving. At my lab desk, I am hurriedly eating food before the test starts across the street, but I just got out of teaching Biology of Fungi and the students had soooo many questions that day, and I’m running late. The exam “room” is actually an outdoors gaited park, which still manages to have a projector. To my horror, random academics keep wandering into my exam “room,” seating themselves, and chiming in with questions.

I can’t remember who the 4th member of my committee is. I answer all the other strangers’ questions very politely and thoroughly, just in case they are the mysterious 4th committee member.

Also, all the fungi samples from the teaching lab are in the weird park space, and Biology of Fungi students are still coming up and asking me questions like whether this lichen is crustose or squamulose. Sometimes the other academics chime in, too. I barely have room for my laptop because there are pieces of wood covered in fungi everywhere. This talk of the specimens ropes in some known committee members, and buys me some time while I continue to shove food in my starving face.

Eventually, someone that may or may not be on my committee asks me to get on with describing the plot. I divulge:

On a strange planet, decomposition has stopped. Or maybe it never was, but in any case, it’s a problem now: Bodies are piling up.

Protagonist is one of the few scientifically minded people on the planet, and has an idea to jumpstart decomposition, involving plants and fungi.

But no one will listen to Protagonist. Instead, they bring giant bombs down into the hidden space behind the Bruns lab chemical cabinet, and attempt to explode the giant spider carcass.

The bombs don’t work. The spider is still very much intact, and people are getting increasingly worried because this chamber with the spider is a long underground chamber that continues for many miles into the wilderness, and our Enemies might get to the spider. This is to be avoided at all costs, for reasons that were never fully explained in my dream, but hinted they involve necromancy. If the bad guys get all our bodies, they can turn them against us!

Giant alien spiders are no joke!

So then Protagonist starts explaining their grand ideas to study fungi to aid decomposition, except my outside proposal was about testing the function of mating type loci in Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi, which has nothing to do with decomp, so Dream Me switched to talking about a paper I’m an author on, using AMF to help plants cope with nanoparticle pollution. This paper isn’t about decomp either, but I apparently haven’t actually prepared any materials to talk about decomposition.

Someone really wanted to know why, of all metal oxide nanoparticles, we chose to study zinc oxide nanoparticles , and I couldn’t give them any good reasons why.

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