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i found that a really effective way to get into "the occasional peek into the hero's mental state" is to ask yourself what the hero wants at a particular moment. If you know what he wants, then the drama can unfold.
Several years ago, I discovered someone's technique to analyze and build scenes. The technique closely mimics real life: Establish what the hero wants; Present the obstacles; Allow the hero to fail -- that is, an obstacle bring temporary disaster; the Hero recoils defeated, unsure what to do; the Hero then weights new alternatives, none of them perfect; the Hero implements an alternative (a new "Want") and the cycle continues. Several of the stages in the cycle present opportunities to explain scientific alternatives that the hero is mulling over.
When I write a scene now, I find it fun and exciting to use this technique, which usually yields a lot of new insights and enriches the writing.
I was totally sucked in too. Even a 5-ton rated titanium cable wouldn't have restrained me. You had me going. The story reminded me of Michael Crichton's "The Andromeda Strain," where a team of epidemiologists in Ebola-prevention type suits investigates why everyone in a mid-Western died of an unspecified epidemic -- with the exception of a crying baby. Also brings Nevil Shute's classic book, "On the Beach" to mind -- where the radioactive cloud spreading across the planet after an all-out nuclear exchange descends toward Australia, the last habitable continent, and how the locals react to their fast-dwindling lifespan. In Shute's book, much like in your story, a team of Navy scientists goes to New York City to investigate why unusual communications signals keep emanating from one isolated office in a moribund city.
This is really good stuff and might be part of a welcome new genre of writing -- much like "The Martian," for example, where the reading public gets to learn science in an absorbing, almost detective-like way.
Stylistically, I liked many of descriptive phrases like 'long, lazy jets from the deluge guns' I also liked the use of technical jargon, since it gave me a sense of being a voyeur, which added authenticity. But I admit -- a few times I did get lost. An occasional peek into the hero's mental state would have been welcome as a change of pace. I also would have welcomed the story occasionally presenting the technical details in a way that encourages the reader to ask himself, 'How would I tackle this or that situation?' - much as "The Martian" did.
Very original, very absorbing ... and of course, scary!