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Author Topic: EP229: Littleblossom Makes a Deal With the Devil  (Read 14207 times)

Swamp

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on: December 18, 2009, 03:20:02 PM
EP229: Littleblossom Makes a Deal With the Devil

by S. Hutson Blount.
Read by Eugie Foster.

From beneath the camouflage of kindling on her back came Grandma Thinkbox’s quiet voice. “You should have something hot to drink, child. Do not make yourself sick.”

“Yes, nainai. As soon as I check on Pig.”

After Comrade Liu had been evacuated with the last of the support troops, Xiaoying had rearranged the personality of her assistant battlefield AI into something that suited her better. If she were going to spend months carrying it around, she wasn’t going to listen to it drone on like a party chief. The way it talked now reminded her of her grandmother. The missiles had overlays for their small brains, too, and she’d decorated them with personalities as well. Boredom was a more immediate enemy than Japan.


Rated PG. Contains violence and political complexity.

This episode is sponsored by SleepPhones - Pajamas For Your Ears



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: December 18, 2009, 03:33:21 PM by Swamp »

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KenK

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Reply #1 on: December 18, 2009, 04:43:28 PM
Steve E. was right; The diversity of world views in sci-fi is kinda limited. This was a nice change. Not everyone is concerned with whether we'll have flying cars, ray-guns, space travel and perfect, healthy bodies and technological marvels as it sometimes seems when you peruse the sci-fi milieu.

Times change and tech changes but people don't. Political independence, personal autonomy and national identity are a strong part of the human personality and probably always will be. Technology will improve but technology is always a double edged sword though. That is the viewpoint that the story conveyed to me.

I hope EP will feature more stories from perspectives beyond the American-European authors pool. There are some good ones out there, as this story clearly demonstrates.

Welcome back too, Steve.



MasterThief

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Reply #2 on: December 18, 2009, 10:13:42 PM
An excellent story, not only because it deals with politics and nationalism and love of country (from a Chinese perspective, but I'd say the feeling is universal...)

The most unexpected part were the missiles, the AI, and the tank.  They were not just "gee-whiz" things, they were characters in their own right in this story.  That is the mark of good sci-fi.  Thumbs up for this one!

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Swamp

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Reply #3 on: December 18, 2009, 10:16:51 PM
I really enjoyed Eugie's reading.  It flowed very nicely and the Chinese names seemed effortless.

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Reply #4 on: December 19, 2009, 04:00:36 PM
Great story, I like when weapons of mass destruction are given loveable personalities!
Did I ever mention that I am easily amused?



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Reply #5 on: December 19, 2009, 08:21:30 PM
Loved it! Great voice work and the story itself was engaging from the start. Reprograming the AIs to have personalities was a great and using the Zodiac animals was a great oriental touch.

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cdugger

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Reply #6 on: December 19, 2009, 09:49:36 PM
Well, I WAS going to listen to this on my mp3 player today, while driving around.

Battery was dead.

Crap.

Monday. I promise.

I read, therefore I am...happy.


Yargling

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Reply #7 on: December 19, 2009, 11:44:39 PM
I've just finished listening to the story, and I have to say: Bloody good! It had alittle of everything and not too much of anything. It covered its ground and world building just enough to give us insights and not so much it got bogged down, it had hints to the chinese zodiac, and friendly helper AIs. And tanks. And missiles. And politics. Basically, it does everything well, and the reading was good. Nice work.

As for the return of Steve; good news, although I think Jerry got alot of undeserved flak. But regardless, welcome back Steve.



wakela

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Reply #8 on: December 21, 2009, 12:00:02 AM
Big likes.  The writer could have said "She was lonely" but instead he talks about the cold and the snow and we get a sense of loneliness.  AI personalities were great and subtle, and we didn't have to go through the entire zodiac to know they were there.  This story truly felt like a tip a of the iceberg with 90% of the story being unseen but necessary.

Great reading, too. 

I'm finding it interesting to think of how the story would have been different if it were set in Alaska with an American believing the clowns in Washington had sold his country out, or the Saudi desert.  You could have exactly the same things happen, but the tone would be much different. 



Yargling

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Reply #9 on: December 21, 2009, 12:24:04 PM
I'm finding it interesting to think of how the story would have been different if it were set in Alaska with an American believing the clowns in Washington had sold his country out, or the Saudi desert.  You could have exactly the same things happen, but the tone would be much different. 

Thats very true. China has a history similar to Russia in many ways; harash rulers for centuries, with foreigners defeating its army's in battles, and heavy internal conflicts eventually resulting in a communism party taking power. Although after that, the histories are somewhat different.

All of that seemed to flavour her emotions, feelings, and thoughts. The US does have a history featuring a rebellion against its homeland (Britain), but realistically, they've been a major power of the world for the last 60+ years, although sadly they repeat the mistakes of my people (the Brits), and other previous Empires.



KenK

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Reply #10 on: December 21, 2009, 02:07:13 PM
Interesting observation Yargling. I see the USA as being in about the same situation as the Soviet Union was in the mid 1980's. An enormous political and military power sitting atop an untenable social and economic system. Like that old Chinese curse, we Americans may be in for some "interesting times".  :-\



cdugger

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Reply #11 on: December 21, 2009, 02:46:19 PM
OK, it's Monday, and, as promised, I listened.

First: It's so good to have Steve back. Things have been great lately, but I'm of the mind that Steve Ely and Escape Pod are supposed to go together. Maybe that's because I've listened from the 220's back to the 50's in EP episodes over the last, what, 2 months? PLUS Pseudopd, PLUS Podcastle. Good to hear your voice again, Steve!

Second: I really liked this story. It was extremely well written, probably one of, if not THE, best written stories on EP. As was mentioned previously here, so much was given to us by describing the atmosphere. We knew she was alone, but weren't told that. I found myself cold, confused, and angry, all with the character.

I didn't think I was going to like the reading at first, but found it perfect for the story. The plodding on through adversity was carried perfectly. A tightly controlled person being described by a near perfectly controlled voice. I almost felt like I was hearing the thoughts of the character.

Great job all around, guys!

I read, therefore I am...happy.


Listener

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Reply #12 on: December 22, 2009, 02:01:02 PM
Oh, I get it, the devils are actually gwai lo.

Yeah. Figured that out pretty early on. Writing to a Western audience, though, I see how the reveal could work.

A pretty good story, I think.

Shao Ying being able to reprogram the missiles was a little difficult to believe -- I get the feeling she's a foot soldier type, perhaps a corporal or sergeant if not just a grunt. And that's because, unless something changed in China between now and the time this story took place, aren't women generally seen as second-class citizens in China? In the metropolitan areas, sure, women can be at least somewhat powerful, but to the best of my knowledge, women are currently not equal to men in most Asian cultures. Unless perhaps Shao Ying was the product of some sort of Young Communists program -- she was pretty strongly-programmed (so to speak) and that's why she was left behind, I think.

Anyway, beyond that I had no problems with the story. Her drive to save China was completely believable based upon what I know of Chinese culture, and the verification procedure bit at the end was right out of a fairy/morality tale.

Grandmother Thinkbox spitting out the maintenance cube at the last second was a little deus ex machina, though; I think the story could've been the same except that Shao Ying had to prove herself because GT was dead, not because they were not in maintenance mode anymore. One would think there'd be some sort of safety protocol where, if the main AI is destroyed, the missiles get locked down anyway pending security verification.

The reading was good, though there were some high-end artifacts in it. I'm not sure what they're called... little crackles on certain words and sounds.

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KenK

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Reply #13 on: December 22, 2009, 02:48:18 PM
The US Army uses TOW missiles that cost around $20k (each) and are operated by "grunts" as you put it albeit with fourteen weeks of additional training just to operate and maintain it. And that was ten years ago when I was active duty.  ::)

The real surprise for me was the integration of females into direct combat operations. The other was the way in she was abandoned without support in order to supervise six autonomous missiles. Hell, an expendable AI ought to be able to handle that. But that wouldn't make for a very good story though. My point is that too much technical  nit-picking tends to ruin the enjoyment of a good story.  ;)



Listener

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Reply #14 on: December 22, 2009, 03:07:09 PM
The US Army uses TOW missiles that cost around $20k (each) and are operated by "grunts" as you put it albeit with fourteen weeks of additional training just to operate and maintain it. And that was ten years ago when I was active duty.  ::)

I totally flashed on the Christmas episode of Futurama where Robot Santa fired his Toe Missile.

I don't know a whole lot about the military, so I will defer to you.

FTR, "grunt" was not intended to be a derogatory term.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #15 on: December 22, 2009, 04:21:26 PM
Gorgous well layered masterpiece. One of my new favorites for strength of plot. More like this!!

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
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Yargling

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Reply #16 on: December 23, 2009, 01:44:20 AM
Interesting observation Yargling. I see the USA as being in about the same situation as the Soviet Union was in the mid 1980's. An enormous political and military power sitting atop an untenable social and economic system. Like that old Chinese curse, we Americans may be in for some "interesting times".  :-\

Possibly, but if the US goes down, at the present, China will follow because the US and Chinese economies are actually chained together. Alot of money was loaned by the Chinese to US businesses and offices, and should they bankrupt on the deals, its likely the Chinese economy will have a meltdown too.

Though the mistakes I was referring too had more to do with getting into wars with countries that have a history of causing problems for all involved (Afghanistan, and to a limited extent, Iraq), not learning the lessons of counter-guriella warfare from the Brits (and then later, Vietnam), and generally stuff along those lines. Also, championing freedom and democracy in one area (Israel, Iraq) whilst oppositing it elsewhere (Iran in the 1950's, Uzbekistan, Iraq when Saddam was installed), which just makes the Americans seem not credible.
I found myself cold, confused, and angry, all with the character.
Its too cold here at the moment to tell the difference ;) but the snow on the streets did add to a connection with the characters situation.


Oh, I get it, the devils are actually gwai lo.
I think its a term on the lines of the Old English word Orc, meaning "Foreigner/demon", which is ironically where Tolkien probably got his idea's from.

The Norman's of the invasion of 1066 where referred to by the local Brits as 'Orcs' because of their brutal methods and nature. Also, elves where forest spirits that could help or hurt humans. On a side note, it annoys me when people complain about Western fantasy being 'clones of Tolkiens world' when Tolkiens work was based on European folk lore as valid a folk lore as Eastern folk lore....erm, yes...

Back on topic...

Shao Ying being able to reprogram the missiles was a little difficult to believe -- I get the feeling she's a foot soldier type, perhaps a corporal or sergeant if not just a grunt. And that's because, unless something changed in China between now and the time this story took place, aren't women generally seen as second-class citizens in China? In the metropolitan areas, sure, women can be at least somewhat powerful, but to the best of my knowledge, women are currently not equal to men in most Asian cultures. Unless perhaps Shao Ying was the product of some sort of Young Communists program -- she was pretty strongly-programmed (so to speak) and that's why she was left behind, I think.

I'm not sure - she seemed more like a member of an elite forces unit, like the SAS or similar - the 'grunts' of such units tend to have strong skills a regular grunt wouldn't. That or a member of some sort of special insurrant unit.



KenK

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Reply #17 on: December 24, 2009, 12:05:27 AM
Quote
...she seemed more like a member of an elite forces unit, like the SAS or similar - the 'grunts' of such units tend to have strong skills a regular grunt wouldn't. That or a member of some sort of special insurrant unit.
That's just how it seems today. Thirty years ago anyone who could operate a computer (way less complex than the one I'm using to write this) would be viewed by most lay-people as some kind of lab coat wearing witch doctor who could speak to machines. Today third-graders can program and do html and such like. And it'll be the same with soldiers as well in the not-too-distant future IMHO. The author's projecting the future of a trend was spot on in that particular regard.

And despite all their propaganda, coercion and social engineering Shao Ling still thought for herself and stayed faithful to what she believed in right until the end. The more things change the more they stay the same. Duty, honor, country.  ;)
« Last Edit: December 24, 2009, 12:07:55 AM by KenK »



Boggled Coriander

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Reply #18 on: December 24, 2009, 09:03:26 PM
China is a formerly proud country laid low by a corrupt government and bought out by foreigners, and at war with the Japanese... seems a lot like WW2-era China, doesn't it?  This is a future where history may not be repeating itself, but it is rhyming. 

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KenK

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Reply #19 on: December 24, 2009, 10:27:18 PM
Quote
This is a future where history may not be repeating itself, but it is rhyming.

Well, it is fiction after all. I doubt the Japanese could prevail against China today. Damn good story though.  ;D



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Reply #20 on: December 26, 2009, 05:04:58 AM
I was amused by (to paraphrase a bit) the way the cheap knock-off novelty software installed inappropriately on official machines created an untenable security hole which a cunning malefactor could exploit.  That part rang very, very true indeed.  (Friends in tech support?  Me?  How did you know?)

Thumbs up on most fronts.  I will depart from my usual stance and say that this time, I felt like the story ended too soon.  We spent so long building up to the missile launches that I was waiting for some sort of twist to the ending.  Instead, Shao Ying's plan worked exactly as she'd intended it to.  (Or were we not supposed to realize what the plan was until the ending?) 

At the least, I'd have thought there would be some sort of change within Shao Ying herself, some acknowledgment of the way she just sacrificed her only remaining friends just to pull a Captain Ahab.  I was waiting for the story to carry on and show us a little of the aftermath, but instead it just kind of stopped.  It wasn't really a bad place to stop per se; I was just really expecting it to keep going a bit.

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KenK

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Reply #21 on: December 29, 2009, 03:59:41 PM
As post-apocalyptic stories go this one was a winner. I'd like to hear more although there really isn't any basis for a sequel is there?  ;D



Yargling

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Reply #22 on: December 30, 2009, 02:19:20 AM
As post-apocalyptic stories go this one was a winner. I'd like to hear more although there really isn't any basis for a sequel is there?  ;D

Post apocalypse?? Where? It was a warzone story, how I understood it...



Talia

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Reply #23 on: December 30, 2009, 03:37:40 AM
As post-apocalyptic stories go this one was a winner. I'd like to hear more although there really isn't any basis for a sequel is there?  ;D

Post apocalypse?? Where? It was a warzone story, how I understood it...

I read it as the war was over, with China basically being destroyed... the protagonist took it upon herself to lash out, saw it as her duty.




KenK

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Reply #24 on: December 30, 2009, 02:28:53 PM
Quote
Post apocalypse?? Where? It was a warzone story, how I understood it...

Yes "apocalypse" as in "any universal or widespread destruction or disaster:the apocalypse of nuclear war." (Emphasis added). It surely met that definition for Shao Ling and the other survivors in Harbin, no?
dictionary.com



deflective

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Reply #25 on: December 31, 2009, 06:37:38 PM
apocalyptic stories have a more specific definition which is in colloquial use.

I read it as the war was over, with China basically being destroyed... the protagonist took it upon herself to lash out, saw it as her duty.

china was battered but not destroyed, like wwii.  Littleblossom felt ashamed that china was being saved by foreign powers and angered that the invaders wouldn't be punished appropriately.



KenK

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Reply #26 on: December 31, 2009, 08:32:47 PM
deflective:
Quote
apocalyptic stories have a more specific definition which is in colloquial use.

Okay if you want to go all cultural studies major on me. Fine, let me call it a pre-apocalyptic story then. After all with Private Little Blossom's missiles flying all around a nuclear apocalypse is quite possible outcome, no?



Yargling

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Reply #27 on: January 01, 2010, 04:10:28 PM
As post-apocalyptic stories go this one was a winner. I'd like to hear more although there really isn't any basis for a sequel is there?  ;D

Post apocalypse?? Where? It was a warzone story, how I understood it...

I read it as the war was over, with China basically being destroyed... the protagonist took it upon herself to lash out, saw it as her duty.



I got the impression the Chinese Army in that providence had been defeated - not that the whole of China was overrun and/or wrecked.
Quote
Post apocalypse?? Where? It was a warzone story, how I understood it...

Yes "apocalypse" as in "any universal or widespread destruction or disaster:the apocalypse of nuclear war." (Emphasis added). It surely met that definition for Shao Ling and the other survivors in Harbin, no?
dictionary.com

"Universal"? For starters, its not stated that the whole of China was battered to hell, let alone the whole world, and it wasn't said to be a nuclear war.

The scene was 'apocalypic', but not an apocalypse story. For example, would you call post-war France of 1945 an apocalypse scenario? Or morseo post war Germany 1945?



KenK

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Reply #28 on: January 02, 2010, 03:03:41 PM
@ Yargling
Note the emphasized part of the definition I linked to. The part about "widespread destruction or disaster". I think the condition described in the story meets the definition quoted from the dictionary and which therefore makes it accurate colloquial or not.



CryptoMe

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Reply #29 on: January 03, 2010, 07:12:58 AM
This story didn't really do all that much for me. Yes, there was atmosphere and pathos and world building, etc. But I didn't see all that much in the way of plot. It was one small plot-point that seemed stretched a bit thin. IMHO anyway.



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Reply #30 on: January 03, 2010, 11:47:18 AM
I liked a lot about this story - especially, the way it explored the character of an extremist. There is a basic truth in that the type of person who is more likely to reprogramme an AI to sound like a caring grandmother is also the same kind of person who will believe they can save their homeland by prolonging a losing war.

But I found it very hard to maintain my suspension of disbelief necessary for the ending gambit to work - in a world in which missiles can this easily be made to alter course mid-route, and tanks have autonomous AIs, it seems quite unlikely that people will be willing to go to war with their allies over an attack that simply looks like it came from a certain point, especially when it was known that there are insurgents nearby with weapon capabilities. Don't these people have sattelites that could have tracked the missile's full path? That's technology we have today.



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Reply #31 on: January 06, 2010, 07:37:36 PM
Great story, fabulous narration.  I listened in the car, and it was just about perfect.

One of the most interesting things about non-Western stories is that they don't end with redemption.  I liked that about this story - she carried out her purpose, but didn't survive to see the fruits (or destruction) of her labor.

Please, please, get Eugie to read more stories.  Her voice is great, and the subtle shifts in characterization were perceptible, and consistent. 



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Reply #32 on: January 07, 2010, 07:06:17 AM
Didn't quite work for me... really there was too much setup, and not enough actually happening.  There were certainly some interesting bits, but I never really cared much about the situation, and some of the tech bits really bugged me.  Sure, missiles with personalities are cute, story wise, but no military is going to let a missile be reprogrammed in such a way that it's going to fire itself for frivolous reasons, or let it's security protocols be ignored.  If the story was really fun I would just brush past this... but in a piece that supposed to be dark and mood dominated it really bugged me.



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Reply #33 on: January 07, 2010, 11:03:48 AM
As someone mentioned earlier. There where a lot of 'artifacts' in the audio file. Combined with the relative softness of the file, the hissing sounds (the pronounciations like that of the letter S in troops) nearly shattered my eardrums when listening in the car.

After about a minute into the story I stopped torturing my ears and continued with the next episode...

PLEASE: Use a hiss filter or in similar cases reduce the amounts of high-frequency audio in the file... Thanks.
:-(



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Reply #34 on: January 07, 2010, 02:35:10 PM
@hansv

Sorry about the artifacts.  This is the first reading I've done for the Escape Artists folks, and I'm a relative noob at voice work and sound presentation--still figuring out the technical aspects of audio editing and production as well as good microphone practices and all.  Got a new mic for Christmas which may decrease hiss, although I'm thinking what I really need is a pop filter... 

@ancawonka

Thank you! It's a different sort of nervous being the reader instead of the author, and I'm relieved I didn't utterly bungle it up.  I really enjoyed doing it, and I hope to have the opportunity to read for the EA folks again. 



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Reply #35 on: January 12, 2010, 08:26:41 PM
Really liked the story, and posting it in (northern hemisphere) winter was necessary, much like releasing "The Summer of Sam" in July 1999 helped that story put forth the oppressive tension that is summer in a big city.  Also, I loved the reading my Eugie, I thought it was very well done, and personally didn't experience any audio artifacts. 

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Reply #36 on: January 13, 2010, 07:50:40 PM
This was my very first Escape Pod story I listened to, not a bad introduction!

I thought Eugie did a very good job of reading, and I hope she comes back to do more.  :)

Overall I liked the story.  The conversations with the personality AIs was interesting, though I didn't find it particularly plausible that the missile design would allow a personality layered on top of the core programming to violate the core programming (like verification protocols and premature launches).  I didn't see the end coming, but as eytanz pointed out, it's a little surprising if that would actually work, especially with more advanced technology in the future.  Nobody has tried that trick before?



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Reply #37 on: January 21, 2010, 10:59:58 PM
I enjoyed the story.  Kudos on Ms Foster for a great reading.  The story itself was good, not great, primarily because of logic and plot holes.  I would think that a Japanese military capable of fielding powerful AI tanks would have been capable of intercepting radio transmissions from Grandma Thinkbox, or at least have been able to track the heat signatures of Xiaoying via satellite or UAV.  It was also hard to believe that the heavy-tech machinery would not have been easily countered by any number of low-tech means like rigging up several hundred armor-piercing RPGs at some point along it's patrol route and firing them all at once.  Or leaving a few plastic/ceramic/wooden landmines strong enough to blow off one of its treads.  Or just simply coordinate a missile attack to coincide with a home-made pipebomb planted nearby the tank designed to spray several pounds of shredded tin foil into the air, making radar tracking and counter-missile impossible.  Or just bury and EMP bomb (which can be made the size of a shoebox with today's technology) in the road and trigger it right as the tank drives over.  I could go on.

BTW, someone mentioned the status of women in China.  The Communists were actually very pro-women's rights, and banned many practices of arranged marriages, foot-bindings, as well as instituting equal pay for women and allowing divorces.  Although they didn't use women as frontline combat troops the way the Russians did, many women were used extensively as spies or guerillas against the Japanese occupation. 

Also, Harbin is in northern China, where historically the Japanese occupied and controlled for the better part of WWII.  China's a huge country.  It's entirely possible that Japan occupied parts of China, while fighting in others parts of the country continued.

Oh yeah, Gweilo is really a catonese phrase, meaning "foreign devil".  Up in Harbin, they would have probably spoken mandarin and called them Yang-gwei (foreign devil), or Ri-gwei (japanese devils).



Yargling

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Reply #38 on: January 22, 2010, 02:45:55 PM
I enjoyed the story.  Kudos on Ms Foster for a great reading.  The story itself was good, not great, primarily because of logic and plot holes.  I would think that a Japanese military capable of fielding powerful AI tanks would have been capable of intercepting radio transmissions from Grandma Thinkbox, or at least have been able to track the heat signatures of Xiaoying via satellite or UAV.  It was also hard to believe that the heavy-tech machinery would not have been easily countered by any number of low-tech means like rigging up several hundred armor-piercing RPGs at some point along it's patrol route and firing them all at once.  Or leaving a few plastic/ceramic/wooden landmines strong enough to blow off one of its treads.  Or just simply coordinate a missile attack to coincide with a home-made pipebomb planted nearby the tank designed to spray several pounds of shredded tin foil into the air, making radar tracking and counter-missile impossible.  Or just bury and EMP bomb (which can be made the size of a shoebox with today's technology) in the road and trigger it right as the tank drives over.  I could go on.

The low tech missiles would have been intercepted, and even if they weren't, a modern tank (Challenger II) has been shown to be effectivity RPG proof - one engagement saw it take 8 RPGs and a Milan anti-tank missile, with the only major damage being one of the parscopes taken out - 6 hours of repair fixed it and it was back in service. And thats without any active defence devices like interceptor missiles. Not sure about the radar jamming and EMP, but I assume mines left onroute would be detected and destroyed by the tank before they could do damage - and EMP can be protected against, especially when it comes to military budgets ;).

As for the radio traffic, I don't know - I would assume an AI could prevent the signals been detected with enough work, but I didn't do the radio systems module as apart of my course :D

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BTW, someone mentioned the status of women in China.  The Communists were actually very pro-women's rights, and banned many practices of arranged marriages, foot-bindings, as well as instituting equal pay for women and allowing divorces.  Although they didn't use women as frontline combat troops the way the Russians did, many women were used extensively as spies or guerillas against the Japanese occupation. 

True, and god bless'em for getting rid of foot binding - I saw pictures of that once and was nearly sick.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2010, 04:19:23 PM by Yargling »



yicheng

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Reply #39 on: January 22, 2010, 05:32:19 PM
The low tech missiles would have been intercepted, and even if they weren't, a modern tank (Challenger II) has been shown to be effectivity RPG proof - one engagement saw it take 8 RPGs and a Milan anti-tank missile, with the only major damage being one of the parscopes taken out - 6 hours of repair fixed it and it was back in service. And thats without any active defence devices like interceptor missiles. Not sure about the radar jamming and EMP, but I assume mines left onroute would be detected and destroyed by the tank before they could do damage - and EMP can be protected against, especially when it comes to military budgets ;).

There's no such thing as RPG proof.  Most MBT (Modern Battle Tanks) do pack enough armor in the front to withstand an RPG-7, but the top, bottoms, and rear of the tanks are usually not fully plated because they'd be unable to move.  A swarming blitz of cheap low-tech weapons will almost always win against expensive high-tech smart weapons.  Besides, you can't intercept at point blank range.

As for EMPs, you can selectively shield certain circuits from their effects, but it's pretty impractical to do so and a large enough EMP will blow through it anyway.  That's why there were so many dead satellites after solar flares.

It's the old Maoist adage of war: the more you rely on technology to fight wars, the more it can be turned against you.



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Reply #40 on: January 22, 2010, 05:59:05 PM
It's the old Maoist adage of war: the more you rely on technology to fight wars, the more it can be turned against you.

 ;D I seem to remember an old (Tom Baker era) Doctor Who; the Doctor was picking a high-tech lock with a bobby-pin or somesuch, and telling his companion "the more sophisticated a device, the more vulnerable it is to primitive attack."

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Yargling

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Reply #41 on: January 23, 2010, 12:32:20 AM
The low tech missiles would have been intercepted, and even if they weren't, a modern tank (Challenger II) has been shown to be effectivity RPG proof - one engagement saw it take 8 RPGs and a Milan anti-tank missile, with the only major damage being one of the parscopes taken out - 6 hours of repair fixed it and it was back in service. And thats without any active defence devices like interceptor missiles. Not sure about the radar jamming and EMP, but I assume mines left onroute would be detected and destroyed by the tank before they could do damage - and EMP can be protected against, especially when it comes to military budgets ;).

There's no such thing as RPG proof.  Most MBT (Modern Battle Tanks) do pack enough armor in the front to withstand an RPG-7, but the top, bottoms, and rear of the tanks are usually not fully plated because they'd be unable to move.  A swarming blitz of cheap low-tech weapons will almost always win against expensive high-tech smart weapons.  Besides, you can't intercept at point blank range.

As for EMPs, you can selectively shield certain circuits from their effects, but it's pretty impractical to do so and a large enough EMP will blow through it anyway.  That's why there were so many dead satellites after solar flares.

It's the old Maoist adage of war: the more you rely on technology to fight wars, the more it can be turned against you.

We're forgetting one thing though; this is the future with AI devices and super-tanks with flail cannons ;) - methink its not necessarily going to work like modern tech  ;D

As for low tech swarms vs high tech few; people did think that before the first Gulf war - its hard to believe, but on paper Saddams army at the time was considered the 4th most powerful on Earth; and whilst the coalition forces did comfortably outnumber the Iraqi armed forces, people strongly believe their would be many casualities on the coalition side. Also, people believe that the hi-tech computers on the tanks of the American M1A1's wouldn't work in combat conditions.

Of course, its not a universal rule, but still...

100 RPGs to take down one tank? Triggered all at once? Could work, I suppose, but you'd have to hide them well enough to avoid detection by a smart AI, and rig them up well enough to fire at once.



yicheng

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Reply #42 on: January 26, 2010, 09:58:27 PM
We're forgetting one thing though; this is the future with AI devices and super-tanks with flail cannons ;) - methink its not necessarily going to work like modern tech  ;D

As for low tech swarms vs high tech few; people did think that before the first Gulf war - its hard to believe, but on paper Saddams army at the time was considered the 4th most powerful on Earth; and whilst the coalition forces did comfortably outnumber the Iraqi armed forces, people strongly believe their would be many casualities on the coalition side. Also, people believe that the hi-tech computers on the tanks of the American M1A1's wouldn't work in combat conditions.

Of course, its not a universal rule, but still...

100 RPGs to take down one tank? Triggered all at once? Could work, I suppose, but you'd have to hide them well enough to avoid detection by a smart AI, and rig them up well enough to fire at once.

Saddam's military was based on the Soviet model, great at massed conventional warfare, but horrible at the guerrilla stuff.  His army was never that well trained (although I'll give them fanatical).  His tanks and planes got pushed back from the Iran-Iraq War by the Iran's massed wave (old school low-tech swarm) attacks, and had to resort to mustard gas. 

Gulf War 1 was pretty much a conventional ww2 battle between large armies of tanks, planes, and infantry.  Neither side fought with guerrilla tactics.  You could see the change in Gulf War 2, however, when the insurgency started to ramp up.  There's no counter for IED's and ambush attacks (at least none that the USA was willing to use).

As for high tech solutions...  maybe.  Up to a certain point technology does become a force multiplier in the battlefield, but it's dramatically less useful when you can't level entire buildings of civilians just to take out a few insurgents.

[Edit]  Oh, yeah almost forget.  Checkout the Millenium Challenge War Games if you want to see how a real high-tech to swarm battle would play out when the high-tech military over-estimates its abilities and the low-tech swarm knows how to fight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Challenge_2002
« Last Edit: January 26, 2010, 10:46:00 PM by yicheng »