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Author Topic: EP229: Littleblossom Makes a Deal With the Devil  (Read 14222 times)

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.



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Reply #26 on: December 31, 2009, 08:32:47 PM
deflective:
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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.
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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?



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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.



eytanz

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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.



ancawonka

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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. 



Ocicat

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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.



hansv

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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.
:-(



eugiefoster

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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. 



Gamercow

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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?



yicheng

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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

Quote
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 »