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Author Topic: EP275: Schrödinger’s Cat Lady  (Read 8296 times)
eytanz
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« on: January 13, 2011, 07:00:02 PM »

EP275: Schrödinger’s Cat Lady

By Marjorie James
Read by Mur Lafferty

An Escape Pod original!
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I got out of the car, smoothed my shirt down over my bulletproof vest, and contemplated the cats. They contemplated me right back. I sighed. I hated these jobs.

I opened the tiny gate to the front walk (no fence, just a gate) and made my way to the door. The house was small and tidy, a light blue bungalow with green trim and yellow curtains pulled across the windows, through which the cats were peering. It didn’t smell, which was a relief. And something of a surprise, considering the heat. It was one of those days when the world seemed to be actively rejecting human habitation, where the smog and the humidity made the air feel like warm mayonnaise. On a day like this, a cat overpopulation should be stinking to high heaven. Maybe this wasn’t for real, I hoped. It might just be some neighbor with a grudge. Couldn’t be more than a dozen cats here, max. Maybe this one wasn’t going to be that bad.

I have never been very good at predicting things.


Rated PG For quantum theory and brief violent description.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 267: Planetfall
  • Next week… Rejiggering stuff



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 06:32:23 PM by eytanz » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2011, 09:58:52 PM »

Cute and funny.  I enjoyed it.

I'm a little oogy about the ending, in which I am expected to chuckle at the idea of killing people who have done bad things, which is a position that I have always had tremendous ambivalence about.  I can appreciate that it was meant to be funny, but I find it more creepy than humorous.  Mind you, I *like* creepy.  I'm just not sure that's what I was supposed to feel.
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 10:54:22 AM »

  This story is almost completely utter nonsense, and I enjoyed it all. If it were not for it being based around the whole Schrodinger experiment I would be left wondering why it was not on Podcastle instead though.

  I would have liked there to be some more explanation about why the cats are able to do some of the things they do, like pass through walls (if they could do that, couldn't they have escaped from the boxes all on their own?). Also, what effect Mrs S' is having on all of these thought experiments (how would you react if running through this experiment in your mind only to find your imaginary cat had gone before you opened the box?). Why did Mrs. S' house seem to share some properties with the TARDIS The whole story seemed to be written with a sense of fun though, so it seems just best to roll with it.

  I really liked the ending because, frankly, as fun as the story is, it wasn't really going anywhere. Throwing in that darkly funny ending made it a good place to stop, and I liked seeing that Mrs. S had that darker, more sinister edge to her. I like those sorts of endings, but then I am also a fan of The Punisher.

  My mind is not filled with trying to create a story about melting cats that both makes any sort of sense, and is not disturbingly gross.
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 12:13:18 PM »

Cute and funny.  I enjoyed it.
I'm a little oogy about the ending, in which I am expected to chuckle at the idea of killing people who have done bad things, which is a position that I have always had tremendous ambivalence about.  I can appreciate that it was meant to be funny, but I find it more creepy than humorous.  Mind you, I *like* creepy.  I'm just not sure that's what I was supposed to feel.

Seconded (mostly). I am a person who uh, thinks some people could probably use killing and I wouldn't weep for those guys, but I thought, "I can't believe you're showing this to someone in some kind of law enforcement. Shouldn't that get you in trouble? Wouldn't Eleanor possibly be more disturbed than cheered?"

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about it either.
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acpracht
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 03:11:18 PM »

When I heard we were getting a new story by the same author as "The Trouble with Deathtraps" - Marjorie James - my immediate reaction was to exclaim "Yeesss!" to the confusion of anyone who happened to be around me.
I couldn't help it. James writes so playfully and cleverly about macrabe topics that I can't help laughing and snickering aloud throughout her stories.
Lines like, "That was Heisenberg—You just can never know where he is and how fast he’s going" are perfect in their wink to this audience of nerds.
Regarding the ending: I can't say that it bothered me when I listened to it. It seemed to actually fit the character, who maybe could have been better termed "Schroedinger's Crazy Cat Lady."
In all fairness, the criminals got the same deal as the dogs in their fights - 50/50 shot at living. From a literary sense, it was perfect. Then again, I'm a sucker for cleverly dark endings.
-Adam
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KenK
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2011, 03:29:50 PM »

I agree with the previous observation; When I saw who the author was there was little doubt in my mind that the animal torturers would meet with a bad comeuppance. (Karma! Grin ) A funny little animal story that pokes fun at Schrodinger's famous thought experiment.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 01:14:04 AM »

When I heard who the author was (I didn't recognize her name, but I did recognize the stories - two of my favourite EPs ever!), I was also very pleased!  (I also immediately thought, Hey, when are we getting another Death Trap story, and can I narrate it when we do? Smiley )

This story made me laugh out loud a few times (making me glad I was commuting by myself).  I loved the whole thing.  I don't know enough about the science behind Schrödinger's Cat to be able to quibble about the science (though I know at least a couple of people who probably could), but even if I did, in this case it was obviously meant to be over the top and silly.

Delightful!
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eytanz
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2011, 01:49:19 PM »

I, too, really enjoyed this one. It can't be taken too seriously, but then, it doesn't take itself very seriously either.

I didn't really have a problem with the ending, because the cat lady was very clearly operating under a different set of physical and metaphysical rules than the rest of us, and therefore is not necessarily bound by the same moral rules as us.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 08:22:57 PM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

Still, cute and fluffy.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 07:31:03 AM »

I think this might be the first time I've ever heard an audio version of an XKCD comic...

This story isn't anything you (or at least I) wouldn't think after the initial idea is introduced.

The ending did give a little nice twist though.

[shrug]
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 08:45:53 AM »

Every once and a while you hear a story that makes you say "ah", I know where this story is going. Then you realize that no, there was a fifty percent chance that it would the way you thought and the other fifty percent, well, who knows?
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 10:14:36 AM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

Still, cute and fluffy.

Ha, as soon as I listened to this story I thought of Schrödinger’s Lament, an entry in the 2010 Flash Fiction Contest.  I had forgotten that YOU were the one who wrote it.  Smiley  http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=4206.0

Anyway, this one was cute and fluffy, much like the cats contained herein.  Not hilarious but it did get some smiles out of me.  The visit to Michael Vick's* house  at the end didn't really bother me like it did scattercat.  I can't say I really feel sorry for someone who gets filthy rich off of forcing animals to fight each other to the bloody death for the amusement of sadistic gambling addicts. 

*I know Vick wasn't named in the story, but since he's a celebrity who got a handslap for running dogfighting rings he immediately came to mind.
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 01:50:10 PM »

I did enjoy that story. I'm not sure that I could say that the physics jokes went over my head but I can say that wherever they were, they were travelling very fast.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2011, 08:13:48 PM »

I agree that I immediately thought of the Schrödinger’s Lament story, and said "Oh, someone's going to be upset about this!"  But still, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Not as nice as a new Death Trap story, but very enjoyable nonetheless.  The ending did take a slightly dark turn, but I was fine with it.
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 08:36:34 PM »

Argh. Another story mis-interpreting Schrödinger's thought experiment.

I have no problem with that.  Most people misinterpret it, therefore she's rescuing metaphorical cats from the common form that the experiment takes when we no-nothing liberal arts majors students do in our intro to cosmology classes or late at night we think we're being deep.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to stick a mess of mice in that box.  The liberal arts version.
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2011, 08:52:07 PM »

I agree that I immediately thought of the Schrödinger’s Lament story, and said "Oh, someone's going to be upset about this!"

Ha, as soon as I listened to this story I thought of Schrödinger’s Lament, an entry in the 2010 Flash Fiction Contest.  I had forgotten that YOU were the one who wrote it.  Smiley 

Yeah, I'm just being a grumpy old man :-) In truth, it was hard to resist the inherent fluffiness of this story and Mrs S.
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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2011, 01:39:31 PM »

Apropos.
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« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2011, 02:09:11 PM »

A charming little tale of science and silliness. Not a lot of depth, but plenty of fun. I listened to it while cleaning my bedroom and hanging out with my lizard.

I wasn't bothered much by the vigilante ending because the story wasn't that kind of real for me. This story had emotional and narrative resonance - it was a fun, slightly absurd piece - but it didn't need to have moral reality. I mean, Lady S. is condemning people for potentially killing imaginary cats, who then go on to dance the cha-cha and run through walls. It was easy for me to consider the lives and deaths of the crooks to be as abstract as the laws of physics.
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eytanz
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« Reply #18 on: January 18, 2011, 02:20:21 PM »

The crooks at the end were not the cat creators, but the masterminds of the dog fights. There wad no action taken against the people who create the cats.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2011, 10:07:40 AM »

Anyway, this one was cute and fluffy, much like the cats contained herein.  Not hilarious but it did get some smiles out of me.  The visit to Michael Vick's* house  at the end didn't really bother me like it did scattercat.  I can't say I really feel sorry for someone who gets filthy rich off of forcing animals to fight each other to the bloody death for the amusement of sadistic gambling addicts. 

*I know Vick wasn't named in the story, but since he's a celebrity who got a handslap for running dogfighting rings he immediately came to mind.


[deep sigh] I've been trying to not comment on this...
so I did the next best thing to not commenting, I waited until late in the comment cycle, where it will hopefully cause less splash.

I don't like Michael Vick, I don't like football, I find the idea of dogfighting disgusting and reprehensible.

Michael Vick did not get a handslap. He lost three years of his career, a career in a sport with a very definite and short lifespan, years worth tens of millions of dollars, and went broke from legal fees and contract penalties.

Vick didn't get penalized because he engaged in an activity that is cruel to animals, he was penalized because he was engaged in an activity that is cruel to animals, and is popular with poor brown-skinned people.
If he'd taken his money and bought a stable of racehorses (all the same elements, gambling: albeit legal, gentrified gambling, and -if not quite as much cruelty as in dogfighting- plenty of cruelty besides, oh, plus a massive and institutionalized system of exploitation of Latin immigrants) the same people who condemned him would have probably praised him for rising above his poor roots(and he was about as poor as they come).

I like animals; I've raised almost every type of animal you can raise in the U.S. without needing special license, and in spite of, or perhaps because of that, I get really annoyed when people fire off little bits of snark about how terrible people are when they're cruel to animals. Unless you're a vegan, who wears no leather, wool, or silk, and lives with no impact whatsoever on your local biome (if you've studied the subject at all, that pretty much rules out anyone with a computer) you might carefully consider talking about 'animal cruelty'. Please don't use the 'cute' or 'smart' animal defense; I've raised and trained working cattle, they're as smart if not smarter than most dogs, and beautiful animals if they're kept clean. But beef tastes good, so no one cries for the cows.

This is nothing against you personally, Unblinking, this just struck a bit of a nerve.
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