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Author Topic: PC359: The Litigatrix  (Read 2778 times)

Talia

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on: April 14, 2015, 01:38:27 PM
PodCastle 359: The Litigatrix

by Ken Liu

Read by Anaea Lay

First published in GigaNotoSaurus. Read it here!

The fifteenth day of the first month in the seventh year of the Huayin Era:

The old man, Hae-wook Lee, had been bedridden for months. He lay on the sleeping mat, wrapped in a blanket. The drugs helped him sleep, and forget about the harsh words of his son.

It was an unseasonably warm winter day, here in this corner of Northeast Asia. Though the fire in the kitchen hearth next door had been extinguished, thegudeul smoke passages below the floor would continue to radiate residual heat for several hours. The room was so warm that the maid, Kyoon, had left the windows open to give the old man some fresh air, dry and invigorating after the new snow of the day before.

He dreamt that he was having a dinner of gogi gui. That pretty girl from years ago served him. He felt a pang of regret.


Rated PG.

Ken Liu is an author and translator of speculative fiction, as well as a lawyer and programmer. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards, he has been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among other places. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Ken’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, the first in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, was published by Saga Press, Simon & Schuster’s new genre fiction imprint, on April 7, 2015. Saga will also publish a collection of his short stories, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, in November 2015.

Anaea Lay lives in Seattle, Washington where she sells Real Estate under a different name, writes, cooks, plays board games, takes gratuitous walks, runs the Strange Horizons podcast, and plots to take over the world.  You can hear her audio work in other places including John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey’s The End is Nigh and The End is Now anthologies.  You can find her writing in places such as Lightspeed, Apex, Daily Science Fiction and Escape Pod.  You can stalk her blog or follow her on twitter @anaealay.

Dave Thompson‘s Kickstarter campaign: And Welcome Back: Stories

Dave’s story “Saint Darwin’s Spirituals” at Variant Frequencies.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: May 05, 2015, 03:40:38 PM by Talia »



wundercapo

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Reply #1 on: April 14, 2015, 05:09:12 PM
Seems like only the Fishing and Solar Cooker guys are the only ones that come up when searching for Dave Thompson on Kickstarter... is the campaign not available right now?

Since I'm posting here, I should probably say something about the story. I tend to like Ken Liu stuff, and this one was no different. Perhaps because we both live in the Boston area...

I don't tend to read mysteries, but I liked this Chinese/Korean setting, and the awkwardness of starting off in the family business when the society around you doesn't necessarily accept that you can or should do this sort of thing and be a "proper lady."

Good reading as well!



kibitzer

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Reply #2 on: April 15, 2015, 01:18:27 AM
Dave's Kickstarter is now live! We changed the episode show notes to reflect that.


SpareInch

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Reply #3 on: April 16, 2015, 05:07:07 PM
You can't beat a good old fashioned mystery from time to time.

The thing with mysteries is that each clue has to be presented naturally, yet without passing the reader by, Ken Liu did it perfectly here. From telling us early on about the murder weapon, so that we can follow the revelation of how it worked as the story unfolds, to using sales patterns at the market place butcher's stall to fix times.

Only the column of dirty ice with the clear frog embedded in it seemed a teeny bit contrived, but every sleuth is entitled to one lucky break, right?

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


Windup

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Reply #4 on: April 21, 2015, 01:15:28 AM
That was a good "cozy" mystery, with the interesting twist (for me, anyway) of being set in Medieval Asia. I liked the heroine, and I could easily see her as the detective in a series. I also found myself wondering if the kingdom described was a real place, or something Ken Liu created.

That being said, for me, this one might have been better read than heard.  Because of the way my life is organized, episodes of much longer than about thirty minutes have to be listened to over multiple sessions, and when trying to puzzle-solve along with the fictional detective, that doesn't work very well.

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Unblinking

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Reply #5 on: April 23, 2015, 02:30:02 PM
I tend to not really get into mysteries, because I am usually not invested enough in the mystery to spot and extrapolate from the clues, so while the investigation is going on I'm kinda coasting.  That's not a flaw in the genre, just a quirk in my tastes.  So not too surprising that that this one didn't really grab me until it was getting to the reveal, which was convoluted enough to be kindof hard to believe, but fun anyway.

I thought it was strange that, when looking around for a memento, she chooses a plug of ice.  Why choose a memento that will be plain water soon?  Which made the reveal of the frog feel kind of forced.

I am curious whether an ice lens could actually act as a firestarter as described here.  I mean, obviously a glass lens can, though you'd have to calculate the angles quite closely to be sure you are aiming at the proper kindling.  But, I would think that freezing another layer of ice around it would warp the lens--to put ice around it you have to put water around it and then freeze it, obviously, but by putting water around it there will be some heat transfer between water and ice before the water gets frozen--it might work well enough to keep a frog in a recognizable shape, but I'm skeptical that the precise shape of the lens wouldn't be altered and mess up the focus of the lens.  Also, I'm not sure that the lens would hold its shape well enough and long enough when focusing a beam of sunlight to actually start anything on fire--the lens must be melting at the same time.

Then again, I don't know any of these things are impossible.  The only way to know is to try, I guess.  Thanks, Ken, like I needed anymore projects.  ;)



SpareInch

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Reply #6 on: April 23, 2015, 04:33:35 PM
I am curious whether an ice lens could actually act as a firestarter as described here.  I mean, obviously a glass lens can, though you'd have to calculate the angles quite closely to be sure you are aiming at the proper kindling.  But, I would think that freezing another layer of ice around it would warp the lens--to put ice around it you have to put water around it and then freeze it, obviously, but by putting water around it there will be some heat transfer between water and ice before the water gets frozen--it might work well enough to keep a frog in a recognizable shape, but I'm skeptical that the precise shape of the lens wouldn't be altered and mess up the focus of the lens.  Also, I'm not sure that the lens would hold its shape well enough and long enough when focusing a beam of sunlight to actually start anything on fire--the lens must be melting at the same time.

One of the things that everybody knows is that water freezes at 0°C, and another thing that everybody knows is that ice melts at 0°C.

And like everything else that everybody knows, both facts are kind of right and completely wrong. Ice melts above 0°C and water freezes below that point.

0°C is the Triple Point of water. This means that it is the temperature at which it can exist stably in any state. Liquid, solid or vapour.

Sooooo... As long as the muddy water was chilled to 0°C first, you could put the clear ice into it without any risk of melting.

And then, there is no reason why the clear ice should melt all that quickly, so the lens certainly could work. The dark ice melts because it absorbs light, which is a form of energy, and so gets warmer. The clear ice absorbs very little light, since it is merely acting as a refractor, and so could easily last long enough if the ambient air was cold enough. And a lot was made in the story about how cold it was.

Now. Who's surprised to hear I got an A in my school Physics exam?

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


Dwango

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Reply #7 on: April 28, 2015, 09:25:38 PM
Of course, the practicality of doing this whole thing with the ice is well, questionable.  A lot of effort would have to be put in and a lot of variables to consider, beyond just the freezing point of water.  So I'm calling suspension of disbelief on this one.. or we ask Mythbusters to give this one a try to see if it is possible to pull off.  Can't go much worse than the experiment where they tried to create a death ray from the shields of Roman invaders.

Otherwise, a quite enjoyable ride.  Looking forward to more episodes.  Wonder if she could be blind and kick ass... oh, that's a totally different thing. :-)



Unblinking

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Reply #8 on: April 29, 2015, 02:02:24 PM
Of course, the practicality of doing this whole thing with the ice is well, questionable.  A lot of effort would have to be put in and a lot of variables to consider, beyond just the freezing point of water.  So I'm calling suspension of disbelief on this one.. or we ask Mythbusters to give this one a try to see if it is possible to pull off.  Can't go much worse than the experiment where they tried to create a death ray from the shields of Roman invaders.

Yeah, still skeptical, though it's an interesting idea.  If someone wanted to try the experiment using the technology level available in the story, I would be very interested in watching the results. :)



Devoted135

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Reply #9 on: June 19, 2015, 02:26:55 AM
Loved following along with the mystery as it unfolded, and I thought the pacing was done quite well. I did figure out the gist of what the fire sprites were communicating long before she did, but that's okay. Fun! :)