Escape Artists


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Author Topic: PC453: A Spirited Education  (Read 2594 times)


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on: February 01, 2017, 12:18:28 AM
PodCastle 453: A Spirited Education

by Tony Pi

read by Curtis C. Chen

First published in Ricepaper 19.3 in 2014.

Rated PG.

Incense smoke drifted through the air in the apothecary like ribbons of kelp. The good doctor was brooding over an anatomy manual at his desk, reading by the light of his oil lamp. I summoned my courage, entered uninvited, and bowed deep.

“Teacher, I’ve come to resume my lessons.”

Doctor Zhao closed his book with a sigh. “Against your father’s wishes, Liren?”

“He didn’t forbid me from learning healing lore,” I corrected. As county magistrate, Father lauded the scholarly study of acupuncture and moxibustion. “He only disapproves of me practicing medicine.”

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Tony Pi has a Ph.D. in linguistics and writes fantasy and science fiction. He is a recent winner of an Aurora Award for Best English Poem/Song. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada.

You can find Tony online at his website and on Twitter @wistling.

Once a Silicon Valley software engineer, Curtis C. Chen now writes speculative fiction and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. His debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO is a science fiction spy thriller about a super-powered secret agent facing his toughest mission yet: vacation. The sequel, KANGAROO TOO, will be out in June of 2017.

Curtis’ short stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, MISSION: TOMORROW, and the 2016 YOUNG EXPLORER’S ADVENTURE GUIDE. He is a graduate of the Clarion West and Viable Paradise writers’ workshops. You can find Curtis at Puzzled Pint Portland on the second Tuesday of most every month.

You can find Curtis online at and on Twitter @curtiscchen.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!


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Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 02:10:26 AM
One thing that I've appreciated about the Escape Artists podcasts in the approximately 6 months I've been listening to them is that they very purposefully do not limit themselves to the white middle class america point of view, and I found this to be a great example of that.  I won't claim to be knowledgeable enough about the culture to be able to critique its mythological core, but this was an exciting and entertaining story where a doctor was the hero, not a warrior, and that's laudable enough in and of itself.


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Reply #2 on: February 19, 2017, 09:20:44 AM
I enjoyed this story quite a lot. When Liren realized that his deception was responsible for his father's endangerment, and therefore also for his teacher's injury, he stepped up and did his best to make things right, taking risks and eventually sacrificing his own reputation to save his father's. I liked the bit about how he couldn't form a tiger avatar, never having actually seen a tiger, but he was able to turn his memory of lion dancers into his champions, supplemented by his father's verses and everyone joining him in chanting them. It was very satisfying.