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roddy

Reading Chen Qiufan's Waste Tide (荒潮, 陈楸帆): Part 3

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roddy

On the home straight now! And we start with a Žižek quote, the source of which looks to be: "You see perfection in the imperfect and that's how we learn to love the world."

 

It was a dark and stormy night...

 

1) Mimi and Wen Ge in the makeshift hospital. They're planning an attack on the barriers that keep them stuck in the low-speed zone. Mimi's visual virus now has all the 垃圾人 'miring her. He manages to run a facial recognition search on that foreign face that keeps appearing in front of Mimi's. And as we all expected (ahem) it's... Hedy Lamarr. There's a reference here back to a passing bit in Chapter 3, which I'll flag up in that post for future readers. And as expected we learn that Wen Ge is the brother of the girl who's rape caused the island to be placed into a low-speed zone - and he's willing to help Mimi as she reminds him of his sister. Except it's a shame he didn't figure that out before sticking random bits of cybernetics on her head, and isn't it also because of that visual virus? 

 

2) Scott goes to visit Boss Luo for long descriptive passages of tea. I didn't get 不管是两人,还是四人,都会准备三个杯子, doesn't that mean they're one short if there are four of them? Scott offers Luo a bigger chunk of project pie if he lets Mimi leave. Luo cuts the meeting short when he gets word the hacker has found something. 

 

3) Chen goes looking for Mimi in the Luo workers' compound (which is actually where she is), but doesn't find her and ends up being found and threatened at knifepoint.

 

马奈笔下的奥林匹亚

鱼目水 - I found this as 鱼眼水, charmingly meaning water about to boil, or 刚开未开 here. 

 

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roddy

Ok, so the above was Chapter 15, the first in Part 3. Here follows Chapter 16, which is quite long at 8,500 characters. I will likely split it in two. 

 

1) Boss Luo is watching the hacker's map of what's going on. It seems the workers are up to something and have acquired some some new tech, and Luo suspects the Yanks. And Scott has left a mobile there? I don't remember that, not sure if it's an accident, or so they can communicate or what. He gives the hacker 20 minutes to figure out who's coordinating it. 

 

2) Oh, Scott's using it to eavesdrop? Seems almost low tech for our man Scott. Is 鮀城 on the mainland? I think I thought it was kind of the big town on the island, but now it seems to be joined by a bridge. Scott's waiting for his plan to unfold so he can act. His bug is discovered. 

 

3) Chen Kaizong, still at knifepoint. His captor is unsure Mimi needs his rescue. And he ends up tied to a pipe with a stretched out rubber penis, because of course he does. A building starts falling on him. 

 

4) Mimi's coordinating communication (?) between the workers, consciously managing some kind of frequency hopping coded network (which is what Hedy Lamarr developed. I'll give this book £5 if it turns out the virus is actually Hedy Lamarr.) She's using servers in 鮀城 to search the city for something (do we know what?). There's a challenging section here as it describes how she arranges the images from CCTV cameras, webcams, etc to be able to survey the city easier. After some dystopian sight, she finds what she's looking for - a satellite base station, attached to a TV broadcast truck. But she can't access it. Then there's a bit which really confused me, but my current understanding is that she's somehow carrying along with her a bunch of other consciousnesses, which she delivers to a prison security system. Mass prison break. TV station gets alerted. Satellite base station gets turned on. Can't connect while the truck's moving. Cause a mass pile-up, truck stop, satellite base station connects to a server in low-earth orbit (remember the 'Anarchy' server? I think I do.) and Mimi and companions upload themselves. 

 

Ok, will post this now as it's lunchtime, and I'm not sure if I'll be back in the afternoon.

 

因陀罗网 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra's_net

硬虎呾有 I couldn't be bothered figuring out

显性文化 dominant culture (显性 is dominant in genetics)

达米安·赫斯特 Damien Hirst. 

拉特兰‧圣乔凡尼大教堂的天顶壁画《圣母升天》 - this is a reference to a picture of the ascension of the Virgin Mary in a church in Rome. Has he referenced any Chinese pictures? I remember mentions of painting styles, that's all. 

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roddy

I wasn't. Let's finish the chapter off...

 

5) Boss Luo's angry at Scott for trying to eavesdrop on him. The hacker's being too slow to track Mimi down, so he decides to find her himself, if he has to flatted the whole place. He brings out 刀子, who I thought / hoped was dead, but who's now being treated as a dog - not sure if he's been mistreated into this state, or some tech has been applied. And just as the hacker finally thinks he's found Mimi, the entire network goes dead. 

 

6) Mimis 0 and 1 are in the low-earth orbit cloud. Mimi 1 has some kind of password to communicate with an actual human, who warns them they're under threat in both cyber and real space. Ah, and Hedy's modeled consciousness becomes a bargaining chip in a rather creepy deal. But just as their about to digitally shake on it, Mimi crashes out of cyberspace and into the hut on Silicon Isle, where Wen Ge is keeping an eye on her. 

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roddy

Chapter.... 17 

 

1) Chen is rescued by his captor, who now has a name: Dao Lan. He's taken to meet Mimi, who seems to be drinking her own Koolaid. Chen throws his lot in with the rebels, just as the Luo attack arrives. 

 

2) Boss Luo's riding along with the attackers as the search the huts for Mimi. And the typhoon is called 'butterfly'. Ok, that's funny. CKZ unnecessarily interjects himself in a confrontation between Luo and Mimi (which might actually have been interesting). Daozi ends up chucked into the middle as a peace offering, but in the end Luo says he wants the girl alive, and the American not too badly hurt. Fight! The less well-equipped rebels are soon lying battered in the mud (Dao Lan! We hardly knew ye!)

 

3) Mimi struggles to connect with the battlemech - perhaps she needs to be on the brink of death? The Luo's soon oblige, punting CKZ into a pile of e-waste and scaring Mimi into control of the battlemech. Or is it something the Anarchy satellite has done? Either way, the criminally underused battlemech is back! Mimi destroys the Luo's, tied Daozi to a pipe (being persuaded by the other Mimi to save him for someone who wants to kill him more, then leaves the battlemech and pulls CKZ out of the rubbish pile to give him a kiss. 

 

4) Scott's on the high ground, watching the battle, and the Silicon Islers' homes flood. He's still got two gifts from Coltfoot, which he seems keen to use. In a burst of St Elmo's Fire, he spots Boss Luo, fleeing the battle - and running right into the flood waters. 

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roddy

And... Chapter 18!

 

1) An exhausted Mimi guides the rebels towards saving the drowning locals and proceeds to teach Wen Ge about the value of compassion, before offering him the chance to kill Daozi, I assume. 

2) Mimi enlightens CKZ by connecting him to the rebels' neural network thing. He gets to watch Boss Luo opt to be carried away by the floodwaters rather than be saved by a rubbish-person. And then... Scott walks in!

3) Wen Ge goes off to find Daozi and rearrange his anatomy in painful ways. Unfortunately, Daozi has already strangled himself on his chains, so Wen Ge has to make do with a vision of his sister as the eye of the storm passes over.

4) Scott explains he's come to take Mimi to safety, stabs her in the neck with a sedative, and chokes CKZ to death or unconsciousness when he protests. Exits stage left, carrying Mimi on his Ducati. 

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roddy

Chapter 19. I'm trying to power through this quite quickly now, as it's been... wow, two months... and there are other things on my reading pile I'd like to get to. 

 

1) Mimi's 0 and 1 meet in some virtual representation of Mimi's brain while she's recovering some energy. Mimi 0 gets a lesson on how useless empathy is nowadays (at least I think that was the takeaway, I kind of tuned out the dreamy stuff).

 

2) Wen Ge rescues CKZ and they debate how to track down Scott and Mimi. Fortunately, Wen Ge remembers he's been secretly tracking Mimi (!) and there's some handwaving explanation as to why he hasn't used this to help her earlier. And then... oh, NOW Wen Ge can remote control the battlemech? Not earlier, while the rebels were getting their faces smashed into the mud? Off they go, to intercept the boat Scott is on as it passes under the bridge to the mainland.

 

3) Scott's gone rogue, planning to use his discovery for his own benefit, regardless of earlier alliances and affiliations, heading for Coltfoot's boat (I assume he's going to double-cross them?). Yet, he is haunted by visions of his dead daughter and tries to justify himself - it's best for Mimi, isn't it? And humanity... the bridge approaches.

 

4) CKZ's having visions of weird animals(?) since Mimi did whatever she did to his eye. He arrives on the bridge, on the shoulder of the battlemech, which Wen Ge is driving from the cockpit. 

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roddy

Ok, time for the final entry in my increasing slapdash series. Chapter 20. Although actually, I have to do the epilogue too, don't I...

 

1) Scott's boat gets hacked* (I assume) and drives into the bridge. This seems like a high-risk strategy for rescuing Mimi, but if we get the line "船底朝上,像条被炸死的河豚。", it's all worth it. Although all credit is lost with "曲线平缓的胸部". He resuscitates a half-drowned Mimi, and now it's time to use his last secret weapon (didn't he have two from Coltfoot? Or is it two parts?)

2) Wen Ge can't jump down from the bridge to save her! He's scared of heights. CKZ to the rescue! But first he has to be lowered down by the battlemech to a safe jumping distance. The physics seems to be that if you jump from too high, you die, but 30 cm lower and you'll be able to swim into a sinking boat and rescue your inappropriate crush during a typhoon. He makes the jump, Wen Ge cheers from afar. 

3) Scott wards CKZ off with a "strange gun" - ah, an EM pulse gun. He's threatening to fry her head. Mimi 1 hacks his pacemaker (ah, Chekov's pacemaker. Should have seen that coming) and Scott collapses, apologetically. Mimi 0 thinks this going a little too far, Mimi 1 believes death is inevitable for inferior beings.

4) Mimi grabs the EM gun and points it at her own head, although CKZ still has his hand on the trigger. - she's killed too many, she doesn't want to be a lab rat. She downloads the plot of the novel into CKZ's bionic eye.Mimi 1 overheats his bionic eye to stop him shooting, but.... he pulls the trigger! Mimi 1 is eliminated (we assume), Mimi 0 seems to survive, but collapses and is swum to safety by CKZ as the boat sinks behind them, taking Scott's body with it.

 

End of main story! Will do the epilogue over the weekend, hopefully. 

 

*Did I miss something here? I don't recall reference to anyone tampering with the boat, but... the wheel jams, he puts it on autopilot and it steers into the bridge?

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roddy

And now, the epilogue. 

 

A research vessel named Clotho. Chen Kaizong. 金色海豚 is a reference back to one of the odd visions Chen was having when his eye was networked to the rebels. Ah, he's kept his malfunctioning eye for old time's sake. The project is going ahead, minus the Luo's, and Mimi is... ah, now this is disappointing. She's left with the mental capacities of a three year old. 

 

Chen's got the boat out looking for something... he remembers a mysterious phone call from Hong Kong... it's our old friend Sug-Yi with a job opportunity. Something to do with odd radio signals above islands of waste floating in the Pacific. We get reminded of Mimi 1's catchphrase: 我只是个开始. And then he finds... a huge island of rubbish?

 

The end. 

 

Hmmm. I can't say I'm enamored with the ending. Feels like Mimi's been seriously shortchanged, for a start. 

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