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Author Topic: Does anyone know this story?
kacard
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Hi, a reader wrote to OSC asking if, in his reading, he had come across this story. She is looking for the title. It wasn't familiar to him, but OSC asked me to post it here in case some of the brilliant Hatrack readers recognized it.

Thanks!

The reader writes:

Here's the info on the story - at least what I remember -

- the main character is a woman who is some sort of 'detective / problem solver'.
- when the story opens, she's on her home world for a celebration where she eats soup
from a red clay bowl which is then dropped on the ground to shatter, the celebrants
track the red dust into their homes (in this case, her spaceship) for good luck.
- she is sent to a world where a scientist has died, to find out who and why
- the scientists are studying a 'bird' like creature, trying to decide if it is sapient and
some of them think one of the creatures is the murderer - possibly unintentional.
- the world has very intense thunder storms with super-intense lightening strikes
- it turns out that the huge 'bushes' where the aliens take shelter during the storms
are super amazing superconductors - the best ever found - and cheap because
they grow naturally instead of having to be made - a huge boon for a spaceship
building , space traveling society.
- in the end, she finds out the murderer (one of the scientists, who was hoping for a
corner on marketing the natural superconductors) and finds out how to talk to the
bird aliens (so they can be officially classified as sapient) and her computer, thru
the process of helping with the investigation via a remote bot, becomes self-aware.

I believe it was written at least 20 years ago. It's a great story and I'd love to find it again.
I think the title might have some kind of "fire" context.

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JanitorBlade
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Beats me unfortunately.
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Yozhik
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It's Hellspark by Janet Kagan.
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1056201.Hellspark

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TomDavidson
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I am genuinely impressed. Did you recall the book, having read it, or were you able to find it based on the description?
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Yozhik
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Description. I had a general feeling that the author might be either Connie Willis or Janet Kagan, based on the subject matter. After that it took less than 10 minutes of googling. Never read it though it sounds interesting.
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kacard
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Awesome, thanks!
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