Imagine a planet dominated by a life form that maintains the soul of all past generations, allowing one day for each past life to control both body and mind. Then since thousands of generations have lived on this planet, each would only regain control—sentient life—for a single day in hundreds and thousands of years. Now imagine a dominant life-form that arose, not from apes, but from cats. Oh, they look basically human but with strange eyes and in perpetual heat. Also, unlike cats who only have nine lives, these civilized felines have thousands of lives.
Let’s make it tougher. Imagine a world dominated by a species where the male and the female forms are very different. The females are shaped like large pyramids with many short legs and move around all day eating the grass through their underside mouths and awaiting the return of the shiftless males each night. The males are shaped like huge dirigibles (zeppelins) and spend the day floating and cavorting in the air, propelled by powerful flatulence. At night the males moor themselves to the top of the pyramid-like females where they find not only a convenient mooring post but also a feeding tube (what! cud again tonight?) and even the appropriate female organ to enjoy some sexy-time with as they eat and recuperate from a tough day chasing clouds.
Continue reading “Venus On the Half-Shell”
Here’s what they say at the Library Journal about Steve Erickson’s powerful but ultimately flawed fantasy of the Twentieth Century, Tours of the Black Clock:
Featuring the improbably named Banning Jainlight, a burly, brutish, cunning writer, this fast-paced narrative makes bold jumps through time and place as it moves from Pennsylvania to Manhattan to a 1930s Vienna in the violent throes of early Naziism. Here Jainlight plies his trade—pornographer to Hitler—and here he learns that “the black clock of the century is stripped of hands and numbers. It is a time in which there’s no measure of time that God understands.” While the book has the delicacy to give a fine portrait of an aging Hitler living out his life in an Italian basement, even sophisticated readers may be confused by the kaleidoscopic vision of our century. — Peter Bricklebank
Continue reading “Hitler’s Pornographer”
Katsuo Ishiguro has written an ambitious novel projecting worlds of fantasy, metaphysical concepts, and an archetypal quest. If you read it rapidly and don’t stop to make critical enquiry, The Buried Giant is a pretty good entertainment, otherwise if you look to closely it is a failed experiment and a flawed novel.
I was rolling along with the narrative, accepting the stock characters of fantasy like ogres and pixies (despite a nagging feeling that these traditional characters seemed to have been clumsily inserted into the narrative) until the questing crew met up with an aging, but still ready for chivalric battle, Sir Gawain (sans Greene Knight). I don’t know if Ishiguro selected this character to form a tie with the earlier stories of Arthur Pendragon or if Ishiguro just needed a somewhat anachronistic knight to add to his posse, but Gawain was for me an unfortunate choice.
Continue reading “The Buried Giant”
In 1999 David Cronenberg made the movie Existenz. In simplest terms, it was the story of getting lost in a virtual reality video game and never being sure of where the fiction ended and the reality resumed. There have been many books and movies that play with this theme of not knowing reality from fantasy. In 1988 Masato Takeno wrote a piece of short fiction titled The Yamada Diary. Predating Existenz, Takeno develops the story of a young student who loses himself in the fiction of a video game called The Yamada Diary.
Continue reading “Monkey Brain Sushi”