What is it with writers in general and Horror writers in particular and their obsessiveness concerning small towns? They make them seem like places where every other house is full of mystery, monsters, the deranged, or weirdness run amok. Whether it’s King in Maine, Lynch in the Northwest, or Ono in Japan, on either side of the Pacific, writers love to make stuff happen in small towns. Shiki (Shi Ki), which can be translated as “Corpse Demon”, is no exception.
Shiki can be described like this:
The story takes place during a particularly hot summer in the nineties, in a small quiet village called Sotoba. A series of mysterious deaths begin to spread in the village. At the same time, a strange family has moved into the long abandoned Kanemasa mansion. Dr. Toshio Ozaki, head of the only rural hospital in Sotoba, initially suspects an epidemic. But as the investigations continue with the help of his old friend Muroi Seishin, who is the village priest, the deaths begin to pile up; they becomes convinced that the undead are plaguing the village. A young man named Natsuno Yuuki, who hates living in the village and only wants to leave, begins to suspect he is still being pursued by a girl who has already died.
Willi Lempert, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has written a fascinating piece on Native SF films. That there is such a thing is news to me. It’s interesting to see a non-western take on the future in the short films that Lempert examines. These films offer an alternative to the typical stereotypes found in most genre movies – when there are any native people in them at all.
“This article is a brief attempt to draw on Indigenous futurisms as a way of introducing the diversity of Native sci-fi films in conversation with mainstream sci-fi.”
Lempert divides native SF into utopias, dystopias, and alien encounters and offers multiple examples of each for you to experience for yourself. Check it out.
Elena clutched the gyroscope and stared Brian down. I couldn’t think of any scientific explanation for what Brian had just done. A gyroscope stays upright because of its angular momentum. Ideally, it would never fall, since the torque that gravity supplies is not sufficient to offset its gyroscopic inertia. In real life, however, friction gradually erodes the rotation, causing it to precess more and more, until finally the rotation degrades and gravity takes hold.
This left one of two options. Either Brian had managed to eliminate any appreciable friction from our tabletop–not to mention air resistance–or he had a way to inject more energy into the system without touching the gyroscope, thus overcoming the effects of the friction. I couldn’t think of any way he could do either of those things.
“Okay, I give up,” I said. “How did you do it?”
Brian looked grave. “They showed me. The quantum intelligences.”
“I see. The little fairies are spinning the gyroscope?” I tried not to let the cynicism creep into my voice, but it was hard.
“Of course not,” he snapped. “It’s ground state energy. The energy of a single particle’s spin. It never stops. It’s an infinite source of power.”
I hesitated, finding it hard to believe, but at the same time hard to discount the evidence of the gyroscope. “So you took a feature of the quantum world and made it apply in the larger world,” I said.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Brian said quietly. “Gonna change the world.”
“If it were real, that would be a technology worth trillions of dollars,” I said. “Is that why you’re here? Are there people chasing you, trying to get this from you?”
“They’re chasing me,” he said, “but they’re not people.”
I threw up my hands. “You’d better start talking sense.”
“One more example, then,” he said. He reached under the table, and suddenly there was a Glock 46 in his hand, the barrel pointing at Elena.
I was on my feet in an instant, my chair toppling over behind me. I held my hands up, palms out. “Put it down,” I said. “Brian, listen to me.”
Elena stared into the gun’s barrel, motionless, hardly breathing. “Don’t do this,” she whispered.
“It won’t hurt you,” Brian said. “The bullet will just diffract around you.”
“You’re talking crazy,” I said. “Look at me.” He didn’t move. “Look at me!” I shouted. He looked. “It’s a bullet, not an electron,” I said. “If you pull the trigger, it will kill her. You don’t want that.”
He stood. “You won’t believe me unless I show you.”
I started to ease around the edge of the table toward him. “I do believe you,” I said. “Let’s just sit down, and you can tell us all about it.”
“No, you don’t. You call them fairies and make fun of me. But they’re real, Jacob. I’m not going to hurt anybody. I just want to prove it to you.”
“Point the gun somewhere else, then,” I said. “Point it at me.”
“It won’t hurt her,” he said, and pulled the trigger.
I give you the case of one Light Yagami. He lives in the Kanto region of Tokyo. His academic talent puts him in the top 1%, in his age group, for all of Japan. He has great prospects for University and careers. The problem is that he’s a young man; he’s bored; he feels contempt for his society and how it functions. Since his father is in the police, the underbelly of Japanese society is very obvious to him. He feels a great yearning to help his society, punish wrongdoers, but he feels helpless. He’s rebellious; his smarts make him arrogant; he’s searching for a cause and his place in the world, as all young men do.
Watch out, he’s going to get his wish.
This is what Viz says about Death Note, Volume 1:
Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective “L” to track down the killer. With “L” hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?
Light tests the boundaries of the Death Note’s powers as “L” and the police begin to close in. Luckily Light’s father is the head of the Japanese National Police Agency and leaves vital information about the case lying around the house. With access to his father’s files, Light can keep one step ahead of the authorities. But who is the strange man following him, and how can Light guard against enemies whose names he doesn’t know?
This is what I love about Star Wars. So much room for comedy. Visit the Dorkly channel on YouTube when you have a lot of time to kill ’cause you’re gonna need it.
The 2015 Hugo Awards have been announced at Worldcon 2015 – “Sasquan” The 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington. In the Best Novel category the winner is:
- The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
- Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor)
- The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
- Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Roc)
Our congrats to Cixin Liu and all the finalists. You can see the complete list of winners in all categories over at Locus.
There were fewer winners this year than in past years because assholes but it was still a nice ceremony. Thanks to the organizers for making the live stream happen.