Recent blog posts in the category Books:

Paprika (Yasutaka Tsutsui)

It seems you’ve been living two lives, Miss Chiba. In one, you are Atsuko Chiba, an accomplished researcher and therapist working for the Institute for Psychiatric Research. You’re a hard worker, a dedicated scientist, and on the shortlist for the...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/28 20:09

It seems you’ve been living two lives, Miss Chiba. In one, you are Atsuko Chiba, an accomplished researcher and therapist working for the Institute for Psychiatric Research. You’re a hard worker, a dedicated scientist, and on the shortlist for the Nobel Prize. In the other, you go by the alias “Paprika” and carry out illegitimate dream therapy with restricted-use dream-imaging devices borrowed from the Institute’s own labs. One of these lives has a future; the other does not.

Forgive the Matrix quote, but it’s a fitting way to kick off a discussion of Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui’s landmark novel. Tsutsui’s eclectic mixes of fantasy, SF, black comedy and other genres have been only sporadically presented in English; Paprika itself was only recently translated, and isn’t even directly available to readers in the United States yet. That’s a shame, because the book’s a broadly entertaining introduction to an author who hasn’t yet gotten his due domestically. He’s been superficially compared to Haruki Murakami or J.G. Ballard, although he’s more playful than the latter and more formally grounded in genre than the former.

Read more


Tags: Japan Satoshi Kon Yasutaka Tsutsui fiction review


Grotesque (Natsuo Kirino)

I struggle with myself. On the one hand I want to write a rave review of Grotesque, one that might verge on being fulsome in its praise. On the other hand, I want to red-pencil the book, to trim out...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/25 00:45

I struggle with myself. On the one hand I want to write a rave review of Grotesque, one that might verge on being fulsome in its praise. On the other hand, I want to red-pencil the book, to trim out the fat I know is there and expose the muscle and heart of a story that has about one hundred percent more, well, story, than it truly needs. But I got here late: I’m a reader and a critic, not an editor, and so I have to take Natsuo Kirino’s Grotesque as it stands: a very good book that might well be a great one, barring my quibbles about its length.

Told in an amalgam of first-person confessional, third-party documentation, diary entries and letter-writings, Grotesque deals with a now-middle-aged Japanese woman—never referred to by her first name—who was one of two daughters in a mixed marriage. She is “half”, as they say in Japan. The unpleasant union of her Swiss/Polish father (himself “half”, it seems) and her Japanese mother produced herself and Yuriko—the “monster”, as the narrator calls her, a girl almost too beautiful to be believed. The rift that forms between them soon becomes unbridgeable, and before long the two sisters live entirely disparate lives. One settles into a life of respectable work, a veneer that barely conceals an ocean of rage; the other into prostitution and an early death at the hands of a client.

Read more


Tags: Japan Natsuo Kirino review


20th Century Boys Vol. #3

Volume 3 of 20th Century Boys plays like a compendium of every paranoid nightmare you’ve ever had. You are in front of a hostile crowd, singled out for ridicule and aggression. You are dead certain something horrible is going to...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/22 22:37

Volume 3 of 20th Century Boys plays like a compendium ofevery paranoid nightmare you’ve ever had. You are in front of a hostilecrowd, singled out for ridicule and aggression. You are dead certainsomething horrible is going to happen mere minutes from now, but youcannot get anyone to believe you. And you’re convinced there’s sometiny unremembered piece of your past which is crucially important toeverything that’s going on, if you could just remember what the hell it was!

That’sbeen Kenji’s problem: the clues to the imminent apocalypse beingunleashed by a former childhood friend are scattered far and widethrough his life. What’s worse is now that he’s finally started to fitthe pieces together, the one great discovery that comes to him is thathe is the only one who can comprehend the full scope of what’shappening. The attacks taking place around the world are all based onthe daydream scribbles he came up with all those years ago. Ergo, it’sa warning, a message aimed directly at him: Come get me. You know who I am, don’t you?

Read more


Tags: Japan Naoki Urasawa manga review


Gross Anatomy: Black Jack Butchered In The Remaking

Truth in advertising. Ever get the feeling you’d been cheated? There’s a clutch of words that when uttered in the presence of fans can elicit near-homicidal reactions. One of them is censorship: if there’s even the suggestion that a title...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/18 15:02

Truth in advertising.

Ever get the feeling you’d been cheated?

There’s a clutch of words that when uttered in the presence of fans can elicit near-homicidal reactions. One of them is censorship: if there’s even the suggestion that a title of theirs has been “cleaned up” (shilling for dumbed down) for its domestic release, they’ll blow out the windows. Case in point: the manga version of Tenjho Tenge, which tanked in sales once word got out it had been bowdlerized to keep it from going into “mature audiences” shrinkwrap. To be honest, the Comstockery in question wasn’t all that bad, but it was the principle of the thing that ticked people off, and rightly so. Why pay for what you know to be damaged goods?

But there’s another word also capable of unleashing whole hectares of fan-wrath, depending on the context and the circumstances. That word is remake, and in a way it’s even more problematic a word than censorship because it cuts both ways. It isn’t inherently evil. Sometimes a remake can revitalize a dated or flawed piece of material, and give it a whole new gloss. The current remake of Evangelion might fit into this category, depending on your level of attachment to the original (and that deserves to be an essay unto itself).

And sometimes a remake is just a really bad idea. Such as, for instance, taking the best of Osamu Tezuka’s original Black Jack manga and having a new artist redraw them.

I could not have made this up if I wanted to.

Read more


Tags: Black Jack Japan Osamu Tezuka manga remakes review


Black Lagoon Vol. #7

Two volumes back I noted that Black Lagoon is one volume setup and one volume payoff. Volume 7 is almost entirely setup with one big dollop of gunbunny lunacy in the opening chapters to whet the appetite. But it’s good...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/17 01:42

Two volumes back I noted that Black Lagoon is one volume setup and one volume payoff. Volume 7 is almost entirely setup with one bigdollop of gunbunny lunacy in the opening chapters to whet the appetite.But it’s good setup—it’s not just plot cogs creaking, but furtherdefinition of character. In a series like Black Lagoon the characterization and plotting are joined at the hip anyway.

The end of the last volumekicked off a new plot arc: the return of the Lovelace family’s cadre ofmurderous maids. Maids, plural. As it turns out, the nutjob Roberta isindeed back in town and looking for revenge. She’s convinced the folkswho killed the head of the Lovelace family with a well-placed bomb aresquirreled away in Roanapur somewhere, and she doesn’t care how manydead bodies she leaves behind before she finds them. The gun-totingmaid we met back at the end of the last volume, though, wasFabiola—another servant of the same ilk, and the one whom the “youngmaster” of the Lovelace clan is currently depending on most for hisprotection. Fabiola’s nowhere nearly as unhinged as Roberta out of thegate, but she’s enough of a handful that Rock (and by extension Revy)are persuaded to lend them a hand looking for Roberta to keep the bodycount to a minimum.

Read more


Tags: Japan Rei Hiroe manga review


Vampire Hunter D Novel Volume 12: Pale Fallen Angel, Parts 3 and 4

Is it possible to enjoy a book because of its limitations, as much as you might enjoy it despite them? I’m faced with this issue right now because after all four (or two) volumes of Pale Fallen Angel, I can’t...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/14 00:30

Is it possible to enjoy a book because of its limitations, as much as you might enjoy it despite them? I’m faced with this issue right now because after all four (or two) volumes of Pale Fallen Angel, I can’t deny I’ve enjoyed the story. I’m just not sure if that’s the result of the way it was written or an unintentional by-product.

The D stories don’t lend themselves to being epics. They’re called light novels for a reason: they’re compact, fast on their feet, and trimly written. Small wonder the longer D stories end up tilting under their own weight. The would-be epic two-part Journey to the North Sea was impressive, but caused Hideyuki Kikuchi’s storytelling framework to bulge at the seams. With the four-part Angel, the framework has ripped clean open. I didn’t like seeing the brevity I associated with the D series turning into the very same ponderous, bloated fantasy that I started reading the D books to get away from in the first place. But after both volumes of Angel, I found I’d done my best to enjoy the books for what they were and not for what I wanted them to be.

Read more


Tags: Hideyuki Kikuchi Japan Vampire Hunter D light novel review


The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 1

How do you solve a problem like Haruhi? —with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein II There’s a lot about Kyon’s new school that he doesn’t like. The long walk all the way uphill to get to it, for instance. The...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2009/08/11 20:12

How do you solve a problem like Haruhi?
—with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein II

There’s a lot about Kyon’s new school that he doesn’t like. The long walk all the way uphill to get to it, for instance. The fact that he doesn’t know anyone there isn’t a boon, either. But none of that comes near the level of flabbergast Kyon feels when he meets his infamous classmate Haruhi Suzumiya.

Infamous doesn’t begin to sum her up, as he quickly learns. Infamy-generating is more like it.

“I have no interest in ordinary humans,” she declares to her astonished homeroom class on the first day of school. “If there are any aliens, time travelers, sliders or espers here, come join me.” And with that Kyon’s sucked into the orbit of what proves not only to be the oddest girl in the school but the girl who’s going to turn his life inside out and repaint it in mighty garish colors.

Read more


Tags: Japan light novel review


Genji Press

Science fiction, rebooted.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

About Me

I'm an independent SF and fantasy author, technology journalist, and freelance contemplator for how SF can be made into something more than just a way to blow stuff up.

My Goodreads author profile.

Learn some more about me.

My Books

Coming Soon

Out Now

More of my books

Search This Site

Other People We Like

Fandom

Dharma

Film

Archives