Kaoru Mori last turned heads on this side of the ocean with her lovely and thoroughly-researched story of Victorian-era England, Emma, adapted into an equally lovely animated series. With A Bride’s Story, she’s taken the same fascination for period detail and turned it on the life of the Caucasus tribes (also of the late-19th century). Aside from being gorgeous in just about every page and panel, this manga operates as both a drama of feuding families and as a look at the way civilized life slowly displaces its nomadic counterparts. If there’s no anime derived from this also in the offing, I’ll be shocked. Read more
There have traditionally been three great or at the very least formative dystopian novels of the 20th century: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984 and Evgeny Zamyatin’s We. The first two are almost stereotypically familiar; in my case they were proscribed reading in high school, and few people need them compared or contrasted. We, on the other hand, is nowhere nearly as well-known but every bit as crucial. I discovered it more or less on my own, re-read it time and again as new translations appeared over the years, and would gladly pack a copy on my next one-way trip to the moon. Now I have to add a fourth to this list, one which might well accompany me on that same trip — and which has been sadly neglected even by many other fans of SF or dystopian fiction.
Neither the title, Kallocain, nor the author, Karin Boye, will be familiar to most readers outside of her native Sweden. There from 1922 through 1940 she published several volumes of poetry and a few novels, all well-received by her peers. Kallocain was the most out-of-gamut of her works. Nothing before it hinted that she would produce this bleak future vision, one informed more by the tightening grip of the Third Reich on Europe than by anything in her own life. When her mother complemented her on the book, her response was “Do you really think it was I that did it?” — although it was clearly her book, given the toll it exacted on her emotionally. Less than a year after the great and sad Kallocain saw print, Boye apparently committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, and the book itself did not even appear in English until 1966. But we have it now, in a good translation by Gustav Lannestock, and it begs to be rediscovered by an audience for whom dystopia has become a near-synonym for the future that is unfortunately continuing to come true around us. Read more