So, I’ve gotten a few public domain ebooks on my phone to read when I have a spare moment. I’ve always been a fan of the weird tale, which has grown from a smattering of disparate sources, tied together and formalized by Howard Phillips Lovecraft and his group, and cross-bred with numerous other genres to gain a following in modern fiction.
I am currently reading through Haikasoru’s wonderful collection of short stories The Future is Japanese. The collection is a blend of Japanese-style short fiction written by both Japanese and Western authors. I’m four stories in so far, but the first one to really impress me is Project Itoh’s The Indifference Engine (2007, 49 pages, translation by Edwin Hawkes). A basic synopsis for those interested:
The fictional African nation of Shelmikedmus is in a state of civil war. The sides are divided along ethnic lines, the ruling Hoa and rebel Xema. The civil war is a bloody one, with both sides committing genocide against the other. The Americans and Dutch intercede in the war, negotiating a ceasefire between the two armies. With them, they bring an invention, the indifference engine, that will bring peace to the country. However, the invention isn’t necessarily what you say…completely ethical.
A full synopsis (warning: spoilers), and discussion after the jump. Continue reading
Given that, as a civilization, we’ve had 80 years to adjust to Lovecraft, 90 to Dunsany, and 100 to Chambers, it seems like it would be difficult for a new twist to be added to their individual takes on fantasy and horror. However, that’s what Miyuke Miyabe’s “The Book of Heroes” manages to do.