May 18th, 2014


Moonflesh, by Mark Morris

Oh dear. There are some nice ideas in this Fifth Doctor / Nyssa audio; a country-house story in the same style as Black Orchid and The Unicorn and the Wasp, an alien which turns out to be a bit different from what we might have expected. But the guest characters are total cliches, including in particular Silver Crow, a mystical Native American played by a white English actor - that's the worst, though the doomed lesbian is pretty facepalming as well. The cast give it their best, but this should have been looked at more carefully before it was made.

May Books 2) 10 Billion Days & 100 Billion Nights, by Ryu Mitsuse

A relative got this for me, having spotted that it was being described as a great Japanese sf novel - in fact, it was ranked in a 2006 poll of Japanese readers as the greatest Japanese sf novel of all time. I was a little baffled at first, as we moved from Plato to Buddha to Jesus as incarnations of non-human entities; was this a Shaggy God story? Though I'll admit that it was very interesting to see a non-Christian writer's take on the New Testament, and in the end the Buddha and sf do seem to find a harmonious coexistence after exciting and occasionally confusing conflicts. I finished it rather puzzled; the book seemed to owe a lot to Childhood's End, and a little to the New Wave, but not much to more recent genre developments.

The mystery was resolved when I realised that 百億の昼と千億の夜 was published in 1967, so it's not very surprising that it reflects the concerns of that decade. It is the only one of Mitsuse's 20-odd novels to have been published in English; while the Japanese graphic story-telling tradition has a huge English-language following, this seems to be less true of unillustrated prose. While I regret not having better access to this particular tradition, I do hope that it's moved on a bit from 1967.