Good lord but this but this guy can write.
Maybe it’s just because I’m coming off a couple of novels whose prose could be
charitably described as ‘utilitarian’, but this was an absolute pleasure. Such
a relief to read someone who views language as a thing to bring pleasure
instead of a bluntly functional tool with which to bludgeon concepts into the
head of the reader.
Before we begin, I’m going to refer you
back to a previous post, specifically the opening paragraph, which I think must
now stand as my standard disclaimer for Japanese SF. All clear? Good. So you’ll
understand why I wasn’t expecting great things from this in terms of craft, but
even so the first few pages of The Cage
of Zeus must count as one of the most inelegant, leaden, and bluntly
cack-handed opening scenes I’ve ever read in a professionally published novel.
With the turning of the year, as with the
turning of the tide, one’s thoughts are inevitably drawn towards the cyclical
nature of life. This arbitrarily designated point on our terrestrial orb’s
procession around the solar sphere fittingly provokes consideration of where
one has come from and where one is heading; while we may appear as if we are
endlessly retreading the same repeating path around our own personal orreries
there are nonetheless perturbations; the precession of our equinoxes are far
from regular as we pirouette about whatever attractor is placed at the centre
of our worldly existence. This time, then, as we literally turn the page on the
ledger of our years, allows us a pause, a moment, in which to take stock to
consider, to reconsider, what we have
come to understand; to wonder what it is we have learned and what it may befit
us to unlearn.
One of the main strengths of
science-fiction as a genre, one of its main attractions for writers and reader
alike, is how use of the speculative allows for a more honest examination of the
real. The observer paradox is an ever-present concern in the social sciences,
exacerbated by the fact that it is an essentially reciprocal process: the act
of observing changes that which is observed, but as a component member of the
observed the observer is themselves also changed. The trappings of SF allow for
a certain distance, a cleaving of subject and object.