Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence 'After The Long Goodbye' - by Masaki Yamada, trans by Yuji Oniki and Carl Custav Horn


Summary: Batou lost his dog. Batou looks for his dog.

I picked this up because it was by a different author than this tie-in, the amazon reviews actually sounded interesting, and, er, it was a pretty book. Shuddup.

And this book blindsided me. It's heart-breaking and thought-provoking and well-written, and not at all what I was expecting. The translation was excellent. Everything was good quality. Whe the...?

There was a bit of character suicide going on - Batou is a mopey bastard through the whole thing. He has his emo ON. This is not a happy, chipper, feel good sort of book. It's what you read when you're feeling lonely and miserable, so you can be lonely and miserable with a lonely and miserable book. Part of me wanted to mock him for having his whole life revolve around his dog, but then, pot, kettle, black.

The dog, the absence of dog, is almost incidental to what the book is actually about, which is consciousness. Memories. What it is to be aware. Aware, within a synthetic environment, and everything that is gained and lost. That he can program himself to release endorphins when accessing a certain memory - does that mean the memory makes him happy, or he makes the memory happy? What is happy?

There is a fair whack of giant tanks and super-cyborg gun fight spectacular-a-rama, but such things in no way subtract from the gravitas of the underlying themes.

I was surprised, and lonely and miserable, and this book rang true.

Strange thing, fiction.

Verdict: knowledge of the GIS universe will help, but this remains a startlingly good book regardless.

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