Black Mist and Other Japanese Futures
Edited by Orson Scott Card and Keith Ferrel
Review by James Walton

I was a bit disappointed when I started reading this anthology. From the title I was expecting stories written by Japanese authors looking to the future of their homeland. Instead I got western writers who presumably all have fascinations with Japan. (Yeah, I know. I should learn to look more carefully.) Once I began reading I forgave the editors their (presumably) unintentional deception. The novellas presented in Black Mist are all quite enjoyable.

The title story "Black Mist" by Richard A. Lupoff is a murder mystery set in a Japanese research station on the Martian moon Phobos. Mr. Lupoff is successful in giving his story an oh so Japanese atmosphere. (It may be totally wrong but I went for it.) I doubt any other human society could create the motive for the murder and I doubt this particular resolution could come about anywhere in the Solar system except Phobos.

I found "Tea From an Empty Cup" by Pat Cadigan to be quite odd. It brings up interesting questions about identity and individuality but I am not sure it provides answers. A young girl searches for a missing friend in a world where Japan no longer exists or at least "left the geographic coordinates that were once the country of Japan."

"A Medal for Harry" by Paul Levinson is more a vignette than a story. It deals with ethnic pride and the Japanese concept of "saving face."

"Niagara Falling" by Janeen Webb and Jack Dann is the surreal tale of a honeymoon at Niagara Falls. A thoroughly modern couple on a futuristic but decaying Earth must contend with some very old (and odd) traditions. I think this story wants to be a novel when it grows up.

"Thirteen Views of Higher Edo" by Patric Helmaan gives us an artist famous for his huge, space-going sculptures, or "views" as he calls them. The artist has problems reconciling his public successes with his private failures.

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