Books: Inter Ice Age 4 (Kobo Abé)

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011-02-05 16:11:31 No comments

The author of The Woman in the Dunes and The Box Man was not nominally thought of as a “science-fiction author”, but this 1970 novel is science fiction by every other name. A professor has invented a supercomputer with remarkable predictive capacity, which at first is used for prosaic things like weather and economic analysis. Then they use it to analyze the brain of a corpse to determine the identity of a murderer, and from there the good professor is drawn into one ever-widening set of circumstances after another, the largest of which encompasses the fate of the human race on a rapidly-warming planet. The way each link in Abé's chain of invention leads to the next is ingenious; if you ignore the flap copy (although the title is a semi-giveaway), it’s nigh-impossible to predict where his story is heading or to what end. His storytelling is also cleverly indirect—he never just comes out and tells you things, but spirals inwards towards them via their implications. Fans of Stanisław Lem’s brainier, less openly satirical work like Solaris or His Master’s Voice should pick this one up. It’s literary SF without the boorish taint the word “literary” typically implies.

Tags: Japan Kobo Abé books fiction review science fiction

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