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Black Mist: and Other Japanese Futures
edited by Orson Scott Card and Keith Ferrell
DAW Books, 308 pages

Black Mist: and Other Japanese Futures
Orson Scott Card
Born in Richland, WA, Orson Scott Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid Mormon Church missionary. He received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. He lives in Greensboro, NC with his wife, Kristine, and five children.

In an unprecedented fashion, Card won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel two years in a row for Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, in 1986 and 1987.

Orson Scott Card Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site

Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell was a VP and the editor-in-chief for OMNI magazine from 1990 until 1996. He supervised OMNI's transition to becoming an Internet-only publication. He is the author of a dozen published books including biographies for young adults on H.G. Wells, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and John Steinbeck.

ISFDB Bibliography
Keith Ferrell Chat

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Stephen M. Davis

The idea behind Black Mist is intriguing: six authors in five novellas look at the future of Japanese culture and society in outer space, cyberspace, and Earth. Much to the reader's sorrow, Messrs. Card and Ferrell succeed only partially in realizing their goal.

Two of the novellas in the collection work admirably. Apparently, the editors of the work agree with my assessment, as they used the most successful novellas as book-ends to the other material.

"Black Mist," by Richard Lupoff, is an excellent start to the anthology. Jiricho Toshikawa, a shiftless character who has somehow been assigned to the Martian moon Phobos, finds the body of a female co-worker, Fumiko Inada. Hajimi Ino arrives from the Martian surface to look into the murder. Ino finds himself in a battle of position with the Phoban management and quite possibly with the Japanese Mob. There are a couple of quite original suicides at the end of the mystery, and I think the reader will be the most satisfied with this tale.

"Thirteen Views of Higher Edo" is the closest novella to "Black Mist" in terms of completeness. Here, the artist Yukio from Higher Edo arrives on Earth to receive a prestigious award for artistic achievement. Along the way, author Patric Helmaan does an excellent job of showing the tension created by Yukio's desire to be left alone and Higher Edo's desire to use his reputation and fame for its benefit and profit. Yukio also must come to terms with frigid parents and his boyhood bully, Hiro.

The other pieces in this book fall short, although they don't necessarily fail on artistic grounds. "Niagara Falling" is filled with excellent writing, especially considering that it was co-authored -- often a kiss of death. Somewhere, though, the story stopped being an entertaining romp through a virtual honeymoon and became a sub-standard "missing persons" story with no resolution.

"Tea from an Empty Cup" is yet another story with a missing character. It again includes numerous elements of virtual reality. While the writing is often good, the story ends on a note that leaves the reader bewildered as to the author's ultimate meaning. My suspicion is the author, Pat Cadigan, mopped herself into a corner and tried to leave before the floor was dry.

Much of Black Mist: and Other Japanese Futures is quite good. Taken together, though, the collection is unsatisfactory.

Copyright © 1998 by Stephen M. Davis

Steve is faculty member in the English department at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, S.C. He holds a master's in English Literature from Clemson University. He was voted by his high school class as Most Likely to Become a Young Curmudgeon.

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