Tag Archives: Japanese mythology

A Bird, A Broad, and a Mess of Kyodatsu by Stephen Lickman

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published:January, 2017 in Mothership Zeta: Issue 2

Genre: alternate history fantasy

Setting: Japan, post-WWII

Summary: Our narrator is a Tengu, a mythical Japanese bird soldier. Japan has been conquered, so he’s trying to make a living as a detective. Really, his goal is to make enough money to drink himself into oblivion. But, he’s been hired by a murder of jungle crows to recover a Buddha that was stolen from Crow Castle at the end of the war. He’s slipping into kyodatsu – a general state of depression because Japan lost that can be seen in people across multiple every aspect of Japanese society. However, the crows shame him into trying to recover the Buddha.

Final thoughts: Interesting because of the setting and new mythology. Our narrator was transformed into a Tengu to work off a debt to karma. He’s not doing a very good job at it at the beginning of the story. He’s slipping into despair, like so many people around him. He won’t even fly anymore – the skies are for the victors. But, he decides to do something instead and recover the Buddha and even takes to the sky to do so. We are left hanging – the thief has taken a ship to America, but he’s going to chase her. He’s got a purpose again in life.

Title comes from: The bird is our narrator – a crow-like creature; the broad is the thief of the Buddha; the kyodatsu is the state of mind of everyone around our narrator.

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Short Stories by Stewart C. Baker

Behind the First Years

Published: COSMOS Online, May 2013, which you can read here

Genre: science fiction

Length: about seven pages

Setting: future Earth

Interest: It is included in the 2014 annual Campbellian Anthology that was available back in January.

Summary: Pete is a newly minted Archivist who’s in charge of recording the dispersal, now that their space ship has gotten to its destination. However, when the airlock opens, the view doesn’t match the image on the video screens of the ship. Turns out the ship is hidden in an underground cavern, the Earth is a wasteland, and the ship was started to simulate space travel. The ship’s officers decide to head back to the ship and pretend to head off to a new planet, as other captains have done in the past.

Raising Words

Published: Penumbra eMag, July 2013 – a Japanese mythology issue you can purchase here

Genre: mythology

Length: about seven pages

Interest: It is included in the 2014 annual Campbellian Anthology that was available back in January.

Summary: The story is told by a Japanese girl about her father as he becomes more martial, killing savages, gods and kami alike. The girl goes into the forest and convinces a kami to kill her father to prevent him taking over her life as well.

Final thoughts: I preferred Behind the First Years to Raising Words. In Behind the First Years you have to wonder how many times the captains have “landed” and then decided that life on the ship was much better than life on the ruined Earth would be. I also wonder if one time they’ll get off the ship and find the Earth healed. Whenever a short story makes me think, I know it’s a good one. I don’t have much to say about Raising Words beyond the fact that the Japanese setting and mythology was a nice change from the more common Western stories.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none, since these were short stories.

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