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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Diabolical Plots #16, June 2016

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Diabolical Plots #16, June 2016

"The Weight of Kanzashi" by Joshua Gage

Reviewed by Jason McGregor

"The Weight of Kanzashi" by Joshua Gage

This month Diabolical Plots provides us with 559 words which, ironically, contain no plot, diabolical or otherwise. Yukino Kojima heads to a space station via shuttle on her anniversary and receives a surprise present. The end. This provides the opportunity to deploy much Japanese color (a significant fraction of the 559 words are made up of inro, kotsu anzen, shochikubai, the hana kanzashi of the title, etc.) and to wax poetic over the gift.

While the plotlessness is intentional (ill-advised, but intentional), none of the parts seem to go with each other. In what way is this science fiction other than being set in a shuttle/station (which is actually current and not extrapolative, but for this being Japanese)? In what way does it need to be science fiction at all? Why is the sterilization process particularly important? Why is it especially significant that she's becoming "the oldest astronaut in Japanese history"? The author notes that he was "intrigued by the idea of a plot without conflict" which appealed to his "poetry sensibilities." Basically, this is a strong argument for why plot can't really exist without conflict and why poetry is not fiction. It is possible some may appreciate the sheer verbiage on a sensual level (though such appreciation would likely be cancelled by the "contaminates," "gray fuzz," cigarette carton byplay, and other inessential and not especially poetic elements) but this is not science fiction or even a story.


Jason McGregor’s space on the internet (with more reviews) can be found here.