Saturday, November 08, 2014

"Matter is made up of a whole lot of nothing"

Edge, by Koji Suzuki, is billed as quantum horror. That is, it's horror derived from quantum physics. Or maybe it's that you don't know if it's really horror till you open the book and look inside.

The story is set in our now. It has some science-y stuff going on, but also a hint of supernatural. I don't think it quite qualifies as science fiction. Also, it's not post-apocalyptic dystopia; nothing post about it — this is how the apocalypse unfolds.

It starts with people disappearing, suddenly and inexplicably, there one minute gone the next. And math starts going wrong; pi and other "constants" and equations just aren't stable anymore.

Saeko starts investigating a set of disappearances. Ever since her own father disappeared 18 years previously, she's been rather obsessed with these types of occurrences. Not to mention having all kinds of daddy issues.

Saeko's father imparted to her all sorts of knowledge, along with a general wonder about the universe. Sadly, Suzuki flashes back on their time together, and the father's speeches are used as massive info dumps. How dreadfully boring, I thought; so glad he disappeared, I wouldn't be able to stand him another day. Maybe I was a little jaded after having just read an elegant and eloquent nonfiction treatment of similar issues, but I think Suzuki could give his readers a little more credit — no need for him to talk down to his readers the way Saeko's father evidently did to her.

But there's some food for deep thought buried in there: "The odds for the string of coincidences necessary to create our universe were basically nil." And, "matter is made up of a whole lot of nothing." "The real mystery is, why does the universe have any structure at all?"

So math and physics suddenly going all wonky is, I think, a fantastic concept. And a journalistic investigation into the strange disappearances could make for a good story too. But mash them together? And throw in a handful of coincidences, some supernatural-type visions, two-dimensional characters, and an appearance by the devil? I'm kind of glad that [spoiler alert] the world ends — having it go on just wouldn't make sense. Taken on their own, there are a couple deliciously creepy scenes and other interesting setups, but the book doesn't hang together for me.


1 comment:

Stefanie said...

Ah too bad. It sounded so promising.