The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente


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TOC – Table of contents

  • The melancholy of mechagirl
  • Ink, water, milk
  • Fifteen panels depicting the sadness of the baku and the jotai
  • Ghosts of Gunkanjima
  • Thirteen ways of looking at space/time
  • One breath, one stroke
  • Story no. 6
  • Fade to white
  • The emperor of Tsukayama park
  • Killswitch
  • Memoirs of a girl who failed to be born from a peach
  • The girl with two skins
  • Silently and very fast

The second short stories group reading – after “At the mouth of the river of bees” – was based on the collection of poems and stories about Japan by Catherynne M. Valente, “The Melancholy of Mechagirl”.

The writer has lived for some years in Japan as a navy wife, the experience changed her and influenced her way of writing – as Valente tells us in the afterword of the book.

The stories have Japanese settings or references to Japan culture: Gods and temples, kitsune, objects with souls and desires may bring the reader remember other Nippon productions such as movies, manga or anime.

The style is the one of the writer: the accurate and perfect use of words – as words are jewels to set – the deepness of language and the extreme symbolism reminding to other works of myths; sometimes, I have to say, this style seems like the story has a beautiful structure but empty inside; however the collection contains lots of beautiful works of literature that deserve to be read.

The one I liked the most are: “The melancholy of mechagirl”, “Ghosts of Gunkanjima”, “Fade to white”, “Killswitch”, “The girl with two skins” and “Silently and very fast”. This last one – that I read some times ago – I report my comment written after the first read.

Silently and very fast

“Silently and very fast” is not a novel, but it is rich in contents and food for thought.
The story follows the birth and the evolution of an AI that slowly increase its self-awareness, the awareness of what is around and the idea of being alive.
Alive as much as the ones who allowed her birth and grown from something more schematic and program bound.
There are lots of quotes and references to mythology, classic science fiction and science as well as famous personalities (Turing, Ada Lovelace …) and probably I missed various references to other work of fictions, scientific ideas and discoveries since there are so many.
Different themes are dealt with such as the self-awareness from the AI, how to distinguish between what is alive and what not, the possible informatics evolution in the future.
The narration and the use of language are typical of the author: a very rich vocabulary, a convoluted but entertaining narration to tell various themes also by changing the prospective and making them fables.


* The melancholy of mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente ★★★★☆½
* Silently and very fast by Catherynne M. Valente ★★★★☆½

*I read this book in English


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