Friday, August 16, 2013

Q.E.D. volume 12 review

The Book Off used store is missing a few of the Q.E.D. volumes in the middle, most notably #12 and #13. They are available at new shops like Maruzen, but they're full cover price ($4 to $4.50 USD), which gets kind of expensive if you read a lot of manga. I'd rather get them used at $1 or $2 apiece, or not get them at all. However, I'm a completist and I want to know what's happening in the books I'm missing. Turns out that these two are kind of critical to understanding Touma's family a little bit more. As of the date I write this (Aug. 12, 2013), I still haven't read numbers 26, 28, 32-35, 45.

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Q.E.D., vol. 12, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B

(Negiyama shows off video of his proof that aliens exist.)

Ginga no Katasumi ni te (In the Corner of the Galaxy, Magazine Great, 2001). The next 3 chapters are all connected, but the relationship doesn't surface until the end of this one. Shunichi Negiyama is a UFO fanatic. One night, he appears on a TV special and tries to convince university professor Osamu Kotsuki and science writer Yonemasa Sasanishi that aliens walk amongst us. For the most part, his evidence is all made up, or stuff mailed to him by his fans. One drawing, shown on video taken from within his warehouse, looks like a sun demon, and it gets Osamu's attention. Touma's as well. The next day, Kana notices that Touma is really tired and she follows him to a bayside warehouse district. She loses Sou in with all the buildings, but happens upon Negiyama and a TV crew. Osamu had confronted Negiyama and demanded that the crew film his storeroom of "artifacts". Suddenly, Kana finds herself acting as watchman while Osamu searches through 4 suitcases looking for the Sun Demon picture. Kana verifies that the pictures are all returned to the cases and the people leave for the day. The next morning, Negiyama claims that the picture is missing, and Osamu tells police that Kana must have taken it.

(Osamu reacts to the original picture he's trying to find. Shame it's just a copy.)

The rest of the chapter is spent with everyone recounting what had happened. Questions: How did the picture disappear? Who could have wanted to take something that looked like a kid's graffiti? Why had Sou gone to the warehouse district? Does Kana's father punish her for being a thief? At the end of the story, Touma and Kana are back in her house and Touma asks if she'd been following him. As a distraction, Kana hits him on the head, complains about him calling her a suspect and stalks out of the room. As she closes the door, a postcard slips out of a hanging rack on the door and falls to the floor. It's the one Yuu Touma had brought from the U.S. in "Hand of the Witch" saying "See You Again in the Next Year". Sou wonders why something addressed to him has been hidden in Kana's room.

== Spoilers ==

(Touma says that Goethe and Thomas Mann both referred to the Brihatkatha.)

The key feature of the picture is that Negiyama had grayed out the signature of the artist, presumably to protect him/her from harassment from the government. However, both Professor Osamu and Touma suspect that the picture is a copy from the Brihatkatha, an ancient, now-lost Indian manuscript. Touma had gone to one storeroom belonging to a university friend to find a copy of a copy of a related story to verify the image. Osamu wanted to find Negiyama's picture to get the name of the artist to track them down and ask them about their source material. At the end of the case, Osamu is so angry at being thwarted that he wishes Touma had never been born (thus possibly changing the course of future history). Kana slaps him for being excessively rude. (Fortunately, her policeman father standing behind her doesn't react to all this.)

(When Kana hits you, you stay hit.)

The science involves a discussion of the legendary Brihatkatha manuscript, with mentions of Goethe and Thomas Mann having written stories influenced by it. Osamu uses the Jonbar Hinge as justification for Touma never being born. (The Jonbar Hinge was first employed in the short story "Jon Barr", in the SF collection "The Legion of Time" by Jack Williamson.)

(Mary Cross looks forward to getting visitors in prison because it gives her a chance to drink her favorite juice. Then she dies.)

Niji no Kagami (Rainbow Mirror, Magazine Great, 2002). After seeing the Halloween postcard addressed to him but hidden in Kana's room, Touma decides to visit the U.S. again to find out who sent it. Shortly thereafter, while watching TV, Kana sees a news report of Touma being arrested and escorted out of prison to a waiting police car (the TV crew just "happened" to be in the area). Kana rushes to Boston and is met by Loki and Sou's younger sister, Yuu. They then try to retrace Sou's steps in order to catch up with him, but they're always 2 days behind. Touma had started by going to the prison where Annie Craner's killer, Mary Cross, is doing time. Mary loves getting the rare visitor because it lets her get orange juice from the visiting room's vending machine. As she's getting ready to talk, she drinks the juice, starts coughing up blood and dies. Touma is arrested, but a review of the surveillance camera footage shows that an earlier visitor, wrapped in a heavy coat and wide-brimmed hat, had tampered with the vending machine. The poison had gone into the first cup, and either Mary or Touma could have been killed. Loki and crew go to Annie's old law offices where they talk to Preston Delphi, the guy that had hired Touma to do data entry 5 years earlier. He points them to the Craner household, where they talk to Annie's younger brother, Larry. Larry mentions that their father, Daniel Craner, had been an abusive ladder climber that had fought Annie's career choices, and had locked their mother, Helena out of the room when social parties were held. Helena had eventually divorced Daniel and now lives in an old folks home in Cape Cod. The group finds Daniel at Annie's grave, and he says that he just wants to talk to his daughter again to remember what she had said about "seeing two rainbows". Daniel's memory is slipping and all he can recall is that it was a really important memory.

(A cold way to go. Memories of Helena. Also shown are Annie, Daniel and Touma.)

Loki gets a call - Frank Carnes, the defense attorney for Sarah Osborne during Annie's one big court trial, has just been in a serious car accident and it looks like his brakes were tampered with. They rush to Sarah's apartment. She'd been recently released from jail after only serving 5 years on charges of killing her weapons-dealer husband, and is living in a slum. She tells the group that Touma had visited her, then talks about her upbringing. As a child, she'd lived at a tiny gas station with her mother in the middle of nowhere. Cars would come and go, but all she ever saw was the surrounding desert. In the house, there was one 4-drawer dresser, with the top two drawers for her mother, the bottom two for her. One day, her underwear got mixed in with her mother's. That was the final straw and she bought a bus ticket east that night. Now, she has nothing, but some of the UFO cult members she's still friends with have set her up with a new job, and she's just bought a new mahogany wardrobe cabinet. The group leaves and something catches Kana's eye. It isn't until they get the news that Sarah has been crushed to death under the cabinet that Kana figures it out - Mary Cross's killer was wearing the same coat Annie Craner wore in the photo they got from Daniel. Someone's attacking everyone that had been against Annie, and Kana is pretty sure she saw the same killer going up the stairs when they were leaving Sarah's building. Loki speculates that Daniel had pulled strings to get a fake death certificate signed by the coroner's office, and that Annie may still be alive and exacting revenge. Questions: Is Annie still alive? If so, what is she up to now? What is Daniel's obsession with "the question of the two rainbows"? Who had sent the Halloween card and why?

== Spoilers ==

Annie is indeed still alive, but she's not the one that had sent the Halloween card to Touma. At the end of the story, she kisses Touma on the cheek and then prepares to return to some third-world country where she's working as a volunteer legal counsel. She sees Kana approaching, then decides to not tease the boy after all, alerting him to the lipstick on his face. Touma runs outside and meets Kana on the grass near a lake, and she hugs him out of relief.

No science.

Comments: Both stories have holes. The most obvious one in "Ginga no Katasumi ni te" is that Kana's father doesn't stop her from committing violence to someone while he can watch it. For "Rainbow Mirror", the killer falls through the ice on a frozen lake and there's no one else around to see it beyond Touma and one other person. At some point, police are going to notice that the killer has gone missing and are going to ask questions regarding Touma's involvement in the case. That apparently never happens, though. Otherwise, this book is useful as a wrap up for the "Hand of the Witch" story. And I like that Jack Williamson's story was mentioned. So far, I think Motohiro has only cameo'd 2 American SF writers - Williamson and Bradbury (book 1).

I should mention that in the first story, Kana can't speak English, so Yuu acts as her interpreter throughout. One night, as they're preparing dinner at Yuu's house, Yuu opens up about the Touma family. Her father is an architect and her mother is a historian. Between the two of them, they visit various archeological sites as consulting researchers on building materials and designs. They're on the road a lot, and had sold their old house for a smaller apartment in Boston. Yuu has been living on her own in the apartment for the last 3 months.

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