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Q.E.D., vol. 25, by Katou Motohiro. Grade: B
(Enari Queen finds that her club room has been infested with first year students.)
Uchuu Daisensou (The Great UFO War, Great Magazine, 2006). This is another one of the slapstick chapters featuring Enari Queen, Homes and Mordar of the school's detective/mystery club. Things start out poorly for the group as they're arrested for staging a murder mystery story in one of the classrooms without permission. Then they're approached by a new group of first-year students that trick them out of the contract for their club room. (The trick is that one of the students has the three "detectives" sign their names in marker on a contract printed on thermal FAX paper. The student then used rubbing alcohol to wash off the original documents and then ran the paper through a regular printer to make it look like they were agreeing to give up their room.) The detective club, along with Kana, attempts to play a reverse trick on the first-years, having learned that the leader is a big UFO fan. Mordar is overjoyed at being able to set up a scenario that makes it look like a space alien (Kana in disguise) is going to kill everyone in the old detective club room. Naturally, the first-years know that it's a trick, and they show up at the "landing site" on the school roof with 2"x2"s to "protect Earth from the "invasion".
(The first-year group leader "witnesses" an alien invasion.)
Question: How does Touma protect Kana and get the first-years expelled?
No science. Just silliness.
(Prof. Shigeyuki Sudou teaches an intro class on string theory.)
Pararelu (Parallel, Great Magazine, 2006). The story starts out with police investigating the discovery of a dead body found inside a pipe over a river at a construction site. The foundations holding up the pipe are shaky and won't support the weight of a second person. The victim is Noritsugu Ochi, Director of a private university, and it looks like he had been running away from a cabin where Tsutomu Kamioka, Daigo Yamashiro and Kunio Hirose, all major figures in Japanese university theoretical physics research, had been meeting. To keep a lid on the investigation, Shunji Nashida is assigned from Internal Affairs, and it looks like this is part of a big government cover-up. Meanwhile, Touma is attending a lecture on string theory held by Shigeyuki Sudou, while Kana sleeps through it. When the lecture is over, all the other students complain about how hard the topic is to follow. Turns out that Touma had met Sudou before while acting as a volunteer guide during a science conference in Japan. As they're talking after the lecture, Nashida shows up and asks why Sudou hadn't been at the crime scene - he'd been invited to the meeting with Ochi and the others but never showed up. Eventually, we learn that Sudou, Nashida and a female researcher, Kumiko Oda, had all been part of the same university project to build a high-energy particle accelerator in Japan. The project was based in part on a paper published by Ochi, but Kumiko had discovered that he'd faked some of the data. She'd asked Sudou and Nashida whether she should step forth as a whistleblower and gotten conflicting answers. A little later, the project was canceled and Kumiko was found hanging from a rope behind the school in an apparent suicide. Seems that now, though, someone thinks that she'd been murdered and is planning revenge. Kamioka and Hirose both get poisoned in public at a bar, and the finger is pointing at Nashida as the main culprit, with Yamashiro as the only conspirator still remaining.
(Sudou prepares to visit a parallel universe where Kumiko is still alive.)
Questions: How was Ochi killed and where is the weapon? How is the construction of the pipe over the river related to Sudou's string theory lecture? Who was Kumiko's boyfriend in school, and was her death a suicide or murder? How were Kamioka and Hirose poisoned in full view of the other patrons at the bar? And, how does the string theory concept of parallel worlds tie everything together at the end?
Lots of talk about string theory. No real detail, mostly just overview, but still informative. Also, the story wraps up with Loki, Kana and Touma getting together to enjoy a relaxing day of fishing.
Comments: The detective club is constantly being played for laughs, and their members do show up from time to time in later stories. But otherwise, they really don't live up to their potential. The string theory story is a pretty straightforward "locked-room" mystery, though, and it is used to show that even Touma's friends can be killers given the right incentives. Recommended.