canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Blood Electric

Kenji Siratori 
Creation Books, 2002

Reviewed by a.e.m.

At first glance, the audacious language and stylized presentation of Kenji Siratori’s Blood Electric defy description. Disembodied sentences float in a disembodied tense as we sift through the code configurations of the ADAM doll as it comes into self-awareness. Siratoi’s narrative form emulates the content of the story: a "surprise ending" reveals to us that ADAM Doll’s self-awareness cannot help but leap back to the beginning of the code, suggesting that self-awareness is the awareness of the code. Repeat. Reload.

The cover of the book features a subtitle-esque blurb claiming that Blood Electric is "the new Japanese cyberpunk classic." Already we’re into a terrible paradox, even before the pre-lapserian trials of ADAM Doll have begun. What does it mean for a book to be new and a classic at the same time? I think I have the answer.

Blood Electric is a Northrop Frye wet dream despite its cyberpunk claims. You’ve got your wasteland, your evil tower, your knight in shining armor (who must die – or in this case, suffer eternal repetition of the life-death cycle), and of course the beautiful computer-maiden who dearly loves him. Regeneration through the violence, prolepsis and analepsis filtered through Edenic gardens, sterile biological points of entry into the cranium of the hero’s head. Even this last penchant for penetrating the male hero, featured so prominently in Gibson’s (also classic) fiction, as well as the recent Matrix films (definitely classic), takes its cue from crucifix imagery, and whatever fertility ritual may have inspired that. In fact, the word "crucified" appears so many times in the novel, one gets the sensation of an old record abrasively skipping in the back of their head.

In short, Siratori skips his scintillating cyber-sentences safely within the confines of a well-established genre. His use of language clearly expresses the desire to escape, but continually refers back to the cyborg manifesto:

The sky of NIHIL – soul-machine fracture assassin:::the ADAM Doll of the end of fracture – 8 seconds for her sex machine – crucified memory of the cruel body of the machinative angel – it disunites from the suicide machine of the god that goes mad/The horizon of the chromosome is dustNiverna:swastikas of blood in neural meltdown/ (75)

But even this internal wish to "disunite from the suicide machine of the god that goes mad" is characteristic of most genres, which admit radical new aspects, if only glacially. I admire Siratori’s poetics, but cannot pretend not to notice the plot, which reads like an epitaph.

a.e.m. is fiction reviews editor at TDR.







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