Ohayo, Mr. Blue Sky-san

The cold, mostly dry winter is now here on the Pacific (eastern) coast of Japan. Well, at least it is on the crowded part known as the Kanto plain, the part where Tokyo and Yokohama struggle to contain their urban sprawl.

Coming from an often cloudy and damp N. Ireland at this time of year, I’ve grown to love the Tokyo winter sunshine. Tokyo’s at latitude 35°N (about the same as Casablanca in Morocco, I think) and I always find the sun to be full of light and heat here in comparison to how it looks back in Belfast.

In addition, we get very little snow in Tokyo as the Japan Alps act as a buffer from all the snow dumped on western Japan via bone chilling air from China and Korea.

And that’s Tokyo Tower in the photo. (2020-03 update: Missing photo!)

Yes, it does look very similar to some other famous edifice located in Paris, France, I believe!

The surrounding buildings are expensive apartments designed mainly for well-heeled residents or visiting expatriates.

Alas, no, I do not yet reside in this fine abode.

Maybe one day, if my books do an Andy Weir and catapult me to science fiction stardom, I might settle down here.

In the meantime, I can but dream.

Not Quite Blue Sky

My summer visit to N. Ireland went well and it was good to catch up with family. I also got to meet local SFF author Jo Zebedee whose book, Inish Carraig, I recommend to fans of alien invasion sci-fi. The 12th century Norman castle shown below made a great backdrop for our coffee and chat.

(2020-03 update: Missing photo!)

One thing that struck me again was how important cars are to many people in Belfast. Much more convenient than buses.

And trains seem only to be an afterthought. Unlike in Tokyo, where my commute depends on their frequency and reliability.

Come to think of it, I’ve never driven in Japan in over two decades. It’s a different matter for people living out in the burbs and the countryside where cars are indeed a necessity for those who can afford to run them.

That trains occupy a special place in the minds of many Japanese people is something I’ve come to understand better. Whether it be the amazing bullet trains or some quaint local line where a cat appointed the honorary station master brings fans from far and wide, there remains much affection and enthusiasm for locomotives.

And so it was no surprise that a 2016 Korean zombie movie, Train to Busan set on a bullet train escaping a mysterious virus outbreak, became a hit in Japan too. We went to see it recently and I was surprised at how well the story flowed for me even with Korean dialogue and Japanese subtitles.

I was also impressed by the script’s clever use of the train and its different carriages as a metaphor for society’s class divisions.

A superb take too on the hero’s journey but with multiple heroes (in my opinion), great supporting characters (allies) and an ending that will haunt me for a while. If I ever get around to writing a dystopian (zombie) story based on a killer pandemic, this movie script will likely be one worthy of repeated study.

What I’m reading:

Over the 2017 summer I read Kage Baker’s In the Garden of Iden, a time-traveling story of flawed immortals doing the Company’s work throughout the centuries. The first in the Company series, I’m looking forward to reading more of the late Ms Baker’s work.

I also managed to get hold of a copy of James Gleick’s much touted exploration of time travel, called (what else) Time Travel. Only a chapter in and I’m hooked. More about this one in a future post.

I am now working though several fiction writing craft books and won’t bore you here with the details. The learning never ends.

My Book Progress:

I’ll be polite and just say that writing continues on this first book in a probable time travel trilogy.