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“Spherical Geomtery” by Ken Asamatsu

by nickmamatas

Haikasoru is, of course, your ultimate source for Japanese SF in translation, but we’re always happy to see others taking up the charge. I was tickled to read “Spherical Geometry” in the new anthology Cthulhu’s Reign. As the title suggests, the story isn’t actually about Cthulhu but instead riffs on “The Hounds of Tindalos” by Frank Belknap Long. “Hounds” is both a classic in that it introduced the fun and frightening concept of time-spanning monsters from another dimension that can enter any room with an angle—and it’s a piece of hackwork because the climax involves this sentence that was supposedly written down by a character as he died:

Smoke is pouring from the corners of the wall. Their tongues—ahhhh—

If only Long had been writing in the age of tape recorders or webcams!

Anyway, Asamatsu’s book uses the same monsters and gives it a wonderful Japanese spin. As one character explains, “The black magicians of the West treasured the pentacle because it held five angles. The mandalas of the East were round, curves without angles…The ancient Chinese knew the esoteric meaning of triangles, and so named the triangle formed by the triangle of Sirius the ‘Evil Stars’ for just that reason.”

Also, Asamatsu wisely observed that if the Earth were ever besieged by angle-traveling monsters, Tokyo’s City Hall would be in beeeeg trouble:

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Angular enough for ya?

It’s a cute story with a goofy ending, though not nearly as goofy as Long’s original. If you’re interested in J-horror, I’d recommend giving “Spherical Geometry” a look…if your eyes can stand it!

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