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Bookworm In Your Ear: Comfort And Immortality

The ‘comfort’ here is highly deceptive, as Bracht’s story deals with comfort women and how the issue is still very much alive to this day; while Bing’s novel is a cautionary exploration of how the very rich can exploit science and technology.
 


White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht 

At a time when women empowerment and sexual coercion is on everyone’s lips, it may seem either especially appropriate, or dated, to come out with a novel about comfort women in the 1940’s. Set in Jeju Island off South Korea, the story is a two strand narrative - one following the elder sister who is abducted by a Japanese troops and sent to Manchuria to service their soldiers at the front; while the second follows the younger sister in 2011, still searching for her sister, and only now coming to grips with the shame, grief, and emotions attached to the tragedy. The younger sister has two children of her own, and it’s telling to read about how the fate of the elder sister was never revealed to this next generation. And it’s this resonance today that makes this such a gripping read.

 

Immortal Life by Stanley Bing

Intriguing premise of this novel is to imagine a future world where all the great techie pioneers of the last two decades are holding on to life, thanks to advances in science and technology, even if already hitting 120 years of age and more. Enter maverick Arthur Vogel, trillionaire many times over, and holding the key to the science of finding a host body where all your consciousness can be transferred to, in order to gift oneself with a new ‘young’ body. When vestiges of the personality of the original entity seem to still be present, were left with intriguing plot developments. What’s really entertaining here is how Bing mixes the science and technology, with ruthless corporate politics, the culture of the super rich and entitled, and introduces an off the map counter culture of anti-techies.