G. Miki Hayden
Silver Lake Publishing / 184 pages / April 2002
Almost five years have passed since I gave a glowing review to Hayden’s Pacific Empire and a lot of things have changed in that time. The world is a very different place, though not in the same way as in Hayden’s Pacific books. International relations have shifted and even been forever sundered in some cases. People are more paranoid than ever. Rich corporations threaten to consume the masses while millions starve. And Hayden has become an even more mesmerising writer than before. Well, there had to be some positives come of it.
Oh, and some of the things in her alternate histories don’t seem nearly so far-fetched now. Actually, some of them look downright dreamy.
Don’t ask ill-used corporate operative Takashi; from his vantage point life could not get much worse. While he covers the globe, doing the dirty work the rich and powerful who control Moritomo his own situation goes from bad to worse to, just possibly, lethal. If he does manage to find an important scientist gone AWOL, will everything be back to normal, then? He’s just beginning to understand that “normal” bears no resemblance to the life he has been living.
Takashi’s descent through the levels of secrecy and society opens his eyes to a world below the highly regimented, Japanese-controlled, oligarchy of the corporation-states. Every move brings about revelations of life on Earth. What he comes face-to-face with may spur him to redeem the useless life and low-ranking niche he has most decorously clawed his way into, but only if he himself has layers of strength and integrity that even he is unaware of as the story begins.
Hayden’s lyrical voice coats every word with plausibility, painting this mad world and the characters within its clutches with hints of light and shadow more significant than all the colours in between. No one is exactly who Takashi or the reader assumes them to be. Nothing is remotely as it appears on the surface. Following Takashi’s search we realise that it is the layers hidden far beneath that remain true. It only takes the right angle, a quick brushing to remove the surface dust, to discover the only things worth fighting for.
If New Pacific’s Takashi lacks the depth and inner turmoil of Pacific Empire’s Shimazo, then it is important to realise that the two men live in separate times, in separate worlds. For a troubleshooter like Takashi, there is so little of the loyalty and commitment of a person for their native land; a native “company” is so easy to forget and so much less forgiving. Employee, not citizen, describes the people of this new world. And brings home the painful lesson of what loss of culture and history deprive every one of us of.
Mull that over for awhile, then go out and find a copy of Pacific Empire and start reading Hayden’s books from the beginning. Then, lighten up a bit and read By Reason of Insanity. See what true flexibility in an author means.