Friday, May 14, 2010


After being accused of murdering her parents at the age of 14 and considered as certifiably insane due to her multiple personality disorder, computer scientist and overall genius Magata Shiki retired from the world and lives in her own little locked room in the Magata research facility on an isolated island. 2 doors separate her from the rest of the facility. The inner one can only be opened with her admission while the outer door can only be opened by the other facility members and she has not left her space for 15 years. When engineering assistant professor Saikawa Souhei and his student and his former professor's daughter Nishinosono Moe request a meeting with professor Magata in this threefold locked room, a corpse wearing a wedding dress advances out of the room and what is left in there is a computer displaying the incomprehensible message 'all becomes F'...

I knew it was a huge mistake to begin reading Mori's works with something else than this one... This did not gain so much praise and the 1st Mephisto Award for no reason. It certainly deserves it.

Mori uses the technical achievements of the time when he wrote this to make the locked room even more perfect but by limiting the possibilities so clearly he also reduces them to only one possible solution. This solution surely was totally unexpected and surprising for me and at first I thought 'Wait, isn't this kind of unfair?' but then again all those orthodox writers did not praise this work for no reason. Eventually I realized that certain hints existed and considering the technology in the facility obliterates anything but one in a sense rather obvious possibility, the solution for the trick was absolutely logical and fair.

Accordingly for this 'scientific mystery' genre Mori is credited for, the characters are having some interesting conversations about how technology and therefore humanity will develop in the future. Some stuff ends up fairly philosophic and reminded me of other SF-theories found in products from the 90s were the Internet was still new to the majority of humanity. Fitting for the locked room case, one of the main themes is that 'inside' and 'outside' and therefore also reality and society are in need of a redefining due to current circumstances.

Despite being the first voiume of a series spanning over 10 volumes with 3 other series being spawned somewhere in between, the characters are already depicted quite thoroughly and they were interesting enough for me to continue reading Mori's series. What I also found refreshing was that while Souhei seems to be associated with the role of the detective by the readers, Moe isn't just the dumb watsonian companion that's totally clueless and shocked by any deduction of the detective. She comprehends and comes up with a fair amount of the whole truth herself and Souhei mostly explains the technical details and puts everything into consistence. The not so huge intellectual difference between the characters made the dialogues more canny in my opinion since sometimes in other books you really just wait until the detective finally opens his mouth.

Considering this work gave birth to scientific mystery as it is known today, it is undoubtedly recommendable to any mystery fan. Not only did it refresh and maybe even revolutionize the orthodox mystery genre, it also laid the foundation for many Mephisto-related works that followed with its unexpected development at the end and the uncanny aftertaste it leaves behind for the reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment