Literature Annotations


Abe, Kobo
Inter Ice Age 4


Genre Novel (228 pp.)
KeywordsCatastrophe, Genetic Engineering, Human Worth, Individuality, Medical Ethics, Science, Science Fiction, Society
Summary

The prelude describes a tidal wave approaching Japan. The story is a first-person narrative by Professor Katsumi, inventor of a self-programming computer which can predict the future. Katsumi and his assistant, Tanamogi, plan to predict the future of a private, individual destiny. They choose a subject from the street and follow him. The next day's paper announces his murder.

To solve the case and forestall suspicion, Katsumi downloads the contents of the man's brain, reconstructs his existence, and questions him/it. The victim did not see his murderer, but he tells the team his mistress had sold her aborted foetus for 7000 yen. Then the mistress is murdered. Katsumi's wife has a forced abortion and receives 7000 yen. Katsumi suspects an organization. His assistant Tanamogi volunteers the name of an organization experimenting with extra-utero development of foetuses, and arranges for Katsumi to visit their lab. Gradually Katsumi learns of a vast conspiracy to create an underwater nation, complete with genetically altered water-oxygenating humans and animals, bred in anticipation of the predicted destruction of Japan by a tidal wave.

CommentaryNeurology and genetics enhanced by computer science create the probability of securing the next stage of the future of human planetary existence by adaptation to an aquatic existence. In Abe's vision, this security is achieved by subsuming private destiny to corporate destiny. An implication is that already powerful groups are forming to bind medical and other scientific research to the political ends that will control the society of the future. It is predictable that individual freedom, a concept appropriate perhaps only in brief gaps in geological time (referred to by the title), is becoming inappropriate and may not persist in our future. There is a cruelty inherent in forced changes. There is cruelty in the acts of individuals who steer things in the direction of change. This cruelty is generic. In the postscript Abe writes: " . . . I shall have fulfilled one of the purposes of this novel if I have been able to make the reader confront the cruelty of the future . . . . "
PublisherKnopf
Edition1970
Place PublishedNew York
Annotated by Fefferman, Stanley
Date of Entry 09/13/95
Last Revised 03/05/98