“Maneki Neko” is a 1998 science fiction short story by Bruce Sterling. It is about a Japanese couple who are part of a huge online network of resources… a network which isn’t always the most pleasant!
Ah, I have some great readers of this web site… like you! And from time to time one of these good people will point out a story which turns out to be excellent – like this Locus Poll award winning story. Thanks Daniel – you have won the appreciation of all of us (which may not be worth much, but it is something… right?).
Tsuyoshi has a pretty good life – he has a great wife who is expecting their first child, he works for himself doing media conversions, and has random acts of kindness performed for him from complete strangers! That’s nice, isn’t it? Except that it isn’t completely free. Tsuyoshi and his wife belong to a very large network of people and machines who watch out for each other. So while he may receive something nice and useful once in a while, he also has to give back to the community by following the instructions from his small electronic device: the pokkecon. Normally this is great and makes the world a little bit of a better place for everyone, but when Tsuyoshi delivers a small package to a hotel for his wife he suddenly learns of a whole other side to the network – a side which isn’t quite so nice and fun! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!
My Two Cents
- Story: – I loved the idea of the network and how it worked so well most of the time! This was a great story but I felt that the ending was a bit forced, so minus 1 star for that.
- Writing: – I enjoyed the writing style and the choice of words, but I have had a year of Japanese language classes and have been to Japan twice. The author uses several Japanese ideas to help his story move along, so if you are not familiar with them then you may not like this story as much as I did.
- Fun Factor: – A very fun read, especially considering that it was written 15 years ago! Short, easy to read and a great story all packed into one!
Where To Find Maneki Neko
- This short story first appeared in the May 1998 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
- You can read “Maneki Neko” online for free at the ScottWiki web site.
- It is also included in the wonderful anthology Lightspeed: Year One.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you enjoyed “Maneki Neko” then you might like The Exterminator’s Want-Ad also by Bruce Sterling. It is the story of a conservative yet outcast bug man in a liberal ruled future.