Organs without a Body: TOH ENJOE
April 6, 2015
This is the last of the short stories by author Toh EnJoe, envisioning the future of 2036. What will the optimized workplace of the future look like?
The big H painted on the deck came into view.
THE ISLANDS, viewed from the open helicopter door, appeared as a group of marine structures cabled together, almost like a spider's web or a half-drowned city of the twentieth century. Alongside a gray and old-fashioned navy ship, I could see a smaller boat floating, filled with fruit. Prefab facilities poked up from several larger ships like mushrooms sprouting from their decks.
"We also have plans for a version that doesn't need to take off and land," said the press agent who'd come to greet me. "Solar cells are more efficient once they’re above the cloud cover, after all. There's no need to be tethered to an aircraft. A blimp is another promising candidate. It's a high-altitude platform."
If you observe THE ISLANDS’ route for an extended period, you would notice that the structures making up this half-city float right up to the edges of the marine territories of Mexico and the US. This kind of structure arose naturally once the speed of work required by major corporations made national procedures for immigration and visas too cumbersome. If any particular country had too much paperwork for entry, it was often enough to gather in international waters. And, in turn, it was often enough to do the work on these platforms, instead of in those countries.
"The megafloat?" asked the security officer, who then looked around and pointed. "Over there. It has most types of vessels. It's now a bit like a museum. There's a lot of swapping in and out. There might be a big move in the works. Yes, naturally a fire would be quite scary. We wouldn't want a repeat of the Battle of Red Cliffs, that's for sure." She laughed oddly to herself.
Apparently, self-sufficiency was still a ways off. "It might well be different if we lived like the nuclear submariners of old."
On deck, a man who had been opening up a bar raised a glass of some unknown blue cocktail to show me. "Well, me, I've come from a country much more horrible than the inside of a submarine, so this place is heaven to me." My eyes had a faraway look to them. "Passport?" I asked the question again, rhetorically. "The application is still pending," he laughed. His face grew serious, and he said, "Some kids are born here, you know."
"Outer space?" asked the current administrator, captain of a decommissioned old-style aircraft carrier. "I can't say it won't happen. We're doing simulations for that right now." He cut himself off, as if remembering something. "Oh, the ones we contracted for data processing." He smiled. "They were still just elementary school students."
Born in Hokkaido in 1972. Debuted in 2006 with the sci-fi novel Self-Reference ENGINE. Won the Akutagawa Prize in 2012 with his story "Dōkeshi no chō" (“Harlequin's Butterfly”). That same year, won the Nihon SF Taisho Special Award for Shisha no Teikoku (Empire of Corpses) written jointly with late Project Itoh. In 2014, his debut novel won the Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation.
YKBXArt Director / Artist
Artist known in Japan and elsewhere for his image creations and illustrations. Recent work includes the Vocaloid opera The End, which received high praise following an international performance in November 2013.