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Hard-Boiled Wonderland / End of the World
Author Jack Sand  
Date January 8, 2002  

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is really two separate narratives: Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World are two seperate stories, told in alternate chapters of this delightful novel.


The first story, Hard Boiled Wonderland, is a sort of detective story set in a technomagically realistic Tokyo somewhere in the vicinity of the present. This story follows a man working for The System: a pseudogovernmental organization dedicated to the keeping of certain information secret. This man is, essentially, a human encryption device. Simply put, he encodes data using the structure of his brain as a sortof encoding key. This character gets assigned to a particularly interesting encryption job where he must use special advanced (and prohibited) techniques which make use of his subconscious mind. This job, however, embroils him in a strange world of intrigue on levels he never imagined both figuratively and literally.

The second story, The End of the World, involves a man who arrives in a walled village from which he cannot leave who finds that he has no memory of his life prior to arrival. This man is given a job and begins to settle into and discover the world around him, which feels something like a combination of The Village from The Prisoner and the barren islands of Myst. His shadow pulls at him to attempt escape as he becomes ever more interested in this curious place that he now calls home and the people, and dreams, that inhabit it.


This novel is, at surface, simply an enjoyable and fantastic read, something which I would have heartily enjoyed even in Middle School. And yet the novel becomes in certain respects a deep look at issues of identity and the nature of the Human Mind through the lives of the two main characters. The characters must make choices and take part in events that have effects not only on the world around them but on the function and existance of their own egos. A book which operates on many levels, I heartily recommend it.