Fudoki

Fudoki Enter The World Of Kagaya Hime, A Sometime Woman Warrior, Occasional Philosopher, And Reluctant Confidante To Noblemen Who May Or May Not Be A Figment Of The Imagination Of An Aging Empress Who Is Embarking On The Last Journey Of Her Life, Setting Aside The Trappings Of Court Life And Reminiscing On The Paths That Lead Her To DeathFor She Is A Being Who Started Her Journey On The Kami, The Spirit Road, As A Humble Tortoiseshell Feline Her Family Was Destroyed By A Fire That Decimated Most Of The Imperial City, And This Loss Renders Her Taleless, The Only One Left Alive To Pass On Such Stories As The Cat Born The Year The Star Fell, The Cat With A Litter Of Ten, And The Fire Tailed Cat Without Her Fudoki Self And Soul And Home And Shrine She Alone Cannot Keep The Power Of Her Clan Together And She Cannot Join Another Fudoki, Because Although She Might Be Able To Win A Place Within Another Clan, To Do So Would Mean That She Would Cease To Be HerselfSo A Small Cat Begins An Extraordinary Journey Along The Way She Will Attract The Attention Of Old And Ancient Powers Gods Who Are Curious About This Creature Newly Come To Japan S Shores, And Who Choose To Give The Tortoiseshell A Human Shape

Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy She has worked extensively in publishing managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, project manager working on the Microsoft Reader, and managing editor of Real Networks She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a fina

★ Fudoki PDF / Epub ✪ Author Kij Johnson – 502udns.info
  • Paperback
  • 316 pages
  • Fudoki
  • Kij Johnson
  • English
  • 07 July 2019
  • 9780765303912

10 thoughts on “Fudoki

  1. says:

    How have so few people read this book I will have to pimp it all over Goodreads now because Fudoki is simply lovely.This book is two stories rolled into one In 12th century Japan, Harueme, an elderly princess, sits down to write a story that s just itching to get out of a cat who s turned into a woman and a warrior and has the adventures Harueme never had Harueme s memoirs intertwine with the story of the cat, without real boundaries between the two This might be best described as historical fiction, since the fantasy elements are all in the cat s tale and the cat probably doesn t exist, but there s enough ambiguity that it works well as historical fantasy too.This was an unusual reading experience for me I initially read the first few pages, decided it wasn t the thing for me at the moment, and set it aside, but then found myself thinking about it And that s the way this book works There s nothing flashy or in your face about it it draws you in subtly, plays on your emotions without your realizing it, and you slowly come to realize just how good it is I m used to reading books through in a mad rush these days, but this is one that demands you slow down and read a little bit at a time Calming is a good way to describe it.The stories of both the princess and the cat are compelling, and the character development is quite good, especially with Harueme the cat woman is simpler, as cats are, and even in human form her personality resembles that of a cat Harueme lives in a world of women, and her relationship with her attendant and best friend, Shigeko, is well done The writing is also good, and genuinely reads like the voice of an older woman who s learned a lot about life rather than a younger author trying to sound wise and being trite instead To quote an example that encapsulates Harueme s outlook on life, and made me smile background her uncle and cousin are upset about her rejection of a suitor I knew they could not see me well through the screens, so I learned to slip a small notebook into my sleeve, to have something to read during these visits if they had nothing useful to say, I saw little reason to attend carefully I actually read all the way through the Diamond Sutra in this fashion, which I am sure did for my soul than any remorse they might have hoped to engender Not flashy, but full of thought and humanity And it also brings me to my last point, which is the setting Johnson isn t Japanese, but you might not realize from the text the book is clearly well researched but the details stay in the background, subtly fleshing it out as needed The setting feels three dimensional, and never exoticized The mythology is interesting and fits very well into the story I knew I was hooked from the moment the cat encounters a dead woman s ghost trying to shake her body into wakefulness.I m not quite prepared to give 5 stars maybe I need a little flash, the kind of book that will bowl you over but I am prepared to say that Fudoki is excellent This is exactly the sort of thing I like historical fantasy with a non western setting, focusing on women and their relationships, and with cats but I think it will appeal to a wider audience too Now on to Johnson s other book.

  2. says:

    Cats are too fierce for gods they came godless from Korea many tens of years ago, and they worship no one This is good, for they are free in ways men are not but this is bad, because they are utterly alone in the world Fudoki is the story of a cat, told by a princess trapped in her rooms by old age, tradition and ill health But like any great story, it is much than the surface detail It is about freedom and courage, love and friendship, conflict and poetry Set in 11th Century Japan, at the height of the Heian period that was famous for the rigid formalities of court life, for the rise of the military caste, for the writing of classic monogatari epics, for the rise of Buddhist and Chinese influence on the Japanese culture All of these historical facts are masterfully captured in the pages of Kij Johnson novel, combined with subtle fantasy elements, also typical of Japanese tales ghosts, animal spirits, kami deities they are everywhere, in everything from a family s shrine to a dying cycad palm on a beach in distant Satsuma province and their voices are everywhere, all chattering or twittering or intoning at once .The term fudoki is used to describe self and soul and home and shrine, all in one to a cat , continuity and tradition and identity through stories When a feral cat living in an abandoned residence sees her world destroyed in an earthquake and the subsequent firestorm, she loses her fudoki and is cast adrift on an epic journey that will gain her the title Kagaya hime, the Cat Who Traveled a Thousand Miles.The tale of Kagaya hime is put down on paper as a journal of the last days in the life of Imperial Princess Harueme Born under a thousand thousand rules, the princess finds solace and escape from her monotonous, cloistered existence in imagining the adventures of the little tortoiseshell cat.The two stories weave around one another, giving meaning and purpose to each other, princess and cat becoming kindred spirits, sisters in arms, dream and reality walking side by side As Princess Harueme recalls the loves and friendships that made her life endurable, so Kagaya hime learns to abandon her loneliness, her isolation and to relate to the people, animals, and kami that are part of her story.If you are looking for an action packed, edge of the seat thriller, this book most probably will not qualify It is a poetic meditation, often infused with sadness, mostly contemplative and passive observation of the world Both main actors are outsiders Harueme is often forced to look at the world and converse with people from behind a privacy saving curtain, her every gesture and word subject to rules and interdictions Kagaye hime is isolated by her predatory instincts, her orphaned status and her fiercely protected independence The prose of Kij Johnson is a joy to behold, feelings and moods often reflected in nature s shifting landscapes, in the play of rain and wind and moonlight on formal gardens or majestic vistas The depth of the research is impressive, detailing the aristocratic dance of the Heian nobility, the frankly very liberal courtship traditions of the period where the women often had the liberty of inviting a favorite into her private chamber, regardless of marriage status , the cultural and social interactions Young men and women together in the moonlight breed poetry as oak trees breed mushrooms .War has a special place in the story Although the exclusive province of men, women experience it either remotely through the scars left on their brothers and lovers or directly when their house stands in the way of war bands The research is again exhaustive the armour, the weapons, the strategies, the economic implications, the extreme cruelty, and the ultimate pointlessness of the exercise, they are all part of the journey of Kagaya hime Well, Takase said, his tone measured, as if he were about to comment on an arrangement of irises We will kill them They will kill us But it will be done Go on, then this is one of the most chilling and succint discourses from a general before the battle I have ever read.Religion is another aspect explored in the text, beside court manners and warfare Harueme grows up in the animist tradition of old Japan Is not everything filled with kami, every stick and rock and leaf Perhaps I have been the first to recognize and worship this kami, but that did not mean it had not been there, lonely and hungry for attention, like a bored little girl Now, so many decades later that I do not choose to count them up, I think there may be another truth to this that the rock was worthy of worship because it had been worshiped that every shrine in the world began as mine did, with someone s longing for something greater than herself Kagaya hime is herself led and transformed by kami spirits, wild and unpredictable, probably benevolent, just as likely indifferent to her fate Animals, as higher life forms than rocks and twigs, share both language and social institutions with humans, not so much different here than in the fables of Aesop and La Fontaine Some references to events and characters from the previous Kij Johnson novel The Fox Woman are present here, but the two stories are largely self contained and can be read independently.If I were to draw a conclusion to the novel, it would be about the importance of stories in defining our fudoki , of revealing who we are and what our place in the world is Tales and memories, however inaccurate, are all we have The things I have owned, the people I have loved these are all just ink in notebooks that my mind stores in trunks and takes out when it is bored or lonely It is in the recording of things, in our memories if nowhere else, that makes them real

  3. says:

    This was really great At its core it s about isolation and loneliness and eventually making a home for oneself It has a dual narrative Harueme is an elderly dying princess writing the tale of Kagaya hime, a cat turned human with no family, no home, and no fudoki As Kagaya hime embarks on a journey to forget the pain and loss in her past, Harueme begins to reflect upon her life and pass judgments on what truly mattered over the years This book talks a lot about grief and mortality, which I really enjoyed, and came to some profound conclusions that were said in an offhand, humble manner I loved the landscapes Johnson paints, especially the winter scenes There were some bits having to do with warfare that didn t interest me as much, but I wasn t bogged down by it, either I ll be reading everything that Kij Johnson writes in the future

  4. says:

    I picked this book up as it counted for the challenge of reading a book which focuses on a PoC character, and this one follows a Japanese cat woman, Kagaya hime, and a Japanese Princess, Harueme We follow the story of two lives, the first is our Princess, Harueme, who is now in her late seventies and is reminiscing about her life and the things she misses or enjoyed We get to follow her tale through her notebooks as she writes in her old age to tell her life story.We also follow through Harueme s notebooks, the story of Kagaya hime A young cat woman who is lost after the rest of her family are killed in a fire, and so she transforms into a woman and yet retains much of her cat soul in the transformation She doesn t really understand the ways of humans, and we follow her as she tries to understand them and learn from them Overall, this is a solidly interesting story with a lot of reference to the Japanese culture and the influences are told beautifully throughout I really enjoyed experiencing the life of the princess Harueme and seeing how she was an older character in a fantasy book was really refreshing too.The Japanese elements come largely from folklore of Japan and we see Gods and spirit animals on the stage of the story too I really found that there was a lot to learn and love about these tales and the Fudoki was something vitally important to the cats of this book.I also think Kij Johnson did a really good job of personifying the cat at times and making her seem realistic but fun and lazy all at once, just as a cat should be I ended up giving it a 2.5 s as it was fun, but some sections were a bit slower paced than I would have liked and there was a fair amount of battle fighting in the latter half too.

  5. says:

    The story of a cat who became a woman, in Heian Japan, around 1129 AD The novel is related to her first novel, The Fox Woman , set in the same era, and there are a couple of related characters in this book The novel is also related to The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles which you may want to read first to get a feel for the setting.The cat woman is presented as a story within a story, as told by a contemporary princess who, in story now, is dying of cancer, reminiscing about her long life at the Imperial Court, and setting her affairs in order This device works pretty well, but gets confusing about halfway in, when the Princess seems to become unmoored in time.The cat woman becomes involved in a small provincial war, no less nasty for being small The author has done her homework, and the level of historic detail in the book is remarkable But I could have done without the graphic scenes of villagers being burnt out of their homes, and shot if they tried to escape the flames The war ends, and both stories come to sweet endings, which it wouldn t be fair to reveal So this one is a keeper 3.5 stars and reread worthy, though next time I ll skip the gore The cover art, by Michael Dringenberg, is exceptionally fine.

  6. says:

    A blank notebook demands words Which words I wonder p.16Princess Harueme is nearing the end of her life The pain and heaviness in her chest is undeniable She is saying farewell to her friends and servants, preparing to leave her great grandnephew the Emperor s court and become a nun for the brief time she has remaining This is during the Daiji era 1129 C.E , not very long after cats first came to the Eight Islands of what we now call Japan Among her accumulated trunks and boxes, Harueme finds a number of beautiful blank notebooks, each demanding words and so she grinds some good black ink, picks up her favorite wolf s fur brush, and begins to write the tale which becomes Kij Johnson s 2003 novel Fudoki.No, fudoki is not some new number puzzle game Google Translate tells me, without apparent irony, that its English translation is feng shui which I m willing to believe is technically accurate, but the way Kij Johnson uses it here, the word means something like oral genealogy the proper arrangement of matrilineal biographies, stretching back for generations of lives.Feline lives, that is The tortoiseshell s fudoki was many cats long, and she knew them all The Cat with a Litter of Ten, The Cat Born the Year the Star Fell, the Fire Tailed Cat p.18Fudoki feels its way slowly and carefully, building up its utterly convincing milieu from many small, perfectly placed details Its fantasy elements become apparent only slowly the first few chapters are straight historical fiction, however exotic the setting.Most monogatari tales are about what their authors already know life as a court noblewoman, the mannered round of exchanged poems and misunderstood intentions I am intimately familiar with this world I was born for it, and have lived at court for fifty years And here, where I tell the tale of the cat who became a woman, I confess frankly that much of my life bored me senseless p.65And yet, Fudoki contains drama as well Earthquakes and fires, long journeys and fierce battles, figure into Princess Harueme s tale quite as much as quiet contemplation This brings well, something that seems like wisdom, at least to my aging yet somehow still na ve eyesWhat man, what lost love or deceased kinsman is worth death The space in my life that my half brother once filled is now an aching icy pain, like the hole left after a tooth is pulled, and I am dying in weeks or months and yet I still fight for life, as every mouse does, until the final beak blow The grace in tragedy is not to succumb, but to fight on pp.87 88After all, doesn t every writer of fiction except perhaps George R.R Martin eventually decide to stop enough to say I cannot inflict any cruelty upon my characters, my own creations And yet it appears that the author of us all experiences no such compunctions, no such hold upon his mighty penFudoki is rich throughout with realizations like these.Proverbs it is easy to ignore a cat when she is not of a mind to remind you of her existence, though otherwise it is impossible p.160Similes and metaphors both apt and concise My woman Shigeko came to me as suddenly as a sneeze p.173And things the young should never have to come to know so soon I find that insights grow frequent as I have less time to take advantage of them p.242Although Kij Johnson herself is from the far off prefecture of Iowa, and as of this writing lives in an even exotic locale called Kansas, Fudoki itself always felt intensely real to me deeply researched and consistently voiced, as authentic and respectful as a gaijin s account could be.If a comet is without meaning, it seems possible that a woman is likewise so and I do not wish to think this of myself p.43Princess Harueme needn t have worried, and neither should Johnson comets do not have such wishes, something which of itself ascribes meaning.After I had enjoyed Kij Johnson s recent The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe so much, I was already primed to reach out for of her work so Peter T s endorsement came to me at a very auspicious time Fudoki was an amazing find, worth every second of the time I spent finding and reading it.

  7. says:

    First, I have to say, that jacket description is riddled with so many small inaccuracies about this story that I was tempted not to include it They aren t fundamentally important inaccuracies though it is very important to realize that the she referred to at the start of the second paragraph is Kagaya hime, not the aging empress who isn t an empress at all but it bugs me now that I ve read the story to see how wrong it is Ah well, moving on.This is a wonderful book, sure to appeal to fans of Patricia McKillip and Catherynne Valente, though it s accessible than either of their work It s very much rooted in the myths of Japan, and while I don t know a ton about the time period, nothing of what I do know was contradicted by what Johnson wrote, so I am assuming that she captured the era Heian era Japan I believe with some degree of accuracy Like in McKillip and Valente s work, this is not fantasy that lovingly details a set of rules for its magic system it is fantasy where there are gods and there are humans and there are animals and the lines between these things are not sharp at all, where anything can happen and no one is much surprised when anything does Logic plays a role, but it s dream logic, and the worst error to commit is in assuming that any other being s motivations match our own.But what made this book brilliant and caused it to be nominated for the James Tiptree, Jr Award is the way in which it is fundamentally a womens fantasy The fudoki of the cats is entirely female there is no place for males, and none of the fudoki cares to even know the names of the toms that fathered their kittens Harueme this would be the aging noblewoman narrating Kagaya hime s tale, half sister to the former Emperor Shirakawa also lives in an almost entirely female world, where women have husbands and lovers but their days are spent hidden from male sight and even the seductions take place with an eye to maintaining the illusion that no man can see their faces Harueme loved her half brother, and reminisces about her soldier lover Domei, but the most important relationship she has is with her attendant, Shigeko The novel even acknowledges that women menstruate I m pretty sure I can count on one hand the SF F novels that do that and there are elaborate historically based, I assume codes of conduct built around that simple fact of life It s a novel about women s issues family and home and place in a society when all of those things are rigidly proscribed.It works on a pure fantasy level too, with the cat transformed into a human element and the presence of the kami which are a whole class of gods, not the name of a specific god as the jacket implies and even a small war of revenge that leads to a seige and I m pretty sure it works as historical fiction, though as I ve said I don t know very much about the time period so I can t attest to its accuracy But it will linger in my memory because it shows a slice of life fantasy novels too often forget, not with any particular message, but just because these are stories that rarely get told I wish there were novels like this.

  8. says:

    I cannot remember who it was who recommended this novel to me, so I will just have to thank the happy serendipity which caused my eye to fall upon it while I was pottering around in the Forbidden Planet in London, and made me pick it up The prose is a delight vivid and subtle and precise full of insights which are sharp without ever being overstated Johnson also manages to interweave the two main strands of the story incredibly well of Princess Harueme, old and slowly dying, and of the cat turned woman, Kagaya hime They are never made truly distinct from one another, flowing from Harueme s story to Kagaya hime s and back again In the hands of a lesser writer, such a story telling device would be confusing, but Johnson makes it work incredibly well for her This is apparently the successor to a previous novel, which is definitely going on my to look for list.

  9. says:

    Fudoki is an entrancing fantasy set in medieval Japan Johnson skillfully interweaves the reminiscences of an aging princess with the tale the princess is writing of a woman turned into a cat, who may or may not exist outside the princess s imagination The language is exquisitely precise, with never a wasted word, and the portrayal of medieval Japan brilliantly vivid.

  10. says:

    This is an extraordinarily beautiful book, written in clear, sweet, lyrical prose that I found so calming, I could only read it before bed A bizarre quirk of mine, perhaps But I tried to read this over breakfast one morning, and found my thoughts racing ahead to anticipate the day completely unsuited to the gracefulness of the prose, and so I made it a bedtime only read There are two stories in this book that of the elderly Princess Harueme, and that of Kagaya hime, a cat who takes on a woman s shape for reasons that she does not understand In the beginning the tales are separate Harueme writes Kagaya hime s tale to occupy her as she prepares to leave the Emeperor s palace and go into a convent to die but somewhere along the way they begin to weave together The blurring of boundaries between the two women s tales is masterfully done, and not every segue is apparent until you re deeply inside the thoughts and feelings of the opposite woman to the one with whom you began We and I become loaded terms that pull you, as the reader, into the text as well the book itself loses its boundaries, and the tale becomes a living thing that encompasses all female experience.That said, the subject matter is not dainty, or sheltered, or female by the measure of any particular trope Princess Harueme loves beetles and mice, loved to draw the wings of birds as a child, has read as much about war as she can lay her hands on Kagaya hime travels long distances, defends herself when attacked, hunts and comforts and fights, on her own and with others Between the two tales we see the measure of a woman as defined by convention, and the measure of a woman defined by herself.And the ending oh, the ending is exquisite, and I put down the book and just smiled happily into empty space when I was done Such a lovely, lovely book.

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