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After the Long Goodbye by Masaki Yamada

After the Long Goodbye (2004)

by Masaki Yamada

Other authors: Keita Saeki (Illustrator), Daigo Shinma (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ghost in the Shell (prose novel)

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825147,013 (3.94)1

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Set up as sort of a prequel to the film, the book is one part philosophical musing, one part cyberpunk, one part detective story but at its heart the story is about a lost dog. The dogs owner Batou, who is a cyborg thinks that his dog left him after his electronic brain was reformatted because he is incapable of feeling and lacks any form of humanity. It might sound silly that this is a lost dog story but the author does a good job of using it as a vehicle to explore other themes such as: what are emotions and how do he know they are real, as humans augment themselves with technology do they lose their soul, what is a soul, and in a world where things can be easily faked what is reality. Another consent that is explored is that of Innocence. Humans in this philosophical musing (or at least how I viewed it) are not innocent we fluctuate are violent and greedy, we have desires and are selfish but can do acts of kindness or acts of cruelty. So we create things in this case androids who are not cluttered by human weaknesses and can remain "innocent." yet the more we try to attain this, the more we make them human, which scares us as we ourselves are constantly becoming less human. Or we put our energy into caring for pet who are also not tainted by being human and this innocent. I'm probably not doing the concept justice as it is kind of hard to wrap your head around but is thought provoking to say the least. The author throws in some action to break up the philosophy and by the end has come full circle with Batou finding his answer. Overall it was an interesting read although some of the philosophy might have you rereading passages. I'd say give it a shot as you can read it without much prior knowledge of Ghost in the Shell and I recommend watching the movie Innocence as it explores a lot of the same issues. Furthermore if you like cyberpunk themes you will feel right at home here. ( )
  bakabaka84 | Feb 7, 2013 |
I initially bought this book because a good friend of mine told me that it was the best book she had ever read. I don't personally think I'd go that far, but for a tie-in novel, it's really very good; I also haven't seen what it ties in to (Ghost in the Shell 2), and I don't think I really missed anything. There's enough context as to who everything is that you can figure everything out.

The story works on a couple of levels: you have a cyborg, Batou, looking for his lost basset hound, and encountering a variety of cyberterrorists along the way, but you also have Batou looking for what it means to have a soul in a world where people have become less human in many ways, and non-human things, such as dolls or robots or dogs, have become more human. The latter is really the main thrust of the book, and it's very well-presented, with a variety of characters presenting different standpoints to look at the question from.

I enjoyed the philosophy parts of it rather more than the action parts, though. The conversations are better and easier to follow, whereas the fights weren't as good; I wasn't really as invested in that part of the storyline, anyway. The style of the writing is pretty good; it's got a noirish feel for a lot of it, and the short paragraphs lend themselves surprisingly well to philosophical introspection.

The only faults I can lay here are that the action fell flat with me, and that I'd have liked to hear more about Batou beyond the soul-searching, but the latter I can see would have been against the point of the story. If you're of a cyberpunky, noir bent, this is a nice, short novel to try. ( )
  Capfox | Sep 28, 2008 |
Somewhere online, I read a review that described 'After the Last Goodbye' (written as a prequel to the Japanese animated movie 'Ghost In the Shell: Innocence') as being a slow burning jazz song infused with an extended action sequence. And that’s exactly what this story is.

This story is essentially three different stories. On one hand, it's an action thriller with yakuza, armored car chase scenes and explosions. On the other hand, it's an existential story of a cyborg and his own personal levels of humanity. As a third story-- one can say it's just a simple story of a man searching for his dog.

Some people have compared this story to Bladerunner and Do Sleeping Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep. I would say: Certainly! This is, after all a cyberpunk novel. However, Masaki Yamada manages to give a sense of hopeful humanity that I often find missing in the nihilistic, painful and almost anarchist dystopias that one often finds cyberpunk worlds to be. Because the story is told from an adult outsider's point of view, this story gives an interesting angle to the old questions of what it's like to have friends, to want to live, to want to have some sort of meaningful interaction with other humans. It asks the rather melancholy questions of, "How can one be certain that one is feeling something? Do my emotions and dreams become less and less legitimate the more hardware I add to my body and brain? Where is the legitimate emotion? The heart or the brain? Can I even be counted as human any longer?" These questions are even more poignant because the man was once completely human and has very legitimate reasons to ask these questions.

Despite the two typos I spotted, which is unfortunate and the editor's fault not the translator's; the translation is strong. It flows nicely and smoothly, without any sense of questionable synonym choice that sometimes appears in translated works. The prose is dreamy at times, melancholy, easily transitioning to something more coolly analytical and robotic. Other times, the voice is mildly sarcastic and amusingly self-aware. The main character knows he's big and scary, and his observations of people's reactions and his own attempts to mitigate his big scariness is fun to read.

I bought the hardcover version of this book on impulse, drawn by the texture of the matte cover, and the wonderful size that fit snuggly in my hand. As I read, I kept saying to myself, "Wow, this is good." It turns out that writer is famous in Japan and winner of multiple awards in science fiction. Go figure. I have to say that I hope more of his books become available in English, because I am very much interested in reading them. This prequel to the latest Ghost in the Shell movie manages to do, textually, what the movie did visually. It fully compliments the movie conceptually. Where the movie failed in its script, Yamada picks up and runs with it in a far more effective manner. I have to say this book is an improvement to the themes and concepts that are presented in the movie and currently one of my favorite novels. ( )
2 vote teawithducks | Dec 1, 2007 |
The thing I like about the Ghost in the Shell series (and all of the related media) is that they are stupid-good at characterization and maintaining already established character choices. This book is probably one of the best examples of that. It follows Batou's emotional evolution between the two GitS movies and solidifies just how lost and messed up the boy is. Just. Perfect. ( )
  familyarchives | Aug 13, 2006 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Masaki Yamadaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Saeki, KeitaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shinma, DaigoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Horn, Carl GustavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oniki, YujiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oshii, MamoruAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All I have is my dog Gabriel.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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