A Medical Odyssey: Notes on Han Song Hospital

A Medical Odyssey: Notes on Han Song Hospital

It opens, like so many science fiction tales, with a mission to Mars. Han Tune’s Novel Hospital (translated by Michael Berry) begins in acquainted territory, with a crewed ship touring to discover the floor of Mars whilst its crew interact in philosophical conversations. Quickly issues take a weird flip, with the crew seeing issues on the floor of Mars that do not belong there: a chook that appears so much like a peacock, for instance, after which the ruins of a hospital. That is when the ship is attacked by these unattainable birds and is destroyed.

One would anticipate the start of the following chapter to select up from there, revealing the aftermath of that surreal and lethal go to. As a substitute, the narrative shifts from third to first individual, and the following sentence is that this:

“At any time when I went on a enterprise journey, I at all times tried to remain within the nicest motels allowed by my per diem.”

That is the primary indication that Hospital doesn’t go within the route the reader expects. Think about somebody taking a passage from certainly one of James SA Corey’s Expanse novels and juxtaposing it with an apocalyptic satire of contemporary life by JG Ballard. That is basically the impact that happens right here, as narrator Yang Wei describes falling unwell whereas on a piece journey to C Metropolis and arriving on the metropolis hospital. That this sickness resulted from ingesting a bottle of mineral water from his resort is the primary of many incongruous particulars that accompany Yang Wei’s hospitalization; it will not be the final.

Whereas within the hospital, Yang Wei learns that many hospital employees consider in an odd type of drugs often called “medical punk”, and that there’s a weird undercurrent. and authoritarian in a few of the medical dogmas that Yang Wei’s treating physicians undertake. . Or, as one character places it: “Due to the hospital and our medical doctors, we’re presently constructing a pure land; a good, simply and wholesome society. And for those who learn these phrases with skepticism, it appears completely intentional.

Whether or not or not medical doctors on the hospital are working in the most effective pursuits of their sufferers or whether or not they’re extra curious about conserving them there for additional remedy is a recurring query inside Hospital. Regularly, Yang Wei begins to doubt the character of his personal actuality and his causes for being in C Metropolis. “I underwent genetic reengineering, and even my reminiscences underwent a reconfiguration course of,” he muses.

Ultimately, our protagonist connects with one other affected person, Bai Dai. It focuses on the character of the medical doctors within the hospital and whether or not or not they will die. Slightly over midway by way of the novel, Yang Wei and Bai Dai are reunited in an intimate second; Nonetheless, Yang Wei’s ideas at the moment are very unsettling and recommend that he has psychological depths that the narrative has not but touched on. It’s a transgressive scene which, for me, referred to as into query the therapeutic nature of the hospital much more than the surrealism which had preceded it.

Issues get stranger from there, as Yang Wei begins speaking with a being that appears to have taken up residence inside his physique. It’s, as you might have guessed, a remarkably troublesome novel to summarize; grand philosophical pronouncements, dream logic, and relentless paranoia all play a major function within the novel.

Earlier than Hospital Involves its conclusion, the novel takes one other leap in philosophy, with its closing half together with many heady conversations between Yang Wei and its possessor. (That is additionally the primary guide in a trilogy; I can actually say that I do not know what Han Tune plans to go from right here.) There are few methods to explain Hospital. The shift from tales of planetary exploration to medical satire to musings on the character of actuality may be dizzying to digest, and the moments when Yang Wei shares his most disagreeable ideas are deeply unsettling.

It also needs to be talked about that HospitalThe satire of medication just isn’t his solely manifestation of social commentary. It accommodates critiques of each large-scale social transformations and efforts by Western governments to realize an ideological foothold in China. Some of the memorable passages, the truth is, finds Yang Wei questioning whether or not or not the US exists, or whether or not it was “created to scare us.” It is a maximalist novel, at the very least in an aesthetic sense, and it is a work that ventures into some actually surprising locations.

Hospital is revealed by Amazon Crossing.
Learn an excerpt right here.

coil thumbnailTobias Carroll is the editor of Volume 1 Brooklyn. He’s the creator of the gathering of brief tales transient (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and the novel Reel (Rare bird books).

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