Tuesday, July 17, 2012

iPads for the Dead

So, the NEWS OF THE WEIRD (by Chuck Shepherd) that gets included in each month's FUNNY TIMES collects together weird news from all over, ranging from the risible to the way out there. Perhaps the strangest of all are those which follow their own logic through to a surreal conclusion. Case in point: for years it's been the custom in China to burn paper money for the use of those who have passed on.* Sometimes other items are burned too -- the film MR. VAMPIRE III has a scene in which two friendly ghosts are given new outfits by their priest-partner burning some paper clothes for them.

But now the dead are getting wired, or so it seems. NEWS OF THE WEIRD** reports that recently paper iPads have become a popular items (selling in Hong Kong for about $3 apiece) to be offered up to the dead at the yearly Qingming (tomb-sweeping) festival. Does this mean the dead will soon be online? All sorts of story ideas there -- though to be fair SERIAL EXPERIMENT LAIN*** already touched on this a decade ago. Still, don't think a novel about e-mails from the dead can be far off; just hope it's given more of a fantasy than a horror treatment (e.g., along the lines of Terry Pratchett's JOHNNY & THE DEAD.

--John R.

*note that the theory is exactly the same as that followed by the pharaohic Egyptians, who buried items with the dead so that the departed cd use their spirit-analogues in the spirit-world.

**THE FUNNY TIMES, July 2012 issue, page 15, 1st column.

***the show opens with a girl jumping to her death from atop a building; a few scenes later, several of her schoolmates (including the title character, Lain) start getting emails from her. The most memorable: when asked what dying felt like, she writes it really hurts!

No comments: