asiascape vistas

Techno-Culture, New Politics, and Philosophy in East Asia

Asiascape Vistas is a forum for discussion about the many and various dimensions of cyberculture found in or originating from East Asia. Its focus is on the interplay between these media and questions of politics & philosophy. Contributions are from the academic collective responsible for the core project, but other contributions will also be considered by that collective.
If you wish to contribute to Asiacape Vistas, please send an email using the form on the contact page.

China Mieville's turn-it-to-11 high weirdness reboot of "Dial H"

...something less Asiascape-esque but still fun.
(taken from

by Cory Doctorow, 23 April 

DC's "New 52" is a reboot of all its major superhero comics and several of its less-regarded ones. In the latter category is a silly Silver Age title called Dial H for Hero about a lad from Littleville, CO who can turn into a variety of randomly selected superheroes by dialing "H-E-R-O" on a weird telephone dial he found in a mystic cave.
cover of China Miéville's comic 'Dial H'

The reboot of "Dial H for Hero" is called simply "Dial H," and is written by none other than New Weird chieftain China Miéville, whose prodigious imagination and wicked sense of humor are on fine display in the first collection of Dial H: Dial H Vol. 1: Into You. Miéville doesn't apologize for the fundamental absurdity of the premise. Instead, he turns it up to 11. And then he turns it up to 12.

In Miéville's "Dial H," the hero is a morbidly obese ex-boxer in a ruined crime-town who discovers his dial attached to the town's last working payphone. By dialing it, he becomes a series of ever-weirder heroes, from Boy Chimney (a Dickensian goblin with a top hat that stretches to infinity who can strangle his opponents on thick, choking smoke) to Control-Alt-Delete (a CRT-headed underwear pervert who can reset reality to default) to Iron Snail (a roided out action hero who drags along an enormous, slime-squirting shell). These various guises are needed to fight the strange and eldritch horror that has put the rot into Littleville, and here Miéville turns the metaphysics up to 13, with worlds within worlds, each haunted by different species of nothingness and such. It's glorious stuff, bathos at its best as the humor of the various super-guises is juxtaposed on all the ponderous, unapologetic Lovecrafting bibble-babble.

image taken from 'Dial H, vol 1'

After the initial rush, the story begins exploring a series of scenarios for the dials and its many dialers through history, seeking answers to the deep, metaphysical questions raised by the existence of a telephone dial that can transform its dialer into a super-hero with a whole back-story. There are great, inspired moments here, and hints that Miéville has actually worked this all out with some seriousness, which may be the scariest thing about the whole book.
Miéville is a very funny and absurd guy, and while spots of that have shone through in his novels, they tend to be more serious. "Dial H" feels like the Miéville freak flag has been unfurled to its full glory, and is flying proudly.

Dial H Vol. 1: Into You

Asiascape Ops nr 6 : Japanese Science Fiction in Converging Media

In Asiascape's newest paper in the Occasional Paper Series (Asiascape Ops), Carl Li, Mari Nakamura and Martin Roth (all three are PhD students in the Goto-Jones' project Beyond Utopia), discuss the concept of alienation in Neon Genesis Evangelion:

Neon Genesis Evangelion protagonist Shinji Ikari
Japanese popular culture, represented primarily by manga and anime, has over the last couple of decades increasingly gained popularity both within and beyond Japan. Based on the assumption that this is partly due to their distinct qualities as media of political expression, this article aims to identify and discuss some of these expressions. Focusing on the SF franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion (hereafter EVANGELION), often regarded as a landmark in the history of Japanese animation, it will trace the recurring concept of alienation through the extremely popular anime (1995), the manga (1995–2012), and the videogame Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 (2003), thus offering an insight into their commonalities as well as their differences.
    “Alienation” is a central concept in modern social and political theory, as well as in sociology and psychology, and refers to “the condition of separation or estrangement.” For Karl Marx, who developed the most influential accounts of alienation in modern social and political theory, alienation is a central critique to modern capitalism. Analyzing the situation of wageworkers in the historical context of modern society, Marx observes that alienation occurs for them in four interrelated senses in capitalist society: alienation from the very product they produce, from the act of production, from their fellow workers, and from their “species-being.” Marx sees “species-being” as the unique human attribute which distinguishes human life from that of the animals, where one’s alienation from their “species-being” in a modern capitalist society is focused through the class structure and the proletariat experience. Thus for Marx, overcoming alienation requires a change in material conditions for a historically specific class of the proletariat by way of their revolutionary activities.

The full article is available at Issuu or can be downloaded as pdf on's Publication page.