Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nukakas Wedding

I'm still working on The Paper That Will Not Die, and it's draining my enthusiasm for any other kind of writing. Actually, it's draining my enthusiasm for anything, period, and I'm questioning my choice of career1 at the moment. I have daydreams of working as a ramen cook or convenience store clerk; the pay sucks, but the hours are shorter and they don't need to write a paper about their work every few months.

Anyway, I found what seems to be an amazing book at another blog: Nukaka no Kekkon - Nukakas Wedding. The author takes insect behavior and translates it into human fairytales. The resulting stories, written in a children's storybook style, have an almost otherworldly feeling, and they're illustrated in a simple, clean style that goes really well with the stories.

One story is online here: The 100 suitors. It's in Japanese, but only ten pages in total, each one illustrated and with just a short text per page, followed by a page explaining the original insect behavior. Translation below:

1/10 One day, a beautiful woman appeared on a hill overlooking the village.

2/10 It caused an uproar among the men in the village. "Please marry me." "I'm the man for you." "Please choose who you'll marry!" A hundred men were asking to marry her.

3/10 "Please don't worry" she answered, "I'll marry all of you." "Follow me, those of you who want to marry."

4/10 The men jostled to follow her as she left.

5/10 As night fell, they came to a cave high in the mountains. "Here's our wedding place. Please come in."

6/10 As they entered the cave, the men asked impatiently "How on earth are you going to marry all of us?"

7/10 "Like this" she said, and breathed a white mist all over them.

8/10 The men all suddenly turned to stone.

9/10 The woman would turn one man back from stone each year, and marry him for that time.

10/10 Explanation: Many ant species will mate only once in their lifetime, but they will do so with many partners. Winged young queens will mate in flight with as many winged males as possible. The sperm isn't used at once though; instead it is stored in a spermatotheca in her body where it can hibernate for years.

The queen flies off to find a place for a nest. The hibernating sperm is activated, one bit at a time, as needed to fertilize her eggs. In this way ants can mate only once, yet carry the offspring of hundreds of partners. For example, the Japanese wood ant can carry 5000 eggs throughout her 15-year lifetime.

If this free story is any indication it seems like an excellent book. It's out of print, unfortunately, and used copies go for more than I'm really willing to pay. If it gets a reprint, or if I find a used copy at a reasonable price, I'll definitely get it.


Insects are a different world unto themselves. Kind of wish I'd studied entomology at university when I had the chance.

#1 Well.. what could pass for an actual career in fog, at night, at a distance, if you squint, don't look too closely and get distracted by a circus elephant riding a unicycle at the right moment.

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