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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
V: The Swordmaster V
"The Swordmaster"
Written by Somtow Sucharitkul
Prologue of the Symphony of Terror novel (pages 1-18)

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing of Symphony of Terror, paperback edition, published May 1988)

Professor Schwabauer and Setsuko rescue a survivor at Osaka castle.

Story Summary

24 hours after Matt and Tomoko Jones, CB, and the alien swordmaster Kenzo Sugihara set out to stop the regional Visitor leaders at Osaka castle in Japan, their allies Professor Schwabauer and Setsuko head for the castle themselves to see if their friends have survived the clash. They see the castle burning and know the Visitors have been dealt a serious blow. But did their friends survive the blast? Then they see three skyfighters emerge from the blazing structure and a dogfight among them ensues. They know it must be Visitor survivors chasing the resistance members. One skyfighter emerges victorious and flies off towards Tokyo. Schwabauer and Setsuko know it must be their friends.

Driving on in their Toyota, they see civilians screaming for Visitor blood near a Shinto shrine and see Sugihara with his sword on the roof. They drive up to the temple wall to rescue him. Scwhabauer is shocked to learn that Sugihara is actually the Visitor commander Fieh Chan, but finally accepts that the alien is on their side. Setsuko applies one of Fieh Chan's pressure skins to replace his damaged one and save him from the agony of the red dust in the environment. They drive off to safety.

Setsuko, a biochemist (and geisha!) reveals to her two cohorts that her recent studies have shown her that the red dust bacteria must have a winter period to rejuvenate and that more temperate regions of the globe will suffer a die-off of the only thing protecting it from another Visitor invasion. They all agree they will head to the United States where they can deliver their knowledge to other scientists and warn of the threat, though in the current chaotic state of the world, they don't know how soon they will be able to leave Japan.

Didja Know?

Author Somtow Sucharitkul is now known under the pen name S.P. Somtow. In addition to writing fiction, he is also a music composer.

Notes from the V chronology

This story is the prologue of the novel Symphony of Terror, though it might more accurately be described as an epilogue to the novel The Alien Swordmaster, taking place during and immediately after the climax of that novel. That is why I have placed the story in this position in the V timeline. The rest of the novel takes place 1 year later, well into the timeline of the weekly TV series. I have covered the rest of the novel in a separate entry, Symphony of Terror.


Didja Notice?

Page 3 reveals the Visitors' designation for its Asian region of command as the Far Eastern Sector.

The narrative on page 4 seems to imply that Setsuko knows the Visitor fleet is hiding behind the moon. How does she know? Page 13 later reveals that she had deduced long before that Sugihara was an alien (they were lovers after all) and kept his secret that he was Fieh Chan. He must have known that the fleet would not flee all the way back to Sirius and told her that it was hiding behind Earth's moon.

Page 4 states that Professor Schwabauer grew up in Dresden, Germany during WWII and lamented the destruction of the cathedral at which he was a choir boy. Dresden was virtually destroyed by Allied bombing raids in February 1945. It has been rebuilt in the decades since, but still bears the scars of that destruction.

Page 5 mentions a mushroom cloud of death rising over Osaka castle, the result of an explosive blast of the Visitors' reactor. This would seem to imply that the Visitors were using a nuclear reactor to power the facility, in which case the blast would likely leave the Osaka castle ruins contaminated with radiation and unlivable for some time to come.

As Professor Schwabauer and Setsuko watch the burning castle on page 5, the text mentions the aged anthropology professor left his home to study the way of life of an alien civilization. Huh? In the the previous novel, The Alien Swordmaster, Schwabauer was on Hokkaido island in Japan to study the Ainu, the Caucasiform aboriginal people of the north of Japan. While they might be "alien" to him, the inference in this book would seem to be that he came to study the Visitor way of life. How did being in Japan help him do that?

As Ham Tyler also states in the novel The Florida Project, Schwabauer says the Visitors are 800 years beyond us in technology and science.

Page 10 mentions a Shinto shrine. Shinto is the main spiritual religion of Japan, characterized by a worship of nature, ancestors, animism, and other sacred elements.

Also on page 10, a crowd of Japanese are shouting, "Bajitaa da! Bajitaa da!" This is Japanese for "A Visitor! A Visitor!"

On page 16, Setsuko discusses her research which has shown that the red dust bacteria will die out in temperate climates that don't experience a significant winter. This condition is realized in the first episode of the weekly TV series, "Liberation Day".

Also on page 16, Fieh Chan says that, though they tried to ban it, preta-na-ma is the most sacred of his people's beliefs. But in The Alien Swordmaster it is described as one of the most taboo words in Visitor society. And both of these stories were written by the same author! I suppose it must be interpreted that the word is taboo now but was sacred before the current regime rose in power.

On page 17 Professor Schwabauer asks Fieh Chan about the "ruthless extermination of one sentient race by another". Although the Visitors' mission to Earth was malevolent, "extermination" of the human race might be a bit of an exaggeration. Still, being human and thus one of the targets of the Visitors' mission, it's a forgivable point of view for him to have!

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