Li Ru’en, PhD student, Graduate Institute of Comparative Literature, Fu Jen University
An early short story, “Starlight Sweeps Across Lishui Street” is one of Lucifer Hung’s most representative works of fiction. Located across from National Taiwan Normal University, Lishui Street is surrounded by houses that once served as dormitories for Japanese government personnel during the colonial era. In the postwar era the structures served as housing for academics and R.O.C. government officials. The story’s main characters are Fei-fei, who conducts criminal investigations, “Starlight,” a killer vampire, and a cyber network that seems to have a life of its own. A series of male murder victims, draw Fei-fei nearer and nearer to Starlight, the investigation uncovering coded romantic messages Starlight has left for Fei-fei within the string of killings. Death has no real significance to the vampire, who kills only to add interest to trysts with a lover, and in the end Fei-fei joins in Starlight’s game.
As in all of Hung’s works, cyberspace plays a major role, but the story also integrates elements of crime and detective fiction, with the vampire exhibiting a penchant for kinky sex as well. Fei-fei uses the Internet to turn herself into a platform between the real and virtual worlds, instantly changing into a cyborg, half-human and half-machine. The story’s beginning describes her extreme pleasure at connecting with the Web: “Disintegrating in cyberspace, my sensory mechanisms merge with a cyber-erogenous response resolution program, which makes my nerve endings feel as though they’re receiving an electric shock; the pleasure center in my brain shrinks and expands, my skin trembles with joy, and the black hole between my legs is dripping wet.” To Fei-fei, the pleasure of entering virtual space is even greater than that of coming into contact with actual flesh. The story shouldn’t be viewed from an ordinary moral perspective, for the “pleasures” referred to aren’t of the fleshy variety – readers must enter into the fictional world Lucifer Hung has constructed, that is, virtual cyborg space, where – just as in modern life – human beings and the Internet have become almost indivisible.
Writing about virtual space and bloodthirsty vampires, Hung creates a world where only love is everlasting, deriding male chauvinist society’s overemphasis on physical sex. Also worth noting is the author’s choice of geographic setting: Lishui Street occupies an important place in Taipei citizens’ collective memory, not only because the thoroughfare is named after a locale in China – a characteristic of many street and roads in the city – but also because it was a major center of LGBT activity in the 1990s. Neighboring National Taiwan University, Fem Books, and Gin Gin Books are all important landmarks of the gay rights’ movement.
Initially, many readers might believe “Starlight Sweeps Over Lishui Street” is a detective story. Following a trail of male corpses – torture victims – Fei-fei follows clues and captures the murderer. But the twelve mysterious messages and dozen murder victims are an invitation from a deathless vampire lover, drawing Fei-fei ever closer to her eternal soul mate, and together they complete the final slaughter. Readers familiar with Lucifer Hung’s literary language won’t be shocked by the blood and violence, nor will they feel that the slain men represent an attack on masculinity, for symbolic word games are a distinctive feature of Hung’s style. The male corpses symbolize “queer” Hung’s desire to overturn masculinity’s centrality in the social order, while Fei-fei’s transformation into a bionic being represents the author’s rebellion against humankind’s dominance of the world, thoroughly dismantling the masculine center and its attendant chauvinism: Humanity can free itself from physiological shackles; in this heterogeneous cyborg world, humans can be male, female, or genderless, and the male-centric social order based on biological gender completely collapses.
Li Ru’en, PhD student, Graduate Institute of Comparative Literature, Fu Jen Catholic University
Lucifer Hung (1971- ) is the penname of Hong Lingling. The writer is a graduate of National Taiwan University’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; she holds a master’s degree in English literature from Sussex University and a doctorate in cultural research from the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Cultural Research Institute. Hung has served on the editorial board at Island Edge magazine and chief editor of the Liberty Times cartoon page. Currently she is an assistant professor at Shih Hsin University’s Graduate Institute for Gender Studies. Her fiction focuses on the influence of high technology – cyberspace, in particular – on Taiwanese culture, manifesting the manifold aspects gender imagination. Hung excels at writing “queer” literature, her science fiction a product of this liberated imagination – although humans are composed of flesh and blood, in the present and future they can transcend corporeal limitations by means of high technology.
In Lucifer Hung’s fiction almost any system can turn into a facsimile of its opposite. Androgynous bodies and vampires are common themes in the short-story collections Biography of a Heterodox Vampire (1995) and Rose Rain Doomsday (1997). Her queer sci-fi seeks a far-off utopia, putting “queerness’s” refusal to define itself and border-crossing dynamism into practice, throwing off the yoke of male-centric oppression. Transcending gender, species, time and space, her fiction is in contemporary Taiwanese literature’s avant-garde, but her work also offers readers food for thought: What is love? No one can monopolize the definition of love.
Lucifer Hung has compiled a rich body of stylistically unique literature. Well known works include: the short-story collections Dismembered Monster (1995), Tightrope Walking along a Glass Precipice (1997), Returning Again to the Ends of the Earth (2009), Milky Way Massacre (2008), and Black Sun Fugue (2013); the novels Sunflower That Never Sees the Sun (2000) and the six-volume “Universe Odyssey” series; the critical works Academy of the Bizarre: End-of-the-World Cartoon Studies (1999), Studio of Royal Magic (2005), and Annotated Optical Illusions (2012). She has also translated over ten novels, including Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal (1994), An Unexpected Journey (2001), The Female Man (2005), and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Armand.
|Work(English)：||Starlight Sweeps Across Lishui Street|
|Anthology：||Deviant Vampire Stories|
|Literary Genre：||Short Story|
|Publisher：||Ping An Culture Corporation|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.books.com.tw/products/0010051667|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|The “book.com.tw” Internet Bookstore|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：||No English Translation|