I mentioned a couple of places, but just before this I coincidentally read 獄門島 by Seishi Yokomizo, who was a contemporary of Edogawa Ranpo, is also a famous and prolific mystery writer, and apparently edited the magazine where Panorama Island was first published. So there’s interesting parellels and the two stories are both obviously island-centric (although 獄門島 came out 20 years later than Panorama so it’s not like they’re identical).
I’m going to try to avoid comparing them every week, but I thought the contrast between how the two stories begin is pretty interesting. 獄門島 begins like this:
Compared to Ranpo’s “M県” business (I guess that would be one of three possibilities, huh?), Yokomizo practically gives the exact GPS coordinates, name, and even measurements of the island he wants to tell you about, before going into a detailed discussion of the island’s history. I think it illustrates their styles and strengths really well - Yokomizo’s introduction reminds me of someone recounting a local scandal that was the biggest news to ever happen to a small town, that everyone living there could tell you the whole details about to this day and some true crime podcast is surely going to cover it one of these days, while Ranpo’s introduction reminds me of someone talking about their favorite abandoned ruin, lingering on the rumored, forgotten backstory that you can only guess is at-best only half true, without telling you exactly where it is so it doesn’t become well-known and ruin the mystique.
I think both are interesting! Though I will say Yokomizo’s detail hooked me immediately while I think Ranpo has a bit of a slow start here… I’m starting to feel the suspense build for what strange or ghastly thing might be around the corner but we’re still comfortably in set-up territory.
Is the pace ok?
This felt a little bit short after the heavier style, accent, and page count of 乳と卵, but maybe it’s worthwhile time to get used to differentiating the 併し’ｓ from the 若し’s? I’m not sure how much of it is him personally and how much is it being the 1920s, but Ranpo does have a distinctive way of writing, 相違ありません.
Incidentally, I looked up some of the utopian books mentioned since they’re quite obscure - it sounds like our protagonist (?) is captivated by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Domain of Arnheim more than William Morris’ News From Nowhere which he in turn prefers over Étienne Cabet’s The Voyage to Icaria, for what that’s worth. Tempted to read at least Arnheim just out of curiosity. This is not the first time I’ve seen Ranpo namedrop many books.