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
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.
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
Symphony of Terror.
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
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,
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.
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