Speculative Japan: Outstanding Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy

by Gene van Troyer, Grania Davis | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 9784902075267 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 2/14/2023
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, February 14, 2023
I got this book at a local Savers thrift shop. It's an anthology of Japanese fantasy, horror, and SF, mostly from the 1960s and '70s, along with essays on the challenges of translating Japanese into English - and recognizing the efforts of those translators. Among my favorite stories:

"The Savage Mouth" by Komatsu Sakyō is a mix of horror and SF, in which the protagonist/narrator describes how he gradually converts himself into a cyborg, limb by limb - while devouring his own cast-off human flesh...

"The Road to the Sea" by Ishikawa Takashi is a short-short tale of a young boy who rebelliously leaves home to go see the sea - with a stark revelation at the story's end, one that reminded me of some of Ray Bradbury's darker stories.

"Girl" by Ōhara Mariko features a distant-future in which body-modification is readily available, and in which the protagonist, who has sculpted his own body to be even more beautiful - with the addition of bountiful breasts - finds himself caught between his longing to be desired and the ennui of, well, always being fetished. He finds unexpected refuge, though the story suggests that in this world there are forces violently opposed to his kind...

"Standing Woman" by Tsutsui Yasutaka posits a world in which living creatures can be "planted," converted into pillars that can remain conscious and sentient but will eventually become trees - of a sort. It opens with a man patting an "affable dogpillar" - what did the poor dog do to deserve that? - but gradually reveals the increasing number of humans who, for various crimes against the state, down to pathetically tiny statements of discontent, have been sentenced to this life-in-death...

Hanmura Ryō's "Cardboard Box" is whimsical, told from the viewpoint of just such a box, from its creation on the assembly line to its use as a container for fruit to its discovery (via older, wiser boxes) that its fate is probably to be sliced open, emptied, and then burned or discarded! But our box remains hopeful, and finds an intriguing fate other than those forecast for it.

"Reiko's Universe Box" by Kajio Shinji is about a woman in an unhappy marriage, who is gifted the titular "universe box" from a mysterious sender. She and her husband assume it's a wedding gift, but the husband has no interest in it at all. The wife, however, begins to gaze into it, especially on the nights when her husband is working late (or so he claims), and finds herself entranced by the tiny universe (or perhaps just a solar system?) inside, one that seems to be in motion and alive. The box does have one warning - not to fiddle with the knob that controls the speed of time in the universe - so it's no surprise that eventually that knob gets fiddled with, though the results are a bit surprising.

And "Mogera Wogura" by Kawakami Hiromi, in which the narrator/protagonist describes his day - which features such things as breakfast with his wife, the trip to work, the daily tasks at his job, etc., but also includes his collecting of "that kind" of humans. So - he isn't human? But he works in an office, where the people deal with him even though being a bit standoffish. He has claws and fur, can dig really well - so what kind of being is he? I was guessing "troll" or "ogre," but upon Googling the story's title I discovered a species I had not expected in a story like this one! The rather dreamlike way in which these humans are collected, cared for, and sometimes released back into their own lives - while others do not thrive and are buried by their furry keepers - makes for a story that almost feels cuddly when it isn't creepy.

Good collection!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Fitch Bridge Rd in Groton, Massachusetts USA on Thursday, March 30, 2023

Released 2 mos ago (3/30/2023 UTC) at Little Free Library, Fitch Bridge Rd in Groton, Massachusetts USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library on this bright, cool day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

** Released for the 2023 Oh, the Places We Can Go challenge. **

** Released for the 2023 Science Fiction challenge. **

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