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Japan Sinks [Paperback]

Sakyo Komatsu , Michael Gallagher
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1995
A techno-thriller about a killer earthquake and an unseen force in the Japan Trench that threatens to pull the economic superpower under - literally.

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International Ltd; New edition edition (1 Aug 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770020392
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770020390
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 11.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,989,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Maciej TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Strange events trouble Japanese scientists, then politicians and finally the whole population. There is more and more earthquakes, even if most are very weak. A couple of small inhabited islands disappear, then a big bridge collapses without any warning. Migratory birds population on the islands is divided by ten...

All of this happen on the first pages of this well written and quite ambitious, although rather short disaster novel by a renowned Japanese SF writer Sakyo Komatsu (1931-2011). And then, in accordance with Hitchock's rule for thrillers ("You begin with an earthquake and then you increase the tension"), things get more and more intense. At one moment the very survival of Japan becomes uncertain. What will be the result of all the efforts by scientists and politicians?

Twice adapted on screen, with various success, this novel is certainly now a classic in disaster SF. The story is mostly shown through the eyes of four people: a batyscaphe pilot named Onodera, Japanese Prime Minister, an extravagant genius scientist professor Tadokoro and an ancient man named Watari, an extremely powerful behind-the-scenes manipulator of political life. Its originality resides in large part in its portrayal of politicians, soldiers and scientists as united in the effort to save Japanese population and react to the cataclysm to the best of their abilities. That really changes from the usual scheme of "incompetent politicians and crazy generals, who just get in the way of altruist scientists and journalists"... And the ending is particularly good.

I liked this book. This is a good, solid thing. Maybe not exactly THE masterpiece of disaster SF, but certainly a very honest part of its hall of honor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tragically pertinent 12 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
I read this book a couple of months back with pleasure and excitement. It's extremely well written and translated, and its scenarios of disaster are only excelled by what we watched yesterday on the television as the tsunami generated by a real version of this book's events took place. Wikipedia wrote that the novel "represented the growing discontent in the minds of many Japanese people during the 1970s, as their cultural, economic, and political identity and stability had become under attack from international pressures" -- now, perhaps, we can see that the author was instead engaging with predicting the impact of a literal geological event.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true SF disaster classic.... 26 July 2007
By Marc Mckenzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first spotted this book in the late 1990s. I recently got it because of my interest in the release of the recent film version from 2006 called "Nihon Chinbotsu".

Is this book worth it? Yes. It is not only a fantastic work of Japanese science-fiction--which is very rarely translated and brought to the US--but as a disaster novel, it manages to capture the confusion and outright terror brought about by the sinking of Japan. This event, brought about by a major shift of the tectonic plates, causes a series of devastating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, including the eruption of Mt. Fuji. The book is a fast read, with the last few pages being the equivalent of a punch in the gut as the Japanese struggle to deal with the inevitable outcome. Other issues are brought up, such as, what will the Japanese be without their home country? How will the world react to such an unprecedented disaster? And how does one go about evacuating over 110 million people?

Ironically, I finished the book right before a major quake struck Japan recently. To say that I got one hell of a chill down my spine is an understatement. Strangely enough, this 1995 translation has an introduction written by Sakyo Komatsu that spoke about the tragic Kobe earthquake which had occurred earlier that year.

In the end, I highly recommend this book.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Japan by destroying it. 31 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's a classic convention of literature - and perhaps life - that people reach their clearest insight only when death is at hand. By creating a model of Japan's death, Komatsu deftly exposes the how the Japanese see themselves, how they believe the world sees them, and who they are. As a foreigner in Japan for nine years who has read copiously on this country, this novel is among the most penetrating I've read. For those who aren't interested in dissecting the Japanese, they'll still be thrilled by this compelling tale of an entire nation's doom.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly pertinent (11/3/11) 12 Mar 2011
By Glenn Bowman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book a couple of months back with pleasure and excitement. It's extremely well written and translated, and its scenarios of disaster are only excelled by what we watched yesterday on the television as the tsunami generated by a real version of this book's events took place. Wikipedia wrote that the novel "represented the growing discontent in the minds of many Japanese people during the 1970s, as their cultural, economic, and political identity and stability had become under attack from international pressures" -- now, perhaps, we can see that the author was instead engaging with predicting the impact of a literal geological event.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Japan Sinks 28 Jun 2011
By Mr. Masanori Nishi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The following first few lines were added as of Summer of the year 2012: It is very sad for me to state this, but the author of this science fiction novel, Mr. Sakyo KOMATSU passed away in July, 2011: only a few months after the Great Thohoku Earthquakes and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant's accidents in March of 2011. I would like to express my most sincere condolences to one of the biggest loss in the Japanese science fiction writers' community and to the Japanese literature cluture as a whole. Please find his ovituraries on any decent international magazines and news papers. It was such a loss for all of us here in Japan. RIP Komatsu Sakyo.

Now, please note and understand that the following review was written and placed before my knowledge of the author's passing away happened in July of the same year.

As most of you have already known, Mr. Sakyo KOMATSU has been a leader of the very best of those Japanese Science Fiction writers for the last fifty years and is still going strong. This particular master piece has probably been the most wellknown novel of his to Japanese fans. It has sold more than four million, thus 4,000,000 copies in not only in his native country of Japan but also in eleven other nations and languages, including this English translated version, in the world. What amazing things about this novel are: This entier novel of Japan's geological, topo-
graphical, social, and historical fate was writen almost fourty years ago, when nobody knew about the real geophysical phenomenon of highly scientific subjects of plate-techtonics and geophyics; in fact, becasue of this science fiction by Sakyo Komatsu every single layman here in Japan know what the mantle crrents or the theory of the continental drifts by Weggener. These ideas were not mentioned or discussed about even in highschool textbooks then. This novel is just that much important to Japanese people's real concerns and knowledge on its erthquekes and tidal waves: The warnings raised herein the novel are still alive and they all seem so real. I do recomend to read this novel and feel how Japanese people felt in 1972 and then how hopeless or helpless we are in front of the great power of the mother nature, yet there are still some selected individuals, who are wise enough and good enough to forseen the changes and movements, would try to save their people and to survive through all these difficlulties their were placed. Just one another interesting, or in a sense, spine-chilling sensation about this novel is that much of its content are still readable and significat after all those years when we try to look at Japan's recent tsunami and nuclear desasters: Unfortunately what Mr.Komastu had wanted Japanese government to know and act on the natural national desasters were not followed or at least those early warnnings were not utelized fully by the real Japanese government. I believe there are only limited or few copies left on the market, so please get one while you can and see and experiance for yourself what they must have gone through for the past few months. I strongly recomend this novel to everyone who likes good and meaningful sciense fiction. Thank you.
5.0 out of 5 stars A good disaster SF novel, which didn't age much in 40 years 25 Sep 2012
By Maciej - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Strange events trouble Japanese scientists, then politicians and finally the whole populaiton. There is more and more earthquakes, even if most are very weak. A couple of small inhabited islands disappear, then a big bridge collapses without any warning. Migratory birds population on the islands is divided by ten...

All of this happen on the first pages of this well written and quite ambitious, although rather short disaster novel by a renowned Japanese SF writer Sakyo Komatsu (1931-2011). And then, in accordance with Hitchock's rule for thrillers ("You begin with an earthquake and then you increase the tension"), things get more and more intense. At one moment the very survival of Japan becomes uncertain. What will be the result of all the efforts by scientists and politicians.

Twice adapted on screen, with various success, this novel is certainly now a classic in disaster SF. The story is mostly shown through the eyes of four people: a batyscaphe pilot named Onodera, Japanese Prime Minister, an extravagant genius scientist professor Tadokoro and an ancient man named Watari, an extremely powerful behind-the-scenes manipulator of political life. Its originality resides in large part in its portrayal of politicians, soldiers and scientists as united in the effort to save Japanese population and react to the cataclysm to the best of their abilities. That really changes from the usual scheme of "incompetent politicians and crazy soldiers, who just get in the way of altruist scientists and journalists"... And the ending is particularly good.

I liked this book. This is a good, solid thing. Maybe not exactly THE masterpiece of disaster SF, but certainly a very honest part of its hall of honor.
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