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The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories Paperback – 1 Jun 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, 1 Jun 2000
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books Inc (1 Jun. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156980124X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569801246
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14.6 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,679,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

Thirteen science fiction stories deal with Japan's ability to cope with new technology, and the westernization of their culture. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Format: Paperback
Science fiction has been published in Japan for over a hundred years, the first to really influence were the novels of Jules Verne, with the translation of Around the world in 80 days, published in 1878-1880, followed by his other works all of which were immensely popular. In fact the word kagaku sh'setsu ('''') was coined as a translation of "scientific novel" as early as 1886. Sci-Fi by japanese writers started to appear around the start of the twentieth century, with writers such as Shunro Oshikawa (1877-1914) and Junro Unno (1897-1949) who, inspired by Verne and H.G.Wells, wrote military style adventures combined with aspects of science, such as Oshikawa' s The undersea Warship (1900) & Unno's The Floating Airfield (1938). Prior to world war two most japanese Science Fiction were pale imitations of western fiction, placing the emphasis on techno future, with it's reliance on machinery to solve any problems and was considered a sub literary form, normally placed within the mystery genre. After the war with the American army an occupying force, the Japanese were introduced to a wide range of writers through the magazines & paperbacks carried by the G.I's. Exposure to this material led to a widespread revival in the genre, followed by translations of the works of Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, which both made the bestsellers list.

Two major events occurred in the development of Japanese Sci-Fi in 1950's, the first being the - now considered legendary - fanzine Cosmic dust (Uchu-jin, ''') was founded, although the first science fiction magazine in Japan was Seiun ('') in 1954, but this was discontinued after only one issue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Out of about 10 stories that are in the book I thought only about 3 are worth reading. Among the ones I personally think are not worth reading is one that is about dinosaurs running around in Tokyo and one written incoherently with made up words and incomplete sentences (what's this style called? experimental?). Some of the stories are translated badly so that they're also not worth reading. (Un)fortunately, the translation quality varies because not all stories are translated by the same people : (
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective on SF from Japan 10 Sept. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I came across this in the Waterstone's bookshop on Gower Street, WC1, and chose it ahead of a couple of recent Nebula Award anthologies - I felt that a bit of horizon-widening would not come amiss.
The introductions to the book were interesting in themselves, giving a background to the not-straightforward process of translating into English due to the complexities and nuances of the Japanese language.
The editors do inform the reader that the stories in the volume are quite different to most of the English-language SF, and those who are looking for hard SF are most definitely looking in the wrong direction. The stories collected, which were written between 196x and 199x, are very much at the 'speculative' end of SF, to the extent that some would argue that they do not constitute SF ('it's SF Jim, but not as we know it!). The stories are also on the short side of short SF, which does have implications. I personally would tend to shy away from a collection of such short stories, regardless of origin.
The stories themselves tend towards the contemporary, and reflective, and are about people, and the environment. They tend toward the contempletative, with the protagonist(s) in number of the stories being almost detached from what is happening (a la Ballard) - which is no mean trick when there is a massive confrontation between tyrannosauri and triceratops(es?) in the neighbourhood. A couple of stories would be more accurately described as horror stories, and several could be stories from the likes of Twilight Zone, Tales of the Unexpected and so forth.
All in all and interesting read, and worth the purchase if nothing else just to give an extended flavour of SF in a different culture.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entirely Different Batch Of Science Fiction Tales 5 Jan. 2006
By Stephen B. O'Blenis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Without a single bad story in it, but with some towering way above others, "The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories" offers an eclectic selection of stories very different both from western science fiction and from Japanese works someone in the western world might be more familiar with, but that doesn't mean inferior. Indeed, it's a great collection by any standard, not hurt at all by the fact that some of the stories presented aren't really what's considered science fiction over here.

Some definately do fall in the science fiction realm, and one of those is the mind-blowing "Fnifmum" by Taku Mayumura, not only one of the greatest science fiction short stories I've ever read but one of the greatest short stories, period. Incredibly original, "Fnifmum", written in an extremely unique style, presents possibly the most utterly Alien lifeform ever imagined, yet one that the reader comes to know and relate to, demonstrating that there can be points of common connection between even the most diverse of beings; "Fnifmum", the being, is even stranger and more foreign than Lovecraft's Chthulu, and by a good distance at that. An absolute must-read for anyone who wants to see how far literature can stretch with enough imagination.

On the other end of the spectrum, but also excellent, is the Completely non-SF "The Savage Mouth" by Sakyo Komatsu, a relentless horror piece that is a welcome addition to the book to a horror fan such as myself but which may not be liked by science fiction fans who aren't also into horror. Also imaginative and disturbing (but in a different direction) is "The Legend Of The Paper Spaceship", which is extremely well done, but may have gone a little Too far in one respect (that's one of the Extremely rare times I'll say that about any piece of fiction; book, movie, or otherwise).

Shinichi Hoshi's "He-y, Come On Ou-t!", another tale on the cusp of different genres, is an extremely effective parable for the modern world that seems to be becoming more relevant with each year. It carries a surprise but hauntingly appropriate ending that I think will stay with most readers. Tensei Kono's "Triceratops" has an enchantingly dreamlike feel and runs along the borders of science fiction, fantasy/fables, the metaphysical and probably several unnamed genres; this collection certainly excels in hitting some unfamiliar notes.

I highly recommend this volume to both Science Fiction fans and non Science Fiction fans; whatever your tastes in reading, this is likely to be among the freshest and most innovative tomes in your library. How about a collection of, say, "The Best Japanese Fantasy" or "The Best Korean Science Fiction Short Stories" as a followup? (Incidentally, I recently discovered while browsing this site a collection called "Science Fiction From China". I haven't read it yet, but thought it might be of interest to anyone checking out this book)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique collection of stories. 31 May 2001
By Jimmy P - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading this book not only because I am a lover of Science Fiction but also because it was interesting to see SF written from a different cultural perspective. Among these beautifully written and translated stories there is gruesome (The Savage Mouth), thought provoking (Take Your Choice and Standing Woman) and elegant prose (The Legend of the Paper Spaceship). All the stories are unique with concepts distinctive from Western writers but still valuable as entertaining Science Fiction. I recommend this to anyone who wants to read something slightly unusual. I look forward to reading more translations of Japanese SF in the future. Please publish another book.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rare Glimpse into Japanese Speculative Fiction 23 April 2005
By A. Silverstone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This collection features short stories from some of the Japanese masters of science fiction, a genre that is rarely translated into English. However, few of these stories deal with space travel, aliens, or the world of the far future. Some of them deal with the near future, some with an alternative universe, one, which is very fitting for the Spam age, a pseudo-alternative universe. With a uniquely Japanese sensibility to society, these stories are not only entertaining, but allow the reader with a view into present day Japanese culture. Although many of the stories are brilliant, a few are plodding and obtuse. This collection also includes a brief bibliography of other Japanese science fiction books that have been translated into English.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! 26 Dec. 2013
By Miss Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I discovered this book in a workshop on East Asian literature. I was thrilled that I found it online. I got it home and devoured it. My students and I read Standing Woman during a Dystopian Test Unit. They loved it. If you are a teacher interested in teaching Dystopian Texts, please pick up this book.
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