Japanese SF Authors to Keep in Mind

Japanese SF Authors to Keep in Mind

When publishers consider translating foreign works into English, the genre they almost always land on is drama. Or historical fiction. Fine, in a lot of cases there are other genres that ventured into this arena but I find that these books are generally so popular in their native land (or have won an award or had a movie adaptation to their name) that it warrants the translation. Am I wrong is assuming that's how they pick books? Point is, if you like reading SF books, it might be a bit annoying that is a lack of foreign stories in this genre. Especially ones from Japan. I'm fascinated by the concepts presented in science fiction and fantasy-based manga and therefore, am eager to read more novels in those genres as well. So far, trying to find authors or specific books have not been fruitful. I am keeping a list of authors in mind though.

Kurimoto Kaoru 

I must admit, I am curious about this author's works. She is well-known for writing a whole bunch of novels for a series of books called The Guin Saga. These books have a strong fan following and a lot of folks commend her work. Her works are not without criticism; I think generally people are a bit put off by the first two books, generally as they feature young protagonists. Whatever the case, her works are something to keep in mind. They have young characters battling it out in a fantastical setting, with a bit of good and evil throw in for good measure. What interested me was her contribution to the yaoi and yuri genres through her novels. The fact that she brought in elements that played around with gender norms in a fantasy setting will certainly make her work worth checking out.

Hoshi Shinichi

He's not a major novelist as such. Rather, people are most likely to come across his short stories. He's written a number of them but the one that I focused on was He--y, Come on Ou—t!. This tale can be found in The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories collection. The story is more social commentary than anything else (i.e. don't expect details about new technology etc.). Rather, it was along the lines of 'is this what have become' sort of exploration whereby the author explores how urban environments and changing social trends have made folks a bit apathetic about the consequences of their actions. I know a few folks were 'meh' about this story but I really enjoyed it. Enjoy the tale for the weird ending that we are lead towards, don't look for a main protagonist as such.

Abe Kobo

He's a bit of legend; at the very least, the man has a strong fan following. As it is, he has won a number of awards for his novels, the most notable one being Woman in the Dunes. But what interested me was his quirky story about a potential nuclear holocaust, The Ark Sakura. It is this bizarre story wherein the main character hides himself in a quarry in a bid to avoid fallout from the nuclear war. This is his little haven where he is safe from all the adverse effects. The story gets weirder, however, as he comes across unusual invaders, people who are trying to disrupt his way of life. This author is well-known for creating bizarre characters, some of whom, in a strange way, are also identifiable for the readers. Social commentary about a nuclear holocaust complete with freaky fights and human interactions? Seems reason enough to check it out.