New Book Highlight: Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath – Unno Juza

Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese has released a new volume of Science: Hopes & Fears following a collection of short stories by Juza Unno. This second volume consists of a dystopian novella by the same author. Written in Japan in 1937, this is an early example of dystopian work that has previously never been translated into English. If you are a fan of novels such as Nineteen Eighty Four from George Orwell, then please pick up a digital copy of “Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath” and see Japan’s early contribution to the genre. I helped with translation checking and editing of this novella.

This story made me think of Mori Hiroshi’s W-series. I have only read the first three books so far:

The W-series and Unno’s work share a theme of androids threatening the status of humans. In the W-series, professor Hagiri does research on how to distinguish between naturally born humans and “walkalones” which are androids that have approached the point of being physically human, except that they are made in a factory. It turns out that the research about how to distinguish androids from humans has quite an overlap with how to make them totally indistinguishable. In Unno’s novella professor Kohak is doing android research using half of the entire national budget, and even though the president tries to put an end to the professor’s work, he may also be a bit too interested his creations.

The scale of each work is quite different. Mori’s books take a long time to develop the overarching plot, but have a climax and resolution in each book. “Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath” is full of shocking events  and delivers a complete story in a shorter format.

Anyone interested in pondering the implications of rapid advancements in AI and robotics may find something to send their minds into a spiral of both ominous and wonderful ideas about the future with either of these books.

None of the W-series books have been translated into English. “Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath” is now available in English, but the original, in Japanese, is available for free on Aozora Bunko. You can even find the audio for parts of the original on YouTube by searching for “18時音楽浴 朗読”.

 

New Book Highlight: Science – Hopes & Fears – Selected Stories by Unno Juza

Unno Juza, known in Japan as the father of Japanese science fiction, has never been translated into English until now. Thanks to the creator of Self Taught Japanese, English speakers now have access to some of his work.  This E-book, available on Amazon, contains several intriguing and shocking short stories. I helped with some of the editing as a volunteer, and I’m excited to share some thoughts about the final product in this post.

If you are fascinated by how the the future has been imagined historically, then these stories will be perfect for you. They were written in the 1930s and 1940s and touch on many scientific fields. One example is the mention of electricity. I like to see electricity in classic fiction and try to understand the image of the technology held by people of the time period and how they envisioned it progressing.

Continue reading “New Book Highlight: Science – Hopes & Fears – Selected Stories by Unno Juza”

Translation of the Prologue of “The Wind Across Qinghai Lake?”

I’m still reading through Mori Hiroshi’s (森博嗣)W-series, and this is the third book, “風は青海を渡るのか? The Wind Across Qinghai Lake?”. This one is a bit more philosophical than the the previous book, but there is a bit of action as well. The main theme is the exploration of the difference between humans and a robots, and whether we will we get to a point where humans and robots are the same.

As someone that looks to the Bible as the foundation of truth, I believe that God made us as more than our physical bodies, so the non-physical part is something that humans would never be able to create.

Continue reading “Translation of the Prologue of “The Wind Across Qinghai Lake?””

Light Novel Review: 魔法の色を知っているか? What Color is the Magic? – 森博嗣

what_color_is_the_magic(mahou no iro wo shitteiruka? – Mori Hiroshi)

This is the second book in the W series. If you haven’t read Does She Walk Alone you’ll probably want to start there. The back story is rehashed a bit, but I don’t think it’s quite enough for you to want to start from the second book. The books in this series are coming out every few months lately, and these are not the only novels Mori has been releasing during this time. I can’t even imagine how he is able to write so quickly!

One neat thing about this book is that it brings in Magata Shiki from Subete ga F ni Naru, which I think may be a common occurrence in Mori’s books. It’s interesting that many of his stories are loosely connected, and it’s nice to know that there are years worth of books available, so I won’t be running out anytime soon.

Continue reading “Light Novel Review: 魔法の色を知っているか? What Color is the Magic? – 森博嗣”

Short Story Collection Review: ボッコちゃん – 星 新一

bokko-chan(bokko-chan – Hoshi Shinichi)

This is a collection of 50 very short stories. Many of them are Sci-Fi. Most of them are humorous with a handful that are just creepy. The stories are short and usually have a punch line, so it is kind of like reading jokes. Some are satire, cautionary tales, or something like fables.

Also, the humor doesn’t depend much on the details of Japanese language and culture. Some of the jokes may be a bit simple or crude, but you don’t have to worry that they will be lost on you if you don’t share the same lifetime of experiences as a typical person living in Japan.

Continue reading “Short Story Collection Review: ボッコちゃん – 星 新一”

Light Novel Review: 彼女は一人で歩くのか? Does She Walk Alone? – 森博嗣

does-she-walk-alone(kanojo ha hitori de aruku no ka? – Mori Hiroshi)

This is the first light novel I have read. I’m not quite sure what makes it a light novel. Maybe the target audience is young adults, however I found it pretty engaging as an adult. It seems like light novels are a popular choice for beginners, but it didn’t seem any easier to read than other popular fiction I have read so far. It did have a bit more action.

Other books I have read by Mori have been mysteries, but this one is science fiction. I don’t read any science fiction in English, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. It’s definitely not because I wouldn’t like to read more science fiction. That’s one of the many many things I would like to do that won’t become high enough priority to put in the time.

Continue reading “Light Novel Review: 彼女は一人で歩くのか? Does She Walk Alone? – 森博嗣”