Learn about the beginnings of Japanese science fiction literature |  Gulf newspaper

Learn about the beginnings of Japanese science fiction literature | Gulf newspaper

Cairo: «The Gulf»

In Japan, creative science fiction and fantasy literature come from an ancient tradition of legends and narratives, although they are not well known in America due to the lack of translations from them into English. The difficulty of translating science fiction from Japanese into English is due to the complex differences in language and culture, which are often very accurate, and the Japanese use three interchangeable alphabets, after the Americans realized that the Japanese began to live in a form of the future, with its overpopulation and electronic devices microorganisms, and its polluted environment.

Future problems and their solutions happen in Japan, and science fiction gives us a penetrating look into that future, a penetrating, and often shocking, view, but it is a shrewd and critical view.

In the late eighties of the twentieth century, interest in Japanese culture grew rapidly, after “Godzilla” and other superheroes were the limited image that many people had of Japanese science fiction, knowing that these creatures were prepared in Japan for children.

And the American critic John Apostolo explains in his introduction to the collection of stories “The Flood” that during the fifties and sixties of the last century, when “Godzilla” films were being produced, there was another development taking place in Japan, which is the emergence of a group of talented science fiction writers, and although their knowledge of Outside Japan they were few, they wrote short stories and novels of high quality.

It has been published in Japan for a hundred years or more, science fiction, where the first examples of it were translations of the novels of Jules Verne, and science fiction works by Japanese authors began to appear in print, at the beginning of the twentieth century, and was Shunro Oshikawa (1877 1914) and Gozo Ono (1897 1949). Two prominent writers in the early days of Japanese science fiction, often inspired by Verne and Wells, wrote novels that combined military and science adventure, such as Oshikawa’s “Battleship Under the Sea” and Ono’s “Floating Airport”.


Apostolo points out that Japanese science fiction in the decades leading up to World War II was a simulation of Western models, stressing small devices and future technological marvels, and Japanese critics viewed science fiction as a sub-literary form, which they included some reasons in the field of detective work.

When American forces occupied Japan after the war, many American soldiers brought science fiction magazines and books, and these prints could be found in second-hand book stores in Tokyo and other major cities, and this led to the revival of science fiction in Japan, and in 1957 there was a great development Publishing magazines specializing in science fiction.

Science fiction clubs were formed. In 1962 annual science fiction conferences began, and although most of the publication was translations of stories and novels, written in English, a new wave of Japanese science fiction writers had arrived on the scene.

The future has little magic for most of Japan’s science fiction writers. Instead, they use the genre to examine the past and the present, trying to understand their rapidly changing society. In nearly a hundred years Japan has evolved from a nation with an almost feudal culture to a modern economic giant. . Despite this, the Japanese people maintain a deep-rooted anxiety stemming from the fact that the country’s natural resources are very few. It is not surprising that many Japanese science fiction writers choose to explore the social implications of change, creating what might be called allegories. In these The works give direct and indirect references to historical eras and incidents.

Although Japanese science fiction films have been shown in theaters around the world, Japanese science fiction writers are hardly known outside of Japan, and the first Japanese science fiction novel to be translated into English is Kubo Abe’s “Middle Ice Age 4” (1970).

And the novel “Japan is Sinking” is about submerging large parts of the land with water, but in this case the whole world is in danger, not just the islands of Japan. The central part of the plot is the activities of a secret organization that introduces modifications to land mammals, including humans, to become marine creatures that can survive deluge.

first story

The first Japanese science fiction story to appear in English is “Boku-chan”, which appeared in June 1963 in the “Fantasy and Science Fiction” magazine, and the first collection by a single author of Japanese science fiction is “The Hateful Planet of Hoshi”, and the first anthology of Japanese science fiction stories It is “The Flood and Other Stories”, translated into Arabic by Wafiq Faeq Kreishat and revised by Nai Al-Hinnawi, and it includes stories by ten writers born in the 1920s and 1930s, the oldest of whom is Tetsuo Yano, born in 1923, and the youngest is Tensei Kono, born in 1935. This means that they all lived During the years of World War II and the occupation, references to that difficult period can be found in their works.

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