In my never-ending quest to read a wide variety of fiction from around the world, I discovered a great collection of Japanese science fiction: The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories. Well, the cover says it’s a science-fiction collection, but it’s arguably more speculative than science.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love speculative fiction. It’s one of the genres I write in and explore. This collection introduced me to a new stable of writers and some interesting stories with a Japanese flair.
This collection of thirteen stories was just what I was looking for. The stories, originally published by their respective authors between 1963 and 1989, run the gamut from sweet and funny to terrifying.
There are fun stories, like a father and son who spot a Triceratops while cycling through their neighborhood one evening. There’s also a sentient cardboard box that tells its tale. With the latter story, I initially thought it was going to be a children’s tale, but instead, the ending was all too mature and somber.
To counter-balance, there is a story about a man so angry with the world that he devours himself out of spite. There is also a longer piece that completes the volume about a female alien, the last of her family, trapped on Earth and abused by local villagers.
While I found all the stories entertaining and engaging, there were a few weaker ones in the bunch. Still, even those stories were filled with interesting ideas. In a way, a few of them reminded me of early American sci-fi, where the ideas behind the stories were amazing even if the storytelling itself wasn’t necessarily top-notch.
As a fan of speculative fiction, I loved this collection, although I read through it much too quickly. At least it provided me with a few hours of entertainment and introduced me to new authors to explore.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. I think the book may be out of print, but you can find gently-used copies at many online bookstores.