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The Future is Japanese by Nick Mamatas

The Future is Japanese

by Nick Mamatas (Editor), Masumi Washington (Editor)

Other authors: Pat Cadigan (Contributor), Toh EnJoe (Contributor), TOBI Hirotaka (Contributor), Project Itoh (Contributor), Hideyuki Kikuchi (Contributor)8 more, Ken Liu (Contributor), David Moles (Contributor), Issui Ogawa (Contributor), Felicity Savage (Contributor), Ekaterina Sedia (Contributor), Bruce Sterling (Contributor), Rachel Swirsky (Contributor), Catherynne M. Valente (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 5 of 5
This is beautiful story about living life in the face of death. The reason for only 3 stars is that because of the theme and knowledge of predominant tropes the ending was obvious long before we reached it. [2013 Hugo Nominee Reading] ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
Even though it is a very short read, this is INTENSE! ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 7, 2018 |
A collection of short stories by Japanese authors or about Japan. Short story collections by various authors is always a bit of a mixed bag and this is no exception. Most of the stories were at the very least interesting, with a couple that I really enjoyed and only two that I didn't enjoy at all. Overall I enjoyed most of the stories enough to recommend the book.
It's hard to review each story without giving things away so I'm just going to give my overall impression of each one.

1. Mono no Aware actually made me tear up even though I saw the ending coming.

2. The Sound of Breaking up was intriguing but lost me at the end with a rather surprise convoluted twist that didn't have enough time to play out properly.
3. Chitai Heiki Koronbin was basically a giant mech story with a vague ending that left me unsatisfied.
4. The Indifference Engine was uncomfortable and powerful and left me unsettled. One of the strongest stories in the book.
5. The Sea of Trees feels more like magical realism, I loved the melancholy atmosphere and really cared about how the characters ended up in the end.
6. Endoastronomy, I did not get that one at all. I found it to confusing to even dislike it.
7. In Plain Sight had one of the stronger stories and beginnings but ended rather abruptly and was quite unsatisfying. I would be interested in reading a whole book set in this world though, I suspect the short story format worked against it here.
8. Golden Bread , I liked this one, it has an interesting world and while I wouldn’t mind a whole book set here I don't feel like it was needed, one of the most complete feeling stories in the book.
9. One Breath, One Stroke, I've read this one before and I really like it though it is hard to explain, it feels more like reading expanded poetry than a short story. Very weird, very mystical and very beautiful.
10. Whale Meat. The most I can say about this one is it was well written and quite readable though it didn't effect me strongly one way or another.
11. Mountain People, Ocean People. Another one of the more complete feeling stories, this could also make an interesting novel length story though it isn't really needed.
12. Goddess of Mercy, the only story I couldn't finish. It made no sense to me and wasn't interesting enough to struggle through.
13. Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Columns of Clouds. An interesting idea that for me didn't end up working out well, it was confusing and I never got the point of it all. ( )
  Kellswitch | Jun 21, 2015 |
My favorite reading during vacation time has been collections of short stories (of course mostly science fiction). For my last birthday I got 'The Future is Japanese', a collection of science fiction stories involving Japan. The book is published by Haikasoru, an imprint dedicated to bringing (translated) Japanese science fiction, fantasy and horror to English-speaking/reading readers.
The collection contained stories by Japanese authors or about Japan (or Japanese people). Like the story about a ship carrying the last thousand or so survivors from a destroyed earth, including one Japanese man, the last person from Japan. Or the story about teenagers fighting something out in certain zones in great big mechs. And the great story "The Indifference Engine" about a solution to clan violence in Africa that isn't as perfect as it seems from the outside.
The collection is great, having a great mix between Japanese writers and Western writers. The difference between them is obvious, but the book never makes me wish it was all Japanese (and in that more philosophical) or all Western (and in that with more action). What I dislike most about short stories is them being just an episode in a longer story. Most of these are complete as a story and are great to read. Four out of five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | Dec 31, 2013 |
I have been impatiently waiting for The Future Is Japanese: Science Fiction Futures and Brand New Fantasies from and about Japan, edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington, ever since the anthology was first announced. I already adore Viz Media's Japanese speculative fiction imprint Haikasoru and will buy and read anything it publishes. However, I was particularly excited about The Future Is Japanese because it is Haikasoru's first original publication. (I also hope that it isn't the last.) I was thrilled when the book was finally released in 2012. The anthology collects thirteen stories from creators both East and West (primarily Japanese and American). All but two of the stories were being published for the first time. Just looking at the table of contents I was very pleased with what I saw. Most of the contributors to The Future Is Japanese are already award-winners in their own rights; those whose works with which I wasn't already familiar I at least recognized by name. As an added bonus, the book's cover illustration is by Yuko Shimizu, one of my favorite artists. The Future Is Japanese had a lot going for it from the very start.

After a foreword by Masumi Washington and an introduction by Nick Mamatas, The Future Is Japanese begins strongly with Ken Liu's short story "Mono no Aware," a meditation on impermanence wrapped in a science fiction tale of humanity's survival at the edge of space. The next two stories were probably my least favorite in the collection although there were moments in each that I enjoyed tremendously. "The Sound of Breaking Up" by Felicity Savage starts as one story and ends up being an entirely different one. This frustrated me because I was more interested in the first. David Mole's mecha tale "Chitai Heiki Koronbīn" ends too abruptly for my taste and seemed like it should be the introduction to a longer work. (Granted, one that I would like to read.) These are followed by "The Indifference Engine" by Project Itoh which explores war, hatred, and prejudice. Originally published in 2007, the story confirmed the fact that I want to read everything written by Itoh. The next story was one of my personal favorites in the anthology, "The Sea of Trees" by Rachel Swirsky, a haunting tale about death, ghosts, and letting go. Toh EnJoe's story "Endoastronomy," which follows next, has a philosophical and intellectual bent to it, something I enjoy about and have come to expect from his work.

The next selection, "In Plain Sight" by Pat Cadigan deals with the complications caused by artificial and augmented realities. The Future Is Japanese continues with "Golden Bread" by Issui Ogawa. I happen to be fond of Ogawa's longer works and was not disappointed with his short story. Next is Catherynne M. Valente's contribution, "One Breath, One Stroke" which is about yokai that live close to the human world. Written in a delightful but fragmented style, the work creates more of a mood rather than a cohesive story. Ekaterina Sedia's near future and slightly melancholic tale "Whale Meat" follows. Next in the anthology is a selection from the extremely prolific Hideyuki Kikuchi. I actually preferred "Mountain People, Ocean People" over many of the other works of his that I have read. Following next is "Goddess of Mercy" by Bruce Sterling, one of the longer stories in the collection it is about the pirates and darkness that settle on Tsushima island after Japan is destroyed. The Future Is Japanese concludes with "Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Columns of Clouds" by TOBI Hirotaka. Originally published in 2009, the story won a Seiun Award in 2010. A complex story featuring a digitization project that has unexpected consequences, "Autogenic Dreaming" particularly appealed to my information science background.

As with most short story collections, how much a reader will enjoy each individual work in The Future Is Japanese will depend on personal preferences. Although I wasn't blown away by the anthology, personally I found The Future Is Japanese to be a very satisfying read. The short story can be a difficult form to master, but even the works that I found problematic had their strong points. The stories do all tend to be serious in tone, but the collection covers a nice range of speculative fiction from fantasy to science fiction to horror. The Future Is Japanese also has a good balance between Western and Japanese authors. Appropriately enough for the anthology's theme, even the Western works show Japanese influence, whether stemming from the writers' personal interests or from the creators having lived in or visited Japan. Overall, The Future Is Japanese is a solid anthology that was well worth the wait.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Jul 8, 2012 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mamatas, NickEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Washington, MasumiEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Cadigan, PatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
EnJoe, TohContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hirotaka, TOBIContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Itoh, ProjectContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kikuchi, HideyukiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Liu, KenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moles, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ogawa, IssuiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Savage, FelicityContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sedia, EkaterinaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sterling, BruceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swirsky, RachelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valente, Catherynne M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shimizu, YukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Collects thirteen stories from and about Japan, featuring such subjects as the longest and loneliest railroad on Earth, a hollow asteroid full of automated rice paddies, and giant robots.

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