“The Future is Japanese,” edited by Nick Mamatas, Masumi Washington, and Haikasoru, features stories about and by Japan and Japanese people. It’s a solid collection of short science fiction stories featuring multiple subgenres. The collection features space travel, cyperpunk, dystopian landscapes, and fantastical time travel adventures.
This collection spares no punches, thrusting you completely into each world. Like many stories, they are a contemplation on what it means to be human or what we are doing to the planet and ourselves through ruthless pursuit of high technology or illogically clinging to the past. Over all I would have to say in this book the future is absolutely Japanese; and also incredibly depressing. The darkest of subjects are handled with candid and vivid clarity producing genuine fear, horror, and sometimes even shame. One of the stories was so dark, I honestly felt as if I needed a shower when I was done.
Not every story is connected to Japan or Japanese culture but they still fit in with the scifi nature of the collection. As a geek, I was enthralled by the different takes on what the future would be like. And for you mech fans? Yes, one story does feature giant battle suits. Some of the tech talk may lose some of the less die hard cyberpunk fans and authors just drop Japanese words as if we’re already supposed to know what they mean, but the action makes up for it. Not being familiar with some of these more famous authors, I don’t have their body of work to compare these stories to. The works in this book stand alone as some pretty darn good stories. The ones originally in Japanese are solidly translated so I wasn’t left confused.
Not all the stories are winners. There were times I felt preached to or as if I was sitting in a class on cybernetics or virtual reality. But hardcore Japanophiles and science fiction fans will not be completely disappointed by this collection. There is plenty here to enjoy and at 360 pages, there is a lot of meat in the book. I’m not sure I would buy it but it’s worth picking up from your local library or borrowing from a friend.