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Fast Forward Japan - Gaza Unno

Fast Forward Japan - Gaza Unno

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For many decades now, Japan has been known for its contribution to cutting-edge technologies, and even now Japan is ranked high in fields such as robotics research. Much of Japan’s advanced technologies has been inspired by ideas in comic books (authors like Osamu Tezuka of Astro Boy) and literature (authors like Sakyo Komatsu, Yasutaka Tsutsui, and Shin’ichi Hoshi).

Beginning his writing career in 1928, Juza Unno took inspiration from Western authors like Jules Verne as well as his own knowledge of electric engineering to write fiction that integrated a broad spectrum of creative innovative ideas. His stories touch upon everything from facial reconstruction and gender reassignment surgery to video phones, cryogenics, multi-dimensional beings, and celestial body orbit adjustment (and, of course, robots). Because of this, Unno is sometimes referred to as the father of Japanese science fiction.

This collection contains some of Unno’s best short- and medium-length fiction, and is the first time his stories have been published in print media in English.

The highlight of this collection is the novella “Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath,” one of Unno’s most well-known stories about an underground dystopian world where the citizens are brainwashed daily by specially constructed music. Not only is this Japan’s first work in the dystopian genre, but it also touches upon many of Unno’s innovative ideas (not to mention the notable appearance of a tantalizingly beautiful robot). Like many of Unno’s other works, “Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath” is a cautionary tale about how misuse of technology can have disastrous consequences.

“Fast Forward Japan” contains a total of nine stories, including “The Living Intestine”, an unusual tale of a doctor’s medical experiment gone awry; “Adventures of the Dinosaur-Craft”, a story where two boys use technology and creativity to have the adventure of a lifetime; “The Last Broadcast”, a story about a scientist whose breakthrough allows him to eavesdrop on a alien civilization on the brink of destruction; and “The World in One Thousand Years”, a tale about a man who wakes up in the future from a long cryogenic sleep.

These stories are sure to delight and inform those interested in Japanese science fiction, and might even help to kickstart our own innovations.

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