Today’s post is more informational than critical. A mysterious Frenchman in Kyoto clued me in to Jali.net (Japan Literature) a couple of weeks ago, so I have been reading the stories. The website features English short stories by four authors, two of whom write science fiction. It is a good way to give Japanese SF a try, especially for those who don’t want to take a gamble buying a book and lack the massive library system that I have at my disposal.
The website itself appears to be run by Hori Akira, a well-regarded Japanese SF author. His partner in crime is none other than Tsutsui Yasutaka, whom we have already met here and here. (The link to Tsutsui’s page doesn’t work off the English home page and requires digging through the Japanese pages. For the sake of simplicity, it is here.) Kobayashi Kyoji and Usui Yuji contribute non-genre stories. It looks rather like Hori created the page in the late 1990s and hasn’t paid much attention to the English side. There is a certain, shall we say, retro look to it all, but at least the broken links aren’t accompanied by blinking text, frames, or self-playing MIDI files. (Wasn’t the Internet great back in the day?) I haven’t spent too much time with the Japanese pages, but people seem to be updating their blogs, so it isn’t a complete ghost town.
As for the stories, Hori contributes one, which I believe to be his only available translation. I have searched for others, but nothing has turned up – if anyone knows better, please tell me. Tsutsui has posted several, some of which have appeared in the books linked to above. Several are new to me, but all of the stories are typical Tsutsui. He is a strange man with a strange view of the world. “The Last of the Smokers” or “How to Sleep” might be the best introductions, the latter offering a particularly demented payoff for those who keep with what seems like a needlessly bizarre and OCD narrative. It would be nice if there were more stories and authors available, but considering that this is all a volunteer effort, I can’t complain.
So despite the straight outta Internet Compton feel of the site, there’s no good reason not to click on the link above and try out a story or two. It may pique the reader’s curiosity or may turn him off completely. Regardless, it is an easy way to try something new.