06 January 2014

Book review: The Future is Japanese

The Future is Japanese, edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington

I bought this anthology after Ken Liu's piece "Mono no Aware" was nominated for the Hugo. I put off reading it until recently.

Individual stories within an anthology are often hit or miss. That's the nature of an anthology. For me, more stories in this one were misses than hits.

I was especially disappointed with the translated pieces, because they tended more toward the style of writing that bores me to tears: some stuff's happening, it isn't very well explained but it's kind of interesting, then either the narrator or a character stops to exposit on a particular aspect of math or physics. At which point my interest is completely lost.

I thought Project Itoh's "The Indifference Engine" was interesting, premised around a piece of machinery that takes away the ability to distinguish between tribes (in a war-torn fictional African country). The premise isn't new, but this was a take I hadn't seen before.

Ekaterina Sedia's "Whale Meat" was haunting, about the disputed islands between Japan and Russia, and what was probably the last whale.

On the whole, though, the anthology didn't capture my interest. Several authors whose other work I've liked had pieces in here that didn't do much for me.

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