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The Future is Japanese: Science Fiction Futures and Brand New Fantasies from and about Japan
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The Future is Japanese: Science Fiction Futures and Brand New Fantasies from and about Japan

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3.85  ·  Rating details ·  998 ratings  ·  165 reviews
A web browser that threatens to conquer the world. The longest, loneliest railroad on Earth. A North Korean nuke hitting Tokyo, a hollow asteroid full of automated rice paddies, and a specialist in breaking up “virtual” marriages. And yes, giant robots. These thirteen stories from and about the Land of the Rising Sun run the gamut from fantasy to cyberpunk, and will leave ...more
Paperback, 365 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Haikasoru (first published May 13th 2012)
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Jorge Barriuso An asteroid is on a trajectory to destroy the Earth. The different nations of the world scramble to build spaceships that will allow their peoples to …moreAn asteroid is on a trajectory to destroy the Earth. The different nations of the world scramble to build spaceships that will allow their peoples to escape, but all attempts fail either due to incompetence, corruption or warlike actions between countries. The reactions to this among the populations vary, mostly panic, looting, violence. But this chaos is not the focus of the story. Instead, the story describes the orderly and almost peaceful way Japanese society accepts humanity's fate, encapsulated by a single Japanese family: Mother, Father and very young son, Hiroto.

Through tranquil walks in nature, snippets of Japanese poetry, and the ancient game of Go, the father patiently teaches his son what it means to be Japanese, the importance of a person's place among a network of relationships, rather than as an individual, and the understanding and acceptance that our ephemeral human existence is profoundly interconnected and beautiful; meanwhile the destruction of the Earth is imminent.

Then, by a somewhat unexpected turn of events the young son is allowed to join the only spaceship, made by the USA, to make it off the planet, en route to a new star system with habitable planets, a centuries-long journey. As Hiroto grows up within an American dominated population of a thousand souls on the ship, he struggles to remember his Japanese roots, language, writing and, above all, its essence. But when the ship is faced with a potential disaster he draws on his father's dimly remembered lessons to make a decision that will affect humanity's last hope for survival.(less)

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Disclaimer: I've only read the Hugo-winning short story by Ken Liu in this volume, "Mono no aware." The GR librarians did that thing again where they lump short story reviews into a collection where they were published, because they have this clearly unreasonable dislike for individual review spaces for shorter works.

description= description

"Mono no aware" is a Hugo-award winning short story from the amazing Ken Liu. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature. This story is free online at Lightspeed Magazine:

Hiroto
...more
Kalin
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Varied and different and deeply satisfying. See:

~ Ken Liu's "Mono no Aware" sets a gentle, sorrowful, uplifting start. It also showcases an important cultural difference:

“All the stones look the same,” Bobby says, “and they don’t move. They’re boring.”
“What game do you like?” I ask.
(...) “Chess, I guess. I like the queen. She’s powerful and different from everyone else. She’s a hero.”
“Chess is a game of skirmishes,” I say. “The perspective of Go is bigger. It encompasses entire battles.”
“There a
...more
Jokoloyo
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thank Althea Ann for her review that introduce me to this work.

The plot is about sacrifice and prioritize the welfare of many/society above the welfare of an individual. The beautiful part is the flashback (view spoiler), and some Japanese/Chinese philosophy for literary storytelling.

PS: I read this story on the same day as If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love and can't help comparing these two stories. At the first read, the p
...more
Scott Rhee
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was blown away by the first short story in this anthology, a story by Ken Liu entitled "Mono No Aware", in which survivors of a world-ending asteroid that destroyed Earth roam the universe in a starship for another Earth-like planet. The protagonist, Hiroto, was a young boy when he left Earth, and he is a grown man at the outset of the story, in which he comes across a situation that requires a decision that will have unalterable consequences for himself and those on board his ship. The story ...more
C.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
Hmm, what a mixed bag. To be honest, it mostly struck me that "random authors writing sf in English about Japan or Japanese characters" and "random authors writing sf in Japanese about anything they would normally write about, pretty much everything except Japan" made uneasy companions in this anthology. I would have rather read an entire anthology of Japanese sf authors or gotten some stories by Japanese sf authors that focused on Japan a little more, if only to see the contrast in how they han ...more
Kastel
Sep 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
"I think of myself as a giant Japanese robot in a manga and smile."

Mono no Aware is a bizarre short story that can be summarized as a Japanese guy who thinks in Japanese and does Japanese things. Ken Liu is not Japanese; he is American Chinese. So unsurprisingly, there were many strange mistakes even the novice Japanese student will notice.

For example, the first kanji is something every child should know by heart. It's the kanji for umbrella. Umbrellas are quite important -- imagine a world wit
...more
Althea Ann
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one."
Ken Liu has done it again. This story should win awards this year. Here, Liu explores the Japanese cultural concept of acceptance of the transience of all things, in the face of an Earth facing imminent destruction from a rogue asteroid - and characters who make the decisions they believe to be right. I'm not usually a big proponent of self-sacrifice, but the examples in this story make a good case. Emotionally wrenching, and bea
...more
Peter
Jul 15, 2016 rated it liked it
What I thought this book was: A book of science fiction stories mostly by Japanese authors, many of which translated into English for the first time.
What this book actually was: A book of mostly science fiction stories, about half written by Japanese authors (and may well have been translated for the first time), the other half written by Western authors (many of whom have a particular connection to Japan) in English but set in Japan or using Japanese characters.

The difference between what I tho
...more
Alfred Haplo
Pay it forward, as they say. A kindness received is a kindness given. So it is with sacrifices made for love. In this story, which alternates between the past and present, is ultimately about one sacrifice paying forward for another.

The setting is set in space, where a civilization was on a annihilating collision course with an asteroid. Eight-year old Hiroto, through his family’s sacrifice, was able to escape in a starship for a habitable star, 300 light years away. Fast-forward to present tim
...more
Tokio Myers
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this more then The Paper Menagerie. They aren't that comparable other then having the same author but still. Highly recommend.
Kris
(under construction; still reading - be forewarned that this will be looooong. Edit: Nevermind. Dropped.)

I love Japan. Anime. Mecha. Heian-kyo. Kanji. Fantasy. This seemed like a great book to pick up.

Mono no Aware by Ken Liu

This is a story of young Hiroto in the midst of worldwide turmoil due to a meteor on a collision course with Earth. He, along with everyone else on the planet is trying to evacuate into space - and of adult Hiroto on board the spaceship Hopeful en route to 61 Virginis where

...more
Cary Kostka
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: future-fiction
I'm loved the plot and the story flowed so smoothly that I read this in one sitting. The visuals created by the author makes this one of those stories that could easily be transferred to the screen. A job well done indeed.
Sarah
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Overall thoughts: It was alright. The stories were all really hit or miss, which was a shame because I was really hoping to love this collection. I either really loved the stories, thought they were okay, or DNF them.

[1] Mono no Aware, Ken Liu: 5/5 stars
-This was a great story. I loved the premise and it was engaging and well written. It made me have the feels and not many short stories can make me do that, so well done Mr. Liu! I don't want to say much about it because it's better to just read
...more
Martin
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Cases like this make me wish that Goodreads allowed us to do half stars because, although this is good enough overall to deserve more than three, there are enough stories in there that didn't work for me for it to be not quite deserving of four.

Some of these are genuinely moving - "Mono no Aware" is wonderful and gives this shameless affection for one's own culture and "Whale Meat" is possibly autobiograhical and has a whimsical Haruki Murakami-esque sense of introspection. Issui Ogawa (author o
...more
Noor Al-Shanti
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
EDIT: Edited to Add that this is a review of Mono no Aware, not all the stories

I cried. I don't often do that when reading short stories. Especially if they're about space. But there you are. It was an excellent exploration of humanity, of what it means to be a hero, and an excellent little window into Japanese culture.

Go check it out. It will take you less than half an hour to read it and you will be enriched by it whether you like sci fi or not.

And I'll end the review here because it's a sho
...more
Julie
Absolutely amazing. Short but sweet and poignant, and made me burst into tears more than once while reading. Loss, survival, nostalgia, remembrance, cultural preservation, and the spirit of the Japanese people. Human persistence.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nominated for the Hugo, and of course Ken won the Hugo, Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award for his Paper Menagerie story. This story is not similar in subject matter at all, but his ability to combine story with emotion (and implied action) pervades it. My pick to win the Hugo this year.
Joel
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ken Liu's prose is a beautiful thing, not overly flowery but impactful and pleasant to the extreme. This is a lovely little story - it has a few minor holes, but overall I really thought it was a nice piece to read. I'm so beyond excited for his full story this year.
Steve
Even though it is a very short read, this is INTENSE!
Jen
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-freebie
I have no words. Five stars. Freebie online. Just read it. It's a short one. Worth it.
Cathy
I was really excited to read this when I found out about it when Ken Liu's story won the Hugo award in 2013. I thought the concept was great, and it seemed to be a wonderful opportunity to read some international authors. But it was mostly pretty disappointing. Anthologies are tricky, they need to a well edited so there's a flow and balance as you move from story to story. And this book didn't have that at all. There was really no connection between the Japanese and non-Japanese authors at all, ...more
Eric Mesa
Jul 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Another anthology. As usual, I've included my status updates with some spelling fixes. Overall it was a very uneven collection in terms of what I enjoyed. The stories all seemed to run hot or cold for me with nothing lukewarm.

Mono no Aware - a story about a generation ship, identity, and the world just before the end. I think I heard this on Clarkesworld Magazine's podcast. It was still moving to read because I had forgotten the details.

The sound of breaking up - this story takes a sharp right a
...more
Christine Zarah
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“There are a thousand ways of phrasing everything,” Dad used to say, “each appropriate to an occasion.” He taught me that our language is full of nuances and supple grace, each sentence a poem. The language folds in on itself, the unspoken words as meaningful as the spoken, context within context, layer upon layer, like the steel in samurai swords.

I wish Dad were around so that I could ask him: How do you say “I miss you” in a way that is appropriate to the occasion of your twenty-fifth birth
...more
Tonia
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Some stories warrant 5*, but unfortunately there were a couple that I would have one-starred so I average this out as a 3* collection.

Pickle.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing reading by LeVar Burton, 4.5 shimmering stars

https://tinyurl.com/y5je4zmv
...more
Kang
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting collection with varied styles and different imagined worlds. Could be that "autogenic dreaming" was the last story but it held my attention for a while.
Bookish Nessie
Only read "Mono no aware" by Ken Liu.
Mike
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Despite my current emphasis on reading books already on my TBR shelf, once smitten by the kitschy cover, I grabbed this as an end-of-year reward to myself. This is a collection of 13 new short stories (all but two written in 2012). As a reader, I enjoy fiction in all lengths, so anthologies are perfectly welcome before my eyes. Often a novel will lack the “punch” of a well-written short story, but lets the author develop themes (and characters) more fully – and some short stories seem to beg for ...more
Ryandake
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
i'm not much of a fan of short story collections, but i am a total sucker for anything japanese. or putatively japanese. or that has brushed up against japan. so i had to check this one out.

alas, most of the stories in here were not actually translated from the japanese. which is a bummer, you know? 'cause international sf is da bomb. but pretty much all have something to do with japan, anyway, which is the next best thing.

there are two standout tales in here, for me: The Indifference Engine, by
...more
Sheila
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
my second of Ken Liu's short stories. Loved the way he linked the father son Go playing from the "old" earth to the son's ability to make his ultimate decision en route to a new one. Nicely constructed
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EDCMOOC: Mono No Aware - Discussion on 5th July 2014 11 15 Jul 05, 2014 05:39AM  

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