Review of Kaiki Volume 3 in Wormwood

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Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Old Japan
Volume 3: Tales of the Metropolis

Selected and introduced by Higashi Masao

Tales of the Metropolis is the third and final volume in a series presenting a selection of Japanese supernatural fiction old and new, and follows on from Tales of Old Edo (stories set in the Tokyo region during the era of the Shogunate) and Country Delights (tales set in rural areas away from the great cities). This third volume returns to a specific urban locale, the Tokyo of the twentieth century, and contains eleven stories and one manga published between 1915 and 1996.

Introduction to Speculative Japan Vol. 3

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Darrell Schweitzer

It's not for me to say if these stories are "typically Japanese." As an outsider, I can only point out what non-Japanese think are "typical" Japanese characteristics, and whether or not they are present. You will find some of those expectations fulfilled here. Certainly Asamatsu Ken's "A White Camellia in a Vase," in which a samurai is preoccupied with aesthetics and the placement of a single flower in an otherwise bare room, seems very Japanese to me. This is the sort of minimalism we see in Japanese art, where the subtlest details matter. But what seems more "typically Japanese" is that the elderly samurai can care about such things without any suggestion that he has lost any of his masculine, heroic character. You would not see a medieval European knight or a Homeric warrior behaving that way. So the foreign reader can indeed see that these stories are—unsurprisingly—written from a different set of cultural assumptions, which is part of their charm and their fascination. At the same time I think I see a Western influence here. The winking flowers at the end call to mind nothing more than Arthur Machen's observation (from "The White People") that true evil is a perversion of natural law: ". . . if the roses in your garden sang a weird song, you would go mad."

Zoran Zivkovic and Kurodahan Press: An Introduction

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A Brief Introduction to the Author and his Works
by Adam Groves
© 2011 Adam Groves



Here's an odd pairing: Kurodahan Press, an independent publisher specializing in English translations of Japanese literature (including the essential LAIRS OF THE HIDDEN GODS and KAIKI horror anthologies) and the quintessentially European author Zoran Živković, arguably the most consistently brilliant purveyor of modern surreal fiction. But odd pairing or not, Kurodahan's Zoran Živković publications are nifty, being strikingly crafted and eye-pleasing, not to mention affordable and user friendly in design and layout.

Review of Kaiki Volume 2 in Wormwood

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Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Old Japan
Volume 2: Country Delights

Selected and introduced by Higashi Masao

Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Old Japan (Volume 2: Country Delights), selected and introduced by Higashi Masao (Kurodahan Press) is the second of three volumes intended to present a selection of Japanese supernatural fiction old and new. The first, Tales of Old Edo, contained stories originally published between 1776 and 2005 and set in the Edo region (Edo was the name for Tokyo during the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan between 1603 and 1868). The nine stories (and one manga) gathered in this volume were originally published between 1906 and 1993, and look away from the megapolis of the Tokyo region during the century or so following Japan's forcible opening up to the modern world after 1853. As in the first volume, aspects of the Japan portrayed in Country Delights seem both recognisable and unfamiliar. And the title is an ironic one: the delights of the country are no protection from the sort of encounters involving kaiki—the 'fantastic' or 'strange supernatural'. There are worse things waiting for those who try to leave behind them the hubbub of the fast-expanding cities or the terrors and privations of the civilian population of the World War II home front.

The introduction to Zoran Živković's
ゾラン・ジフコヴィッチの不思議な物語


by Tatsumi Takayuki (巽孝之)
Professor of American Literature, Faculty of Letters, Keio University

English translation by Edward Lipsett

Zoran Živković—I first encountered the unique works of this totally unknown Yugoslavian author about thirty years ago, when I read the translation of his first-contact short story "Project Lyra" (original publication Sirius, Sept. 1979 issue) by Namizu Hiroaki in the April 1982 issue of SF Magazine from Hayakawa Shobō. The whole world was being swept by an unprecedented SF boom following the release of Star Wars in 1977, and SF fans around the world were excited about the possibilities of first contact, especially by Hollywood's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., for example. Živković's work, an ironical look at how the long-awaited first contact would be lost due to the political infighting of the superpowers (or, if you will, to human intellectual immaturity), with the United States and the Soviet Union at the peak of the Cold War, was quite unusual. American and British SF were generally optimistic, with an alien transmission picked up to lead to first contact, ending either with actual contact or a certainty that it would soon occur.

Preface: Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Vol. 2

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Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan

Volume 2 – Country Delights 【諸国の物語】


Preface: The Subtle Ambiance of Japanese Horror
by Robert WEINBERG


Writing about the first book in this series, Kaiki, Uncanny Tales from Japan, Tales of Old Edo, I called the collection "must reading for anyone interested in the history or development of horror and fantastic literature." With this second volume, Country Delights, my recommendation remains as enthusiastic as before. If anything, as a historian of modern supernatural fantasy and horror writing, my appreciation for the dark side of Japanese fiction continues to grow. Considering the rising popularity of Japanese horror films in the United States, one has to ask if an invasion of Japanese horror novels and short stories can be far behind? If so, no doubt this three-volume series will serve as a perfect guide for the uninitiated. And readers of these anthologies will be able to pick and choose among the various offerings from other publishers, recognizing the quality authors from these collections.

Translating Catholicism through the Buddhist Tradition

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by Susanna Fessler
Translator of Hanatsumi Nikki: The Flowers of Italy, by Masaharu Anesaki

The problems of translating the canonical present their own challenges above and beyond the ordinary translation issues. Certainly the translator must deal with multi-faceted cultural associations — that in itself is not unique to the canonical — but there are added layers of complexity. The final product will be viewed by its readership as canonical, too, which means that word choice is incredibly important because in future, one's translation of a canonical religious text is likely to be used itself by scholars in analytical studies and practitioners in liturgy. That's problem one.

SF News & Views: Itō Project

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Itō Project: A Japanese Nova
by Ebihara Yutaka
© 2010 Ebihara Yutaka

When it was publicly announced that the 2009 Nihon SF Taishō had gone to Harmony (ハーモニー) by Itō Project (伊藤計劃), science-fiction fans across Japan must have been relieved to hear it and at the same time sad, because Itō had died of cancer only a few months earlier. Itō received the Seiun Award the same year, and by taking the SF Taishō as well joined a very select club limited to authors with double literary titles. The event also marked the first time the SF Taishō has been awarded to a dead author.

Review of Kaiki Volume 1 in Wormwood

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Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Old Japan
Volume 1: Tales of Old Edo

Selected and introduced by Higashi Masao

This is the first of three volumes reprinting a selection of Japanese supernatural fiction old and new. The stories are arranged by the period and place in which they are set: this volume takes in Edo, the name for Tokyo during the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan between 1603 and 1868. Of the stories here, the earliest originally appeared in 1776; the most recent in 2005.

Preface: Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan, Vol. 1

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Kaiki: Uncanny Tales from Japan
Volume 1: Tales of Old Edo 【江戸の物語】

Preface: An Ordinary World, Interrupted
by Robert Weinberg

Perhaps the greatest failing of anthologies and collections of supernatural fiction published in the past one hundred years has been the lack of representation of stories from Asia and the Pacific Rim. Volumes and volumes of ghost and spook stories are filled with tales from North America, the United Kingdom and Western Europe. Less common but still included in the more comprehensive collections are narratives from South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. However, few if any books contain stories from China or Japan. Though supernatural fiction is a mainstay of Oriental storytelling and culture, just about none of it has ever been published in the West. Until now.

JSF News & Views: The 2008 Seiun Awards

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Report on the 2008 Seiun Shō Awards
by Ebihara Yutaka
© 2009 Ebihara Yutaka

The Seiun Awards (Seiun Shō 星雲賞; "seiun" confusingly means "nebula," although it is the Japanese equivalent to the Hugo)are voted annually by science fiction fans with six categories: Japanese novel, Japanese short story, translated novel, translated short story, media work (animation, manga/comics,video games, etc.), and a catch-all for everything else. Three of the 2008 Seiun Awards went to

  • Japanese novel: Arikawa Hiro (有川浩), The Library Wars series (「図書館戦争」シリーズ)
  • Japanese short story: Nojiri Hōsuke (野尻抱介), "Flyby in Silence" (沈黙のフライバイ)
  • Other media: Hatsune Miku (初音ミク)

JSF News & Views: The Nihon SF Taishō Awards

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Report on the 29th (2008) Nihon SF Taishō Awards
by Ebihara Yutaka
© 2009 Ebihara Yutaka

The Nihon SF Taishō (日本SF大賞) is one of the four major Japanese SF annual awards, together with the Nihon SF Shinjinshō (日本SF新人賞) for new writers) and the Nihon SF Hyōronshō (日本SF評論賞) for critical works. These awards are sponsored by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Japan (SFWJ), a professional society. The fourth major SF award is the Seiunshō, which SF fans vote on directly at the Nihon SF Taikai annual convention (日本SF大会).

Works in progress seeking translators

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We are always accepting trial translations from people interested in translating for Kurodahan Press. For more information, see http://www.kurodahan.com/mt/e/faq/translators.html.

If we are looking for translators for a particular book, we will post a NEWS flash on website, and put a note here. If we had more money we'd publish more books, but at present we have to restrain ourselves... which is difficult, because we have quite a stack of anthologies and novels we really want to publish, but lack the capital to repay all the translators adequately for their time and effort.

The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows: Review

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Review
by Brian Stableford


The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows

by EDOGAWA Rampo


Translated by Ian HUGHES
With an introduction by Mark SCHREIBER

Hirai Tarō (1894-1965) adopted the pseudonym Edogawa Rampo because it sounded like a Japanese mispronunciation of "Edgar Allan Poe" and he was ambitious to be a writer of detective fiction. He was not the first Japanese writer to build a career in that genre, but he was a member of the first generation that was able to grow up reading crime fiction eclectically. Poe's detective stories were first translated in Japanese in 1887, and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories began to appear there in 1899. Hirai's mother was a fan of the writer and translator Kuroiwa Ruiko, who adapted early French mysteries by such writers as Emile Gaboriau. By the time Hirai began writing in the 1920s there was a crime fiction magazine, Shin Seinen, to serve as a convenient marketplace. He continued to produce work in the genre for forty years, under various different influences.

The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows: Introduction

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Introduction
by Mark SCHREIBER


The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows

by EDOGAWA Rampo


Translated by Ian HUGHES

In March, 1984, a team of criminals abducted Ezaki Katsuhisa, president of confectioner Ezaki-Glico, from his home in the Osaka suburb of Nishinomiya. After Ezaki escaped his captors unharmed, the gang embarked on a string of audacious blackmail attempts against food manufacturers in the Kansai region. In a stream of sarcastic letters to local newspaper bureaus, the criminals taunted the police. Their typewritten notes were signed Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō (The Mystery Man of Twenty-one Faces) — an unmistakable allusion to Edogawa Rampo's fictitious criminal mastermind, Kaijin Nijū Mensō (The Mystery Man of Twenty Faces), nemesis of detective Akechi Kogorō, whose exploits first appeared in an eponymous 1936 magazine serial.

Rush Hour of the Old Ones

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Lairs of the Hidden Gods, Volume 1

Night Voices, Night Journeys


Rush Hour of the Old Ones


Introduction by Robert M. PRICE

It is a privilege to be able to introduce you to a number of highly talented horror writers from Japan, and not just horror writers, but Lovecraftian writers! As any American fan knows by now, the Old Gent has attracted quite a following internationally. A few specimens of the Lovecraftian scholarship of other countries have straggled into print here in the USA, but the fiction spawned in Lovecraft-infected imaginations around the world has been slow in proving the adage: “What goes around comes around”! But now it has come round at last! And we are the beneficiaries. I will comment on each of the stories in turn, as you get to them, but for the present, I want to think with you about the cultural significance of Japanese Lovecraftian fiction.

Herbert A. Giles and China: Introduction

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Herbert A. Giles and China:
Introduction


Introduction
by Joshua A. FOGEL


Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935), the author of the two works which comprise this volume, was in his day, as now, an extraordinarily erudite scholar of Chinese history and culture. His long life spans the era from the Taiping Rebellion through the early years of the second Sino-Japanese War. He was the son of John Allen Giles (1808-1884), an Oxford University-trained minister, translator from the Greek, and author of a Latin Grammar. After serving in the Chinese consular service for twenty-six years (1867-1893), Giles fils became professor of Chinese at Cambridge, where he taught until 1932. Over the years, he penned a long list of books, scholarly and popular, which attempted to make sense of the great complexity of Chinese history and culture to a literate Anglophone audience.

Introduction to Kuunmong: The Cloud Dream of the Nine

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Introduction to Kuunmong: The Cloud Dream of the Nine


by Susanna FESSLER

The Cloud Dream of the Nine (Kuunmong) is a seventeenth century Korean novel set in ninth century China. On the surface it is an entertaining tale of a young man who travels through two lifetimes accompanied by eight beautiful maidens; at its core, it is philosophical novel about Buddhism and Confucianism. The author, Kim Manjung, wrote the novel while in exile, reputedly to console his mother. The result has pleased thousands of readers in the following ages.

A Literary Analysis of Kuunmong

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A Literary Analysis of Kuunmong


by Francisca CHO

Comparing Kuunmong and the Modern Novel

The Cloud Dream of the Nine is a pre-modern Asian novel, and as such, does not conform to the model of the novel as it formed in the modern West. For contemporary readers, both Western and Asian, the cultural challenge of Kim Manjung’s (literary name: Seop’o) work lies not in its remote historical setting – which happens to be ninth century China – but rather in its literary qualities, which reflect the world of seventeenth century Korea.

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