by Robert Matthew
It is a privilege and an honour to be asked to write this introductory piece for the foreign (i.e. non- Japanese) language section of the Hoshi Library.
Make no mistake. Hoshi Shinichi was and still is a great and towering figure of Japanese Science Fiction. But his influence is not limited to that. He is also a great and towering figure of Japanese literature itself. And of World Science Fiction, and hence World literature.
Many people in the West may not yet have heard of him, but I predict that they will. His contribution to World Science Fiction, not just Japanese, is immense. He has written a thousand short stories, bubbling with ideas about the future of mankind, evolution and technology, many of which may not yet have occurred to people in the West. This is why it is important that Western readers should become acquainted with his work. It will open their eyes. As Hoshi himself hints in his own story ‘The Law of Leaps’, a society that becomes too self-confident and smug in its belief in its own superiority is already in danger of setting itself on a downward path. Science Fiction is World literature and it is available to all to read. We can broaden our minds by reading the works of other societies besides our own. In this sense it can be an antidote to over-confidence and can powerfully enhance world understanding.
As world technological change accelerates and evolution itself under the driving force of Man speeds up, Science Fiction becomes an even more important genre of literature than it was before. Yuval Noah Harari, the author of ‘Sapiens’, acknowledges as much in his latest work ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century’.
For this reason Hoshi’s work is even more important now than when he wrote it. His importance increases with time.
I have personally translated 200 of his 1000 stories. 96 of these have been published commercially, 36 in Japan and 60 in Singapore. While I am grateful to the Asian companies that have published my work, I am frankly disappointed that my translations have not found favour with any leading Western publishers. I believe that it is high time they did.
Anybody wishing to read them in e-book form – or better still publish them – is advised to make contact with the Hoshi Library.
List of published stories translated by Mr. Robert Matthew on the Japanese site