All exam book review posts are categorized under one of my three readings lists: Media Studies and Japan, Genre Fiction in Japan’s 20th Century, and Posthuman Embodiment and Affect (all of which are detailed in the About page).  Click one of those links to filter by category in order to get an overview of a field.  I’ve made a couple of posts related to a class I taught under the Teaching tag, and I’ll add to that as I teach (and think about teaching) more.  Finally, I have some more general “grad student life” posts that are Uncategorized.  They cover more of the practical nuts and bolts of doing exams, assembling a dissertation proposal, etc, and might be useful to folks going through those processes themselves.  Enjoy!

Tobi – Jisei no yume


Tobi, Hirotaka. Jisei no yume [Autogenic Dreaming]. Tokyo: Kawade Shobo Shinsha. 2016.
Link to Publisher’s website

This is a post I’ve been working on for a while, but held off on publishing because I was presenting some of this material at a recent conference (which was lots of fun!). As far as I can remember, I haven’t written about Tobi Hirotaka here before, despite absolutely loving the stories of his that I’ve read.  This began when I first read the eponymous short story of this collection, “Jisei no Yume” in Haikasoru’s collection The Future is Japanese (where it appears in English, translated by Jim Hubbert, as “Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Column of Clouds”).  That story, as well as the companion pieces Tobi wrote for it after it won the Nebula (Seiun) award in 2009, are collected with a few others in this collection, which I picked up at a talk event with Tobi back in July.  There’s a lot to talk about here, and I’m not really sure where to start, but let’s leap before we look and dive in!
Continue reading “Tobi – Jisei no yume”

Thought dump: Two stories by Bien Fuu

Bien, Fuu.  “The Rainy Season” (雨期).  Uchuujin 156-157 (July-August, 1971).

—–.  “The Jewels of the Virgin Mary” (聖母マリアの宝石たち).  Uchuujin 173 (December, 1973).


I’ve been struggling with what to say in this post for much of this week, but by god, we’re trying to set Good Habits, so I’m going to start writing anyway.  In my last post, I touched upon an author writing under the pen name Bien Fuu (or, to use the more standard Romanization of the inspiration, Bien Phu).  I was struck that this author, a former aristocrat writing for an SF fanzine, would choose as one of her pen names a reference to the last battle of the First Indochina War, which saw the French suffer a crushing defeat against the Viet Minh.  What sorts of notions of regional identity might be at work here, I wondered, and what sort of consciousness about postcolonial issues of race and ethnicity?  With those thoughts in the back of my mind, I dug into two short stories published by Bien.  Read on to find out together what I thought of them!

Continue reading “Thought dump: Two stories by Bien Fuu”

Research musings

Hi, internet!  It’s been a while.  I’ve been in Japan since March, doing archival work for the dissertation, which is sort of the work that has to come before I have anything interesting to say around these parts.  I’d apologize for the resulting silence, but hopefully it’s just indicative of me doing my work, so…. *shrug*.  In any case, in chatting about what I’ve found so far, I realized I actually had more thoughts on it than I realized, so I decided to throw those thoughts out somewhere beyond my own research notes.  Maybe there will be useful info in here for other folks approaching research, but I’m not sure.  Let’s find out together! Continue reading “Research musings”

Ueda – The Cage of Zeus

71yg2uddvolUeda, Sayuri.  The Cage of Zeus.  Trans. Takami Nieda.  San Francisco: Haikasoru (2011).  Originally Zeusu no Ori.  Tokyo: Kadokawa Haruki Corporation (2004).

We talk about work-life balance in academia a lot, but sometimes I think what I really need help with is work-work balance.  I’m teaching this quarter, and as is often the case when I teach, I put tons of energy into that class, then promptly burn out and spend my nights vegged out in front of a video game or something similar.  As a result, my posts (and research) have been slow recently.  The end of the quarter, however, means I’m starting to be able to break out time for myself, though, so I finally, finally finished the novel I’d started over the summer, The Cage of Zeus.  I was really interested in this book for my research due to its head-on treatment of issues of gender and sexuality in an SF context.  I’m still processing it to a certain extent, but read on to see what I think so far.  (Perhaps it goes without saying, but spoilers below!) Continue reading “Ueda – The Cage of Zeus”

Random musings – D&D and Walter Benjamin

alt goblinoidsThis post is half because I wanted an excuse to say something pseudo-academic about D&D, half because it has simply been waaaaaay too long since I posted here and I feel guilty, and half because I have just enough whiskey left to drink in this glass for some late-night musings (this blog always goes 150%).  If you like Walter Benjamin and/or Dungeons & Dragons, read on!  If not, you can at least have this adorable picture of whimsical goblinoids.

Onward, friends!  Let our tales live in the songs of bards!   Continue reading “Random musings – D&D and Walter Benjamin”

Tsutsui – Iromegane no rhapsody

Tsutsui Yasutaka.  “Rose-tinted Rhapsody (Iromegane no kyoushikyoku [rapusodi])”.  In Tsutsui, ed. The Best Japanese SF of the ’60s Collection (60-nendai nihon SF besuto shuusei).  Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo.  2013.

Holy crap, everyone, I just read the wackiest story, and I need to get some thoughts out.  You may remember Tsutsui Yastaka from my post about his book Kazoku Hakkei.  In search of a good case study text to use as I begin baby’s first dissertation chapter – and with a sense that Tsutsui’s blend of carnal politics and psychoanalytical SF could hold a lot of potential – I’ve been looking through his short stories.  He was the editor on Chikuma Shobo’s Best Japanese SF Collection (日本SFベスト集成) series, which are anthologies of Japanese SF short stories organized by decade.  My sense is that he’s a bit full of himself, as evidenced by the fact that he always includes one of his own stories in each of the volumes of this series I’ve seen, but it at least makes finding his work easy!  There’s a lot going on in this 1968 short story (originally published in the April issue of Shousetsu Gendai), and I’m going to try to unpack it to the best of my ability below.  Racist alternate histories ahoy!   Continue reading “Tsutsui – Iromegane no rhapsody”

Translation: Hirose – “Object”

Hirose Tadashi. “Mono”. In Tsutsui Yasutaka, ed. 60-nendai nihon SF besuto shuusei.  Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo.  2013.

I haven’t stretched my translation muscles in a while, and I happened to read this today.  I’m going to give a shot at translating Hirose Tadashi’s “Object” (「もの」), an exceedingly short story from 1961 originally published in Space Dust (宇宙塵) and then in Hitchcock Magazine in 1962.  The translation here is based upon the version of the text cited above, and (just to cover my bases) no infringement of copyright is intended.  Can you solve the riddle before the end of the story?   Continue reading “Translation: Hirose – “Object””