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!

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””

First thoughts – SF Magajin

SF MagajinOne of the few good primary sources on Japanese SF available in the US is this magazine, SF Magazine SFマガジン, held by the University of Kansas.  I had a chance to scope out a few of the early issues for a project a couple years ago, but I’ve been eager to return to the publication to see what else I can get out of it.  A lot of my time this summer has been taken up with doing just that.  Specifically, I’m focusing on the issues from the 1960s, as that’s where my committee want me to focus my dissertation efforts for now.  I’m looking for evidence to use in my argument that the body remains a crucial element of contestation in SF of the Cold War period.  Today, I want to throw out a few inchoate thoughts on one issue in particular that I’ve found really interesting.  In August 1963, there was a special issue (臨時増刊, technically an “expansion” of issue 8, so there were two issue 8s that year) devoted to the topic of “SF Sexology”.  If we’re looking for SF’s thoughts on the body, this seems like a pretty good place to find them!  I’ve yet to read it cover to cover, but read on for some early impressions.   Continue reading “First thoughts – SF Magajin”

Abe – Inter Ice Age 4


Abe Kobo.  Inter Ice Age 4.  Trans. E. Dale Saunder.  New York: Knopf.  1970 [1959].

I know, I hear you.  “You promised regular blog posts about SF!  What gives?”  I honestly just haven’t known where to start with this book.  Maybe I shouldn’t feel bad.  Included in this edition is an afterword by Abe in which he says that he himself didn’t really know what to think of this book.  He says that, by the time it finished serialization in Sekai (in 1959, having started in ’58), he’d posed a lot of questions to which he simply didn’t have any answers.  Knowing Abe, that could just be another layer of performance that he’s folding into the book, but I’m going to take him at his word for now, if only to make myself feel better.  I still don’t know where to start, but I’ve already started writing, so let’s see where it takes us.   Continue reading “Abe – Inter Ice Age 4”

Tsutsui – What the Maid Saw

51fyq8pbe2l-_sx340_bo1204203200_Tsutsui Yasutaka.  What the Maid Saw.  Trans. Adam Kabat.  New York: Kodansha International.  1990 [1972].

As I said a few posts ago, I think a lot of this blog’s content this summer is going to be reviews of Japanese SF books.  My proposal committee wants to see more concrete readings of books, and I’m planning on getting more bang for my buck out of that work by using those readings in a conference proposal at the end of the summer.  What all that means is that I need to read a bunch of SF novels so that I can get that work done!  I’ve gone through a couple already, so let’s get started jotting down thoughts on them!  The first is a book I’ve had checked out for… longer than I’d like to admit, given its slim profile (clocking in at 189 pages).  Tsutsui Yasutaka is a name I’ve known for a long time, given the amount of crossover his work has with the film and anime industries (he wrote the novels upon which The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Paprika were based, among others), but whom I’d never actually read.  Much like Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov, his name has always hovered on the outskirts of my awareness of SF, but this was the first time I’d sat down to read one of his books.  How does it stack up?  Read on to find out. Continue reading “Tsutsui – What the Maid Saw”

A less-than-modest proposal (2/2)

Welcome back to the second-half of my post on dissertation proposals.  Last time, I talked about my experience of writing the proposal, the importance of frequent and varied feedback, and what my proposal ended up looking like.  Today, I’ll be writing a bit about the moment when the rubber meets the road: the defense.  What was it like?  What was expected of me?  And did I fulfill those expectations?   Continue reading “A less-than-modest proposal (2/2)”

A less-than-modest proposal (1/2)

Back from a week’s vacation in Atlanta, and I must admit that I think I lied to you in my last post.  With my exams behind me, I think I may not actually do that many more reviews of books that were on my lists, mostly because I think I’ve covered most of the interesting ones already.  Hate me if you must.

Instead, I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking about my dissertation proposal in this post, before moving on to reviews of SF books that I’m reading this summer.  I don’t know how transferable my experience of the proposal writing and defense processes will be to others – since dissertations are all pretty idiosyncratic beasts – but hopefully this will at least give anyone in the pre-diss stages another data point by which to orient their own paths.   Continue reading “A less-than-modest proposal (1/2)”