Sunday, 6 June 2010

Read:// The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa

I'm always interested in how other cultures and countries approach genre fiction so I was very interested when the imprint Haikasoru was launched with the plan to bring translations of Japanese science fiction to us barbarians in the West. Time and money has led to me only recently picking up a few of these books at lower prices and from my rather impressively stocked local library.

So how does science fiction in Japan differ from that in the UK? Well not much really it turns out, apart from maybe some of the tropes you may have seen in anime turning up it's all quite familiar feeling, though that's no bad thing. I guess I'm just still searching for stories that have ideas I've never come across before, or ways of tackling them that are very different.

This could also be a result of the quality of the translations, which without being able to read the originals appear to be excellent. I don't know how insanely difficult it is to translate a Japanese science fiction novel into English and still have it readable but I'm going to go with quite insanely difficult at a guess.

Anyway I'm not going to write long reviews in these "Read://" posts, I'm keeping them for quick notes on things I've read recently, plus any other comments like those above.

Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras--during the Second World War, in ancient Japan, and at the dawn of humanity--to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by love and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?
It's a fun book if you can ignore the inconsistencies with the time travel that takes place.

It goes with the idea that changes in the past create brand new timelines and thus Messenger O is not fighting for the people he left behind but the people in timelines he is creating. This idea also means that O can never return to the people he left including his love. That loss plus his passion for saving humanity sets him up as a tragic hero just ready for the love interest that was introduced at the beginning of the book in ancient Japan.

The battles are fun, the characters are pretty interesting, and though the book jumps around a little with flash-forwards it's an easy, quick read.


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