|Print List Price:||$19.95|
Save $9.96 (50%)
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Price set by seller.
Terminal Boredom: Stories Kindle Edition
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
—Jessica Esa, Metropolis Japan (“5 Japanese Novels to Read in 2021”)
“Her punky irreverence remains radiant.”
“If you’re into Kōbō Abe and prefer Ryū Murakami to Haruki you’ll not (as the title of this inaugural translation of Suzuki into English suggests), be bored.”
—The Millions (“Most Anticipated”)
“Weird and wonderful, unique and unsettling … You won’t put this one down.”
“Eagerly awaited … [Terminal Boredom transports] readers to worlds both familiar and unfamiliar, indulging our fantasies and fears of the future … Dark and slightly absurdist, this collection is a poignant rumination on the despair and isolation of modern society.”
“The stories chosen for this collection showcase an author whose interest in alienation and despair as well as playful literary exploration parallels the work of other ’70s SF titans such as Joanna Russ or Thomas Disch … Essential reading not only for those interested in Japanese SF, but for anyone interested in spiky, beautiful, and bleak literature.”
—Nell Keep, Booklist (starred review)
“These strangely prescient stories are perfect for fans of Haruki Murakami, George Saunders, and Philip K. Dick.”
“The latest inclusion in the modern canon of Japanese women authors’ surreal feminist work, [Terminal Boredom] puts a distinctly sci-fi spin on the concept.”
—Thrillist (“30 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021”)
About the Author
- ASIN : B08DMW9GWX
- Publisher : Verso Fiction (April 20, 2021)
- Publication date : April 20, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 772 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 178 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #207,884 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Well, the first two stories in this collection, (one about a world without men and the other about voluntarily checking out), were slow and bland. I wondered when the special would start to happen. Then we hit the third story, "The Night Picnic", which is about the last, isolated, slightly deranged, surviving humans, lost in the cosmos, trying to act like traditional humans, based on old videos, books, and the like. It is laugh out loud funny and as edgy, irreverent, and twisty as you could possibly want. It just kept getting better as I read and it finished socko. So, O.K. I thought, now we're cooking.
After that, though, through three more stories, we dream, we travel, we talk and drink, we go to sleep and we wake up, and it's all slightly odd, and disjointed, and disorienting. A lot of it is literally about boredom, including terminal boredom, and it's pretty hard to make boredom interesting, much less exciting. I don't necessarily always "get" Suzuki's point, but I certainly get why she's so popular. This is as good an introduction as any.
(Please note that I received a free ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
"Terminal Boredom" is a collection of seven short scifi stories written in the 70's and 80's by the actress, model, and author Izumi Suzuki and republished posthumously in 2021 in English. These stories lean towards the dystopian tendencies of Margaret Atwood, only they are not as cheerful as those by Atwood. Many of the stories are also reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, however, Dick's stories are more based in comfortably solid reality. All of the stories are enhanced with aspects of Japanese culture. In a few cases, it is useful to have an understanding of Japanese society and daily life to appreciate some of the nuances, but it is certainly not mandatory. In many cases the writing style follows the traditional Japanese artistic tendency of sketching the key points and leaving full details to the imagination of the connoisseur.
Each of the stories is poignant and memorable in different ways.
Some of the best science fiction proposes a situation and analyzes what it might mean to people involved. "The World of Women and Women" does this very well by asking the question "What might a Japanese society without men be like?" and then crafting a very understandable dystopian and human story.
"You May Dream" provides an interesting premise of overpopulation and creative dystopian methods of handling along with how this would affect the individual.
"Night Picnic" is a creative and imaginative story that keeps the reader guessing until the end. It may feel familiar to fans of Ray Bradbury in the portrayal of aliens.
Readers who have visited Yokohama may take interest in places mentioned in "That Old Seaside Club". However, as with Philip K. Dick stories, it soon becomes obvious that things are not what they seem to be.
Similarly, fans of Philip K. Dick should feel at home with "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". Drugs, reality, time, and relationships are all a blur in this story.
"Forgotten" may contain aliens, spaceships, drugs, and interstellar conquest, but the focus is on the personal Terran-Alien relationship of the main characters.
Of all of the stories in this collection, "Terminal Boredom" by far had the strongest emotional impact to me.
My initial impression of the collection is "dark and dystopian". However, I am appreciative of the chance to read the collection. I feel like I understand Japanese counterculture a bit better. I will keep an eye open for additional opportunities to read Izumi Suzuki and other Japanese scifi authors.
Suzuki was born in 1949 (the same year as Haruki Murakami) in Shizuoka. She killed herself at age 36 in 1986. After graduating from high school she worked briefly as a keypunch operator. In 1969 she was a runner-up for the literary magazine Shosetsu Gendai and move to Tokyo where she worked as a bar hostess, nude model, and actor in “pink films”—sort of low-budge soft-core porn. She wrote plays and from 1971 devoted herself to writing. In 1975 she published her first science-fiction short story.
She married Kaoru Abe in 1973 and they had a daughter in 1976. A year later she divorced Abe although they continued to live together. He died in 1978 from an accidental overdose of Bromisoval, a sedative/hypnotic drug. According to Wikipedia, “For a time she managed to support her daughter by publishing stories in sci-fi magazines, but eventually her health deteriorated and she began receiving public assistance. In 1986, she committed suicide by hanging herself at home.”
Given Suzuki’s tumultuous marriage and avant-garde instincts (writes the reviewer who has no idea what he is talking about), it is no surprise that the seven stories in Terminal Boredom tend to be bleak. They are selected from earlier collections and translated by six translators: Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Akio Masubuchi, and Helen O’Horan.
In the first, “Women and Women,” men, responsible for war and the world’s other evils—have begun to die off, the survivors exiled to the Gender Exclusion Terminal Occupation zone. The narrator is fine with this until a boy—someone who has escaped the zone—passes by her house. They become unlikely and secret friends until one day:
“Suddenly he hugged me, then flipped me over and pinned me down like we were wrestling. At first, I thought he was just messing around. But he wasn’t. Not in the slightest. Hiro wasn’t messing around at all. I spent the rest of that day learning the unexpected, dreadful truth about human life. Learning it with my body.” What she’s learned, however, is an adolescent fantasy.
The stories all have sci-fi aspects, but they tend to be subordinate to the conversations between characters. Two friends seem to be in an ordinary coffee shop when “she took a slow look around the room and pushed the button at the edge of the table. A see-through capsule popped up to cover us. No one could hear us now.” In “Night Picnic” the family picnics on the moon. In “That Old Seaside Club” CHAIR in small caps “sits in the middle of my apartment and talks to me—and only ever to say mean things!”
I am afraid that my patience with talking chairs and human/alien individuals and faster-than-light travel is limited. Nevertheless, I think Terminal Boredom is worth reading if only to be exposed to the attitudes and ideas of a prolific and interesting writer. I also do not regret the two hours I’ve spent (because I’ve watched it twice) with the translators talking about translation in general and Suzuki in particular.