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Fukushima Masami

Entry updated 16 August 2021. Tagged: Author, Editor.

Pen-name of Masami Katō (1928-1976), a Japanese author, editor, and translator, whose abrasive personality and passionate advocacy led to his nickname as "the Demon of SF" [SF no Oni].

As a translator, Fukushima was a prime mover in the arrival in Japan of Anglophone works from the Golden Age of SF, although his first publication was the non-genre Elephant Walk (1948; trans Masami Fukushima and Shunji Shimizu as Kyozō no Michi 1954) by Robert Standish (see Stephen Lister). By the mid-1950s, he was churning out Japanese translations of English-language fiction, including Son of the Stars (1952; trans Masami Fukushima as Seiun kara Kita Shōnen 1955) by Raymond F Jones; Earthbound (1952; trans as Rocket Renshūsei 1955) by Milton Lesser and Marooned on Mars (1951; trans as Kasei-gō Fujichaku 1956) by Lester del Rey. Other projects during his early translation period included the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet novels as by Carey Rockwell and Danger: Dinosaurs (1953; trans as Kyōryū no Sekai 1956) as by Richard Marsten (see Evan Hunter). However, such publications were steered not by his own tastes, but by those of commissioning editors unsure of the likely long-sellers or future big names of a curated sf list. By 1956, Fukushima was hired in-house by the Hayakawa publishing company, initiating its Hayakawa Fantasy book series in 1957 with the publication of his own translation of The Body Snatchers (1955; trans as Nusumareta Machi 1957) by Jack Finney. He became the founding editor of Hayakawa's seminal S-F Magazine in 1959, remaining in the role for the next decade. The book line was renamed Hayakawa SF Series in 1962.

As the editor of S-F Magazine, Fukushima continued to translate foreign works, but with a notable change in focus, away from juveniles towards authors better known to posterity. His works in this period included The Caves of Steel (October-December 1953 Galaxy; 1954; trans as Kōtetsu Toshi 1959) by Isaac Asimov, The Door into Summer (October-December 1956 F&SF; 1957; trans as Natsu e no Tobira 1963) by Robert A Heinlein and Childhood's End (April 1950 Famous Fantastic Mysteries as "Guardian Angel"; much exp 1953; trans as Yōnenki no Owari 1964). Although early issues of S-F Magazine were dominated by reprints, Fukushima also began earnestly pushing home-grown Japanese talent, beginning with a special feature in the May 1960 issue, which also ran stories by Kōbō Abe, Yasukuni Takahashi and Michio Tsuzuki. In doing so, he initially appeared to overlook the pre-existing Uchūjin collective that would nurture many of Japan's best-known genre authors. Inspired to some extent by the influence of John W Campbell Jr over Astounding, Fukushima was determined to establish sf as a high-brow form of fiction, initially refusing to run Space Opera stories in his magazine, and demanding that all novel and periodical covers use adult-themed artwork, most commonly by the artist Seikan Nakajima. He would eventually relent over some of the lower-brow elements of sf most popular with Fandom, although only with great reluctance.

At least part of Fukushima's change of heart may have been occasioned by his personal involvement in the pulpy end of media sf. In 1966, he founded the "Shōnen Bungei Sakka Club" ["Boys Culture Writers Club"], intended to hive off writers and discussions of juveniles from the more adult discussions of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan (SFWJ, founded 1963). His approach came to embrace Children's SF as a necessary counterpoint to adult works, helping to create the sf readers of the future. He was also credited with Shinichi Hoshi as one of the originators of the concept for the films Matango (1963; vt Attack of the Mushroom People), individually for Godzilla tai Mechagodzilla (1974) (see Gojira) and of one of the committee of ideas-men behind Kaitei Gunkan ["Submarine Warship"] (1963; vt Atragon 1965) (for which see Shunrō Oshikawa). Such movie dabblings served to undermine his standing as the gatekeeper of literary sf in Japan, and contributed to his downfall after the publication of "Fukumen Zadankai Nihon no SF 68-69" ["Masked Round Table: Japanese SF 68-69"] (February 1969 S-F Magazine), a symposium on several new works of Japanese fiction, presented as the opinions of a five-man jury. The unnamed members comprised critic Takashi Ishikawa, translators Akio Inaba and Norio Itō, Fukushima himself and his deputy editor Hiroshi Minamiyama.

While some of the critiques in what became known as the Masked Round Table Incident were glib and snide, others were verging on fair comment, such as observations on the derivative nature of certain works by Aritsune Toyota, for example, or the rivalry between Sakyō Komatsu and Yasutaka Tsutsui. However, Fukushima was criticized not merely for taking potshots at new authors whose talents outshone his own, but for doing so from the safety of an anonymous panel to which he had also submitted one of his own stories. Some of the authors in question responded with letters of complaint; others wrote satires of the incident, including "S/S22-gōhyō Mr X-tachi to no Zandankai" ["S/S22 Critical Round Table by Mr X and Co"] (March 1969 Silent Star) by Kazumasa Hirai. Tetsu Yano took a lighter-hearted approach by announcing a spoof event about the "winds of change" in Japanese sf in the May 1969 issue of S-F Magazine. Fukushima responded by publishing a polemic by Kōichi Yamano, "Nihon no SF no genten to shikō" (June 1969 S-F Magazine; trans Kazuko Behrens as "Japanese SF: Its Originality and Orientation", March 1994 Science Fiction Studies), calling for a robust policy of tough love in sf criticism, and demanding that the Japanese genre remove itself from the "prefabricated housing" of American sf. Yamano, however, was advancing a separate thesis, akin to the contemporary split between traditional sf and the New Wave. Some of his comments matched those of Fukushima about demanding higher standards from named authors, but while they initiated a new spat among Japanese writers, they did not save Fukushima, who announced his resignation in the following issue.

The aftershocks would continue for years. The affected authors, the core of the contemporary Japanese genre, boycotted Fukushima's farewell party and dropped out of his club, leaving only Ryū Mitsuse and Taku Mayumura as leading figures representing sf within it. Seven years on, Aritsune Toyota used a spoof series of how-to articles "Anata mo SF Sakka ni nareru wake de wa nai" ["You, too, can not become an SF writer"] (1976 Kisō Tengai) to attack Akio Inaba as the last offender to have failed to own up or apologize. The nature of Fukushima's removal isolated him from much of the networking and conversations that could lead other authors into new commissions and collaborations. It also opened the door for other authors who had previously been excluded by his regime, such as Allan Kiodomari, whom Fukushima seemed to resent for having connections and contacts outside the sf field. Fukushima worked for corporate clients on futurist exhibits at the 1970 Osaka Expo and the 1975 Okinawa Ocean Expo, but returned in earnest to translation for the rest of his life. His output in the 1970s including translations of detective fiction, nonfiction and such novels as Immortality Inc. (1959; trans Masami Fukushima as Fushi Hanbai Kabushiki-kaisha 1971) by Robert Sheckley and I Love Galesburg in the Springtime: Fantasy and Time Stories (coll 1963; trans as Galesburg no Haru o Aisu 1972) by Jack Finney. In fact, his translation output in this third phase was so prolific, at a rate of roughly one book every three months for almost a decade, that a further dozen of his translations appeared in the years after his death in 1976, only coming to an end in 1983.

In defining the character and direction of sf in Japan through its most influential magazine, and in his lifelong efforts as a translator and anthologist of sf from overseas, Fukushima left an indelible imprint on the genre. However, like many editors in the field worldwide, his concentration on the work of others was to the arguable detriment of his own output. Despite his earlier disregard for Children's SF he came to embrace it in much of his own stories, on the understanding that it served a valuable gateway for new readers. This, at least, was his excuse for his own juveniles, including Oshiire Time Machine ["The Closet Time Machine"] (1969), Konya Entaku ga Yattekuru ["Tonight the Saucers are Coming"] (1978) and Sayōnara Iceman (1985). His adult works were few but of intriguing focus, including Kiga Rettō ["Hunger Archipelago"] (1974), written with Taku Mayumura, a prescient Disaster novel about runaway Climate Change. His sole story translated into English was "Hana no Inochi wa Mijikakute" (October 1967 S-F Magazine; trans Tetsu Yano and Judith Merril as "The Flower's Life is Short" in Speculative Japan, anth 2007, ed Gene van Troyer and Grania Davis), a consideration of the implications of extended longevity in a post-scarcity society. Its leading character, a 68-year-old digital flower arranger, considers a career change in an environment in which humans are expected to "bloom" in multiple roles in the course of a prolonged lifespan. Science in her world, however, does not allow for a similarly extended potential for reproduction or anti-aging, thereby forcing young women into life-choices regarding marriage and childbirth that cannot be revised or reversed in later decades (see Women in SF).

Unfortunately for Fukushima, the authors he insulted in 1969 became the chief representatives of Japanese science fiction of the late twentieth century, and ultimately the custodians of its historical memory, turning his posthumous footprint into an occasional walk-on role in the memoirs of others. Largely outliving him by decades (see Longevity in Writers), their voices soon crowded out his – he published critical essays in SF no Me: SF Bunmei-ron Note ["The Eye of SF: Notes on the Theory of SF Civilization"] (coll 1973), but with an obscure press, as if his opinions were no longer appreciated in the sf conversation. Shortly before his death at the age of 47, S-F Magazine began serializing his memoirs, a bittersweet account of the years in which he was the fulcrum on which sf turned in Japan, including fond reminiscences about some figures who still refused to talk to him. Posthumously published as Mitō no Jidai: Nihon no SF o Kizuita Otoko no Kaisōroku ["The Unexplored Era: Recollections of the Man Who Built Japanese Science Fiction"] (1977), his account ends in 1967, and hence never makes it to the grand controversy that ended his career as a magazine editor.

The Boys Culture Writers Club inaugurated a Masami Fukushima Writers Prize in 1983 in his honour, although this, too, became enmeshed in controversy and walkouts when it was awarded in 1991 to a seven-year-old boy, Ryūnosuke Takeshita. Subsequently, the club was renamed as the Prominence writers' group, presided over by Fukushima's long-time friend Ryū Mitsuse. For a subsequent scandal involving author relations at Hayakawa, see Akira Hori. [JonC]

Masami Katō

born Toyohara, Karafuto, Japan [now Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin, Russia]: 18 February 1929

died 9 April 1976

works (selected)

  • Uchū ni Kakeru Hashi ["A Bridge to Space"] (Tokyo: Kokudosha, 1969) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Oshiire Time Machine (Tokyo: Iwasaki Shoten, 1969) [binding unknown/]
  • Kiga Rettō ["Hunger Archipelago"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1974) with Taku Mayumura [binding unknown/]
  • Chigau ["Different"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1974) [binding unknown/]
  • Chikyū no Horobiru Toki ["The Time the Earth was Destroyed"] (Tokyo: Akimoto Shobō, 1975) [binding unknown/]
  • Kyūentai ["Rescue Squad"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1975) [binding unknown/]
  • Chitei Kai Seibutsu Mantra ["Underground Monster Life-Form Mantra"] (Tokyo: Asahi Sonoaram, 1975) with Hideyuki Minamimura [binding unknown/]
  • Hanarete Toki ["Far, Far Away"] (Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1975) [binding unknown/]
  • Kyomō no Shima ["Island of Delusion"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1976) [binding unknown/]
  • Konya Entaku ga Yattekuru ["Tonight the Saucers are Coming"] (Tokyo: Iwasaki Shoten, 1978) [binding unknown/]
  • Akai Sabaku no Ue de ["Upon the Red Desert"] (Tokyo: Bunka Shuppan, 1981) [binding unknown/]
  • Chōnōryoku Game ["Superpower Game"] (Tokyo: Sanseido, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kako e no Denwa ["Call to the Past"] (Tokyo: Ōbunsha, 1984) [binding unknown/]
  • Gessekai 2008-nen ["Moonworld 2008"] (Ōbunsha, 1985) [binding unknown/]

nonfiction

  • SF no Me: SF Bunmei-ron Note ["The Eye of SF: Notes on the Theory of SF Civilization"] (Tokyo: Tairiku Shobō, 1973) [nonfiction: binding unknown/]
  • Dai Ihen: Chikyū SOS ["Great Disasters: Earth SOS"] (Tokyo: Gakken, 1976) with Jitsuo Kusaka [nonfiction: binding unknown/]
  • Mitō no Jidai: Nihon no SF o Kizuita Otoko no Kaisōroku ["The Unexplored Era: Recollections of the Man Who Built Japanese Science Fiction"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1977) [nonfiction: binding unknown/]

works as editor

  • SF Erotics (Tokyo: San-ichi Shobō, 1964) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • SF Highlight (Tokyo: San-ichi Shobō, 1965) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • SF Nyūmon ["Introduction to SF"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1966) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • SF no Yoru ["Nights of SF"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1966) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • SF Erotic Mystery (Tokyo: Sunday Shinsho, 1966) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • Romantist ["Introduction to SF"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1968) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • Uchū SF: Senoku no Sekai ["Space SF: One Hundred Billion Worlds"] (Tokyo: Haga Shoten, 1972) [anth: binding unknown]
  • Okashi-na Sekia Ishoku SF ["Strange Worlds: Alternative SF"] (Tokyo: Haga Shoten, 1972) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • Mirai SF: Mirai Shock ["Future SF: Future Shocks"] (Tokyo: Haga Shoten, 1973) [anth: binding unknown]
  • Hametsu SF: Hametsu no Hi ["Destruction SF: The Day of Destruction"] (Tokyo: Haga Shoten, 1973) [anth: binding unknown]
  • Crazy Humour SF (Tokyo: Haga Shoten, 1973) [anth: binding unknown]
  • SF Sanpo ["SF Stroll"] (Tokyo: Bunsen, 1973) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • Toki to Jigen no Kanata kara ["From the Edges of Time and Dimension"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1975) [anth: binding unknown/]
  • Karei-naru Gensō ["Brilliant Illusions"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1977) [anth: binding unknown/]

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