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Kajio Shinji

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1947-    ) Japanese author, recipient of several Seiun Awards, much of whose career in the twentieth century was a sideline to his role in the family business, the Kajio petrol station franchise. Then the youngest member of the Uchūjin authors' group, Kajio approached Cryonics as a form of very slow Time Travel in "Mia e Okuru Shinjū" ["Pearls for Mia"] (1971 Uchūjin; trans Milo Barisof in Speculative Japan 4, anth 2018, ed Edward Lipsett), in the organization's newsletter, but was forbidden from extensive involvement in the sf scene by his disapproving father. Kajio's sf career hence only really commenced after his father's death in 1978, most notably with "Seitarō Dezome-shiki" ["Seitarō's Debut"] (1978? S-F Magazine), a Sequel by Other Hands to The War of the Worlds (April-December 1897 Pearson's Magazine; 1898; with epilogue cut 1898) by H G Wells, dealing with the impact of Martian war machines (see Mars) on his native Kumamoto. The story contains heavy-handed references to Kajio's recent bereavement and troubled paternal relations, with the protagonist's estranged father killed in the first Martian assault.

Despite the liberty to indulge his vocation thereafter, Kajio worked at the family business for the rest of the twentieth century, only officially embracing full-time authorship in 2004, when he retired from his day-job. This has created a clear division in his works and accolades, which mainly comprise short stories and fixups in the 1980s and 1990s, before erupting into a riot of novels in the twenty-first century, some continuing serials dormant for years. Like the whimsical tales of Taku Mayumura, many of his stories dwell on romance, requited or otherwise, such as "Reiko no Hako Uchū" (February 1981 S-F Magazine; trans Takashi Toyoda and Gene van Troyer as "Reiko's Universe Box" in Speculative Japan, anth 2007, ed Gene van Troyer and Grania Davis). In it, a Pocket Universe, bestowed as a wedding gift, becomes a distraction from marital difficulties, and ultimately an astrophysical allegory for the implosion of a human relationship. Similarly, the central concern of Salamander Senmetsu ["The Annihilation of Salamander"] (April-December 1988 Shishi-Ō; 1990) is the alchemy that turns love to anger, as a resurrected housewife, murdered in an indiscriminate terrorist bombing, swears to avenge her family despite cybernetic limiters installed on her body to prevent her from committing violent acts. The story was adapted for radio in 1992.

"Omoide Emanon" (1979 venue unknown, trans Edward Lipsett as "Emanon: A Reminiscence" in Speculative Japan 2, anth 2011, ed Edward Lipsett; fixup 1983) begins in the style of his earlier "Pearls for Mia", with a mundane male observer, struggling through encounters in different decades with the same woman. She, however, is the anagrammatic Emanon, an aeons-old creature that has achieved Immortality through Identity Exchange, inhabiting the mind of each host-body's new-born daughter. By the third volume, Karisome Emanon ["Transient Emanon"] (2001), Emanon has been sidelined in the narrative by her twin brother – or rather, by the male offspring of one incarnation, fated to age at a normal rate while his mother-sister-niece continues on her immortal journey. Subsequent volumes offer snapshots of Emanon's previous lives, in which she becomes a brief companion to various narrators at moments of Fortean interest (see Charles Fort), or a muse to famous artists like an ever-youthful Wandering Jew, although much as Doctor Who seems to spend far too much time in the twentieth century, her adventures are often heavily weighted towards the era of her first appearance in print, and not some other more potentially interesting point in her billions of years of existence. Several volumes were illustrated by Kenji Tsuruta, who would also draw an Emanon Manga, not included in the Checklist below.

Chronos Jaunter no Densetsu: Time Lag Love Story ["Tales of the Chronos Jaunter: A Time Lag Love Story"] (1994) weaves a Club Story around the Invention of the titular Time Machine, which can send its user briefly back into the past, but returns them to a point in their own future. Inevitably, this results in some consideration of Time Paradoxes or the "Appointment in Samarra" fable [for Fate see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. To make matters difficult for the encyclopedist, the nature of the stories in the collection shuffles slightly with every iteration. The checklist below only includes the first and most recent editions of a collection that exists in at least eight different variants, with the swapping out of stories subtly shifting emphasis such as the centrality of particular characters or storylines. At least part of this confusion stems from the work's success in other media – the most recent and supposedly definitive edition, for example, includes a story that expands one of several stage adaptations, as well as a concordance of the tale's complex recursions. Another edition stresses storylines favoured in a manga adaptation, creating a variorum unintentionally evocative of the time-tinkering within the story itself. One of the stories was also adapted into the film Kono Mune Ippai no Ai o ["This Heartfelt Love"] (2005), directed by Akihiko Shiota, for which Kajio himself wrote the novelization Tie. The later Chronos no Shōjotachi ["Girls of Chronos"] (2011), collecting stories serialized in the school magazine Chūgakusei Weekly (compare to Toki o Kakeru Shōjo), was billed in Japan as the latest instalment in the Chronos series, although there had heretofore been no "series" in volume form, merely mismatched editions of the same book.

Much of Kajio's most memorable work focuses on some aspect of Time Abyss, the collateral victims of time travel in its various forms, the people they leave behind or the investigators who must piece together their origins. Deriving its name from Yomi, the ancient Japanese term for the afterlife, Yomigaeri ["Back from the Yellow Spring"] (2000) approaches his recurring time-travel speculations from a different angle, presenting a procedural investigation of a town suffering an infestation of people returning from the dead. The revenant storyline returns to an idea already strongly stated in Kajio's first ever story, that the dead are frozen in time – "they shall not grow old", while those that mourn them must get on with the rest of their lives, now disrupted by the return of old memories and relationships. It was adapted in 2002 into a film by Akihiko Shiota; remake rights were sold to DreamWorks in 2008, for a project now translated as Resurrection but as yet unrealized. Conversely, Tsubaki, Jitobi ["Tsubaki Jumps Time"] (2006) reconfigures a "haunted" mansion as a form of Time Viewer permitting a modern observer to interact with one of its residents from long ago. "Hoshi Waka" (1991 S-F Magazine; trans Ben Cagan as "The Husk Heir" in Vampiric: Tales of Blood and Roses from Japan, anth 2019, ed Heather Dubnick) applies Kajio's recurring concerns to Vampires as a delivery man in a remote Japanese community stumbles upon a party commemorating the defeat of local nosferatu, and unwittingly takes part in reanimating the undead. As with Yomigaeri, the desires of the returned are found to be at odds with the expectations of the recently unbereaved.

"Yakusoku no Chi" ["Promised Land"] (May 2006 S-F Magazine) initiated a sequence of short stories, published in the same venue over the next decade, regarding the Colonization of Other Worlds, as human settlers reach the titular planet through a volatile and often lethal form of Teleportation. As corralled in Kajio's Seiun Award-winning Onshū no Seiiki ["The Grudge Asterisms"] (fixup 2015), their experiences are juxtaposed with those in a separate group of tales, about the difficulties of life on a Generation Starship, itself heading for Promised Land. The two narratives converge in a final confrontation, with the long-term residents of Promised Land disinclined to welcome the ship, the original crew of which had abandoned the settlers' ancestors on a Dying Earth. Here, too, Kajio returns to one of his favourite themes: how it feels to be left behind by those who boldly go into the future. [JonC]

Shinji Kajio

born Kumamoto, Japan: 24 December 1947


works (selected)


  • Omoide Emanon ["Emanon: A Reminiscence"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1983) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/]
  • Sasurai Emanon ["Wandering Emanon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1992) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/]
  • Karisome Emanon ["Transient Emanon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 2001) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/Kenji Tsuruta]
  • Marōdo Emanon ["Visitor Emanon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 2002) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/Kenji Tsuruta]
  • Yukizuri Emanon ["Passing Emanon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 2011) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/Kenji Tsuruta]
  • Utakata Emanon ["Fleeting Emanon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 2013) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/Kenji Tsuruta]
  • Tayutai Emanon ["Drifting Emanon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 2017) [coll of linked stories: Emanon: hb/Kenji Tsuruta]

Nucleus Family

  • Sensei-Ō Buttobase ["Fly On, Astrologer-King"] (Tokyo: Chapiot, 1985) [Nucleus Family: hb/]
  • Sensei-Ō Kujikenai ["Don't Fail, Astrologer-King"] (Tokyo: Chapiot, 1987) [Nucleus Family: hb/]


individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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