Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Tani Kōshū

Entry updated 1 April 2024. Tagged: Author.

(1951-    ) Seiun Award-winning Japanese author in multiple genres, a graduate in civil engineering from the Osaka Institute of Technology, whose work, in retrospect, largely divides into a sprawling Military SF Future History and a set of Near-Future Technothrillers; not included here are several historical military novels, contemporary spy adventures and tales of mountaineering and mountaineers, just as lauded in their own fields but outside the scope of this encyclopedia. A recurring subtextual theme in his later work, often revealed through authorial asides, is a disillusionment not only with the failure of the future to live up to his space-faring hopes, comparable to the anguish of William Gibson's "Gernsback Continuum" (in Universe 11, anth 1981 ed Terry Carr), but also a wry frustration at how often the technology of the twenty-first century has surpassed his own Predictions. He is, in effect, an author suffering from the benign curse of living long enough to see his early work subjected to the scrutiny of hindsight and posterity (see Longevity in Writers).

Largely comprising Infodumps from a ship's log, "Kasō Junyōkan Basilisk" (20 April 1981 Kisoutengai ["The Unexpected"]; trans as "Q-Cruiser Basilisk" by Simon Varnam in Speculative Japan 2, anth 2011, ed Edward Lipsett) showcases Tani's long-term identification with the mechanics and engineers of a Hard SF milieu, narrated by a glum, low-brow technician unaware that he is living in the reader's high-tech future (see Sense of Wonder). It was an early introduction to the series that Tani would eventually brand as Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi ["History of the AeroSpace Force"], a future history chiefly accreting around the preamble, events and aftermath of a revolt by the inhabitants of the moons of Jupiter and the Outer Planets in 2099. Erinys Kaigenrei ["Erinys Martial Law"] (1983 trans Simon Varnam as The Erinys Incident 2018) comes thick with citations and a bricolage of documents, from an author determined to showcase his working and his fascination with the finer points of astrophysics and orbital dynamics. An apologetic note from the translator speaks to a future which still has phone booths, cathode ray tube viewscreens and single-band radios, with the hope that "such incongruities... will no more spoil the enjoyment of the dedicated reader than do those of Jules Verne or H G Wells."

Written at the height of hysteria over the new-fangled Internet, Tani's Valeria File series imposes a sense of Ruins and Futurity on computers, set initially in the dilapidated and lawless Astoria City, once an enclave dedicated to data storage, now a slum where hacking for information often involves physically pilfering files and drives from deserted archives. The titular Valeria is a military program, an AI periodically resurrected by nefarious outlaws and scientists, functioning alternately as a damsel in distress or deus ex machina for the hacker protagonists, depending on the nature of her revival and the powers each iteration is able to command. Her bodiless quasi-Immortality makes her an intriguing figure in Japanese Cyberpunk, and a precursor of the Puppet Master of Masamune Shirow's later Ghost in the Shell (graph 1989-1991). Tani would later employ a similar story in a radically different form in Reihō no Mon ["The Gate of Spirit Peak"] (2009), a romance in which, through repeated Reincarnation, a couple live through a thousand years of Japanese history from the early Middle Ages through to the day of Emperor Hirohito's 1945 surrender address (see World War Two).

Tani embarked upon a series in the 1990s that scaled back his interests to a Near-Future setting largely in Earth orbit: the technothriller cycle Kidō Yōhei ["Orbit Commando"] largely concerned with satellite technology, and the extension of Earthbound Politics into space. The twenty-first century has seen several attempts at reconfiguring Tani's work for new readers, particularly in an obvious move to repackage the cover art of certain reprints with illustrations more evocative of Anime or Manga. The disarrayed publication of the Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi series has also been rationalized through its re-release in a five-volume omnibus edition, Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: Kanzenban ["The Complete History of the AeroSpace Force"] (2016-2017) in chronological order. Some effort was made to redact some of the clunkier vestiges of 1980s technology in his far-future setting, while Tani also wrote new entries in the series, more than two decades after its "final" volume, Owarinaki Sakuteki ["The Endless Search for the Enemy"] (1993). [JonC]

Kōshū Tani

born Itami, Hyōgo Prefecture: 30 March 1951



Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi / History of the AeroSpace Force

  • Erinys Kaigenrei ["Erinys Martial Law"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1983) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
    • The Erinys Incident (Kumamoto, Japan: Kurodahan Press, 2018) [trans of the above by Simon Varnam: Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: pb/Ian Stead]
  • Kasō Junyōkan Basilisk ["Q-Cruiser Basilisk"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1985) [coll: Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Hoshi no Bohyō ["Tomb of the Stars"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1987) [coll: Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Callisto: Kaisen Zenya ["Callisto: The Eve of the War"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1988) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Martian Railroad 19 (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1988) [coll: pronunciation transcribed thus on cover, despite kanji reading "Kasei Tetsudō 19": Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Thanatos Sentō-dan ["Thanatos Combat Squad"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1989) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Cruiser Salamander (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1989) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Saigo no Sentō Kōkai ["The Last Battle Voyage"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1991) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Owarinaki Sakuteki ["The Endless Search for the Enemy"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1993) [in two volumes: Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
    • Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: Kanzenban ["The Complete History of the AeroSpace Force"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2016-2017) [omni of the above series: published in five volumes reset in chronological order: binding unknown/]
  • Columbia Zero (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2015) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]
  • Kōsaku-kan Mamiya no Sensō ["The War of the Repair Ship Mamiya"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2018) [Kōkū Uchū-gun Shi: binding unknown/]

Valeria File

Kidō Yōhei / Orbit Commando

  • Eisei Kichi Gekiha ["Attack Order on the Satellite Base"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1990) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • Gekkō-ro Shōryū ["Adrift on the Lunar Roads"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1991) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • Shuttle Kyūshutsu Sakusen ["Shuttle Rescue Mission"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1991) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • BC Dantō Genkitsui ["BC Warhead"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1991) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • Hasshin Intrepid ["The Intrepid Sets Out"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1991) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • Sōkyū no Kidō Bakugeki-tai ["Orbital Bomber Squadron"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1992) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • Reimei no Kidō Yōgekiki ["Orbital Bomber at Dawn"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1993) [Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]
  • Kōgeki Eisei El Farad ["Attack Satellite El Farad"] (Tokyo: Chūō Kōron-sha, 1994) [in two volumes: Kidō Yōhei: binding unknown/]

individual titles

  • 36000-kilo Tsuishi: SF Mystery ["Drowning of 36,000 kilos: an SF Mystery"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1988) [binding unknown/]
  • Sentō-in Volte ["Volte the Warrior"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1988) [binding unknown/]
  • Manila Sanction (Tokyo: Futaba-sha, 1989) [binding unknown/]
  • Hikuku Tobu Hato ["The Dove Flies Low"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1990) [binding unknown/]
  • Emily no Kioku ["Memories of Emily"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1994) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Hoshi wa, Subaru ["The Stars, The Pleiades"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1997) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Eriko (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1999) [binding unknown/]
  • Hatenaki Sōbō ["The Limitless People"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2001) with Wakako Mizuki [pb/Wakako Mizuki]
  • Pandora (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2004) [in two volumes: binding unknown/]
  • Hoshizora no Futari ["A Couple in the Starry Sky"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2005) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Nippon Chinbotsu Dainibu ["Japan Sinks: Part Two"] (Tokyo: Shogakukan, 2006-2007) with Sakyō Komatsu [in two volumes: binding unknown/]
  • Reihō no Mon ["The Gate of Spirit Peak"] (Hayakawa Shobō, 2009) [binding unknown/]
  • Hoshi o Tsukuru Monotachi ["Those Who Create Stars"] (Tokyo: Kawade Shobō, 2013) [coll: binding unknown/]


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies