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Yamamoto Hiroshi

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1956-    ) Japanese author whose influence extends not only through his own published works, but also through his connections, known, unknown and suspected, with several lobbies and factions within Japanese Fandom, including the game designers Group SNE and the Togakkai collaborative book mill, the latter largely devoted to nonfiction works celebrating and debunking Pseudoscience and the occult, not included in the Checklist below.

Active in science fiction Fanzines from 1976, Yamamoto's first professional publication was "Stampede" (March 1978 Kisō Tengai), placing high in a competition for new authors that also featured a young Motoko Arai. Despite occasional standalone works thereafter, he fell into the gaming circle of Hitoshi Yasuda (1950-    ), which lured him into numerous publishing ventures in Pulps and interactive media, arguably distracting him for two decades from his more serious authorial ambitions. In the late 1970s, Yamamoto was one of the founding members of the Role Playing Game collective "Syntax Error", later known as Group SNE, a coterie of semi-professional gamers heavily invested in related magazines and book publishing projects. Yamamoto briefly dabbled as an illustrator on the book series Cyber Knight, but began to make a more sustained impact with his first novel, Laplace no Ma ["Laplace's Demon"] (1978), a Tie to the Ghost Hunter Videogame series. He then doubled as a creator of local gaming products and a chronicler of developments in overseas role-playing games, most enduringly as the author of Cthulhu Handbook (1988), a guide to H P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos as revealed through the contents of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu (game 1981 trans into Japanese 1986).

Yamamoto was one of the original players of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign set on the world of Forcelia, featuring prominently in "replay" transcripts of the games as printed in Comptiq and Dragon magazines, and in much of the journalism and Light Novels arising. In the "Lodoss Island" sequence run by his colleague Ryō Mizuno (1963-    ), he played Deedlit the elf, who would subsequently become an iconic character in Mizuno's novelizations, beginning with Lodoss-tō Senki: Hai-iro no Majo ["Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch"] (1988), and subsequent Manga and Anime spin-offs. The group would later ring-fence their intellectual property by publishing Sword World (game 1989), a gaming system carefully flensed of the mechanics and traditions of Gary Gygax's Dungeons and Dragons in order to be legally sold in its own right in Japan, and swiftly augmented with a flood of Shared-World anthologies, to which Yamamoto was a prominent contributor until hiving off into his own spin-off series, Sara no Bōken ["The Adventures of Sara"], beginning with Hero ni Naritai! ["I Want to Be a Hero!"] (1991).

Yamamoto officially left Group SNE in 1998, breaking out into a sustained period of original works beginning with Kami wa Chinmoku sezu ["God is Silent"] (2003), in which he drew on his various nonfiction slipstream interests for the tale of a disaffected girl who joins a religious cult that turns out, in the style of Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! sequence (1975) to have both over- and under-estimated the veracity of various conspiracy theories, occult beliefs and prophecies. Although Yamamoto continued to write Ties for some years, the publication of this book represented a turning point in his career, after which he largely left RPGs behind, except in the sense that his colleagues and earlier readers would form an appreciative new market and awards-voting bloc for his more personal novels. Some vestiges of his connections and inspirations below the surface can be determined from the forewords he wrote to the works of others, most notably Japanese editions of the works of Martin Gardner, Sakyō Komatsu and Hōsuke Nojiri.

Yamamoto was not the first Japanese sf author to notice the pun inherent in ai, the Japanese word for romantic love, and AI, the abbreviation for Artificial Intelligence, although his Ai no Monogatari (fixup 2006; trans Takami Nieda as The Stories of Ibis 2010) exhibits a melancholy approach to Ruins and Futurity. Framed as a series of stories that, eventually and somewhat tardily, knot together to chronicle the downfall of humanity, it is told by an android girl to one of the last 25 million humans (see New Zealander), weaving in accounts of digital consumerism, apathy and nascent Singularity. The story often plays out like a response to the then-contemporary remake of Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009), particularly in its romantic assertion that sentient machines might be more human than human, even to the extent of trying to save mankind after it has already doomed itself.

MM9 (2007 trans Nathan Collins as MM9: Monster Magnitude 2012) reimagines the monster movie genre typified by Gojira (1954) as a paramilitary procedural, in which square-jawed heroes and bustling Scientists function as first-responders, relief coordinators and counter-offensive agents against an onrush of Monsters. In siting his anti-monster bureau as a division within Japan's meteorological organisation, and classifying attacks with a typology that evokes the Richter Scale, Yamamoto pointedly revisits a common theme in Japanese sf, that much of its Invasions and cataclysms are a localized response to a historical experience of recurrent Disasters, particularly earthquakes and tsunami.

In any other country's sf community, an author like Yamamoto might have been the darling of the convention circuit for decades, and a regular sight at awards ceremonies. But in Japan, where his prolixity and varied output is notable but unremarkable, Yamamoto had to wait until Kyōnen wa Ii-nen ni Naru Darō ["Last Year Should be a Good Year"] (2010) to receive a Seiun Award for long-form fiction. Intimately involved in the post-911 zeitgeist, it imagines a world, but more pointedly an America, invaded by androids from the 24th century, determined to stop contemporary conflicts and terrorism as part of an operation in a much wider-ranging Changewar, the precise aims and consequences of which are hidden from inhabitants of the present day. A prolonged sequence recounting the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 is soon revealed as a Fabulation that has already deviated from events in our world, subtly suggesting that our own reality is frangible and subject to alteration, and that the war across time is already underway. [JonC]

Hiroshi Yamamoto

born Kyoto, Japan: 1956

works (selected)


Ghost Hunter

  • Laplace no Ma ["Laplace's Demon"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1988) [Ghost Hunter: pb/]
  • Paracelsus no Maken ["Demon Sword of Paracelsus"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1994) [in two volumes: Ghost Hunter: pb/]

Sara no Bōken

  • Hero ni Naritai! ["I Want to Be a Hero!"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 1991) [Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]
  • Akutō ni Makenai! ["I Won't Lose to a Villain!"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 1992) [Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]
  • Kimi o Mamoritai! ["I Want to Protect You!"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 1993) [Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]
  • Ai o Shiinjitai! ["I Want to Believe in Love!"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 1995) [Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]
  • Shiawase o Tsukamitai! ["I Want to Be Happy"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 2005) [Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]
  • Yappari Hero ni Naritai! ["Of Course I Want to Be a Hero"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 2006) [Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]
  • Shisha no Mura no Shōjo ["The Girl From the Village of the Dead"] (Tokyo: Fujimi Shobō, 2006) [anth: Sara no Bōken: pb/Maburoshi Choji]

Galaxy Tripper Miha

  • 10-man Kōnen no Escape ["Escape of 100,000 Light years"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1992) [Galaxy Tripper Miha: binding unknown/]
  • Sora no Kanata no Utopia ["Utopia Beyond the Sky"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1994) [Galaxy Tripper Miha: binding unknown/]
  • Yorimichi no Darake Odyssey ["An Odyssey Full of Diversions"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1995) [Galaxy Tripper Miha: binding unknown/]


  • MM9 (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2007) [MM9: pb/]
    • MM9: Monster Magnitude (San Francisco, California: Haikasoru, 2012) [trans of the above by Nathan Collins: MM9: binding unknown/]
  • MM9 – invasion (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2011) [MM9: binding unknown/]
  • Twilight Tales (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2011) [MM9: binding unknown/]
  • MM9 – destruction (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2013) [MM9: binding unknown/]


BIS Bibliobattle-bu

  • Tsubasa o Motsu Shōjo ["The Girl Who Had Wings"] (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2014) [in two volumes: BIS Bibliobattle-bu: binding unknown/]
  • Yūrei Nante Kowakunai ["Ghosts aren't Scary"] (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2015) [BIS Bibliobattle-bu: binding unknown/]
  • Sekai ga Owaru Mae ni ["Before the World Ended"] (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2016) [BIS Bibliobattle-bu: binding unknown/]
  • Kimi no Shiranai Hōteishiki ["Your Unknown Equation"] (Tokyo: Sōgensha, 2017) [BIS Bibliobattle-bu: binding unknown/]

individual titles


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