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Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams

Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime

2007

Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi, editors

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams

Connecting Japan’s vibrant science fiction tradition to the global phenomenon of anime

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams is a rich exploration of the genre that connects prose science fiction to contemporary anime. Bringing together Western scholars and leading Japanese critics, this groundbreaking work traces the beginnings, evolution, and future direction of science fiction in Japan.

Contributors: Hiroki Azuma, Hiroko Chiba, Naoki Chiba, William O. Gardner, Mari Kotani, Livia Monnet, Miri Nakamura, Susan Napier, Sharalyn Orbaugh, Tamaki Saitô; Thomas Schnellbächer.

Eye-opening, entertaining, and informative, Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams provides a fascinating, in-depth overview of Japanese prose science fiction and animated series and films, from prewar precursors to the most recent cutting-edge works.

Ian Condry, author of Hip-Hop Japan

Since the end of the Second World War—and particularly over the past decade—Japanese science fiction has strongly influenced global popular culture. Unlike American and British science fiction, its most popular examples have been visual—from Gojira (Godzilla) and Astro Boy in the 1950s and 1960s to the anime masterpieces Akira and Ghost in the Shell of the 1980s and 1990s—while little attention has been paid to a vibrant tradition of prose science fiction in Japan.

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams remedies this neglect with a rich exploration of the genre that connects prose science fiction to contemporary anime. Bringing together Western scholars and leading Japanese critics, this groundbreaking work traces the beginnings, evolution, and future direction of science fiction in Japan, its major schools and authors, cultural origins and relationship to its Western counterparts, the role of the genre in the formation of Japan’s national and political identity, and its unique fan culture.

Covering a remarkable range of texts—from the 1930s fantastic detective fiction of Yumeno Kyûsaku to the cross-culturally produced and marketed film and video game franchise Final Fantasy—this book firmly establishes Japanese science fiction as a vital and exciting genre.

Contributors: Hiroki Azuma; Hiroko Chiba, DePauw U; Naoki Chiba; William O. Gardner, Swarthmore College; Mari Kotani; Livia Monnet, U of Montreal; Miri Nakamura, Stanford U; Susan Napier, Tufts U; Sharalyn Orbaugh, U of British Columbia; Tamaki Saitô; Thomas Schnellbächer, Berlin Free U.

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams

Christopher Bolton is assistant professor of Japanese at Williams College.

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams

Eye-opening, entertaining, and informative, Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams provides a fascinating, in-depth overview of Japanese prose science fiction and animated series and films, from prewar precursors to the most recent cutting-edge works.

Ian Condry, author of Hip-Hop Japan

The Japanese imagination of both the future and the bizarre come together in Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams, highlighting what may be the most inventive literary and popular culture anywhere in the world today.

John Whittier Treat, Yale University

If you want to learn about real groundbreaking sci-fi visionaries, this is the book to take to heart.

Animation Magazine

Robot Ghosts is a collection of thoughtful and mostly substantial essays that shine a light on the origins of Japanese science fiction and the baroque, seemingly impenetrable narratives of recent anime features.

Shepherd Express

Older fans of manga and anime will appreciate this cross-cultural investigation by leading scholars and critics of Japanese science fiction.

Northern Virginia Magazine

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams offers insights to the world of Japanese science fiction — not only in the popular anime form, but also lesser-known fictional works.

North Adams Transcript

A clear, balanced, and theoretically sophisticated compendium of Japanese science fiction.

Japanese Studies

The editors’ overall effort of interfolding anime—a major cultural export—with lesser-known Japanese literary science fiction and its precursors makes this a useful collection.

Technology and Culture

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams signals the maturing of English-language studies of Japanese culture and represents one of the better efforts at putting together an edited volume from largely previously published articles, including three translated from Japanese. As such, it deserves a spot on scholars’ bookshelves and college course reading lists alike.

Monumenta Nipponica

The storylines described were fascinating; their themes and plots vital to understanding Japanese culture and history... Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams will appeal to a wider audience than most academic non-fiction — it is just as enthralling to newcomers of Japanese science fiction as fans. The information is well organized and exceptionally well chosen to appeal as much to readers as writers, anthropologists and historians. Reading and viewing Japanese animation now is a completely new, and far more intellectual experience.

M/C Reviews

This is a terrifically useful collection of new and reprinted essays. It will be valuable not just to those who have a special interest in Japanese or nonanglophone [Science Fiction], but to the entire field of [Science Fiction] studies. From start to finish, this is an excellent book, leaving very little to qibble about. Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams is an interesting, intelligent, and exceedingly rewarding volume.

Science Fiction Research Association Review

Scholars of science fiction and fans of Japanese culture will find the exploration of the genre to be a wonderfully complex endeavor.

Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams makes a valuable contribution to this study and will have a wide appreciation as both a textbook and a guide for the sf aficionado.

Science Fiction Film and Television

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams is an essential read, full of startling insights and fantastic nuggets of information, and not just for anime students either.

Midnight Eye

This collection makes Japanese science fiction— both prose and anime— three-dimensional by comparing past with present, prose with animation, leading us to a more accurate and current understanding of what is going on in the world of Japanese science fiction.

Paradoxa

Robots Ghosts and Wired Dreams constitutes a significant English-language contribution to the intellectual analysis of contemporary Japanese science fiction and otaku (obsessive fan) culture.

CAA Online Reviews

Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams is an ambitious and innovative addition to the rapidly growing English-language scholarship on Japanese animation (or anime).

Science Fiction Studies

A good starting point for further research into the relation of science fiction, technology, and media.

Journal of Japanese Studies