Booklist: Death Sentences
Originally published in 1984 and available in English for the first time, this is the first novel by a noted Japanese science-fiction author. The story, which involves a mysterious poet and his strange, surreal writings, bears more than a passing resemblance to the mind-bending novels of Philip K. Dick (to whom the author has often been compared), and it is definitely not intended for readers who are unwilling to invest a certain amount of mental energy in the process of reading. The book defies easy categorization—it has elements of science fiction, horror, and the detective novel—and its story, which begins in the mid-1980s and then jumps backward about four decades and then forward again, is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, remaining alluring but unfocused until the bigger picture begins to form. Fans of well-known SF writers like Dick, Gibson, and Bradbury—the author’s poetic prose style is especially reminiscent of Bradbury—should definitely be steered in this book’s direction.