2021’s Terminal Boredom: Stories is a collection of short stories by Izumi Suzuki (1949 – 1985).Translations are by Polly Barton, Sam Bett, David Boyd, Daniel Joseph, Aiko Masubuchi, and Helen O’Horan. This is the first English-language publication of Izumi Suzuki’s work.
Odd that there is no effort, at least in this edition of the book, to explain who the author was, because the PR for this book suggests they were a significant figure in Japanese SF.
Suzuki likes to play with reality: things aren’t as they seem and important facts have been concealed. Sometimes in the context of an authoritarian state, sometimes as therapy, sometimes because the protagonist is a very unreliable narrator.
As often as not the characters are miserable, anhedonistic, and almost always self-sabotaging. Not fun people with whom to spend time. Nevertheless I found these stories an engaging read. Suzuki entices the reader with her prose and teases with hints of a reality just out of grasp of the protagonist. Unreliable inclueing.
“Women and Women”
Once men roamed freely across a long-suffering world. The unfortunate freaks are now confined to reserves where they need not ever bother real people again. Or so the official histories say. A young woman discovers that her government has withheld one or two important details.
“You May Dream”
Draftees are frozen in the name of population control. Perhaps one day they will wake. Perhaps not. Even if they never wake, they can live on as dreams in the minds of willing hosts. Our young protagonist believes she has a solution far more adapted to her limitless ennui.
The last inhabitants of a human city on an alien world encounter indigenes. The encounter goes poorly.
“That Old Seaside Club”
Not everyone wins a holiday on an exotic alien world. Of course, the holiday isn’t exactly what it appears on first glance.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
While the protagonist struggles to come to grips with reality, reality comes to grips with her.
Married to a doting alien, Emma struggles with her suspicion that he might be a spy, when in fact the real problem is that humans suck.
When one drifts through life lost and bored, why not commit a little murder to pass the time?