2023’s Hit Parade of Tears is a collection of short stories by Izumi Suzuki. Translation is by Sam Bett, David Boyd, Helen O’Horan, and Daniel Joseph.
The stories first appeared (in Japanese) in Keiyaku: Suzuki Izumi Sf Zenshū (Covenant: The Complete Science Fiction of Suzuki Izumi). The use of “complete” and the existence of a previous Suzuki collection, Terminal Boredom (reviewed here), that does not overlap with this collection suggests that Hit Parade is only a subset of Covenant and that stories not offered to English language readers may be as yet untranslated.
Although Suzuki was well known in Japan as an actress and as a science fiction author, it is only recently that her work has been translated into English. Hit Parade is the second collection of Suzuki’s work to be translated, after 2021’s Terminal Boredom.
The stories are quirky and irreverent; the author clearly does not take society’s pretensions very seriously. While a fair number of the stories take a dark turn, Suzuki’s amusement at human foibles does not amount to misanthropy. While many of the stories are SF, they’re not hard SF. In fact, I wouldn’t have been too surprised to have first encountered these short tales in Damon Knight’s Orbit.
Readers worried about being exposed to suspiciously avant-garde fiction may take some comfort from the fact most of the stories are very short. However, they’re also quite addictive: one may pick up the collection intending to sample one or two pieces before retreating to the safety of
old classic crap comfort reads only to discover one has finished all of them in one sitting. I’d like to say “at least there’s lots more to sample,” but Anglophones who have read Terminal Boredom and Hit Parade are SOL. Translate faster, please.
And on to the stories.
A brief assignation with an alien leaves a woman concerned for the future of their child.
The interval between an unhappy housewife gaining supernatural powers and her abusing them is hilariously short.
“Full of Malice”
An angry woman is reshaped by Science! into a form more suitable for society’s demands.
“Hey, It’s a Love Psychedelic!”
Time crime demands a bold (and unsuccessful) official cover-up.
Life in a relentless entropic realm is miserable.
A homicidal teen’s unacceptable behavior may have extraterrestrial cause. Or maybe she’s just nuts.
“Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”
Interstellar exploration is complicated by the unexpected acquisition of a baby.
Life may be hellish (It may be Hell) but the Walker can never end her long journey.
“Memory of Water”
A bold, ruthless woman and a timid woman unhappily share the same body.
“I’ll Never Forget”
An alien woman is tormented by (among other things) the thoughts of a mad telepathic woman.
“Hit Parade of Tears”
An ageless man carefully manages his life under a ruthless autocracy … but not carefully enough.