KOMATSU, Sakyo
(1931-)
   Japanese novelist and essayist regarded as the premier sf writer of his country. His main novels consistently deal with large subjects: the destiny of the Universe and Homo sapiens's place within it. They are highly regarded for their panoramic vision and the encyclopedic knowledge they display. A graduate of Kyoto University, SK worked at many jobs from factory manager to comedy writer. His first sf was the novelette "Chi Niwa Heiwa Wo" ("Peace on Earth") (1961); nominated later for the Naoki Award,Japan's most prestigious literary prize, it was reprinted in Chi Niwa Heiwa Wo (coll 1963) along with other early short fiction. His most popular work is the DISASTER novel Nippon Chinbotsu (1973; trans Michael Gallagher, cut by one-third, as Japan Sinks 1976 US; vt Death of theDragon 1978). It sold about four million copies in JAPAN and was filmed by Toho Eiga as NIPPON CHINBOTSU (1973) with a very limited release in the West as The Submersion of Japan; the film was later rereleased in the West as Tidal Wave (1974), cut to two-thirds and with new scenes added by producer Roger CORMAN. In the novel the Japanese archipelago begins to slide inexorably into the Japan Trench. Beyond its well worked-out geological basis, Japan Sinks is effective as an obviously deeply felt elegy for Japan herself in all her physical and cultural fragility: the story has no heroes or villains, the main focus of our attention being the dying of the country.SK's novel Sayonara Jupiter ("Goodbye Jupiter") (1982) was also filmed by Toho Eiga, in 1984 (vt, tastelessly, Bye-ByeJupiter), prod and dir SK himself, who also wrote the screenplay. It features a scheme to turn Jupiter into a small Sun to render the outer Solar System habitable; the book predated Arthur C. CLARKE's 2010: OdysseyTwo (1982), which uses the same central image. SK's most recent novel, Kyomu Kairo ("Gallery of Nothingness") (1987), has an immortal "Artificial Existence" (developed in an AI laboratory) riding a spaceship to research a mysterious"SS"(super-structure), a cylinder 1.2 light years in diameter and 2 light years in length, which suddenly appears 5.8 light years from Earth (BIG DUMB OBJECTS). SK's other main works include NipponApache-Zoku ("Japanese Apache") (1964), Fukkatso No Hi ("The Day of Resurrection") (1964), filmed as FUKKATSO NO HI (1981; vt Virus), Hateshi Naki Nagare No Hateni ("At the End of Endless Flow") (1966), an extraordinary tale of PARALLEL WORLDS and human EVOLUTION, Tsugu Nowa Dareka? ("Who Succeeds Humanity?") (1972), which won the Sei'un AWARD, andShuto Shoshitsu ("The Disappearance of Tokyo") (1985), which won the Nippon SF Taisho.SK is active also as a journalist and publicist - for example, as a consultant for and organizer of Expos. In 1970 he conducted the "International SF Symposium", recognized as the first truly worldwide gathering of sf authors, including 5 delegates from the USSR as well as Brian W. ALDISS, Arthur C. CLARKE and Frederik POHL.
   TSh/JC

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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