- ABE, Kobo
- (1924-1993) Japanese novelist, active since 1948, several of whose later novels have been translated into English. He is known mainly for his work outside the sf field, like Suna no Onna (1962; trans E.Dale Saunders as Woman in the Dunes 1964 US), and has been deeply influenced by Western models from Franz KAFKA to Samuel Beckett (1906-1989); the intensely extreme conditions to which he subjects his alienated protagonists allow a dubious sf interpretation of novels like Moetsukita Chizu (1967; trans E.Dale Saunders as The Ruined Map 1969 US), or Tanin no Kao (1964; trans E.Dale Saunders as The Face of Another 1966 US). However, Dai-Yon Kampyoki (1959; trans E.Dale Saunders as Inter Ice Age 4 1970 US) is undoubtedly sf. It is a complex story set in a near-future Japan threatened by the melting of the polar icecaps. The protagonist, Professor Katsumi, has been in charge of developing a computer/information system capable of predicting human behaviour. This system, fatally for him, predicts his compulsive refusal to go along with his associates and his government in the creation of genetically engineered children, adapted for life in the rising seas. Most of the novel, narrated by Katsumi, deals with a philosophical confrontation between his deeply alienated refusal of the future and the computer's knowing representations of that refusal and the alternatives to it. The resulting psychodramas include a mysterious murder and the enlistment of his unborn child into the ranks of the mutated water-breathers. A later novel, Hako-Otoko (1973; trans E.Dale Saunders as The Box Man 1973 US) has some borderline sf elements; its protagonist walks about and lives in a large cardboard carton along with many other Tokyo residents who have refused a life of normalcy. Hakobune Sakura Maru1984; (trans Juliet Winter Carpenter as The Ark Sakura 1988 US) expands that basic metaphor in a tale about a man obsessively engaged with his bomb shelter. Beyond the Curve (coll trans Juliet Winters Carpenter 1991 US) collects sf short stories - some sf - published in Japan 1949-66.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.