Japanese online novel translation: “Japan: A New Age” by Tasogarenin (黄昏人) [Chapter 1]

By | November 21, 2016

My last translation project involved a classic story which was several decades old, but this time I decided to try and tackle something a little more modern from one of my favorite genres.

It’s a science fiction novel I found published on the site syosetu.com. I haven’t read the entire thing yet, but from what I’ve seen it’s much more up my alley that many of the other stories there.

I contacted the author and got permission from him to translate the story and put it on my blog, and he even assisted with reviewing what I’ve done in this first chapter. The summary below is partially based off his original summary, with some modifications of my own (also reviewed by him).

Because of the unadorned, realistic style, translating this chapter was quite different than many of my other projects. In some ways it felt like I was doing a job on Gengo. Because of that, I focused a little less on getting the perfect wording, and more on making sure to get the overall point across. I think the hardboiled, no-nonsense style of this story is one of the reasons I like it so much.

As usual, whether I translate successive chapters will depend in part on feedback, so please like or comment on this post if you enjoyed the story so far, or think it has potential.

You can see the original in Japanese here, available free in its entirety. The original first chapter is here.

You can see the table of contents for this here which includes other chapters.

Note: You are welcome to link to this story, but please do not cut and paste the content. If I find any sites that have done this I will kindly request that you directly link to me or remove it from your database.

Summary

— Science is the ultimate game changer —

A super genius in the form of a young boy appears in modern day Japan.

With his help, cold fusion along with ultra-efficient batteries and motors become a reality, ending dependence on fossil fuels. As a result, Japan’s industries and its society itself goes through a monumental revolution. He goes on to help solve problems including the prediction and prevention of earthquakes and the cleanup of radiation from disasters like the Fukushima Nuclear Accident.

Furthermore, thanks to the invention of the gravity engine, Japan takes to space and begins exploring other planets.

How will Earth’s expansion into the galaxy unfold?

This novel tells a tale which harkens back to the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1940s-50s) from a uniquely realistic point of view by leveraging modern day science.

Chapter 1: Encounter

(Copyright © 2016 selftaughtjapanese.com. All Rights Reserved)

  As Makimura scrolled through the file he had received, what began as suspicion quickly turned to fascination. Once he finally understood what it was, he stared dumbfounded at the conclusion on its final page–a single equation.

The Word document on his laptop’s screen, a little under five pages, had been emailed to the address associated with his research lab’s website. It appeared to be a response to the research paper he had posted on the website two weeks ago, and despite its short length this new paper did a marvelous job of proving a groundbreaking result and even touched upon practical applications.

  He personally felt that the paper he had released would shed light on humanity’s understanding of matter and of the atom itself, even in his specialization of theoretical physics, and depending on how things developed it had the potential to kickstart a so-called energy revolution.
  However, at the present time his work was not well received by neither his mentor nor a handful of colleagues from the same field. Because of this, and his acknowledgement that his paper was not polished enough to be presented in academic conferences, on a whim he decided to post it on his website.
  If his theory was correct, it would help clarify the inner workings of atoms comprised of a variety of subatomic particles, and could lead to the discovery of a technique that allowed the extraction of energy via conversion of the constituent parts of an atom. However, it only indicated one possible line of research, and he had to admit that not only was it lacking in qualitative proof, but the ideas themselves were not fully formed.

  The email he received contained the below message with a file attached, and its sender was someone who had asked Makimura many questions over email on various technical topics during the last few years. Judging from the relatively high level of difficulty of these questions, Makimura thought this person was probably a graduate student.

“Dear Dr. Makimura,

I’m sorry to inconvenience you with yet another email.

  Regarding the paper you published on your research website, ‘On the Possibilities of Operation and Atomic Structure of Hydrogen Atoms,’ I feel that you have hit upon a wonderful idea which has the potential for tremendously large practical applications.
  However, despite that fact that you are heading in the right direction, I believe that at present your theory is incomplete and have tried my best to develop it further and derive an additional result. I would appreciate very much if you can review what I have done.

Best regards, Yoshikawa”

  At age 33, Makimura was an associate professor of a national university (albeit a former imperial university) and had obtained his PhD at 28, so he was very confident about his academic abilities.
  Over time Makimura had received many questions from the sender of this email, Yoshikawa, and had replied each time, but Makimura’s correspondence of this type was not limited to him (or was it ‘her’?); there were several others he had been in contact with.

  When Makimura had created a website for the research lab, he posted a simplified description of his research work in order to find more people who would be interested in what he was doing.
  Nonetheless, he couldn’t help getting excited over the conclusions of the research report written by this “Yoshikawa” fellow.
  It was, without a doubt, a direct extension of Makimura’s paper. However, it went beyond the result he had roughly described as the final goal of his original paper, and also provided qualitative proof and a clearly defined equation for the operational factor which Makimura had only assumed. It even set the stage for a quantitative approach.

  In Yoshikawa’s words: “By applying certain conditions to matter that has a relatively small atomic weight, such as hydrogen atoms, a nuclear fusion reaction can be created. In addition, those conditions do not require the creation of the well known plasma state, but instead involve what is commonly called cold fusion. Furthermore, there is even an indication of the possibility of creating a special state that can be likened to a ‘can’ of condensed electrons.”

  Of course, any practical applications would take a great deal of time to realize, but the act itself of providing theoretical backing, as well as concretely specifying the course of future research for the operational factor were tremendously meaningful.

  Makimura himself, being a PhD scholar, had his own dreams of fame as a result of his academic research, and his recent paper was written in part to further that goal. He was quite certain that the research paper he had received–with its immense potential for future practical applications–was fully deserving of a Nobel Prize.
  And yet, the author of this paper that would shock the world was not Makimura himself, but rather “Yoshikawa”.

  Suddenly, the cellphone in his white research coat began to play a cute little melody.

   When his wife Sanae asked, “When are you coming home tonight?” he glanced out the small window of his research lab, only to find it was already very dark outside. His clock confirmed it was after 7pm.

  “Well…I’ll start finishing things up now and leave soon, so maybe around 30 more minutes,” he said and hung up.

  He stood in a daze for a few moments before remembering he wanted to contact this “Yoshikawa” person first, and with  trembling fingers he typed up a short email: “I would like to meet with you in person as soon as possible to discuss the research paper you sent me, so please give me a call when you have time. My number is 090-xxxxxx.”

  When he opened the door to his private office, of his five researchers only Saito, a second year masters student, had stayed behind in the graduate research lab and was staring at a computer screen.
  “Hey, Saito. Still working hard, huh?”
  “Yes sir. There is still a great deal of work needed for the paper I am planning to present at the upcoming conference.”
  “I’m going to go home now, but don’t work too hard.”
  “I appreciate you saying that. Good night.”

  During the 15 minute walk home to his teaching accommodations near the college he was lost in thought, partially because he was so accustomed to the route.
  He opened the door to his two-bedroom apartment and said, “I’m home.”
  His 3 year old only daughter Mai, sitting on a couch in the living room visible from the entrance, immediately ran up him and gave him a hug, “Welcome home, Daddy!”
  “Darling, you must be hungry. While you take a bath, I’ll get your soup warmed up,” his wife Sanae said as she began making preparations for dinner.

  He took a bath, and by the time he was finishing up his dinner with a beer, Mai was already getting tired, her eyelids heavy. “Mai, you sure look sleepy. Time for bed.”

  “Yeah, I played with my friends a lot today and I am really sleepy. Goodnight Daddy,” his daughter said as she entered the bedroom with Sanae. Makimura mulled it over for some time, but finally decided to tell what happened today to Sanae. She had worked as an editor for a publishing company until they got married 5 years ago, and as a result she knew more about the world than he did.
  Makimura broached the topic of the research paper he had received today to his wife once she had returned 15 minutes later after having put Mai to bed.

As Sanae spoke about the paper she became increasingly excited.
“If the research paper is really that great, sooner or later it will have to be published. But, the big question is in what form.
Of course, that will require Yoshikawa’s permission, and since his research results are already presented in a well-organized format, I think you should show the paper to Mr. Yamato and get his opinion. But, before that I think you should get Yoshikawa’s permission first.
In any case, this is a great opportunity for you!
However you look at it, his work is a direct extension of your research results, so any paper that is published should have you as a joint author, making you joint winner of the Nobel Prize! I’m so happy for you!”

“Yeah, I guess the content itself is deserving of that, but whether things actually go that far is up in the air. Either way, it will take quite a while.
But I think this will probably be one of the most important scientific discoveries of the last 100 years.
Even in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would be directly participating in this level of research.
If his theory is true, eventually all of humanity’s energy problems will be solved.
I can envision the road to putting it into practical application, but it will take quite some time to gather the needed funds and other resources to make it a reality.”

“But, you are a theoretical physicist, right? Do you actually understand how to turn the theory into an actual system?”

“Yeah, I do. When writing my research paper, my original intention was to describe the structure of atoms in terms of subatomic particles and to demonstrate that nuclear fusion is possible under certain conditions without requiring a plasma state.
But the paper I received not only clarified those conditions from a theoretical point of view, it went as far as specifying the operating conditions for the process.
By the way, I get the feeling that the theories and techniques used in his paper are a synthesis of a wide variety of preexisting things.”

“But just by reading that paper, understanding the process to create an actual system is no simple matter.
Even I can understand how big of an impact the practical applications of these ideas will have on society. In the wrong hands, this type of technology can be used for destructive purposes, even for war, so maybe you should think about all this a little more before releasing it to the public.”

“Yeah… From the perspective of national safety, I guess it’s not a good idea to release this information so easily. I would hate to see countries like China and the US taking advantage of this before we do. Oh, I just got an email! It’s from Yoshikawa! He said he’ll meet me tomorrow at noon, in front of the statue on the west side of the college library.”

“For now, I’ll just meet with Yoshikawa tomorrow and get permission to involve Dr. Yamato.”

  Professor Susumu Yamato was the head of the department of physics and an internationally known scholar. A person of liberal tendencies, he had written proficiently outside of his primary field of expertise and had deep connections within the community.
  Makimura was Professor Dr. Yamato’s beloved student, and had also acted as a matchmaker to get Makimura together with Sanae.
   Later that night, still excited from the day’s events, Makimura and Sanae laid together in bed as man and wife until they were exhausted, and then fell into a deep sleep.

  The next day, five minutes before noon Makimura tried to stay calm as he walked towards the statue on the side of the college library.
  Around the statue was a small, empty area without many people around, and it was there that he caught sight of a person standing in wait who appeared to be of short stature. As he approached, it became very clear the person was in fact very short, with short pants that made him look like an elementary school boy.

  Uncertain of what to do, he continued forward until the boy suddenly spoke, “Sir, would you happen to be Dr. Makimura? I am Junpei, Junpei Yoshikawa. I’m 10 years old, attending 4th grade in the Namishima elementary school near here.”

  After the boy finished speaking, he thrust out his hand which Makimura shook and replied, “H…Hello, I’m Masaki Makimura, the assistant professor of the physics research laboratory of Konan College. Let’s go sit on the bench over there.”

  Makimura motioned towards a bench in the shade of some trees which gave ample privacy from being seen. They sat down together on it, and Junpei said with a smile,
“Sir, I really wanted to thank you for everything you have taught me in the last two years. Thanks to you, I’ve attained a certain level of understanding regarding physics.”

“A certain level? I think it takes much more than that to write such an advanced research paper. To be honest, writing a paper of that level at your age is just unbelievable. Did you really write it yourself?”

“Yes, I wrote it. I read your paper and realized there was some missing parts, so I just tried to take things a step further using everything I had learned up to now. I think that the fundamental idea itself is probably correct, but there is still more work to be done.”

 For some time neither of them said anything. Makimura looked down and was about to break the silence, but the boy started speaking once more, pausing frequently as he stopped to think.

“I… guess you could say I am an abnormal person, or abnormal boy? What you would call a genius.
By the time I was three… I could read and write proficiently, and I’ve also become fluent in English reading, writing, and even listening comprehension. I didn’t think there was much purpose to learn other languages besides English so I haven’t tried to.
My parents both work, so I’m what you call a latch-key kid,” the young Junpei said, eyes downcast.

“Until this spring, my grandmother had taken care of me. But she fell ill, and two months ago died of cancer…medical science isn’t in my field of expertise and I couldn’t save her.
Of course, my grandmother knew about my talents, and always used to say I should hide them to avoid standing out too much. But before she died, she said someday I would be able to help so many people throughout the world, so I should study hard, learn many things, and cultivate my talents. And then when I get old enough, I should show the world what I can do, and try to help however I can.”

“So… when I turned ten the other day, I thought it was about time…
Oh, and I don’t think my parents have really realized I’m special. But when I asked them for a computer they bought me one, and even connected the internet. To a certain extent my grandmother had helped me out with my studies, but for the most part I just learned from books in the library and online. However, there isn’t too many technical books in the library, and there is a limit to what can be found on the net, so eventually I came up against a brick wall.
Recently, I’ve been focusing a little on physics, and your research website has been a tremendous help. So when I read your recent paper, I felt there was a lot of potential for expansion, so I decided to make some adjustments myself. What did you think of what I wrote?”

“It’s truly amazing. Groundbreaking! It’s easily Nobel Prize material!
I think my own paper is still incomplete and far from a state where I can present it at any conferences. But yours is already sufficiently complete and can be presented at a conference without any further changes.
However, because what you’ve discovered will be such a shock to society, I think we need to be careful about how we release it. A bunch of adjustments will be required first. To that end, I was thinking of showing your paper to my teacher and head of the science department at this college and getting his opinion. Is that OK with you?”

“Of course. Please do as you see fit.”

“By the way, I think school is in session now. Aren’t you attending school?”
Junpei answered Makimura’s question with his eyes downcast.
“Honestly, my classes are totally unbearable. I always finish reading the textbooks in the first three days of the school year, and I already know everything that’s in them.
There are no topics I can converse with my classmates about either. Because of all this, I skip classes pretty often.
My parents got contacted by the school, but since my test scores have been good they are satisfied and just say ‘Don’t skip too many classes.’ ”

“Oh… I guess that’s no surprise. I understand. Soon I’m going to talk to Dr. Yamato that I mentioned before. I think later he’ll want you to stop by, so is it all right to use your email address to contact you?”

“Yes, please do so.”

After that, Makimura got a lot of information from Junpei including some more details about his personal life, and about an hour later they parted ways.

 

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11 thoughts on “Japanese online novel translation: “Japan: A New Age” by Tasogarenin (黄昏人) [Chapter 1]

  1. Marco

    Wow. I like it. Even though it’s just one chapter im kinda hooked already and really want to read more 😀
    Hurry up and release more chapters 😀

    Reply
  2. Ozan

    Thanks for the chapter, hope to see more!

    I like the story so far and it looks promising.

    I might consider making a wordpress account just to like this chapter if we get more. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Curtis

    This is something that i have never seen before in other novels and i am greatly intrigued…i want to read more already and i hope that you continue to translate this

    Reply
  4. n1nj489

    Thanks for the chapter!
    About the translation, I think it looks good? I can’t read japanese(I’m almost like a 5 year old in regard of japanese), but the writing is quite good IMO, keep up the good work!

    About the novel I’m liking it very much! There are not much novels that have a SF theme out there, I’m hoping that you keep translating it.

    Reply
  5. Tnhs97

    Thanks for the chapter.
    This novel makes me excited from the fact that it’s a sci-fi novel. A realistic one. No nonsense like you said.
    I’m looking forward to more chapters in the future.

    Reply
  6. Nijima

    Thanks for the chapter! Although it’s way different from what I usually read, it really caught my attention (coincidentally, I just attended a lecture about cold atomic physics :D)

    Sorry if I’m wrong (I’m not so experienced in English) there are two sentences that I think are a little strange:

    “[…]Furthermore, there is even an indication of the possible of creating a special state that can be likened to a ‘can’ of condensed electrons.” – ‘the possible of creating’ –> ‘the possibility of creating’

    “In my wildest dreams I never imagined I would be directly participating in this level of research.” – ‘In my wildest dreams I never imagined’ –> ‘Even in my wildest dreams I never imagined’

    Either way, yours is one of the best translations, at least regarding the structure (since I don’t know Japanese to check if the meaning was perfectly translated ~ it seems so ~), that I’ve ever read. Again, thank you very much (and sorry for such a long comment :p)

    Reply
    1. locksleyu Post author

      Thanks much for the comments. Even with a good amount of proofreading I missed the first one, which I just corrected now.

      For the second one, I am not sure if mine is necessarily wrong, but as yours does sound more natural I have changed it to use “Even” as you suggest.

      At some point in the near future, I may be looking for an editor (up to now Ive done everything by myself, but I have limited time…). Based on your feedback, I think you might do a good job at that (:

      Reply
  7. krodiv

    I really like this idea for the novel. I’m really looking forward to getting to read more chapters.

    Reply

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