Japanese SF Novella translation: “Two of Six: A Captain’s Dilemma” by Tomohito Moriyama [Chapter 1, Part 1]

By | June 11, 2018

I’m always on the lookout for great Japanese works of fiction that I can translate in order for English-speakers to appreciate them as much as I did. The other day I came across one such work, the SF novella “Two of Six: A Captain’s Dilemma” (original title “6分の2”)by Tomohito Moriyama (森山智仁). I was fortunate enough to be able to get in touch with this author, and got his permission to translate and publish the work on my blog.

While I have generally chosen to publish stories in English-only format, this time I thought I would include each paragraph in English along with the original Japanese text to help those studying Japanese. However, if you just want to read the story I’ve also listed it on Wattpad here.

As the first chapter is a bit long, I’ve broken it down into a few parts. This is the first portion of Chapter 1.

As usual, if you enjoyed this work please feel let me know via comments, likes (on here or Wattpad), or by talking about it on your social media of choice (Twitter, etc.).

If you like Science Fiction and stories about AI I would recommend just diving in, but if you are the type of person that prefers to read a summary, I’ve created one and put it at the bottom of this post.

I’d like to thank Yeti from Shosetsu Ninja (a site that reviews Japanese literature) for helping proofread this chapter and providing some useful suggestions.

 

Chapter 1: The Beginning (発端), Part 1    

「エリーゼ、今ほど君がいてくれて良かったと思ったことはないよ」

“Elise, I’ve never appreciated you more than I do right now.”

 倉敷永司は頭を抱え込んだまま、斜め後ろに立つ金髪碧眼の女性に向けて、絞り出すような声で言った。

Head cradled in his hands, Eiji Kurashiki spoke in a strained voice to the blond-haired, blue-eyed woman standing close behind him.

「何故でしょう、艦長。何もお役に立てないということが今しがた明らかになったばかりですが」

“How so, captain? After all, it has just become clear that I cannot be of any use to you.”

「話し相手になってくれ」

“Come on, just talk to me.”

「そのタスクは現在進行中です」

“That task is currently in progress.”

「ずいぶん固い言い回しをするね」

“You sure managed to find a lifeless way to say that.”

「失礼しました。ユーモアが必要な状況かと」

“My apologies. I judged this to be a situation requiring humor.”

「ありがとう、気をつかってくれて」

“Thanks for the consideration.”

「お話し相手でしたらいくらでも。艦長、私も今ほど自分がヒューマノイドで良かったと思ったことはありません。計算や作業だけのロボットでなく」

“If conversation is what you desire, I can assist as much as necessary. Captain, I myself have never been happier to be a humanoid than right now, as opposed to a robot designed only for something like calculations or performing some specific task.”

 倉敷は力なく微笑んだ。それから、改めて立体ディスプレイに目をやった――すべてが白昼夢であったという展開を心の片隅で期待しながら。

Eiji smiled weakly, then glanced again at the 3D display; in the back of his mind, he hoped that all of this would turn out to be a dream.

 無論、そんな展開はあろうはずもない。ディスプレイは数多の深刻なエラーを列挙している。マグセイルブースター正・副共にロスト、ASLシステムダウン、生命維持機能低下……つらつらと並べ立てずに、一言こう書けばいい。「まもなく宇宙の藻屑となります」。

Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. Critical error messages littered the display: primary and secondary magsail boosters lost, ASL system down, life support system running on reduced functionality…But what was the point of listing each and every one when a single message would suffice: “This spaceship will momentarily become space debris.”   

「ちょうど三十年前になるのかな。隣の国で大型旅客船の転覆事故があった。乗員・乗客四百七十六名、うち死者二百九十五名。乗客の大半は修学旅行中の高校生だった。当時僕も高校生だったからよく覚えてる。その船の船長は、責務を投げ出して、自分だけ先に助かろうとしたんだ」

“I think it was around 30 years ago when it happened. There was an accident in a neighboring country where a cruise ship overturned. Of the 476 crew and passengers, 295 didn’t make it. A majority of the passengers were highschool kids on a school trip. At the time, I was in highschool myself so I remember it vividly. The captain of that ship, abandoning his duty, tried to save himself ahead of everyone else.”

 エリーゼはその事故について情報検索を行わない。今は相手の話に耳を傾けばいいのであって、詳細な情報など必要はないということぐらい、彼女ほどの性能になれば推し量れる。もっとも、今は地球との通信が遮断されているので、たとえ必要があっても検索はできないのだが。

Elise did not perform a search for information regarding said accident. Any machine with her level of sophistication could easily conjecture that at this moment, offering a listening ear to the captain was more important, and there was no need for such detailed information. Nonetheless, as communications were currently cut off from Earth, such a search–even if needed–was impossible.

「世界中がその船長を非難した。僕も怒りに燃えた。将来、念願かなって宇宙飛行士になれたら、乗客を見捨てるような真似だけは絶対にしないと、心に誓った」

“Society condemned that captain. Even I was livid with anger. I vowed that if my dreams came true and someday I became an astronaut, I would never desert my passengers, no matter what.”

 倉敷は窓の外を見た。そこには地球があった。手を伸ばせば届きそうに見える。しかし、推進力を完全に失った宇宙旅客船マッチロック号が母星に帰還することは不可能だ――少なくとも中の人間たちが生きている間には。

Eiji looked out his window at the Earth, which seemed close enough to touch. But with a complete loss of propulsion, it would be impossible for the spaceship Matchlock to return to its home planet–at least while the humans on board were still alive.

「今は彼の気持ちがよくわかる。逃げたいよ。今すぐ逃げ出したい。自分の命より大切なものなんてない」

“Now I truly understand how that captain felt. I want to escape. I want to get out of here immediately. Nothing is more precious than my own life.”

 家族よりも? いや、今それを考えるのは無意味だ。この場に倉敷の家族はいない。

Even family? No, it was meaningless to think about that now. Eiji’s family was not here.

「エリーゼ、こうやって本音を吐き出せる相手がもしいなかったら、僕はこのおぞましい考えを実行に移してたかも知れない」

“Elise, had no one been here to listen to me babble on like this, I might have acted on the terrible thoughts I’m having now.”

「と、おっしゃいますと」

“What thoughts would those be?”

「だから、逃げるんだよ、一人で。軽蔑するだろ?」

“Like I said, I’d run away. Alone. You’d despise me for that, am I wrong?”

「そうですね、お一人でということならば。それは最善を尽くしたとは言えませんから」

“I certainly would…assuming you did it alone. Because I wouldn’t consider that a best-effort attempt.”

「最善か。この状況で、最善とは一体何だろうね」

“Best-effort? In this situation what exactly would that entail?”

「二名の命が助かることです。二名が助かるなら、その一方が艦長ご自身でも、私は軽蔑などしません」

“Saving two lives. I wouldn’t despise you if two lives were saved, even if your own was one of them.”

 現在、マッチロック号に残されている移動手段は、二人乗りの脱出ポッド一機のみである。

At present, the only method of transportation remaining for those on the ship Matchlock was a single two-person escape pod.

 乗客は五名。ゴンドワナ社の太っ腹なくじに当選した幸運な――今となっては不運極まりない――旅行者たちであった。

There were five passengers–travellers with the good fortune (or rather, the awful misfortune) to win Gondwana Corporation’s generous sweepstakes.

 乗員は人間一名――倉敷永司艦長――とヒューマイド三体であったが、エリーゼ以外のヒューマノイドは活動を停止している。

The crew was comprised of a single human, Eiji Kurashiki, along with three humanoids. Elise was the only humanoid still operational.

 すなわち、生きた人間は六名。この中から生きて地球に帰る二名を選ばなければならない。

In other words, there were six living beings on board. From those six, two had to be chosen to return to Earth alive.

「楽しい旅行のはずが、まさかこんなことになるなんてね。エリーゼ、君にもすまないと思ってる」

“Who would have thought that a pleasure trip would end up like this…Elise, I feel bad for you too.”

「この事故は艦長の責任によるものではありません。それに、私はホログラフィックメモリをどなたかに持ち帰っていただければ再生できますから」

“This incident is not your responsibility. Furthermore, I can always be revived as long as someone brings my holographic memory home.”

「このフライト中にやりたい実験があるって言ってなかったっけ」

“Didn’t you say there was some experiment you wanted to perform on this flight?”

「ええ。しかし、ともかく今は脱出ポッドに乗る二名を」

“Yes, but for the time being we should focus on choosing who goes in the escape pod.”

「……そうだね」

“…Yeah, that’s true.”

 倉敷は椅子の背もたれに寄りかかり、天井を見上げた。

Eiji reclined back into his chair and gazed up at the ceiling.

「とりあえず、僕が乗るわけにはいかないよ」

“Well, to begin with, I shouldn’t be one of them.”

「何故です?」

“Why is that?”

「艦長には最後まで乗客の命を守る義務がある」

“As captain, it is my duty to protect the passengers’ lives until the end.”

「現状、既に『最後』と呼べる段階に達しています。艦長ご自身のお命も、他の五名と等しいものと見てよいのではないでしょうか」

“The situation has already reached what can be described as ‘the end’. Captain, I would like to suggest that you view your own life as equivalent to those of the passengers.“

「僕が生き延びて、その後どうなる? どうやって生きていく? 世間の目からも、罪の意識からも、きっと一生逃れられない」

“But if I did survive, what would I do then? How would I go on living? For the rest of my life I would be unable to escape from the public eye, or from the knowledge of the sin I committed.”

「それは、乗客の皆様も同じでは?」

“Would that not be the same for the passengers?”

「かもね。でも、やっぱり僕は艦長だ。乗客を優先しなきゃ」

“Perhaps. But I’m still the captain. I must put the passengers first.”

「ご立派です、艦長」

“That’s very honorable of you, captain.”

「いや、立派じゃない。僕はただ一般論を言ってる。本心では逃げたがってる」

“No, there’s nothing honorable about it. I’m just saying that because it sounds like the right thing to say. Inside, I’m wanting like crazy to get out of here.”

「ですが、艦長はその『一般論』に従おうとされているのでしょう?」

“But you are making an attempt to follow what you consider to be the ‘right thing’, correct?”

「どうかな。正直、本当に危ういところなんだよ、エリーゼ。だから僕は君に喋ることで、自分をコントロールしようとしてるんだ。逃げたら絶対に後悔する――それはわかりきってるのに、それでも逃げたいと思う自分もいるんだ」

“I’m not sure. To be honest, Elise, I think I’m on the verge of giving in. That’s why I’m talking to you, to try and maintain control of myself. If I escape, I’m going to regret it; nothing could be more obvious, and yet part of me still wants to.”

 逃げなければ、死。確実に死ぬ。酸素が尽きるまでのおよそ半日、その絶望を想像するだけで胸が押し潰されそうになる。

If I don’t escape, all that remains is death. Certain death. There’s roughly a half-day until the oxygen runs out, and I can feel the terrible weight of desperation pressing in on my chest.

[End of Chapter 1, Part 1]

Copyright © J. D. Wisgo 2018

Synopsis

An unexplained malfunction transforms what should have been a pleasure trip through space into a waking nightmare.

Six human crew and passengers are on board; the escape pod only fits two.

Who lives and who dies? It’s up to the captain to decide. Fortunately, his humanoid navigator Elise is there to assist.

But will she ease, or worsen, his burden of choice?

Two of Six: A Captain’s Dilemma is a thought-provoking SF story reminiscent of 12 Angry Men that touches on what it means to be human–or almost human.

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