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.
— 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)
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.
“Dear Dr. Makimura,
I’m sorry to inconvenience you with yet another email.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.
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 😀
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. 🙂
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
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.
I want more, PLEASE!!!!
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.
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)
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 (:
Sorry for taking so long to reply. I’m not really confident in my skills as I’ve never done anything like being an editor, but if it’s okay with you, I wouldn’t mind doing it 😀
This could be intresting. I hope you continue translating 😉 cheers
Will he be blinded in the future? Ahahaha
I really like this idea for the novel. I’m really looking forward to getting to read more chapters.
Wow I really like these types of concepts so thanks for picking this up!
Sure, glad you are enjoying!