I was considering taking a break for a few months, but two classic SF stories that I had read over a year ago were smoldering in the back of my mind, waiting patiently to be translated and published. While there can be various reasons to want to publish some work of fiction, to paraphrase Edward Lipsett of Kurodahan Press (from an interview I did with him earlier this year)––If it doesn’t make you feel something, it isn’t worth publishing. My memory works in odd ways, so for me to remember details about the atmosphere, characters, and story of some piece of literature over a year later, it generally must have left a strong impression on me.
After finding a suitable third piece by the same author, I decided to go ahead and translate all three works and publish them as a collection. As I was going through these stories again, I realized they have a great deal in common with one another, in fact two of the stories at first appear to be built on a similar premise (though turn out very differently). While I don’t want to give too much away, I’ve named this collection based on the biggest common factor between these stories: “There Special Girls”.
These works were written by Ikujiro Ran (蘭郁二郎), an author from the first half of the 20th century that shares much in common with Juza Unno (an important figure in classical Japanese SF whom one of my paperback releases this year is about), although Ran doesn’t compare to Unno in terms of popularity. The massive number of works from the latter, plus the fact they were written a few years before Ran began writing SF helps to explain why.
Like Unno, Ran got a formal education in electrical engineering and the two SF stories in this collection really make that evident, contaning everything from an equation in the text (don’t worry, it is explained as part of the story) to a mysterious reference to the digits of PI. Compared to modern science fiction, the inclusion of science and technology does feel a bit blatant, but given that science fiction was still in its very early stages in Japan when these stories were written (around 1930-1940), it makes perfect sense.
The book is available on Amazon below, but if you are in a region besides the US you can jump to the book in your nearest region here.