2015 Seiun Award Nominations

The committee of “Comecon,” the 54th Japan Science Fiction Convention, announced the 2015 Seiun Awards shortlist on April 18.

Seiuns are given in nine categories: Japanese Long Story, Japanese Short Story, Translated Long Story, Translated Short Story, Media, Comic, Art, Nonfiction, and a “Free” category.

The winners will be revealed at the convention on August 29.

The full list in Japanese is here.

The nominees in the two categories for fiction translated into Japanese follow. (The names of the translators have been interpreted with Google Translate.)

BEST TRANSLATED LONG STORY

  • The Martian by Andy Weir, translated by Kazuko Onoda
  • Among Others by Jo Walton, translated by Takeshi Mogi
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi, translated by Masayuki Uchida
  • The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, translated by Masaya Shimokusu
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, translated by Makiko Ikeda
  • Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card, translated by Naoya Nakahara

BEST TRANSLATED SHORT STORY

  • “The Negation” by Christopher Priest, translated by Yoshimichi Furusawa
  • “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan, translated by Youichi Shimada
  • “Hunter Come Home” by Richard McKenna, translated by Touru Nakamura
  • “Water” by Ramez Naam, translated by Naoya Nakahara
  • “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal, translated by Fumiyo Harashima
  • “Year of the Rat” by Stanley Chen (Chen Chu fan), translated by Naoya Nakahara
  • “War 3.01” by Keith Brooke, translated by Masato Naruniwa

Also, friends of the late Takumi Shibano will be pleased to hear that Takumi Shibano SF critic Collection, edited by Maki Makoto Tsukasa, is a Seiun nominee in the Nonfiction category.

Update 04/22/2015: Revised translator names for novel and short story categories to follow Petrea Mitchell’s recommendation. Corrected spelling of Cline and Naam. Update 06/13/2015: Changed a name to Naruniwa per comments.

Hertz: Notes on Japan Fanac

Over the past year John Hertz has helped honor two late, internationally famous fans in Japanese fan publications:

By John Hertz: My appreciation of 4e Ackerman (Vanamonde 853) was translated into Japanese and reprinted in Uchuujin 202. Uchuujin which means “cosmic dust” or by a typical Japanese pun almost means “space man” was Takumi Shibano’s fanzine (unsure if it will continue now he is gone). Shibano-san said 4e was a great benefactor of s-f in Japan.
 
A short appreciation of Shibano-san by me was translated into Japanese and published in the Shibano memorialzine, including the tanka I gave him at Conolulu the 2000 Westercon (File 770 #138) reprinted in English with a Japanese translation. This was an honor since the only other gaiji (foreigners) included, according to a Japanese here I consulted, were David Brin and his wife Cheryl Brigham, Joe Haldeman, Peggy Rae Sapienza, and Michael Whelan. Brin and Whelan were Guests of Honor at Nippon 2007; I was the only non-Japanese advisor to the concom, and sent to the con by the one-time travel fund HANA (Hertz Across to Nippon Alliance) resulting in On My Sleeve; Sapienza was the immensely helpful North America Agent (who did so much her husband John a wargamer said “She wasn’t in charge of a division, she was in charge of a corps); Haldeman was Shibano-san’s good friend.
 
The Shibano-zine was called Chiri mo tsumoreba hoshi to naru which by a typical Japanese pun changes the proverb “When you gather dust it becomes a mountain” (yama) into “it becomes a star” (hoshi). Note allusions to cosmic dust and to the stars. Shibano-san himself was a star, perhaps becoming so by the gathering of cosmic dust.

Takumi Shibano (1927-2010)

Rick Sneary, Roy Tackett, Takumi and Sachiko Shibano at the 1968 Worldcon, BayCon.

Rick Sneary, Roy Tackett, Takumi and Sachiko Shibano at the 1968 Worldcon, BayCon.

Takumi Shibano died January 16 at 8:06 p.m. (JST). The reported cause of death was pneumonia.

His life spanned the founding of Japanese fandom to the announcement of the Nippon 2017 bid. He was a guest of honor at two Worldcons, L.A.con III and Nippon 2007.

Japanese author Tetsu Yano, who Gene Van Troyer called Japan’s Robert Heinlein, said he could hardly imagine what would have become of SF in Japan if Takumi Shibano had not existed: “Thanks to his fanzine Uchuujin, we had a network that allowed us to meet, and I feel blessed that Shibano-san was here to create it. All of Japanese science fiction and fandom was born as a result.”

Takumi, born in 1927, was the son of a Japanese Army officer. Following his father’s postings, Takumi attended schools in Taiwan, Tokyo and Manchuria. Upon finishing high school in 1945 he was drafted into the Physico-Chemical Research Association. There he learned the essentials of modern physics. After the end of WWII, Takumi attended the Tokyo Institute of Technology, graduating in 1950.

That same year he sold his first story, which appeared under the name “Kozumi Rei” (a wordplay on “cosmic ray”). He would later use that pen name as a novelist and translator of science fiction stories.

Takumi taught math for 26 years at Tokyo Municipal Koyamadai high school, from 1951 until 1977 when chronic asthma led him to quit teaching and become a full-time writer and translator. Among the works he translated into Japanese are Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and Larry Niven’s Ringworld and “Inconstant Moon.”

A colleague, veteran translator Hisashi Asakura, paid this compliment to his work in 1996: “Takumi Shibano has such a fundamental grasp of science that he understands the nature of the ideas that the writers have. If he has the slightest question about anything, he pursues the answer with total dedication, writing letters of talking directly with the authors. He’s peerless — a real role model for translators and authors.”

Takumi and Sachiko Takahashi married in 1954. They had two daughters, Miho and Minae.

Takumi’s fascination with SF first drew him to join the UFOs Flying in Japan’s Skies Research Group in 1956. As he explained in a quote run in the Nippon 2007 Souvenir Book, “It wasn’t that I was so enamored of UFO research, but that I was interested in those basic, fantastical science ideas, so I wanted to do SF.” The group was as close as he could get, but that would soon change.

At one of the meetings he threw out the idea of doing an extra issue of the group’s publication solely devoted to SF. Several members responded so enthusiastically they launched the first issue of Uchuujin (“space dust”) in May 1957. Uchuujin’s first issues were handwritten on mimeograph stencils, but it transformed into a typset publication by 1960. In later years, the zine’s best stories would be collected in five professionally published volumes.

Production of the magazine soon led to in-person discussion and the formation of Kagaku Sosaku (variously translated as Science Fiction Club or Science Creation Club), led by Tetsu Yano.

Takumi chaired four of the first six Japanese national science fiction conventions. He also helped establish the Federation of SF Fangroups of Japan in 1965 and served as chairman from 1966 until 1970.

He wrote several original juvenile science fiction novels, all published in Japan under his pen name Rei Kozumi: Superhuman ‘Plus X’ (1969), Operation Moonjet (1969), and Revolt in North Pole City (1977). He was also the principal author of The World of Popular Literature (1978), a nonfiction work.

Takumi was effectively introduced to American fans through the pages of Roy Tackett’s fanzine Dynatron. People became eager to meet him in person. LA’s bid committee for the 1968 Worldcon simultaneously ran a fan fund to bring Takumi Shibano to the Worldcon. Only the fan fund succeeded, consequently Shibano-san attended BayCon, the Worldcon in Berkeley, California.

He and Sachiko attended many more Worldcons through the years. At Denvention 2 in 1981 they appeared on stage during the Hugo Awards for the first time to present Seiun Awards to the Western sf writers whose translated works had won. (The winners are chosen by the Japanese national convention.)  It became a Hugo night tradition for the Shibanos or other Japanese pros to appear in ceremonial robes and recognize the winners.

Takumi won World SF’s President’s Award in 1984 and its Karel Award in 1991. He received a Special Committee Award from ConFrancisco, the 1993 Worldcon. And he was the winner of the E. E. Evans Big Heart Award in 1987.

Takumi, through his love of science fiction, achieved a rare bridging of cultures. He was a gracious man who warmly responded to anyone’s welcome and questions. Like Ackerman, to whom he is invariably compared, he was one of fandom’s early organizers who became an international ambassador of science fiction.

[Thanks to Atsushi Morioka, John Hertz, Glenn Glazer, Craig Miller and Peggy Rae Sapienza for the story.]

Update 01/18/2010: Adopted correction by John Hertz — the proper order of Takumi’s pen name is “Kozumi Rei.” Then, based on Petrea Mitchell’s suggestion (and a consultation with John) altered the spelling of the fanzine title to ‘Uchuujin,’ as the most accurate translation within the power of my limited coding skills….

Why Johnny Can’t Count Worldcon Bids

Craig Miller perceptively noticed that I posted the wrong stat for defeated LA Worldcon bids in my article about Reno and Seattle in 2011. Somehow I had LA hosting a measly two Worldcons instead of a robust four during the past 50 years.

Upon reflection, there were LA bids that went to a final vote for 1964, 1968, 1972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2006. LA hosted Worldcons in 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2006. The right number is six losses out of ten.

I was trying to highlight the lost bids and wanted to reach back to Mordor in ’64 without being required to count the successful bid for the “South Gate in ’58” Worldcon. This being 2009, I could get away with using the nice round number of 50 years. What I could not get away with was counting less than four LA Worldcons.

To the outside world it seemed like one darned LA bid after another. Fans said as much. I remember Milt Stevens in the Seventies blandly answering this complaint saying, “Well, we always field a team.”

The Bay Area beat LA in 1964 and again in 1968 – the second time despite LA bidders simultaneously running a fan fund to bring Takumi Shibano to the Worldcon. Only the fan fund succeeded, consequently Shibano-san attended the BayCon.

By winning the rights to L.A.Con in 1972 Chuck Crayne and Bruce Pelz changed the town’s luck. However, that was the last of their teamwork. There followed the bizarre spectacle of Chuck Crayne running an LA bid against Australia for 1975, while Bruce Pelz chaired an LA bid solely for the 1975 NASFiC. My earliest hornbook in practical fanpolitics was witnessing Crayne capitalize on his lost Worldcon bid to defeat Pelz’ bid for the NASFiC. (And after I carried all those cases of beer to Bruce’s party!)

Bruce and company lost their next Worldcon bid for 1978 to Phoenix with some unintended help from young LA fans (myself included) who successfully bid for the 1978 Westercon.

The Crayne and Pelz rivalry surfaced one last time in the 1981 race, in a manner of speaking. Chuck led a Worldcon bid for LA. Lois Newman, a LASFSian who had moved to Colorado, initiated a Denver bid which enjoyed the distant support of active LASFS members including Bruce. Lois was no longer involved by the time the site selection vote took place and Denver fandom secured the win over Crayne’s bid.

LA fans absorbed a lot of lessons from the school of hard knocks and successfully campaigned for the right to hold L.A.con II in 1984. Yet a lesson or two must have been immediately forgotten: some napkins appeared at L.A.con II’s dead dog party printed with an apparent announcement of an immediate new bid for 1990 (under the rules, LA’s earliest opportunity to host another Worldcon). That bid lurched along to its inevitable defeat three years later. Sometimes LA can be accused of displaying a Kzin-like eagerness to start the battle long before we’re ready to win.

And it being us, within two years we had removed the two-by-four planted between our mulish eyes and started running for another LA Worldcon – though showing some slight wisdom by aiming for 1996 despite 1993 being the next Western Zone year. (It would be contested by San Francisco, Phoenix and Hawaii, eliminating the winner and exhausting the losers). So in due course there was an L.A.con III in 1996, and with patience, an L.A.con IV in 2006.

Thus the scoreboard reads four wins and six losses over a 50 year span.