Eighteen O'clock Music Bath
J.D. Wisgo (Translator)
It's always exciting when suddenly someone who you had never encountered is suddenly thrust onto the scene. Here we have the second volume of what appears to be a planned series of translations of Juza Unno, an unknown in the English world, but an important contributor to pre-war science fiction and dystopian literature in Japan.
And so we take a glance at the slightly oddly named Eighteen O'clock Music Bath, written in 1937, and set in a dystopian country where the government has used a scientist to develop mandatory music time, but instead of Mozart or Bach these citizen are confronted with a vibrating beat that works deep into their psyches to push them to be better workers and stronger humans... and maybe some other side effects too.
The work contains many twists and turns and some surprises, but the importance of this short story really lies in it's silent winks towards a completely imaginary (wink,wink) country that is attempting to control the populace in all aspects, just in case a war (wink, wink) breaks out.
Reading up on Unno, he appears to have been an anti-war, anti-tyrant peaceful writer, who, due to easily imaginable reasons, found later success as a propagandist for the government. I hope that some of his later works will get translations as well, as it would be interesting to search those and see if any of the peacenik snuck past the censors into his pro-Japan writing.
Overall, a quick, interesting read and a new writer on the map for those interested in that period of literature coming out of the land of the rising sun.
Available on Kindle