cover image Hybrid Child

Hybrid Child

Mariko Ōhara, trans. from the Japanese by Jodie Beck. Univ. of Minnesota, $19.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-5179-0490-6

Ōhara’s outstanding, groundbreaking feminist cyberpunk novel won the Seiun Award, the highest honor in Japanese science fiction, in 1991; this is its first English translation, and it remains radical today. Humans have spread to other planets and are now fighting off the invading Adiaptron Empire, a race of self-replicating robots; the invaders’ goal is genocide, and they are bound to win eventually. As a weapon of last resort, human scientists create the Sample B Group, artificial intelligences designed to assimilate, imitate, and surpass any enemy on a biological level. B #3 escapes. Taking a dead human child’s name (Jonah) and aspect, she attempts to help the population of an outlying planet deal with the fact that the planet-running AI, which supplies everything necessary for life, is losing its grip on reality. In a world of bizarre mutations, Jonah is still the strangest and most dangerous, and the war will not stay away forever. Atmospheric, brutal, and wildly intelligent, Ōhara’s masterpiece is also translated with bravura and care (some of the concepts and orthography could not have been easy). It combines the future shock of Philip K. Dick’s work with the art direction of an anime, pleasurable and gripping as only the best of science fiction can be. (June)