cover image Terminal Boredom

Terminal Boredom

Izumi Suzuki, trans. from the Japanese by Polly Barton et al. Verso, $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-78873-988-7

Themes of social control and forbidden love run deep in this punky, off-the-cuff collection from science-fiction writer Suzuki (1949–1986), her English-language debut. Things open with “Women and Women,” a futuristic social satire in which men are rare and women are forbidden from associating with them, leading to a clandestine flirtation between the narrator and her first male acquaintance. Strict population control is the subject of “You May Dream,” where love only exists in the characters’ uploaded unconsciousness, and the waking world is an afterthought. A family of alien imposters goes through the motions of life on Earth in “Night Picnic,” while nostalgia for an earthly past pervades the rebooted realities of “That Old Seaside Club.” An old relationship is barely recalled in “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” while in “Forgotten” time and memory are dictated by powerful psychoactive drugs and interplanetary love between the telepathic Terrans and the enigmatic natives of the planet Meele. Finally, the title story explores a rekindled romance in a heavily policed state where television blurs into real life. These strangely prescient stories are perfect for fans of Haruki Murakami, George Saunders, and Philip K. Dick. (Apr.)