“Farmer Airlines” (short story) by Yasutaka Tsutsui
English Publication History:
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno (Alma Books, 2006)
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno (Pantheon Books, 2008)
Original: Japanese, 1974
Translated by Andrew Driver, 2006
Synopsis: Two men are on assignment for an unpopular men’s magazine doing a story on uninhabited islands in Japan. Their story takes them to Tit Island, home to terraced farms but without any permanent farmers. Taken to the island by boat before, the journalist and his photographer become stranded on the island during a typhoon. They seek shelter in a lean-to hut and discover two drunken farmers and an ominously sounding airline service to the mainland.
Analysis: Friction between the journalist and the photographer had already started even before going to the uninhabited island, but when their matters go from strained to taut, the friction between themselves threatens to tear them apart. They are both city folk in obviously odd circumstances: on a terraced farm of an unpopulated island, thrashed by the winds of a typhoon without hope of rescue, and the only help they have are from two drunken farmers—not an ideal situation is any regard.
The journalist is the flexible type with an adaptive personality; he finds the country way backward but can find value in its simplicity and function. In contrast, the photographer is the finicky type with a resistive barrier of experience he finds the country way barbaric and only sees the negative, the disastrous, the inexplicable unnaturalness of their way of life.
The journalist is the active force in their rescue; reluctantly, he agrees to fly on the ramshackle airplane with the unqualified pilot and remains calm even when they fuel up at a roadside gas station. The photographer, however, is at his wits end through the entire journey and refuses to take the last flight to salvation. For the reports open-minded tactics at saving his own life, his efforts are unrewarded… which is more to say than for the photographer.