“The Theory of Planetary Colonization” (short story) by Juza Unno
English Publication History: Science: Hopes & Fears [Volume 1: Selected Stories] (2018)
Original: Japanese (遊星植民説), 1932
Translated by J. D. Wisgo, 2018
Receipt: Free from the translator
Synopsis: A young journalist is sent by her editor to interview an eccentric professor who has a interesting theory. Using her beauty and charm, the journalist hopes for a successful interview so that she can be rewarded by her boss, a promise with which she can woo her suitor. The rooftop office of the professor proves to be the first stroke of oddity that she experiences; however, his long diatribe about the future of humanity is inspirational. Little does she know that the professor is more eager to start his grand experiment that she had first thought.
Analysis: The first third of the nineteenth century saw Japan’s imperialism spread through Asia: Taiwan, Manchuria, Korea, Micronesia. As Japan flexed its imperial and militaristic muscle, morale among its citizens must have been high with visions of cultural greatness in parallel to its victories. When those visions begin to peer out from isolation, the eyes move from the simple horizon to the treetops, to the sky and beyond to the moon, the stars.
Review: With an ear for science and a eye peeled to the sky, here, Juza waxes without restraint as to what further victories await mankind; as a result, the torrent of enthusiasm for science and progression mars the story somewhat. It reads very much like similar Golden Age science fiction that idolize the role of eccentric scientists and the unfounded theories and escapades of the same scientist. In the end, there’s very little meat to the story aside from the gristle of wide-eyed wonder.