Not Just a Gibson Clone: An Interview with Goro Masaki
Gregory, Sinda, McCaffery, Larry, The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Although rumor has it that the man who uses the pen name Goro Masaki was born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1957, the "real" Goro Masaki was born in Tokyo in 1986 on a Fujitsu word processor. He was heavily influenced by science fictions of Philip K. Dick, James Tiptree, Jr., and Cordwainer Smith. His rather incidentally composed first commercial novella, Evil Eyes (1986--excerpted here), vividly describes the conflict between a mind-control software company and a new religious organization, ending up with the revelation that Maria, a full-armored woman working for the company, and Mugen, the charismatic figure of the organization, were produced by a multiple personality, the owner of which had been born a disfigured baby; Evil Eyes--which won the thirteenth Hayakawa SF Contest in 1987 and is regarded as the best example of Japanese cyberpunk science fiction--was eventually included in Masaki's first collection of the same title (1988). In 1993 Masaki further developed the ideas in Evil Eyes and completed the hard-core virtual reality/hypergender novel Venus City, which won the fourteenth Japan SF Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Nebula Award. His other works include a pseudo-autobiograpical story collection Won't Cry for a Cat Anymore (1994) and an erotic hard-core SF novel called The Shadow Orchid (1994). His first English translation, "With Love, to My Eldest Brother" (original, 1988), was published in Fiction International in 1993. Now Goro Masaki is almost completely invisible in Japan, just like his literary influences. (LM)
Sinda Gregory: How did you get interested in SF initially?
Goro Masaki: My first contact as a reader occurred when I read H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds. It was not a children's book, and I was six then. Most of the book was too difficult for me to understand. I just wanted to pretend to be a grown-up. But I remember some descriptions of the killing machine were very chilling. I would like to add that The Secret Garden was my first exposure to mystery-oriented literature. It was the only children's story I could enjoy. I confess it is still a part of my standard of a"good story." I began reading Verne, Poe, and Doyle when I was ten or so. My entertainment reading was mostly restricted to the mystery genre when I was in my teens. I read most of the classic detective stories in translation, then moved to hard-boiled mysteries and Kobo Abe. They both seemed to me the same kind of stories, about an individual facing the absurd. The influence from Shozo Numa's Yapoo, the Human Cattle was enormous for me in my formative years. This is a novel several critics regard as the most important SF and the strangest book ever published in postwar Japan. It is about a world in which only Caucasoids--especially white women--are regarded as human beings and dominators, while Negroids and Mongoloids--especially men--are regarded as cattle and used for the "living parts" of various products, from living toilet bowls and drawers to living carpets and diving suits. This unique novel first appeared in 1956, highly appreciated by such mainstream authors as Yukio Mishima, and is still available in Japan.
I had also seen several SF and monster movies when I was a little boy. Like many of us, my father took me to the theater for the monster movies. I think we are the first generation with less need for written SF, since SF imagery was everywhere in the visual media. Imported TV shows such as Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Thunderbirds, and Batman are also imprinted in my memory. American imagery was flooding in, and kids' comics then were full of quasi-scientific images of the future technology. Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy may be the best example. Shotaro Ishimori's Cyborg 009, published as a kids' comic, was where I learned the term cyborg when I was ten or so. It was the futuristic Apollo days, and popular science magazines were full of lines such as "we will change our body parts into more effective machines for working in space" or something like that. …