Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte,
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Listeners are welcome, please register via email to Emily Brock.
Science fiction existed in Japanese since the early years after the Meiji Restoration (1868), but primarily as translations of Western canonical works. Between 1890 and 1910, new stories were written by Japanese authors, which quickly gained an enthusiastic audience. After WWI, however, popular scientific journals, catering to educated middle class readers and non-specialists, began publishing speculative science writing and science fantasy. Researchers, engineers, and technical specialists also were involved, both in the production and critique of these new visions of Japan's future. In this talk, Moore and Jacobowitz explore the intersection between fiction writing, imperial politics, and the increasing specialisation and professionalisation of scientific communities in Japan. Using scientific studies to structure their imagination of possible futures, Japanese writers asked: what will space travel be like? Can we make artificial humans? Will super-weapons change the global political order? And what role will the Empire of Japan play in this new world?