Yoshio Aramaki: 神聖代 (The Sacred Era)

The latest addition to my website is Yoshio Aramaki‘s 神聖代 (The Sacred Era). This is a science fiction novel in the tradition of Robert Heinlein and Philip K Dick but it is a highly intelligent and serious work. Yoshio Aramaki has a reputation in Japan (but not elsewhere) as a first-class writer of speculative fiction (and, more recently, of virtual reality war novels). This is in the former category and considered his best work. It is set on an imaginary planet that has many features of Earth. The planet has a Christian-like religion but one that is Quadritarian rather than Trinitarian, with the Holy Igitur being the fourth divinity. It is facing serious climate change problems as a result of extraction of the hydrogen from the sea and has managed to travel great distances in space. Our hero is K. who, like his Kafkaesque namesake, is a solitary person who has been selected to take the special Sacred Service Examination. Successful candidates (there are fairly few) join a select group of people. He becomes the youngest to pass and is selected to study the Planet Bosch (named after the painter, who exists on their planet as well). However, he has to deal with the ghost of a famous heretic, Darko Dachilko, who was beheaded seven hundred years previously and who seems to like strangling people, an unusual career path, and travel to several exotic planets where he meets Lucifer (the devil), Darko Dachilko and a sex doll. While using conventional science fiction tropes and ideas, the book is ultimately a very serious examination of the nature of humanity, where humans are going a the relationship of humans with the divine.

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