By Izumi Suzuki
Genres can get stuck in a rut, in need of a jolt to get them going again. In twenty-first century SF, for example, there have probably been too many political dystopias and climate apocalypses. The end of the world used to be more interesting.
The stories in Terminal Boredom provide an injection of something new, which is all the more surprising given that the author, Izumi Suzuki, committed suicide in 1986. What her writing connects with, however, is a sense of jaded alienation that is still with us, brought about not so much by our machines as by meaningless, routinized social relations that turn our lives into reruns of old TV shows. Solace can only be found in technology and drugs.
The best of Suzuki’s stories recall the fierce existential probings of Philip K. Dick. “That Old Seaside Club” even plays like a clever and sad reimagining of Dick’s famous story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” All of which should make the book feel terribly retro, but instead it’s one of the freshest collections I’ve read in years. One warning: it doesn’t put its best foot forward, instead leading with what I think is the weakest story in the bunch. Don’t let it turn you off.