translated from the Japanese by Simon Varnum
original edition: 1983
translated edition: Kurodahan Press, 2018
grab a copy here or through your local independent bookstore or library
Reading The Erinys Incident reminded me that I’m still quite upset about the publisher Kurodahan shutting down. For decades, Kurodahan gave us Anglophone readers a wonderful selection of Japanese speculative fiction, including the important Speculative Japan anthology series, Kthulhu Reich, Bullseye!, and much more.
Tani’s Erinys is about the hardest kind of hard sf you could ask for (think Liu’s Three-Body Trilogy or Dukaj’s The Old Axolotl). As per the title, this relatively near-future novel focuses on an incident stemming from the recently-concluded Outer Planet Revolt between the inner and outer planets. As we learn about the conspiracy of Outer Planet Alliance (OPA) operatives to take over a minor port city, Tani engages in in-depth explanations of space ship engineering, planetary rotation and orbit, and the delicate nature of slingshotting around the sun.
Readers are quickly introduced to the various inhabitants of Port Erinys, located on the eponymous moon of Uranus. Included in this motley crew are cyborgs, civilians, OPA operatives, engineers, and others displaced by the Revolt. Jumping between the icy boroughs of the cyborgs on Port Erinys to a space battle between the OPA and the AeroSpaceFleet (inner planets), Tani reveals the competing incentives that drive the main characters. Og, a cyborg who willingly went to Port Erinys, exiled himself because of his traumatic injuries sustained during the Revolt; Jamna, a quiet, brilliant, and deadly OPA operative, has made it her mission to help the OPA take Erinys and declare it independent of the ASF. Inspector Lopez tries to keep the peace in the port city between the sometimes competing factions of workers and exiles while making the bumbling mayor think he himself is in charge. These are just a few of the fascinating characters in Tani’s tale.
While Tani leads us to think that the coming revolt on Erinys is the main action of the story, we find out only at the end that Erinys is actually part of a much larger plan. In fact, the solar system is planning for a future war with a hostile alien species discovered by one of the recent ASF extrasolar expeditions. Like Yoshiki Tanaka’s Legend of the Galactic Heroes series (published in Japan around the same time as Erinys), Tani’s novel is action-packed, technology-heavy, and never boring. Once again, we have here an excellent work of Japanese SFT that enriches the genre.