(1971- ) Japanese author, largely in the Technothriller mode, who legendarily wrote his first novel on an iPhone while working as a software developer. A graduate of the International Christian University in Tokyo, Fujii became a poster-boy for post-modern media when his self-published debut Gene Mapper – core - (2012 ebook) topped an Amazon best-seller list, and was soon co-opted by the publisher Hayakawa into old-fashioned print – as a sign of the times, compare to a similarly unorthodox debut for Gengen Kusano.
Fujii's works display a cynical application of the tropes of Cyberpunk, redolent of Neal Stephenson or Ma Boyong, focusing on the technicians and janitorial figures who must clear up the mess left behind by the brave new world of Computers: "zombie" apps that need to be shut down, or legacy code that lurks like hazardous waste. Gene Mapper (2012; exp rev 2013; trans Jim Hubbert 2015) features espionage in the field of genetically-modified crops, in a world where the free-for-all of the Internet has been replaced by a heavily policed "TrueNet"; similar Near-Future issues are explored in Orbital Cloud (2014; trans Timothy Silver 2017), in which a swarm of orbital drones ("space tethers") is put to use in high-tech terrorism. Orbital Cloud won a Seiun Award as best Japanese novel.
Ultimately, much of Fujii's work explores the joys and sorrows of Internet connectivity: the potential it offers for Communication, education and betterment, versus the risks of integral accidents and viral catastrophes, both inadvertent and deliberate. Big Data Connect (2015), for example, is a policier that dwells not only upon the ability of cyber-criminals to select, stalk and attack victims using their online metadata, but the degree to which modern law enforcement can use similar methods in response. Characters in "Collaboration" (2013 SF Magazine; trans Jim Hubbert as "Violation of the TrueNet Security Act", July 2015 Lightspeed) wear augmented-reality contact lenses, not to enhance their perspective but to deaden it against an onslaught of Advertising and distractions. Fujii took this idea to a new level with Hello World (2018), in which hackers develop an ad blocker that can filter out government propaganda. This, in turn, proves to have revelatory and revolutionary implications in several foreign states, where the removal of fake news, spam and Subliminal advertising creates a Conceptual Breakthrough of immense consequence.
Fujii's sense of the "near future" is often tantalizingly close to the present. Underground Market (2013 Asahi Shinbun online; 2015) examines the possible effects of an economic stimulus package offering tax incentives for the use of electronic currencies (see Money), looking a mere five years ahead of the publication date. Similarly set a half-decade into the author's own future, Tōkyō no Ko ["Tokyo Nipper"] (March-December 2017 Bungei Kadokawa; 2019) deals specifically with the likely aftermath of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A "retired" teenage parkour specialist buys a new identity on the black market, but is dragged into a search for a missing Vietnamese immigrant in the new town built on the former Olympics site, allegorizing many contemporary issues in Japanese economics and immigration, much as did Hisashi Inoue a generation earlier. The story is notable for its wry approach to the Japanese education system, positing a highly commodified institution in which "scholarships" amount to contracts for indentured labour. [JonC]
born Amami Ōshima, Japan: 1971
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