SF Unbound Interviewed Taiyo Fujii on COVID-19

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SF Unbound is a column in Literary Gazette, a professional newspaper in China for literary studies. The contents below are resulted from a collaboration between Shanghai Pudong Science Fiction Association and Literary Gazette.

  • SF Unbound: A Column for Science Fiction

Established in April 1981, Literary Gazette is the first comprehensive professional newspaper in China’s literary and newspaper circles. The aim of Literary Gazette is to report promptly on important domestic and international literary information, to review the best works of writers, to support emerging talents, to encourage literary creation and criticism. Ever since its establishment, Literary Gazette has won a good reputation in the literature and intellectual communities, as well as among the general public. It is published nationwide and in dozens of overseas countries and regions, maintaining a relatively regular readership.

The new column for science fiction, SF Unbound, focuses on the frontier of science fiction writing and its derivatives across various fields.

In the last issue of SF Unbound, more than 20 well established science fiction writers were interviewed about the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year and shared their views on the pandemic. On the one hand, plagues in the past had taken a huge and terrible toll on human society, but on the other hand, they had also promoted the advancement of medical technologies and healthcare systems. That will remain true in the future of mankind.

  • An interview with Japanese SF writer Taiyo Fujii.
Fujii Taiyo

Taiyo Fujii was born in Amami Oshima Island—that is, between Kyushu and Okinawa. He worked for stage design, desktop publishing, exhibition graphic design, and software development.

In 2012, Fujii self-published Gene Mapper serially in a digital format of his own design, and became Amazon.co.jp’s number one Kindle bestseller of that year. The novel was revised and republished by Hayakawa Publishing in 2013 and was nominated for the Nihon SF Taisho Award and the Seiun Award.

In Gene Mapper he discribed in detail of AR/VR communication, GMO plant and terror for infrastructure.

His second novel Orbital Cloud won the 2014 Nihon SF Taisho Award and Japanese Nebula Awards.

In 2019, novelette collection Hello, World! won a mainstream literature awards; Yoshikawa Eiji Literature Awards for Young Writers.

Fujii attended the 18th president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Japan and developed wide connection with Science Fiction communities all over the world.

Taiyo Fujii

Q. What do you think is the greatest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human society?

A. We should not forget that, almost of all the countries followed the words of scientific expectations rather than the warning of economic collapse which occurs definite. We saw almost of all the country listened for the words of scientists, and agreed to follow harsh quarantine process to stay home for two weeks or longer even paying huge budget for citizen.

We see that many people listen the word of scientific information rather than guts, spiritual ones or super-natural. People washed hands by soap, kept distance, greeted with 拱手, and met online, than blaming another culture.
We saw science worked on the first phase of pandemic of SARS-CoV-2.
The situation are better than SF works. On those works, governor and citizens often laugh out scientific alert and fall to crisis.
The great point is that, we believe science at least today.

Q. What science and technology will be pushed into a surge of growth by the COVID-19 pandemic? What kind of scientific and technological breakthroughs will human society need in the future to fight against plagues?

A. Most important technology for us is Genetic editing, and all the technologies. As you see, huge number of fund were investigated for them, and the developers are going to produce tons of applications.

We should watch the paradime shift led by computing process. Until January 2020, vaccine developing was wet science, which requires fresh tissue, petri dish, clean room, autoclave and experimental animals from the first step. Vaccine developer had to prepare infected animal or infected tissues of human and found antibody from thousands of proteins. Accurate trial and error around the experiments was necessary. Discipline of vaccine developer had grown up with going through this process.

But the approach using computer will start revolution of upside-down. Computer simulation gives us candidates of antibodies at first, therefore simulation might figure out DNA codes of vaccine driver adenoid-virus. Current, wet-scientific developer should confirm if those simulated solutions or not. It means that wet science technicians are not responsible, their position had let down. Of course their discipline and ethics would not be applied for developing.

Dicipline and ethics would grow up during the computer vaccine developer, I hope earlier, but we will see those after a generation.

We should watch, and disclose worries about science without hesitation.Writing or reading SF is good training to do it.

 

 

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Shaoyan Hu is a part-time translator for speculative fictions. He has worked together with other translators to render A Song of Ice and Fire series into Chinese language. His other translation works in Chinese language include Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge, The Scar by China Miéville, and The City & the City by China Miéville. There are also a number of short stories, novelettes and novellas translated by Shaoyan that appeared in various SF&F magazines in China.

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