The year is 1953. The Korean War is winding down. The Cold War is heating up. In 1952, the United States tested the first hydrogen bomb. In 1954, Godzilla will stomp onto the world stage. UFOs are appearing all over the world. And in Ranpo Edogawa's latest young adult novel, five flying saucers zoom across the skies of Tokyo.
A day after that alarming incident, a woodsman stumbles out of the forest to report the landing of an alien spacecraft in the mountains southwest of Tokyo. A month later, Ichiro Hirano's neighbor goes missing. Then reappears as abruptly as he vanished, claiming he was kidnapped by a mysterious winged lizard creature.
That same lizard creature is now stalking the pretty and talented sister of Ichiro's best friend. What in the world is going on? What do the aliens want? And where did they come from? These are the kind of questions only master sleuth Kogoro Akechi and the Boy Detectives Club can hope to answer.
The Space Alien takes place a year after the end of the Occupation (1945–1952), an uncertain time when Japan was struggling to find a firm footing in a brand-new world. Everything was up for grabs—except those principles of truth and justice that will always remain the same for every sentient soul in the universe, space aliens included.
Uchu Kaijin by Ranpo Edogawa was first published in 1953. The Japanese edition is out of copyright. The reference file used in this translation was downloaded from Aozora Bunko (the Blue Sky public domain library).
Family names follow Western convention, with the surname given last. Long vowels have been shortened to a single character with no diacritics.
Following in the style of traditional Rakugo storytellers, Edogawa occasionally breaks the fourth wall to muse aloud about the unfolding events in the story. The translation will attempt to reflect this and other such rhetorical quirks.
Eugene Woodbury graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in Japanese and TESOL. He has twice been a Utah Original Writing Competition finalist and is a recipient of the Sunstone Foundation Moonstone Award for short fiction. He lives in Orem, Utah, where he works as a free-lance writer and translator.