Vintage Treasures: Inter Ice Age 4 by Kōbō Abe

Vintage Treasures: Inter Ice Age 4 by Kōbō Abe

Inter Ice Age 4-small Inter Ice Age 4-back-small

The recent success of foreign SF writers in translation in the US — including Cixin Liu (The Three-Body Problem) and Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Hex), among others — seems like a modern phenomenon. But truthfully, our genre has been open to talented writers from around the world for decades. As far back as the days of Jules Verne, Americans have been warmly receptive to foreign SF writers, and over the decades that’s included authors like Stanislaw Lem (Solaris), Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities), Jorge Luis Borges (Labyrinths), Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky (Roadside Picnic), Pierre Boulle (The Planet of the Apes) and Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher).

Japanese writer Kōbō Abe (the pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, who died in 1993) isn’t as well remembered here as some others, but he had a considerable impact in Japan. In 1951 he received Japan’s most important literary award, the Akutagawa, for his novel The Crime of Mr. S. Karuma, and in 1960 his novel The Woman in the Dunes won the Yomiuri Prize. His 1959 novel Inter Ice Age 4 imagines a world slowly being submerged by melting polar ice, and the desperate race to genetically modify children so they can survive the coming underwater age — and the strange prophetic computer that attempts to guide mankind into a very uncertain future.

Inter Ice Age 4 was written in 1959, and published in paperback in the US by Berkely in March 1972. It is 223 pages, priced at 95 cents. The cover is by Richard Powers. I acquired the unread copy above for about 60 cents last month, as part of a collection of 42 vintage SF paperbacks on eBay I bought for $27. Click the images for bigger versions.

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Joe H.

Sounds like a cool book. Kind of an unfortunate title — at first glance, I thought it was an anthology, or at least the fourth volume in an ongoing series.

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