11 questions to Ted Chiang, the greatest short story science fiction writer of our time | WIRED.jp Latest



Question 08 from Takashi Kurata

Please tell us your thoughts on “improving” humans through genetic manipulation. At present, I believe that doing so is as dangerous as performing open surgery on yourself with a knife without even knowing the location of the lesion, but genetically speaking, if you remain as you are now, you will commit mass murder. I fear that history will only repeat itself. (Takashi Kurata)

I try to think about this question in the context of the “parent-child relationship.” That’s because the most likely scenario for this to occur is when parents are selecting genes for their children. And in that case, I think it’s very likely to cause harm. This is because one of the most difficult things in a parent-child relationship is accepting the child as a human being with a sense of self, rather than what the parent wants the child to be. I think this is very difficult in this day and age. Furthermore, parent-child relationships would become even more difficult if parents were to choose their children’s genes. I think there will be many cases where parents will be disappointed. This is because when parents choose their child’s genes like a menu, they naturally begin to think of their child as a “product.” In such a context, genetic manipulation would be useless and would probably make interpersonal relationships more difficult.


Question 09 from Haneko Takayama

In the future society where people can express themselves online while masking nationality, gender, age, etc. to some extent (automatic translation will eliminate language barriers), the ethnicity and roots of the artist will be somehow related to the story. Do you think that. (Takayama Haneko)

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In the United States, there are examples of people writing and publishing books pretending to be of a different ethnicity/race. However, its reputation is not very good. Readers don’t like it that much. In general, I think readers are looking for honesty. If someone wants to write a story from the perspective of someone completely different from themselves, I don’t think they should pretend like they’re a completely different race. It is true that such a trend exists in the United States. However, people do not react well to such deception. So I don’t think this trend will get stronger.


Question 10 from Itsuki Tsukui

For Ted, what is the difference between ideas that are worth turning into novels and ideas that are not? I know it’s difficult, but could you please try to put into words the characteristics of a good idea and the feeling you get when you come up with it? (Satatsu Tsukui)

Ideas often disappear quickly after they appear. But sometimes there are ideas that keep coming back to me over months or years. Then I gradually started paying attention to the idea and started thinking, “Okay, let’s write a story about this idea.” “What is it about this idea that appeals to me? Would I want to read a story that sheds light on this idea that appeals to me?” I think the idea that became the novel was a “yes” to this question.

PHOTOGRAPHS: KISSHOMARU SHIMAMURA