Hiroyuki Namba and I (E)

Hiroyuki Namba and I (E)

The 39-th Annual Science Fiction Convention of Japan
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The 39th Japan Science Fiction Convention

5(Sat.)-6(Sun.) August 2000 AD

at Pacifico Yokohama, Yokohama JAPAN

Hiroyuki Namba and I
by Takumi Shibano
(Author; Translator; Editor of Uchujin [Cosmic Dust])
For the first time in years, I had an opportunity to enjoy a live keyboard performance given by Hiroyuki Namba: he was scheduled to perform during ZERO-CON, this year's Japan Science Fiction Convention.
Far more strongly than any vinyl or compact disc recording, Mr. Namba's living music that evening "struck a chord" in me, a joy felt through and through.
At the outset of the performance, I was surprised to encounter the familiar theme of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" woven into his first number, "Hello Thomas" -- a piece inspired, Mr. Namba explained, by the true story of Thomas Alva Edison's phonograph.
The second number, "The Green Hills of Earth", was also familiar to me, being an arrangement of a Kiyoshi Imaoka original, not to mention a Robert A. Heinlein reference.
There then followed a tune which I recognized, but couldn't quite place.
As I was pondering where I'd heard it before, Takayuki Tatsumi -- who happened to be sitting beside me -- leaned over and whispered, "This is 'Ringworld', you know."
Indeed I had encountered this piece, on the album which Mr. Namba had given me to commemorate my translation of Larry Niven's novel of the same title.
I believe it was the end of 1966 when I first met Mr. Namba, then a precocious seventh grader newly selected for membership in the literary coterie Uchujin (whose name translates as "Cosmic Dust").
Mr. Namba came to pay me a visit in my role as founder of Uchujin and editor of its magazine (also called Uchujin), a post I occupied for many years.
Mr. Namba went on the following year to win the Nousei Abe Literary Award for his cyborg story "Seidouiro no Shi" ("Death of a Bronze"), and thus won acclaim as a writer long before becoming a famous musical artist.
His writing career prospered.
A collection of Mr. Namba's SF short stories, "Hikousen no Ue no Shinsesaiza-hiki" ("Synthesist on a Zeppelin") appeared in 1982, and was followed by several other books.
Even now, the series of reviews he wrote for Uchujin from 1972 to 1973, "Seishounen SF Fan Katsudou Shou-shi" ("A Short History of Juvenile SF Fan Activities") is regarded as indispensable to understanding Japanese SF fandom during that period.
If I am qualified to write liner notes for an album by Hiroyuki Namba, it is as a fellow lover of science fiction rather than as a music aficionado.
What pleased me most about his performance that evening was that the image I'd had of him as a fair youth had not changed one bit after all these years.
I could feel it in the strains of his marvelous music.
May Hiroyuki Namba's good fortune continue, and may his youthful spirit endure forever. (8/20/2000).

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