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In this classic of Japanese SF from 1964, American astronauts on a space mission discover a strange virus and bring it to Earth, where rogue scientists transform it into a fatal version of the flu. At first, life continues as normal. A celebrity dies in a car accident, nuclear disarmament talks proceed apace, and then a disease hits poultry stocks worldwide, leading to an egg shortage just as demand for a new influenza vaccine—which requires eggs for its production—spikes.Soon, even vaccinated individuals simply begin to die of heart attacks. Governments the world over hoard their information about the flu, so by the time the secret within the secret is understood, it is too late. Infrastructure collapses, a US general goes rogue, and nearly all human life on Earth is wiped out over the course of a few months.
Soon, there are just ten thousand men and a handful of women living in international research stations in Antarctica. For years they struggle to recreate society with their limited resources. Then one of the researchers realizes that an imminent major earthquake in the now-depopulated United States may lead to nuclear Armageddon…
Sakyo Komatsu was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1931 and graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in Italian Literature in 1954. He began writing in college and turned to science fiction in 1959, winning the Twenty-Seventh Annual Japan Mystery Writer’s Association Award with the publication of Japan Sinks in 1973 and the Japan SF Award for his Tokyo Vanished in 1985. He’s also the six-time winner of the Seiun Award.
As a screenwriter, director, and producer, he brought the movie version of his novel Bye-Bye Jupiter to the screen in 1984. Komatsu has participated in the production of a number of large public events, including the Japan World Exposition in Osaka (1970) as an assistant producer of the theme pavilion, the Tsukuba Science Exposition (1985), the Silk Road Exposition in Nara (1988), and the International Garden and Greenery Exposition in Osaka (1990). His work on this last event as general producer earned him the Osaka Cultural Award. In 2007, he was the author Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention, the first to be held in Asia. Komatsu passed away in July 2011
East of the Tonga Trench, Nereid bid farewell to tropical waters and continued on ever southward through the southern hemisphere. In the waters near New Zealand, she raised her periscope briefly, but then continued running under the sea just as before. After a week, Nereid was shaken by a strong upward shock wave and for a while afterward was rattled about by a wide, undulating front where cold and warm water mixed. Navigator Vankirk placed his hands on the auto-adjuster for differential current. They had entered into the cold, fierce Cape Horn Current.
Not long after, the ship dove to a depth of two hundred meters. This was to avoid the undersides of icebergs. The watch was increased to two men on four shifts. Eighteen days after putting the spring weather of the northern hemisphere behind it, Nereid plunged into the southern hemisphere’s autumn, ravaged by the west wind, then headed even farther, closing in latitude by latitude on the eternal winter of the polar cap. She passed under the raging Westerlies that stirred the face of the sea to a foamy froth up above, and it was then, when the dark, ghostly shadows of icebergs overhead began to appear in the forward camera view, that the order to surface was given for the first time in four months.
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