The Future Perfect

Why is it that Japan seems, perpetually, the most inherently futuristic of all nations? When I was a child, the future lived in America, and Japan's role in that lay in the production of wind-up tin robots and injection-molded plastic spacemen. Forty years later, America's special relationship with the future has been broken.

In the '80s, when I became known for a species of science fiction that journalists called cyberpunk, Japan was already, somehow, the de facto spiritual home of that influence, that particular flavor of popular culture. It was not that there was a cyberpunk move-ment in Japan or...

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