by Masahiko Inoue, translated by Rebecca Seippel
Editor’s Note: Hover over footnotes such as this one This is an example footnote. to view their text.
But First, a Toast is a translation of a Japanese horror/sci-fi short story by Masahiko Inoue. The story is based on when Inoue first traveled to America in 1995 in order to attend the Son of Famous Monsters of Filmland World Convention, a convention organized by the film magazine of the same name. The convention hosted numerous attractions, such as a museum displaying iconic horror and sci-fi film memorabilia, as well as vendors selling movies, posters, collector’s items, and other such merchandise. It wasn’t just die-hard fans who attended the convention, but also celebrities who were acquainted with Forrest J. Ackerman, the founding editor of the magazine. One such celebrity who attended was the author Ray Bradbury. Being an admirer of Bradbury’s work, Inoue journeyed to the convention in the hopes of meeting him, and his wish was fortunately granted. This story is a fictionalized account of Inoue’s time at the convention: not only are creatures and specters delightfully woven into the story, but it also captures the excitement that Inoue experienced at the convention nearly 30 years ago, allowing the reader to experience it for themselves. Lastly, the piece also serves as a homage to Ray Bradbury, whose work not only left a lasting impression on the horror and sci-fi genres, but also inspired readers from all over the world.
Everyone has their own special journey. And in the case of one man, that meant having to travel overseas for the first time. Yes—the author knew all too well that he had to make this journey. He was already well into his 30s, yet had never gone overseas before. It wasn’t that he hated air travel —at least, that’s what he told himself. Nor that he prolonged going abroad because he was skeptical that a flying piece of metal could even travel overseas. He firmly believed that there were other ways of seeing the world without having to cross the ocean. But this time was an exception.
There was someone he had to meet.
There was no way he could die without meeting this person. That’s why on the evening of May 25th, 1995 the man took a passenger plane bound for Los Angeles leaving New Tokyo International Airport. He was an author who mostly wrote short stories and weird fiction novels, along with the occasional science fiction novel. The life of an author is a busy one, and since the author hardly had time to travel, this trip was quite special to him.
“I guarantee you that this is the trip of a lifetime,” a low, soft voice with the air of an English gentleman assured from the seat next to him. The man spoke with a heavy Osakan accent, his expression as giddy as a child’s. “I know what you’re looking forward to the most. Your mind is like an open book!”
This man was the author’s senior by four years and the one who had suggested they go on the trip. He also researched obscure science fiction movies and was the editor-in-chief of a horror movie magazine that launched about a year ago. The two had gotten to know each other after the author had a short story commissioned and serialized in the horror magazine. After working together, they found that they had a lot more in common than just writing. It was as if they had known each other all their lives.
“So, including ourselves, 5,000 people are expected to show up at this event, right?”, the editor asked the author.
“I think so,” the author replied. “Do you think most of the guests will be of the living? I’ve heard that some monsters will show up as well.”
“But of course! Monsters and those who adore them will be gathering from all over the world.”
“How wonderful! It’s just like—”
That one novel. The name of the writer immediately came to the author’s mind. The name of the one person he had vowed to meet at any cost. At long last, he was finally able to make the journey to see him. The writer’s name was—
“Ray Bradbury is expected to be there, you know…” the editor casually mentioned to the author when they first received the invitation, as if he knew Bradbury alone was enough to convince the author to go. He turned towards the author and explained the details of the tour, which would take place at a world convention about monsters from international horror and sci-fi movies. He could hardly contain his excitement as he spoke.
“I know how much you’re dying to go. It’s just like when I wanted to meet Christopher Lee!”
Suddenly, their in-flight meals began to rattle on their trays. Were they experiencing air turbulence? The “fasten seat belt” sign lit up as passengers began to worry in hushed tones about what had disrupted the flight.
Yet the author wasn’t scared. There was no way that he would encounter Death on an airplane, of all places. And after the Kobe earthquake of 1995, he had seen the worst of the reaper as thousands of victims perished in the most gruesome ways. The incident had occurred in the early hours of the morning while people were still fast asleep, causing them to be crushed by the rubble of their own houses. As the earthquake progressed, the ground spread apart and revealed the untamed flames of hell beneath. The city quickly fell into chaos as citizens were engulfed by the flames. What’s more, some people were also in the middle of their daily commute to work. Trains across the prefecture were in a state of utter turmoil as commuters tried desperately to escape the confines of the passenger cars…
And so, with nothing to fear, the author just had to meet Bradbury. He refused to die until then.
“I wonder if Vincent Price and Peter Cushing are going to meet us at the airport…”, the editor joked.
Price and Cushing were two American actors known for their roles in various horror movies but had passed away about a year after the editor’s magazine launched. Word of their deaths had spread quickly throughout the film industry.
“Robert Bloch as well, I suppose,” the author mused. “Do you remember the short story I wrote in the third issue, ‘The Man of Nightmare Street’? I was inspired by Bloch’s The Show Must Go On and wrote it to serve as a sequel. I spent the whole night perfecting my final draft and was shocked to hear that Bloch had passed away the following day.”
“Same goes for Elizabeth Montgomery. She played Samantha in the television series Bewitched and was also expected to attend, but last week…”
The words of the editor became muddled as the author, now a bit on edge, focused his attention on the window. He could have sworn he’d seen a figure riding a broom stick through the clouds.
Ah, so there was a witch outside…
This would be the author’s first “homecoming.” At these homecomings, the souls of the most hallowed horror authors and actors of Hollywood The word “Hollywood” was originally misinterpreted as “Holy Wood” in Japanese, but the misspelling is often still used by fervent Japanese fans of Hollywood actors and movies. would gather to mingle with their living fans. And Bradbury was sure to be there as well. Given the macabre nature of the homecoming, The homecoming described here is meant to mimic the homecoming of the supernatural Elliot family depicted in Bradbury’s short story Homecoming. the author was surprised to find where it was being held: not in the twilight of The October Country, A collection of macabre short stories published by Ray Bradbury in 1955. but on a summer’s day in California, a land abundant with sunshine and wisteria. And there in California, at the square of the most elegant hotel, the host of the homecoming, Forrest J. Ackerman, would be waiting. Ackerman was a prominent figure in the development of the American sci-fi and horror literary genres, and the agent of over 100 authors. He was also the chief editor of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, A successful film-magazine launched by James Warren and Forrest J Ackerman in 1958 that published articles on various horror and sci-fi films. and the one who arranged this gathering, “Son of Famous Monsters World Convention.” Fortunately, he had graciously extended his invitations all the way to Asia.
“Ah, you’ve arrived! My guests from Japan!” Ackerman exclaimed with delight before embracing the editor and author in his arms. Forrest, or “Forry,” peered intensely from behind a pair of large emerald spectacles into the eyes of the author, who had yet to realize the full extent of the night’s events. He then gave a cordial smile as he proceeded to introduce his friend, Ray Harryhausen, A visual-effects producer who designed a split-screen style of stop motion animation known as “Dynamation”. who donned an argyle cardigan.
As soon as the author recognized the name of the wonderful magician, images of fantasy films from his childhood reeled through his mind. Films of a Grecian hero fighting the seven-headed Hydra. Of the bronze giant Talos. Of skeleton warriors. Of the Cyclops slain by Sinbad. Of the goddess Kali, her six arms wielding as equally many swords. Of the Ymir sent from Venus. Of the gargantuan octopus created from a hydrogen bomb.
And the cry of a dinosaur, lured to a mysterious lighthouse in the fog.
“No, wait,” the author thought to himself. “‘Rhedosaurus’, the beast from 20,000 Fathoms, wasn’t supposed to look like that, was it?”
As the images continued to blur together in the author’s mind, the author felt as if he was seeing a stop motion film within his own memory.
“The time has come,” Harryhausen interrupted, “for you to meet some special friends. Some of which I’m sure you’ll recognize…”.
All at once, monsters started to appear throughout the hotel from the lobby to the adjacent museum. Each of the monsters were from the world’s most iconic horror films: Count Dracula himself, Frankenstein’s creature, Mr. Hyde, King Kong, Quasimodo, the Wolfman, the Mummy, the Phantom of the Opera, the Snake Woman, the Colossal Beast, the Phantom of the Opera, the Thetans…Could it be that the many guests glancing at the back-issues of their horror magazines, decorated with frightful fiends, were also monsters themselves?
The sound of a large flying saucer revolving could be heard from over in the presentation room. It was the exact flying saucer used in The Day the Earth Stood Still, along with a replica of Maria from Metropolis and the skeleton from Mighty Joe Young. Could it be that the people curiously inspecting the movie props weren’t all quite human?
The fans who had come to shake hands with Lon Chaney’s grandchild, Darth Vader’s stunt double, the alluring actors of Phantasm and Twin Peaks…Could it be that they were imposters from another realm masquerading as the living?
Yes…Now that the author got a good look at them, maybe that was precisely the case. This was a “homecoming” after all. If that were the case, then perhaps the vendor selling formalin-preserved bats adjacent to where the author purchased his Dracula crest ring A cast ring worn by Christopher Lee in Hammer Film Production’s series of Dracula films. was also selling a blue bottle from Mars. A Martian artifact from Ray Bradbury’s story The Blue Bottle that is said to contain the greatest desire of anyone who holds it. Perhaps the guests reading the storyboard for The Shrinking Man were also nightly visitors to a house of mirrors. A reference to Bradbury’s short story The Dwarf, where a dwarf visits a funhouse full of mirrors every night. Perhaps the children purchasing complete sets of The Outer Limits were really the class of Mr. Fields From Bradbury’s 1953 short story Time in Thy Flight. In this story, a teacher from the future time travels with a group of students back to the 1920s to teach them the “barbaric” ways of the past. who had travelled across time to study the 20th century. Perhaps one of them was Johnny Choir, the immortal boy from Bang! You’re Dead who had returned from Iraq and sought to enlist again. Perhaps the line of people waiting to get an autograph from the lead role of TV’s Batman was the family of Mr. Greppin From Bradbury’s short story The Smiling People. This short story focuses on a man named Mr. Greppin, who becomes hysterical when his family refuses to smile after hearing that he’s engaged. who had at long last remembered how to smile. Perhaps the large man sitting perfectly still on the sofa was the legendary William Philippus Phelps. The main character from Bradbury’s The Invisible Man, whose body is covered with tattoos depicting horrible visions of the future. Perhaps if you lifted his shirt, you would find monstrous tattoos of the Wolfman, of Mr. Hyde, of the Snake Woman, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s creature, Dracula, the Colossal Beast, Quasimodo, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera…
“At last, both the living and the dead have finally come together…” a well-known American author murmured softly in the symposium hall, his voice mimicking the low trill of a raven, “…lured here by tales of true horror.”
“I daresay we’ve never witnessed such a victory, not since the days of the Civil War,” a second author observed. “The living, and the dead, and those in between…Those like us, I suppose. Wouldn’t you agree, Edgar?”
“What has gathered here tonight, Ambrose, are tales of terror and the creatures born from within their pages. And us, their creators,” Poe declared to Bierce. “We shall never die, for we are as eternal as vampires, as the living dead! As long as our stories remain in the realm of the living, we cannot die!”
“But if something perilous were to happen to our books…?” another author, H.G. Wells, mused. “What will become of our books in the future? For example, consider a twist on a certain someone’s ‘burning of the books.’ The premise behind Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which depicts a dystopian society that has banned books and burns any which are discovered. Imagine such a future! A horrible future, where books are torn apart at the seams by large machines, their pages converted into electronic nourishment, our life force drained in the process! Shall our own names be forgotten, and our works falsified as well?”
“How I would love to see such a machine digest my Necronomicon!” A fictitious grimoire that lists the history of various entities in Lovecraftian mythology and how to summon them. a narrow-faced author professed with an unexpected amount of enthusiasm. “Its pages may even possess the machine. For even if we are forgotten, the spirits of our stories shall long remain in this world!”
“Don’t worry! I could never forget your names or stories!” A member from the audience suddenly blurted out. Turning to see who had spoken, the specters were greeted by a man who they didn’t seem to recognize…Or did they? Something about him certainly seemed familiar. Perhaps he was an author as well? “Pardon me for interrupting. I’m not one of the ‘Book People.’ Referring to the society in Fahrenheit 451 known as the Book People, who memorize entire books in the hopes of republishing them. Or an author. Or even a spirit. I’m just a humble reader, for I have written no works of my own. Although that’s not quite true, for you see, I’m currently writing the story of my life! I think writing about this experience will even prove to be my masterpiece. And so, I suppose that does make me like one of you.”
Satisfied with his conclusion, the man exited the room. Just as he approached the lobby, one of the guests caught a glimpse of the man’s face and called out, “It’s Bradbury!” In an instant, the once-peaceful lobby became as lively as a carnival with guests hurrying in a frenzy to line up to see “Bradbury.”
“It’s really Bradbury!”
Their excited cries erupted like firecrackers on the Fourth of July.
“You have the wrong man! I’ve never even written a novel!” the man protested in an attempt to dissuade the crowd, but his protests were drowned in the sea of commotion. “I suppose this, too, will be an interesting addition to my story…” the man sighed to himself as he took out an autograph book. With a resigned smile, he began to write his full name on the paper. Dudley Stone was certainly living a wonderful death. The titular character in Bradbury’s The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone. Stone makes a promise with a rival author to fake his death and never publish another novel again.
Now then, where were we? Ah yes, the story of a special journey. The story of a writer from Japan travelling abroad for the first time to meet an author most dear to him. At long last, the writer’s wish was finally granted on the second day of the convention, on May 27th.
Bradbury had quietly approached the author. He was dressed in a summer suit, his hair glistening like fallen snow. Yet what stood out the most about him wasn’t the large, welcoming hand that gestured towards the author, but rather his clear, sparkling eyes full of life. Standing right in front of the author was Ray Bradbury, just as you’d expect him to look on a summer’s day in Illinois.
As soon as the author laid eyes on Bradbury, he understood for the first time just how he had been able to make such a journey.
Yes…he knew it all too well.
The author held out his well-worn Japanese edition of Dark Carnival A short story collection published by Bradbury in 1947. and asked for Bradbury’s autograph. It was as if he had just proven the existence of Santa Claus and wanted to document such a rare moment.
“Nice to meet you! How very nice to meet you!” Bradbury warmly welcomed the author. Afterwards, the two exchanged many stories, their conversations as lively as the music of the Martians. The author also showed Bradbury an English composition that he had poured his heart and soul into. He had written it all on the backside of his first short story collection, which he had published the previous year. Once Bradbury finished reading the composition, he picked up the author’s tattered copy of Dark Carnival and gingerly kissed the cover. Deep within himself, the author could feel a sense of both pleasure and resignation.
And then, it happened.
At that moment I sprang forth from the author’s skull.
Like a cork popping from a bottle of champagne. Like a grand explosion of fireworks. Freeing myself from the author’s body, I propelled myself towards the ceiling and proceeded to dart across the room. Past Harryhausen, past Forrey, past the editor, the visitors…faster and faster I shot through the room until I took off through the window, whirling past the flowers and birds before retreating to the display hall. Intrigued by the stegosaurus model on display, I decided to take control of it for a bit and vigorously rattled the plates on its back. Next, I took hold of a robot featured in the Forbidden Planet exhibition and playfully gyrated the fin and antenna on its head.
It felt so wonderful, certainly the best “journey” I’d had in a while. The chance to change a human life, the thrill of living…No matter how many times I experienced these feelings, they never ceased to fascinate me. What didn’t interest me was what became of the author after I departed from his body. The life of some author wasn’t of any concern to me.
Next, in order to truly relish this journey, I paid a visit to Forrey Ackerman’s mansion, or the “Ackermansion.” A mansion owned by Forrey Ackerman that also housed his collection of over 300,000 rare collectibles from various sci-fi and horror media. Here I could truly feel at ease, for the mansion had all kinds of strange things for me to possess. There were even illustrations done by Bradbury himself, and the mansion somewhat resembled my own home. I fondly remembered the many months and years I spent at the Ackermansion. The only reason I stopped visiting was because Forry left the property. Oh, the nostalgia…
“But why?” I pondered as I returned to my body and lay across my bed in the attic of my family home. “Why am I remembering that day now, of all times? Could someone’s soul be calling me to go on another journey?”
“Just as I thought,” a voice suddenly interrupted my thoughts.
“You’re Cecy!” A character in several of Bradbury’s short stories who was first mentioned in The Traveler (1946). Cecy Elliott is a witch who sleeps during most of the day and “travels” by projecting her mind from her body. She often possesses living creatures during her journeys. the voice exclaimed, catching me off guard. I wasn’t startled by the fact that the voice knew who I was, but that it was coming from inside my head. I had never heard voices after returning from a journey.
“Cecy, the ‘traveler’ of the Elliott family? Although I’m not sure if the Family still goes by that name…but I do know that you played quite the special role in the story of the Family’s homecoming.” Detailed in Bradbury’s short story Homecoming.
“Who…who are you?”
“I am the Black Cat. The Monkey’s Paw. The Turn of the Screw. I am Salem’s Lot. I am Something Wicked Which This Way Comes. I am the Tales of the Grotesque.” Mimics a soliloquy given by the main character in Bradbury’s 1975 play Pillar of Fire.
That Japanese accent…it couldn’t be!
“You’re the author from the convention! But how did you manage to travel back with me?”
“I’d like to say that this was my doing,” the author admitted sheepishly. “But I’m just as confused as you are. It’s possible that when you possessed me, some of my memories remained in your mind. Or should I say, a part of my soul. What happened was a complete accident, and since a fragment of myself lingered within you, my conscience was called here…Perhaps this is due to the transit of Venus.” An astronomical phenomenon that occurs every 243 years, the most recent being in 2012. Bradbury’s death, coincidentally, occurred during the last transit. the author speculated half-heartedly.
“I take it sci-fi isn’t your genre of expertise,” I replied flatly. “Anyways, when did it occur to you that you were being possessed?”
“When I shook hands with Harryhausen,” the author said. “I saw Rhedosaurus, the beast from 20,000 Fathoms approaching the lighthouse. Except it wasn’t Rhedosaurus: it was the original dinosaur from Bradbury’s The Fog Horn, A short story about a sea creature lured to a lighthouse by the sound of its foghorn. The Fog Horn served as inspiration for The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. exactly as he imagined it.”
“I see. And so my memory must have overlapped with yours.”
“Exactly,” the author continued with an air of familiarity. “Your connection with Bradbury goes way back, all the way to his childhood. You introduced the secrets of the universe that you had learned from your travels to him, from the greatest mysteries of the ocean to the intelligence and beauty of life on Mars. You showed Bradbury that human souls shine even in the darkest of places, whether it be in the grave or all the way in outer space… And so Bradbury conveyed that message in each of his stories.”
“You misunderstand,” I insisted. “I only inspired Bradbury. He was the one who truly brought the stories to life.”
“I know. The two of you working together… It was kind of like two children building a sandcastle together, wouldn’t you say?”
His words caught me off guard. I was speechless.
He went on. “Just like the sandcastles you and Bradbury used to build at the lake…isn’t that right? You’re not a witch, Cecy. You’re Bradbury’s muse.”
“I could just be a vampire, you know,” I joked.
“Regardless, what you call yourself doesn’t change who you are fundamentally. Bradbury taught me that.”
Just then, Mother called from downstairs, letting me know that the pumpkin pie she was baking had just come out of the oven. As I got up to go downstairs, I glanced back at the pile of sand on the floor that functioned as my body’s “bed” during my travels. The author had noticed as well and had mistaken it for a landscape garden, of all things. I told him that the Family had put aside a lot of time and effort to assemble the sand bed, and that it suited the vintage style of our October Mansion. Outside in the fog, you could make out a building that appeared to be the original Ackermansion, reconstructed to look just as it did when Ackerman resided in it. But that’s a story for another time. This is the story of the October Country.
Mother called again, urging me to come down since this was a special homecoming. As I descended the stairs, a figure at the dining room table caught the attention of the author, who would be a last-minute guest.
“Hey, that must be Timothy!” Cecy’s younger human brother, who was left on the doorstep of the Elliott family as an infant. Timothy was first introduced in Homecoming. the author cried out, looking at the boy at the table. “Wow, I can’t believe I finally get to meet tiny Tim! Say, I wonder if he’s named after the boy from A Christmas Carol.”
For a while I didn’t respond since I was trying to get a good look at the boy’s face. Then, it occurred to me.
“That boy isn’t Timothy.”
“He’s Douglas.” A 12 year-old boy and the main character in Bradbury’s 1957 novel Dandelion Wine. The character Douglas is loosely based off Bradbury himself.
But does it really matter who we are and what we’re called? If Timothy is Douglas? If Cecy is Tally?  An important character from Bradbury’s short story The Lake. Talley would often build sandcastles with the main character during their childhood. If The Family’s last name is Elliott or some other name? If Douglas Spaulding The character Douglas Spaulding in Dandelion Wine is loosely based on Bradbury, whose middle name was Douglas. of Green Town is Ray Douglas Bradbury of Waukegan?
Everyone has their own special journey. And their own special homecoming. Sitting at the head of the table, Douglas sharply inhaled the scent of apple cider as he opened a bottle of dandelion wine and poured himself a glass. His eyes shone brightly as he wondered aloud,
“Now, where is my typewriter?” Bradbury was known for his love of typewriters and completed his first draft of Fahrenheit 451 on a coin-operated typewriter.
|↑1||This is an example footnote.|
|↑2||The word “Hollywood” was originally misinterpreted as “Holy Wood” in Japanese, but the misspelling is often still used by fervent Japanese fans of Hollywood actors and movies.|
|↑3||The homecoming described here is meant to mimic the homecoming of the supernatural Elliot family depicted in Bradbury’s short story Homecoming.|
|↑4||A collection of macabre short stories published by Ray Bradbury in 1955.|
|↑5||A successful film-magazine launched by James Warren and Forrest J Ackerman in 1958 that published articles on various horror and sci-fi films.|
|↑6||A visual-effects producer who designed a split-screen style of stop motion animation known as “Dynamation”.|
|↑7||A cast ring worn by Christopher Lee in Hammer Film Production’s series of Dracula films.|
|↑8||A Martian artifact from Ray Bradbury’s story The Blue Bottle that is said to contain the greatest desire of anyone who holds it.|
|↑9||A reference to Bradbury’s short story The Dwarf, where a dwarf visits a funhouse full of mirrors every night.|
|↑10||From Bradbury’s 1953 short story Time in Thy Flight. In this story, a teacher from the future time travels with a group of students back to the 1920s to teach them the “barbaric” ways of the past.|
|↑11||From Bradbury’s short story The Smiling People. This short story focuses on a man named Mr. Greppin, who becomes hysterical when his family refuses to smile after hearing that he’s engaged.|
|↑12||The main character from Bradbury’s The Invisible Man, whose body is covered with tattoos depicting horrible visions of the future.|
|↑13||The premise behind Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which depicts a dystopian society that has banned books and burns any which are discovered.|
|↑14||A fictitious grimoire that lists the history of various entities in Lovecraftian mythology and how to summon them.|
|↑15||Referring to the society in Fahrenheit 451 known as the Book People, who memorize entire books in the hopes of republishing them.|
|↑16||The titular character in Bradbury’s The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone. Stone makes a promise with a rival author to fake his death and never publish another novel again.|
|↑17||A short story collection published by Bradbury in 1947.|
|↑18||A mansion owned by Forrey Ackerman that also housed his collection of over 300,000 rare collectibles from various sci-fi and horror media.|
|↑19||A character in several of Bradbury’s short stories who was first mentioned in The Traveler (1946). Cecy Elliott is a witch who sleeps during most of the day and “travels” by projecting her mind from her body. She often possesses living creatures during her journeys.|
|↑20||Detailed in Bradbury’s short story Homecoming.|
|↑21||Mimics a soliloquy given by the main character in Bradbury’s 1975 play Pillar of Fire.|
|↑22||An astronomical phenomenon that occurs every 243 years, the most recent being in 2012. Bradbury’s death, coincidentally, occurred during the last transit.|
|↑23||A short story about a sea creature lured to a lighthouse by the sound of its foghorn. The Fog Horn served as inspiration for The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.|
|↑24||Cecy’s younger human brother, who was left on the doorstep of the Elliott family as an infant. Timothy was first introduced in Homecoming.|
|↑25||A 12 year-old boy and the main character in Bradbury’s 1957 novel Dandelion Wine. The character Douglas is loosely based off Bradbury himself.|
|↑26||An important character from Bradbury’s short story The Lake. Talley would often build sandcastles with the main character during their childhood.|
|↑27||The character Douglas Spaulding in Dandelion Wine is loosely based on Bradbury, whose middle name was Douglas.|
|↑28||Bradbury was known for his love of typewriters and completed his first draft of Fahrenheit 451 on a coin-operated typewriter.|
About the Author
Masahiko Inoue (井上雅彦) was born in Tokyo in 1960. In 1983, he entered the Hoshi Shin’ichi Short-Short Story Contest and won an award for excellence, and thus began his life as a writer. Although Inoue’s works, mostly featuring vampires and ghosts, have been published in many formats such as short stories and dark fantasy and mystery novels, he has maintained a fantastic motif across a variety of fields. In addition to his own prolific output as a novelist, he supervised the paperback horror anthology series Freak-Out Collection「異形コレクション」; the series won the 19th Japan Science Fiction Award Special Prize in 1998. The collection also provided a place for countless emerging and established authors to unveil weird and macabre creations of their own. The series has now grown to 51 volumes. His profile on Amazon Kindle is here.
About the Translator
Rebecca Seippel first began learning Japanese back in middle school and decided to pursue it as a major with a business minor in college. A favorite way for her to study Japanese was by reading Japanese stories, which was an immersive way to learn grammar and vocabulary. She enjoys translation because it’s very much like creating a piece of artwork: a rough translation of the original text serves as a “sketch”, and she will go back and edit the rough translation several times to create the final piece. Rebecca had a wonderful experience working with Inoue Sensei, who was very kind and encouraging during the process, and is also grateful for receiving permission to translate But First, a Toast. “It’s truly a touching story about Bradbury, and was also a delightful challenge to translate.”
Feature Image Credit
“Famous Monsters #35 (1965), cover by Vic Prezio” by gameraboy is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. The image used is an edited version of the original.