The pioneers of the modern space age are the authors of science fiction and other imaginary works. Science fiction has contributed greatly not only to the concept of traveling through space, but also to the development of rockets and other spacecraft. Ironically, the desire to bring science fiction to reality may have been the propelling force that triggered the space age. This month we have the pleasure of interviewing an author active in the science fiction world who is also a scenario writer, Mr. Yuichi Sasamoto.

Interviewer: Mr. Sasamoto, you are quite active in this field, often going to see actual rocket launches, reporting on them, and the like.

Sasamoto: Yes. After I became involved in this work, I decided that it would be irresponsible not to see at least one rocket launched. I witnessed a launch, it was the first H-II launch vehicle, for the first time in 1994. Since then, I have seen probably ten rockets launched in Japan. I also watched the Shuttle launched in America. Since I started writing in 1984, I think I was very fortunate to witness a rocket launched exactly ten years after that date.

Interviewer: Did your style of writing change after seeing an actual launch?

Sasamoto: Well, take for example my work in three volumes Get the Comet! (published by Asahi Sonorama). I devoted the first volume to just describing the process prior to making spacecraft, and then the second volume to the process until launching them. And finally I wrote about a spacecraft race in space in the last volume, which was supposed to be main part of this story. But you see, topics of science fiction and space are not always found in space. So I think that more and more novel depictions are more particular about realistic details to give the reader this sense.<

Interviewer: I understand that you belong to a society called the Space Authors Club (consultant: Mr. Sakyo Komatsu).

Sasamoto: Yes, that’s right, and there is a reason that this came about. As an individual, it is not easy to obtain an interview with a space-related institute, for example. "Hi, I’m Yuichi Sasamoto. Could I take a tour of your facilities?" Probably wouldn’t have the desired result. However, I might get an interview by saying, "Hello, I’m Yuichi Sasamoto of such-and-such Society." One reason this society was created was to be able to obtain such interviews more easily. Another reason is that, as people engaged in science fiction, we would like others to understand that fiction has the power to change reality. Without Jules Verne’s novel, for example, Wernher von Braun may have never developed the rocket.

Interviewer: How did you yourself first become interested in space?

Sasamoto: I grew up watching such programs as Ultraman and the Space Battleship Yamato. Then of course there was the Apollo project. That was my generation, you see, so I think it was natural for me to become interested in space.

Interviewer: Perhaps the ultimate coverage would be to actually travel to space. If you had the opportunity, would you want to go?

Sasamoto: If I had the opportunity, sure, I’d like to go. But more importantly, I was supposed to have that opportunity when I became a grown-up. In my generation, we grew up hearing that .

Editor’s Note
Mr. Sasamoto is also a member of the Preparatory Study Committee for the Kibo (Japanese Experiment Module in the ISS) General Use Symposium. The committee includes experts external to NASDA, who participate in discussions on methods of using the ISS and Kibo. I believe that his participation in this committee will have a positive influence on his works. I would also like to add that the work Pilot of the Stars 2: Get the Comet! that was brought up during the interview won the Seiun Award in the Japanese Full-Length Novel Category at the 38th Japan Science Fiction Convention held in 1999.