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Archive for July, 2009

The Present is Japanese or, LAUNCH!

One of the great things about living in San Francisco is that there are many excellent independent bookstores. Given that today was the day that the first two Haikasoru titles shipped to stores, we decided to celebrate by hanging out at Borderlands Books, one of the best bookstores in the city and one of the best specialty shops for science fiction, gmail login fantasy, and horror in the whole country. We popped in a bit early and waited for the books to arrive.

Masumi and books
Here’s Masumi scoping out the state of the field amongst the well-stocked stacks of Borderlands.

Borderlands is a not just a great local store, but a national institution. When I moved here from the East Coast, Borderlands was my first stop. Before groceries. Before anything.

crazy postcards
See? Postcards! Mail ’em to your friends.

Locals know that one of the store’s great attractions are its hairless cats, Ripley and Ash. Indeed, there’s a sign put out on the register when the cats arrive, because some people come in just to check out the cats. Personally, they freak me out.

Ash, the semi-hairless hairless cat

But Ash took a liking to VIZ editor Eric “I eric and cat

Before the long, the moment had arrived!

Carrie and The Lord of the Sands of Time
Behold, The Lord of the Sands of Time!

And what should happen but that one of the customers was intrigued by these new selections!

Buying all you need is kill
They certainly aren’t holding in their laughter because I asked them to hold up All You Need Is KILL for a contrived photo-op. It’s the joy of finding a new book to read!

And here’s the first person to EVER buy a Haikasoru title. (Well, the first person to buy one in front of me while I had a cellphone camera handy.)

Smug guy
If he looks smug, it’s because he’s awesome.

And now friends, go forth and CONSUME!

Coming soon: a Q/A with Seth, who bought the first book, and what he thought of it!

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The Final Countdown!

Yeah yeah, no 3 or 2 over the weekend. It’s not like you guys were at your computers either.

Today is the fortieth anniversary of one of humanity’s greatest achievements: the Apollo 11 moon landing. While, of course a feat of both engineering and political oneupsmanship, the influence of science fiction on the moon landing (and the moon landing’s subsequent influence on SF) cannot be denied.

And tomorrow, we here at Haikasoru have a launch of our own. Finally, our books will be in stores. It would have been very clever of us to have planned this all out, but really it’s just a matter of our distributor happening to ship so that books hit shelves on Tuesdays.

Haikasoru has been a long time in coming. In fact, we can trace the idea to this list of the Top 20 Geek Novels published in the UK Guardian back in 2005. The list was passed around the office just to see how geeky the editors were. Eric Searleman—manga editor and occasional poster here (he’s the guy who doesn’t like Boogiepop, boo! hiss!)—had only read a few of the titles, while our illustrious boss Masumi Washington had read eight of them, including Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle…in Japanese! The editors began chatting about the books, and a couple of folks had also read the English edition of Japan Sinks and an idea was born.

As far as the name Haikasoru, that came a bit later. We’re all big Dickheads out here, and the deliciousness of a book about Japan’s takeover of California was just too much for us to resist. “High Castle” had already been used as an imprint name, so we went with the Japanese pronunciation. Dick himself is also a big deal in Japan. Here’s the cover to a recent Japanese edition of The Man in the High Castle, which we think is pretty swank:

See you all tomorrow in bookstores across America!

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Countdown! Working for the Weekend

You know what? It’s Friday. It’s Friday and I’m leaving the office in thirty minutes. It’s Friday and I’m leaving the office in thirty minutes and it’s a slow slow news day.

So here is a giant number four to keep you company:

giant four

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Fiiiive Goooolden Countdoooowns!

Due to some net-burp, yesterday’s post didn’t get posted! Here it is! Just pretend that the five is a four. Thanks!

Five days till we launch and the buzz continues. The great cats down at SF Signal have been posting some great comments on world science fiction (see here, here, and here), and today’s post on the subject has a wonderful observation from Yoshio Kobayashi on Japanese SF:

Japanese SF is traditionally focused on Hard SF, as we’re accustomed to regard books as nothing but good learning tools, rather than mere entertainment. To our general public, science fiction is intellectual but difficult and weird stuff, and not silly escapist adventure as Hollywood treatment of it suggests. And the tradition lives. For example, at Nippon 2007, the first Worldcon in Japan, our current prime minister attended and gave a speech to the fans, even though he was not remotely a candidate.

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We take SF seriously, compared with the American public. … And [Japanese SF writers] always build stories with scientific and technological ideas to solve the problems, rather than speculation for speculation’s sake. So to unfamiliar eyes, our hard SF may look too optimistic and simplistic, a primitive form of scientifiction, but that’s not true, I think. Foreign scientists used to dismiss the idea of humanoid robots, but we’ve developed ones like Asimo, which are not expensive toys, but actually intended and developed to serve the handicapped and elderly people more efficiently.

The whole series of posts is worth reading for anyone interested in how science fiction is developing outside the US and the UK. And in five days, you’ll get your first taste. That number again is number five.

giant number five

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