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When the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally--the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji's escape or his final death?
Hiroshi Sakurazaka was born in 1970 in Tokyo. After a career in information technology, he published his first novel Modern Magic Made Simple (Yoku wakaru gendai mahou) in 2003 from Super Dash Bunko, a popular light novel imprint for young adult audiences. The first novel was quite successful is now an ongoing series of seven volumes. It has also been adapted as a manga, in 2008, and as a televised anime series in 2009. He published All You Need Is Kill with the same imprint in 2004, earning a Seiun Award nomination for best science fiction novel. His 2004 short story "Saitama Chainsaw Massacre" won the 16th SF Magazine Reader's Award. His other novels include Characters (co-written with Hiroki Azuma) and Slum Online, released in English in 2010 by Haikasoru.
In 2010, Sakurazaka started an experimental digital magazine AiR with Junji Hotta. He continues to be one of Japan's most exciting writers of both light novels and adult science fiction.
The Full Metal Bitch.
I’d heard stories. A war junkie always chasing the action, no matter where it led her. Word had it she and her Special Forces squad from the U.S. Army had chalked up half of all confirmed Mimic kills ever. Might be anyone who could see that much fighting and live to tell about it really was the Angel of Death.
Sesho Moro has written in to let me know that he’ll be dedicating his summer to Haikasoru. He’ll be reading all of our titles and reviewing them on his interesting anime/manga review podcast in order of their release.
So far we has podcast reviews of The Lord of the Sands of Time (review) and All You Need is Kill (review). He has a cute accent, so check out his podcasts. He does discuss the plots of the books in detail, so if you are one of those “spoiler” people, be ready to tear off your headphones at any moment.
Haikasoru at the World Fantasy Convention
This past weekend I attended the 2009 World Fantasy Convention. As they say in the junior high school paper after the student play, “Everybody had a good time.” But more than that was had! For example, Haikasoru had a presence on the “Fantasy in Translation” panel. Check out this photographic evidence:
From L to R: Your handsome Haikasoru editor, Rani Graff, Cheryl Morgan, Ann Vandermeer, Zoran Živković. Photo by Kevin Standlee, with permission.
Zoran Živković discussed his attempt to find an audience larger than he could have ever had in his native Serbian by investing heavily in private translations of his work into English. Ann Vandermeer, fiction editor of the venerable Weird Tales spoke of her experiences in bringing out the first “international” issue in the magazine’s eighty-five year history. We also talked about the number of books translated into English each year, the expense and difficulty of doing so and the importance of making sure that translators get their due. I was happy to report to the audience that Haikasoru titles always have the translator’s byline right on the front cover.
Cheryl Morgan moderated the panel and had a special announcement: the launch of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards, for works of speculative fiction translated into English from other languages. It should be a pretty good award, as such things go—the University of California, Riverside’s Eaton Collection is associated with the initiative and will likely be hosting the first ceremony in 2011. Also, cash prizes!
Many other countries, such as Germany and Finland, have their own awards for SF/F and many of these awards also include awards for translated fiction, often but not always from English—in Finland a book translated from a regional Kenyan language recently won—but in the Anglophone world such a prize category is lacking. Of course, there are awards for works in translation; Haikasoru’s own Brave Story won the Batchelder Award for children’s literature in translation. (Have I mentioned that the paperback is coming out in a mere two weeks?) But the SFFTA’s are the first sf/fantasy-specific award. Check out the press release if you’d like to play the home game version of the panel.
There was more to WFC than panels and prizes though. There were parties and goody bags featuring copies of ZOO and The Lord of the Sands of Time, which were eagerly gobbled up by attendees, readings, and whirls of words and art. And very little sleep.
Haikasoru hopes to be hitting more conventions this year and next, so do keep an eye out at your local SF hootenanny.
A spooky little boy like me…
Just a quick note tonight, that I was interviewed about our rockin’ and seasonally appropriate dark fantasy title ZOO over at Ranobe Café (coffee not included). Mostly it’s me ranting about how poorly short stories are treated in the US marketplace.
In the interview, I mention that Stephen King, who knows a little something about horror and about short stories, recently declared that people have forgotten how to read short fiction. Here is the piece, btw, provided by Simon & Schuster which is, not-so-coincidentally, the distributor of fine Haikasoru products and the occasional provider of doughnuts to me when I am in New York for sales conferences. Check it out! (Btw, he says a “bad word” so if you’re at work, put on headphones.)
Back when he was coming up, King would publish his short stories in men’s magazines and fantasy rags. Now that he is the most popular writer in the world, he can publish in The New Yorker, Paris Review, and Esquire, and he is one of the few authors whose short story collections can appear in mass market paperback after a hardcover release. For the rest of us, including Otsuichi, who is very popular in Japan (740,000+ copies of ZOO alone over there!) the short story collection is a risk. Is King right? Have we fallen out of love with the short story? Are we too LAZY to invest in a story and then eighteen pages later reset our brains and try again? I worry that he is right. After all, the men’s magazines and fantasy rags that once published King are now either defunct, devoid of fiction entirely, or have one-fifth the readers they once had.
Prove me—and the KING—wrong, kids! Buy ZOO and I’ll be able to publish more short fiction from Japan.
The dial on the hype machine goes up to eleven!
Here’s a neat interview with me about Haikasoru’s launch and some future plans, plus the differences between Japanese and English-language SF! Check it out.
Kill “is tremendously enjoyable, evoking not only Groundhog Day but also Ken Grimwood’s classic book, Replay, and the classic anime The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Lord has a “fabulous, borderline batty concept, with some wonderful wrinkles along the way” including references to the poet Robert Burns. “Now that’s something we never expected to see in a Japanese SF novel.”
Like Henry V???
All You Need Is KILL: Sakurazaka consciously constructed All You Need Is Kill like a great video game. In this he is mostly successful. The reader will feel immersed into Kiriya’s dilemma, not just through the all the action but also through his internal struggle to keep from giving up, to puzzle out what the hell is happening.
The Lord of the Sands of Time: ...there’s a great deal of passion to be found in The Lords of the Sands of Time. More of a tease than a spoiler— there’s a stirring speech to the troops in the penultimate act that has the same punch as Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech. Yeah that’s right, I just referenced The Forever War and Henry V …