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Third Anniversary Giveaway Contest

Three years ago this week, Haikasoru launched with the publication of All You Need Is Kill and The Lord of the Sands of Time. Since then we’ve brought you the best in Japanese science fiction, fantasy, and horror, have experimented with hardcover releases and magical realism, brought you videogame tie-in novels for Ico and Metal Gear Solid and have even won a few awards. Heck, Good Luck, Yukikaze just received second place at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards over the weekend! And with our anthology The Future Is Japanese, we’ve started introducing original content!

To celebrate, we’re doing one of our famed giveaway essay contests! Just write a comment, in the comments section of this post, on the Haikasoru title you’ve enjoyed the most and why you liked it, and you may be among five lucky and talented winners will be able to select any Haikasoru title they want as their prize. (Make the little essay a good one; that’s how we judge the winners! This is not a random chance drawing!) We ship anywhere, and we read English, Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Greek, and Chinese. (And if you have all the Haikasoru titles already, I’ll flip you a copy of Genocidal Organ, which nobody has yet. We pick the winners on noon Friday, so get to typin’!


Three Years

Haikasoru celebrated our two-year anniversary last month, but there’s another anniversary to celebrate…and it’s today! There years ago, on August 4th 2008, I reported for work here at VIZ for the first time. I had no idea what to expect; indeed, I didn’t even know that the imprint I’d been hired to edit had a name yet. Masumi Washington, my supervisor, revealed it—”Haikasoru!”—to me only after lunch.

I’d moved to California from Boston just three days before, and was little prepared. The only piece of furniture I had was a small two-seat couch I had ordered. My dog and I slept on that for a week until my bed arrived. I also had no pants, as I’d had to pack very quickly and had just shoved everything in my dresser into shipping boxes, rather than in my luggage for the flight over. I had no local bank, and with the expense of moving and shipping, just enough money to get to work and back. (Friends fed me for the first two weeks.) I’d also never had a full-time office job before—I was a full-time freelance writer and editor with some small reputation in science fiction, and I had experience in translation, albeit from the Korean and German. Occasionally though, things break out in favor of the “weird” candidate. It actually helped that I wasn’t steeped in anime and manga; the higher-ups wanted someone primarily interested in SF as opposed to Japanese popular culture specifically. So what if I couldn’t use a multi-line phone! (As it turns out, nobody ever calls me anyway.)

The greatest challenge was that in late July 2008, just as I was making my plan to take this job, the global economy shuddered and nearly collapsed utterly. I remember being in the airport, waiting for my ride to my new apartment which I’d rented sight unseen, and watching CNN. I wondered if I’d be stranded in California without a job or means to head back East if the banking crisis took down the already weak publishing sector. I still joke that, as far as I know, I’m the only person in publishing who actually got a job rather than lost one that summer.

Launching a new imprint is difficult in the best of times. Launching one into the teeth of a global economic crisis, and without any popular writers already known to Anglophone audiences, was an immense challenge. It continues to be one, of course. Kindle and other ebook formats have changed all the rules, and in the last eight months over 600 bookstores in the US have just melted into air. We also had to shake the early impression that Haikasoru was another “light novel” imprint—we publish some light novels, but also more mainstream SF—and we had to win the Anglophone SF audience over to a different mode of genre. It’s easy enough to get a lifelong fan to read a single example of Japanese science fiction. Our true task was to convince SF fans that reading that one title wasn’t sufficient for them to say, “Ah, so now I know what Japanese SF is like. I never need look at any such books again.” And we had to do this while competing for shelf space, differentiating our books from manga, creating an ebook strategy, and making sure that we represented Japanese culture and our Japanese authors appropriately. That meant resisting pressure to “whitewash” the covers of our books by keeping Japanese faces off of them, among other things.

And it’s been working. Some of our books have captured a dual SF and Japanese pop culture audience. We’ve had award nominations, like the Shirley Jackson award nomination for ZOO, and victories, like the Special Citation for the Philip K. Dick award for Harmony. I’ve been nominated for the Hugo award for Best Editor, Long Form. I’ll find out how badly I’ve lost the vote in just two weeks! SF readers are taking to our titles, especially the hard SF that’s heavily influenced by classic science fiction. Our readers from anime and manga fandom are endlessly supportive; we couldn’t do it without you guys!

Just how far have we pushed into the mainstream in just three years? Today, MTV Geek News is running an exclusive excerpt of our latest title, Good Luck, Yukikaze! From zero to MTV in three years? I’ll take it!

It’s been a great three years. I hope we’ll have many more together! If you like our books, tell your friends. If you’re eager for a little more leisure reading, check out our books. We’ll continue to experiment and explore every permutation of Japanese SF we can find, and we have a great new slate of titles for 2012 that we can’t wait to show you. Keep in touch, and happy reading. Remember, the future is Japanese!

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Summer, Fireworks, And a Sale!

We have a lot to celebrate around here at Haikasoru—this is our second anniversary! We love bringing you the best science fiction and fantasy from Japan, and are pleased with the response we’re getting from manga fans, readers of SF, literary award juries, and even Hollywood. We’ve decided to do a little celebration. Good Luck, Yukikaze comes out tomorrow, and to make sure all our readers are up to speed on the saga of humanity’s war against the JAM, we’ve put the ebook of the original Yukikaze on sale!

For the rest of the month, the Kindle and iBook and SONY editions will be a mere $3.99!

Anniversaries are a time to look forward, and back, and summer is a time for reading—whether it’s on the beach or before school starts and work crowds out leisuretime, we’ve got some titles you should consider.

In Japan, summertime, not autumn, is the traditional season for spooky stories. That’s part of why Otsuichi named his first published story Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse. It’s the goosebumps that’ll keep you chill on a hot summer night, don’t you know.

Hugo-nominated fan writer and critic recently wrote of the book, I generally don’t care for horror, on account of horror protagonists generally being imbeciles who deserve their fate, and I only read this because I vowed to read all of Haikasoru’s line. I was very surprised to discover that in fact I liked this one quite a lot….I am quite pleased to have discovered Otsuichi’s fiction, which I never would have thought of seeking out under normal circumstances, and I will acquire any other books by him that I encounter.

Of course, here in the United States, summer is a time not for horror, but for weddings! (Well, maybe that is a special kind of horror of its own…) Extravagant weddings are a big deal in Japan as they are here in the US, but Issui Ogawa tops them all with The Next Continent, the story of one woman’s vision of building a wedding chapel on the moon. Hard SF in the West isn’t known for its emotional resonances, but Ogawa’s book isn’t just for engineers, it’s for engineers…and for lovers! Check it out.

Summertime also means that school’s out and summer jobs are necessary. Why not check out Rocket Girls and Rocket Girls: The Last Planet (both are available as ebooks now as well). If I were one of those marketing people, I’d say that “Yukari and Matsuri find that their summer jobs as astronauts are out of this world!” but I’m not so I’ll only say, “Yukari and Matsuri find that their summer jobs as astronauts are in low-Earth orbit!”

Summer is also a time for tackling those big projects. It doesn’t come much bigger than this epic of post-cyberpunk noir and wacky anime hijinks (yes, both!) in our three-books-in-one-volume monster Mardock Scramble.

Every teen prostitute turned murderous cyborg needs a little yellow mouse for a best friend. Ibookstore users can also download the bonus novelette, “Useful Monsters” for free!

That will keep you busy for a bit. Be sure to check us out regularly for news and fun contests!

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Here we are, with our winners of the GOOD LUCK, YUKIKAZE giveaway!

Nice&toasty for being in the air cadets, but quitting because of sore feet. (Gosh, shouldn’t you have flown everywhere?)

Drax wins one for simply demanding “Where’s my book?!”

Zampalior wins for his flatter as regards All You Need Is KILL

and last, but not least, Jeff for his remarks regarding military SF as a sort of fantasy.

There you are! I’ll contact you all via email for your mailing addresses.

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