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Intern Michelle Reviews…the StoryBundle

 

If you follow us on social media, you know that we are currently running a Story Bundle for some of our most popular and acclaimed ebooks—you can buy five or all ten ebooks for your own price. Thanks to Intern Michelle, we were able to get the package together right away, and she wanted to share her thoughts on the books with you! Buy the bundle, and tell us what you think!

 

The Final Bundle Countdown

By: Michelle Yee

 

With eight days left of Haikasoru’s first storybundle, there’s still time to get many of Haikasoru’s favorites, including Project Itoh’s Genocidal Organ and Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s Slum Online. Of course, the bonus books are equally impressive, especially Legend of the Galactic Heroes Vol. 1: Dawn.

 

With that in mind, let’s begin our short journey through the amazing books that make up Haikasoru’s first sci-fi bundle!

 

The Battle Royale Slam Book

 

I recently finished Battle Royale before reading this slam book so I do understand how all the essays relate to the story. Other than that, I don’t think it’s necessary to read Battle Royale before reading this book. While many of the writers constantly reference back to it, what really makes these stories interesting is how they all manage to bring in their own personal experiences. From John Skipp’s childhood recollection of dying kids to Jason Ridler’s discussion of professional wrestling, these contributors that come from all parts of the world are able to share how this crazy riveting story about children killing each other, has managed to change their lives.

 

The Future is Japanese

 

Since the title of the anthology of stories is called The Future is Japanese, you would expect these stories to have that futuristic techno tone, but to my pleasant surprise, I found myself imagining that these events could happen tomorrow or even by the end of today. Hugo Award-winning short story “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu is a delight not just because there’s pictures of kanji scattered throughout the story, but also because of how heart-wrenchingly real it is.

 

Genocidal Organ

 

Dark, graphic and bloody from the first sentence, Project Itoh’s first novel takes you in for a ride through the dark references to Alice in Wonderland to the world of the afterlife. The story is as grim as the war on terror that creeps through the lives of the main character, but it still manages to pull you in due to the ingenious use of a multitude of genres from espionage to mystery to horror.

 

The Lord of the Sands of Time

 

What starts off as a historical novel about a young queen and her faithful servant quickly spirals into the story of the mysterious Messenger O who travels across time on a mission to unite different eras to defeat the future rampant alien invasion. Similar to his time jumps, the chapters themselves jump from different periods of his life, inviting the reader to piece together the enigmatic Messenger O and the people he meets along the way.

 

Slum Online

 

A novel for the modern age, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, author of hit novel All You Need Is Kill, creates the picture of young adolescence in Etsuro Sakagami, an awkward college freshman in real life and a formidable fighter in the combat MMO Versus Town. With the rise of social media platforms, online gaming and popular apps like Pokemon Go, it’s easy to get lost in the world of virtual reality. At any stage in life, we’re always searching for a sense of direction and reason for living and so we follow Etsuro on his journey to find his own life all the while finding ours.

 

 

Paying a little bit more for the bonus books is completely worth it, especially since you get another series of books that are equally amazing as the original bundle. Trust me when I say that it wasn’t a drag at all to get the bonus books; they were well worth the trouble.

 

Harmony

 

When I first looked at the Table of Contents, I thought I accidentally pulled up a chatroom before I realized that I was reading Harmony. Set years after the original events in Genocidal Organ, Project Itoh immediately draws you into the story of the perfect utopian future of Japan and the three girls that try to commit suicide to defy it. Scratch that—make that one girl that dies and the two girls that try to understand their lives afterwards. A thought-provoking commentary on society, this Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation winner makes us look at utopias in its entirety, all the while raising questions that make us question ourselves.

Gene Mapper

 

How far would you go to save your rice crop? Gene mapper Hayashida would go across Asia with a hired gun-hacker to do so. Taiyo Fujii’s world may be a future where reality is arranged through biology itself, but the idea of genetically modified food isn’t new. In fact, what makes this book so involving is the fact that reality can go in this direction. Gene Mapper pushes us to think about humanity’s consistent use of technology and what that does to society.

 

Hanzai Japan

 

Haikasoru’s most recent anthology, this collection brings together crime and mystery stories with the usual flair of science fiction and fantasy. Exploring different aspects of the fantastical, technology and psychology of both the detective and the criminal, Hanzai Japan makes for an entertaining series of short stories that can bring even the most uncaring reader to life. My personal favorite would have to be Carrie Vaughn’s “The Girl Who Loved Shonen Knife,” a story about a girl who will do anything to win her high school band contest and manages to solve a mystery along the way.

 

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 1: Dawn

 

In humanity’s distant future, the monarchic Galactic Empire and democratic Free Planets Alliance fight in a continuous war, led by their respective military heroes: ambitious Reinhard von Lohengramm and strategic Yang Wen-li. Fans had petitioned the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series to be translated for a long time and I can see why. Engaging and action-packed with hints of Western space dramas, I find myself not being able to choose a side. Maybe in the next few novels, I’ll finally be able to make my decision. If you liked this book, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 2: Ambition just came out in bookstores, so check that out!

 

Phantasm Japan

 

As editor Nick Mamatas says in the introduction, “Phantasm Japan seeks to use the fantastic not to mystify, but to demystify,” and this anthology does just that. By incorporating the fantastical with science fiction, it blends together with the stories of ancient Japan and the mystical yokai that come along with it. However, my personal favorite story has to be Tim Pratt’s “Those Who Hunt Monsters.” Lighthearted and powerful, it is a modern exploration of racism and the face it hides behind, magical beings included.

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So many HANZAI JAPAN reviews…

Hanzai Japan was published just over a month ago, and boy, have the reviews been pouring in! We thought we’d share a few. First up was the October 2015 issue of Locus Magazine. The review by Karen Burnham is not online, but did conclude like this: All of which is to say that Haikasoru has put out another winner of an anthology, joining The Future is Japanese (2012) and Phantasm Japan (2014) in presenting a diverse array of voices, both Western stars (Valentine, Evenson) and Japanese authors in translation, to show just how appealing and intertwined the fiction coming out of Japan can be for the Western genre audience. Between the dark, the fantastic, the science fictional, the surreal, and the funny – there is no monolithic Japan here, just writers writing about crime, or things that might be crimes, or things that happen as the result of crimes (no matter how far stretched that definition may be) in all the different voices available to them.

Then we had a nice long 4.5 star review from SFSignal.com, which read, in part: So if this doesn’t sound like a trippy, fun, and highly entertaining collection to you, then I’m not 100% sure that you’re human. I mean, maybe you’re a space lizard in a human suit. With terrible taste. If my review of Hanzai Japan did pique your interest, though, then go grab a copy.

Albedo1 agreed! Despite its few flaws, Hanzai Japan was a gripping read throughout. If you feel that itch that only quality crime fiction can scratch, then this anthology is for you.

So did CrowsnBones! There are hackers, amateur sleuths, demonic tattoos, fox spirits, Yakuza bosses and a special guest turn by Godzilla, making this a strong contender for the collection of the year. Spinetingler Magazine did one of its famous story-by-story reviews, with a different author handling each piece.

Too many to link to but here are all the posts so far!

Dirge Magazine Loved it: It’s this spirited, loving, bloody rebellion against the genre rulebook that makes these stories tick, that brings them together. Winding through points of view from an ex-pat young woman exploring the quiet deaths of a broken-down theme park, to two American fuckboys getting wasted and in serious trouble in New York’s Little Tokyo, to a group of Yakuza bank robbers watching a PowerPoint on how best to utilise Godzilla in their latest heist, Hanzai Japan shows both Japan and the West through broken lenses, a playful perversion of how we see ourselves and the other.

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For the manga and anime crowds, Otaku USA checked in, saying in part: All the stories are solid and build their own world, and the range of voices gives you everything from atmospheric horror to the creepily fantastic to stories dripping with dark humor and a wink at the readers. Hanzai Japan is definitely different from a lot of what is on the market and it’s a fun ride all the way through. Let’s hope to see more of these anthologies coming from VIZ Media!

And just today, from Deadend Follies: t is that kind of book that goes into so many directions and does it with such discipline (at the image of the Japanese people) that it is bound to have a story that’ll catch your imagination. HANZAI JAPAN brought me back to the early 2000s, back when I was binge watching/reading everything Japanese I could get my hands on. Everything great about Japanese pop culture is in this anthology (or almost). Convinced that we have created the greatest holiday present of all time for the reader in your life (even if the only reader is you!)? We hope so. Get shoppin’.

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HANZAI JAPAN giveaway contest winners!

Thanks for the great turnout and intriguing essay-comments this time around. Without further ado, here are the four winners of our Hanzai Japan giveaway contest! Though we must say that we are shocked and saddened that nobody mentioned Rebus.

Anyway… First up is Matthew! Though naming S. J. Rozan’s Lydia Chin/Bill Smith wouldn’t have been cheating (they’re in the book!), we’re big fans of Jim Chee as well.

Second is Carrie Morita for writing a poem! We are suckers for poems! Naomi Hirahara seems to inspire them!

Third up is the mysterious “n”, who mentioned comic book antihero Spider Jerusalem. (We’re also huge fans of Warren Ellis’s two prose crime novels, btw.) We’re big believers in “broad church” crime fiction, so liked the out there suggestion.

And finally, if only in order to encourage Alex to write the story, we select this entry about the notional detective seeking out the murder of Alexander III. Thanks for playing everyone, and remember to pick up a copy of Hanzai Japan next week! Catch me on gmail.com 

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It’s the HANZAI JAPAN giveaway contest!

Next week we launch Hanzai Japan, our third anthology, which is already getting some good pre-release buzz. And that means this week we launch our giveaway contest!

Hanzai means crime, which is the slogan of the book. It features fiction running the gamut of crime from vampiric police procedurals to supernatural prisons to good ol’ fashioned murder sprees. Contributors include New York Times best-seller Carrie Vaughn, All You Need Is KILL/Edge of Tomorrow‘s Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Catwoman’s Genevieve Valentine, mystery genre stalwarts S. J. Rozan and Naomi Hirahara, cross-genre author Jeff Somers, and many more.
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The contest this time around is a simple one. In the comments to this post, write a brief essay telling us who your favorite fictional sleuth who is not Sherlock Holmes is. It can be an amateur sleuth, or a supernatural detective; a costumed crime-fighter or a hard-boiled anti-hero. As usual, you can post in English, Spanish, Japanese, German, Chinese, or Greek, and around noon on Friday we’ll pick our four favorite responses four lucky winners will receive a copy of Hanzai Japan! Don’t be shy; we ship worldwide.

Points for cleverness! We’ll look at poems, even Begin!

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