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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.




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.

SELF-REFERENCE ENGINE is a Philip K. Dick Award nominee!

Well well well, the Philip K. Dick Award nominees, which is for the best science fiction published originally in paperback (just as Dick’s own works were), have been announced. And lookie-lookie, my milk and cookie:

A Calculated Life, by Anne Charnock
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Self-Reference ENGINE, by Toh EnJoe, translated by Terry Gallagher
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
Life on the Preservation, by Jack Skillingstead
Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ian Whates
Countdown City, by Ben H. Winters

I’m sure Toh EnJoe is especially happy, as his friend Project Itoh was nominated for, and received the Special Citation, for the PKD Award for the novel Harmony a few years ago. Congratulations, and we’ll see you all in Seattle!

The 2012 Haikasoru Holiday Shopping Guide

It’s nearly year’s end, and so we thought we might write about our 2012 titles, and how they’ll make great presents for your loved ones. Or, you know, for yourself. We won’t tell.

Do you or any of your friends or relatives love Godzilla? Ultraman? H. P. Lovecraft? Mythology? The TV show The Office? The zany pseudosciences of UFOs, Bigfoot and other cryptids, and such like that? Get them a copy of MM9 by Hiroshi Yamamoto. This book combines office hijinks with ancient monsters and some quick scientific thinking. It was also a TV show in Japan:

Also, check out the show’s closing credits:

It’s a very fun book, and a breeze to read despite the scientific speculations.

For fans of Haruki Murakami, Jorge Luis Borges, or magical realism in general, check out The Navidad Incident by Natsuki Ikezawa. The fantasy element here is light, but strange—there’s a ghost and a mysteriously busy runaway bus. This book is a sort of genre-in-the-mainstream title about the politics of the developing world in the postcolonial era. And hardcover books make for wonderful gifts. Finally, the title! Navidad, get it?

Any hardcore SF fan who wants to keep up with the new writers in the field needs a copy of our anthology The Future Is Japanese. Ken Liu’s short story “Mono No Aware” has already been selected for reprinting in an annual best-of anthology, and this book also features stories by Catherynne M. Valente, Ekateria Sedia, and top Japanese writers including Project Itoh and Issui Ogawa. The anthology got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and is acclaimed generally. If you or yours are interested in the field of SF at all, this book is for you.

Got any gamers in your family or social circle? Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots by Project Itoh is what they need. More than just a novelization by some hack, Itoh was both a hardcore fan of the Metal Gear series and one of Japan’s leading science fiction novelists. This novel is a tribute to the game.

Speaking of one of Japan’s leading science fiction novelists, Project Itoh’s Genocidal Organ is my personal favorite of the year. It’s military SF, it’s about the power of memes—not cat pictures from the Internet, but ideas and how the flit from brain to brain—and it’s a wickedly dark comedy. For fans of Itoh’s Harmony, this book details the “Maelstrom” that leads to the Utopian society of that novel. Speaking of, check out the Hungarian book trailer for Harmony:

Any friend or family member interested in the work of contemporary military SF writers like David Drake or John Scalzi, or the satirical flourishes of Kurt Vonnegut, should check out Genocidal Organ and Harmony.

Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? by Hideo Furukawa is for dog-lovers, history buffs, space buffs, and lovers of fine literature. What other book combines the secret lives of dogs with the drama of the Space Race and the world-changing events of the Cold War? No other novel, of course! Have you seen the author’s passionate readings? We’ve made two videos:


These really sum up the book in a way a blog post cannot.

Finally, out today, is Virus by Sakyo Komatsu. Komatsu is a true grandmaster of Japanese SF—he’s the author of the famed Japan Sinks, and this classic from the 1960s is a SF disaster thriller of the sort that Michael Crichton used to write. It’s a hardcover, so naturally an excellent present—if you or anyone for whom you are buying a gift loves the genreish/mainstreamish thrillers of Crichton of Stephen King or Tom Clancy (Virus includes a lot of scientific and military information) this is the book to buy this month.

So get shopping!

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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