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ROCKET GIRLS [Archive]

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!

Happy Monday!

Good news for Kindle-owners: Rocket Girls, Rocket Girls: The Last Planet, and The Stories of Ibis are now all available on Kindle! Availability on the Apple iBookstore is coming soon as well.

Speaking of Ibis, congratulations to author Hiroshi Yamamoto for winning the Seiun Award in Japan for his novel Kyonen wa iitoshi ni narudarou (Last Year Will Be a Good Year). Haikasoru stalwart Issui Ogawa also won a Seiun this year, for his short story “Arisuma ou no aishita mamono” (King Arisuma’s beloved Demon). All right!

A Week of Links!

It’s been quite, eh? Over at the Haikasoru Week and lots of fun was to be had.

The brand new Tow Ubukata novelette “Two Hundred Below”, a Mardock Scramble adventure, went live on Tuesday.

Wednesday saw this neat and insightful review of both Rocket Girls and Rocket Girls: The Last Planet.

And on Thursday, we had a short essay on Japanese science fiction by me.

Oh, and speaking of me, and speaking of the end of the week, the World SF Blog also encouraged Beatrice.com’s Ron Hogan to publish my interview with Cathy Hirano and Jim Hubbert. Ms. Hirano translated Dragon Sword and Wind Child and the forthcoming Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince for us, and Mr. Hubbert has been quite busy: he translated The Lord of the Sands of Time, The Next Continent, and The Ouroboros Wave for us. Gotta catch ‘em all!

Hard SF, now WITH girl cooties!

Here at Haikasoru HQ it looks like Valentine’s Day will never end, as love is in the air and this week we’re featured on Romantic Times Book Reviews. Not only is there a little interview with yours truly, there are two great reviews:

Rocket Girls

got four stars Nojiri himself appears to be nearly as forceful a proponent of space flight as the SSA; he has tried to play fair with the limits imposed by real world science without ever losing sight of his comedic goals.

Then The Next Continent

got a stunning four-and-a-half stars: The Next Continent, translated by Jim Hubbert, is a welcome holiday from the relentlessly pessimistic and bitter tone of North America SF. What could be a tedious exercise in engineering porn is humanized focus by its principle characters: Junior Engineer Aomine, who finds himself drafted into a central role in this grand undertaking, and Tae, the determined young woman whose vision frames and defines the Sixth Continent Project.

These reviews are especially gratifying coming from a venue primarily interested in the romance genre. For a long time, a retrograde fear of what author Debra Doyle calls girl cooties has infected the world of science fiction, and hard SF—science fiction that uses and privileges real science—was the worst of all: “Hard sf” is their science fiction of choice, because it has the fewest girl cooties of any of the sf subgenres. No subjectivity, no mushy bits, none of that messy relationship stuff getting in the way of the classic sf values of hardness and rigor (and no, I don’t think the elevation of those particular values is coincidental.), Doyle writes.

Romance, of course, is wall-to-wall girl cooties. Perhaps not surprisingly, the feeling was often mutual—hard SF was seen as the precinct of uber-nerds and nobody interested in human relationships would want to ever want to read any. Sometimes this fear of girl cooties even enters into the world of real speculative science, as biologist Athena Andreadis points out with her essay (with a not-safe-for-work drawing) on 2009′s Singularity Summit. (The Singularity being a concept beloved of hard SF fans and, increasingly, policymakers and scientists.)

But in Japan, at least as far as SF literature is concerned, girl cooties and hard SF mix just fine. Why, one might say that the units of “girlishness” in books like The Next Continent and Rocket Girls aren’t an infection at all, but actually an organic part of the human condition. Science is for everyone, after all, as it increases our understanding of the universe in which we live, and as it can potentially be used to improve all our lives. Indeed, if we want science to improve our lives rather than destroy them, we’d all better have an interest in the field and its implications for policy, health, and the environment. That’s why hard SF needs to be written for a wide variety of readers, not just for the nerdcore hardcore of those men who are afraid of “girl cooties.” Publishing hard SF titles that can be reviewed and championed by Romantic Times is one reason why I love my job.


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