Haikasoru

 

Space Opera. Dark Fantasy. Hard Science.
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Science Fiction [Archive]

Excerpt, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, v9: Upheaval

“Your Majesty, I have every intention of accepting the marshal’s staff from you alive.” Lutz retained his composure as he spoke. He even smiled. “I had the honor of sharing the founding of Your Majesty’s empire. With luck I will also share the ease and flourishing to come.”

Lutz glanced at Müller. The “Iron Wall” nodded, then respectfully took Reinhard by the arm. “We must go, Your Majesty,” he said.

Reinhard’s golden hair shone even more splendidly in the firelight.

“Lutz, when you are no longer able to fire, surrender. Von Reuentahl knows how to treat a hero.”

Lutz saluted, but spoke neither ja nor nein in reply. He watched Reinhard and the others leave, offering a final salute when the kaiser turned back one last time, and then strode unhurriedly into the trees by the path to take cover.

The limits of Lutz’s patience were not tested. Ten seconds later, roughly a platoon’s worth of pursuers turned up. Lutz opened fire.

The pursuers visibly shrank from him. They knew Lutz as a great general, but had never imagined that he was such an accurate marksman.

In just two minutes, Lutz’s blaster felled eight men, half of whom died instantly. Despite the flames and the relentlessly approaching enemies, he remained flawlessly composed. Half-concealed behind a great tree, sometimes even taking the time to brush off the sparks that showered down on him, Lutz held the line grimly. When he heard calls for him to surrender, he unflappably replied, “Surrender! And rob you of the chance to see how a senior admiral of the Lohengramm Dynasty dies? Whether you come with me or not, why not watch and learn?”

Then he extended an arm as unbending as his spirit and pulled the trigger again.

It was as if his own will poured forth from the barrel in streams of pure energy. The pursuers seemed to forgot their numbers—each of them returned fire desperately, as if facing him alone. They dove into the forest to escape his deadly accuracy, only to be chased out again by the flames.

As he loaded his third and final energy capsule into his blaster, Lutz wondered when exactly Brünhild would take off. He felt irritation not for himself but on behalf of Reinhard and the others.

The flames flickered wildly. The red and black and darkness and light that had struggled for supremacy above him was pushed aside by an all-illuminating silver gleam. Looking skyward, Lutz saw a warship that every soldier in the Galactic Empire knew. A great bird of purest white, spreading its wings amid a thicket of energy beams rising uselessly toward it from the planet’s surface. The sight was magnificent.

The transcendental moment passed. Lutz saw a thin beam of white light pierce him beneath his left clavicle, and then felt it emerge from his back just beside his left shoulder blade. Pain exploded from the point of impact, spreading to fill his body. Lutz staggered just half a pace backward, frowned slightly, and brought down two more pursuers with two more pulls of the trigger. He pressed his left hand to the breast of his uniform and felt an unpleasant stickiness. Tiny snakes of a dark, wet color trickled from between his fingers and crawled downward.

Still upright, he once more pulled the trigger, which now felt very heavy. As his target spasmed before a backdrop of flame in a brief dance of death, the left side of Lutz’s skull was pierced by a diagonal blast of return fire. A gout of blood poured from his ear. The flames disappeared from his field of vision, leaving only darkness.

Mein Kaiser . . . I am afraid I cannot make good on that promise to accept the marshal’s rod alive. I shall await my reprimand in Valhalla—but let it not be for some time yet . . .”

Excerpt for The Thousand Year Beach

Jules lay back against the rocks.

Jules was unable to get a certain thought out of his mind.

Could that old man be my papa?

When exactly had this idea taken up residence in his head?

He did not know.

I’m resident of this Realm, this virtual resort space, thought Jules. Just an NPC AI, built in from the beginning.

My thoughts, my memories, my body—all a precisely designed set of objects running on the Realm’s system.

But Papa’s different.

Papa’s a guest.

An unidentifiable face in the crowd of thousands who lived in the real world but held memberships in the Costa del Número. Papa used his membership to come to my house, after choosing our Realm of Summer out of countless other Realms and reserving the open role of my papa.

The Realm had many open roles like this. As long as they weren’t already in use, anyone with Costa del Número membership could fill them, regardless of sex or age.

And in that way, a new Papa sat at Jules’s table every day.

His family shared a range of summer pleasures with “Papa.”

But not that old man. So what’s this mysterious kinship, almost like a bond of blood, that I feel around him? (more…)

It’s the ORBITAL CLOUD Giveaway contest!

We haven’t done one of these in a while, but it is that time once again—we’re giving away four copies of Taiyo Fujii’s latest book, Orbital Cloud!

If you read Fujii’s previous novel, Gene Mapper, you already know what Fujii is all about: near-future settings, hard science fiction, a positive outlook on humanity, and intriguing thriller plots. Orbital Cloud is all that and more:
Growbox

In the year 2020, Kazumi Kimura, proprietor of shooting star forecast website Meteor News, notices some suspicious orbiting space debris. Rumors spread online that the debris is actually an orbital weapon targeting the International Space Station. Halfway across the world, at NORAD, Staff Sergeant Daryl Freeman begins his own investigation of the threat. At the same time, billionaire entrepreneur Ronnie Smark and his journalist daughter prepare to check in to an orbital hotel as part of a stunt promoting private space tourism. Then Kazumi receives highly sensitive, and potentially explosive, information from a genius Iranian scientist. And so begins an unprecedented international battle against space-based terror that will soon involve the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NORAD, and the CIA.

Check out a sample excerpt on The Verge and also in the ebook version of March’s Lightspeed Magazine.

Convinced you want a copy yet?

Yeeeeeah, you’re convinced! So here is our contest:

In a comment to this post, tell us about your favorite work of hard science fiction—that is, SF that mooooostly holds true to the laws of physics as they were known at the time of the story’s writing. You can write a little hundred-word essay, or poem (we like villanelles) or fannish rant or whatever you like. Friday afternoon, we’ll pick four winners. We ship anywhere, and you can submit in English, Japanese, Spanish, Greek, or German.

So let’s play!

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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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