Haikasoru

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Science Fiction [Archive]

Four Years Into The Future!

Four years ago, Haikasoru was launched. Remember our early photo essay at Borderlands Books? We released our first two titles, All You Need Is Kill and The Lord of the Sands of Time, simultaneously, and since then have greatly enjoyed bringing you the best in Japanese science fiction and fantasy. We thought we might review some highlights:

* All You Need Is Kill has to be the big news. The novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka has been adapted into the Warner Bros. film Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, which will be released in June 2014. Given the number of popular science fiction novels that have waited decades for a film adaptation, we’re thrilled to have helped with this success in just a few years. Tom Cruise is also attached to star in an adaptation of Yukikaze by Chōhei Kambayashi.

* We’ve had books nominated for, and even winning, a wide variety of literary awards. Project Itoh’s Harmony won the Special Citation for the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, and Good Luck, Yukikaze won Honorable Mention in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award. Otsuichi’s ZOO was nominated for the Shirley Jackson award. Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? by Hideo Furukawa is a current SF&F Translation nominee. And, then there’s…

*The Future Is Japanese, our first anthology, requires its own award bullet point. The anthology was an experiment for us, as we published fiction by Western authors for the first time. Ken Liu’s short story “Mono No Aware” has been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, and Sturgeon awards. Project Itoh’s “The Indifference Engine” was nominated for a Shirley Jackson. “Autogenic Dreaming: Interview with the Columns of Cloud” by TOBI Hirotaka, is up for an SF& F Translation Award. The anthology itself, as a whole, was nominated for a Locus Award. Stories by David Moles, Catherynne M. Valente, Pat Cadigan, and Rachel Swirsky have all been selected for reprinting in various year’s best annual anthologies.

*Haikasoru editor Nick Mamatas was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Editor, Long Form in 2011. Reno is a hell of a party town.

*We’ve reached thousands of new readers thanks to mainstream recognition: Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, refurbished and dressed up for a Haikasoru re-release, moved beyond the bookstore and into airports, newsstands, and virtually everywhere else. A rave review on NPR launched Ryu Mitsuse’s Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights to the top of our personal charts. (PS: the hardcover glows in the dark!)

*We also branched out into selected tie-in work. We were thrilled to publish Project Itoh’s Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots and Miyuki Miyabe’s ICO: Castle in the Mist—these novels not only celebrated some cult classic videogames, they stood on their own as works of art.

And now, as we enter our fifth year, we’re still experimenting. We just released our first book by a Western author, Catherynne Valente’s The Melancholy of Mechagirl, and we’re hard at work on our first graphic novel. Not a manga translation, a homebrew adaptation of All You Need Is Kill is coming your way next spring. We’re also entering the field of non-fiction with a collection of essays on one of our favorite novels: The Battle Royale Slam Book!

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:

and

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!

Cthulhu Is Japanese

This past weekend, I was the editorial guest of honor at Capclave 12, a literary science fiction convention held in the Washington D.C. area. Capclave is an old-school con—no masquerade and little hallway cosplay, no film or anime tracks, but tons of talk about books books books stories and authors and editors. So I fit right in!

Capclave is relatively small—a few hundred attendees—but is very professional, and the con attracts significant guests. Next year’s guest of honor, for example, is George R. R. Martin, who needs no introduction. There were also important guests this year: Michael Dirda of the Washington Post—the rare “mainstream” book reviewer who loves SF and writes about it frequently—appeared for example. The dealers room was quite nice—independent presses and bookstores were represented, as were gaming stores, and jewelry and apparel operations. And every attendee got a goodie bag with a free book and magazine of some sort, plus coupons to local shops. (Most smaller cons don’t do a goodie bag, so it was a pleasant surprise.)

Capclave is also a good convention to attend for anyone who aspires to be a writer, as editors and major writers appear, and there are panels oriented around writing and publishing, workshops, and plenty of time to make friends, or even, *gulp* to network. One advantage I had as guest of honor is that nobody tried to pitch me their manuscript. The only way I’m buying anyone’s novel is if they move to Japan, learn Japanese, publish in that country, and get famous over there, after all. I pity other editors who might make an appearance though!

Capclave also features parties every night, and the con is convenient to Washington D.C. tourist attractions and a decent little strip mall with a number of fast casual restaurants if one tires of hotel fare. It’s definitely worth attending, and perhaps even flying out for.

I had a great time hanging around with the author guest of honor John Scalzi (an early supporter of All You Need Is Kill and horror author Brian Keene (a lover of Otsuichi’s ZOO), and other writers as well. I gave a writing workshop on idea generation to a fully packed house, gave a solo panel about Haikasoru, where I gave away copies of Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? My sister even attended the convention, because, as she said, she “wanted to see people being nice to you.” She also brought cookies.

And treated nicely I was! In fact, here’s the ultimate symbol of honor, a handmade glass ornament made especially for me. Check it out:

Japanese-themed Cthulhu

Japanese-themed Cthulhu

As you can see, it’s Cthulhu from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft (I’m a Lovecraftian!) seeking enlightenment under the cherry blossoms, with a bottle of sake. Or perhaps it’s spinal fluid. John Scalzi received a similar gift based around some of the themes of his novels.

So definitely check out some old-school SF conventions if you have any in your area! They can definitely be as fun as an anime or manga convention, even if you’re not the guest of honor. (Though I also recommend working your way up to guest of honordom if you can.)

THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE giveaway contest—the future of short fiction!

The Future is Japanese is coming soon! This week, in fact. And to celebrate, we’re having our traditional giveaway essay contest! The Future is Japanese is an anthology of short stories, and the occasional novelette, so that will be our theme.


Take me home!

Once upon a time in the United States, the short story was a major part of literary culture. There were dozens of dozens of pulp fiction magazines covering every popular genre, including the ones we still read—science fiction, mystery, romance, western—and those that have faded into either the mainstream, or security, such as pulp magazines purely about boxing, or airplanes, or mad scientists and criminals pretending to be supernatural menaces. And of course, there were important slicks such as The Saturday Evening Post, which would publish F. Scott Fitzgerald one issue and Ray Bradbury the next. The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, and all the other major magazines had fiction features. (In Japan, incidentally, many book publishers also publish magazines, and the short story is still commercially significant, and an important way to “break in” to the field directly.)

Then it all went away. There are a tiny handful of genre fiction magazines remaining today, and most of they paid the same rate they did fifty years ago. It’s not that the magazines didn’t keep pace with inflation, it’s that they kept pace with both inflation and their own plummeting circulation numbers. Most general-interest magazines got rid of their fiction sections (and honestly, most of their substantive reporting) decades ago. Now it’s all top-ten lists, celebrity photos, and weight-loss tips. Even Atlantic Monthly spun its fiction off into an annual special issue, keeping it segregated from the rest of their offerings.

Recently, there’s been a bit of a comeback. Online publishing made fiction magazines easier to start, if not maintain, and there’s been a recent resurgence in interest of the fiction anthology—especially themed anthologies the size of phonebooks. And increasing numbers of people are self-publishing short fiction for e-readers, as “samples” for novels, or just for kicks. But what will happen to the short story in the future? Do you even read short fiction? (If you’re entering this contest, I hope you do!) Write me a little essay about the short story and where it’s headed, and you can be one of four winners of The Future Is Japanese. Be sure to leave your essay as a comment on this blog entry, and check back often to view the conversation. On Friday May 18th, and noon Pacific, we’ll announce the winners! So play today!


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