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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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Ebook Celebration

We’re pleased to announce that All You Need Is KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka is now available as an ebook for Kindle and Apple’s ibookstore! How pleased are we? So pleased that we’ve lowered the price of Sakurazaka’s Slum Online‘s ebook editions to $3.99 for the next couple of weeks, to get you extra disaffected youth in a high-tech world pleasure at a low low high-tech ebook price!

Kindle, $3.99

Apple Ibookstore, $3.99

By the way, if you like inexpensive ebooks, I’d strongly recommend buying them when they are on sale, as Slum Online is now, to demonstrate that increased sales at a lower price would still be good business sense, nudge nudge wink wink.

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Norwescon Cometh

This week is Norwescon, which we’ll be attending! Harmony has been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and fun will be had by all. I’ll even be participating in a few panels. Not all of them have to do with Japanese SF, but I’ll be pleased to answer questions about Japanese themes. I’ll likely miss my earliest panel at 11AM on Friday (I’ll be in the airport still!) but these I’ll show up for:

Friday 3pm Cascade 9 Editing the Novel
Editing a 5,000 word short story is one thing – how do you edit a 100,000 word novel? A panel of professional editors discuss their own experience in editing the novel – how to keep a work that long consistent, how to maintain energy and enthusiasm, how to liaise with the author over the long haul, and how to decide how long or short a novel should ultimately be.
Kelley Eskridge, Shannon Butcher, Lou Anders, Nick Mamatas, Jana Silverstein

Friday 7-8:30pm Grand 2 The Philip K. Dick Memorial Award Ceremony
Join us for the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, presented to the best original paperback novel published in the USA for 2010.
William Sadorus, Gordon Van Gelder. And you can watch the presentations streaming live Ustream TV. I promise not to burst into tears if we lose. Or win.

Saturday Noon Cascade 7 Basic Writing Help – Horror Writing
How far is too far in a horror story? Should all the gore be included in your novel? Should you just go for everything you want or do you need to tame it down to find an audience?
Jenna M. Pitman, Stina Leicht, Jeff Burk, Nick Mamatas

Saturday 8pm Cascade 5&6 Not Another Monster Story
If you’re tired of reading the same zombie or vampire stories over and over again, our panelists will recommend other horror fiction you should be reading.
Jenna M. Pitman, Eric Morgret, Jeff Burk, Nick Mamatas

Saturday 10pm Cascade 10 Making It Out Of the Slush Pile
What are editors looking for; what makes a story stand out? What do writers need to do in those first ten pages to make their story or book catch the editor’s attention?
Jude-Marie Green, Patrick Swenson, Nick Mamatas, Lizzy Shannon

Hope to see some Seattle Haikasoru fans in attendance!

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Busy Day—New Books, Kindle, and More!

It is a busy day today! First up, our three new books are live on the site and ready for pre-order!

Hitting in November, just in time for the holiday season, we’ve got two new titles. The Ouroboros Wave we’ve been promoting for a while, but we have something else for you all too:

Dragon Sword and Wind Child is coming to paperback! And yes, we will be publishing a subsequent book in this series as well, later this year.

Then in January we have something very very cool:

Mardock Scramble is going to be big, and I don’t just mean because it’s over 500 pages long. The anime for Mardock Scramble—or rather, for the first third of this book (which was published as three volumes in Japan) will have its world premiere in the US on October 8th at New York Comic Con/Anime Fest. It won’t even open in Japan until November 8th. Author Tow Ubukata will be at the con too, so we will be hearing a lot more about the world of Mardock City very soon. For now, please enjoy the trailer (which is not safe for work-well, unless you’re me):

And last but never ever least, Rocket Girls fans rejoice! Coming in March:

The girls are back in deep space, and deep trouble, in Rocket Girls: The Last Planet!

You know you want ’em.

Finally, we made our first Kindle announcement today, and we already have more news: both Slum Online and The Next Continent are both live on Kindle as of this afternoon. So get to downloading!

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