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THE FUTURE IS JAPANESE [Archive]

The 2014 Haikasoru Gift Guide

What better present is there than a book? Not only does it show that you think the gift recipient is intelligent, you get to show off your own taste and sophistication as well. That’s what they call a win-win situation. We have a wide assortment of books, and appeal to several different audiences, so here is our recommendation list for this holiday season.

What should you buy for:

A junior high or high school student

High school students need Battle Royale Remastered, our new translation of the cult classic, and the non-fiction companion title The Battle Royale Slam Book. Imagine the year-end term papers anyone so outfitted could write. Sometimes these poor things are told to read a book over winter break, and write a reaction paper, with sources! (The Slam Book is good for that.)

“Okay teacher, I will. I will.”

Someone who doesn’t actually like to read

All You Need Is Kill: The Graphic Novel. It has pictures. It’s a Western-style comic book. It makes a good gift bundle along with Edge of Tomorrow and the manga, and perhaps even the film DVD. It’s a transmedia experience with a very low word-count.

My ahead-of-the-curve friend who already reads everything, hears about all the new writers first, and is impossible to shop for

They need a copy of Phantasm Japan, which has stories by some of the best new writers, and is anchored by a stunning illustrated novella by Dempow Torishima. It’s…well, it’s hard to describe. No matter who your avant friend is, he or she will be surprised.

Young people who love science

Did you know that all our books are still in print? That means Rocket Girls and Rocket Girls: The Last Planet are still available! Ready for a wacky adventure with solid science grounding? These are the books for you. Highly recommended for anyone who loved Andy Weir’s novel The Martian.

My uncle who won’t stop talking about conspiracy theories and the end of the world at our family parties and just ends up upsetting everyone

Shut him up with a copy of Virus. It’s a thriller, like a Japanese Michael Chrichton novel, by Japanese science fiction grandmaster Sakyo Komatsu. This book has everything…submarines, nuclear weapons, fast cars, two billion corpses, biochemical warfare, real science, international cooperation at the South Pole, and hunger-mad politicians! And it’s long enough that Uncle Herbie will probably fall asleep with it tented up on his stomach somewhat early in the evening. Snoring is better than going on about the gold standard and chemtrails all night, isn’t it?

Old-school types who still tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve

People do that? Yes, or they used to. Still somewhat common in The United Kingdom. For some creepy yet all-ages fun, you need our ghost story collection by Miyuki Miyabe Apparitions.

My creepy cousin who just sits at the dinner table with everyone else and doesn’t eat or make a sound

Definitely Asura Girl. Say no more.

Happy shopping, and happy holidays!

Haikasoru at Worldcon

Well, we’re back from LoneStarCon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention. We had a party on Thursday night, presented a number of panels featuring Toh EnJoe and other Japanese colleagues, and most importantly, we won our first Hugo Award! “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu, from our anthology The Future Is Japanese, won for Best Short Story!

Naturally, we are thrilled. We spent a lot of time updating our Twitter feed (are you following @haikasoru?), and I’ve Storyfied most of the best tweets–with lots of pics–here. So check it out!

The Future is AWARDS AWARDS AWARDS!!!!

We’ve gotten some good news recently! Of course, as you may remember, “Mono No Aware” by Ken Liu from The Future Is Japanese is a Hugo Award nominee.


Like a box of Crackerjack box, there are prizes inside! Literary prizes!

But we have more award news! We were especially thrilled last week when Project Itoh’s novella “The Indifference Engine” was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award—this being the first time one of the Japanese originals in the book was lauded with a nomination.

Several of our stories (all from English-language authors) were on the Locus Magazine recommended reading list and today we are pleased to announce that both Ken Liu’s story and the anthology itself are Locus Award finalists!

So that’s a Hugo, two Loci, and a Shirley Jackson. What are you waiting for? The future awaits! Buy the book!

Q/A With Ken Liu (and the return of Intern Kathleen)

We are all very excited that prolific author Ken Liu received a prestigious Hugo Award nomination for his short story “Mono No Aware” in The Future Is Japanese. We decided to ask him a few questions about the story and life as an award-nominated author!

Q. Congrats: what was the genesis of the story “Mono No Aware”?
A. This story began as an experiment. Claims are often made about the universalism of certain narrative conventions: the hero must be active; there must be conflict; the individual must strive and overcome obstacles and define the self against the larger society. I get annoyed with these kinds of “rules” because they are not universal at all. Storytelling conventions in non-Western traditions often are very different.

In particular, I was intrigued by works like Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō that try to pursue an aesthetic primarily oriented towards creating in the reader an empathy towards the inevitable passing of all things: a sentiment known as mono no aware in Japanese.

So I wanted to write a story in which that was the dominant ideal, and to redefine heroism along those lines.

Q. You’re a prolific writer of short stories. What attracts you to the form?
A. The main reason is one of time. With two young children, it’s hard for me to sustain the prolonged period of focus and attention necessary to produce a novel. But short stories allow me to work through an idea quickly and see immediate results, which encourages me to write more.

Q. Speaking of your rate of production, were you surprised that this story, out of all you published in 2012, was nominated for the Hugo? Why do you think it appeals to Worldcon members and supporting members specifically?
A. I am indeed surprised. However, I’m generally not very good at predicting how well my stories will resonate with readers, so I’m not surprised by my surprise, if that makes sense. Right now, I’m just grateful that enough voters liked this story to nominate it, which is a great honor.

Q. What research did you do on Japan and Japanese cultural mores for the story?
A. Well, I did the usual: lots of reading, lots of watching, and lots of talking to people who know something about Japan. My wife majored in Japanese and lived and worked for years in Japan, so she was an invaluable source as well.

However, and this is a point I want to emphasize, I do not presume in any way, shape, or form, to have “gotten” the Japanese concepts right. No matter how much research is done, an outsider’s perspective will never have the same quality as an insider’s. Reading about a culture is not the same as growing up in a culture.

To be sure that I’m respectful to the material, I employed a narrative trick: the story is told from the perspective of a Japanese child whose experience of his homeland ended at the age of eight. His knowledge of Japan is thus a combination of hazy memories, what outsiders have told him about home, and his own fierce desire to protect the memories of the people he loved. It is necessarily an idealized, filtered, distorted, incomplete image. He is constructing a Japan in his mind.

The choice thus provides the reader with an explanation for the gaps and errors in his construction. And the story, in a sense, is really an immigration story. Every immigrant constructs an image of home that may not be very close to the original.


Q. Nostalgia is a recurring motif in your work. What drives you to integrate nostalgia into science fiction settings?

A. Some of the science fiction I’ve read evinces a deliberate contempt for the past, as if history doesn’t matter, as if we have to only decide to look forward and the task is done. But our lots are inextricably linked to the fates of those who came before us, and their choices determined the choices available to us. I wanted to bring some empathy with the past into the science fiction I write, to acknowledge the importance of memory and continuity with the past.


Q. If you win the Hugo this year, what will you do with the tin rocket trophy?

A. Probably put it on a very high shelf so that my daughters don’t hurt themselves by playing with it—that tip is sharp.

Q. When are you going to publish a novel anyway?
A. Working on it… working on it…

The hope is to be done with my first novel later this summer. Wish me luck!

Good luck, Ken!

Also, as mentioned the other day, the ebook editions of The Future is Japanese is on sale for a mere $3.99 for the month of April. And that’s not all! As it turns out, ebooks are made out of electrons, and can be kept in slim little boxes. I mean, look at poor Intern Kathleen struggling under the weight of the mighty paperback:



So…many…stories…all excellent…must…read

And now here she is with her ebook reader!


Heavy reading is totally lightweight with this ebook reader!

So remember, not only does The Future is Japanese contain Ken’s award nominated story as well as work by Toj EnJoe, Bruce Sterling, Catherynne Valente, and Hideyuki Kikuchi, for the month of April the ebook version will be as light on your pocketbook as it is on your back!


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