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And now, sexbots!

Oh great, it’s the future. We have sex robots now. (The video connected to this news article may not be safe for workplace viewing; the article is fine.) Roxxxy the Robot was unveiled last week Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. According to news sources, Roxxxy isn’t all that active a sex partner—she’s more of a Teddy Ruxpin sort of thing, but human-sized and woman-shaped. The $9000 adult toy comes with one of five “personalities”: Wild Wendy, Frigid Farah, S&M Susan, Mature Martha and Young.

What caught our eye here at Haikasoru is this claim from engineer and Roxxxy creator Douglas Hines: he had “set out to create a health aide for the elderly, but all the red tape pushed him into the red light district.” This is the reversal of our forthcoming The Stories of Ibis, which details the rise of artificial intelligence in our time. The Japanese novel by Hiroshi Yamamoto of course references otaku culture and the obsession with perfect and submissive robo-sex partners in some precincts of fandom. And yet, in Ibis the bots are rolled out to support and help the aging population and Japan, and bravely resist exploitation.

I guess that sometimes science fiction doesn’t predict the future. Of course, if Roxxxy actually develops some self-awareness…

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A Misanthrope’s Reading List: 2010

Everybody’s posting their year-end best-of lists, and I’m tempted to do so too. But instead of looking back, I’d like to look toward the future. Hey grandpa, 2009 is done. Here’s a quick list of books I’m looking forward to reading in 2010.

Sleepless: A Novel by Charlie Huston (January). Huston takes a dip into near-future speculative territory. Added bonus: dialog with quotation marks!

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To by DC Pierson (January). I’m already tired thinking about this book.

Yukikaze by Chohei Kambayashi (January). What is the relationship between man and the machines he builds?

The Book of Heroes by Miyuki Miyabe (January). I’ve read all of Miyabe’s books that are available in English. Why stop now?

Heavy Metal Pulp: Pleasure Model: Netherworld Book One by Christopher Rowley (February). A new series of novels based on characters and stories from Heavy Metal magazine. Target audience: Me.

The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (March). File this one under science fiction fairy tales from France.

Backing Into Forward: A Memoir by Jules Feiffer (March). Artist and culture wit Feiffer finally delivers his autobiography.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 8 by Naoki Urasawa (March). The conclusion of Urasawa’s brilliant remake of Tetsuwan Atomu.

The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto (March). In the future machines will rule the world. Call me a misanthrope, but I can’t wait for that to happen.

Slum Online by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (March). My early vote for best book title of 2010. From the author of All You Need is Kill (the best book title of 2009).

The Creeper by Steve Ditko (March). There’s already a place on my bookshelf reserved for this compilation.

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard (April). Science Fiction Fantasy with a Mictlantecuhtli twist (btw: that’s the Aztec god of the dead).

Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann (April). Based solely on the cover, this is going to be one of my favorite books of the year.

Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes by Andrew E.C. Gaska, Christian Berntsen, and Erik Matthews (Spring). A novel that revisits the first Apes movie. Added bonus: cover painting by Jim Steranko.

Loups-garous by Natsuhiko Kyogoku (May). Werewolves and teenage girls collide in Tokyo. Bite me!

The Next Continent by Issui Ogawa (May). Want to get married on the moon? No problem! Otaba General Construction will build a wedding chapel anywhere you want.

Children No More by Mark L. Van Name (August). Jon Moore is a man with a little bit of nanojunk in the trunk. Lobo is a military assault vehicle with a big dollop of A.I. attitude. Their adventure continues.


Words Without Borders, WORLDS Without Borders

The wonderful online magazine Words Without Borders has just published its December issue, which has the theme of world science fiction. Included are great stories and excerpts from the likes of Stanislaw Lem, and work by writers from Poland to Pakistan. Japan and, indeed, Haikasoru is represented with The Universe on my Hands by Hiroshi Yamamoto. This is one of the seven titular stories in our forthcoming The Stories of Ibis, a novel-in-stories about the rise of true artificial intelligence we’ll be releasing in March.

Things are looking good for what is being called “world SF”, though what precisely that term means is open to interpretation. We’ve seen the launch of the World SF blog, and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards, the just released anthology The Apex Book of World SF, four volumes of Philippine Speculative Fiction, and another of other forthcoming books and initiatives.

Why the recent explosion of world SF? Well, you’re soaking. Blogging and the increasing number of publishers that accept email submissions from around the world have built a platform for the publication and discussion of science fiction from around the world. Many novels have hinted at the possibility of a global future, and now we finally seem to be living in one, albeit one with many discontents. One of the great positives though, is that science fiction is emerging as a worldwide genre, and as a worldwide conversation.

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