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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 . . .”

Haikasoru Holiday Digital Sale!

Haikasoru is the first imprint dedicated to bringing Japanese science-fiction to America and beyond. Featuring the action of anime and the thoughtfulness of the best speculative fiction, Haikasoru aims to truly be the “high castle” of science fiction and fantasy and has been responsible for bringing iconic books such as All You Need Is Kill, Brave Story, and the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series to the English-speaking world.
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This holiday season we are having a Haikasoru Holiday Digital Sale for some of our favorite works from the imprint. All titles in the sale are available for $4.99 on all digital platforms from December 24, 2016 to January 3, 2017. There may be some delay in Kobo and Google Books pricing, but they’ll all get there.

Click here to see our selection, including links to major digital retailers.

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It’s the ASURA GIRL giveaway contest!

Asura Girl by Otaro Maijo comes out tomorrow, and this week we’re giving away four copies! Asura Girl is one of the strangest books we’ve ever published—a hyperactive thriller with plenty of sex, violence, and everyone’s favorite thing: typographical trickery. (We took extra time to make sure all the unusual fonts and layouts would show up properly on your Kindles, NOOKs, and iPads.)

This time our essay question is an easy one: what’s the wildest novel you’ve ever read? “Wildest” can mean anything: weirdest, raunchiest, most thrilling, most disturbing, most “out there.” You convince us that the book you name is a wild one! Just leave a comment on this blog post—and make it a good one, we’re looking for quality, not just picking at random—and four lucky winners will get a free copy of Asura Girl! We ship anywhere, will read submissions in English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, German, or Greek, and will accept bad poetry as well. Winners announced Friday afternoon!

Let us know what you think!

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PHANTASM JAPAN table of contents revealed!

We don’t have a product page or a cover yet, but we were so excited about Phantasm Japan, our fantasy anthology follow-up to our award-festooned The Future is Japanese, that we just had to share. Check it out:

Gary A. Braunbeck: “Shikata Ga Nai: A Bag Lady’s Tale”
Nadia Bulkin: “Girl, I Love You”
Quentin S. Crisp: “The Last Packet of Tea”
Project Itoh: “From the Nothing, With Love”
Yusaku Kitano: “Scissors or Claws, and Holes”
Jacqueline Koyanagi: “Kamigakari”
Alex Dally MacFarlane: “Inari Updates the Map of Rice Fields”
Zachary Mason: “Five Tales of Japan”
Miyuki Miyabe: “Chiyoko”
James A. Moore: “He Dreads the Cold”
Lauren Naturale: “Her Last Appearance”
Tim Pratt: “Those Who Hunt Monster Hunters”
Benjanun Sriduangkaew: “Ningyo”
Seia Tanabe: “The Parrot Stone”
Joseph Tomaras: “Thirty-Eight Observations on the Nature of the Self”
Dempow Torishima: “Sisyphean”
Sayuri Ueda: “Street of Fruiting Bodies”

We’re very pleased—we’ve got New York Times best-seller Zachary Mason; international fan favorite Miyuki Miyabe; horror legends Gary A. Braunbeck and James A. Moore (I wonder if they share the same middle name); the fiction debut of Lauren Naturale; one of the final short stories of Project Itoh; and an extremely surreal “New Weird” novella by Dempow Torishima, illustrated by the author himself.

Phantasm Japan, coming this autumn! Prepare yourself!

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