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Twofer Tuesday

It’s Tuesday and we have two of everything!

TWO hits in the world of science fiction. The first is this neat-o interview with yours truly over at the World SF blog: An Interview With Nick Mamatas, in which I am so clever I say things like:

And the translator, unlike the author, cannot simply do wholesale rewrites to make something work. We’re playing a hand that has already been dealt. Then there’s the issue of translator skill; few have the ear of a novelist. That’s when I come in. I’ve managed to find some excellent creative translators, but can also nudge and pull and yank and tug at the work. So far I haven’t had to put in any footnotes to explain this or that untranslatable term or cultural reference, though part of my luck there has been the immense cultural exchange between Japan and the English-speaking world over the past two decades thanks to video games, manga, and anime.

Click here to read more.

We’re also thrilled that the January issue of Locus Magazine has reviewed Usurper of the Sun. The review isn’t online and I’m not about to key in the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

…based on John Wunderley’s translation of Housuke Nojiri’s Usurper of the Sun, [Haikasoru] promises to be a fascinating program…The main provocative idea that Nojiri introduces here has to do with the nature of mind and perception, and what he calls the difference between adaptive and non-adaptive intelligence, but to say more would be to reveal the story’s most intriguing surprise. With that in his basket, a tightly focused narrative line that marches us relentlessly through 35 years of future history, and a genuinely engaging heroine, he’s acquitted himself well.

Not only do we have two publicity coups, we have two new books out today! Here’s my shakeycam pic of The Book of Heroes out in the wild.

Yes, sadly it is in the manga section and not either Science Fiction/Fantasy or Young Adult, so keep an eye out!

And we also have Yukikaze hitting shelves today. Don’t have a snap of that book yet, but people are reporting buying it. This guy seemed to like it. I mean, he SHAT BRICKS. That’s positive, right?

2009, best of!

Why did I wait until 2010 to make my best-of 2009 list? Well, partially to avoid the traffic of everyone else’s list, and partially because great new material was coming out as recently as yesterday! I mean, J-Lo’s dress at Times Square…

I’ll recuse Haikasoru titles and other books I edited myself from this list for the same reason mothers tell their children “I love you all the same.” It’s because I do.

Anyway, moving on. My picks for 2009:

Best Science Fictionish Novel: The City and the City by China Mieville. Maybe it’s because I live on a border between towns—my landlord even recently reminded all his tenants to call 911 in an emergency, unless the emergency takes place across the street…then we had a ten-digit number to dial—but I loved this fantastical mystery of two cities that occupy the same geography, and the hints of a third city that goes unseen between the two. Whether in Besz or Ul Qoma, residents are trained since birth to “unsee” the others and even the local geography. And when a young archeologist is killed in one city and her body dumped in the other, well… Check it out.

Best Manga: The Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It’s the history of postwar Japan and the rise of manga and its more serious-minded offshoot gekiga through the eyes of one of its greatest practitioners. I’m a sucker for literary biography, and this is one of the better ones. Tatsumi, only mildly disguised under a slightly different name, tells his own story without blinking. The flaws of his family, his own traumas and failures, the passion for creation and the agony of rejection…it’s all here in a surprisingly effective “cartoony” visual idiom.

Best VIZ Manga: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. A re-imagining of a classic Astro Boy storyline, I spent much of the year calling this series “the Watchmen of manga.” And it is, both structurally (“Who is killing the world’s greatest robots? One of their own number must find out…”) and thematically. One needn’t be familiar with the antecedents to really enjoy this manga, which is ably translated and wonderfully rendered. I spent a number of afternoons reading office copies of the issues at my desk as they’ve come out. Luckily, it looks like I’m working when I do!

Best VIZ Product: Missin’ by Novala Takemoto. A short novel in two volumes about punk and ennui among young Japanese. Sometimes the best looks at a culture come from its outliers, and Takemoto has what seems to be direct entree into the minds of young, obsessed women who find solace in music, fashion, and one another. Highly recommended.

Best Movie: Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino. Spoiler alert: Hitler dies! A testament to the power of filmmaking and mythmaking, and one with surprisingly little violence for a war pic and a Tarantino flick. I mean, there’s still plenty, but the film is ultimately contemplative and suspensful, not a bloodbath. If this doesn’t win the Best Picture Oscar, expect a sudden explosion from behind the screen… The last line of the film sums it up: “I think this is my greatest masterpiece yet.” It is.

We’ll be back at work Monday, bringing you the best in science fiction and fantasy for the rest of the year! I hope you all keep an eye out for our January titles, Yukikaze and The Book of Heroes. Both just eighteen days away? Don’t mess yourselves waiting!

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.

Quote Haikasoru: Yukikaze

“To me Earth’s just a big ball of water filled with a lot of bitter memories.”
— Second Lieutenant Rei Fukai

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