SRP: $15.99 USA / $18.99 CAN / £9.99 UK
A murderer doing time in Hell. A girl who just wants to win her high school band contest...no matter what it takes. Sumo wrestlers with a supernatural secret. A future Tokyo where vampires are menial laborers nursing long-held grudges against humanity. And even a very conscientious, if unstable, Universal Transverse Mercator projection. These crime and mystery stories from and about Japan explore myth, technology, the sharpness of a sleuth’s mind, and the darkness in the hearts of criminals. Read these stories and learn that hanzai means crime!
S. J. Rozan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
From “Hanami,” a Lydia Chin/Bill Smith short story by S. J. Rozan
Every time I come to Washington it rains.
I don’t know why this should be, but my father used to tell my brothers and me that there’s no point in denying reality, even reality that’s ridiculous. Rain fell insistently, tracing diagonal lines across the windows, as the Acela train Bill Smith and I were riding pulled into Union Station.
“It’s still beautiful,” Bill said. “Soggy, but at least down here it’s spring.”
“You don’t have to try to make me feel better. I don’t believe I have some paranormal effect on the weather and it rains because I’m coming. I just think I unconsciously but cleverly time my trips here to make sure to coincide with the rain.”
“Not a paranormal effect on the weather, just a preternatural relationship with it? Sure, why not?”
We swung our overnight bags down and beat it to the subway. In Washington they call it the Metro and it runs on rubber wheels, and in the place we came out, Dupont Circle, it had a huge sci-fi escalator to the street. “You think we’ll be on Mars when we get to the top?” I asked as the gray sky in the round opening came closer.
“I think we’re already on Mars if we’ve really taken this case.”
“We can’t not take it. I told you, Moriko’s one of my oldest friends. We were super close in high school until her family moved here her senior year. I used to date her big brother. Maybe you can’t take it. But I have to.”
“I can’t take what, the fact that you used to date her older brother? Oh, you mean the case. What kind of person would leave his partner on her own with a client who thinks she’s a fox? Besides, from what you say she actually is a fox, though not the kind she thinks she is.”
“Hands off. That’s the whole problem here—a man after her who she doesn’t want.”
“What makes you think she wouldn’t want me?”
“Let me count the ways.”
I lofted my umbrella, Bill sunk his head in his raincoat collar, and we splashed the two blocks to the row house where Moriko Ikeda lived in an apartment on the parlor floor.
As I told Bill, Moriko and I have been close since high school. We went to Townsend Harris in Flushing, Queens, which is stuffed full of brainy Asian kids but, as my brother Tim never lets me forget, isn’t Stuyvesant. My four brothers and I all went to high schools you had to test into, but different ones. Tim was already at Stuyvesant when my tests came up; I didn’t even fill out the application. Why? The different-schools thing hadn’t applied to elementary school. I was the youngest—and a girl—and I followed my brothers all the way through Sun Yat-Sen in Chinatown. I couldn’t wait to get to a school where, when anyone asked if I was related to such-and-such a kid named “Chin,” I could say I wasn’t, not just wish I wasn’t.
Moriko and I hit it off from the beginning, even though the Chinese and Japanese kids mostly eyed each other with suspicion (and the Koreans eyed both of us that way, and the black kids eyed the Latino kids that way, and the white kids were too stunned by finding themselves in the minority to do anything but huddle together for warmth). With me and Moriko, maybe it was an opposites-attracting kind of thing. I was a short, straightforward, practical jock; she was tall, elegant, sweet, and spacey.
Never this spacey, though. She’d called yesterday to ask me to come to Washington as a last-ditch attempt to solve her problem, which was: a man had stolen her kitsunebi, and since she’d die without it, she had to do what he wanted so he’d give it back. Kitsunebi is the soul of a kitsune, a fox spirit, and in this case what the man wanted was for Moriko to marry him.
Moriko buzzed us in within seconds of my pressing her doorbell. We’d stepped into the building’s small entry hall and I was folding my umbrella for stashing when she opened the glass-paneled inner door. Her eyes lit up when she saw me, and I’m sure mine did when I saw her. Bill’s eyes I didn’t look at because I didn’t want to know.
You have to understand: Moriko is gorgeous. She’s not actually super tall, maybe five-ten, but she’s so slender that she gives a long-limbed, languid impression. She seems not to walk so much as flow, and the shoulder-length hair framing her narrow, high-cheekboned face is as black and glossy as her skin is pale.
Paler than usual, today. She led us into her apartment through a pair of large double doors, closed them behind her, and hugged me. “Thank you for coming, both of you. Though I’m feeling guilty about calling you. I don’t know what you can possibly do. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s so rude of me.” She extended her hand to Bill. “Moriko Ikeda.”
“Bill Smith. Don’t be sorry and don’t feel guilty. I haven’t been to Washington in awhile. Happy to come down.”
“I wish I could have provided better weather.”
“Don’t worry about it, that’s Lydia’s fault.”
Moriko raised her delicate eyebrows but I didn’t explain. After a moment she said, “I have tea. I’ll bring it right in.”
While Moriko went to get the tea, Bill whispered to me, “Do kitsune control the weather?”
“No. That was human small talk.”
I’m always surprised when I find myself explaining something to Bill. As he’s pointed out more than once, I’m the Asian person in our relationship. But he, rumpled, antisocial, and blue-collar as he appears—though not today; today he wore a sharp navy suit with a white shirt and blue-and-silver tie—is the one with the deep background in art, music, and all kinds of culture, including Asian culture. So long before Moriko hired us, he’d heard of kitsune; but apparently he wasn’t familiar with their fine points.
I was, because I’d looked them up.
For example, they’re usually called “fox spirits,” but that makes them sound like ghosts and they’re not ghosts. They’re regular foxes who’ve reached a great age and attained wisdom and magical powers. Like shapeshifting. Into old men, young girls, and beautiful women.
For another example, they carry their souls, their kitsunebi, outside their bodies in glowing globes of fire. In fox form, they hold the globes on their tails. When they’re humans, where to keep the globes—the kitsunebi-dama—becomes problematic. And it seemed that Blake Adderly, up-and-coming young hotshot D.C. power broker, had, in the course of dating Moriko, discovered and walked off with hers.
So many HANZAI JAPAN reviews…
Hanzai Japan was published just over a month ago, and boy, have the reviews been pouring in! We thought we’d share a few. First up was the October 2015 issue of Locus Magazine. The review by Karen Burnham is not online, but did conclude like this: All of which is to say that Haikasoru has put out another winner of an anthology, joining The Future is Japanese (2012) and Phantasm Japan (2014) in presenting a diverse array of voices, both Western stars (Valentine, Evenson) and Japanese authors in translation, to show just how appealing and intertwined the fiction coming out of Japan can be for the Western genre audience. Between the dark, the fantastic, the science fictional, the surreal, and the funny – there is no monolithic Japan here, just writers writing about crime, or things that might be crimes, or things that happen as the result of crimes (no matter how far stretched that definition may be) in all the different voices available to them.
Then we had a nice long 4.5 star review from SFSignal.com, which read, in part: So if this doesn’t sound like a trippy, fun, and highly entertaining collection to you, then I’m not 100% sure that you’re human. I mean, maybe you’re a space lizard in a human suit. With terrible taste. If my review of Hanzai Japan did pique your interest, though, then go grab a copy.
Albedo1 agreed! Despite its few flaws, Hanzai Japan was a gripping read throughout. If you feel that itch that only quality crime fiction can scratch, then this anthology is for you.
So did CrowsnBones! There are hackers, amateur sleuths, demonic tattoos, fox spirits, Yakuza bosses and a special guest turn by Godzilla, making this a strong contender for the collection of the year. Spinetingler Magazine did one of its famous story-by-story reviews, with a different author handling each piece.
Too many to link to but here are all the posts so far!
Dirge Magazine Loved it: It’s this spirited, loving, bloody rebellion against the genre rulebook that makes these stories tick, that brings them together. Winding through points of view from an ex-pat young woman exploring the quiet deaths of a broken-down theme park, to two American fuckboys getting wasted and in serious trouble in New York’s Little Tokyo, to a group of Yakuza bank robbers watching a PowerPoint on how best to utilise Godzilla in their latest heist, Hanzai Japan shows both Japan and the West through broken lenses, a playful perversion of how we see ourselves and the other.
For the manga and anime crowds, Otaku USA checked in, saying in part: All the stories are solid and build their own world, and the range of voices gives you everything from atmospheric horror to the creepily fantastic to stories dripping with dark humor and a wink at the readers. Hanzai Japan is definitely different from a lot of what is on the market and it’s a fun ride all the way through. Let’s hope to see more of these anthologies coming from VIZ Media!
And just today, from Deadend Follies: t is that kind of book that goes into so many directions and does it with such discipline (at the image of the Japanese people) that it is bound to have a story that’ll catch your imagination. HANZAI JAPAN brought me back to the early 2000s, back when I was binge watching/reading everything Japanese I could get my hands on. Everything great about Japanese pop culture is in this anthology (or almost). Convinced that we have created the greatest holiday present of all time for the reader in your life (even if the only reader is you!)? We hope so. Get shoppin’.