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Yukari Morita is a high school girl on a quest to find her missing father. While searching for him in the Solomon Islands, she receives the offer of a lifetime—she'll get the help she needs to find her father, and all she need do in return is become the world's youngest, lightest astronaut. Yukari and her sister Matsuri, both petite, are the perfect crew for the Solomon Space Association's launches, or will be once they complete their rigorous and sometimes dangerous training.
Born in Mie, Japan, in 1961. After working in instrumentation control, CAD programming, and video game design, he published his first work, The Blind Spot of Veis, based on the video game Creguian, in 1992. He gained popularity with his subsequent works, the Creguian series and the Rocket Girls series. In 2002, he published Usurper of the Sun, ushering in a new era of space science fiction in Japan. After first appearing as a series of short stories, Usurper won the Seiun Award for best Japanese science fiction novel of 2002. His other works include Pendulum of Pinieru and Fuwa-Fuwa no Izumi.
Two years earlier, before coming to the islands, Haruyuki had been a test pilot in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. He was stationed in Hamamatsu where he flew experimental Control-Configured Vehicles, or CCVs. All that changed when his commanding officer called him in and asked if he wanted to be an astronaut.
The Solomon Space Association was a new program continuing the work of the former National Space Development Agency of Japan and the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, and they were about to begin manned-flight operations. The SSA was a local endeavor, operating solely within Solomon Islands territory, or so went the official line. In reality, it was financed with Japanese cash and staffed almost exclusively by Japanese nationals.
Since members of the Japan Self-Defense Force are not generally allowed to serve overseas, Haruyuki had to be temporarily discharged from the service before he could work for the SSA. There would be risks, he knew, but they were risks he was willing to take for a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“If this launch fails, I’m going back to Hamamatsu.”
“If they’ll still have you.”
“It’s time,” interrupted the flight director without looking up from his screen. He flicked on his mike. “T-minus ten minutes. All personnel clear the launch pad!”
© 2009 VIZ Media, LLC