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holiday shopping [Archive]

The 2012 Haikasoru Holiday Shopping Guide

It’s nearly year’s end, and so we thought we might write about our 2012 titles, and how they’ll make great presents for your loved ones. Or, you know, for yourself. We won’t tell.

Do you or any of your friends or relatives love Godzilla? Ultraman? H. P. Lovecraft? Mythology? The TV show The Office? The zany pseudosciences of UFOs, Bigfoot and other cryptids, and such like that? Get them a copy of MM9 by Hiroshi Yamamoto. This book combines office hijinks with ancient monsters and some quick scientific thinking. It was also a TV show in Japan:

Also, check out the show’s closing credits:

It’s a very fun book, and a breeze to read despite the scientific speculations.

For fans of Haruki Murakami, Jorge Luis Borges, or magical realism in general, check out The Navidad Incident by Natsuki Ikezawa. The fantasy element here is light, but strange—there’s a ghost and a mysteriously busy runaway bus. This book is a sort of genre-in-the-mainstream title about the politics of the developing world in the postcolonial era. And hardcover books make for wonderful gifts. Finally, the title! Navidad, get it?

Any hardcore SF fan who wants to keep up with the new writers in the field needs a copy of our anthology The Future Is Japanese. Ken Liu’s short story “Mono No Aware” has already been selected for reprinting in an annual best-of anthology, and this book also features stories by Catherynne M. Valente, Ekateria Sedia, and top Japanese writers including Project Itoh and Issui Ogawa. The anthology got a starred review in Publishers Weekly and is acclaimed generally. If you or yours are interested in the field of SF at all, this book is for you.

Got any gamers in your family or social circle? Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriots by Project Itoh is what they need. More than just a novelization by some hack, Itoh was both a hardcore fan of the Metal Gear series and one of Japan’s leading science fiction novelists. This novel is a tribute to the game.

Speaking of one of Japan’s leading science fiction novelists, Project Itoh’s Genocidal Organ is my personal favorite of the year. It’s military SF, it’s about the power of memes—not cat pictures from the Internet, but ideas and how the flit from brain to brain—and it’s a wickedly dark comedy. For fans of Itoh’s Harmony, this book details the “Maelstrom” that leads to the Utopian society of that novel. Speaking of, check out the Hungarian book trailer for Harmony:

Any friend or family member interested in the work of contemporary military SF writers like David Drake or John Scalzi, or the satirical flourishes of Kurt Vonnegut, should check out Genocidal Organ and Harmony.

Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? by Hideo Furukawa is for dog-lovers, history buffs, space buffs, and lovers of fine literature. What other book combines the secret lives of dogs with the drama of the Space Race and the world-changing events of the Cold War? No other novel, of course! Have you seen the author’s passionate readings? We’ve made two videos:

and

These really sum up the book in a way a blog post cannot.

Finally, out today, is Virus by Sakyo Komatsu. Komatsu is a true grandmaster of Japanese SF—he’s the author of the famed Japan Sinks, and this classic from the 1960s is a SF disaster thriller of the sort that Michael Crichton used to write. It’s a hardcover, so naturally an excellent present—if you or anyone for whom you are buying a gift loves the genreish/mainstreamish thrillers of Crichton of Stephen King or Tom Clancy (Virus includes a lot of scientific and military information) this is the book to buy this month.

So get shopping!

The Holiday Buyers’ Guide, 2011

We did a holiday shopping guide last year for our books, and now we’re doing another one. Sure, it’s a little late in the season, but let’s face it—many of you will be getting ebook readers and then actually buying books for yourselves the same day anyway. So here is our year in review.

Mardock Scramble
It’s an epic of post-cyberpunk. It’s also very strange. Yes, as is perhaps an inevitability in these post-Pokemon times, the main character has a little yellow mouse as a best friend and as a pocket-sized assistant badass. And yes, there is a three hundred page interlude of casino gambling. If you’re ready for weird SF, this is the one for you.

Rocket Girls: The Last Planet

A sequel to Rocket Girls but it can be read on its own. Lots of so-called “hard SF” isn’t very hard at all—it’s really just bellicose about tough decisions and that sort of thing. Thus, humorless, and with dubious science. The Rocket Girls series is different: it’s real hard science fiction with all the physics and rocket science intact, and is delightful and light and charming at the same time. If you have a kid, or are a kid, and want to encourage an interest in science, buy ‘em both.

Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince

Epic fantasy, Japanese style. Not a sequel to Dragon Sword and Wind Child but set in the same ancient Japan, this is a story of conquest, betrayal and true love. It’s also heavily influenced by anime and traditional Japanese legends and folklore. I did a little interview with the fantasy magazine Black Gate in May, and that will get you up to speed.

Good Luck, Yukikaze

Yes, there were a lot of sequels and continuations in the summer of ’11. While Yukikaze was more a novel-in-stories, this sequel is a large philosophical novel. The real battle is in inner space, in the recesses of Rei’s mind. The alien JAM are as enigmatic as ever, though we do learn more about them, and who they are really at war with. A must for lovers of the anime, or the first book.

ICO: Castle in the Mist

This was a big hit for us! A novelization of the cult classic videogame, ICO was also a labor of love for its author, Miyuki Miyabe. She loved the game (and games in general) and really brought all the skills she does to any of her hit novels to this book. It’s not quite “canon”, but its interpretation of Ico’s quest and Yorda’s past is wonderful. You don’t need to be a fan of the game to read the book, but if you do love the game, you need this.

The Cage of Zeus

Hard SF with a gender theme. Nothing seems so natural as a world of men and women, but gender—how we act as men and women—isn’t nearly so permanent or obvious as we may think. This book explores those issues in a deep-space setting, and provides plenty of actions as a terrorist group targets the genetically engineered Rounds (for “round-trip gender”), who have the sex organs of both genders.

The Book of Heroes

Now in paperback! And in ebook form as well! Miyuki Miyabe’s story of school bullying, a bratty Chosen One, and the evil King in Yellow from the classic nineteenth century horror tales of Robert W. Chambers has never been less expensive, and makes a great present. (Or self-present.)

Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights

Japanese fans voted this the greatest Japanese SF novel of all time, for its epic sensibility and eon-spanning story. Here in the US National Public Radio loved it too. Indeed, we had to rush back to print already. And it makes a good Christmas present especially as cyber-Jesus and robo-Buddha have a high-tech laser battle twenty million years in the future! So, a holiday theme!

Keep an eye out online and in your local bookstore for our titles. They make great presents, and if you happen to get a gift certificate to a store or amazon or whatnot yourself, add our books to your list!

Haikasoru holiday shopping guide!

Well, the holidays are here and it’s time for a little shopping. Books are a great present—they’re relatively inexpensive, they’re personal insofar as your choice reflects your knowledge of the friend or relative you are buying for, and they last for years. Hell, some books last for centuries.

What’s interesting as an editor is seeing the kind of people who end up liking this or that book. When we first present a book to the sales staff—who in turn present the book to the buyers for chains and independent bookstores and whatnot, who in turn sell the books to you one at a time—we have to come up with a few descriptors of the audience for our titles. We can’t just say “People who like to read” or anything like that. Actually, the best kind of book, saleswise, is one for people who don’t like to read, as there are many more folks like that than there are dedicated readers. A bestseller is, almost by definition, a book purchased by those who don’t normally purchase books.

Anyway, sometimes my guesses as to an audience have been right, and sometimes I’ve been surprised. So here are some holiday tips for you, based on who actually ended up liking our books. Please note that I don’t mean to imply that the groups I thought would like our books and the groups who actually did are mutually exclusive, I’m just talking about tendencies based on reviews, personal conversations, the mailbag here at Haikasoru headquarters, and online chatter. I’m also very happy with who finally embraced the books; I love seeing wide audiences for the titles and champions for them outside of the usual circles. So here is our 2010 list—read on to find out which would make the best gifts for your loved ones!


Yukikaze
Who I Thought Would Like It: Military SF fans, anime fans.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Got it in one! If you put a plane on the cover, they will come.


The Stories of Ibis

Who I Thought Would Like It: People interested in complex literary fiction—readers of Borges and David Foster Wallace.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Fans of golden age science fiction. They really appreciated Yamamoto’s storytelling dexterity, his ability to write SF in any mode, and his immense knowledge of both Western and Asian SF. They didn’t even mind the linked-stories structure, as such “fix-up novels” were once fairly common in science fiction.


Loups-Garous

Who I Thought Would Like it: Teen girls.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Twentysomething men, especially if they’re a little, you know, “weird.” Kyogoku’s novel was pretty ambitious in its structure and pacing. A number of people mentioned its similarities to visionary novels as opposed to genre novels. My fave was from a amazon.com reader review: “Loups-Garous is much closer to Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf than Universal Studio’s Werewolf.”


Slum Online

Who I Thought Would Like it: Young men.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Men approaching middle age. I guess we’ve had a generation or two of people who grew up on video games, and it’s the dudes in their thirties who really took to this story of a wayward college kid and a virtual martial arts tournament.


The Next Continent

Who I Thought Would Like it: Fans of hard SF.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: I got this one right! The challenge is just in getting fans of hard SF to pick up this book in the first place, but once they have I’ve received nothing but raves. So if anyone on your shopping list loves science and technology and astronomy and engineering, this is the one!


Harmony

Who I Thought Would Like it: SF fans who like the work of Ballard, Philip K. Dick, and others of that ilk.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Young women. Not that young women don’t like Ballard or PKD! But I was pleasantly surprised at the number of young women who enjoyed this book—of course, it centers, in a way, on the friendships between women, their role in society, and the politics of who owns one’s body, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Shame on me! (Ballard and Dick fans did like this one a lot as well.)


Rocket Girls

Who I Thought Would Like it: Teen girls and anime fans.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Middle-aged men. Not for gross reasons! Again, this book really tapped into the scientific and adventurous spirit of classic science fiction, and honestly there isn’t a lot of that on the shelves these days. At the World Fantasy Convention, I met an older fellow who had already bought two copies of the book to give away to young people, and who used the anime of the novel series as a teaching aid in the science classes he runs. Very exciting!


Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse

Who I Thought Would Like it: Horror fans.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Mystery/thriller fans. I’m still surprised! Of course, there is plenty of mystery in Otsuichi’s work, but the supernatural antics and the literary tricks he uses often annoy mystery readers when presented in English-language original novels. These readers want to match wits with the sleuths and the writer to guess the ending before it is revealed. I guess Otsuichi’s powerful voice, which does “sound” more like a mystery voice than a horror voice in some ways, was sufficiently compelling for them to really get a kick out of this one.

Of course, we have two NEW books as well—the hard SF The Ouroboros Wave and the fantasy Dragon Sword and Wind Child, but it’s too soon to tell who’ll really take to these books. Why not buy them for yourself or your friends and once again prove me wrong!


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