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Japan Sinks [Archive]

The VIRUS giveaway contest

Hey hey, it’s been a while Haikasoruphiles, but we’re back with a brand-new giveaway contest. Just in time for the winter holidays, we’re releasing Virus: The Day of Resurrection in hardcover by Sakyo Komatsu, and we’re giving away four copies. Komatsu’s name should sound familiar—he’s the author of Japan Sinks and was a guest of honor at the 2007 World Science Fiction Convention (you know, Worldcon) in Japan—the first ever Japanese Worldcon.

Virus is a classic from the 1960s and was made into a feature film in 1980. (Enterprising people can find the whole thing on YouTube.) In it, a virus from space is altered by scientists and becomes an unstoppable killer. Soon, there only ten thousand human being left alive—on Antarctica. Then the survivors get some bad news…


Is this guy walking home from Antarctica because he left a pot roast in the oven?

Which brings us to our giveaway! Virus posits the end of the world via human folly and space germs. How do you think the world might end? Or will it ever? Do you find the whole fascination with the end of the world fascinating, endearing, or just stupid? Write us a little essay of 50-200 words, or poem, or whatever, leave it in the form of a comment on this post and you might be one of four lucky and skillful winners. (We don’t choose winners randomly; we pick the comments we find the most entertaining.) Feel free to write in English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, or Greek, and we will ship anywhere!

Check back on Friday the 16th, at noon Pacific, when we announce the winners!

Sakyo Komatsu, RIP

Sad news today. Sakyo Komatsu, author of the classic Japan Sinks, has died at the age of eighty. Japan Sinks is one of the most important SF novels to be translated into English from the Japanese, and it combines the scientific rigor of hard SF with the sort of social speculation and commentary one might otherwise find in the work of writers such as J.G. Ballard.

Condolences to all of Mister Komatsu’s family, friends, and fans.

The Future is STILL Japanese

It’s been a hard weekend for us here, given our many connections to Japan. If you follow our Twitter feed, you’ll see that we used it over the last few days to stay in contact with our authors. We’re happy to say that all of our authors, and the translators who live in Japan, are fine. Tow Ubukata, author of Mardock Scramble, does live close to the most heavily damaged area, but his power is back on already and he and all his relatives are safe.

We’re pleased with all the support the people of Japan have been receiving from the US. In Sakyo Kamatsu’s classic SF novel Japan Sinks, the entire archipelago goes down thanks to massive earthquakes. The quake in the book was a metaphor for all the pressures of Japan in the early 1970s, and highlighted the belief that Japanese society would need to evolve in order to “keep afloat.” And Japanese society has evolved in the decades since. Just a few weeks ago, James Fallows refuted the myth of Japan’s stagnant economy, and Japan is more open than ever to international cooperation and cultural exchange. (We’re just a tiny example of that!) While the quake, of course, will have massive negative economic impact to accompany the human costs, the people are already working hard to halt the damage, stabilize the cities, and then rebuild.

And you can help. In addition to the Red Cros and Doctors Without Borders, the Japan Society is raising funds, and also lists several people-finder resources created by Japanese mobile phone service providers. We’ll have more information soon about the sort of help we hope to be able to provide with your assistance. We’re convinced that the future is still Japanese, and we’re looking forward to bringing you visions of the future for years to come.


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