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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!

Cthulhu Is Japanese

This past weekend, I was the editorial guest of honor at Capclave 12, a literary science fiction convention held in the Washington D.C. area. Capclave is an old-school con—no masquerade and little hallway cosplay, no film or anime tracks, but tons of talk about books books books stories and authors and editors. So I fit right in!

Capclave is relatively small—a few hundred attendees—but is very professional, and the con attracts significant guests. Next year’s guest of honor, for example, is George R. R. Martin, who needs no introduction. There were also important guests this year: Michael Dirda of the Washington Post—the rare “mainstream” book reviewer who loves SF and writes about it frequently—appeared for example. The dealers room was quite nice—independent presses and bookstores were represented, as were gaming stores, and jewelry and apparel operations. And every attendee got a goodie bag with a free book and magazine of some sort, plus coupons to local shops. (Most smaller cons don’t do a goodie bag, so it was a pleasant surprise.)

Capclave is also a good convention to attend for anyone who aspires to be a writer, as editors and major writers appear, and there are panels oriented around writing and publishing, workshops, and plenty of time to make friends, or even, *gulp* to network. One advantage I had as guest of honor is that nobody tried to pitch me their manuscript. The only way I’m buying anyone’s novel is if they move to Japan, learn Japanese, publish in that country, and get famous over there, after all. I pity other editors who might make an appearance though!

Capclave also features parties every night, and the con is convenient to Washington D.C. tourist attractions and a decent little strip mall with a number of fast casual restaurants if one tires of hotel fare. It’s definitely worth attending, and perhaps even flying out for.

I had a great time hanging around with the author guest of honor John Scalzi (an early supporter of All You Need Is Kill and horror author Brian Keene (a lover of Otsuichi’s ZOO), and other writers as well. I gave a writing workshop on idea generation to a fully packed house, gave a solo panel about Haikasoru, where I gave away copies of Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? My sister even attended the convention, because, as she said, she “wanted to see people being nice to you.” She also brought cookies.

And treated nicely I was! In fact, here’s the ultimate symbol of honor, a handmade glass ornament made especially for me. Check it out:

Japanese-themed Cthulhu

Japanese-themed Cthulhu

As you can see, it’s Cthulhu from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft (I’m a Lovecraftian!) seeking enlightenment under the cherry blossoms, with a bottle of sake. Or perhaps it’s spinal fluid. John Scalzi received a similar gift based around some of the themes of his novels.

So definitely check out some old-school SF conventions if you have any in your area! They can definitely be as fun as an anime or manga convention, even if you’re not the guest of honor. (Though I also recommend working your way up to guest of honordom if you can.)

Worldcon!

I will be participating in this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, Renovation. Worldcon is the most important of SF cons—as opposed to full media conventions—and the most prestigious. I’ve attended in the past, but never as a Hugo Award nominee. As some of you may remember, I’m up for Best Editor, Long Form, for my work here at Haikasoru! You’ll be able to watch the ceremony live via Internet, or follow along via a text stream at 8PM Pacific, Saturday August 20th. Exciting stuff!

Also, I’ll be on several panels, some of which involve Japanese science fiction. Here’s the full list.

Thu 14:00 (A05) 1 hr
Remembrances of Joanna Russ
Joanna Russ was one of the field’s first feminist writers and a leading literary critic. While many are familiar with her fiction and her critical work, her influence went far beyond that. Our panel remembers Joanna Russ, and assesses her personal impact on them and on others in the field.

Fri 17:00 (D03) 1 hr
Post-Modern Fantasy, Epic and Otherwise
There’s been considerable discussion of Fantasy, Fantastika, and Post-Modernism. What is this about, and why is it interesting for those who read, review, or critique present day fantasy?

Sat 11:00 (D03) 1 hr
Fantasy and Horror in the New Century
What to look for and where to find the darker side of literature.

Sat 14:00 (A09) 1 hr
Speculative Japan
Science fiction is a well-established literary field in Japan, with an energetic fandom that hosted the 2007 Worldcon. Yet, Japanese SF is not much read in North America. How has Japanese SF developed over the past forty years? How does it address both traditional Japanese literature and Western ideas, as well as current cultural and literary developments?

Sat 16:00 (A03) 1 hr
Cross-Cultural Influences in SF
How are cross-cultural influences manifested in Science Fiction? We look at the impact of both modern and ancient cultures on on SF. How, say, has American SF been affected by Japan? What are the trans-Atlantic influences in play? We expect a wide-ranging discussion.

Sun 11:00 (A03) 1 hr
Revolutions in SF, Fantasy, and the Real World
Revolutions vary from the disparate traditional tropes of the French and American revolutions to non-violent revolution (Gandhi’s India), The entrenched power may be colonial, class-based, or simply authoritarian. How well does SF & F represent the ideals and ambiguities of revolution, the need to rebuild, and the cultural stresses that result.

There’s also another panel of interest to Haikasoru fans, which I will not be participating in, but which I will certainly attend as an eager audience member:

Fri 17:00 (A04) 1 hr
Seiun Awards: An Introduction to Japanese Science Fiction
This panel will give you an update on what’s going on in the various fields of Japanese science fiction: novels, films, and fanacs. What is more, the panelists will carry out the Seiun Awards Ceremony in order to celebrate the winners of the 2009 and 2010 Seiun Awards, the Japanese equivalent of Hugo established in 1970.

Famous American Seiun winner John Scalzi will be on this panel, so be sure to pepper him with obscure trivia questions about the Seiun!

We hope to see some of you there!


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