Haikasoru

 

Space Opera. Dark Fantasy. Hard Science.
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Seiun Award [Archive]

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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Happy Monday!

Good news for Kindle-owners: Rocket Girls, Rocket Girls: The Last Planet, and The Stories of Ibis are now all available on Kindle! Availability on the Apple iBookstore is coming soon as well.

Speaking of Ibis, congratulations to author Hiroshi Yamamoto for winning the Seiun Award in Japan for his novel Kyonen wa iitoshi ni narudarou (Last Year Will Be a Good Year). Haikasoru stalwart Issui Ogawa also won a Seiun this year, for his short story “Arisuma ou no aishita mamono” (King Arisuma’s beloved Demon). All right!

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The Seiun Awards

The Seiun award nominations—aka my shopping list!—have been announced here. Of interest to our readers might be the foreign SF categories. Now you can see what readers in Japan like of English (and Spanish!)-language material:

Foreign – long form
* Eifelheim, Michael Flynn
* World War Z, Max Brooks
* Farthing trilogy, Jo Walton
* El Mapa del Tiempo (The Map of Time), Félix J. Palma
* Hunter’s Run, George R. R. Martin
* Un Lun Dun, China Miéville
* Genesis, Bernard Beckett

Foreign – short form
* “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang
* “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story”, James Alan Gardner
* “Crystal Nights”, Greg Egan
* “Pump Six”, Paolo Bacigalupi
* “Man in the Mirror”, Geoffrey A. Landis
* “Carry the Moon in My Pocket”, James Lovegrove
* “The Beloved Time of Their Lives”, Ian Watson and Robert Quaglia

Excellent! The awards are very interesting; even events like the launching of spaceprobes and the the introduction of the iPad can potentially win a Seiun.

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Friends in high places

We were thrilled to find this morning a brief discussion of Usurper of the Sun on National Geographic’s Breaking Orbit blogpost on the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.

Check out the MESSENGER site for some wonderful raw images from the flyby. Here’s a favorite:

Then check out some of what NatGeo has to say about Usurper:

Ultimately this book is not about Mercury—it’s meant to be a philosophical take on the nature of aliens and what a first-contact scenario might be like [and about a beautiful, brilliant female student who is humanity’s last hope for salvation, a fact that won’t even faze anime fans the world over].

Trick is, the whole story hinges on us not knowing a darn thing about Mercury’s backside. The book was published in 2002, two years before MESSENGER even launched. At that point, for all anyone knew, it was entirely plausible that aliens might have set up a nanobot workshop right under our noses.

Well, Aki Shiraishi starts off as a high schooler, but Usurper is a hard SF novel. There’s no near-instant interstellar travel. By the time the mysterious Builders of the ring enter local space, Aki is well into middle age and while still brilliant, may not be all that beautiful. Indeed, she’s even called a “fuddy duddy” by the media in the story. (We still love Aki though.)

It certainly is true SF is a tricky genre, as near-future speculations can be rendered obsolete by current events. Heck, even far-future novels that, contain, for example, references to the Soviet Union, may ring a bit false twenty years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. There are certainly any number of wonderful stories about the first humans to step foot on the moon that will never be reprinted again, as the real world Apollo mission utterly dominates our vision of what a moon landing is. Scientific discovery and political events can close off alternatives in science fiction as readily as they can open up a space for new stories and novels. Of course, some new discoveries, such as the hints that there may be water on the lunar surface, can lend credence to books. NatGeo mentions The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as an example, and our own novel of lunar colonization, the forthcoming The Next Continent by Issui Ogawa (author of The Lord of the Sands of Time) also explores the issue of finding water on the moon.

In the end, SF writers cannot just depend on a scientific idea, but have to be good writers to keep us reading. Seiun winner Nojiri is one of Japan’s best. We hope you check out Usurper, even if Aki doesn’t stay young and beautiful for the whole thirty-five year saga.


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