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Self-Reference ENGINE wins the PKD Special Citation

Great news this weekend from Norwescon in Seattle—Toh EnJoe won the Special Citation for the Philip K. Dick Award for his groundbreaking book Self-Reference ENGINE.

The PKD Award is a juried award for best paperback-original science fiction book (not fantasy, not necessarily even a novel) published in the US. The Special Citation is the silver medal award, which comes with a cash prize and certificate. There’s also a little to-do: a ceremony with reception and buffet for authors hosted by Norwescon, and the opportunity to meet fans. It was especially gratifying for Self-Reference ENGINE to win the Citation, as Enjoe-san was a collaborator of Project Itoh’s, whose Harmony won a couple of years ago.

Here is EnJoe-san’s speech, in Japanese and English:

Thank you. That I am standing here with you today is thanks to a great deal of happenstance, and the good will of a great number of people.

Some of you may find my English difficult to understand, but I will be happy to show you this piece of paper when I am finished speaking.

わたしが NorwesCon にきてみようかなとはじめて思ったのは、2010年に、Project Itoh の “Harmony”がこの賞にノミネートされたときでした。結局そのときは間に合わず、USTREAMの向こうから、みなさんのことを眺めていました。今こうして直接お会いすることができ、とても嬉しいです。
The first time I thought about coming here to Norwescon was back in 2010, when the book Harmony, by my friend Project Itoh, was nominated for this award. I was unable to attend in person that year, but I watched on the Internet via USTREAM. It makes me very happy to be here myself this year.

その後たまたま旅行することになったSan Franciscoで、Japan Town の写真をtwitter に upしなかったら、Haikasoru の人たちと会うこともなく、この本の英訳を担当してくれた、テリー・ギャラハーと出会うこともなかったでしょう。
In the meantime, if I had not traveled to San Francisco, and if I had not uploaded to Twitter a photo I took of Japantown there, I would never have encountered the people of Haikasoru, and I would never have met Terry Gallagher, who translated this book.

I have to say, it is Terry who wrote this translation, and I cannot understand what is written here. Right here, what it says is: “Terry is an amazing human being.”

Terry, thank you very much.

More than anything else, I also wish to thank all of you who have read my book.

There is a lot more very interesting science fiction in Japan that has not yet been translated. Most of it is much more difficult than my own book, harder to read, mathematically more contrived, with even less of a narrative thread, and even more soporific. I am kidding.

I am very grateful for everything. Thank you all very much.

And here is a YouTube video of the ceremony, including readings by all the nominees. (Enjoe-san’s reading is the last of the bunch, if you want to skip forward.)

If you missed all the fun at Norweson, please know that you can still see Toh EnJoe in America. He has several reading events in New York, along with Hideo Furukawa, author of the Haikasoru hardcover Belka, Why Don’t You Bark?

[EVENT 1] Saturday, May 3, 2014, 2-4pm

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, New York
Monkey Business–Japan/America: Writers’ Dialogue
Dialogues between Hideo Furukawa and Laird Hunt, and between Toh EnJoe and Matthew Sharpe

Tickets: $10 Asia Society & PEN members; $12 students & seniors; $15 non-members.

[PEN info]
Matthew Sharpe and Laird Hunt join Hideo Furukawa and Toh EnJoe, two of Japan’s most exciting writers today, for another intriguing cross-cultural encounter. The conversation will be facilitated by Motoyuki Shibata and Ted Goossen, the editors/translators of Monkey Business, the acclaimed English-language anthology of newly translated Japanese writing, the fourth issue of which is scheduled to coincide with the Festival.

Co-sponsored by Asia Society, The Japan Foundation, A Public Space, and Monkey Business.

[EVENT 2] Monday, May 5, 2014, 12:50-2:05pm
Baruch College (Room to be fixed later)
One Bernard Baruch Way
(55 Lexington Ave at 24th St)
New York, NY 10010

Toh EnJoe, Hideo Furukawa, and Roland Kelts (commentator)
The Japanese writers discuss and read their work to Prof. Suzuki’s students.

[EVENT 3] Monday, May 5 2014, 7pm-
BookCourt, 163 Court Street, Brooklyn
Readings by EnJoe, Furukawa, Hunt, and Sharpe

Moderated by Kelts

If you weren’t in Seattle, and won’t be in New York, you can at least play the home game. Several EnJoe stories have been translated into English and are available free online.

“Harlequin’s Butterfly” at Asymptote.

“The History and Decline of the Galactic Empire” at Words Without Borders.

“A to Z Theory” (from Self-Reference ENGINE) at Strange Horizons.

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“A to Z Theory” by EnJoe Toh is live at Strange Horizons!

The Self-Reference ENGINE celebration continues! It’s almost like we’re promoting the book or something…

Anyway, please check out an excerpt from the book—we hesitate to call it a “chapter” when it can be read as a short story, but as the book must be read in order perhaps chapter is better—“A to Z Theory”, which is now live at the leading online science fiction journal, Strange Horizons. If you’re a fan of SF, math, or…Sherlock Holmes (!), check it out!

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It’s the Self-Reference ENGINE giveaway contest!

Self-Reference ENGINE by EnJoe Toh is a very strange book. It’s actually difficult to describe. It’s a book of hard science fiction by an author with a PhD in physics. It’s extremely literary, rich with allusion and clever turns of phrase. It’s thematically dense, and goofy enough to feature a talking sock. Or something that appears to be a talking sock, anyway.

We do have some neat things worked out for you, as regards Self Reference ENGINE. We put a map of the stories in the book! The wonderful online magazine Strange Horizons will be running a chapter from the book, as a short story, next week. And here on the blog we’ll be featuring a Q/A with Dr. Phil Kaldon, a physicist and science fiction writer who worked as the physics consultant on the book.

The book needed a physics consultant. So we could get the talking sock right. And the stuff about Sherlock Holmes’s old nemesis Professor Moriarty. And the space battles. And and and…

So for this giveaway contest, our question is a simple one: what’s the strangest book you’ve ever read (and finished!) and what made it so unusual. A charming little essay of 50-200 words will do. The four most entertaining answers received as comments on this blog post by Friday at noon Pacific will win a free copy of Self-Reference ENGINE. Feel free to answer in the form of a poem, or in Spanish, Japanese, German, or Greek! We ship anywhere!

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Neat Yukikaze review

Over at Strange Horizons Andy Sawyer struggles a bit with Yukikaze before deciding that Yukikaze may be a popular action-adventure story, but there is a profound and sophisticated ambiguity here, an insight which is hardly new but which does raise Yukikaze from being a simple novel about, essentially, a “magic weapon” to a human tragedy.

It is a tricky book, Yukikaze, especially for a Western audience. In the West, military science fiction is most often presented in the adventure mode, with a prominent secondary concern being tactics, the use of hard science, and occasionally a look at contemporary geopolitics. Yukikaze, perhaps because Japan has abandoned its triumphalist military culture, is a bit more existential than a lot of (but by no means all) Western military SF. Our other military title, All You Need Is KILL has a similar theme about futility and loss, even though it’s essentially a comical novel for younger readers. Of course, part of making a book that people will want to buy is coming up with that proper mix of adventure and philosophizing; too much of the former and you end up with the sort of dross people won’t read because they’d rather watch it on TV, too much of the latter and you alienate the audience for popular fiction.

As I am currently knee-deep in edits for Good Luck, Yukikaze, I’ll say that Sawyer’s suspicions about the themes of the series are spot on. More will be revealed soon!

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