Hk Sands
Via PR: Viz has announced a new line of SF/fantasy books. The initial rollout includes The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, ZOO by Otsuichi, and Usurper of the Sun by Housuke Nojiri. We are loathe to guess where anything Japanese is concerned, but these would seem to be “light novels” of the type that are immensely popular in Japan: books that usually feature a fantasy element aimed at teens and young adults. PR below:

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced the launch of a brand-new imprint called Haikasoru, which will publish an array of contemporary Japanese science fiction (SF) and fantasy stories for English-speaking audiences. This is the first time an imprint with a dedicated focus on Japanese SF has launched in North America.

Haikasoru is scheduled to publish twelve books a year and launches in the summer of 2009 with four titles: The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, ZOO by Otsuichi, and Usurper of the Sun by Housuke Nojiri.

Haikasoru will be helmed by Nick Mamatas, a respected author of science fiction as well as an editor at VIZ Media. Mamatas is the author of two novels, which have been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and Germany’s Kurd Lasswitz Prize.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this new imprint,” says Mamatas. “Haikasoru is making history with the future. Finally, SF is going global.”

The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa – Price: $13.99 U.S./CAN $16.00
Sixty-two years after human life on earth was annihilated by rampaging aliens, the enigmatic cyborg Messenger O is sent back in time with the mission to unite the humanity of past eras—during World War II and in ancient Japan, even back at the dawn of humanity—in order to defeat the alien invasion before it begins. But amidst a future shredded by war, love also waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself? The Lord of the Sands of Time was nominated for the prestigious Seiun Award, the leading award for Japanese science fiction, the winners of which are selected each year by members of the Japanese National Science Fiction Convention. Available in July 2009.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – Price: $13.99 U.S./CAN $16.00
When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he finally sees something different, something out of place—a female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death? Available in July 2009.

ZOO by Otsuichi – Price: $13.99 U.S./CAN $16.00
ZOO presents eleven stories of dark fantasy and science fiction by one of Japan’s hottest authors. “The White Hut In The Forest” is the story of a man with a hole in his head and a charming home made from some strange materials. “Song of the Sunny Spot” is a rendition of the classic story of the Earth’s last man…and his charming companion. And in the book’s eponymous tale, a man sees his dead girlfriend’s corpse decompose, one gristly Polaroid snapshot at a time. ZOO sold over 740,000 copies in Japan and was also turned into a successful Japanese film. Available in September 2009.

USURPER OF THE SUN by Housuke Nojiri – Price: $15.99 U.S./CAN $18.99
When a ring appears around the sun, humanity seems doomed. One woman, a brave scientist named Aki Shiraishi, travels to the core of the solar system in a last-ditch attempt to save the world. A compelling new hard SF novel, Usurper of the Sun won a coveted Seiun Award in 2002 for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year. Available in September 2009.

“Japan has long had a love affair with science fiction. In the wake of the massive international popularity of manga and anime, this is an ideal time to offer some of the best in contemporary Japanese science fiction to a sizeable domestic audience,” says Masumi Washington, Editor-In-Chief, Haikasoru Imprint, VIZ Media. “VIZ Media has been publishing fiction for a while, and now with the formation of Haikasoru it’s like finding a missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle. We are pleased to introduce this unique imprint and look forward to VIZ Media fans and science fiction readers in general enjoying these books.”


  1. This will no doubt bring up the question: Does this mean someone may actually publish “Legend of the Galactic Heroes” in English?

  2. We are loathe to guess where anything Japanese is concerned, but these would seem to be “light novels” of the type that are immensely popular in Japan

    Well not really. These are Japanese fiction similar to what Vertical has been releasing since they came on the scene. Actually one of the titles listed, Usurper of the Sun, was initially licensed by Vertical at NY Anime Fest 2007 but appears to be going to High Castle (HaiKasoru) instead. OtsuIchi and Sakurazaka have both done light novels and I believe at least one of the titles listed was serialized at some point but yeah as the RING has shown not everything sci-fi and Japanese is a light novel.

  3. Technically no, but many people consider it the mother of light novels (the father of light novels would be Vampire Hunter D). In the case of Guin it was a serialized novel to start off, published by Japan’s leading sci-fi/fantasy publisher Hayakawa Shobo (they are analogous to Tor in the US).

    Light novels started to come around 10 years after Guin and Vampire Hunter D. Many of those titles use the same principles but are created with more of a manga/anime reader in mind, as sci-fi/fantasy fans aren’t always manga fans. So light novels tend to focus more on character dynamics (adventures with colleagues/rivals, romances, and personal struggles) often from a first person perspective. I have noticed that the writing style for light novels can be so personal they almost read like diaries. While they may have sci-fi/fantasy elements, those themes are just used to create a fantastic settings to where readers can escape reality. That said the writing quality for light novels can be pretty poor. And translating writing like that, where writers rarely use proper syntax, is much harder than people might think (I had to work on a PR campaign for a light novel line last year… man that was rough).

    The majority of titles Vertical and High Castle are planning on releasing tend to come from that older school of writers. OtsuIchi though is a light novelist albeit one of the most respected ones.

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