Prolific manga publisher Viz Media is putting out its first two prose science fiction novels, translated from Japanese. And they sound trippy enough to give you weird visions, even without any drawings. Japanese science-fiction spoilers ahead...
Viz's new science fiction imprint, Haikasoru, is putting out two books on July 21. There's All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which John Scalzi calls "science fiction for the adrenaline junkie." And it certainly hits the ground running, judging from this excerpt on the Hakasoru website:
The Full Metal Bitch.
I'd heard stories. A war junkie always chasing the action, no matter where it led her. Word had it she and her Special Forces squad from the U.S. Army had chalked up half of all confirmed Mimic kills ever. Might be anyone who could see that much fighting and live to tell about it really was the Angel of Death.
Still carrying the battle axe, the blazing red Jacket started toward me. Its hand reached down and fumbled for the jack in my shoulder plate. A contact comm.
"There's something I've been wantin' to know."
Her voice filled my suit, clear as crystal. A soft, light tone, at odds with the two-meter axe and carnage she'd just created with it.
"Is it true the green tea they serve in Japan at the end of your meal comes free?"
The conductive sand spilling out of the fallen Mimic danced away on the wind. I could hear the distant cry of shells as they flew. This was a battlefield, the scorched waste where Yonabaru, Captain Yuge, and the rest of my platoon had died. A forest of steel shells. A place where your suit fills with your own piss and shit. Where you drag yourself through a mire of blood and muck.
"I've gotten myself in trouble for believing everything I read. So I thought I'd play it safe, ask a local," she continued.
Here I am, half dead, covered in shit, and you want to talk about tea?
Who walks up to someone, kicks them to the ground, and then asks about tea? What was going through her fucking head? I wanted to give her a piece of my mind, but the words wouldn't come. I could think of the words I wanted to say, but my mouth had forgotten how to work-a litany of profanities stalled at the gate.
Green tea and ass-kicking. That's got to be someone's favorite combination, right there. But will it tip the scales further if you find out the book is sort of an alien-war version of Groundhog Day? From the review by Slightly Biased Manga:
The story is set sometime in the near future, where alien-made… things that look like gigantic dead frogs begin terraforming and destroying the Earth. Anyone that tries to stop them gets blown away by sheer force (they are much stronger than most anything humanity can throw at them), and fighting methods like spear launchers, 50mm guns, and rocket launchers fired from inside metal bio-suits are the only ways to really stop them… and even then, most people get killed trying to do it. In his first battle, Keiji manages to outlive his entire platoon, but is killed at the very end after firing his last three spears into one of the creatures, called "mimics." He wakes up, only to relive the day before the battle and the battle itself again, where he dies almost right away in place of one of his friends. And then he wakes up the day before the battle once again. Before all is said and done, he lives the 30 hours before his death 160 times. He teaches himself how to fight with 100% efficiency and learns how to get the most out of the day as far as training from his superior officer, cheating weapons out of unsuspecting scientists, and the best way to fight the mimics in the actual battle.
He also looks to a woman named Rita as his inspiration. Rita is a superstar American soldier, famous for being one of the only people that can wipe out multiple mimics in a single battle. It usually takes several soldiers to kill one mimic, but Rita can singlehandedly take out tens and hundreds in each mission. The soldiers inevitably come up with the nicknames "Full Metal Bitch" and "Mad Wargarita" when talking about her. Rita stops and offers kind words to Keiji as he dies in the first loop, and in successive loops Keiji watches her in battle to learn the best ways to dispatch mimics. This eventually goes other places in the last couple time loops, too.
The book is mostly just the simple, straighforward story of Keiji learning enough about how to kill to get himself out of his situation, ie not die in battle against the mimics.
And then there's Issui Ogawa's Lord Of The Sands Of Time, which also starts out with an alien invasion in the future. This time, though, one of the few survivors decides to travel back in time to the dawn of humanity as well as to World War II, to try and convince humans to live in unity and peace, so we'll be strong enough to defeat the invaders. Here's the official synopsis:
Sixty-two years after human life on Earth was annihilated by rampaging alien invaders, the enigmatic Messenger O is sent back in time with a mission to unite humanity of past eras—during the Second World War, in ancient Japan, and at the dawn of humanity—to defeat the invasion before it begins. However, in a future shredded by love and genocide, love waits for O. Will O save humanity only to doom himself?
Both of these books will be available in self-respecting bookstores everywhere, in about a month. [Haikasoru]