Mamatas In Translation

In light of yesterday’s other news, I was excited to see this announcement from Nick Mamatas later in the day. It looks like anime/manga giant Viz Media is going to publish Japanese science fiction in translation. The new imprint, Haikasoru, will be run by Mamatas. They plan on releasing 12 novels a year. The first novel up is The Lord of the Sands of Time (shown left). Pursuant to my interests, I notice that one of the titles coming this year is a short-fiction collection (quoted from the official announcement):

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.

This is the type of thing that excites me: getting the chance to read the fiction that other countries read. I wish there were more opportunities for publishing things like this, and I’m not alone. There are a lot of countries that don’t speak English as their primary language that are publishing original science fiction, so what’s it like? What is the fiction in Science Fiction World like? How does it compare to English-language science fiction?

I know that the fiction created in different cultures might have difficulty translating, i.e., something might be culturally obvious to a Chinese audience that an American audience wouldn’t pick up. But I think the potential is too great to truly worry about that.  Of course, in these times it would be tough to find a place to publish genre literature in translation. Viz Media does have a built-in audience of Japanophiles who should pick up on the books, and I know that I’m interested.

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