One of the exciting new development recently has been the introduction of Haikasoru, Viz Publications’ new imprint of translated Japanese SF. And what better introduction than having editor Nick Mamatas talk about the difference between Japanese and American science fiction.
Since coming to California to edit the Haikasoru line, I’ve been asked one question more often than any other: What is the difference between Japanese science fiction and the American stuff? (Which, oddly, is often assumed to include material by Canadian and UK authors too.) It’s a good question, one that I am usually limited to a sentence or two in answering. That short answer is, “Oh, there’s not that big a difference.” Now, for the long answer.
Like most long answers, this one starts with a caveat. I am no expert on Japanese SF. I’ve read what’s been previously made available in English, and of course I read what we acquire here, the related manga when available, and at least sample chapters of a whole bunch of the books we contemplate acquiring. I do read a fair amount of American SF, but with hundreds of new titles being published each year, I certainly don’t have a definitive overview of that genre either.
However, as this is both a blog post and about science fiction, I will now give a definitive answer despite my lack of expertise (yay Internet!)—Japanese SF is fresher and more enthusiastic than American SF… – continue reading.