Monday, November 29, 2010

Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture...(Pic heavy)

Last week my wife and I took a day trip to the next island over, Shikoku, and visited the main city in Ehime prefecture, Matsuyama. It was LOVELY.

We hopped the ferry out of Yanai, Yamaguchi-ken, and man was I excited. The weather was perfect, the ocean smooth and the ride so much fun.

I'm on a boat, M**********R, don't you ever forget!

The Seto Inland sea...

When we arrived in Matsuyama, we had a fantastic lunch at the ANA hotel then went up to Bansuiso, a preserved villa that was built in the 1920's by Hisamatsu Sadakoto, the former lord of Matsuyama castle, after he spent time in France. There is a museum dedicated to his life at the foot of the hill.

The Museum peeks through the bamboo, like a cheeky little monkey.
That's a haiku, man.

Walking up to the villa is a lovely experience.

Most impressive...

His head was held on with duct tape...poor guy. The funny thing is, my wife did the same pose but refuses to let me post her picture...

After the villa, we went up to the castle. The caste was up at the top of a mountain, as they tend to be in Japan, and so you can either walk, take the packed cable-car, or take the lift.

We took the lift. That's my wife in the middle there, in the beige jacket. it was a lovely, peaceful, incredibly dangerous ride. Not the complete lack of any safety equipment (seatbelts, etc.). When you get on or off, you kind of just jump on, they don't even stop it...

The castle was pretty cool. Nice and big and imposing, as it should be.

Inside the castle were the requisite samurai gear--swords, armor, and the like. My inner 12-year-old was squealing with glee.

That's a whole lot of sharp there...

The first Japanese chain mail shirt I've seen...

This was my favorite exhibit.

A murder hole. Know what it was for? Yeah...murdering people.

After the castle, we went to a department store to while away the remaining hour until hour ship home, and I met a lovely young carpenter named Shuugei Iyo, who tolerated my passion for sharp shiny things and stones, and told me about some local blacksmiths and a city that used to be a hone mining town, but in later years turned to ceramics.

He's a gifted woodworker, check out his site (Japanese only) if you like that sort of thing.

And that was our trip...a heck of a day, and well worth it.

He's a t Click Here to read the rest.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Angry Robot Press Releases, Ebooks and me

I got another interesting press release from Angry Robot Books.

Let's look at it TOGETHER!

22nd November 2010 ~ For Immediate Release


On December 1st 2010, Angry Robot will be launching “Nano Editions”. Exclusive to the publisher’s own webstore at, Nanos are digital short stories by Angry Robot novelists, sold at sensible prices in ePub format, ready to load onto the world’s most popular eBook readers.

Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money.

Talking of which – stories will cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. If demand for the stories takes off, AR plan to also sell them via eBook retailers.

Angry Robot Editor Lee Harris said, “Publishing is changing, but our role as publishers remains the same – to find cool stories and bring them to readers. This is another step in Angry Robot’s ongoing plan to embrace the new opportunities digital formats provide – and an excellent way for readers to sample unfamiliar authors, without breaking the bank.”

Authors included in the Nanos series include multi-million-selling novelist Dan Abnett and award-winning short fiction authors Kaaron Warren and Aliette de Bodard, along with many others. We will have at least 30 Nanos available for the December 1st launch, with more added at regular intervals.


Lee Harris
Editor, Angry Robot

SO what Angry Robot has done is make a veritable short-story buffet, take what you want but eat all you take...

Holy crap, what a great idea.

I am an unashamed ebook lover. I am not one of those who say that ebooks are going to kill traditional publishing, but I think that no one would argue with me when I say that they will, indeed already have, caused a sea-change in the print world. The future of individual print companies is going to be determined by how they approach epublishing, and this strikes me as a particularly clever way. I mean, why not do this? What conceivable reason is there to not allow readers to customize their consumption, when the option is sitting right there all filled with ones-and-zeros?

I hope this catches on. I hope that this alerts other publishers to the fact that, once books become data, manipulation becomes automatable. You stop needing huge, complicated presses and start need small, complicated algorithms to make books. If you want flexibility, you can build it in. What joy...what freedom and innovation this can lead to.

I know this is only one publisher, and only one idea, but I think it actually does mean something bigger--books have changed. The very IDEA of a book is no longer what it used to be. I was listening to an interview with Tracy Hicks discussing his latest venture, and he said something that really resonated with me. Basically, his point was that books aren't stories, books are souvenirs of stories. You can read the story, get the words and images, on any platform. What a book does is remind you of the time you did so; it acts as a physical marker of the time you had a fever, and you sat in your dad's chair in front of the fire and read The Hobbit while your brother and sister were at school (for example). The book, the physical artifact, absorbs those memories, and that's why people love them, and why they won't die.

But stories...stories aren't books. They can exist anywhere; they've always been ephemeral. So why can't they be digital? Why can't you carry ten thousand of them in your bag? For people who love stories, the digital revolution in publishing is the best thing since the mimeograph machine. And I applaud Angry Books for taking a step in a damn good direction with this idea.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On The Other Side

I've got a new article up on Grasping For The Wind.

It's about Religion and Spirituality in Japanese SF and Fantasy. It's called No God In The Machine.

Give it a read!
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