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Usurper of the Sun (Novel) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Usurper of the Sun
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421527715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421527710
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Housuke Nojiri was born in Mie, Japan, in 1961. After working in instrumentation control, CAD programming and video game design, he published his first work, The Blind Spot of Veis, based on the video game Creguian, in 1992. He gained popularity with his subsequent works, the Creguian series and the Rocket Girl series. In 2002, he published Usurper of the Sun, ushering in a new era of space science fiction in Japan. After first appearing as a series of short stories, Usurper won the Seiun Award for best Japanese science fiction novel of 2002. His other works include Pendulum of Pinieru and Fuwa-Fuwa no Izumi. More information can be found on his website: http://njb.virtualave.net/web/ (Japanese only)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
I wanted this book, finally bought it at the used book store.
Ghanima
Aki is a fascinating character, and Nojiri portrays the disintegrating world without excess, and all the more poignantly for that!
Esmeralda
While it is really just a tuff read for the first 20% after that the book gets pretty interesting.
Sa'id Patrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Very much in the realms of a hard science-fiction first contact context, particularly reminiscent at times of Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, Housuke Nojiri's 2002 Seiun award winning novel for best Japanese science fiction novel considers a scenario where intelligent life originating outside our solar system is discovered and the impact it could have on our society.

The discovery in 2006 of a large tower protruding from the planet Mercury is the first sign that something unusual is happening (although it would seem from the prologue that preparations for what is to occur start back as far as 1424). It's first spotted by a young Japanese high-school student Aki Shiraishi as part of her astronomy studies, but fascinated speculation about its origins turn to fear as a vast ring is created around the planet that threatens to block out light from the sun. As disaster beckons in the subsequent years, Aki's long interest in the construct created by what become known as the 'Builders' takes her on the first manned probe in 2022 to investigate the phenomenon and, if possible, destroy it before it destroys the earth...

The huge amounts of speculation given over to scientific concepts can make Usurper of the Sun a little bit heavy and dry reading for certain passages of the novel, but only because Housuke Nojiri takes the time to consider the matter deeply, from a scientific as well as a from a human viewpoint. It takes in the nature of intelligence and communication - and how artificial intelligence may provide us with the means to communicate, and more importantly, 'think' about the universe around us on another level if we are to make any significant breakthroughs in how to reach beyond. What is marvellous is that the author is able to consider these ideas within the context of what remains a fascinating and often thrilling science-fiction adventure.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book didn't grab me right away...in fact I put it down twice, but once I got past first 50 or so pages, it didn't matter.

The book tells the story of the ambitious Aki, the first person to see the construction of the ring around the sun. As the story unfolds, we see her great desire to make first contact and how this desire is channeled. The story shows a woman who continues to follow her earliest ambitions to the end. However, this ambition seems to come at a great cost to her, personally. I've read some Japanese horror/sci fi in the past and have come to expect characters that aren't as developed as they could be...there isn't a lot of writing with a great depth and breadth of emotions. Maybe it was the limitations of the short story format (as the three parts were originally short stories) but I wanted more about Aki.

However, the actual contact at the end is interesting and worth the read. It literally took my breath away as I read the descriptions of the aliens and the way they acted when confronted by the humans. It really took the whole idea of first contact and turned it upside down--actually imagining something completely alien is something that not only takes guts--your aliens could be so alien that the reader doesn't see them as "real characters" (ala Aliens in Aliens) or they become too much like humans--but also real skill on the part of the writer. And while I love Schismatrix, Bruce Sterling's aliens,seemed parodies of aliens, while these aliens truly seemed alien in a good, interesting, yet strange way. This was great balancing act on the part Nojiri. We got aliens that were really alien and yet managed to be human as well. This is really what saved the whole book for me.

If you haven't read Japanese fiction before, you might want to try something else first, but if you want a great first contact book, this might be it.
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By EdM on March 8, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever read a book where the first 50-100 pages were slow before it got better? This novel does just the opposite- starts very good and draws the reader in- then slows down with a lot of tech speak that dulls the narrative for about the next third of the story. The last third picks up but the build up to meeting the aliens is better than the actual meeting. The nature of the aliens is a unique one but not very sympathetic one. One tends to think that blasting them might actually be beneficial to both sides. Why four stars then? The book is a quick read and the premise is a different one than usually found in sf. The tower on Mercury and the subsequent ring thats built blocks a lot of sunlight from reaching earth, and the ecological impact this has caused makes the most fascinating parts to read. The main character is Aki Shiraishi and her story begins when she is around seventeen and discovers the tower through a telescope. Her story continues as she enlists with the UN/Japan space force and is the one that first discovers the true nature of the tower. By the time of first contact she is now in her early fifties and has spent her life dealing with all the fallout from what her discoveries have done to earth and its societies. And yes, she does solve everything in the end but at least she survives the ending of the book. This book would make a good movie.
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By Esmeralda on February 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is a gem, and I can say that with confidence, although I haven't finished reading it. Aki is a fascinating character, and Nojiri portrays the disintegrating world without excess, and all the more poignantly for that!
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