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Usurper of the Sun (Novel) Paperback – September 15, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Series: Usurper of the Sun
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Haikasoru (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421527715
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421527710
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,454,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was recommended along with several other books on Reddit's sci-fi section. I got the Kindle edition. Liked it a lot. Plenty of hard-science stuff but not so much as to make the average reader's eyes cross.
The plot is clever, and the first-contact part of the story is very well-imagined with some notion of just how alien aliens might be.
A good read.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished reading this incredible novel called. I give it 5 stars, 10 out of 10, or whatever propels your spaceship.
The best thing I can compare it to in western media that people would recognize would be Carl Sagan's "Contact", though besides being well written, (mostly) scientifically accurate, first-contact stories, they aren't otherwise very similar to each other.
In my personal opinion I liked "Usurper of the Sun" better, though I did read "Contact" last several years ago, but I get similar "feelings" from this book as I remember having from reading "Contact".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book along the lines of Rendezvous with Rama, and decided to try some of the Haikasoru line since I'd heard the style of some of their novels hearkens back to older sf. Whoever said that was right, in both good and bad ways.

Bad: The characterization was a bit thin. The reading could get a bit dry.

Good: The reading was a bit dry because the author used Science! and Engineering! and discussed Ideas!

Seriously, I get happy when there's one brilliant idea in a sf novel. This book was full of them. I feel that it truly reflected what the nature of an encounter with aliens would be like. It opened my mind up to difficulties and ideas I'd not even considered, which I'm still pondering off and on thoughout the day. And best yet, that encounter was a reflection of humanity more than anything, of us at our best and worst.

I do recommend this novel, bearing in mind that it is hard sf. It does get easier to read about a quarter of the way in though, and I found the concepts within made the dry parts (which are skimmable after all) more than worth it.
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