Keikaku Ito’s “Harmony” wins Philip K. Dick Award for excellence

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.

Keikaku Ito, the sci-fi writer better known as Project Itoh outside Japan, was awarded a posthumous Special Citation of Excellence by the judges of the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award on April 22 for his novel “Harmony.” Ito died of cancer in 2009 at 34.

The Philip K. Dick Award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society in association with the Philip K. Dick Trust and is awarded annually to the best original science fiction paperback published in the United States.

For 2010, the main award went to Mark Hodder’s “The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.”

The award was established in memory of the late Philip K. Dick, author of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” “The Man In The High Castle” and many other innovative science fiction works. Each year, five to eight books are nominated.

Past winners include Stephen Baxter and William Gibson.

“Harmony” was Ito’s last novel. Set in a future Earth equipped with highly advanced medical technologies, the story follows two women facing humankind’s final phase.

The novel was acclaimed soon after being published in Japan in December 2008, winning the 30th Nihon SF Taisho Award (Japan science fiction grand prize) and best Japanese novel of the year from the 40th Seiun Award.

As with other U.S. sci-fi awards, it is extremely rare for a translated novel to be nominated, let alone win. “Harmony” is in fact the first translated novel to receive a Philip K. Dick Award honor.

Publisher Haikasoru and translator Alexander O. Smith deserve due recognition for their remarkable achievement.

Haikasoru was established in early 2009 as an arm of Viz Media, LLC, which publishes manga and licenses anime in North America, to translate and publish sci-fi novels from Japan. It has released more than 20 titles to date.

Viz Media is jointly owned by Shogakukan Inc., Shueisha Inc. and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co. Haikasoru also translates and publishes works from other companies.

In Japan, “Harmony” is published by Hayakawa Publishing Corp.

While not a prolific publisher, Haikasoru is making inroads overseas by introducing Japanese authors such as Miyuki Miyabe, Otsuichi and Chohei Kambayashi.

With its quality booklist, Haikasoru is bringing Japanese sci-fi works into the limelight. A Hollywood adaptation based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s “All You Need Is Kill” is in the pipeline.

Visit (http://www.philipkdickaward.org/) and (http://www.haikasoru.com/).

Copyright The Asahi Shimbun Company.