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Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the w Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.   Captain Beniko Ishimura's job is to censor video games, and he's working with Agent Akiko Tsukino of the secret police to get to the bottom of this disturbing new development. But Ishimura's hiding something... He's slowly been discovering that the case of the George Washingtons is more complicated than it seems, and the subversive videogame's origins are even more controversial and dangerous than either of them originally suspected. Part detective story, part brutal alternate history, United States of Japan is a stunning successor to Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. File under: Science Fiction [ Gamechanger | Area #11 | Robot Wars | Strike Back the Empire ]


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Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the w Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.   Captain Beniko Ishimura's job is to censor video games, and he's working with Agent Akiko Tsukino of the secret police to get to the bottom of this disturbing new development. But Ishimura's hiding something... He's slowly been discovering that the case of the George Washingtons is more complicated than it seems, and the subversive videogame's origins are even more controversial and dangerous than either of them originally suspected. Part detective story, part brutal alternate history, United States of Japan is a stunning successor to Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. File under: Science Fiction [ Gamechanger | Area #11 | Robot Wars | Strike Back the Empire ]

30 review for United States of Japan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tieryas

    7-24-17 United States of Japan won Japan's top science fiction award, the Seiun! I couldn't believe it when I heard the news. Congrats to all my fellow winners, including the awesome Ken Liu! Thank you so much to all the amazing readers in Japan as well as my awesome publisher, Hayakawa, for being so supportive. I'm excited to be working on two more books with them! 4-10-17 United States of Japan was nominated for Japan's top science fiction award, the Seiun! So so honored!!! 12-19-16 I'm so thri 7-24-17 United States of Japan won Japan's top science fiction award, the Seiun! I couldn't believe it when I heard the news. Congrats to all my fellow winners, including the awesome Ken Liu! Thank you so much to all the amazing readers in Japan as well as my awesome publisher, Hayakawa, for being so supportive. I'm excited to be working on two more books with them! 4-10-17 United States of Japan was nominated for Japan's top science fiction award, the Seiun! So so honored!!! 12-19-16 I'm so thrilled to be able to say USJ is a bestseller in Japan, going to 7th printing in the first month. On top of that, the critical reviews have been amazing coming from the top newspapers in Japan. Fan reaction has been wonderful as many of them catch the history and details that are all over the book. Am deeply honored to say the least! 9-9-16 A great interview at the incredible Electric Literature about the origins, regrets, and future of United States of Japan. https://electricliterature.com/what-k... 8-13-16 The prestigious San Francisco Book Review gave United States of Japan a 5 star review which totally blew my mind =) "United States of Japan is much more than your typical alternate history novel. It is also a thriller novel, a spy novel, and a detective story. The author’s imagination is running wild, and we see that with all the cool gadgets and weaponry. Besides the technical wizardry, the book has almost non-stop action. Character development is another strong suit. I would highly recommend United States of Japan if you enjoy reading alternate history and thriller novels." http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/pro... 7-8-16 Friends, I'm totally blown away by this! The Financial Times has named United States of Japan as one of the best summer science fiction books of 2016. WOWSER! https://next.ft.com/content/2c4c90cc-... 5-2-16 I'm doing a Reddit AMA and made this short video intro to "USJ & Peter Tieryas" encapsulated in 90 seconds. It's silly, fun, and hopefully a little bit informative about the book =) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHktH... If you've wondered 1). Is it plausible for the Axis to have won WWII? 2). Why is there so much violence in USJ? 3). Is the advanced tech possible in the late 1980s, those are questions I wondered a lot too, lol =p 3-31-16 Two amazing reviews in amazing venues I wanted to share. The incredible Financial Times calls it a "gleeful love letter to Japanese pop culture." The B&N Science Fiction Blog says that USJ "mixes alt-history with pulp-history, the plausible with the fantastical, in a vision of the 1980s with the glossy sheen and rain-slick neon of vintage cyberpunk." http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d97fb9... http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc... 2-29-16 I was interviewed about my new book at io9 Gizmodo!!! I'm so excited to go really in-depth about United States of Japan, the tragic history that inspired it, as well as how Man in the High Castle and PKD were influences. Big thanks to Andrew Liptak and io9! =) http://io9.gizmodo.com/explore-altern... 2-11-16 If you've been curious about USJ, there are two published excerpts. The first is at Tor.com and is part of the prologue which follows the main character's parents in the aftermath of Japan's victory over America. http://www.tor.com/2016/02/11/excerpt... The second is set in 1988 and is where the book starts proper with Los Angeles as a glitzy metropolis and Captain Ishimura is watching a Beiping circus act. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc... 1-13-16 USJ featured on io9 Gizmodo as one of 40 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books That Will Rock You in 2016. My mind is blown =) http://io9.gizmodo.com/40-science-fic... 1-9-16 Popular Mechanics included United States of Japan in its list of 16 Sci Fi Things to Look Forward to. I grew up on Popular Mechanics! "It sounds like a perfect patchwork of multiple sci-fi and anime subgenres rolled into one novel." http://www.popularmechanics.com/cultu... 1-1-16 What an awesome way to start the new year with this inclusion in Barnes and Noble's 42 SF/F Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2016! http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc... 12-17-15 Hi all, my publisher has put USJ up on Netgalley so if you're interested in an early peek, head on over- thanks beforehand! https://s2.netgalley.com/publisher/ti... 12-13-15 I am so thrilled and honored that one of my favorite writers, Ken Liu, wrote this incredible blurb for USJ. “A searing vision of the persistence of hope in the face of brutality, THE UNITED STATES OF JAPAN is utterly brilliant.” — Ken Liu, Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy winner and author of THE GRACE OF KINGS _____________ 12-3-15 As part of the 12 Days of Robot Christmas, my publisher and Barnes and Noble are doing a sale on preorders of USJ at 2.99. Pretty cool! http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unite... http://www.amazon.com/United-States-J... 11-22-15 A key scene in USJ came after my shock seeing a recreated WWII Japanese Internment Camp. I wrote about that and some inspirations for USJ at the Barnes and Noble science fiction blog: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc... 11-16-15 Super super excited to share the exclusive cover reveal at the Barnes and Noble Science Fiction Fantasy Blog. Painted by the incredible John Liberto (who did a lot of the work on the recent Halo games), I'm blown away. =) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc... 9-10-15 An essay at Fantasy Faction talking about my love for Philip K. Dick's writing and how I came to write a spiritual sequel because of an odd connection we share. http://fantasy-faction.com/2015/the-s... 8-6-15 Had a lot of fun writing about my ten favorite Japanese mechas at SF Signal, everything from Xenogears to Neon Genesis Evangelion and Final Fantasy VI. http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015... 7-29-2015 Very cool Spanish coverage of USJ at La Espada en la Tinta. Google translate reveals a very nice preview =p http://www.laespadaenlatinta.com/2015... 7-24-15 Tor.com did this amazing profile of USJ. I'm still stunned by it =) http://www.tor.com/2015/07/21/the-uni... __ 7-21-15 The teaser poster for USJ by amazing artist John Liberto: https://tieryas.files.wordpress.com/2... __ So excited and proud to finally be able to share my new book called United States of Japan from my dream publisher, Angry Robot, with this Tor announcement. "Due for release in March 2016, United States of Japan is hailed as the spiritual sequel to Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, and is set in a gripping alternate history where the Japanese empire rules over America with huge robots. Is resistance possible in the form of subversive video games?"​ USJ explores many of the tragedies that took place in Asia during WWII and it has been a haunting two-year journey writing and researching this. http://www.tor.com/2015/07/15/peter-t...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    In a world where the Axis won World War II and Japan controls the western United States, a censor named Ben Ishimura and a secret police agent named Akiko Tsukino are trying to find the source of a video game called USA, which allows players to play in a world where America never fell... I initially passed on this when I saw it on Netgalley but Peter Tieryas seems like a pretty cool guy on Goodreads and on Twitter so I gave it a shot when it went on sale for $1.99. United States of Japan is a spir In a world where the Axis won World War II and Japan controls the western United States, a censor named Ben Ishimura and a secret police agent named Akiko Tsukino are trying to find the source of a video game called USA, which allows players to play in a world where America never fell... I initially passed on this when I saw it on Netgalley but Peter Tieryas seems like a pretty cool guy on Goodreads and on Twitter so I gave it a shot when it went on sale for $1.99. United States of Japan is a spiritual successor to The Man in the High Castle, which I really need to read one of these days. The USJ is a paranoid dystopia where the Emperor is everything and to speak against him means death. Skyscraper-sized mecha patrol the cities and everyone carries a portable computer called a portcal. Ben Ishimura is a censor whose attitude prevents him from going anywhere in his career. Akikio Tsukino is a cop whose career means everything. What happens when these two get forced to work together? A fun tale full of action and gore, that's what! United States of Japan was a fun read, full of gruesome deaths, gore, cyberpunk awesomeness, and some giant robots roaming around the periphery. The paranoid feel made it pretty gripping at times. I had a feeling who was responsible for the USA game but I was off by a degree or two. I didn't actually care for Ben that much. He's pretty passive for a lead character and his attitude got on my nerves. Akiko, on the other hand, ran the gauntlet over the course of the book and wound up being my favorite character, far from the mindless duty-bound cop she started the book as. Aside from Ben, the only complaint I can think of would be that there weren't enough mecha battles. As a child of the 80's, I loved getting home from school in time to watch Voltron or Robotech and as such, can't get enough of giant robots duking it out. United States of Japan makes dystopian alternate history fun! 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2016/03/18/a... I’ll admit, as cool as its cover looked, Peter Tieryas’ United States of Japan did not initially grab my interest. Mind you, it’s not that I’m averse to the prospect of a 150-foot-tall Mecha wreaking havoc in my science fiction, but at the time I just wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for that sort of bombast and action. Thing is though, it turned out I was completely wrong, both on the nature of this book and on my early s 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2016/03/18/a... I’ll admit, as cool as its cover looked, Peter Tieryas’ United States of Japan did not initially grab my interest. Mind you, it’s not that I’m averse to the prospect of a 150-foot-tall Mecha wreaking havoc in my science fiction, but at the time I just wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for that sort of bombast and action. Thing is though, it turned out I was completely wrong, both on the nature of this book and on my early skepticism that the story might not be for me – because, as you’ll see, it absolutely was. There’s a depth to USJ that I did not expect, and it was this mix of profundity and thrilling suspense that made the book such a great read and audio listen. Described as a spiritual successor to The Man in the High Castle, even if you have not read the Philip K. Dick classic, one can immediately surmise a certain set of expectations from United States of Japan. Yes, it is an alternate history novel, and it takes place approximately four decades after World War II in a world where Japan won the conflict and conquered America. History has been rewritten to praise Japan’s exemplary conduct in the war and most Americans now also worship the Emperor as a god. Anyone who disagrees or does otherwise is looked upon with suspicion, or disappeared altogether. Resistance has been reduced to a small group of rebels called the “George Washingtons”, freedom fighters who are continuing to find new ways to subvert the Japanese rule. Their latest tactic is a video game called “USA” that depicts what the world might be like if the Allied forces had won the war instead. Eventually, the illegal game reaches to the attention of Captain Beniko Ishimura, the son of two refugees who were freed from the Japanese American internment camps at the end of the war. Ben’s role to censor video games ultimately leads him on a journey to investigate USA’s origins, putting him on a path of secrets, dangers and lies. Together with Agent Akiko Tsukino of the secret police, Ben goes looking for the rebels and discovers a whole lot more than he bargained for. What I found most interesting about this book is its protagonist, a 39-year-old underachiever who has hit a dead end in his military career. He’s also indolent, cowardly, the worst kind of womanizer, and not even those closest to him will trust Ben as far as they can throw him. After all, this is a man who turned in his own parents for being traitors to the Japanese Empire. What kind of heartless monster does that? But of course, there’s always more to the story. As events unfold, and we get to know Ben better, it becomes clear he is not the cold-blooded and deceitful snake his actions paint him out to be. In fact, he feels downright human, living an unambitious life and preferring to stay under the radar. In this world where the secret police can come knocking at your door anytime, when even the slightest or non-existent hint of dissension is suspected, Ben’s approach might in truth be the safest, smartest way to live. And after a while, our protagonist doesn’t actually seem like such a bad guy. Sure, Ben might be apathetic and faint-hearted, but he doesn’t seem capable of directly harming anyone. In time though, his character will develop further and make great strides, especially after he starts teaming up with Akiko. I was impressed at how both of them felt genuinely fleshed-out with complex, believable personalities. What’s on the surface is not always indicative of what’s on the inside. At its heart, United States of Japan is also a political mystery-thriller. I enjoyed how the world was gradually revealed to us in all its horror and unpleasantness. It’s a dark tale, but fast-paced because of the perfect balance of action and suspense. The story holds an incredibly ambitious blend of concepts and themes, but never once did I feel that it was too much, or that any one element overshadowed another. I liked how the towering robots came into play and how video games had a significant role. Simply put, the plot came together like a well-oiled machine. Once you’re drawn into the intrigue, it’s hard to pull yourself out again. My experience with the audiobook was interesting as well. This is the first time I’ve listened to a book read by Adam Sims, and I admit my first impression was not very favorable. However, either I got used to the narration or the performance eventually improved, because by the end, Sims’ reading didn’t feel as flat and there were more variations in the rhythm and inflection of his voices. It’s not the best performance I’ve ever heard in an audiobook, but it was more than satisfactory and I also thought Sims also did a good job with his accents and acting. All told, United States of Japan is a fascinating venture into alternate history, and it is not to be underestimated. Highly recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ken Liu

    I blurbed this book: "A searing vision of the persistence of hope in the face of brutality, THE UNITED STATES OF JAPAN is utterly brilliant." It's so rare to read a book that treats a great historic horror with respect and compassion while also telling an enthralling story that is full of invention and joy. Truly wonderful.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Philip K. Dick, this Sapporo is for you. Taking thematic and spiritual guidance from Dick’s 1962 Hugo award winning novel The Man in the High Castle, author Peter Tieryas describes an America that lost the war and is now split in two (as is most of the world) between Germany and Japan. The setting and narrative elements made me think of Joe Haldeman and Lucius Shepard; this is a fun, fast moving, action packed and entertaining alternate history. It can also be extremely violent and bloody, sometim Philip K. Dick, this Sapporo is for you. Taking thematic and spiritual guidance from Dick’s 1962 Hugo award winning novel The Man in the High Castle, author Peter Tieryas describes an America that lost the war and is now split in two (as is most of the world) between Germany and Japan. The setting and narrative elements made me think of Joe Haldeman and Lucius Shepard; this is a fun, fast moving, action packed and entertaining alternate history. It can also be extremely violent and bloody, sometimes disturbingly so. Tieryas is an inspired writer and he does more with this than just extend out Dick’s vision. Mixing in elements of theology with an unreliable narrator’s history of America, Tieryas explores this alternate reality and makes some astute observations about human nature and the socio-cultural motivations that drive us. And there are 150-foot-tall killer robots. Domo arigato!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I actually had a pretty good time with this novel, expecting more of a carry-over from The Man in the High Castle, in the same vein as The Time Ships carrying forward The Time Machine, but instead we've got a fast forward to modern day with modern day trappings in an America dominated by Japan, with a virtual game taking the place of the The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, an awesome (but short) stint in a huge mecha-robot, and a completely torn-apart California. It doesn't quite have the same weight as I actually had a pretty good time with this novel, expecting more of a carry-over from The Man in the High Castle, in the same vein as The Time Ships carrying forward The Time Machine, but instead we've got a fast forward to modern day with modern day trappings in an America dominated by Japan, with a virtual game taking the place of the The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, an awesome (but short) stint in a huge mecha-robot, and a completely torn-apart California. It doesn't quite have the same weight as the original, but I certainly loved all the modern storytelling, the pacing, the characters, and, of course, all the trappings. Who doesn't love a good hacker or enraged "hackers"? The culture and the conspiracy and the deeply submerged idealism worked really well for me, too, and the characters worked fine for me, too. The plots and the twists were quite decent. Just because it's not breaking horribly new ground doesn't mean that it can't appeal more to modern readers than the original, because it can. The game may not have had the same deeply convincing effect as the underground novel, alas, but practically everything else was a better *story* than the original. No props for the unique way the original was written for this one, though, and that's fine. I still had a good time. :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tieryas

    Spanish version of USJ coming out from Nova Sci Fi! Super honored! =)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    I remember when I first heard about the United States of Japan on the grapevine. I had logged onto social media, and saw one of my friends going apeshit about some concept artwork for a project that was in the works. After a moment searching and clicking on links I was presented with giant mechs adorned with the Rising Sun. The United States of Japan. The spiritual successor to The Man in the High Castle (one of my favourite stories.. period). I was sold from that moment on. I tracked the update I remember when I first heard about the United States of Japan on the grapevine. I had logged onto social media, and saw one of my friends going apeshit about some concept artwork for a project that was in the works. After a moment searching and clicking on links I was presented with giant mechs adorned with the Rising Sun. The United States of Japan. The spiritual successor to The Man in the High Castle (one of my favourite stories.. period). I was sold from that moment on. I tracked the updates for this book with utter zeal and fanaticism. I touched base with Tieryas and let him know how excited I was for this book, and that I was looking forward to its release. I worked myself into such a frenzied state of anticipation that I would lurk every night online looking for more news or photos to sate my need. And then it dawned on me. What if Tieryas couldn't live up to the hype? What if the United States of Japan was a poor successor to arguably one of the most influential speculative fiction pieces of the twentieth century? Fortunately, the United States of Japan is not the poor successor to The Man in the High Castle. And Tieryas not only has lived up to the hype, but exceeded it in ways that are simply breathtaking and exciting. The United States of Japan continues the journey that was started by Phillip K. Dick back in the 1960s. Set in an alternative 1980s, the United States of Japan depicts a world where Japan won World War Two. Most Americans now worship the Emperor, and history has been changed to a point where Japan's role in the war is now viewed to be nothing short of exemplary and honourable. Japanese civilisation stands unchallenged at the pinnacle of technological development and cultural dominance, until now. A group, known as the 'George Washington's' are starting to disrupt the regime by spreading an underground game that allows players to imagine a world where the Allies won the war. In order to stop these attacks video game censor Captain Beniko (hereafter referred to as Ben) Ishimura and secret police operative Akiko Tsukino are assigned to solve the mystery of this revolutionary group and stop it. But everything is not as it seems, and the enemy they are hunting may in fact not be the enemy after all. I loved everything about this book, from its amazing cover through to its incredibly dark and twisted plot. The United States of Japan took me on a journey that not only entertained me but also challenged me on many different levels. The story itself not only pays homage to Phillip K. Dick, but also forges a new path with the ideas and themes that Dick toyed with in his work. Notions of power, truth, memory and prejudice are all fleshed out and examined within the plot, as the players of the story all maneuver and vie for dominance. I adored the characterisation throughout this book, and Ben and Akiko's relationship and dialogue was both a subtle yet powerful reminder of how agency is the heartbeat of every good tale. The action sequences were a joy to behold, and the pace energetic yet controlled as Ben and Akiko slowly peeled back the layers of the mystery that surrounded them. The world itself was both rich and meticulous in its design, with Tieryas doing a magnificent job of imagining what a technologically advanced and post cyberpunk world ruled by an oppressive regime would look like. With every new page little tidbits were revealed, from Japan's technological prowess (genetic engineering, biomechanics, communication devices, giant mecha) through to their cultural influence on the world (via ceremonies, fashion, language, and food). Admirably Tieryas, whilst showcasing this world, never succumbs to any info dumping or telling. Everything is perfectly balanced and wielded as the story unfolds. All of these elements combined perfectly to give the United States of Japan a dark and moody tension and sense of consequence. One wrong word let slip, or overheard by an 'innocent' bystander, and that person simply disappeared. And therein lies the beauty of this book. It is a dark thriller at its heart, but it is laced with elements of science fiction, alternative history, philosophical discussion and war fiction. And damn, it is a wonderful combination. And as the story propelled itself to its conclusion I was left thinking that Phillip K. Dick would approve of this book... a helluva lot. The United States of Japan is simply brilliant. Tieryas has taken everything I loved about The Man in the High Castle and made it better. A dark and brutal thriller set in a dystopian world that will blow your mind, the United States of Japan is one of my reads of the year so far. Highly recommended. 5 out of 5 stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    In an alternate history where the axis powers won WW2 and the Japanese Emperor is given dominion over the Western US, Beniko Ishimura is a military censor pulled into an investigation of the death of a woman whose father is accused of designing a seditious video game called "The United States of America." Plainly acknowledging (but not overindulging) its debt to The Man in the High Castle, The United States of Japan is an unflinching and very compelling look at social engineering under an authori In an alternate history where the axis powers won WW2 and the Japanese Emperor is given dominion over the Western US, Beniko Ishimura is a military censor pulled into an investigation of the death of a woman whose father is accused of designing a seditious video game called "The United States of America." Plainly acknowledging (but not overindulging) its debt to The Man in the High Castle, The United States of Japan is an unflinching and very compelling look at social engineering under an authoritarian regime. Nearly all of the characters in the story are Japanese -except for a handful of American insurgents who pop up now and then. This, I think, was the best choice Tieryas made; The USofJ is more effective at exploring life under fascism by focusing on the people who are supposed to derive advantage from it, than it would have been if it had been about the conquered Americans. The point is that everyone suffers when individual freedoms are curtailed by radical authoritarian nationalism, and the message couldn't be more timely, with such movements currently resurging around the globe. An excellent novel and a pleasant surprise, but be forewarned, this book doesn't spare the reader on the brutalities of life under fascism.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I'm just going to start this review with the line that set me off (happening very early at page 24): "The skyline was a fissured gradient of conflicted red, forlorn gray, and dissipated azure." Peter Tieryas is trying to set the scene for a war torn community, wrote a sentence, and then thought to himself, "You know what would make this description better? Adjectives!!" The rest of the book is like this. I took plenty of notes. Here is a small handful. "...their spirits crushed by the specter of I'm just going to start this review with the line that set me off (happening very early at page 24): "The skyline was a fissured gradient of conflicted red, forlorn gray, and dissipated azure." Peter Tieryas is trying to set the scene for a war torn community, wrote a sentence, and then thought to himself, "You know what would make this description better? Adjectives!!" The rest of the book is like this. I took plenty of notes. Here is a small handful. "...their spirits crushed by the specter of a carmine Helios above." (26) "They took shots of sake until erythema imbibed their faces red with acetaldehyde." (46) "Bitterness jolted their dendrites full of daily rage so they could lead their people to survival." (155) "Her face was still, but her brows and nasal folds dripped with hate." (317) There's a lot more. Especially the electricity passages. ESPECIALLY the electricity passages. "Ben could feel the nerves trying to placate their followers, the dendrites and axons sending prophetic messages of doom, ignored in the malaise of exorbitance. The pain wasn't overt, but a searing miasma paralyzed him. He felt like a jet blasting off into a hurricane to get sucked into a vortex and splattering into a million C-sections of nirvana." (355) Literally so much nonsense I don't even know where to start. It feels like he's trying to be William Gibson but instead started picking random words in some misguided attempt to be deep. My favorite quote has got to be this though: "The lemon grass and kaffir limes contributed to the international canal of coconut juice flowing through the intestines of everyone passing through the valley." (136) Basically instead of just saying that the market has some damn good coconuts, we get a multicultural intestinal river. I signed up for robots, not some fruity diarrhea. I took a lot more notes on this book, but it all boils down to the fact that I would've enjoyed the book a lot more if I hadn't felt like the author was showing off the whole time. The prose felt weirdly indulgent and the story was almost an afterthought. Like this started off as a writing exercise in an MFA program and the author decided to add in some robots and sell it to a publisher. Include the fact that I found a few typos and plot/set inconsistencies and basically the writing was either overdone or medium rare. In the future I will be avoiding this author.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maryam

    4.5 I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review Review first published here : https://thecurioussffreader.wordpress... United States of Japan was one of my most anticipated book of the year and I am glad to say that it did not disappoint. This book is marketed as a “spiritual sequel” to The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, I have not read Dick’s novel so I can’t really compare both novels but, after reading USJ, I realing want to check it out. The story is based on a 4.5 I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review Review first published here : https://thecurioussffreader.wordpress... United States of Japan was one of my most anticipated book of the year and I am glad to say that it did not disappoint. This book is marketed as a “spiritual sequel” to The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, I have not read Dick’s novel so I can’t really compare both novels but, after reading USJ, I realing want to check it out. The story is based on an alternate history where the United States has lost WWII and is now mostly ruled by Japan. The opening scene takes place in 1948 when the Japanese army rescue Japanese Americans interned in War Relocation Camps. The book then jumps 40 years later, in 1988, where we meet Beniko Ishimura, the son of two refugees introduced in the first chapters. Ben’s job is to censor video games and to hunt down USA, a new game depicting an alernate history where the United States of America won the war. Beniko is a 39 years old man and he’s not very popular among his peers, everyone hates him beause he’s a lazy coward and that he loves women a lot more than the Emperor. However it’s not really because of that that is not trusted: when he was a child he denounced his parents whom he surprised talking about treasons and because of that, they had to commit suicide. Even if everyone praised him for that, how can they trust someone who betrayed his own parents? I read United States of Japan in two days. It was a case of “let’s just read the first couples pages to see if I like it”. And oh well, I liked it. Once you start reading United States of Japan, you can’t stop. As you may expect from a dystopia set in a world where the “bad guys” won WWII, life is not easy and if you don’t have a strong stomach, United States of Japan won’t be for you. I don’t mind reading torture scenes (as long as they are important for the plot) but even I had to pause sometimes. However, even if USJ is pretty dark, it is not a depressing read and for that, I can be grateful to the main characters. We mostly follows two characters, Ben and Akiko, an agent of the Tokko (the secret police of the Empire), they were both completely different and even though I had a preference for Ben, they both had great characters development throughout the book. I like the fact that the two of them were hiding behind a facade, perpetual cheerfulness for Ben and faith in the Emperor for Akiko. The story flowed very easily mainly because it had a lot of dialogues and not an overload of descriptions which is something I can appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, I like to know what the world looks like but I don’t care for extra long and boring description of every single molecules surrounding our main characters, and I think that Tieryas maintained a perfect balance between dialogues and descriptions. They were descriptions when they were needed but they never prevented the story from moving forward if that makes sense. The book was full of very cool concepts, it blends alternative history with giant robots, video games and political thriller. Also the American rebels are called the George Washingtons and they wear white wigs. How cool is that? This book is a standalone and I found the ending to be perfect for the story. You are not going to have all the answers but for a 400 pages, everything is really well done and well paced. Anyway I really, really enjoyed this book and if the synopsis look like something that you would like, I would highly recommend it and I am definitely going to read other things by Peter Tieryas. ★★★★ 1/2 This book will come out the 1st of March from Angry Robots.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    I've never read The Man in the High Castle so I'm unable to compare the two books but this really worked for me. It's an interesting idea to write a novel about, and I think the author handled it very well. I particularly enjoyed getting glimpses into the different time periods, especially the Epilogue. It misses 5 stars for me because I was never really sold on the characters or 100% in their corner until the end. I liked Ben, especially during the game competition, but Akiko I could take or le I've never read The Man in the High Castle so I'm unable to compare the two books but this really worked for me. It's an interesting idea to write a novel about, and I think the author handled it very well. I particularly enjoyed getting glimpses into the different time periods, especially the Epilogue. It misses 5 stars for me because I was never really sold on the characters or 100% in their corner until the end. I liked Ben, especially during the game competition, but Akiko I could take or leave for the most part. Still, it was fun and exciting and fast moving with some kick ass mech battles.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marc Aplin

    *SOLID 4.5 - rounded up to 5, because... Goodreads scoring!* Almost as soon as World War II had finished, the Japanese Government issued numerous apologies for the crimes the country had committed during their 14 years of conflicts (they began warring with China in 1931). These apologies primarily related to the treatment and death rates of prisoners of war and civilians under Japanese occupation. Still, many don’t feel that the extent of what Japan did or could have done, should they not have be *SOLID 4.5 - rounded up to 5, because... Goodreads scoring!* Almost as soon as World War II had finished, the Japanese Government issued numerous apologies for the crimes the country had committed during their 14 years of conflicts (they began warring with China in 1931). These apologies primarily related to the treatment and death rates of prisoners of war and civilians under Japanese occupation. Still, many don’t feel that the extent of what Japan did or could have done, should they not have been defeated, has ever been fully acknowledged by the country’s officials. Millions died, millions were oppressed, human experimentation at Unit 731 could be straight out of a horror movie, and the testimony from Japanese soldiers about the mindset being bred into Japanese going to war makes for difficult reading (the following comes from a soldier who served in China): “The major means of getting intelligence was to extract information by interrogating prisoners. Torture was an unavoidable necessity. Murdering and burying them follows naturally. You do it so you won’t be found out … We carried out our duty as instructed by our masters … We did it for the sake of our country … On the battlefield, we never really considered the Chinese humans. When you’re winning, the losers look really miserable. We concluded that the Yamato race [i.e., Japanese] was superior.” So what would have happened if the United States had fallen to Japan during World War II? First, we should remember that it’s a long shot. Most historians agree that the Japanese army lacked the resources to ever go head-to-head with the United States and win. However, should you raise the question, the general consensus is that Japan would have had to hold off provoking the US long enough to gain enough control of numerous continents or have some kind of technological breakthrough. In Peter Tieryas’s United States of Japan, the author stops Pearl Harbour from ever happening. This means that the US don’t have reason to launch retaliatory attacks on Japan and remain absent from the War whilst the Japanese make progress on other continents. Over the years, Japan gets more and more powerful (and unethical). Their experiments in mechanical technology sees them create the atomic bomb and powerful mechas. In addition, their bio-organic and genetic experimentation has continued and led to all kinds of biotech such as prosthetic Gunarms that replace limbs, viral weapons, and much more besides. By the time Japan deal America a blow that warrants a reaction, the Japanese are strong enough that after some time at war, America is forced to surrender. The Japanese conquer America and quickly label it the United States of Japan. Before we continue, it should be said that Peter Tieryas’s novel presumes that should Japan have won the war, they’d have continued down a despicable path, drunk on power and intent at ensuring that every citizen they allow to live within their empire not only follows their command, but believes in and fights for their cause. This is certainly an extreme, but believable scenario. Young Japanese were being taught that their Emperor was a living deity (a descendant of the Sun Goddess) and that the war was an act that would purify them as individuals, their country and the whole world. This, combined with their Samurai heritage, meant that orders went unquestioned (as did their resulting actions) and is one of the reasons so many were willing to die for the cause. Please do note, however, that when the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the majority counted the end of hostilities as blessed relief. Peter’s version of events looks primarily at the generation who would have grown up within the USJ. Our protagonist navigating the United States of Japan in the late 1980s is Beniko Ishimura, a video game censor, who reviews choices that those playing games make for possible disenchantment of the empire. This is an important role, because in addition to the weaponised technology discussed earlier, standardised technology has developed much faster than in our own timeline too – mobile smart phones (called porticals) are in use by 1988 and play a big part in the story. Although technically our ‘hero’, Beniko is seen as lazy and far too interested in women, drinking and partying by his superiors. However, because he turned his own parents in to the empire for making disapproving comments about the Emperor’s regime, he has long been seen a most loyal recruit. Beniko’s point of view will feel familiar to readers who have read George Orwell’s 1984. Beniko’s chapters are expertly crafted to leave the reader with a palpable feeling of anxiety and claustrophobia. Regularly, we see our protagonist double checking his words and expressions, fearful of doing something that could potentially be considered traitorous to the empire or even just taken as an example of not being in fully supportive of the cause. Ben’s position means that he is very aware of how even arbitrary actions can lead to imprisonment, torture or death. Ben’s life changes dramatically with the arrival of an agent of the secret police named Akiko Tsukino. In contrast to Beniko, Akiko’s early chapters feel full of freedom, assurance and intensity. Aikido’s loyalty is unquestionable, both in her own mind and in the minds of her superiors in the empire too. This means that she has complete belief that each and every action she performs is in the Empire’s best interest and she can do pretty much anything within the USJ as a result. Readers will admire this strong character; although some of her deeds are distasteful in a modern sense, in the world of USJ she is capable, fierce and courageous. Nothing stands in her way. This becomes a trend for Peter within USJ, who seems incapable of creating the flat, stereotypical women that fantasy and science fiction has often embarrassed itself with (especially when going back a few years!). Although Ben and Akiko don’t see eye-to-eye, the two are forced to work together when an illegal video game begins doing the rounds. This game depicts a world where the United States of America won World War II by defeating the Japanese. The game suggests that the result of this would have been a world full of freedom, promise and hope. As the pair attempt to track down those responsible for the game, their contrasting views of USJ life, opposing personalities and approaches to work makes for some interesting clashes. The matter in which they are investigating – treachery against the empire – is also difficult for both to approach and forces them to ask questions about the way of the world and their place within it by the time the novel concludes. United States of Japan will please readers who miss the days where Science Fiction introduced the reader to an idea and just ran with it. Rather than the modern requirement for a book to contain one clever twist or another, United States of Japan is more reliant on showing you lots of cool things as the mystery unfolds before a big finale. Additionally, although, as I’ve discussed, I feel that United States of Japan presents a plausible world, Peter doesn’t take the approach of explaining every nuance in a textbook style. This allows Peter to keep the pace breakneck and fill each page with dialogue and character development. By the end of the novel, readers will be amazed at just how much they know about the book’s characters, and how much they’ve all changed. This approach also frees Peter up to introduce outlandish and high-reaching ideas, which creates a world that is not only dark and disturbing, but interesting, unique and intriguing too. Despite the pointed prose and simple structure, United States of Japan is the kind of book where you get out as much as you put in. If you are in it for the gross torture scenes, mecha, and strange weaponry then you are more than covered, don’t worry. However, if you are willing to take your time to reflect on the disturbing vision of a world that is the result of certain ideologies setting the human race on a different path just a generation or two ago, then you will find a lot of food for thought. I will add that even if you do approach USJ simply for the ‘cool’ and ‘disgusting’ stuff, Peter Tieryas does break from the action at multiple points during the novel (the beginning and end chapters are two easy examples) to really showcase his ability to evoke emotion in the reader and leave them deeply unsettled or even close to tears. In summary: United States of Japan sees an author capable of beautiful, evocative prose writing a fast-paced Science Fiction novel of old. This results in a journey through an alternative version of our world that is as fascinating as it is disturbing and as full of emotion as it is full of adrenalin. This novel will stay with readers far beyond the final pages, forcing them to reassess the potential impact of who wins the world’s wars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Richard Thomas

    A powerful book, unsettling at times, surreal, and hypnotic. There's a bit of Philip K. Dick in here, and Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, especially the war sub-plot, but Peter Tieryas is his own voice, a talented author, somebody to keep an eye on for sure. I loved his last book, BALD NEW WORLD, and I loved this one, too.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eliza Rapsodia

    3.5 REVIEW IN ENGLISH I had high expectations with this novel. Even although some aspects are very positive, other aspects aren't that great. ¿What would the world be like if Japan had won the war? The novel shifts between the present (1988) and the past, when the war was over. United States was defeated and the Japanese domination have been portrayed very well and I think it has been a good approach to bring about the change of situation. The United States has been controlled by Japan as expected 3.5 REVIEW IN ENGLISH I had high expectations with this novel. Even although some aspects are very positive, other aspects aren't that great. ¿What would the world be like if Japan had won the war? The novel shifts between the present (1988) and the past, when the war was over. United States was defeated and the Japanese domination have been portrayed very well and I think it has been a good approach to bring about the change of situation. The United States has been controlled by Japan as expected, the Emperor is worshipped by everyone , the army follows the code of Bushido without question and if someone says something negative of the Emperor, that person will die for treason. So all kinds of torture for disloyalty go unnoticed. Ben Ishimura is a captain of the Japanese army that is in change of an investigation of a alleged videogame that shows what would be like if United States had won the war. So, for this task Ishimura joins agent Akiko Tsukino, a very diligent and rigid police officer. They must work together to discover who is behind the creation of the game. I believe Tieryas did a good job with the wordbuilding. It's neat and in some aspects has this science fiction and technology aspects that work really well (the porticals as an example). But I wanted to know more of the other countries after the war anyways.... Also I had some problems.... First I kinda didn't like the characters very much. They started really plain but they got way better. I liked Akiko more than Ben, because I feel she has a better character development than him. Second, I think we all wanted more mecha fights! and we didn't get what we wanted :/ And the writing! Sometimes it was really nice and other times it was really weird. I think it's because of the sentences and the word used (as a non-native english speaker probably you don't agree with me) but other people could see it with the spanish translated version as well. In a nutshell, I think it's a very good book with some things that could have been better. So read it y'all! *************************************** RESEÑA EN ESPAÑOL Este libro sin duda fue una lectura que no tenia en mente y en parte es gracias a que Lucio y Carlos hicieron una reseña muy buena en su canal y animaron a muchas personas a leerlo. Aparte que desde la editorial lo trajeron a Colombia (gracias a R'hllor) así que ahora pueden encontrarlo en español. Esta novela es de las propuestas recientes más interesantes -es una ucronía y si no recuerdo mal la primera que leo- así que trataré de explicarme bien. La Segunda Guerra Mundial ha terminado y Japón y Alemania se han alzado victoriosas. Estados Unidos ha sido aplastado por las fuerzas combinadas de estos países y ahora debe sufrir las consecuencias. Los territorios estadounidenses son controlados por ambos países y Japón ha logrado expender su imperio bajo el control del emperador. Décadas después, en 1984, el Capitán Beniko Ishimura es un soldado que se encarga de investigar y censurar videojuegos para el ejército de los Estados Unidos de Japón. Considerado un oficial mediocre, Ben se ve envuelto en la investigación sobre la existencia de un presunto juego creado por los rebeldes proamericanos que se hace llamar los Estados Unidos de América. Peter Tieryas el autor Tenía muchas expectativas con esta novela y si bien en algunas ha sido muy positivo en otros aspectos no lo ha sido tanto. ¿Cómo sería el mundo si Japón habría ganado la guerra? La novela se forma de una linea temporal en los años ochenta y otros momentos del pasado, cuando la guerra había terminado. Esta derrota y posterior dominación se ha retratado muy bien de mano de varios personajes. Creo que ha sido un acercamiento bien hecho para plantear el cambio de situación. Estados Unidos ha sido controlada por Japón y como era de esperarse, el Emperador ha hecho que todos le adoren como un dios, el ejercito sigue el código del Bushido a rajatabla y decir algo negativo del emperador es dar un paso a la muerte. Por esto, toda clase de torturas por deslealtad o comportarse como no es son permitidas y pasan desapercibidas. Ben se involucra en la investigación del videojuego y se le une la agente Akiko Tsukino, una joven muy diligente y rígida en su trabajo que se encargará de encontrar a los culpables y de sacarle la verdad a los desleales al imperio. Por esto deben trabajar juntos para descubrir lo que hay detrás. A partir de este punto entramos a una trama que se convierte en un thriller que quiere desvelar una incógnita y al tiempo que trata de mostrarnos donde están las lealtades de sus personajes y qué está sucediendo con los presuntos rebeldes. El mundo combina la ucronía y la ciencia ficción y esto se ha implementado en el mundo: los llamados porticals, que ejercen como teléfono celular, consola de videjuegos y para muchos otros usos es sin duda un elemento muy interesante y que da mucho juego. Creo que el mundo está bien construido, se exploran muchos lugares de esta Estados Unidos y se muestra también las sociedades de personas que se crearon a partir de la dominación y el poderío japonés, aunque creo que pudo estar más amplio. Pero para empezar con los aspectos negativos de la novela voy por puntos: 1) ¿Los otros? Me hizo falta ver que pasó con las otras facciones del eje y qué es lo que traman *JUST SAYING* 2) Los personajes Me parece que funcionan y que tienen un cierto nivel de desarrollo, pero no acabaron de convencerme del todo. Al principio Beniko no me calaba tanto y Akiko me parecía supremamente robótica. Aunque posteriormente ella llegó a gustarme más que el propio Ben, porque creo que tiene muchos más elementos para que entendamos su posición. Los demás personajes tampoco me dijeron mucho pero creo que los dos protagonistas llevaron bien las riendas de la historia. 3) ¿Mechas? Megazord de los Power Rangers (un tipo de Mecha) La portada es que nos promete algo pero no lo entrega del todo. Como muchos otros, queríamos ver algo más de mechas pero esperemos que se solucione en el futuro. 3) La narrativa Leer la novela fue un poco extraño a veces. No es solo que íbamos del presente de la historia al pasado y volvíamos sino que la narrativa en si y las palabra que Tieryas elegía eran un poco extrañas o poco comunes y uno se quedaba un poco extrañado. No es algo que me moleste soberanamente, pero encontré momentos narrativos muy buenos como otros un poco enredados y hasta confusos. De resto creo que es una novela amena y entretenida que aporta un granito de arena más a la oferta de ciencia ficción actual. ¡Lo recomiendo mucho!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was a pretty fun book. It was interesting to see the way that it incorporated elements of The Man in the High Castle while making it a distinctive story of its own. It almost created an echo or deja vu type feel, yet not quite that. The good thing is that it was very respectful to that story. It didn't have the same level of mind-crunching, thought-provoking weirdness, though. Instead, it was updated to a more high tech, modern, commercialized, fun-oriented story. I particularly liked the wa This was a pretty fun book. It was interesting to see the way that it incorporated elements of The Man in the High Castle while making it a distinctive story of its own. It almost created an echo or deja vu type feel, yet not quite that. The good thing is that it was very respectful to that story. It didn't have the same level of mind-crunching, thought-provoking weirdness, though. Instead, it was updated to a more high tech, modern, commercialized, fun-oriented story. I particularly liked the way the author turned The Grasshopper Lies Heavy into a gaming setup, which worked brilliantly with this particular story. And I really liked the Epilogue. But you don't have to have read The Man in the High Castle in order to enjoy this. It's an alt-history, high-tech sci-fi story that anyone can jump into and enjoy. Without killing your brain in the process. The homunculi were also an interesting addition to the story. They were like Godzilla but also updated and changed in a way that fit the story. And there were a few 1984 elements. But the author took all of these things and combined them into a fresh story that was utterly unique. It was a good read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    A painful exploration of the US under Japanese rule in an alternate world where the Allies lost WW2. I'm not entirely sure why I stuck with this one. The characters are broken by the tyranny they live with and work under, and they're as brutal as the world that they live in. The resistance, the "George Washingtons" are equally horrible. There's lots of particularly disgusting imagery in this as well with brutal torture and mutilation being commonplace. There are lots of interesting points in the w A painful exploration of the US under Japanese rule in an alternate world where the Allies lost WW2. I'm not entirely sure why I stuck with this one. The characters are broken by the tyranny they live with and work under, and they're as brutal as the world that they live in. The resistance, the "George Washingtons" are equally horrible. There's lots of particularly disgusting imagery in this as well with brutal torture and mutilation being commonplace. There are lots of interesting points in the world-building here, including the complete lack of sexism in this alternate world along with advances in medical technology due to the copious human experimentation that appears to have been available. There's also lots of other horrible parts, like the genocide of races that the Axis powers have deemed undesirable. I find myself in awe of the world-building, and fairly happy that this nightmare scenario shocks and appalls me as much as it does.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Berko

    Great book. So much more than the cool cover. It was totally not what i expected but it ended up exceeding those expectations by about a billion percent. Some serious wow moments in here.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    4.5 of 5 stars http://lynns-books.com/2016/03/10/uni... United States of Japan is one of those books that took me by surprise. To be honest I went into this with a little bit of concern because it has a military/sci fi look and description which made me worry slightly about whether it might be out of my comfort zone. As it happens that wasn’t the case at all. This book is a fast paced read that undoubtedly got it’s hooks into me from page 1. The story starts in America in the year 1948 where we are 4.5 of 5 stars http://lynns-books.com/2016/03/10/uni... United States of Japan is one of those books that took me by surprise. To be honest I went into this with a little bit of concern because it has a military/sci fi look and description which made me worry slightly about whether it might be out of my comfort zone. As it happens that wasn’t the case at all. This book is a fast paced read that undoubtedly got it’s hooks into me from page 1. The story starts in America in the year 1948 where we are introduced to a number of survivors being released from a relocation camp. WWII has ended and the Japanese are the victors. We then move forward approximately 40 years where the son of one of the couples that survived their early interment at the hands of the US now works as a censor of video games. Beniko Ishimura is a man who seems to lack purpose. He is constantly overlooked for promotion, he worries about saying or doing something untoward that might bring him the wrong sort of attention and at the start of the story he’s about to take a phone call that will turn his world upside down. This is basically a book of ‘what ifs’. What if Pearl Harbour never happened. What if the Japanese had held off until they were in a better position in terms of military and technological capability? Would America have still joined in with WWII and if not would the Japanese have been in a better position to conquer with all their new military gadgets? Now assuming those ‘what ifs’ all lined up to give us an alternate history and a 1988 in which the United States of Japan was a different landscape to the one we now know, a USJ with greatly advanced technology and a dystopian society ruled by a cruel and brutal system where extreme fear and paranoia are the order of the day and a person can be taken at the drop of a hat and tortured with very little reason or justification. Let’s just be honest, the USJ is a scary place to live. A big brother society as its most extreme: people’s habits, even their gaming techniques and choices are monitored. The people are under constant scrutiny and the smallest utterance can be taken as a traitorous remark that brings down the wrath of the secret police (the Tokko). Agent Akiko Tsukino (an officer with the Tokko) has been sent to investigate Beniko (Ben). She has very little to go on at the start, other than the phone call that Ben received the evening before, but even so she doesn’t let that interfere with her intimidation and she manages to involve Ben in her investigations into the underground movement known as the George Washingtons – rebels fighting for freedom. So, the hunt is on and we’re about to be led on a journey of violence, torture, dark and seedy underworlds and secret hideouts with a couple of characters who whilst at first seem to be uncompromising have hidden depths. This is a difficult book to review. Firstly, I don’t want to give anything away, secondly I’m still thinking about the ending and thirdly I confess that it’s a fairly grim read. And, I don’t say that as a criticism because I think it’s fairly intrinsic to what the author is trying to achieve here and he achieves it very well – this isn’t a nice place and there is never any doubt about that. There are no laugh out loud moments to lighten the feel, this is a dark story set in an unkind world. In imagining this story the author has used the very worst human traits and intensified them. He’s also used a lot of creativity in imagining this alternative world and the inventions it has spawned. The two main characters are Ben and Akiko. Now, neither of these characters are straight up good or bad. They’re both layered and over the course of the book the author will, almost without you realising, manage to impart things about them that will shed a different light on their personalities. Ben comes across a bit lackadaisical which isn’t strictly speaking true. I would say he’s almost paralysed with fear. He certainly isn’t quite as laid back as he likes to make out and considering the first impression I had of him as a womanising loner he manages to conjure quite a few friends and acquaintances who seem to respect him. Akiko is ruthless and ambitious. She has carried out atrocities all in the name of the Emperor and yet scratch the surface and a few doubts leak out. I can’t say that I really liked either of them but what I can say is that the author made me care about what happened. That almost sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it? Basically, throughout the book I was looking for some sort of turnaround moment for both of them. and in one particular aspect I think the author does manage to bring a different light to bear. Mostly, however, and actually I have to say that I have great respect for this, he didn’t go down the route of miraculous transformation. His characters, mostly, pretty much stayed true to themselves. I didn’t really have any criticisms of the book. It’s not necessarily an easy read and I don’t doubt that some will find certain aspects not really for them but I thought it was quite fascinating and it definitely gave me plenty to think about. Did I end this with that giddy feeling that some books seem to achieve – no, quite honestly, I didn’t. But for a book that I finished over a week ago I’m still mulling it over. There are many ways in which a book can succeed for the reader, we can simply fall in love, it can hypnotise us with it’s beautiful prose or stun us with it’s scope and creativity or it can take us on a journey that we didn’t expect and whilst maybe not a journey with singing and picnics nonetheless one with plenty of food for thought. I’m still digesting USJ and frankly I might just go in for seconds and give this another read at some point in the future. Dark, dystopian, alternate history with a setting that makes you glad that you’re not living in one of the many possible parallel universes that could be out there. I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frank Errington

    Review copy United States of Japan is Peter Tieryas's third book, it began as "a story revolving around the tragic events on the Asian side of WWII." The book is inspired by Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, his time at Electronic Arts, and his experiences traveling in Asia. For the most part, I've never been much of a fan of alternate history stories, but John Liberto's cover art caught my attention and I did enjoy the Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle, so I decided to tak Review copy United States of Japan is Peter Tieryas's third book, it began as "a story revolving around the tragic events on the Asian side of WWII." The book is inspired by Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, his time at Electronic Arts, and his experiences traveling in Asia. For the most part, I've never been much of a fan of alternate history stories, but John Liberto's cover art caught my attention and I did enjoy the Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle, so I decided to take a chance. As in The Man in the High Castle the Japanese have taken control of much of the West Coast following the Asia-Pacific War of WWII. The Germans exerting an influence in what was once the Eastern United States, but that's where the similarities end. This story begins in one of the Japanese internment camps during the war. After their liberation by the Japanese Empire the action quickly moves to 1988. The times are very different in the 1988 under the rule of the Japanese Empire. There is so much going on in this story. there are many little details woven into the tale. Marvels like "porticals", very addicting, iPhone like devices. There's a little used technique where "private messengers were making phones powered by the biochemistry of their body, electric pulses from the heart, additional radio connectors integrated into their intestines." And Mechas—robotic soldiers that were as tall as skyscrapers—vigilantly guarding the skies against enemies outside and within. When a video game emerges that posits a world where the allies won, a game censor and an Imperial Government agent discover truths about the empire that make them question their loyalty. There is a marked difference in culture between the America I grew up in and the United States of Japan as envisioned by Peter Tieryas. It's a story filled with wild ideas. The war may have ended forty year ago, but it's not exactly a peaceful time. There's a radical resistance group which calls themselves the George Washingtons who employ a particularly horrific torture involving genetically engineered ants with a taste for human flesh. Available as an e-book, in paperback, and through audible from Angry Robot Books The United States of Japan was a compelling read, thoroughly entertaining, and the ultimate "what if?" story. Peter Tieryas is an Asian-American writer. In addition to writing United States of Japan, he is the author of the collection Watering Heaven and the novel Bald New World. He attended the University of California Berkeley. Tieryas is a Lead Character Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks and has worked at LucasArts as both a technical artist and technical writer.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joe Frazier

    United States of Japan takes a similar premise as Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle in an even more dystopian direction, that premise being that America lost the war, Nazi Germany has the Eastern portion, Japan has the Western portion and Nazi's and the Japanese Empire distrustful frenemies. All of the action takes place on the west coast with the Nazi's being a mere mention. If you like your visions of the future dark and dystopian, there's plenty of that here. There is also plenty of United States of Japan takes a similar premise as Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle in an even more dystopian direction, that premise being that America lost the war, Nazi Germany has the Eastern portion, Japan has the Western portion and Nazi's and the Japanese Empire distrustful frenemies. All of the action takes place on the west coast with the Nazi's being a mere mention. If you like your visions of the future dark and dystopian, there's plenty of that here. There is also plenty of hope and a recognition of fortitude in the face of totalitarianism. This is a personal journey and a political movement. There are no one dimensional characters (although some of the bad guys are thoroughly bad) What makes this book such a rare gem is that it manages to do all things well. Its writing is clever, careful and often beautifully phrased, which is especially challenging with contemporary dialog (about which more later). America, mainly focused on California, is reeling in the aftermath of its devastating post-World War II loss. In depicting said America, Mr. Tieryas' follows Chekhov's dictum: “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” He does so in spades, painting the scene in all of its livid, detailed glory which sometimes presents surprises and is always all too believable. The characters are multidimensional, interesting and, often, not nice. They, too, are full of surprises. The cohesive narrative flows quickly while pulling you completely in and spitting you, wrung out, by the end. Often, good books do two or three of these aspects of writing well; Mr. Tieryas accomplishes the rare feat of nailing every one, making this a great book. For full review: wp.me/p2XCwQ-1nC

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bogdan

    Usually the Angry Robot books hadn`t sparked much interest in me so I haven`t finished much of them until now. But this one had what I wanted to be hook from the very beginning so... it`s finished! If you`re a fan of alternative history this is a must. It was a complet delight to read about a totally new Japanised America. The mighty nation has lost the war and now the Emperor rules over all americans. And the japanese have brought all their technology so the novel has a really strong cyberpunk fee Usually the Angry Robot books hadn`t sparked much interest in me so I haven`t finished much of them until now. But this one had what I wanted to be hook from the very beginning so... it`s finished! If you`re a fan of alternative history this is a must. It was a complet delight to read about a totally new Japanised America. The mighty nation has lost the war and now the Emperor rules over all americans. And the japanese have brought all their technology so the novel has a really strong cyberpunk feeling to it, but not so hard to get into or so disturbing that you would not understand it. Great world building, nice fast paced action, with really well build characters and some interesting events. Because the novel combines a lot of elements from the ones of a thriller, a spy novel or quite a war drama. The end was kinda open, not really what I wanted, but I must confess that it was a good choice and the last chapter really explains some of the behaviour of our main character. Because sometimes seems to be a real pussy and a lazy guy, but don`t worry all will be explain in due time. I`ve saw that some of the other readers wanted more Mecha battles, but I`m not so much into them, so I was satisfied with the ones that are already described here. I guess I could give it five stars, but there are some dropouts in the story, so, for now, I will remain with four and the honour to have my first Angry Robot book on my shelves. In one month or so. Great Job Peter Tieryas!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Xavi

    An uchrony about Japan winning World War II with giant robots? Shut up and take my money. A great novel, altough I consider it more an utopia than an uchrony. A very interesting historical and social recreation, and full of original features. Fully recommended. Review in english: http://dreamsofelvex.blogspot.com/201... Reseña en español: http://dreamsofelvex.blogspot.com/201... An uchrony about Japan winning World War II with giant robots? Shut up and take my money. A great novel, altough I consider it more an utopia than an uchrony. A very interesting historical and social recreation, and full of original features. Fully recommended. Review in english: http://dreamsofelvex.blogspot.com/201... Reseña en español: http://dreamsofelvex.blogspot.com/201...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adah Udechukwu

    United States of Japan has an awesome plot. The novel flows beautifully and it has non-stop action.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lanko

    I liked this "what if" of WWII. It focuses much more on the victory scenario for the Japanese than the Nazis. And for being written so recently it had access to much more information and technology available. In here Pearl Harbor never happened and thus the US didn't had reason to join the war. The Japanese here also coordinated their movements with the Germans and invaded Eastern Soviet Union which allowed the Germans to capture Moscow and then pinch the Soviets. While it's uncertain if such a m I liked this "what if" of WWII. It focuses much more on the victory scenario for the Japanese than the Nazis. And for being written so recently it had access to much more information and technology available. In here Pearl Harbor never happened and thus the US didn't had reason to join the war. The Japanese here also coordinated their movements with the Germans and invaded Eastern Soviet Union which allowed the Germans to capture Moscow and then pinch the Soviets. While it's uncertain if such a move would allow the Axis to win the war, it certainly was the more optimal strategical choice and at least would have made the combat much harder and prolong the war even more. The main character is a censor of videogames. That's right. Do you know those games with multiple choices or different ways to beat them? The government purposely implements certain choices and paths that when chosen, will send a signal to a government agency that will you put you on their list of "possible traitors". There is also plenty of biological and technological advancements under the Japanese. Giant mechas, a la Evangelion are used by the army and actually were deployed against the US in WWII as the Axis had more time to make scientific breakthroughs before the Americans entered the war. Certain twists were pretty good, like the secret police officer that later is herself accused of treason and is interrogated and tortured in the same way she did to her own victims. I know this focused on Japan, but I really wished there were more characters viewpoints, specially from an American character under the Japanese domination. We have glimpses how they probably lived, but wished for a more personal experience. The inspiration, The Man on the High Castle, also had Germans and Jews, which probably could have been used here as well, as it was even mentioned Jews were treated differently in the Empire and that probably could have been a point of friction with the Germans. Aside from that, I really liked this book, as it is different from others with the theme, with a more modern approach to it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carlex

    Four and half stars, to be fair English review on my blog: http://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2016/1... Reseña en castellano en el blog: http://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2016/1... Four and half stars, to be fair English review on my blog: http://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2016/1... Reseña en castellano en el blog: http://girotix.blogspot.com.es/2016/1...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (bunnyreads)

    It’s fair to say that history was my least favorite subject and my knowledge of it is pretty sketchy because I am terrible at dates, names, and facts. Or at least facts that aren’t useless facts, because those I revel in. Want to know how they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar…I got your back. Want to know when the second world war ended? Well… the middle of the forties is as close as I can get you. So, when I saw the Alt. History square on my bingo card, I groaned. Loudly. But, then I ran acros It’s fair to say that history was my least favorite subject and my knowledge of it is pretty sketchy because I am terrible at dates, names, and facts. Or at least facts that aren’t useless facts, because those I revel in. Want to know how they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar…I got your back. Want to know when the second world war ended? Well… the middle of the forties is as close as I can get you. So, when I saw the Alt. History square on my bingo card, I groaned. Loudly. But, then I ran across this book, and it turns out that all you gotta do to get me interested in history, is add a few giant robots. Beniko Ishimura- The child of two Japanese Americans with whom were released from an internment camp near San Diego after Japan won, partners up with Akiko Tsukino- who works for the Tokka (essentially the secret police) to look into a game that simulates ways to revolt against the current regime and imagines what it would be like if Japan hadn’t won the war. These two characters couldn’t be any more different than each other. Akiko was very hard-core about squashing dissention, she’s rigid, loyal to the Emperor and if you’re not loyal, your dead, and by her hands if she has her way. Beniko, didn’t seem to care about much, he just did what he had to and didn’t seem to have any motivation to forward himself in his career or elsewhere in his life. I expected for a man that turned his own parents in that he would be more like her, or at least a militant brown-noser but he was almost the opposite. I found it hard to like either of them. The beginning of the book especially, is a bit dry. Getting the world and time-line set-up, the events and actions are all kind of stated in a straightforward manner and I worried a little if I was going to keep everyone straight, but thankfully that all narrows down into a smaller focus once the ground-work is laid. The world itself is interesting and familiar and feels late 80’s, even with the advancements that put it miles ahead of anything back in our eighties. I don’t know if it was the cyborg kind of limb attachments, the tech, or the Mechs that did it. Or maybe it was just that the author managed to convey that feel of what we used to think the future was going to be like now, and put it back into the eighties. Whatever it was it worked. It’s a very oppressive place though and there are some horribly cruel things being done… rule under a totalitarian government, paints a pretty grim picture. The pacing in this is fantastic- as the story unfolds we learn more and more about the characters, the game, the motivations. The clues are dropped along the way and you can see where it’s going, but it’s not until practically that last page that we have the whole story and you find out for sure. I think just how expertly this story was woven, was one of the things I appreciated the most about this book. All I have done for three days is think about this world and these people; it left such a huge presence in my mind. Looking back, I can appreciate these characters more and why they were the way they were, after seeing the whole picture. I still don’t like them much but I do understand them. I thought the author did a brilliant job of showing what living in this environment of constant fear, of saying the wrong or doing the wrong thing and what it would do to the human pyche. Also, the touches of culture and especially, my gosh, the food! It really added a lot to the atmosphere, and made this world come alive (imo nothing brings home culture better than food). If you’re looking for the alt-history version of Pacific Rim you’re not going to find it here (there are very few appearances by the mechs) what you are going to find is a very real feeling take on what could have been, if Japan had won WW2 and the broken people trying to survive in that world. Its not the happiest read but it was definitely worth reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    My expectations and hope for United States of Japan were very high. The work exceeded my expectations. The book begins in California, in 1948, now part of The United States of Japan. In this alternate history plot, the United States does not enter the war in 1941 but waits several years. In this time Germany and Japan become more and more powerful. The Japanese have the time to attack the west coast of the United States with nuclear weapons. After the United States surrenders tne Eastern part is My expectations and hope for United States of Japan were very high. The work exceeded my expectations. The book begins in California, in 1948, now part of The United States of Japan. In this alternate history plot, the United States does not enter the war in 1941 but waits several years. In this time Germany and Japan become more and more powerful. The Japanese have the time to attack the west coast of the United States with nuclear weapons. After the United States surrenders tne Eastern part is ruled by the Germans and everything west of the Rocky Mountains is part of The United States of Japan. The novel covers about forty years, from 1948 to 1988. In California we see the extreme cruelty of the Japanese rulers of California and the brutality of their soldiers. History is rewritten to suggest the Japanese were completely blameless in their actions during the war and American school children are taught to revere the Emperor. Any expression of doubt about the divinity of the actions of Japan, seen as directed by their divine emperor, by a Japanese is seen as treason. The culture among Japanese in California is one full of informants dominated by fear of secret police units. The opening segments, set in San Jose, California are just brilliantly chilling and ring completely true to me. It was so much easy to visualize troops of young Japanese soldiers striking terror in Americans. I was brought to reflect on how the Americans saved millions of Japanese from starvation after they surrendered in World War Two and how they help restore the Japanexe economy and in fact brought a level of freedom to Japan never known or even conceived of under Japanese military rule. One of the deepest cultural questions brought to mind by United States of Japan is how a country where beauty has been cultivated for many centuries could at the same time produce leaders and followers of incredible brutality. Of course this is not unique to Japan. As time goes by in California and elsewhere, American culture and history begin to be forgotten, replaced with ideas created to control the Americans. Few Americans born since 1948 have any true memory of American history. However are underground groups of Americans who wage guerrilla warfare against the Japanse. Much of the recreational time of people is taken up by video games and someone has created a subversive video game that is very popular that depicts what things would be like had the Americans won the war. The lead chzracter and tne driver of the plot is Captain Ishimaru who is in charge of finding out who is distributing these service video games. An alternative smart phone device plays a big part in the life of the Japanese in California. I don't want to give away the intriguing plots, surprising twists of events, interesting characters and abounding social satire found in United States of Japan. I found the ending deeply moving. I did not see it coming but it was a wonderful close. Besides being a lot of fun to read, there are some good sex scenes, characters to hate and some to feel sympathy with, I think we can read this novel as a commentary about how the surface culture and seductive power of social media can play into the hands of forces seeking to control societies to put in place malignant private agendas. I totally enjoyed United States of Japan, it is exciting with lots of interesting developments, well done characters and presents a very credible alternative historical narrative. I won't tell you what has happened to Catalina Island but you will be shocked.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    "United States of Japan" looks at what would happen if Japan won World War II. Some of the book takes place in the years right after Japan won the war and other most of the rest of the book takes place decades after. The book doesn't take place in Japan but in the United States, which is now a part of the Japanese empire. U.S. is a completely different place after the war. This is an exciting scifi book that will make you think "what if." The plot line had a good dose of mystery running through i "United States of Japan" looks at what would happen if Japan won World War II. Some of the book takes place in the years right after Japan won the war and other most of the rest of the book takes place decades after. The book doesn't take place in Japan but in the United States, which is now a part of the Japanese empire. U.S. is a completely different place after the war. This is an exciting scifi book that will make you think "what if." The plot line had a good dose of mystery running through it that kept me wanting to read in order to find out what happened. I think the author also does a really good job of creating characters that the readers care about in order to keep them wanting to turn the pages. There is a lot of action in this book! I really like reading sci-fi and I especially like when it looks at the what ifs. It is hard to imagine the U.S. not winning the war but had things happened differently, the world could have been a much different place. I think it is especially strange for Americans such as myself to imagine how different our lives would be. The author really captures this! The world building is what really sold me on this book. I thought that the author did an amazing job of making the world feel really real and something that could actually exist. He weaves in a lot of actual historical details (e.g., the emperor as a deity) that makes the world feel both familiar and strange at the same time. I think world building is so important, especially worlds that are unfamiliar to the readers. A world in which Japan wins World War II definitely fits that bill. The author does a really good job of showing and not telling throughout the book. Overall, if you want scifi that sticks with you long after you finish the book and has you asking what if this happened after the last page, this would be a great pick!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Misener

    One of the best SF novels I've read the past couple of years. Alternate history cyberpunk anime, exquisitely paced and plotted. Characters that are fleshed out through believable and entertaining dialogue. Ben, the protagonist, is a guy I ended up caring about... seemingly simple yet disarming in his complex inner world. You root for the guy as the author slowly peels back more and more layers of his being. A visual feast of a book full of SF goodies. Giant mechas that patrol cities. Video games One of the best SF novels I've read the past couple of years. Alternate history cyberpunk anime, exquisitely paced and plotted. Characters that are fleshed out through believable and entertaining dialogue. Ben, the protagonist, is a guy I ended up caring about... seemingly simple yet disarming in his complex inner world. You root for the guy as the author slowly peels back more and more layers of his being. A visual feast of a book full of SF goodies. Giant mechas that patrol cities. Video games so real they form the backbone of war plotting. Humans with bizarre physical augmentations. Genetic crossbreeds. Kind of the happy child of Gibson and China Mieville. The plot owes much to PK Dick, but is honestly written with a more stylized hand. The action is fast and furious and full of alluring weapons, crafty escapes, and graphic brutality. There's a good portion of torture on the plate and you'll feel guilty enjoying the creativity the author shows describing it. Eaten alive by genetically badass Pomeranians? Yes, please. There's a lot to love. Let's keep an eye on this author. US of J is fucking badass.

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