Ultraman: The Official Novel of the Series

By Pat Cadigan (Titan Books)
ISBN: 978-1-80336-245-8 (prose PB) eISBN: 978-1-80336-301-1

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Endless Rebirth and Renewal… 8/10

In Asia the Ultraman phenomenon was akin to the boom created by Superman in 1939. Devised by Eiji Tsuburaya, it began in 1966 with Ultra Q – a series of television adventures featuring humans fighting a different monster every week. Before the first season completed it was joined by follow-up TV show Ultraman which added a superheroic component. It began when a human pilot merged with a benevolent alien to battle a nonstop wave of kaiju and alien invasions. The idea was so successful and audience reaction so strong it birthed a whole new genre – Kyodai (giant) Hero – and rapidly expanded into all media arenas to become a multi-billion-dollar franchise.

By the 1980s Ultraman was the world’s third top-selling licensed character and a cultural touchstone for Japan and all points east. The character is ubiquitously popular in more than 100 countries. Constantly reinvented by Tsuburaya and his heirs ever since 1966, Ultraman was followed by 31 more TV series and spin-off heroes, plus 44 movies, 33 specials and as many miniseries. The number and variety of characters under the Ultra umbrella are truly mindboggling…

Eventually, ownership issues created a schism with a whole separate mythology/iconography growing up around a breakaway company faction of projects (more than 38 different ones) made in Thailand under the banner of Chaiyo Productions.

Oddly, despite a couple of mountains worth of merchandise and licensed product, Ultraman didn’t get into manga until 2011, but has sold millions of copies since then.

There has been a constant and sustained effort to crack western markets on the same scale. There’s aYouTube channel, and currently Netflix has an animated series whilst Marvel licensed the core concept for comic books.

Here we’re looking at a new prose interpretation – in English – of classic 1960s show material adapted and diligently updated by multi-award winning science fiction author Pat Cadigan (Mindplayers, The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi, Alita: Battle Angel). She has also written forthcoming companion title Ultraman: UltraSeven.

It all begins in deep space as a Being of Light pursues uncontrolled malign entity Bemular. The chase ends on a primitive world teeming with usable, harvestable energy and results in the benevolent creature merging with a native to save its life…

Agent Shin Hayata of the Science Special Search Party – AKA the Science Patrol – couldn’t believe his first encounter with a UFO but had no choice but to accept when he fatally crashed into a second one and was resurrected by it at the cost of the visitor’s own existence. As well as getting his life back, Shin also gained the power to turn into a colossal star warrior – albeit only for brief minutes at a time – which coincided with Earth (and usually Japan) becoming a most desirable location for monsters, extraterrestrial invaders and a host of other unlikely perils…

A decent do-gooder now plagued with all the usual superhero secret identity troubles, Shin works with his close-knit team of fellow Science Patrol operatives as the world endures first a mosrously mutated Bemular and in close order thereafter, invasion by illusion-casting Baltans, a trip to Tatara/Monster Island ruled by the ruthless Red King, primordial threat Gomorasaurus (which includes a boy sidekick in waiting) miracle-making alien Mefilas who was looking for a human who would sign over ownership of Earth and the far more prosaic but murderous Zetton

Ultimately, however, the biggest threat of all is when another Ultra Being manifests with a solution to all Shin’s problems…

The many worlds and dimensions of Ultraman are exotic, beguiling, infinitely fascinating and constantly renewing. Whether you fancy a quick dip into decades of mystery or intend to make the fantasy a lifetime project, you can’t do better than to start right here…
© 2023 Tsuburaya Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Ultraman: The Official Novelization will be released on December 12th 2023 and is available for pre-order now.