Michael John Grist is a science-fiction & fantasy author and ruins photographer who lives in Tokyo, Japan.
His short stories have been published in numerous fiction magazines (such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaselesss Skies, & Ideomancer), as well as in two short story collections- The Bells of Subsidence and Bone Diamond.
Michael’s explorations and photographs of Japan’s modern ruins (haikyo) have earned millions of hits and been featured in books, magazines, documentary movies and national newspapers, and are now collected in the travelogue / memoir- Ruins of the Rising Sun – Adventures in Abandoned Japan.
See his recent posts here.
The Bells of Subsidence
Aliqa’s mind has been erased, every memory lost to the endless reticulations of the branes, but for one single word that haunts her- Temetry.
With it comes an abiding hope for salvation, perhaps for the salvation of every single Bell in Subsidence’s ancient fleet, but first she must hunt it down, though she doesn’t even know what it is.
The Bells of Subsidence is a collection of 9 science fiction stories, filled with ruined intergalactic civilizations, lonely robots, and AI that could destroy the world.
Readers have said:
- “Intriguing … atmospheric … other-worldly … excellent.”
- “The images are striking and euphonious, and the story is moving.”
- “Smart, sophisticated, … stunning … epic plots that race across the universe, but always revolve and seek resolution in the human heart.”
Read more and buy at:
When a lowly jeweler in ancient Egypt finds an enormous yellow diamond lodged in the clavicle of a Nile river crocodile, he strikes for riches, selling it to the richest man in Memphis, a living god, the Pharaoh.
Then the Pharaoh demands more, beginning a greed-soaked descent into terror, madness, and murder, with diamonds for all, and diamonds in all, and the blood-red eye of Ra ascendant.
Bone Diamond tells nine weird short stories that delve into a surreal and magical world, separated from our own by the most gossamer of veils, rife with horror, mystery, madness, and hope.
Readers have said:
- “Magical …. poetic … out-of-the-box … a little gem.”
- “The dark insanity in this story develops out of greed and terror and self-loathing, until all healthy logic in one person is destroyed. Human life becomes as expendable as filthy Nile water. A very satisfying ending.”
- “Wow. Horrifying and compelling and poignant. This one is going to stick with me.”
Read more and buy at:
Ruins of the Rising Sun – Adventures in Abandoned Japan
For five years MJG explored and photographed over 100 of the most beautiful and haunting modern ruins in Japan (haikyo), from abandoned theme parks and ghost towns to deserted love hotels and relics of World War II.
He documented these explorations with photographs and stories, earning millions of hits on his website and featuring in books, magazines, blogs, national newspapers, and a documentary movie.
Ruins of the Rising Sun tells the best of all those adventures. Through a compelling coming-of-age journey, salted throughout with gorgeous photographs and fascinating snippets of history, poetry, philosophy, and fiction, it exposes a bizarre and forgotten Japan most people will never have the chance to see, in a book that is part Japan travelogue, part memoir, and utterly unique.
Along with MJG:
- Stay overnight alone in the haunted ruins of a remote jungle theme park.
- Venture inside the mysterious black interior of a corporate cult’s underground bunker.
- Burrow through dirt in a long-hidden World War II munitions tunnel.
- Climb up the rusted rails of a massive wooden rollercoaster in a dead Disney-clone theme park.
- Explorations of over 40 of Japan’s best ruins.
- Over 200 stunning photographs.
- Map coordinates to every location in the book.
- Links to extensive additional material.
Readers have said:
- “Gorgeous, haunting, stunning memento mori photos… fascinating text commentary… I guarantee you will start fantasizing about exploring haikyo yourself.” – Barry Eisler, bestselling author of the John Rain books.
- “As always with MJG’s work I found myself immediately engrossed in the ambiance of his writing style & the visuals it produces. The photos are amazing & give such a beautiful taste & perspective on where you’re reading about so that you can truly imagine being there!”
- “I’ve lived in Japan for over 23 years and thought I knew all there was about Japan. This book opened my eyes to a whole other world yet to be known.”
Read more and buy at:
Saint Ignifer’s Rise (upcoming)
Michael is currently working on a heroic fantasy novel called Saint Ignifer’s Rise, the first book in the Ignifer Cycle, a trilogy.
The fate of the world is written in scars.
In a bleak industrial city where scars in skin are a sentence to death, Sen is a child condemned. Marked with a thousand looping patterns carved by his own mother’s hand, hunted by the burning black Rot in the sky, he leads a secret life in the city’s last abbey, adrift on an ocean of minds he senses dimly through his scars.
Then the King’s brutal Adjunc break into the abbey and start killing, and Sen must flee. Led into the city’s abandoned slumlands by a memory of his long-dead mother, driven half-mad by the overwhelming minds of the city’s many castes, he begins a search for the truth behind his scars. Through black sewers and the lava-buried ruins of a once-great city, he uncovers a conspiracy three thousand years in the making: an apocalypse god is rising, and only the legendary hero Saint Ignifer can stop it.
But Saint Ignifer is dead.
With just five children of wildly different castes at his sides, Sen must foment a revolution to raise the Saint to life, and ultimately confront the impossible fate written in his scars- within the volcano’s caldera, at the end of the world, before the black jaws of the apocalypse descend.
For the Rot is coming, and the Saint must rise.
- Read more about Saint Ignifer’s Rise here.
Michael was born in Manchester, England, to an American mother and British father, in 1980. He was raised in Bolton, where as a kid he wrote snippets of fantasy stories and explored the horse’s field behind his house. Nothing much has changed since then, except the snippets became full stories and the horse’s field got a whole lot bigger.
In his childhood summers he visited his family in Kentucky, where he learnt how to make s’mores, enjoyed night-time hay-rides, and worked in his uncle’s bike shop. In his late teens he worked at a summer camp for disadvantaged kids in Massachusetts, and after graduating high school in the UK he went (glutton for punishment, yes) to high school again, in Indiana, on an exchange program for two semesters. It was there that he first took creative writing classes, and started work on his first novel (which is now maturing on his hard drive like a fine wine). He also took a Greyhound trip around the country (six days and nights on a bus), which reinforced his thirst for exploration.
In 2003 he came to Japan, and began to explore the country’s modern ruins, known as haikyo, ultimately visiting over 100 locations, and posting many of them to this website with photographs and stories of each exploration, often packed with adventure, historical background, and some lovely descriptive passages :).
Throughout this ten-year tenure in Japan, Michael also got more serious about writing fiction, getting numerous short stories published in semi- and pro-level fiction magazines in America, Australia, and the UK, resulting in him publishing two collections of short stories, The Bells of Subsidence and Bone Diamond.
He also got married.
After countless efforts and close calls to get a publisher for his ruins / haikyo book, Michael decided to publish it himself. Ruins of the Rising Sun – Adventures in Abandoned Japan is a hybrid Japan travelogue / memoir telling his story of self-discovery and redemption in and through the ruins of Japan. Barry Eisler the bestselling thriller writer loves it!
Now Michael enjoys the odd game of squash and badminton, working out in the gym, going to ruins, and of course writing stories and novels. He’s currently working on the fantasy epic Saint Ignifer’s Rise. He lives in central Tokyo with his wife and their pet King Frog, and works as an English lecturer at university.
You can contact Michael about use of photos, potential advertising offers, and most anything else by emailing michaeljohngrist @ hotmail.com (after removing the spaces)
- As a fun little grace note, you can learn more about the design and evolution of this website here.