Classic French Language SF, Newly Translated

Three Science Fiction NovellasWesleyan University Press have sent us a copy of a new book containing translations of three novellas by Belgian author, J.-H. Rosny Aîné (Joseph-Henri Boëx, 1856–1940). A contemporary of Verne and Wells, Rosny Aîné is largely unknown in the English-speaking world, but had a key role in the development of science fiction. Like Wells and Olaf Stapledon, he had a fascination with the long-term evolution of humanity. He was also the first writer to try to imagine intelligent beings who are truly alien, as opposed to just humanoids from another world.

The book is titled Three Science Fiction Novellas: From Prehistory to the End of Mankind, and reflects Rosny Aîné’s obsession with the long view. The three stories are described by Wesleyan as follows:

“The Xipehuz” is a prehistoric tale in which the human species battles strange geometric alien life forms. “Another World” is the story of a mysterious being who does not live in the same acoustic and temporal world as humans. “The Death of the Earth” is a scientifically uncompromising Last Man story.

The translators, George Slusser and Danièle Chatelain, are well known for their studies of French literature. Professor Slusser is also the curator of the Eaton Collection of science fiction at the University of California, Riverside. The pair also contribute a lengthy introduction covering Rosny Aîné’s career and his influence on the genre.

New From Small Beer

The winner of last year’s Long Form award, A Life on Paper: Stories by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, was published by Small Beer Press. We keep an eye on what they are up to. And this month they have released an exciting new anthology of stories from Mexico. Three Messages and a Warning, edited by Eduardo Jiménez Mayo & Chris. N. Brown, contains more than thirty all-original Mexican science fiction and fantasy. For more information, and biographies of all of the featured writers, see the Small Beer website.

Thank You, Albedo One

Albedo One, the Irish SF&F magazine, has an ongoing project to publish English translations of award-winning fiction from elsewhere in Europe. Their latest issue contains “The Horse Shoe Nail” by Mari Saario which won the 2009 Atorox Award. The translation from Finnish is by Liisa Rantalaiho.

New From Finland

Finnish author, Johanna Sinisalo, has a new book out in translation this month. It is titled Birdbrain and is translated by David Hackston. The publishers, Peter Owen, have this to say about it:

Set in Australasia, Birdbrain is the story of a young Finnish couple who have embarked on the hiking trip of a lifetime, with Heart of Darkness as their only reading matter. Conrad’s dark odyssey turns out to be a prescient choice as their trip turns into a tortuous thriller with belongings disappearing and they soon find themselves at the mercy of untamed nature, seemingly directed by the local kakapo — a highly intellegent parrot threatened with extinction.

Birdbrain is a skilful portrait of the unquenchable desire of Westerners for the pure and the primitive, revealing the dark side of the explorer’s desire: the insatiable need to control, to invade and leave one’s mark on the landscape. But what happens when nature starts to fight back?

Sinisalo’s previous translated novel, Not Before Sundown (published as Troll in the USA), won the James Tiptree Jr. Award.

Russian Vampires

In September Tor will be issuing Twilight Forever Rising by Russian author Lena Meydan (translation by Andrew Bromfield). This is nothing to do with Stephanie Meyer’s blockbuster vampire series, but judging from this interview with Meydan at World SF News it does share a few themes.

A comment on the World SF News post appears to suggest that Meydan is a pen name for a group of Russian writers including Alexei Pekhov. Can anyone confirm this?

USVA International

The Finnish fiction magazine, Usva (The Mist), publishes occasional English-language issues. The latest one, Usva International 2010, was published at this year’s Finncon. It contains translations of stories by Katja Salminen, Marika Riikonen, Marketta Niemelä, Carita Forsgren, Marko Hautala, and Tomi Jänkälä. All of these are eligible for our short fiction award. The whole magazine is available online as a PDF. Congratulations to editor Anne Leinonen for promoting Finnish writers in this way.

A Seiun Winner

Haikasoru, the specialist in publishing translated Japanese SF, is about to release a novel that won Japan’s prestigious Seiun Award in 2009. Harmony, by Project Itoh, is a social satire about health care which is all the more poignant as its author was dying of cancer when he wrote it. The book also promises entertaining style. Haikasoru’s Nick Mamatas has this to say:

Harmony is an unapologetic example of “stained glass” writing, where the beauty of the prose comes out. At the same time, however, the book isn’t a lyrical excursion on to the far reaches of language—now that would have been murder to translate—but is actually cool and fun.

Examination of the cover picture suggests that the translator is Alexander O. Smith who has also worked on Final Fantasy games and the Full Metal Alchemist novels.

Finns Get Wired

Over at Wired, Bruce Sterling has run a press release from leading Finnish magazine editor, Toni Jerrman, about the fine Finnish science fiction available in English at the moment. We contacted Toni and asked for information about translations.

Hannu Rajaniemi is a very clever guy. There’s no mention of a translator for “Elegy for a Young Elk” so he probably did it himself, but the English publication is, we believe, new this year. We suspect that The Quantum Thief was written directly in English.

Johanna Sinisalo’s story, ”Bear’s Bride”, was translated by Liisa Rantalaiho.

Tiina Raevaara “My creator, my creation” was translated by Hildi Hawkins & Soila Lehtonen.

J. Pekka Mäkelä’s ”Thirty More Years” was translated by Owen F. Witesman.

We believe that all of these stories are eligible for our awards. (The Mäkelä was translated in 2009, but apparently not published until this year.)