One from Spain

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one of the most successful Spanish writers ever. His The Shadow of the Wind is second only to Don Quixote in sales of Spanish fiction. Last month his YA fantasy novel, The Prince of the Mist, was made available in English, translated by Lucia Graves. (It is actually his first novel, but it has only just been translated.) Ruiz Zafón knows his fantasy well, as evidenced by this article for The Guardian.

Clute on Ajvaz

Over at Strange Horizons, John Clute reviews the translated novels of Czech writer, Michal Ajvaz. These are The Other City (published last year) and The Golden Age, which hit the bookstores in April and is therefore definitely eligible for our awards.

The Golden Age is translated by Andrew Oakland and published by Dalkey Archive Press. It is described as “a fantastical travelogue in which a modern-day Gulliver writes a book about a civilization he once encountered on a tiny island in the Atlantic.”

Another Russian

Niall Harrison of Torque Control writes to let us know about Living Souls, a novel by Dmitry Bykov (translated by Cathy Porter). The book appears to be a political satire and in set in Russia a few decades in the future after a civil war. Here’s an extract from the blurb:

In a world a few decades from now, Russia has lost its influence and descended into a farcical civil war. With an extreme right-wing cult in power, racial tensions have divided the country into the Varangians – those who consider themselves to be the original Aryan settlers of Russia – and the Khazars, the liberals and Jews driven out of Moscow by recent events. Morale has reached an all-time low as the brutality and pointlessness of the situation is becoming more and more apparent: what is left of the fighting now revolves around capturing and recapturing Degunino, a seemingly magical village with an abundance of pies, vodka and accommodating womenfolk.

The Times has a review here.

Japanese Literature Publishing Project

At Three Percent Chad W. Post has been talking about the Japanese Literature Publishing Project. This is an initiative of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs aimed at bringing Japanese writers to the attention of the rest of the world. Post lists a number of newly translated books, several of which are of interest to us.

Punk Samurai and the Cult (Panku samurai kirarete soro) by Ko Machida is described as a fantasy.

Colorful (Karafuru) by Eto Mori is described as a juvenile fantasy.

It isn’t clear whether Ghosts and Lower-class Samurai and Other Stories (Yukensho) by Hideyuki Kikuchi is fantastical or not, but some of Kikuchi’s novels are the basis of the highly successful manga and anime series, Vampire Hunter D.

A Scientific Mystery

Here’s a translated novel that doesn’t appear to actually be science fiction, but may well appeal to science fiction readers. Dark Matter by Germany’s Juli Zeh is a mystery novel, but the characters in the novel are physicists, and according to this review of the English translation Zeh uses this as an excuse to play with issues such as causality and the nature of time.

Penguin Central European Classics

War with the NewtsPenguin Classics are about to publish a new series of translated works by authors from Central Europe. Headlining the series is War with the Newts by Czech writer, Karel Čapek, the man who invented the term “robot”. Penguin’s blurb for the book states:

… Karel Čapek’s darkly humorous allegory of early twentieth-century Czech and Fascist politics. A colony of newts is discovered in Sumatra, they are taught to trade, use tools, but also to speak. It is clear that this new species is ripe for exploitation, but the humans have given no thought to the terrible consequences of their actions.

Check out Larry Nolen’s review here for further information.

Fortunately for other writers, Penguin’s publication is not a new translation but rather a reprint. That means it is not eligible for our awards. However, we applaud them for bringing this science fiction classic back into print.

The other books in the series are far less fantastical though, judging from this Guardian review, speculative fiction readers may well enjoy the work of Sławomir Mrozek.

Further details about the books Penguin are publishing can be found at their website.

Some Translation Links

Here are a few translation-related stories from around the blogosphere from the past few weeks:

– Jeff VanderMeer interviews Czech novelist and poet Michael Ajvaz;

– Concatenation lists Unseen Mainland European SF Classics;

– Nick Mamatas at Haikasoru blogs about one of their new releases: The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto;

– Feng Zhang writes about a famous Chinese fanzine, Xin Huan Jie (New Realms of Fantasy and Science Fiction);

– Chad W. Post reviews Edie Grossman’s Why Translation Matters;

– Tim Parks tells The Guardian why translators deserve to be noticed;

– Edward Gauvin suggests that translating might be a bit like writing science fiction.

Aurora Awards Anthology

Nanopress, a new publisher based in Quebec, is issuing an anthology of Prix Aurora Award winning stories, some of which are translated from French into English. The Auroras are Canada’s fan-voted awards, and they have traditionally had categories for both English-language and French-language fiction.

The anthology, The Aurora Awards: Thirty Years of Canadian Science Fiction, includes stories by Isaac Szpindel, James Alan Gardner, Eileen Kernaghan, Daniel Sernine, Robert J. Sawyer, Julie Czerneda, Élisabeth Vonarburg, Candas Jane Dorsey, Yves Meynard, David Nickle, Karl Schroeder, Edo Van Belkom, Hayden Trenholm, Douglas Smith, and Laurent McAllister, and has an introduction by Jean-Louis Trudel. It will be published in May. Further details here.

As we understand it, none of the translations are new this year, but some were first published last year and therefore may be looked at by our jury.

News From Eastercon

The British National Science Fiction Convention is known as Eastercon, because it always takes place over the Easter holiday weekend. This year it was held in a hotel at Heathrow airport near London, and as a consequence there were many visitors from outside of the UK. Fans and professionals attended from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Turkey (and possibly a few other non-English-speaking countries we didn’t spot).

The program offered two program items on translation. The first highlighted works that are already available in English. Many of those we have mentioned already, but one we haven’t is the Dwarves series by Markus Heitz. This has sold in huge quantities in Germany, and is now being made available in English by Orbit. The first volume, The Dwarves, was published last year while the second, The War of the Dwarves, has just been released.

The other panel was about works that have not yet been translated. One of the most interesting books mentioned was Karsta by Finnish writer, J. Pekka Mäkelä. A short story, “Thirty More Years”, set in the same world, has just been published in English translation. You can read it here. Mäkelä is a translator as well, and has been responsible for providing Finnish readers with works by Philip K. Dick, Sean Stewart and Brian Francis Slattery.