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.

2010 Jury Announced

The Jury for the inaugural translation awards will be as follows:

  • Terry Harpold, University of Florida, USA (Chair)
  • Abhijit Gupta, Jadavpur University, India
  • Dale Knickerbocker, East Carolina University, USA
  • Leith Morton, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan
  • Helen Pilinovski, CSU-San Bernardino, USA
  • Lisa Raphals, UC-Riverside, USA

We would like to thank all of the jurors for agreeing to serve and wish them luck in their task of sifting through the many fine eligible works in search of winner.

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?

Wolfe & Strahan on Translations

Our Board President, Gary K. Wolfe, has a regular podcast series produced in collaboration with his Locus colleague, Jonathan Strahan. In their most recent episode they devote much of the program to discussing the issue of science fiction and fantasy translations. You can listen to it here.

The FT on Translations

Sometimes articles on translated science fiction turn up in strangest places: like the Financial Times. Our thanks to author James Lovegrove for doing some great PR work for non-Anglophone science fiction here.

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.

De Bodard on Translation

Aliette de Bodard, a French woman who writes in English, talks about the difficulties of translation. Here’s an extract:

In Vietnamese, “to have a meal” is literally “to eat rice”. “French cuisine” is “French rice”, and so on for English cuisine or Japanese. This says a lot about the way the culture works, and could be used to inject a little “flavour” in the dialogue, but you can see that this would also create problems because it’s not a natural construction.

Read the whole thing here. (And our congratulations to Aliette on her wedding, which takes place today!)

Another Success At The Gemmells

Last year the inaugural David Gemmell Awards caused something of a stir when the best novel price (the Legend Award) went to a translated book, Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski. This year saw the introduction of a new category for debut fantasy novels, and it was won by Pierre Pevel’s The Cardinal’s Blades, translated from the French by Tom Clegg. Full details here.