- Translations August 27, 2014My Spanish class is reading Soñar en Cubano (Dreaming in Cuban) by Cristina García. We'd thought it was written in Spanish and then translated into English, but unfortunately (for us, anyway) it turned out to be the other way around, and we are reading a translation by someone named Marisol Palés. The translation is fairly good considering that García uses a lot of U.S. idioms, but there are some very weird things here. Specifically, Palés has made up a few things that aren't in the book.This paragraph, for example. In English, the original, it says, "After Ernesto died, Felicia learned from his mother that they'd been born minutes apart, on the same day, of the same year." And the Spanish: "Después de morir Ernesto, Felicia aprendió de su madre que todos volvíamos a nacer a los pocos minutos de haber muerto, en ese mismo día de ese mismo año." Which means, more or less, "After Ernesto died, Felicia learned from his mother that we all come back to be born a few minutes after death, in the same day of the same year."I mean, what the hell? The English shows how close Felicia and Ernesto were, that they might have been soul-mates. The Spanish comes out of nowhere and seems to set up some plot line based on reincarnation that can't possibly be followed up on, since the translator isn't, you know, writing the book. And I don't think there's any way this can be a misreading on her part, not when she's translated other, much harder, passages.Elsewhere she turns dawn into dusk, and has someone lying face down in the bathtub instead of on her back. Nothing that changes the meaning of the novel, but there's just no reason for any of it.I think it's the fact that I've had books translated into other languages that makes me so queasy about this. How many of my books contain parts I've never written? How would I ever know? I've had translations into Spanish, but I haven't seen them. And if I had, I'd probably be too apprehensive to read them.Anyway, all this has made me want try my hand at translating stories from Spanish to English. At least I'd know enough not to change the author's own words.________This is probably as good a place as any to mention that I've signed up for a ten-day Spanish intensive class in Costa Rica, for near the end of the year. I'm getting more excited (and a bit frazzled) as the time gets closer.
- Weekend August 24, 2014We were showing some out-of-town friends around Lake Merritt, a beautiful lake where people have picnics or rent paddle-boats or go to playgrounds -- but for some reason my attention was drawn to this part...It's a little blurry (sorry), but if you can't make it out, it's a dead tree with a flock of crows roosting in it. I don't know, maybe the morbid imagination is part of being a writer. That's what I tell everyone, anyway.
- Wildcat August 23, 2014
- New Review at LOCUS ONLINE August 22, 2014I look at the new Varley novel:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2014/08/paul-di-filippo-reviews-john-varley/
- New John Hiatt August 20, 2014Fine new song off his latest CD.
- Yay, Hugos! August 18, 2014I was hoping Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice would win the Hugo, but for some reason I felt certain that the Wheel of Time series would stomp on all the other novel nominees with a giant Monty Python-like foot. Amazingly, though, Ancillary Justice ended up winning, and by what looks like a pretty big margin. Before the voting deadline I was going to post something about how great the book was and urge people to read it, but all I could think of to say was, Hey, read this, no, really, right now, why are you still sitting there? Having gotten my thoughts more together, I can say this: Every review I've read of Ancillary Justice makes a big deal about the fact that the default pronoun in the novel is female -- she, her -- and while this is a terrific stylistic choice and means you can't take any character's gender for granted, it's only a small part of the whole. What Ancillary Justice is, is a terrific space opera, of the kind I haven't read in a long time. The main character is a giant warship, for example, a ship that once had an enormous sensory apparatus but is now in a more-or-less human body. Well, just go read it. Right now. No, really.I'm also glad Sofia Samatar won the John W. Campbell Award. Usually I end up grumbling about something after the awards are announced, but this time I agreed with nearly everything. Maybe it was just a good year, or maybe the voters were especially discerning -- and by discerning I mean, "have the same taste I do."