New English translation of Lem's Solaris

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New English translation of Lem's Solaris

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jun 21, 2011, 7:46am

Noted here. Only as an audiobook so far - odd. The familiar English version is actually retranslated from a French translation.

jun 21, 2011, 9:24am

About time too. Unfortunately I read this -

Before you get all excited, though, the bad news is that while Lem’s family apparently love Johnston’s work, they’ve also said a paper edition of the new translation is “impossible due to legal issues,” although they hope that “recognition of the new translation might persuade the publisher to rethink their position.” In the meantime, the new version will be available as an eBook “within six months.”

His books seem to hit and miss re the translations - some from the French and some from Polish. I think Michael Kandel did the ones from Polish, which are the ones to get.

It would be good to see some new translations of the Strugatskys but I doubt it will happen (Boris won't take the original Russian texts off his website). (I'm currently reading Roadside Picnic and even with the dodgy translation it is still worthwhile).

sep 3, 2011, 11:24am

I know this is an old topic... but actually, there's going to be a new translation of Roadside Picnic!

sep 3, 2011, 11:38am

Oooh! Link?

sep 3, 2011, 11:40am

No link yet... I actually translated it, and I thought I'd spread the word :).

I have a copy of the cover, too, but I don't know if I can post that here?

sep 3, 2011, 11:47am

I know, I know... Self-promotion is kind of sketchy -- but it really is legit. It's going to be published by Chicago Review Press ( in April 2012.

I can also give short samples of the text, if people have a particular place in mind :).

sep 3, 2011, 2:15pm

LT is more against non sequitur promotion. I certainly don't mind pertinent info like this. Thanks!

sep 3, 2011, 2:20pm

Touchstone: Roadside Picnic

Horrorshow novosti! ;)

sep 3, 2011, 2:35pm

Thanks for adding the touchstone -- I'm a newbie, so I wasn't sure how to do that! (ah, now I see there are instructions on the side. How silly of me.)

Good news indeed -- but am I missing something with the 'horrorshow' bit? ;)

sep 3, 2011, 3:24pm

Jolly Good. Anything that gets that stuff back into print is a good thing :-)

sep 3, 2011, 3:30pm

Indeed! Of course, I assume everyone knows that the old translation is available online?

sep 3, 2011, 5:26pm

>9 square_25:

Ты не прочитал A Clockwork Orange? Horrorshow = хорошо.

sep 3, 2011, 5:32pm

Oh, I see (re: A Clockwork Orange)! No, I'm sad to say that I tried to read it, didn't get into it, and put it down. I know it's supposed to be a great book...

Do you speak Russian, anglemark?

sep 3, 2011, 6:16pm

Hope you see fit to fill out your library and stay a while, square_25. You might check to see whether being a translator qualifies you to be an LT Author - I've not looked at the rules for that but I don't see why not.

sep 3, 2011, 6:21pm

When they get the time to finish the Other Authors stuff they are working on, it will be much more common for Works* to list both co-authors and translator along with the "primary" author. As such, they'd have their own author pages with all their works on them as well. So I would think translator would be just fine as an LT Author.

* Of course, translator isn't necessarily a "work" level aspect as much as a "book" or "edition" aspect.

sep 3, 2011, 6:31pm

Thanks! This the only book I've translated so far, to be honest -- mainly out of my frustration with the old translation, which I thought was far worse than the original book.

What did you guys think of the old translation? If anyone wants to see it, it's available here:

sep 3, 2011, 7:08pm

I have an old paperback with Roadside Picnic and Tale of the Troika. I liked the translation pretty well, but couldn't compare it with the original. Will be interested to see yours.

Looking at Chicago Rev Press' site, the Strugatskys seem a bit removed from their usual subjects. May I ask, how'd you end up there?

sep 3, 2011, 11:36pm

Yes, I wondered about that myself! The thing is, they found me, not the other way around -- at some point, I contacted Strugatsky's agent and told him I have this translation (which was then half done), and he promised that if an interested publisher gets in touch, he'd tell him about me. And then they got in touch around April.

I asked the editor I've been corresponding with why they were interested in Roadside Picnic, and they said they've had some luck reprinting historical fiction, and wanted to expand to science fiction. And I guess Roadside Picnic is classical (if sadly not very well known) science fiction.

sep 4, 2011, 3:29am

>13 square_25: I speak a bit of Russian. Used to speak a lot more, but time flies and skills deteriorate. I'm not sure whether A Clockwork Orange is a "great" book, but it's a very interesting one. Kubrick's movie is better known, of course.

Translations of the Strugatski brothers were prominent in Sweden when I grew up in the 70s. I'd say most science fiction fans here who are in their forties or older are very familiar with them.

sep 4, 2011, 11:27am

I'm always surprised how unfamiliar people in the US are with them, though -- they were very famous in Ukraine when I grew up... I always figured they would be well-known even in translation, but that didn't turn out to be the case.

sep 4, 2011, 11:49am

I think in the 70s and 80s they got alot of exposure in the US via DAW and other publishers. Hartwell featured them in his World Treasury of Science Fiction. So at one time they were much better known.

sep 4, 2011, 12:24pm

Thanks for the link, square_25; I downloaded it to my phone and it gave me something to read in the wee hours of the night while trying to convince my son to sleep. I'm about 15% in and enjoying it. In content, it reminds me of of the short story Flashmen by Terry Dowling (or I should say vice versa, since Roadside came first). Both are stories of bizarre alien invasions.

But in writing style it reminds me most of Catch-22. It seems to have the same sort of cynical, ironic and sarcastic tone. Plus both had this 1950s vibe to me. I wonder how much of that is due to the translation, though. Any comment on that? It seems like it would be weird that I'd detect a 1950s tone, given that I'd base that on American cultural touchstones which would be pretty different to a Russian writer. Maybe it's the military context that's doing it for me, and the fact that I read Catch-22 so recently.

sep 4, 2011, 12:37pm

No problem, brightcopy! Although I have to admit, I'd prefer that people felt some dissatisfaction with the old translation -- I feel like its rhythm and dialogue are off (hence the new translation, of course.) But then I suppose most people don't have the original to compare to...

Yes, it has a 1950s vibe to me, too. I think that's partially the vocabulary of the translation, and partially the tone of the original -- I wound up using modern vocabulary in mine, and I've still had the comment that it sounds like a "hardboiled detective novel" (that might be earlier than 1950s, but same idea.) I'd guess that this is somehow related to the character of Redrick?

sep 4, 2011, 12:51pm

Very interesting! Reading a few Lem books (and unfortunately being limited to only English and a very superficial Spanish), I always wonder at how much of the original author I'm reading versus the translator. Really good writing is so closely tied in to using the language to its fullest. It's almost like a co-author situation where the original author came up with the idea and the plot outline and the translator did the actual writing.

I also keep wondering if that's why I loved Peace on Earth (Ford/Kandel) but Fiasco (Kandel) left me cold. Or maybe I just didn't like Fiasco. :D

sep 4, 2011, 1:35pm

square_25, do you know about Red Plenty? The ending of Roadside Picnic is used there as an expression of people's hopes for a better life, during the Krushchev era.

Redigeret: sep 4, 2011, 1:51pm

All right, I decided to put the new cover up online. Here it is:

sep 4, 2011, 2:07pm

brightcopy: Yes, I'd say that it really is very much like a co-author situation: that's a good way to put it. Of course, if the original book is good (and the translator is at all competent), then at least the ideas will come through; but the writing style and many of the subtler nuances can be lost. The Strugatskys actually have very good prose in Russian, and the stories are fairly character-driven, so bad translations can be extremely disappointing. (On the other hand, for a book like "Roadside Picnic," the philosophical musings do make it through. This makes the novel worthwhile either way.)

What I'd really like to have happen is for people to become aware of the Strugatskys again, so there's some demand for their books. Then my publisher might commission more translations... It's been a really fun hobby, so I'd like to keep it up!

dukedome_enough: I didn't know about Red Plenty, actually! (I've now read a bit on the LT page on it, of course.) It would be very interesting for me to read -- I'm born in the former USSR, but I don't really have a good grasp on what the world was like back then...

sep 4, 2011, 2:13pm

Excellent cover, and good for you for getting Le Guin for a foreword.

sep 4, 2011, 2:16pm

Yes, it's awesome that they got Le Guin, but I'll have to admit that's not on me -- that was all the publisher. You know, come to think of it, I haven't even seen the foreword... Maybe I should ask about it!

sep 4, 2011, 5:02pm

That's a very nice cover!

(Though I'm not sure how much the "video game" bit will help/hurt sales.)

sep 4, 2011, 5:08pm

Oh, and thanks for the correction in the other thread on it being published in April 2012. That should give me plenty of time to forget it. :D

Be sure to pop back into this thread when it's out and remind us all.

One unfortunate thing is that it'll be combined into the existing work. But the reviews in the existing work have lots of comments on the current translation. This will become very confusing!

sep 4, 2011, 5:52pm

I don't think it's Kandel, brightcopy; his translation of Cyberiad is sheer genius. I've not read the original, but anything that can preserve the sort of wordplay in that, especially in How the world was saved, is worthy of awe. As it happens I just finished Fiasco, and it was okay, but I wasn't blown away by it (whereas Cyberiad is one of my favorite books); not only was it unremittingly bleak, but I found the characters' behavior implausible throughout.

sep 4, 2011, 6:09pm

I like it when Lem does bleak. Loved His Master's Voice. So I should check out Fiasco.

I agree on Cyberiad. That sequence where Trurl and Klapaucius invent a machine that makes everything beginning with "n" disappear from reality...Kandel must've had to reinvent the entire sequence. (Did I get those character names right? From memory...)

I should take a chance on the Solaris audiobook, even though audiobooks aren't really my medium.

sep 4, 2011, 10:09pm

Amusingly, when I was posting on another forum, someone mentioned that the video game made them interested in Roadside Picnic ;). I doubt it'll hurt sales -- I can't imagine that would deter anyone except people who have never heard of it, and those people probably weren't going to buy it anyway...

I'm not actually sure what you mean by this, brightcopy: "One unfortunate thing is that it'll be combined into the existing work. But the reviews in the existing work have lots of comments on the current translation. This will become very confusing!" Do you mean that it'll be hard to tell from the reviews which one people are talking about?

sep 4, 2011, 10:10pm

And yes, I will certainly pop in and remind people when it comes out!

sep 4, 2011, 11:36pm

#32 by lorax> I do believe it is Kandel. I don't think there is any other published English translation of Fiasco. Believe me, I looked quite a bit since it's such a highly rated book (trying to figure out why my opinion diverged so greatly). I just found so much of it to be long stretches where nothing was happening. So it's not that it was bleak that bothered me; it's that it was boring. I literally fell asleep on multiple occasions trying to get through the first chapter. That's never a good sign. One of the few reviews I've written was for this book, so check it out if you want to hear more.

It's hard for me to tell how much of it is the translation and how much the original plot. Again, I loved Peace on Earth, so I know I can really get into Lem. Definitely going to give Cyberiad a shot (along with two I already have: Mortal Engines and Tales of Pirx the Pilot).

You have any comment on this particular one, square_25? Don't know if you read Polish as well. If you do, have you ever done any comparison of the English versions with the original?

And yes, I did mean that it will be hard to tell from the reviews which translation they are talking about. LT isn't very smart (yet) about attributing reviews to specific editions of works. If you dig down to the member's library, you could find the book the review was attached to. Of course, sloppy catalogers may not catalog the exact book even then.

sep 5, 2011, 12:12am

I don't read any Polish, unfortunately. I've only read Lem in the Russian translation, and only Solaris and a few short stories at that. For what it's worth, I find Lem's prose (at least in the Russian rendition) a little tedious in general, even though I think he has fantastic ideas.

Here's hoping that people say the words "new translation" when they talk about the book, I guess :). By the way, brightcopy, how are you doing with the old translation?

sep 5, 2011, 5:20am

Re - Fiasco - the translation is definitely by Kandel, it is the only one available.

sep 5, 2011, 10:53am

#37 by square_25> Yeah, you may be right about the "new translation" bit.

I'm about half way through and still enjoying it. One annoyance, though, is that the OCR that led to this file definitely wasn't perfect. Lots of "fl" becoming "B", "th" becoming "ti", etc. So I wouldn't worry too much about the file being available on their website. I'd still really like to read your translation of it. Since this is the first of their works I've read, I have no real flavor of their writings to compare against.

sep 5, 2011, 10:59am

Yeah, it's really not great. And there's this weird place where there's a whole paragraph missing -- see if you can spot it... (It's bizarre -- a sentence from one paragraph just transitions to a sentence from half a page down.)

Let me know if you want an excerpt to compare the two, brightcopy. (Although perhaps it's easier to just wait for it to come out?)

sep 5, 2011, 11:06am

> 27 & others: 'Red Plenty' is an excellent book; it reads like sf, except that the science is statistics and cybernetics as applied to centralised industrial planning, and the alien culture it takes place within is the Soviet Union. (Someone once described the Communist world as 'the only alternate reality we had'.)

Francis Spufford is a science journalist in the UK who has made the 1950s in particular his field of study. He attends quite a few sf conventions in the UK and is generally considered One Of Us...

sep 5, 2011, 11:09am

Whilst we're in this vein, can I also recommend Adam Roberts' Yellow blue tibia, which can't decide whether it's sf or a Russian absurdist satire?

sep 5, 2011, 12:26pm

I've just started Red Plenty. Enjoying it so far. And I've read Yellow Blue tibia, though I thought the first half of the book better than the second.

sep 5, 2011, 4:19pm

I've read, and greatly admire, both Red Plenty and Yellow Blue Tibia (as well as the old translation of Roadside Picnic - looking forward to the new one!)

sep 5, 2011, 6:08pm

What is it with these Russian themed covers and incorporating Cyrillic?? To a Russian speaker, the cover of Yellow Blue Tibia now looks like Yellosch Bltsa Tibia...

Thanks, dukedom_enough! I'm really hoping people get reminded of the existence of the Strugatsky brothers. By the way, has anyone here read other books by them? I'm going to translate more of them, and I'm not sure which one to tackle next...

sep 6, 2011, 2:16am

When Jon Courtenay Grimwood's Arabesk trilogy of Pashazade, Effendi and Felaheen was first published, it had Arabic script on the cover. Unfortunately, they'd done it back to front...

Redigeret: sep 6, 2011, 7:22am


I must confess that Roadside Picnic is the only Strugatsky I've read. Suggestions for the next one? I have copies of Noon: 22d Century and The Snail on the Slope around somewhere.

sep 6, 2011, 10:54am

dukedom_enough: it's a little hard for me to know which ones to recommend, since I feel like they lose a lot in translation... but let's see, I did like "Hard to be a God" and "Beetle in the Anthill." I think both translations do exist.

Surprisingly, I actually haven't read the ones you have! I've heard lots of praise for The Snail on the Slope in its Russian version, though...

Redigeret: sep 6, 2011, 11:22am

#47 by dukedom_enough> You're not the only one. In fact, I'd probably never had even heard of the Strugatsky's if not for this thread...

sep 6, 2011, 5:22pm

I have a vague memory of having heard or read, somewhere, that a book or story by the Strugatskiys was the first SF story read by a person actually in orbit around the Earth. Maybe it was Alexei Leonov? Does anyone else remember hearing that? Web search isn't helping.

sep 7, 2011, 7:11am

#42, 43 & 44
I read Yellow Blue Tibia and enjoyed it, probably with a similar view to Ian in relation to the first versus second half.

Red Plenty is a book I bought having read Ken MacLeod's blog write up on the book and learning that it was about applying all the mathematical planning technicques I'd used in my earlier working life for planning the Soviet Union. I've yet to read it, but following the comments here and the those on another discussion thread, I will be pushing it well up the TBR pile.

For those of you that enjoyed Yellow Blue Tibia, you might enjoy some of Vladimir Voinovich's work, e.g. The Fur Hat or The life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin. It's not Science Fiction, but is Russian satire and has a great sense of atmosphere, which I think Adam Roberts managed to capture in YBT.

Roadside Picnic has cropped up on my radar in a number of places over the past few weeks, so I sense an new item for mount TBR coming on.

sep 7, 2011, 7:26am

Anyone in London on Friday? There's a 'Lemistry' event at the British Library:

sep 7, 2011, 7:32am


Thank you. And Ari Folman is making a film of The Futurological Congress; how cool is that!?

sep 7, 2011, 6:46pm

I'd enter a plea for a new translation of Far rainbow.

I also get irritated by mis-use of cyrillic in advertising and jacket design. It's not always deliberate, though. There's a big chain of toy supermarkets that I cannot help but think of as "Toys Ya Us".

sep 7, 2011, 7:56pm

I also get irritated by mis-use of cyrillic in advertising and jacket design.

But it's not Cyrillic; it's Roman designed to look like Cyrillic. I've also seen Roman lettering designed to look (vaguely) like Chinese, Arabic, Devanagari, etc., but nobody mistakes them for "misuse of Chinese", etc.

sep 7, 2011, 8:22pm

RobertDay: Yes, I know what you mean about Toys R Us! It drives me insane...

PaulFolley: I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that. Unlike with Chinese and Arabic, the letters on the front cover of Yellow Blue Tibia are precise copies of Cyrillic letters. (The alphabets are close enough for it to look similar to the Roman letters they are changing.) Same with Toys R Us...

sep 8, 2011, 1:45am

They're not intended for use writing Russian, etc.; of course they use the letters that look exactly the same (A, B, C, etc.) for their normal Roman use, and Cyrillic letters that look like Roman letters (И for "N", Я for "R", Ш or Щ for "W", etc.), but they're just slightly oddly shaped / reversed Roman letters. Because the alphabets look so similar, they can use actual Cyrillic letter-shapes, which doesn't work for Chinese, etc.; though a few of these are "precise copies of Chinese characters", too: doesn't make it a Chinese font :)

sep 8, 2011, 10:07am

I see what you're saying -- I was really only grousing about the fact that it distracts an actual Russian reader. It takes me sufficiently longer to interpret things written like that to be a real annoyance. I'm sure this doesn't happen with someone who doesn't know Cyrillic...

sep 8, 2011, 11:06am

By coincidence, on the same day the topic of abuse of the Cyrillic letters by publishers started, I happened across a review of Red Plenty by a polyglot friend of mine, nwhyte, and he got quite irrate about the subject.

His view of the book was very positive, but the publisher's use of Cyrillic letters on the cover really irked him.

sep 8, 2011, 12:13pm

I'm reading Red Plenty at the moment. Enjoying it.

sep 8, 2011, 12:36pm

The Cyrillic thing reminds me of the annoying trend of adding numbers into movie and videogame titles. Was kinda edgy and cool with Se7en. But went downhill fast. Thir13en Ghosts, L4yer Cak3 and *shudder* 5nal Destination.

sep 8, 2011, 3:03pm

Yesterday morning my breakfast was disturbed when Sky News featured a report entitled "txtbk English" in which some academic praised messages sent in txt-speak as poetic. :-(

Eyes of the beholder, I suspect.

sep 8, 2011, 5:36pm

Don't get me started on txt-speak... I'll sound like a fuddy-duddy, and I'm not old enough!

Any other requests for Strugatsky works? Anyone read Hard to be a God in the old translation? How about Monday Begins on Saturday?

sep 9, 2011, 4:20am

#63 Is "Monday Begins on Saturday" about a muslim country? I remember being in Saudi and the weekend for me was Thursday and Friday.

sep 9, 2011, 11:58am

Hah, this is why I don't like the translation of the title. No, really the implication of the title is "The work week begins on Saturday" -- it's about scientists' enthusiasm for their work, I guess.

sep 9, 2011, 12:19pm

I have two physicists in my immediate family. I don't think they see an end or beginning to the week.

sep 9, 2011, 1:31pm

Yes, I'm a mathematician so I suppose I know how that goes... Although I suppose that doesn't hold if one has to teach.

sep 9, 2011, 1:36pm

I finished up reading Roadside Picnic. Overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought the ending was a little disappointing, though.

I'm afraid I never spotted the missing/incomplete paragraph. Part of it was that with the bad OCR job it would often feel like the needle skipped a bit anyway.

I'd love to have an excerpt to compare, square_25. Maybe something from part 4 (or the whole of part 4, if that still falls under "excerpt"). I still can't feel like I can comment on the quality of the translation because I have no idea how the original feels. A second translation might help me triangulate (biangulate?) on it, though.

sep 9, 2011, 1:49pm

#67 I suppose that doesn't hold if one has to teach.
They are both doing their PhDs so the only teaching involves supervising some laboratory classes and correcting example sheet exercises.

sep 9, 2011, 2:33pm

pgmcc: Interesting! I did a bunch of teaching as a graduate student... But yes, it's a particularly unstructured lifestyle.

brightcopy: I probably won't give out all of part 4 (I think my publisher would kill me... ;)), but I haven't yet decided what excerpt to post. I was vaguely considering just posting the first 10-15 pages, but possibly that's not very exciting. Input is much appreciated...

sep 9, 2011, 2:43pm

No problem. I misunderstood that you were going to send it privately rather than post it publicly. You certainly don't want to post the ending! Plus my sense of how long part 4 was is probably off. I read it from the text file on my phone (in bits and pieces while holding a half-asleep baby). I was actually a little thrown when I was adding it to my catalog to see it tagged as "novel". In my mind, I was thinking "short story"!

I thought about saying the beginning, but I think the interview with Pilman, while funny and fascinating, is not as indicative of the rest of the story which primarily centers around Red. Perhaps the first 10-15 pages of Part 1?

sep 9, 2011, 2:55pm

Yes, it's definitely more about Red than not... On the other hand, the interview is a neat little introduction to the world and concepts... It's hard to know!

sep 9, 2011, 3:09pm

Well, I'd say all the comments I mentioned above about the 50s military tone of the piece were all about everything after the interview. So if it was just the interview, I don't know that I'd really be able to tell much difference in translations regarding the whole of the work.

sep 9, 2011, 3:18pm

By the way, brightcopy, here's the missing paragraph:

Yes, I'd like to know how this will all end. Well, ten years ago, I was
sure I knew. Impenetrable police lines. DMZ twenty miles wide. Scientists
and soldiers, and no one else. The horrible sore on the face
of an odor that he had long ago given up trying to identify, and he threw open the door at
the end of the corridor and went in. Instead of the secretary there was a
very tan, unfamiliar young man at the desk. He was in shirtsleeves. He was
digging around in the guts of some electronic device that was set up on the
desk instead of the typewriter. Richard Noonan hung up his coat and hat,
smoothed what was left of his hair with both hands, and looked inquiringly
at the young man. He nodded. Noonan opened the door to the office.

sep 9, 2011, 3:22pm

Weird, they must have fixed it because that paragraph was in the text file I downloaded.

sep 9, 2011, 3:29pm

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear -- doesn't the sentence "The horrible sore on the face
of an odor that he had long ago given up trying to identify, and he threw open the door at
the end of the corridor and went in." sound a little bizarre to you?

sep 9, 2011, 3:39pm

Ah, I see what you're saying. Yeah, obvious now. But that's the kind of OCR garbling I came to glaze over in this copy so my brain just didn't register it anymore. Can you post the missing paragraph? I'd think such a short bit would fall under fair use.

sep 9, 2011, 3:43pm

Sure, I'll just post it from mine -- the actual book isn't missing it in the old translation, of course. I'll post all of the three paragraphs that it's mashed up from:

"Yes, I'd like to know how all this will end. By the way, about ten years ago I knew with absolute certainty what would happen. Impenetrable police lines. A belt of empty land fifty miles wide. Scientists and soldiers, no one else. A hideous sore on the face of the planet permanently sealed off . . . And the funny thing is, it seemed like everybody thought this, not just me. The speeches that were made, the bills that were proposed! . . . And now you can't even remember how all this unanimous steely resolve suddenly evaporated into thin air. “On the one hand, we are forced to admit, on the other hand, we can't dispute . . .” And it all seems to have started when the stalkers brought the first spacells out of the Zone. The batteries . . . Yes, I think that's really how it started. Especially when it was discovered that spacells multiply. It turned out that the sore wasn't such a sore: maybe it wasn't a sore at all, but instead, a treasure trove . . . And now no one has a clue what it is—a sore, a treasure trove, an evil temptation, Pandora's box, a monster, a demon . . . We're using it bit by bit. We've struggled for twenty years, wasted billions, but we still haven't stamped out the organized theft. Everyone makes their bit on the side, while the learned men pompously hold forth: on the one hand, we are forced to admit, on the other hand, we can't dispute, because object so-and-so, when irradiated with X-rays at an eighteen degree angle, emits quasi-heated electrons at a twenty-two degree angle . . . The hell with it! One way or another, I won't live till the end . . .

The car was rolling past the Vulture Burbridge's mansion. Because of the torrential rain, the whole house was lit up—in the second story windows, in gorgeous Dina's rooms, you could see dancing pairs moving to the music. Either they've been up since dawn, or they're still going strong from last night. That's the fashion in town nowadays—parties round the clock. A vigorous generation we've raised, hardworking and untiring in their pursuits . . .

Noonan stopped the car in front of an unprepossessing building with a modest sign—"Law Firm of Corsh, Corsh, and Saymack." He took the spacell out and put it in his pocket, pulled his raincoat over his head again, grabbed his hat, and made a headlong rush inside—past the porter, absorbed in his newspaper, and up the stairs, covered with threadbare carpet; then he ran, heels tapping on the floor, along a dark second story hallway permeated with a distinctive odor he had long stopped trying to identify. He opened the door at the end of the hallway and entered the waiting room. Behind the secretary's desk sat an unfamiliar, very tanned young man. He wasn't wearing his jacket, and his shirtsleeves were rolled up. He was rummaging in the guts of some complicated electronic device that had replaced the typewriter on top of the desk. Richard Noonan hung his raincoat and hat on a hook, smoothed down the remnants of his hair with both hands, and looked inquiringly at the young man. He nodded. Then Noonan opened the door to the office."

sep 9, 2011, 4:05pm


Interesting that you chose to replace "buzzard" with "vulture". Didn't like the alliteration? :D

Having looked it up in wikipedia, I'm guessing it's because some birds we call "hawk" in the North America, they call "buzzard" elsewhere (and probably more properly). I can see how calling him Buzzard Burbidge outside of NA might make him seem far more noble than is the author's intention. Too bad, though, as Vulture Burbidge just doesn't have the same ring.

sep 9, 2011, 4:08pm

Nah, I'm from North America. Vultures seemed more evil, somehow!

sep 9, 2011, 4:09pm

Buzzard aside, do those paragraphs sound reasonable?

sep 11, 2011, 3:17pm

Ok, I ordered Stalker the movie from netflix and watched it over a two day period breaking it into sessions. Watching the first session late at night I caught myself snoring twice while the characters onscreen were becoming "very tired" and nodding off also. the film is 2 hours 43 minutes long but seems like 4 hours.

To me the flick is mostly dialogue driven although the film maker made good use of the cinematic techniques that were available. Some heavy handed stuff I even noticed ; like at the beginning as the trekkers were sitting at a table at their first meeting, the camera started with a long shot where they were barely distinguishable from each other as dark - almost silhouettes. The camera then started to close in on the group revealing more of their features as they were simultaneously introducing and explaining themselves and we learned more about each character. So by the time we had the background on each traveler they filled the frame with close ups. Near the end as they were breaking up the group a similar scene was used as the camera went from close up to far away.

I have never read the book but as far as the film is concerned to me it is an academic exercise that is made tolerable by placing it in historic context, as someone has mentioned before. The film dialogue reminded me of Waiting for Godot and the constant dark tension with no real resolution was depressing. I am guessing this philosophical stuff had to be sneaked under the noses of a far reaching iron government, as was their trip to the "room"?

I am thinking I would like the book better perhaps.

sep 11, 2011, 3:24pm

I've actually never watched Stalker (shameful for a translator of the book, I know!), but I've heard that it's famously hard to watch. The book is very, very different -- it still has very interesting philosophical themes and musings, but it's quite gripping and readable. It was one of my favorites as a kid :).

sep 11, 2011, 4:53pm

The movie is wonderful. Dreamlike and bleak, a compelling and highly unusual combination. Ah, Tarkovskij. The man was a genius.

sep 11, 2011, 6:03pm

I saw Stalker in a theater, I think in the 1970s, and liked it pretty well. I don't remember it being as long as you say, Dugsbooks - maybe I saw a different cut? To be sure it's slow.

Even more OT here, I just watched Aelita, the 1924 Russian silent film about good Soviets who travel to Mars and get involved in a workers' revolution there. Under two hours, but it did drag a little. If you're curious, be warned that it's mostly about earthly strife, fomented by a Russian ex-capitalist. Worth it for the Martians' costumes, though, especially those of the Queen of Mars and her attendant. I'm still wondering what they used (in 1924) for what looks like acrylic plastics in those.

jan 20, 2012, 5:41am

The Kindle version of the new translation is available. Quite stupidly the publishers haven't highlighted that it's the new translation, but you can confirm by checking "inside the book" or downloading the first sample chapter.

Haven't started reading it yet as I just have Kindle on iPhone.

jan 20, 2012, 8:27am

Yay! When does the paper version appear?

jan 20, 2012, 4:48pm

Is it Kandel on the Kindle?

jan 20, 2012, 5:12pm

#86 by mikewilliams64> Your new translation of Stalker, or the new Solaris translation by Johnson?

jan 20, 2012, 7:21pm

Oh. Forgot about the Solaris, despite that I started this thread about it. Well, the Yay! still applies, whichever of the two was meant.

mar 1, 2012, 3:32pm

I saw Stalker as a student before I had seen his version of Solaris. Loved it. I found the Mirror pretty opaque and I saw it after I had read the script. Rublev is a masterpiece. Have yet to see Nostalgia or The Sacrifice.

mar 2, 2012, 7:12am

Nostalgia was quite fine, I thought. Have seen Stalker and Solaris but none of the others.

Do we know whether the new Solaris translation is out in hardcover?

mar 2, 2012, 7:46am

Mirror is my favourite of Tarkovsky's films. The Sacrifice I much prefer to Nostalgia. Stalker and Solaris are both excellent. Ivan's Childhood is mostly forgettable - an apprentice work.

mar 2, 2012, 8:10am

Nostalgia starred Erland Josephson,, who died just recently.

mar 2, 2012, 8:59am

You mean The Sacrifice did. :-)

mar 2, 2012, 9:42am

Wasn't Josephson in both?

mar 2, 2012, 9:47am

Yes, he was in both.

mar 2, 2012, 9:56am

So he was.

mar 5, 2012, 2:58pm

The Sacrifice and Scenes From a Marriage are two movies that frequently come up in conversations between me and my wife (and for two totally different reasons). I was unknowingly a Josephson fan.

mar 9, 2012, 11:02am

The new translation of Roadside Picnic looks like it's going to be out May 1st -- I think you can pre-order it on Amazon.

I take it no one knows whether the new Solaris is coming out on paper?

maj 31, 2012, 7:58am

Favorable review of square_25's Roadside Picnic translation at

maj 31, 2012, 12:33pm

Congratulations Square 25. I hope to read your translation soon so I can better understand the movie!!

jun 22, 2012, 7:03am

Locus Magazine notes Roadside Picnic here.

nov 20, 2012, 8:14am

feb 5, 2013, 3:23am

I don't think that the new Johnson translation of Solaris is available on paper while Faber hold the rights and want to sit on the old translation.

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