New English translation of Lem's Solaris
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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).
I have a copy of the cover, too, but I don't know if I can post that here?
I can also give short samples of the text, if people have a particular place in mind :).
Good news indeed -- but am I missing something with the 'horrorshow' bit? ;)
Do you speak Russian, anglemark?
* Of course, translator isn't necessarily a "work" level aspect as much as a "book" or "edition" aspect.
What did you guys think of the old translation? If anyone wants to see it, it's available here: http://www.rusf.ru/abs/english/
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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...
(Though I'm not sure how much the "video game" bit will help/hurt sales.)
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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?)
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...
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...
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...
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.
Thank you. And Ari Folman is making a film of The Futurological Congress; how cool is that!?
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".
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.
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...
His view of the book was very positive, but the publisher's use of Cyrillic letters on the cover really irked him.
Eyes of the beholder, I suspect.
Any other requests for Strugatsky works? Anyone read Hard to be a God in the old translation? How about Monday Begins on Saturday?
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.
They are both doing their PhDs so the only teaching involves supervising some laboratory classes and correcting example sheet exercises.
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...
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?
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.
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?
"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."
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.
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.
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.
Haven't started reading it yet as I just have Kindle on iPhone.
Do we know whether the new Solaris translation is out in hardcover?
I take it no one knows whether the new Solaris is coming out on paper?
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