Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Review: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

I do like the cover art on Wesley Chu’s ‘Time Salvager’. It’s like one of those slightly blurred oil paintings and is very minimilastically atmospheric. It gives a good impression of the dystopian future that James Griffin-Mars lives in, where the atmosphere and the oceans are polluted and the cities are crumbling to ruins.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

The Editors: Dawid Wiktorski

My slightly confusing story Hiking In My Head, first published in Daily Science Fiction, was translated into Polish and published in Szortal in 2014. I popped over to Warsaw and met up with editor Dawid Wiktorski  to find out about Szortal and Polish SF in general. Or maybe we corresponded by email.

Q. Is there a long history of science fiction in Poland?

A. When we compare Polish SF to, for example, American, we can see they started their expansion concurrently - in 1960s. Those were the times when StanisÅ‚aw Lem wrote his most remarkable texts (“Solaris” and “Fables for robots”) and Janusz Zajdel started his writing career (for example “Limes inferior”). The Communist Period, however, turned out to be the golden age to Polish speculative fiction - our market was mainly closed to American texts, so - naturally - Polish ones were mostly favored. Not without significance was the previous political system - what could be better than criticizing it by means of fictional analogies and references?

Unfortunatelly, Polish SF lost its importance and monopoly after the opening of borders in 1990s. We were flooded by a wave of foreign texts’ translations and Polish writers gradually started being forgotten (in the good days their most influential works were reprinted over a dozen, sometimes even several dozens times!). Naturally, it’s not the end of the history of SF in Poland but this period could be marked as the decrease of its role and popularity - those were gained mostly by fantasy that became really popular in my country.

Q. Are there any themes or styles that define Polish science fiction currently?

A. Nowadays the SF market in Poland is so niche that it’s hard to talk about any styles or subjects that can define it. Recently there could be observed a rise of number of space opera and post-apo publications but it’s not a rule. Unfortunately I cannot foresee that fantasy would stop being the dominant genre in my country, where the market is really small, especially in comparison to the Anglo-Saxon one.

Q. How did Szortal get started?

A. The whole idea came from Krzysztof “Baranek” Baranowski (but later Aleksander Kusz was the organisator) and it was refined on a forum of a non-existing magazine. In Poland Szortal was a unique idea, before no one was interested in “shorts” (really short pieces of literature), the most emphasis was put on stories.

For a long time Szortal was dedicated to Polish writers only but about two years ago there was a section for foreign prose introduced. It empowered the whole website - not only with really interesting texts, but also promising contacts.

Q. What kind of stories do you like to publish?

A. A text has to have SOMETHING that makes you remember several thousand of signs. I don’t care about the genre or the main motif. It’s crucial for me to remember the story and that it would somehow make me wonder about it.

Q. What are the challenges of translating stories from English?

A. English really differs from Polish. On one hand the Polish language is richer, but on the other in English there are some collocations and words that don’t correspond with my language. Translating a text with a "word by word" method in case of fiction is totally impossible and the translation will always have something invented by the translator. It makes the whole process of translation unique, makes us wonder about the sound of every word, whether to translate it directly or search some other synonyms. It disables the automatisation of the whole translating process and makes every translation a challenge.

Q. What plans do you have for this year?

A. It’s the most difficult question, I guess ;) It’s hard to say what would happen this year - I certainly have plans, especially when it comes to Szortal and other speculative fiction issues, but those are too dynamically modified and postponed for non-specified future. In other words - nothing specific. But I have maaany ideas!


Monday, April 04, 2016

Book Review: Dreamsnake by Vinda N. McIntyre

Over the past few years I’ve been attempting to read some of the ‘classic’ SF books, those that won multiple awards or are always included in ‘Best Of’ or ‘Must Read’ lists. Vonda N. McIntyre’s ‘Dreamsnake’ was first published in 1978 and won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards, so fits into this category nicely.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

German SF

At EasterCon I picked up a copy of Andromeda SF Magazine #152, a special bilingual edition of the German magazine that was produced for WorldCon and is full of information about the German SF scene. On the cover is a picture Exodus #30, which contained the German translation of my story The Gondolier, which I was excited to see.

I discovered as I read the magazine that this same cover received the 2014 KLP Award for best artwork. This award is the equivalent of the Nebula - voted for by professional in the SF field.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

EasterCon 2016

I was at EasterCon for just the Sunday this year, and spent the day with my usual combination of browsing the dealer hall, attending a couple of programme items, chatting to other writers and drinking quite a bit of tea.

 I didn't pick up as many books as usual, but I did get a copy of Mercurio D. Rivera's short story collection, which I discovered has a quote from one of my reviews on the back cover which was quite a thrill.

I caught up with Mike Wood, C.A.Hawksmoor and Eliza Chan from Codex and had a lengthy chat about our experiences as writers, GOH Aliette de Bodard, Gareth L Powell and Neil Beynon, Ian Whates, Roy Grey. As usual I also saw a few others in passing that I dodn't get to speak to. Next year will be at the NEC apparently.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review: Made to Kill by adam Christopher

I was sitting in my lounge, a book in my hand, reading in the yellow glow of the standard lamp. The book was a hard back, all yellow and red with the face of a steely private eye staring at me from the cover beside the silhouette of a dame with a duffel bag. By now, I knew what was in that bag, having read the first couple of chapters.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: Four Doctors by Paul Cornell & Neil Edwards

A couple of weeks back I watched ‘The Three Doctors’ again, which was originally aired before I was born, but I’ve seen at some point in the murky past. I like all the ‘Doctor Who’ crossover episodes, so I was keen to see what Paul Cornell has devised for his five-part comic event ‘Four Doctors’.

Read the rest of my review at SF Crowsnest.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The Editors: Rami Shalheveth

My first translated story, Devotion, was published ten years ago in Hebrew in the webzine Bli Panika, edited by Rami Shalheveth. In 2010 a translation of my short story Roadmaker also appeared there. The webzine is still going today, which is quite a feat in itself. I popped over to Israel to meet up with Rami and we chatted about publishing and translations as we wandered through an orchard enjoying succulent oranges. Or maybe we corresponded by email.

Q. How long have you been publishing Bli Panika, and how did it get started?

A: Bli Panika was established on October 28th 2000 by the members of the Ort science fiction and fantasy forum. Its name was a tribute to Douglas Adams "Hitchhiker Guide" series – "Don't Panic" in Hebrew. At the beginning it was a "forum magazine", i.e. a platform to publish the forum users reviews, stories and even inner jokes and fans folklore. Several months later, after I saw that Hadas, the original editor, didn't find enough time to update it regularly, I asked to take over Bli Panika and turned it into a more professional zine. Sadly, the ORT forum is long gone, like most internet forums, but Bli Panika is still here.


Q. Is there much science fiction published in Hebrew?

A. The Israeli SF market is very small and consists primarily of translated fiction, mostly long form and mostly from English. Nevertheless, each year about 15-30 original books are written in the genre in Hebrew, mainly YA but also novels published by mainstream publishers.

Short Israeli fiction is published at BP, of course, and also at "Hayo Iyeh" (meaning "Once upon a Future") yearly anthology published by the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Several other stories are published at the ISFSF web magazine, both original and foreign. Both publications are edited by Ehud Maimon. The only paying market for short fiction is the magazine "Chalomot Be'Aspamia" (an ancient Hebrew idiom that means "daydreaming", but its literal meaning is "dreams in Spain". Spain was considered a very remote place in ancient times J) – a bimonthly print+ebook magazine edited also by me.


Q. How would you describe Israeli SF? Is there a defining characteristic?

A. Israeli SF fiction is small. Very small. There are too few writers and not enough publishers. The short fiction is very varied and it's quite similar to English written fiction. Same topics, same genres and ideas.

As I said, long forms Israeli fiction is mostly YA. Many adult books printed by mainstream publishers tend to deal with Hebrew myths and demonology, like the Golem, biblical and Mesopotamian myths etc. There's also a trend for political apocalyptic/dystopic fiction dealing with the Israeli-Arab conflicts or the inner Israeli conflict between secular Jews and orthodox Haredi Jews.


Q. Who are some SF authors writing in Hebrew that we can also read in English?

A. Not many. Most Hebrew fiction wasn't translated to other languages. There are several Israeli authors who write in English and publish to the English-reading markets. They include Lavie Tidhar, Guy Hasson and Ron Friedman (living in Canada). Nir Yaniv translated several of his stories to English and Vered Tochterman had a short story at F&SF magazine several years ago.


Q. What are you looking for in English-language stories that you accept for translation?

A. They got to be good, of course, with a kind of sense of wonder – enough to make me Wow. I prefer character-based stories, both SF and fantasy, but not Swords & Sorcery or horror. If it has many puns, dialects or other "translational hazards" it will make it harder for me to accept the story, but I won't avoid the challenge if I like it enough.


Q. What plans do you have for this year?

A. I just found a new translations editor for Bli Panika, so I hope we'll be able to publish more stories this year. I'm collecting now original stories for an eBook dedicated for a new Israeli SF film called "Tslila Hofshit" (Free Diving).


Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Editors: International Series

A few years back I posted a series of interviews with editors of UK based magazines and small presses. Click on the label 'Interview' below to see them.

Starting this week my series 'The Editors' returns, this time with a series of interviews with editors of SF magazines from around the world who publish in a variety of languages.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Austrian Novelette

The next issue of Austrian magazine Visionarium will be out in May, containing the German translation of my Victorian SF adventure novelette The Journey Within. This will be my second story in German and my longest translation yet.