Quick reads for the holi-daze / Lecturas rápidas para aturdimiento de las festividades

owlWoo-hoo, it’s officially the post-Christmas cooling off period when you no longer have beam at everyone with more grace and good humor than you actually possess. Sure, there are still too many people in your house, and they won’t let you alone for long, but go ahead and stick that Ebola quarantine sign on the front door, distract the kids with a two-foot long cheese log, and lock yourself in a room long enough to catch up on at least a few short stories.

Here are my recommendations for quick SF reads this holiday season. From The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane (which I gifted to myself this year):

  • “Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra” by Vandana Singh. Referencing  Kathasaritsagara, an 11th-century collection of Indian legends, fairy tales and folk tales as retold by a narrator called Somadeva, this story plays with India’s time-honored tradition of narrators writing themselves into stories.
  • “The Four Generations of Chang E” by Zen Cho. Defining oneself in contrast to the generation before is the jist of this story of daughters and mothers set on a much-changed earth and the moon.
  • “The Other Graces” by Alice Sola Kim. A very funny and painful coming-of-age story that reminded me of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao.

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Measuring the influence of languages / Midiendo la influencia de las lenguas

Amazing visualizations of the use and influence of languages around the world are available from The Global Language Network, a project by the MIT Media Lab Macro Connections group in collaboration with Aix-Marseille Université, Northeastern MoBS, and Harvard University. In an effort to find a quantitative way to define the global influence of languages, the researchers compared the networks expressed in book translations into and out of languages, the language editions of Wikipedia, and languages used on Twitter. They also validated the findings against measures of the number of famous persons born in the countries associated with a particular language. I myself am a little uncertain whether the fame of persons is a dependent or independent variable here, but there is definitely a positive correlation. See researcher Cesar Hidalgo explain it below.

Project results show that the most influential languages, based on their connectivity to other languages, are English, Spanish, German, French, and to a lesser degree, Russian, Portuguese, and Chinese. What was fascinating was that some languages, such as Hindi and Arabic, which are spoken by hundreds of millions of people, are not as influential due to their rather introverted usage. In other words, although the languages are robust in particular countries and even regions, they are less prominent online and perhaps more telling–there are far fewer books translated into those languages and far fewer books originally written in those languages that are translated into other languages, than the highly connected languages or even the languages of some small countries like the Netherlands.

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Update on translations available on this site

I am happy to announce that the first two parts of “The Return on Investment” are available in Spanish as well as English on the Free Stories page. I’ve found a lovely person in Colombia to provide these translations, Daniela Toulemonde, who is also a writer. You can learn more about Daniela on the Collaborators page.

Also, I wanted to let you know that I have been trying to figure out how best to share translations on this site and, even though I have found no truly graceful way to make that happen, I’ve decided to simply focus on getting all my stories into my four focus languages–English, Hindi, Spanish and Mandarin–for now.  I will also try to translate posts into these four languages, but I won’t be able to do that regularly for a while. There’s more about why I’m including translations on this site here.

If you are a speaker/writer/reader of one of these non-English focus languages, please comment or send me a message. It is important that we writers encourage each other to reach out to readers in other languages, and, as a reader, I try to read translations regularly, too. Translation, however, especially literary translation, takes time and skill, so I’d like to know if others find the effort worthwhile.


EspanolMe complace anunciar que las dos primeras partes de “Rendimiento de la Inversión” están disponibles tanto en español como en inglés en la página de Historias Gratis. He encontrado a una persona grandiosa en Colombia para hacer estas traducciones, Daniela Toulemonde, quien también es escritora. Puedes conocer más sobre Daniela en la página de Colaboradores.

Además, quiero que sepan que he estado intentando encontrar la mejor forma de compartir las traducciones en esta página y, aunque no he encontrado una manera elegante de hacerlo, he decidido simplemente enfocarme en tener todos mis cuentos en mis cuatro lenguas prioritarias ­–inglés, hindi, español y mandarín– por ahora. También intentaré traducir entradas a estas cuatro lenguas, pero no aún podré hacerlo regularmente por un tiempo. Puedes leer más sobre las razones por cuales que estoy incluyendo traducciones en este sitio aquí.

Si eres un hablante/escritor/lector de alguna de estas lenguas prioritarias, aparte del inglés, por favor comenta o envíame un mensaje. Es importante que como escritores nos incitemos unos a otros a comunicarnos con lectores en otras lenguas. Como lectora, también intento leer traducciones regularmente. Sin embargo, la traducción requiere de tiempo y habilidad, así que me gustaría saber si otros ven el valor en ella.


Reading Chinese futures

In this age of communications and information technology, we take for granted that we have greatly expanded abilities to discover what other human beings are thinking and writing about the human journey. Often, however, a veil remains between continents and cultures. Too little translation is definitely an issue, but that may be just a symptom of too little listening to others outside our own comforting traditions.

I’m trying to break these habits, and I’m especially interested in reading more speculative fiction (SF) by female writers outside of the United States and Britain. What new visions and worlds do they reflect? What new solutions to problems or warnings or worries or hopes? I’d like to learn from their insights on the human condition, but I think the more interesting questions are out there on the far horizon. If we have more translations and access to SF works from other cultures, how will we influence each other and what perspectives will we hold in common regarding the shape of the future? Continue reading