A snippet from chapter 6 / Pasaje del capítulo 6

I wanted to write a post about voice, being impressed recently with Norman Partridge’s voice in Dark Harvest, a Stoker Award winner, but I finished it so long ago I’d have to go back and reread to tell you all the reasons why Partridge’s voice is so right for this fast-paced, noir-ish horror story. I don’t have time right now. I have taken up a new day job that is working me hard (I’ve lost three pounds in two weeks.), and I have not been reading or writing much of anything. Therefore, in an effort to get 2017 moving, I thought I would share a scene from chapter 6 of the WIP. The chapter still needs work, but I like this encounter. I hope you will, too. Continue reading

A tribute to translators: Q&A with Daniela Toulemonde / Un homenaje a los traductores: Entrevista con Daniela Toulemonde

Spanish translation below the English is by Daniela Toulemonde.

If you believe as I do that translation is absolutely essential for writers who want to share their work and for readers who want to open their minds to seeing the world beyond their own cultural and lingually shaped perceptions, I hope this post will inspire you to join me in supporting translation and translators. We need to celebrate the importance of translation by actively seeking it out both as writers and readers. Yet this is a hollow gesture and poorly accomplished if we fail to honor the skills and talents of the translators who make it possible. Supporting fair contracts for translation services and making prominent acknowledgement of the translator on published works is the least we can do for those who help move us between worlds and introduce us to new ways of understanding ourselves and others.


Daniela Toulemonde

Following is a Q&A with Daniela Toulemonde, a budding 24-year-old translator from Colombia who has been translating the Spanish-language posts you find on this site. Thank you, Daniela, and best of luck in your further studies!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself – where you’re from, what you like to read, future goals, etc..

A: I’m from Colombia, though most of my family is French. I like to read speculative fiction and historical novels, mostly, though lately I don’t have much time to read anything different than what my studies demand, sadly.

I want to be a professional translator, and maybe, eventually, try to get something of my own published. I’m just about to end my undergraduate studies in English Language and Culture (with a minor in French language teaching) at La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. I would like to pursue my studies with an MA in Ireland or England (in Translation Studies). I’m sending the applications next week, so I’m really hoping it will work out! Continue reading

Review: Notions of environment, civilization and first contact in The Three-Body Problem

3bodyChinese author Cixin Liu brings us a first-contact story in The Three-Body Problem (TTBP) that is familiar, yet promises a fresh spin on the protagonists’ choices and the outcome. I debated whether or not to call this a review because I’m not going to talk about the writing itself, which I felt was somewhat uneven. BUT, if you’re interested in one humble writer’s impressions of some of the novel’s big ideas, read on. SPOILER ALERT: I will describe big pieces of the story here. You’ve been warned.

First, let’s sketch out the basic story. Set in China’s recent past and moving into the near future, three primary characters with very different personal motivations are faced with preparing for first contact with aliens that are on their way to earth. At times, trying to follow the novel’s physics made my eyes glaze over, but the effort was totally worth it. As a nonscientist, I feel one can best appreciate this novel when one understands the roles of the main characters, so here’s a summary.

The story begins with young astrophysicist Ye Wenjie witnessing the death of her father at the hands of red guards during the Cultural Revolution. She is emotionally broken and is accepts her confinement to a remote radio astronomy station. Used for her research and scientific talents, Ye gradually figures out that the station’s actual purpose is to hunt for signs of alien life in the universe and her research has direct bearing on this activity. Isolated and depressed, her only interest is whether or not her theory of using the sun as an amplifier for transmitting radio messages into the universe will work. After trying her experiment and not receiving any confirmation of its success, she mechanically moves through life until one night when she sees a new pattern in the monitored radio waves. She deciphers a message from space. That message is followed by a warning not to answer the first message. Ye disregards the warning and answers. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading