Translations

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A couple of recent developments that I guess if I was obsessively on the ball about this kind of stuff, I might be able to offer a bit more info on what, if anything, they mean in practice.  But I’m not (on the ball, I mean); not in the way I used to be a few years ago, anyway.  But developments they are, nonetheless.

Historic regional divisions of the world, that put restrictions on what kind of e-books publishers could sell where, have been a bugbear of authors, publishers and readers alike since the whole ‘books don’t have to be paper and ink’ idea took off.  I’ve certainly had an occasional e-mail from folks complaining about their difficulty in getting hold of e-versions of my books in various parts of the world.  Maybe that’s changing, since it appears my publisher is finally going to be actively selling English language e-books everywhere, to anyone.

A press releasey type summary of the changes is over here, but the bottom line if I understand what’s happening correctly (never 100% garuanteed, I confess) is that before too long, if you want to buy an English language version of any of my books in digital form, you will be able to do so.  Wherever in the world you are.  That, if it works as seems to be intended, will be a v. good thing, if you ask me.  All the territorial restrictions inherited from a paper past never made a lick of sense, once e-books became an actual thing.

The other development, which came as a bit of a surprise, is that Piper, who hold the German translation rights to my Godless World trilogy, have – after a veeeery long delay – put out a mass market paperback version of Winterbirth (or Winterwende as it’s known over there).  As evidence, I can offer this Amazon.de link.  Does this mean German editions of the subsequent books in the trilogy might be forthcoming?  I’ve no idea, to be honest.  Like most such things, it’s no doubt sales dependent so if you or anyone you know speak German, can I humbly suggest this might be a suitable Christmas present perhaps?

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Hi.  My name is Brian and I’m … still here.  Blogging break over, back to business.  Starting with a quick update on various book-related matters.

My copies of the French edition of Winterbirth Un Hiver de Sang – arrived in the mail not so long ago, and they are really rather lovely.  A very nice, chunky edition by Eclipse.  Good job.

Because I have nothing better to do with my time, and am easily interested by things others would not expend any mental energy upon, I note something that’s been on my mind ever since the first translations of my books started to appear: UK and Dutch books generally seem to have the title running vertically down the spine so that you read from top to bottom; German and French have the title running up the spine.  It always looks odd to me, whenever I notice it.  Just what you’re used to, I guess.

And while we’re on the subject of translations, thanks to Martin for sending me the Czech cover to Fall of Thanes recently.  Fantom continue their tradition of using gorgeous, if rather unrelated, art to cover my books!

And on the Edinburgh Dead front, what news to report?  Well, there’s an August publication date on both sides of the Atlantic.  Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll be glad to finally see this one hit the shelves.  The proofs – the final pre-printing paperwork that lets you see how the whole text is going to look once bound in book form – have been cluttering up my desk for a while now, so here, by way of tiny teaser is a snapshot (very poor quality, for which apologies; I hope your eyes are up to the task) of the quote that prefaces the book:

‘dens and holes to which the Genius of Iniquity has fled, and become envenomed with newer and more malignant inspirations.’  That’s good stuff, that is.  Mr. Thomas Ireland Jnr had a way with sensationalist words.

Feels surprisingly satisfying to be blogging again, so you can expect to hear quite a bit more from me in the coming weeks.  Coming this Friday:  the return of Moving Pictures on a Friday.  I know.  How exciting is that?  Be still your beating heart and all that.

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Welcome to 2011, everybody.  Let’s hope it brings us all at least some of what we want and hope for.

I make an appearance in the French blogosphere this week, with something called a Chinese Portrait over at the Eclipse blog.  They’re publishing the French edition of Winterbirth, and the Chinese Portrait thing is not something I’d come across before but it’s a fun little exercise in coy authorial self-definition.  For those not fluent in the French language, I thought I’d put the English version up here, so that others can see what I think of myself.  So here we go:

If you were a quality, what would you be?

Patience

If you were a flaw?

Sloth

If you were a work of art?

A painting by Monet – probably one of the haystacks

If you were a sound?

Running water – a small stream, not some great raging torrent

If you were a song/music?

Hello Darkness My Old Friend, by Simon and Garfunkel

If you were a word?

Capacious

If you were a book?

War and Peace

If you were a motto/a quotation?

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you have seriously underestimated the gravity of the situation

If you were a movie?

The Godfather

If you were a time period?

Late 19th century: Victorian Britain

If you were a personage of fiction?

Hamlet

If you were an animal?

Raven

If you were a mythological being or supernatural creature?

A Hobbit – one of the hobbits who stays at home in the Shire, rather than going off on adventures

So there you are.  My Chinese Portrait.  Revealing or not; you decide.

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Winterbirth arrives in France this month, courtesy of Editions Eclipse.

It comes with a slightly tweaked version of a familiar cover:

And with its own little corner of the Eclipse website.

And with a minor role in a snappy little video promo for the November releases from this perky new imprint:

Tell all your French friends the good news!

Well, yes. Three weeks since the last post, and even longer since the rest of the site got refreshed (the links page is in need of some serious housekeeping, for instance) and I’m sure … well, I guess maybe there’s someone somewhere who noticed, and maybe cared just a little bit.

But there is a reason – aka an excuse. (Aside from me being busy writing and stuff, obviously, which is my standard justification for anything and everything I don’t do). Significant changes are in the pipeline for brianruckley.com, so I figured I’d hold off until v2.0 emerges. So it’s good news, really: a brand spanking new brianruckley.com is en route! But the pipeline in which it currently resides has been of slightly indeterminate length, hence the drop-off in activity while those involved awaited a measuring tape. I can now report that the end of said pipe is within sight and my virtual facelift will occur in the not too distant future (which is still not exactly a precise prediction, I know, but we’re talking weeks rather than months, assuming no disastrous interventions by the gods of chance).

So things will remain subdued around these parts until then.

In the meantime, look: pretty picture. Specifically, the cover to the recently released Czech edition of Bloodheir (thanks to Martin for sending me the image).

Enough of this Autumnal blogging inactivity. Got to take baby steps back into the habit for fear of straining my moribund blogging muscles, of course, so just a couple of quick notes to start with:

Czech edition of Winterbirth emerges blinking (and perhaps even bawling?) into the world, under the title ZROZENI ZIMY. It sports a distinctly striking cover – not sure who, if anyone, the specific characters are supposed to be, but they definitely look … alarming. Tempted to think of them as some heavily-armoured version of Wain and Kanin, but who knows? Thanks to reader Martin for sending me a useable jpg of the cover.

My parents were awesome. A completely and unreservedly true statement, of course. In fact, they still are awesome, but that’s not the point. The point is this: the My Parents Were Awesome blog. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find it an extraordinarily affecting, interesting, hypnotic, moving, evocative etc etc site, given that it is such a simple idea: reader-submitted photos of their parents, mostly as young(ish) adults, offered without commentary, without location or context or anything but the most simple identification. Page after page of them, and as I work my way through them it feels like I’m looking into lives, into stories, into the past, into other worlds almost; and I invariably find myself thinking ‘Why, yes. What obviously awesome people. Just look at them. They look wise, and fun, and kind, and thoughtful. Awesome.’

It’s a silent, restrained archive of childrens’ love and respect for their parents, an acknowledgement that those parents lived lives as rich and strange and individual as anything their children have managed. Fantastic stuff.

More waffle here soon.

Sometimes it’s hard not to be a bit despondent about the way bookselling is going. Latest manifestation of the increasingly uphill slog bookstores are facing in the UK is that Borders UK seems to be heading for the exit. (Not the same company, incidentally, as Borders in the US, which is having it’s own possibly even more severe problems). I know this is just the market doing what it does, and I know online book sales, and the brutal discounting of best-sellers in supermarkets, and eventually – even in the laggardly UK – the rise of e-books all have their pluses for the consumer, but it still feels regrettable that it’s becoming so difficult for even those with some scale on their side to make money out of bricks and mortars bookstores. I can’t help but think that the domination of the mass bookselling market – online and offline – by so few players is not going to prove an unreservedly good thing (to put it mildly) for either readers or authors in the long run.

On a more cheery subject, one of the entirely unpredictable amusements the internet offers is provided by the mindless working away of the automatic translation gremlins. Latest manifestation I’ve noticed is a version of an sf signal mind meld I was involved in the other day, on the subject of gloominess in sf. It’s clearly been translated into French and then back into English again, with the results that I apparently said, amongst many other similarly weird things:

The unhurt put candid, in its chichi quieten, is a youngster of the 20th century

When writers are more interested in how lavish shades of bloodless they can reproof up with than in hellish and unblemished, you inevitably aim up with a more less rose-tinted phantom of charitable possibilities.

There seems to be some kind of poetic, profound wisdom hiding in there somewhere: much more poetic and profound than what I said in the original interview. Perhaps I should put all my answers through a couple of rounds of online translation before submitting them in future?

And finally, I was pleased to discover that one of my favourites amongst the innumerable cgi shorts that show up on the internet these days is moving towards expansion into a full movie. Here’s the original short, a fun slice of sf:

I happen to know that a handful (albeit the kind of handful that might be contained in a Lilliputian hand) of Dutch folk have been known to pay an occasional visit to this blog. Hello Netherlanders! Because we’re all about total service at this establishment, here’s something just for you – and, I suppose, for anyone else with truly l33t language skillz – a Q&A (or K&K as it’s apparently called over there) I did for a big Dutch book website: Ezzulia.

A whole load of other interesting people have also been interviewed there – at least I know some of them are usually interesting; whether they’re interesting or not in this particular case, I can’t be sure, since I don’t read Dutch. Heck, I can’t even be sure I was interesting, but there I am, chatting merrily away in a foreign language.

And in case anyone missed it in the comments on the previous post, first review has showed up for the previously mentioned Rage of the Behemoth anthology, over at the jolly good Grasping for the Wind blog. Modesty prevents me from pointing out which of the stories gets the biggest thumbs up. No, really. It does. Big bully, that modesty stuff.

Every so often, you get a reminder of why the internet and e-mail are such fine things. A minor example: a flurry of e-mails from readers this week, and I can tell you, there are few things more likely to lift the spirits of a writer – it being, as everyone always says, such an isolated and potentially lonely old business – than hearing direct from the readers (assuming they’re polite and friendly readers, of course).

The best thing is, it’s a two-way process, so I can fire a random question out into the virtual ether, and get an answer back in basically no time at all:

“The title Zimowe Gody means more or less Winterbirth. ‘Zimowe’ means winter (as an adjective). ‘Gody’ is the traditional Polish name for a wedding, but also may be used for other festivities (like your book’s Winterbirth).”

So now I (and you) know. Fantastic. Thank you, Pawel. Incidentally, googling ‘Zimowe Gody’ – an entirely pointless exercise due to my ignorance of the Polish language, but I couldn’t help myself – did at least reveal one thing of which I was previously unaware: Poland appears to have a frankly staggering number of online bookshops. Dozens of the things, as far as I can see. No idea why so many.

And the two-way thing works in reverse, so people can ask me questions or make suggestions, like Andy, who wants an extract from Bloodheir putting up on the website or the Facebook page asap, please, thank you very much. A little bit of patience is required on this front, I’m afraid. Such a thing will be along before too long, but it’s not going to be in the next few days or anything. There’s a good chance it’ll show up on the Facebook page first, but that’s not certain. This is, in fact, a rare example of something showing up in print before it’s online: I know, for I have seen it (and it is good) that Orbit US have produced a little sampler booklet containing short extracts from not only Bloodheir but many of the other fine books they’ll be publishing this year. But that’s not something you’re likely to stumble upon unless you’re in the publishing or bookselling trade, I imagine, so that’s no great help to Andy or anyone else, really. Sorry.

And to end on a morbid note, when I talked about the Forth Rail Bridge a few posts back, the Millau Viaduct was flagged up in the comments (thanks, Simon), as another bridge-type thing laden with the Wow Factor. Quite true: it’s a stunner, although it might be ever so slightly too perfect and clinical-looking for me to really love it. Not sure.

Thinking about these two amazing constructions raised a question in my mind, and thanks to the internet, finding an answer was trivially easy:

Number of construction workers who died in the three years (2001-2004) it took to build the Millau Viaduct: 0. Yes, that’s precisely zero.

Number of construction workers who died in the seven years (1883-1890) it took to build the Forth Rail Bridge: No one really knows, but probably something like 98.

How things have changed. Those Victorians knew what they were doing when it came to putting together brick and steel; health and safety at work, not so much. Just last year, a memorial was finally created in memory of those who died working on the bridge. But what I find more moving, for some reason, is that you can go and see the name, age, job and the exact day they died for many of them right here. It’s a strange experience, to scroll through those lists, and one that would be impossible without the amazing internet.

Of course, things have not changed so much everywhere. The death toll of construction workers is only one – and arguably not the greatest – of the costs associated with this infamous megaproject, but still: apparently, over 100 of them died. That’s a lot of dead workers, if true. I wonder if they’ll get a memorial? Or have their names listed on the internet?

There’s a sneak preview to be had on Winterbirth’s Facebook page: the new map that will be appearing in Bloodheir is posted in one of the photos albums there. I think the photos are one one of the things you can access there even if you’re not signed up on Facebook, so anyone who reckons they know what new territories the action will be moving into in book two can go have a look and confirm their suspicions.

If you are a Facebooker, you might want to consider adding yourself as a ‘Fan’ of Winterbirth. There’re likely to be one or two more bonuses showing up there for fans over the next few months, possibly even including the chance to get your hands on a free advance copy of Bloodheir.

And in other news, looks like the Polish version of Winterbirth has emerged into the light of day, published by Kurpisz. ‘Zimowe Gody’ defeats the Polish translation engines I’ve been able to find in a quick online trawl, but there seems to be a ‘winter’ in there somewhere, so maybe it’s a more or less direct translation of Winterbirth. Should anyone fluent in Polish happen to be passing by, feel free to enlighten me.

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