On Being Unofficially The Second-Most Translated Science Fiction Short Story Author In The World by Gareth D Jones (article)

July 31, 2016 | By | Reply More

When my story ‘The Gondolier’ was published in Slovenian last year it was the 26th language one of my stories had been published in and the 16th for that particular story. There don’t appear to be any official statistics on the subject, but I know a few other multiply-translated authors and, according to my calculations, I am now the second most translated Science Fiction short story author in the world. Unofficially.

My first translated story came just over ten years ago when ‘Devotion’ was published in Hebrew webzine ‘Bli Panika’. I’d only had seven stories published in English up to the time when I discovered the existence of magazines that translated stories into other languages. Seeing my story in translation and in an alphabet that I couldn’t read was a brilliant experience and inspired me to look for more magazines in various languages. Doug Smith’s ‘Foreign Markets List’ was, and still is, the source of information and several of the markets listed there are ones I discovered while trawling through the Internet myself.

Some of these magazines have submission pages in English and some don’t, and those that do often aren’t very clear on their guidelines but, for the chance of being translated into another language, I’m happy with any information they have to offer. In general, even where they don’t specify, they are looking for stories already published in English to translate. They presumably have a slush pile of stories written in their native languages, so they don’t want to also trawl through an English slush pile. A previous publication credit means they know that what you’re sending them is worth their while to read. I have a much higher proportion of open-ended submissions to other languages than to English markets ie magazines who never reply. The responses I get are often very slow, measured in months rather than weeks, so once you’ve submitted a story that market is off the submission list for quite some time. To compensate for this, each magazine is only buying rights for their particular language. This means you can submit the same story simultaneously to several magazines.

Of course, not all magazines around the world accept stories in English and some that do are not open to unsolicited submissions. A few of the well-paying magazines such as Russia’s ‘Esli’ and Japan’s ‘Hayakawa’ magazine pick their own stories from well-known venues like ‘Asimov’s Magazine’. I’ve had other magazines email me to ask about a story they’ve read elsewhere and on a few occasions they haven’t contacted me and I’ve discovered by accident that my story has been translated and published elsewhere. Technically, this is wrong, but I don’t mind too much as I’m unlikely to get paid for many of these translations anyway and any extra language is a bonus. After contacting the editors in question, I’ve always got an apology and a retrospective request for permission.

I’ve always been interested in languages, so the opportunity to see my story published in another language is a thrill. I like to see how much of it I can understand, looking for my character’s names in Greek letters or attempting to recognise words in Romance languages that are vaguely similar to French, which is a language I know enough of to get by on holiday. I’ve been published in several minority languages such as Arpitan (Francoprevencal) (France / Switzerland / Italy) , Ligurian (Italy) and Mirandes (Portugal), Bengali (Bangladesh), Afrikaans (South Africa)some from around the globe like Bengali and Afrikaans and even the artificial language Esperanto, which one of my great aunts could speak. There are plenty more languages to go and Frank Roger, the unofficial most-translated short story author, is about 15 languages ahead of me, so I have my work cut out tracking down friendly translators and literary outlets.

When I edited ‘The Immersion Book Of Steampunk’ a few years back, I included authors from Russia, Brazil, France, Israel and Wales. The differing viewpoints and styles only add to the variety. My collection of stories in Spanish and Paralelismos is available as an e-book from all the usual venues. Download Paralelismos free: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/393215

Buy The Immersion Book of Steampunk: http://www.immersionpress.com/purchase/

The whole endeavour has opened my eyes to the field of world SF. In the past couple of years, I’ve read all 4 Apex World SF anthologies, collections of Japanese and African SF and SF novels translated from German and Chinese. I have several more translations on my to-read list and I would certainly encourage all SF fans to sample what the rest of the world has to offer.



(c) Gareth D. Jones 2016

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Category: World getting weirder

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