Not Lost in Translation
“An exciting take on classical themes as a professional thief finds himself reluctantly cast into the role of a hero to save his homeland from destruction. The story is engrossing, the characters intriguing and dynamic; there are mysteries galore and the very real sense as we set out that far creepier things are waiting down the road. In short, a book I didn’t want to put down, and I want to see what comes next.”—Chris Claremont, bestselling writer of X-Men and Wolverine, on Shadow Prowler
A bestselling sensation in Russia, Shadow Prowler releases this winter for this first time in the English language. Incorporating folklore and medieval landscapes, the story line deals with a solitary master thief lured into working for the kingdom.
The first book in a trilogy, Shadow Prowler is translated by Andrew Bromfield, a leading professional in his field, whose work includes the novels behind the international blockbuster movie Nightwatch. Below, Bromfield talks about his experiences as a translator.
Tor: Tell us a little bit about translations and Russian literature.
Andrew Bromfield: My experience with translations from Russian goes back about twenty years, to when I was in Moscow and I helped a friend set up Glas, a journal of modern Russian literature in translation. Glas is still going strong. I gradually got more and more offers to translate various stories and books, and it turned into my full-time job, especially after I started translating the popular authors Victor Pelevin and Boris Akunin. I didn’t start out by translating fantasy or science fiction; in fact, apart from Monday Begins on Saturday by the Strugatsky brothers, Sergei Lukyanenko’s Nightwatch series was the first work I did in that particular niche–although I suppose you could describe some of Pelevin’s work as fantasy, and that was probably the link that led to Lukyanenko.
Tor: What was the working process like on Shadow Prowler?
AB: No matter who the author is, or what his literary slant might be, you have to sit down and turn Russian into English. In the process, you have to convey the author’s voice and style, and that’s what makes every job different. [Alexey] Pehov was in touch with me about a couple of small things he wanted to rewrite in the original, but other than that, there wasn’t much contact between us, and that’s perfectly normal—translating books can be just about the most solitary trade you can imagine. You consult when you need to clarify something, but otherwise you’re on your own.
Tor: Can you comment on the increasing number of Russian books and films reaching the United States?
AB: Well, of course, it’s not the translator who decides whether a book is going to be translated or a film made. These decisions are made by publishers, movie directors, etc., who think that a book or film can be successful. There is plenty of good material to be mined in Russia (in all sorts of genres, including fantasy and science fiction) and it would be great to see more of it here. I don’t think people nowadays have much resistance to something just because it’s from Russia. But what’s published here has to capture the imagination of readers here, and whatever way you look at it, translation is always an extra cost. So, in these post-crisis times, I would expect a gradual widening of this traffic rather than the opening of the flood gates.
Last words from Bromfield:
Pehov is well known and widely read. His trilogy was fun to translate and I hope readers here in the States will enjoy reading it.
The first book in the Chronicles of Siala, Shadow Prowler (0-7653-2403-2; $24.99) by Alexey Pehov releases from Tor in February 2010. His new novel Mockingbird recently won Best Novel of 2009 from World of Fantasy magazine. Visit his website at alexeypehov.com.
Video trailer with footage shot on-location in Russia:
Watch the trailer here>>
Netherworld—Book 1: Pleasure Model
By Christopher Rowley
Pleasure Model is the first book in the Netherworld trilogy, produced under the Heavy Metal Pulp label for Tor Books. It’s an innovative new format, a fusion of graphic novel and text-only novel, the perfect medium for this future noir murder mystery.
As a science fiction writer, I’m constantly thinking about the future. Since I first began constructing this trilogy, events have moved the world briskly down the track towards exactly the kind of crisis that could produce the future of Netherworld. The effects of global warming, oil shortages, ongoing trillion-dollars-a-year wars in the Middle East, and the shrinking of the American middle class could create the grim America of 2068 in which Pleasure Model takes place.
Rook Venner, Senior Investigating Officer of the Hudson Valley Police Department’s Homicide Squad, is our window into this world. The vic in his latest case is a retired general with a very dark rep earned during the Emergency, a terrible period of social upheaval in the United States. Dig into government secrets and you’re buying a ticket to the morgue. One thing stops Rook from walking away: Plesur, a gene grown pleasure model discovered in the victim’s house. With powerful people trying to kill Rook and Plesur, the only way for Rook to save himself is to solve the case and discover the secret that was planted in Plesur’s head, something that could end the government’s regime for good.
Rook must undertake a journey through the uninsured underbelly of America, hunted by vicious ganglords, terrifying war machines, and a government, desperate to keep anyone from uncovering the truth behind their insane gamble to perpetuate their rule forever.
Netherworld—a detective story in a science fiction future? Or something a lot more ominous, a warning of what could all too easily happen? Only time will tell.
Pleasure Model released in February, 2010, followed by The Bloodstained Man, and The Money Shot, later this year.
Heavy Metal Pulp: Pleasure Model trailer:
Featuring Kevin Eastman, creator of Heavy Metal Pulp, and Christopher Rowley, author of Netherworld. Watch the trailer here>>
Winchester Mystery House, Meet the Reckoners…
By Doranna Durgin
Lo these many years ago, a friend shared her glee over the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. She brought back a video tape, and we watched it together.
This, I thought, would make a book… if I could only learn more. But I lived in western New York state and the Winchester Mystery House lives in San Jose, California… and I am a very poor traveler indeed. Ne’er the twain shall meet and all that.
A handful of years passed, and who knew? I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona. Not so far away now, eh? Another year or two later, and the World Science Fiction Convention turned up in San Jose: ConJose.
I was so there.
On Dead-Dog Sunday of the convention, I was con-lagged, bleary-eyed, and barely sentient, but by golly I made it out to the Winchester Mystery House. I paid my fee, I ogled through the gift shop, I bought my own video, and I played very happy tourist in the house itself.
At this point, there’s nothing non-touristy about the house. The gift shop should be subtitled, “Give us your money!” The café should be subtitled, “Give us your arteries!” Everything is bright, freshly painted, beautifully maintained, and publicly glossy. The grounds— in the middle of dry, brown San Jose—are an oasis. The guides and staff are delightful. And those who handle it all keep the non-public details of the house as closely guarded as Mrs. Winchester once kept her privacy.
But the overwhelming impression is one of affection. Sarah Winchester was driven by fears and anxieties that some might call irrational (and some might not); she did her best to assuage those fears, creating a home that would occupy any spirits who came looking for her—specifically, those who had died at the hand of the Winchester rifle, a fearsome weapon of its time which helped change the landscape of the West.
Eccentric she might have been; lacking for creativity, she was not. Doors to nowhere—sometimes by way of wall, sometimes by way of gaping hole or simply no house beyond that door at all—bizarre staircases, lavishly appointed rooms available only through twisty little hallways… the house is a marvel of engineering and imagination (and heavily spent money).
It’s also the archetype for every ghost house ever made, every spooky mansion ever written, and definitely every Scooby Doo chase just plain ever.
So when I took my tour, it was with bouncy glee, my scribbly little notebook in hand and an eye for detail. “Want more!” I told the guide, who soon enough figured out what I was up to. Not terribly impressed at that. They are, after all, protective of the house’s secrets; it’s their bread and butter. They’re protective of Sarah Winchester’s memory. And I can’t have been the first person to go through those halls with the intention putting the house in a book someday.
And it took a while, but I did. Once I realized I wanted to write Garrie and Trevarr and the Reckoner team, where else could I possibly take them for a first adventure but the world’s best ghostie mansion? It suits Garrie’s dry humor; it suits Trevarr’s plethora of secrets. And by golly, it was fun.
I hope Sarah Winchester, if she’s here and tangled up in that maze of her own making, also finds herself amused…
The Reckoners (978-0-7653-6164-6; $6.99) by Doranna Durgin is available from Tor this February.
Great Books You May have Missed
By Melissa Ann Singer, Senior Editor
It’s a sad truth that books are, at least at this point in the space-time continuum, ephemeral. Oh, sure, there are sellers of used books; and there are collectors who hold onto their copies forever; and there’s the brave, newish worlds of POD and epublication, which might ensure that nothing ever goes out of print…but there will still be the problem of letting people know about cool, interesting, enjoyable books that were published before (as in before now).
We’ve made it something of a cottage industry here, with the Orb list dedicated to restoring to print, or keeping in print, classic works of fantasy and science fiction; and with the Tor trade paperback list, which has become a good place to find new editions of books you may not have noticed the first time they came around.
The first few months of 2010 are a perfect illustration of our regard for “older” books.
In January 2010, we published The Many Deaths of the Black Company by Glen Cook, one in a series of omnibus editions of Glen Cook’s stellar military fantasy series, The Black Company. The Many Deaths of the Black Company contains two Black Company novels, Water Sleeps and Soldiers Live.
That same month also saw the release of Hawkmoon: The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock—the first of several Hawkmoon volumes we’ll publish in the next two years. I’m a huge Moorcock fan myself and I was very excited to see these books on our list—my old mass market editions are too fragile to read. Moorcock’s tales of the multiverse and the neverending battle between Order and Chaos are a kind of flamboyant fantasy that just sings when done right…and Moorcock is a master of it.
In February, we have a pair of blockbuster anthologies. In Orb, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B. I know, it’s a mouthful, and not the most attractive title you’ve ever seen. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame honors great short sf&f fiction published before the Nebula Awards were invented; Volume One contained short stories and Volume Two A and Volume Two B contain classic novellas. All three are big fat collections well worth reading. On the fantasy side of things, we are re-presenting Legends, a doorstop of a collection of fantasy novellas by modern writers. And on a lighter note, we’re publishing a Xanth omnibus, Xanth by Two, containing Demons Don’t Dream and Harpy Thyme.
March will see the Orb edition of Robert Silverberg’s The World Inside, a classic look at overpopulation by one of sf’s most thoughtful writers, as well as a trade paperback edition of Philip K. Dick’s The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike, part of our ongoing program of restoring lost or little-known PKD books to print.
Also slated for March is The Point Man by Steve Englehart. While Englehart is perhaps best known as a comic book writer, The Point Man demonstrated he was a stellar wordsmith in any form. After a long hiatus, Englehart has returned to writing novels, and The Long Man, a follow-up to The Point Man, will also be released in March.
Throughout the year, Tor strives to offer you the best in fantasy and science fiction, old and new. Though I’m a long-term fan, I’ve run into more than one previously unknown—to me—gem on our reissue lists. I know you will too.