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On My Radar: 2015 SFF In Translation

As you may know, I’ve been actively seeking out new science fiction and fantasy in English translation, and reviewing these books here on SF Signal. You may not know, however, that my search for these new releases has lately turned into something of a crusade. After all, I’ve been combing through Edelweiss, lists of new translations, lists of new sci-fi/fantasy titles, and many, many websites, and come up with just a handful of translated sci-fi/fantasy for 2015.

I’m writing this post, then, for two reasons: first, to make you aware of the sci-fi/fantasy in translation that you CAN get your hands on; and second, to encourage you to read these fascinating stories from a wide variety of coutries and cultures, which will hopefully, in turn, lead to more of these books getting published in the U.S. Our understanding and appreciation of sci-fi and fantasy can’t be complete without a more comprehensive view of their development abroad. Polish sci-fi, for instance, necessarily deals with different technological/political/scientific issues than Chinese sci-fi, or Cuban sci-fi. Then again, they also must all tackle the universal questions that sci-fi inevitably invites. And wouldn’t you just LOVE to get your hands on, for instance, some Romanian or Finnish sci-fi? I sure would. So without further ado, I bring you sci-fi and fantasy in translation for 2015.


loureiro

The Last Passenger by Manel Loureiro, translated by Andrés Alfaro
(Amazon Crossing | January 1 | Cover design: Edward Bettison Ltd.)

SYNOPSIS:

Reporter Kate Kilroy accepts an assignment to travel on the Valkyrie, a German ship veiled in secrecy for decades after it was discovered adrift in 1939 with only one passenger aboard, a baby boy named Isaac Feldman.

Obsessed with understanding his origins, Feldman has spent a small fortune restoring the Valkyrie to try to solve the mystery. Assembling a team of experts and sparing no expense, he aims to precisely recreate the circumstances of the Valkyrie’s doomed final voyage. Little does Feldman or his team know that the ship has an agenda of its own. As the Valkyrie begins to weave its deadly web, Kate realizes that she must not only save herself, but the world as she knows it.

 


jaaskelainen

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, translated by Lola M. Rogers
(Thomas Dunne Books | January 20 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join the Rabbit Back Literature Society, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: a young literature teacher named Ella.

Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as “The Game”? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White’s winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried for years start to come to light. . . .

In Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s chilling, darkly funny novel, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, praised as “Twin Peaks meets the Brothers Grimm” (The Telegraph), the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.

 


 

Dendera by Yuya Sato, translated by Edwin Hawkes and Nathan A. Collins
(Haikasoru | February 17 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

When Kayu Saitoh wakes up, she is in an unfamiliar place. Taken to a snowy mountainside, she was left there by her family and her village according to the tradition of sacrificing the lives of the elderly for the benefit of the young. Kayu was supposed to have passed quickly into the afterlife. Instead, she finds herself in Dendera, a utopian community built over decades by old women who, like her, were abandoned. Together, they must now face a new threat: a hungry mother bear.

 


thedeadmountaneer

The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky, translated by Josh Billings
(Melville House | March 17 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

When Inspector Peter Glebsky arrives at the remote ski chalet on vacation, the last thing he intends to do is get involved in any police work. He’s there to ski, drink brandy, and loaf around in blissful solitude.

But he hadn’t counted on the other vacationers, an eccentric bunch including a famous hypnotist, a physicist with a penchant for gymnastic feats, a sulky teenager of indeterminate gender, and the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. Moses. And as the chalet fills up, strange things start happening—things that seem to indicate the presence of another, unseen guest. Is there a ghost on the premises? A prankster? Something more sinister? And then an avalanche blocks the mountain pass, and they’re stuck.

Which is just about when they find the corpse. Meaning that Glebksy’s vacation is over and he’s embarked on the most unusual investigation he’s ever been involved with. In fact, the further he looks into it, the more Glebsky realizes that the victim may not even be human.

In this late novel from the legendary Russian sci-fi duo—here in its first-ever English translation—the Strugatskys gleefully upend the plot of many a Hercule Poirot mystery—and the result is much funnier, and much stranger, than anything Agatha Christie ever wrote.


Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas by Kazuki Sakuraba, translated by ?
(Haikasoru | April 14 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

When the Outland People abandoned a baby girl on the outskirts of a village, few imagined that she would grow up to marry into the illustrious Akakuchiba family, much less that she would develop clairvoyant abilities and become matriarch of the illustrious ironworking clan. Her daughter shocks the village further by joining a motorcycle gang and becoming a famous manga artist. The Outlander’s granddaughter Toko—well, she’s nobody at all. A nobody worth entrusting with the secret that her grandmother was a murderer.

This is Toko’s story.


hennen

 

The Elven by Bernhard Hennen and James A. Sullivan, translated by Edwin Miles
(Amazon Crossing | June 16 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

A fierce and merciless demon has been unleashed on the world, spreading destruction and bloodshed in both the human and the elven realms. Northlander Jarl Mandred witnesses the ruthless attack on his men, and he seeks vengeance with the help of the elf queen, Emerelle. Despite Mandred’s barbaric human nature, the queen orchestrates an elfhunt joined by the two strongest warriors in Albenmark to pursue the beast. Farodin, the fiercest fighter in the land, and Nuramon, the healer, seize the opportunity to make history alongside Mandred in a life-defining series of battles waged in parallel universes.

The Elven is an epic tale, bringing heroes together across the boundaries of their worlds to avenge past losses and influence fates yet to be decided.


Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii, translated by ?
(Haikasoru | June 16 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world’s food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage. Hayashida travels Asia to find himself in Ho Chi Minh City with hired-gun hacker Kitamura at his side—and in mortal danger—as he pushes ever nearer to the heart of the mystery.


 

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen
(Tor Books | July 7 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

SYNOPSIS:

With the scope of Dune and the rousing action of Independence Day, this near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multple-award-winning phenemonenon from Cixin Liu, China’s most beloved science fiction author. In Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion—in just four centuries’ time. The aliens’ human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth’s defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he’s the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

**NOT LISTED ON AMAZON: Signposts to the Stars, Vol. 1: Many, Many Sheep by Issui Ogawa, translated by Ben and Yuri Alexander, Bento Books, ? 2015

11 Comments on On My Radar: 2015 SFF In Translation

  1. Since you are looking for SFF in translation, I think you will be interested in Castles in Spain: a crowdfunding campaing to translate into English and publish an anthology of some of the best SFF short stories ever written in Spain: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/castles-in-spain

  2. David Greybeard // February 7, 2015 at 10:02 am //

    I’ve been keen to find European Fantasy, especially German and northern European novels in translation but haven’t found much. The cover art for The Elven by Bernhard Hennen is pretty terrible but I’m going to give it a try. Don’t think I would have found that one on my own. So, my thanks for listing these books.

    Do you know of any other recent German Fantasy that might be of interest?

    • Rachel Cordasco // February 7, 2015 at 11:10 am //

      David, I’m as interested in finding that out as you are! It’s hard to find this stuff…

  3. David Greybeard // February 7, 2015 at 11:26 am //

    I’m aware of the DWARVES series by Markus Heitz who’s just published a new novel RIGHTEOUS FURY from Jo Fletcher Books. Haven’t read him yet but I’m pleased to see it make its way to the USA.

  4. Gerry M. Allen // February 7, 2015 at 12:58 pm //

    Rachel, the cover for The Dark Forest is by Stephan Martinière per the Tor website.

  5. There is a website for Dutch-speaking writers who publish in English. Maybe you can find some titles there: http://www.adutchtreat.nl
    Another website that just took off is: http://www.4short.nl
    4short is a formula for beginning writers.

  6. You can find more Spanish stuff in TERRA NOVA anthology. Six sci-fi stories and an essay on Spanish science fiction. Available in Amazon, iTunes…

    https://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/07/toc-terra-nova-an-anthology-of-contemporary-spanish-science-fiction-edited-by-mariano-villarreal/

  7. Rachel Cordasco // February 8, 2015 at 3:40 pm //

    Thanks, Adriaan and Mariano!

  8. Sean O'Hara // February 8, 2015 at 10:44 pm //

    Yen Press has a huge slate of Japanese novels coming out this year, though I’m not sure about the quality of some of them (“Is It Wrong To Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon” — really?). The two most interesting are the Durarara series by Ryohgo Narita (for people who think urban fantasy needs more gang wars and fewer vampires), and Log Horizon by Mamare Touno (gamers gets stuck inside an MMORPG and have to build a functional government).

  9. Hi Rachel, I’d like to introduce you to the Future Fiction project. My name’s Francesco Verso and I am the Editor in Chief of a small publishing boutique scouting the best speculative fiction from English and Non-English countries. We do publish both in Italian and English language. Please take a look at what we’ve done so far to encourage international readers into exploring different “futures”. 🙂 http://www.futurefiction.org/en/

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