melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-06-13 06:29 pm
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FMK #14: SF in Translation

Hi all! I am back. I did not get my birthday candle wish of having a different president when I got back to the USA, but at least Theresa May is in deep hot water now, so I guess you all did what you could.

The FMK #13 winner is Discount Armageddon, pulling ahead at the last minute in a very close race! The loser was Pawn of Prophecy, in a not-very-close race, although Man-Kzin Wars put up a good fight.

I brought Rocket Ship Galileo and Tarnsman of Gor with me on the trip as two K winners that I couldn't bear dumping without Having Read. I... am about 30% through Tarnsman of Gor; so far it is not bad enough to make me hate-read it or throw it at the wall, but also not particularly compelling a read. I still want to Have Read it though, I think.

Rocket Ship Galileo is going to be K for Keep, I am afraid. I tried! But a book written in 1947 about teenagers fighting Moon Nazis was going to be hard for me to dislike. :/ The downsides: the random I Will Teach You Physics bits that weren't even plot relevant - I like a good physics lesson in my boys' own SF but not when it's completely irrelevant to the story. And sometimes it just read too much like A Heinlein Novel in character voice and didactic Heinlein Opinions, although it's not bad at all compared to his later stuff and I probably wouldn't have even registered that if I wasn't oversensitized to Heinlein being Heinlein.

I was going to say it avoided being egregiously bad on racism and sexism etc. by not having any diversity, except that actually, at least one of the main characters is almost definitely Jewish. (I might have missed it if I'd read it fifteen years ago, but I'm not sure what else a reference to 'when you stood in front of the congregation and gave your speech and said "Today I am a man."' is supposed to be. And two others are the son & brother-in-law of a concentration camp survivor, although that might have been just as a political prisoner.) So it's Jews fighting Nazis on the Moon and how can I not keep it?

Plot-wise, it is not as ludicrous as that sounds, either - the Moon Nazis are Hydra-style Mad Science Neo-Nazis, not people who have been hiding on the moon since the 1940s. And the "teen boys build moon rocket" works a lot better when it's set in a near-future where intercontinental rocketry and commercial space stations are common - they use mostly off-the-shelf parts and an atomic drive invented by a former Manhattan Project scientist who is leading the project. (And it's interesting that the main character conflict in the book is the adult scientist agonizing on whether it's a good idea to take 18-year-old boys into danger, which is one of several things that make one thoughtful in the context of the 1947 copyright date.)

I'm not saying it's a great book, but if you like old SF it's a pretty good one, and there's nothing in it that makes me as a modern reader actively cringe. (Except that I'm pretty sure even in 1947 you couldn't fire unmodded rifles on the moon.)

Anyway, in honor of my international travel, today's theme is SF In Translation.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)


Poll #18485 FMK #14: SF In Translation
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 26


The City Trilogy by S. K. Chang (Chinese, 2003)

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F
4 (44.4%)

M
5 (55.6%)

K
0 (0.0%)

The Vampire of Ropraz by Jacques Chessex (French, 2006)

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F
4 (44.4%)

M
2 (22.2%)

K
3 (33.3%)

Han of Iceland by Victor Hugo (French, 1823)

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F
12 (75.0%)

M
1 (6.2%)

K
3 (18.8%)

Malevil by Robert Merle (French, 1972)

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F
3 (25.0%)

M
3 (25.0%)

K
6 (50.0%)

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (French, 1864)

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F
14 (66.7%)

M
6 (28.6%)

K
1 (4.8%)

TSelf-Reference ENGINE by Toh Enjoe (Japanese, 2010)

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F
6 (66.7%)

M
2 (22.2%)

K
1 (11.1%)

Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime by Mizuki Nomura (Japanese, 2006)

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F
6 (60.0%)

M
2 (20.0%)

K
2 (20.0%)

The Next Continent by Issue Ogawa (Japanese, 2006)

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F
6 (66.7%)

M
2 (22.2%)

K
1 (11.1%)

Mortal Engines by Stanislaw Lem (Polish, 1977)

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F
6 (31.6%)

M
13 (68.4%)

K
0 (0.0%)

World's Spring by Vladimir Gakov (Russian, 1981)

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F
2 (22.2%)

M
4 (44.4%)

K
3 (33.3%)

The Final Circle of Paradise by the Strugatsky Brothers (Russian, 1965)

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F
3 (27.3%)

M
4 (36.4%)

K
4 (36.4%)

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende (Spanish, 1982)

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F
6 (42.9%)

M
8 (57.1%)

K
0 (0.0%)


espresso_addict: Two cups of espresso with star effect on coffee pot (coffee cups)

[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-06-13 10:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm ashamed to own I've only read the Verne of this set, and that not since I was a kid. As I recall, it was a blast of weird 19th century 'science', well worth a try.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-06-13 10:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm voting K on Malevil because I remember reading it in the early 80s (when I was in high school) and thinking it was deeply stupid with a combination of bad science and sexism. It took a heck of a lot for me to notice sexism at that point in my life, so I can only assume it was pretty terrible. I don't think I actually threw it at the wall, but that's likely because books that were even vaguely SF/fantasy were very, very hard to come by.
lannamichaels: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds up For Sale sign after EVA. (Default)

[personal profile] lannamichaels 2017-06-13 11:27 pm (UTC)(link)
the random I Will Teach You Physics bits that weren't even plot relevant - I like a good physics lesson in my boys' own SF but not when it's completely irrelevant to the story.

ahahahah, Heinlein. Yeah. Oh god, I do not miss those.
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (Default)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2017-06-14 12:10 am (UTC)(link)
I haven't read Mortal Engines but I'm really curious about what you think... I absolutely loved Imaginary Magnitude, which was one of his collections of criticism of fictitious books (so completely and utterly my thing), but I have no sense of how his writing would translate into narrative fiction. Tempted to vote F on that just to urge you to look at it immediately, but I suspect it's going to lose out to the mimes in any case.
espresso_addict: Espresso cup with steam on white background with text 'Coffee' (coffee (white))

[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-06-14 12:32 am (UTC)(link)
How much of it is there? I can only recall reading Verne, Wells & Mary Shelley, but I've not read much of it for decades.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-06-14 01:56 am (UTC)(link)
I seem to recall that, although the nuclear apocalypse killed most people and animals, there weren't problems with radiation. The initial group of characters survived because they were in a wine cellar, and I think some people who were in parking structures survived. They all went outside afterward and didn't die. There were a lot of fridged family members. I remember not buying the fact that, even if radiation weren't a problem, they didn't starve. What happened was enough that they almost died from the heat of it, even with the protection of the wine cellar.

So I spent a lot of time going, "Wait. What???"
espresso_addict: 'Lady with Hat and Feather Boa', Gustav Klimt  (Default)

[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-06-14 02:15 am (UTC)(link)
But even Mark Twain wrote a book in 1894 where Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were abducted by a UFO!

So Twain invented Aliens Made Them Do It :)
espresso_addict: Two cups of espresso with star effect on coffee pot (coffee cups)

[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-06-14 02:17 am (UTC)(link)
It sounds like Day of the Triffids (my OH has been playing radio versions of Wyndham all week...).
conuly: (Default)

[personal profile] conuly 2017-06-14 02:26 am (UTC)(link)
I voted M on Mortal Engines, but now that I think about it, I think I've confused it with the other Mortal Engines series.
genarti: Stonehenge made of hardcover books, with text "build." ([misc] a world of words)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-06-14 02:44 am (UTC)(link)
Hey, a set in which I've actually read a couple!

I read Journey to the Center of the Earth this year, albeit in French, so I even have fresh memories of it! It's interesting. It involves a lot more of the male lead panicking and swooning amidst geological calculations (and 19th century arguments about whether the Earth's core is too hot and high-pressure to live within or not) than I would have expected, while his aged uncle and their stoic Danish guide get on with things that are not panicking and swooning. I liked 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea better, but I also like marine biology better than geology as far as my scientific interests go, so that may be relevant.

House of the Spirits I read in either high school or middle school -- I want to say 8th grade -- and I have only very patchy memories of it. I've been meaning to reread it sometime to see what I think of it now. I liked it at the time, but that doesn't necessarily mean a lot for whether I would now.

...And I haven't read Han of Iceland but I absolutely want to read your review of it, so.
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)

[personal profile] ambyr 2017-06-14 03:10 am (UTC)(link)
Fuck on Mortal Engines because I, too, have it in my to-read pile and could use some inspiration in cracking it open.
rachelmanija: (Default)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-06-14 05:35 am (UTC)(link)
I need to re-read Rocket Ship Galileo! Now seems like a good time for Jewish astronauts beating up Nazis on the moon.

I enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth but it's definitely a "If you enjoy that sort of thing, you will enjoy this." It has an incredibly vivid sequence of being in hot, suffocating, black tunnels without water.

I have not read any of the others but the first two Japanese ones have amazing titles.
genarti: ([avatar] sleepy time now)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-06-14 07:32 pm (UTC)(link)
It's kind of hilarious the extent to which he swoons! As the strapping young man to his uncle's aged, capricious, obsessive, occasionally tyrannical genius, one would think that he would be the steadying factor of the expedition. Instead he's having fits of nerves all over the place -- granted, occasionally over very valid things like we no longer have enough water to be able to retrace our steps, are you really sure that continuing on blindly is wise -- and dehydration and concussion, while his aged uncle stumps grimly on. And Hans, the guide (who might actually be Icelandic; I forget, but I know Danish is the shared language he and the uncle use), seems to be completely fine with anything as long as he's getting paid weekly for it. And yes, it is indeed set in Iceland, although rather more underneath Iceland.

And right? I feel sure someone has -- I mean, both from general odds but also because I have a nagging feeling that I read someone talking about having read it. But I can't for the life of me remember who, and I don't think they posted in great detail.
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)

[personal profile] stardreamer 2017-06-14 11:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Tarnsman of Gor is, I believe, the first book in that series, and therefore probably less wearing to read than most of the others. The one I usually recommend to people who want to sample that series is Priest-Kings of Gor, which has some actual SFnal material in it, in the form of the interestingly alien Priest-Kings. Who are never seen or heard from again after that one book. I used to have about half a dozen of the Gor books, but they really are one-note porn rather than actual stories and I got tired of it fairly fast.

No opinions on today's poll, by virtue of never having read any of them.