Correction, and some thoughts

So, following my post about international writers in Analog, Asimov’s and F&SF, Sean Wallace has pointed out we missed one, and I’m very glad to be able to correct my initial post: Asimov’s did in fact print one story by an international writer: Icarus Saved from the Skies “Icare sauvé des cieux” by Georges-Oliver Châteaureynaud, translated by Edward Gauvin.

Hooray!

And if we count Sara Genge (which I am told we should) then Asimov’s actually lead the print pack, with a whole 2 stories last year.

I wish I could say this makes me much happier. I saw people point out the issues of translation, for instance, and this and that – none of which change the numbers themselves, which show Fantasy, Apex and Strange Horizons with a combined 19 stories between them.

I think what it comes down to at the end is diversity. I’d like to see more diversity in the field, and the disparity between the top online publications and the 3 print magazines is pretty astounding. 2 is better than 0… but 19 is better than 2.

The point about all this, btw, is not that international writers “deserve” some sort of recognition. The point is that when they submit, their stories are good enough to be bought. I do not think for a moment Fantasy have some sort of “quota” system. That would be nuts! But they are in a position to get the top submissions from overseas writers, leading to them buying a higher-than-average number. After all, the reason I love science fiction and fantasy is when it offers me a startling new look at the world – and people writing from a different perspective can offer that.

I think it’s a shame. I think editors, when they want to, are in a great position to solicit great stories – and when editors do, that’s what they get. And when editors make it as easy as possible for disadvantaged (in terms of post, or Internet access itself) writers to submit, that alone can make all the difference.

I’m not saying the “big 3″ need to do any of this. After all, it’s their business what they publish, not mine. But… to me, diversity, and newness, are key factors to the field. Freshness, maybe. And perhaps they’re not for the readers of the Analog and its two brethren – but in that case, I simply think they’re missing out!

Lavie Tidhar is the author of linked-story collection HebrewPunk (2007), novellas An Occupation of Angels (2005), Cloud Permutations (2009) and Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (2010) and, with Nir Yaniv, of The Tel Aviv Dossier (2009). He’s lived on three continents and one island-nation, and currently lives in South East Asia. His first novel, The Bookman, will be published by HarperCollins’ new Angry Robot imprint in 2010, and will be followed by two more.

Comments

  1. keyan says

    Any print publication — and especially one that does not accept e-subs — automatically disadvantages foreign readers and potential contributors. In the pre-internet era, my submission rate from overseas was about one story every 5-6 years. Maybe.

  2. Alisa Krasnostein says

    Sara Genge had two stories published this year in Asimov’s and these two stories hit my own personal top list of awesome shorts published this year. So three for Asimov’s and also a big hurrah for strong female sf writer writing interesting gender exploration stories. “As Women Fight” is highly recommended!

  3. jeff vandermeer says

    Lavie–I think you’re beginning to lose me with the generalities here. I think equal opportunity to access is huge, yes. I also though think the translation issue is a big one, and I didn’t see you address it. World SF has to address issues of translation.

    I think I am also getting a little uneasy with “world sf” because it encompasses so many different traditions. I’d like to see a little more specificity of detail. There is no monolith called “world sf” if you see what I mean. This also applies to issues of specific stories. I have seen just as many crappy stories written by international writers as by any other group. So it seems to me the biggest issues are still access to markets and helping to facilitate the best possible translations.

    I have even been thinking a translation exchange/donation site might be of use. Some central body provides translations of opening paras of a story plus synopsis and then readers can choose through donations to fund the full translation of the stories they most want to read. These are then published online or put into submission generally. Just a thought. I haven’t given thought to the details.

  4. Lavie Tidhar says

    Jeff – the reason the translation issue doesn’t factor in this is because I’m only talking about the numbers. I don’t care how a story gets into an English market (for these purposes) but with the fact it gets into one segment of magazines (the online ones) and not into another (the print ones). It’s not that I don’t think a discussion of the translation issue isn’t important. Just not relevant when the numbers speak for themselves.

    I only use “world sf” as an (admittedly ungainly) umbrella term for whatever’s being written outside of the anglo-saxon (for lack of a better term) world. And of course you get crappy stories there – but my concern is with the good ones not appearing in magazines one would have thought they would – could – be.

    Anyhow, my Internet connection’s pretty limited, so I have to bow out at this point… :-)

  5. Marty Stephenson says

    But… if the ‘good ones’ can’t get translated, then they can’t see print in F&SF, Analog or Asimov’s, so, hence the the low numbers…right? Or am I not understanding this discussion?

  6. Marty Stephenson says

    “Some central body provides translations of opening paras of a story plus synopsis and then readers can choose through donations to fund the full translation of the stories they most want to read.”

    That would be fun.

  7. jeff vandermeer says

    Lavie–there’s something in the logic there that doesn’t quite scan, but I will have to think about it.

    Regardless, I am very happy about two things: I have been advocating non-North American/UK writers create their own power bases through the internet and you and others are doing that, making it impossible for editors not to be aware. And also happy online mags are taking a variety of stories.

  8. says

    Even though I´m a translator, I don´t know if I would agree with the method you´re suggesting, Jeff. It seems to be okay, but it can also be a kind of lottery – and a story with a good opening can also have a crappy ending, unfortunately. It definitely merits some thought, though – it may not be the best way, but at least it´s a start.

  9. says

    I´m also trying to encourage Brazilian writers to get their stories translated so they can try their hand overseas, but it´s been tough here. Many of them are still struggling to be accepted here (prejudice against SFF writers here is incredibly hard – well, I guess the situation is pretty much the same elsewhere, but the handful of Brazilian publishing houses solely dedicated to the genre are amateurish jobs, with print runs of 100-500 copies per edition), and they are simply afraid to stop what they´re doing here and try there. Well, I´ve been trying to tell them they don´t need to stop anything, but apparently many of them simply aren´t that too interested in publishing outside Brazil, so that´s pretty much it.

  10. jeff vandermeer says

    Fabio–good point re the latter. Re the former–yep, I know. but I thought if I put a flawed idea out there perhaps someone would come up with a better one!

  11. jeff vandermeer says

    excellent. also, North American readers supporting presses like Dalkey Archive and others devoted to publishing books in translation is really important.

  12. says

    Speaking of Dalkey Archive, who receives grant money to help fund their translations and publications, wouldn’t it make some sense to establish a non-profit entity (or seek out a co-op with an established press associated with translated fictions) to make for an easier road in terms of distribution and (hopefully) payments to writers and translators (if there aren’t any/many pro bono workers)? I know I would be willing to work pro bono with Spanish-language texts or as someone who “smooths” out a rough first translation.

    Oh, and Fábio, before I forget…my review will be up in a few hours, time permitting. Finally feeling somewhat well at last.

  13. says

    Larry, that´s great – such an endeavor will definitely need all the bi- and trilingual hard readers and writers it can get!

    Glad to know you´re better! Let us know when the review is up!

  14. says

    Plus I think I know a friend of mine who might be able to help on occasion, but he tends to get paid for his translations from English to Spanish and Spanish to English, so it’d depend on the rates and time he has to spare (he’s a lawyer in El Salvador).

    As for the review, I have 50 pages to re-read, then I plan on writing it. The third time through has been interesting, to say the least, considering I read it this time looking for specific items…and finding them. I guess the Empire era is quite problematic, no?

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