You’ve seen the list of the finalists for the 2017 Hugo Awards, and it’s a good selection, this year. What excited me the most about it? The fact that for the third year in a row, a work of speculative fiction in translation (SFT) has made it into the finals round—this year it’s the vast, complex, brilliant end to the Three-Body trilogy, Death’s End by Cixin Liu, masterfully translated by Ken Liu and published by Tor.
But…nothing else in translation made it onto the list. Now, you may say “yeah, but how many novels and stories translated into English did we even get in 2016, and how many of that presumably small number are any good?”
My answer: as someone who closely follows SFT, I can safely say that the numbers are impressive and the quality is top-notch. Last year (as far as I can tell), twenty-nine novels, eight collections of stories, six excerpts from novels, and thirty-three short stories were translated and published in English for the first time. They came from Cuba and China, Russia and Argentina, Iraq and Israel, and everywhere in between. Some have been short- or long-listed for major awards; many received glowing reviews in online and print publications.
Some of my favorite works of SFT from 2016 were stories about gentleman zombies, physics-defying spaceships, giant space amoeba, and an unexpected and thoughtful take on time travel. I encourage you to read the books and stories on this list, and then continue to look for SF in translation—you’ll even find that many of the shorter works are available for free online. These stories are beautiful and terrifying, brilliant and diverse in style and content, and they deserve greater recognition; so, let’s give it to them…