The VanderMeers’ first Steampunk anthology (2008), can already be considered a classic, for the quality mix of the stories and non-fiction articles. The introduction by Jess Nevins, explains, “The 19th century roots of steampunk” it’s a real treat, for it offers an extensive research on the origins of the steam-driven fiction writing. An important thing to readers who still don’t know what exactly is steampunk is: Nevins establishes the difference between the All-American Edisonade and the British Steampunk, clarifying things already in the beginning.
If there is an established fact on the Brazilian fandom, is this: there was never a force so strong, all-encompassing as steampunk in our shores. The flamboyant army of corsets-and-goggles with their mindboggling variety of steam-powered infernal devices has definitely conquered the hearts and minds of the Brazilian fans and writers. After almost four years of activity, Brazilian steampunk can’t be considered just a fad anymore. We’re not in Kansas, Dorothy: we are in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and several other big tropical cities which probably you’ve never heard of but you will.
In the interview below, Bruno Accioly, one of the masterminds of the Brazilian steampunk movement as well as one of its Founding Fathers, spills the beans (or should we say the cogs?) on the steampunk Lodges (a thing that attracted the attention of a big name of the trade, the former cyberpunk Bruce Sterling, who wrote about them in Wired Magazine) and interesting plans for the near future. There are big things in store for steampunk in Brazil and in the world.
Series: Steampunk Week
Okay, all of you read A Clockwork Orange (or at least watched Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation), so I won’t be boring you with a review here. If you haven’t done any of the above, out out out out out, you dobby chellovecks. Go read the book then return. This here is the story behind the writing of Anthony Burgess’s classic novel — which is in itself the stuff stories are made of.
An ex-British Army officer by the end of World War II and a teacher of English Literature, Burgess joined the British Colonial Service as a teacher and education officer in Malaya in 1954. (This experience would lead him to become a writer, first, as he said, “as a sort of gentlemanly hobby, because I knew there wasn’t any money in it,” and to publish his first novels, Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East.)
However, Burgess was sent back to England and released from the Colonial Office in 1959, after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The doctors told him he didn’t have much more than a year to live.
Series: Dystopia Week
Over the course of the Fortnight, I’ve talked a bit about the growth of steampunk activity in Brazil. This extends to the publishing sphere, with authors publishing several stories of the Gilded Age in online venues, and two theme-oriented anthologies in less than two years—a record for the Brazilian market.
The second steampunk anthology to be published in Brazil is called Vaporpunk: Relatos Steampunk Publicados Sob As Ordens De Suas Majestades (Vaporpunk: Steampunk Reports Published Under the Orders of His Majesties), published by Editora Draco. In a way, it’s a complementary anthology to Steampunk: Histórias de Um Passado Extraordinário, a review of which you can find here.
Series: Steampunk Fortnight
Since 2008, it seems that Brazilian science fiction has finally began to keep up to speed with what’s being written in the Anglo-American sphere of science fiction and fantasy. Blame it on steampunk: the apparent fad became a lifestyle for a big chunk of the Brazilian fandom, and most of the newcomers are first of all hardcore steamers.
Brazilian writers and publishing houses weren’t blind to this trend, in spite of all that steam: they adapted. The first case is Tarja Editorial’s Steampunk: Histórias de um Passado Extraordinário (Steampunk: Stories from an Extraordinary Past), which was published last year and is close to a third printing. Officially considered the first Brazilian steampunk anthology, this book contains nine short stories from writers old and new to the genre in Brazil. The result, though irregular, is very interesting.
Series: Steampunk Fortnight
Go ahead, ask them: in the country of Carnival, geeks, nerds, and science fiction buffs are usually not different from what you would find in, say, U.S., Canada, Australia, or the U.K. They’d rather be reading a good book or watching a TV series marathon than getting dressed in costumes and having fun with samba in the streets, for instance. But is samba so far removed from science fiction these days? Maybe not: in February 2009, a well-known samba school from Rio, the União da Ilha do Governador, chose as its theme the wonderful world of Jules Verne!
Series: Steampunk Fortnight
I recently wrote a guest post for Lavie Tidhar at the World SF News Blog. It was initially intended to be a shameless pimping of my newly-released novel Os Dias da Peste. Not that it would be a huge, fit-for-the-Hugo pimpingthe novel was being published only in Brazil, alas, and in Portuguese.
But as soon as it was out, a few friends of mine from the US and Europe asked me when it would be going to be published in English. The short version of the answer is that I don’t know, but I wouldn’t count on it. But why?, they asked me. That was when I decided to shift the focus of the World SF post and explain my opinion betterfor that’s what it is, my opinion, not a decision written in stone.
Basically, the post still was about Os Dias da Peste, but I ended up writing more about the challenge posed to Brazilian writers every time they try to keep up to date with their Anglo counterparts. Several explanations have already been offered for this over the years, but there is only one that really fits the bill: the lack of translations of recent Anglo-American SF novels in Brazil.
Consider the famous Italian adage “traduttore, traditore”literally, translator, traitor. Maybe this untranslatability angst is one of the things that best defines the work of the translator. More often than not, translators are worried about failure, about things getting lost in translation.
A corollary to the saying above is that the true measure of a translation is its degree of invisibility: it is good as long as it is not perceived. The translated narrative must be as perfectly readable and enjoyable as if that were the original language. If the reader notices something is wrong in the text, she will most likely blame the translator rather than the author.
In 2003, I was invited by a Brazilian publishing house to do a new translation of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. This classic novel had already been translated to Brazilian Portuguese in the early 1970s, and it was a prime quality job, done by an award-winning translator, Nelson Dantas. But, after thirty years, even the finest translations can become outdated. They are still good and readable, but they lose their edge, their élan, their vitality.
In A Clockwork Orange‘s case, the earlier translation was fruit of the zeitgeist of the seventies: the slang was different then, the phrasal constructions and the kind of neologisms of one’s choice. (Agglutinations were all the rage thenportmanteau words sound wonderful in Portuguese.) Now, however, a second reading of that translation proved a weird experience to meweird in a bad way.
In the early nineties, when I lived for a short period in Europe, I was visiting a couple of Brazilian friends living in Amsterdam. They had a lovely daughter, a four-year old who whoopied around the house, showing me all her toys, craving for my attention. She was a very happy girl, but her mother told me she had gotten through hard times upon entering pre-school months earlier.
“You know,” she told me, “We speak in Portuguese at home, and only speak in Dutch when friends come in. When the time came to put her in school, we realized that she could hardly speak a word of Dutch, and she wasn’t able to understand the children and the teacher. The first day was awfulshe came home in tears.”
I couldn’t even begin to imagine how it must have been hard for the kid.
“But an amazing thing happened after a few days,” her mother went on. “Suddenly she came home smiling, and told me, very proud of her discovery: ‘Mommie, the apple has two names!'”
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