The background here is that in 2009 I wrote a short story, the aforementioned "Pandora's Box", which was then translated into Finnish in time for that year's Finncon in Helsinki. As part of a stunt, cooked up with the excellent Toni Jerrman, we had arranged for the last English copy of the story to be destroyed on stage at the convention, and this duly happened:
To be clear, no other English version of the story existed. Once we had that final print out, and Toni had completed the translation, I destroyed all my own versions of the text. In the ten years that followed, I have never stumbled on a forgotten backup or intermediate draft. In fact, I only have sketchy memories of the story itself. It's about 8000 words, I think, is set primarily on Titan, and deals in some fashion with Many Worlds and the Fermi paradox.
My intention had been that the world would be so galvanised by this experiment that the story would quickly rush from Finnish to other languages, inevitably (and hopefully) changing a little each time, until it eventually found its way back to English. Astonishingly, this never happened! The story got as far as Estonian, and stopped there.
What I would like to do, in a humble way, is continue the experiment, but to do that I'll need a willing party to take the Estonian text (which I may not have, but Reidar may be able to assist with) and then translate and publish it into some non-English language. Reidar is making enquiries, but I thought it wouldn't hurt the put the word out here, and see if there are any takers. The ground rules are straightforward: any interested party (website, magazine, etc) may have the story for free on a non-exclusive basis, but it must be translated with reference to the Estonian version alone, not the Finnish one. I, in turn, will offer assistance with reasonable translation costs, subject to correspondence.
I would think it would make a far more interesting journey if the story were not to come back to me too quickly, so - as an additional constraint - I'd prefer it if the story were translated into a language that isn't too adjacent to English, however we may define that. Estonian to Russian would be great, for instance - or even Estonian to Japanese. But not Estonian to French: too easy for it to make the final step.
A long shot, I admit, but perhaps worth a try.
Do you know if Pandoran lipas is available anywhere online or do I have to hunt down an old copy of that Tähtivaeltaja issue? Funny that I had never even heard of the story...ReplyDelete
I think your only option will be to find that issue of Tahtivaeltaja - and brush up on your Finnish if you are not already a Finnish reader.ReplyDelete
Thanks, I'll have to start looking for it. I'm native in Finnish so reading it won't probably be too hard. Quite a comical situation to be in considering I've read all your other works in English...Delete
I always wondered what happened to this experiment. You'd probably want to avoid most Germanic languages like Swedish and Norwegian etc, oh, and German of course, in the early translation stages as they're closer to English than most.ReplyDelete
I'm intrigued as to how it turns out. Good luck.
i could do the EE -> EN intermediary for someone else, who could turn it to.. say.. Swahili or American Lelaglese. Anyone :)?ReplyDelete
That's kind, thanks, but I'd like to keep the purity of the experiment intact if at all possible.ReplyDelete
Do can try looking for a translator on the American Translators Association website:ReplyDelete
Hello! We might be able to assist with the translation from EE to RU. Perhaps you could contact us via hannes[a]ngl.ee?ReplyDelete
Hello - did you get my email of the 5th January?Delete
Thank you - I'll be in touch!ReplyDelete
I've heard this anecdote already years ago, but I'm not sure if I ever came across this video where the event was immortalised. And your whole article helps shed more light into the whole stunt. In the last decade, I often came across people claiming you did this little stunt because you were dissatisfied with the story. Seems you were gunning for a literary experiment instead !ReplyDelete
I'm a translator by trade, as it happens. In my free time, I've actually taken a stab at translating some of your shorter fiction (e.g. Minla's Flowers, Weather, etc.) into my native tongue (Slovak). Now I'm half-tempted to acquire that Finnish or Estonian translation and do a Slovak translation of it ! 8,000 words isn't that vast a number. :-)) Unfortunately, though I do know a little Finnish (studied it a while back) and Estonian is quite close too, I'd hardly consider myself a profficient reader or speaker of either. Still, if I ever tried it in the future, maybe there'd be one more world added to the subtext of Pandora's Box.