Translations Destroy Podcasts on StarShipSofa! (Not really)

So. Something’s been brewing behind the scenes at StarShipSofa. Something we’re sure you’ll all be excited about.

But some backstory first.

It goes without saying that all of us at the District of Wonders welcome stories from all over the globe. We’re an international podcast, and naturally interested in finding stories published in another language. With English-speaking (particularly American) stories dominating the market – and understandably so – it can be quite difficult to get work translated from another language into English to reach a wider audience, and even harder to find them once they have. We have authors such as Andrzej Sapkowski and Cixin Liu rising to popularity, but for the vast majority of non-English authors it’s maddeningly hard to shatter that language barrier and find an audience they deserve.

So I’m doing something about that.

Starting soon, StarShipSofa will be playing one whole month’s worth of stories translated from other languages as part of our Translations Month Special. These four stories are diverse in content and sub-genre as they are in country of origin. Ranging from cyberpunk to time travel to transgressive dystopian, our stories come from France, Japan, Russia, and China. The table of contents are below:

 

  • “The Smog Society” by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu and Carmen Yiling Yan (translated from Chinese).
  • “Sense of Wonder 2.0” by Laurent Queyssi‏, translated by Edward Gauvin (translated from French).
  • “White Curtain” by Pavel Amnuel, translated by Anatoly Belilovsky (translated from Russian).
  • “Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fuji, translated by Jim Hubbert (translated from Japanese).

 

Half of these were picked up directly from slush, the other half were procured with assistance from John Joseph Adams and the team at Skyboat Media. A big thank you to them.

This project has been a long time in the making. We’re looking very much to bringing these incredible stories to you, showcasing the international diversity of science-fiction and the different favours that each country specializes in. And of course, we’re always open to broadening our horizons and welcome both more translated stories, and authors and narrators from all territories. But for now, I hope you enjoy what’s on tap this month and all the stories to come.

If you like our stories and the work we’re doing, please consider making a donation on Patreon. Every bit helps to cover our server costs and work towards becoming a paying market. The District of Wonders has adapted and published over a thousand stories over a decade-long period, and with your help we’ll go for another decade yet.  The link is here: https://www.patreon.com/districtofwonders

As always, let us know what you think of this project and the stories on Facebook, Twitter or email. And please, enjoy this special Translations Month, coming soon to your earholes in a podcast near you.

 

 

Forging ahead and looking back: it’s important

With one’s writing career – and artistic careers in general, I think, there’s a tendency to think about what we haven’t yet accomplished, as opposed to what we have accomplished. Film directors, musicians, script writers and video game designs are all privy to this pothole, but in my case writers especially.

You don’t look back on your sales and your publications that you’ve already earned, you dwell on how much you want to release this story, or finish that next project that just isn’t working out, or sell a proposal that no one’s buying. It happens to all of us. Just recently, David Fincher had Utopia cancelled at HBO. A Oscar-winning director who’s bought us Se7en, Fight Club, Gone Girl, The Social Network, and others, but now he’s had years of work flushed down the toilet. Ouch.

I’m not on Mr. Flincher’s playing field (in case you all weren’t aware of that already), but the same rules apply to everyone. We tend not to focus on what we have already accomplished.

As some of you good good people may know, I’m out o’ town for a holiday. Right of this moment I’m in a little Polish town somewhere outside of Wroclaw. Ensue many Anglos with tongues in knots after attempting to pronounce that correctly. I was here exactly two years ago. I was writing writing away, sending out over a dozen stories to all manner of venues, hoping to land a sale in some department. I was banging my head against the wall because no one was buying a damn word I wrote. Not a single one. Nada.

Sentences like will I ever sell anything and is my career over before it starts kept tumbling through my head. But sitting in this tiny room I kept conjuring up monsters and fantasy landscapes and rain-drenched cities. I kept plugging away without knowing if I’d ever make a sale.

Two years later and here I am. I’ve sold so many stories and articles I’ve lost count (I think the count is close to fifty now). I’ve sold to Nature twice, Strange Horizons six times, and scooped up a Finalist position at Writers of the Future. I’ve had an essay published in one of Lightspeed’s Destroy anthologies. I’ve had the opportunity to produce audio fiction by George R. R. Martin, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson and Robin Hobb for a Hugo-winning podcast that I co-edit. And right now I’m working on a story for my first every fiction solicitation to an anthology that pays pro-rates.

I’ve done all that in two years at the starting age of 18.

It’s not meant as a boast (well, perhaps a little), but it’s more of a look at how much can be done in less than two years of writing.

And yet.

And yet…

I ask myself why I haven’t placed in Writers of the Future. Why I don’t have a pro sale that isn’t flash. Why I haven’t sold to F&SF, Asimovs or Analog yet. Why I don’t have an anthology sale. Why I haven’t appeared in the Best of Years. Why I don’t have an agent. Why I don’t have a book deal. Why I don’t….

Stop.

It can cave your head in just about the whys and how comes that inevitably crop up. I know people who have sold to venues I can only dream about, but then reach for another magazine only to fail. I’m very, very fortunate to be in the position where I am now. Pierce Brown wrote one novel a year for seven years before Red Rising sold. Brandon Sanderson wrote thirteen. I know someone who’s written fourteen novels and had none of them picked up. And I’m sure it’s taken others far longer with many more books.

I cannot even imagine what it would be like, collecting rejections for your tenth novel and wondering if you’d ever have a single word of your fiction published. I’m sitting here with multiple sales to Nature (published by Macmillan) and something inside me cracks whenever I see the latest book launches and wonder how long it’ll take before I get there myself. Thank you very much, brain.

So this is a message to anyone who’s struggling (including myself) that it’s healthy to look back from time to time and see how far you’ve come. Hell, most people don’t even finish a novel, let alone a story. Look at your virtual (or physical) shelf and see your accomplishments.

Two years ago in this very room I didn’t have a single one under my belt. And in two years time when I come to Europe again I want to look back on this blog post and realise how much I’ve achieved since. In the next two years I’m going to get that literary agent, that book deal, that Best of Years publication.

And the two years after that…who knows? Fincher directing a film adaptation of my novel would be nice (ain’t ever gonna happen, though).

Until then I’m going to keep forging ahead, but I’m also going to look back. If you’re struggling, maybe you should do the same. It’s a long long road and there ain’t many pit-stops along the way. Well done on getting this far.

But never stop walking.

 

StarShipSofa: Slush Update #1

A little update for you all.

Me and Ralph are slowly carving our way through the slush. We’ve gotten a pretty high amount so far, and the decisions of what to take and let go off are getting difficult. Ralph is finding it hard to let go of some of these stories, and so am I. Make it harder for us. And for those of you who are following the Grinder, I can tell you now it’s wildly inaccurate in our case. It doesn’t list even half of our rejections. Charlie was right when he said better authors use it. 😉

We’ve responded to everything up until <b>December 16</b>. If you haven’t gotten a response, you are in the second round hole pile. I don’t have a date estimate for a response then, but just know that you’re getting another look.

Also, if any of you guys are interested in narrating stories for District of Wonders (or know people who are interested) send over a sample. We’re looking to expand our narrator pool and diversify it.

Tales to Terrify is looking for more UK male narrators. SSS is looking for more female narrators of any time, but especially UK. We recently got a South African narrator on board, but we’re still searching for others.

That’s it for now! Keep sending those stories in!

StarShipSofa: Final Slush Update

Hello everyone,

The slush is done. It’s done. It’s over. And now I know how Frodo felt after throwing the ring into Mt. Doom.

I’ve been so ridiculously busy. Over the course of the submissions I’ve suffered two illnesses, traveled around the globe and back, and a bunch of other personal issues that I’d rather not discuss publicly. On top of that I’m in my final semester of university, and I’ve barely had a second to myself. But you guys all understood and gave me your unending patience, and for that I am grateful. I’ll definitely be looking at getting both an intern for StarShipSofa permanently and a few slush readers to help me out. But right now, I’m so busy that I don’t have the time to hunt down an assistant to help me out because I’m so busy. If that’s not a paradox, I don’t know what is.

It’s been an incredible experience for me, not as just as an editor, but a writer as well. I’ve never really been on the other side on the coin, as they say, in terms of submissions and shifting through slush. But the experience was worth it.

There have been stories I absolutely hated letting go off. There were some that I wrestled with for days and days, completely unsure of what to do. Damn, do you people write fantastic stories. I hated myself for saying no, and writing that letter came with a heavy heart. But the decisions have been made and the acceptances and rejections have been sent off.

For those of you who got acceptances, I’d have given you my personal email address. If you haven’t already, please send your story file and your bio (pasted in the email) over to it. Do not try to reach me via the submissions email – that’s purely for reading slush.

StarShipSofa will absolutely be reopening to submissions. When? I don’t know. I definitely need to graduate from university first, and we’ve got a lot of stuff to sort out over at StarShipSofa. When I get a second I’ll be writing more detailed blog posts about my experience doing slush and the common pitfalls, what to avoid, etc, etc. And if I rejected you, don’t give up. Drag yourself back up and shoot me a story that kicks me in the gut (not literally) and one that I cannot say no to. But more on that later.

It’s been an absolute blast to read your excellent stories, and it’s going to be even more fun working with you all and seeing what the final production looks like. I’ve heard some of them already and they’re excellent. I’m hoping you guys will be as proud of them as I am.

Until then, thank you all so much. And never, ever, ever give up.

Jeremy

Massive Announcement: First “Professional” Sale!

I’ve been quiet about this for the past week, but I can’t keep the lid on any longer.

Exactly one week ago, I signed a contract for a short story, selling it to a magazine. Which magazine, may you ask? That magazine would be Nature magazine, published by Nature Publishing Group, a division of PAN MACMILLAN/TOR!

I won’t lie, my jaw smacked the desk when I saw that Nature had accepted my story. At 19 years old, I sold fiction to a magazine published by a division of one of “Big Five”.

Phew. Wow.

So, I scrapped my brains off the wall and popped a beer in the fridge to celebrate (it was first thing in the morning, and even by Australian standards that’s a tad early). Then I saw that Nature publishes anthologies with names like Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter, Philip K. Dick and others, and that Nature is the most cited science journal in the world, with over 3 million visitors to the website per month.

And I scrubbed my brains from the ceiling one more time. I seriously couldn’t believe it. Even now, it’s a little surreal. Hell, even family, teachers and people I barely know, who don’t even read science-fiction (some don’t even read at all) know about Nature magazine.

There are no words that can express just how riveted I feel. My editor has been phenomenal in making the story the best it could possibly be. I’ve seen the page proofs and artwork, and I love it.

But I’m not getting side tracked. This is the first step in a long, long journey that I won’t be quitting any time soon.

Look for my story in a future issue. For me, I’m back to my editing and writing. And who knows? Maybe I’ll sell another story with them in the future.

Actually, scratch that. You can bet that I will.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑