A walk between worlds

A brief introduction to science-fiction
Preface Although this dissertation is primarily concerned with translation, I need to present it with an extensive background to the genre of science fiction in general which would serve as a basis for the specialised field of Warhammer 40,000 and the myriad influences which thread its universe, such as the religious symbolism in both its aesthetic and philosophy. I had to keep all of this in mind when translating, when searching for the correct word or in the absence of such, come up with the most apt term. There are three main aspects to Warhammer 40,000 upon which I had to work when approaching the selected texts which I have called the Rule of Three, a kind of three-pronged attack with which I tackled the various issues present: 1. Firstly the technological aspect of science-fiction which entails specialised jargon that at best is a tad problematic to fit within the Maltese language1. Since in essence, Warhammer 40,000 falls under the category of science fiction, this is what I’d like to call the bedrock of the entire translation, the most apparent and dependable aspect. This includes military jargon, especially in the translation of Dan Abnett’s Ghostmaker/L-Għammar tal-Iħirsa which is dense with such terminology. 2. Secondly the religious/mythological aspect which I found lends itself very well to Maltese, a fact which has balanced the initial problems imposed by the technological jargon. The main reason is that Catholicism is deeply embedded within our culture, including the language, the religion itself forming an integral part of the Maltese psyche, irrespective of whether one is a believer or a non-believer. Later on this proved to be a boon on more than one front, especially since for countless generations before the twenty-first Ecumenical Council (more known as the Second Vatican Council) of the Catholic Church, the liturgy was carried out in Latin. 3. And last of all, the element of fantasy which is inherent in Warhammer 40,000 through the presence of angelic figures, bizarre beasts and daemons which helps reinforce the religious/mythological aesthetic and softens the ‘hard edges’ of the technological aspect, making it more ‘palatable’ to the language.


The influx of new words, mostly from English, is outpacing the capability of the Maltese language to assimilate and successfully embed them in a desirable mode of integration. For example, the only instance where a Maltese word follows the Semitic rules of grammer and is loaned from an English word, is “fajjar” which is derived the word “fire”. Other words have been slowly assimilated, but it is a turgid process at best, with the words having a distinctly ‘foreign’ feel.


“Realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.” Robert A. Heinlein, 1959

“To be science fiction [...] an honest effort at prophetic extrapolation from the known must be made.” John W. Cambell, 1947.

hen Leonardo da Vinci’s various inventions were put to ink and paper, centuries before their realisation, they were dreams held in stasis with roots to his era, the Renaissance, a multitude of ideas which were in gestation. To borrow a term used in 3D cinema, they occupied a ‘negative space’, on paper they were conceived and given life but they were nothing more than illusions, albeit grounded illusions. As a flying machine, the “aerial screw” (Da Vinci’s name for the device) made sense because its various components (the screw made from linen, the cables that held it together, its wooden frame) and the reasons behind it, were grounded in the reality of its time, what differed was the combination in which they were employed. Much earlier, in the 4th century AD, in a Chinese book called 抱朴子 (Bàopǔzǐ2) written by the scholar Ge Hong3, the Master makes reference to flying cars made from wood and ox-leather straps fastened to returning blades4. When later on the helicopter was invented, the word itself was derived from the French word hélicoptère, which was coined from two Greek words: helix/helik- (ἕλιξ) which means “twisted and curved” and pteron (πτερόν) which means “wing”5. The flight to the improbable had to be grounded, anchored, into the real world, “the prophetic extrapolation” had to be made from what was known and accepted. This concept is also found in the fantasy genre, albeit in a manner which is more tenuous and unreal. As a mythical beast, Pegasus was composed of two established and real components: a horse and wings. What made the beast fantastical was the juxtaposition of both in the same way as the flying car in Bàopǔzǐ was divined as being made of a chariot and wings. The Greek myth of Icarus, the fact that angels have wings, the chariots used by the Hindu gods to traverse the cosmos highlighted humanity’s thirst for flight however each myth used existing conventions in a way that the people of the time understood the ideas proposed because they could relate them to things that already existed.
2 3


Master Who Embraces Simplicity. http://www.chinaculture.org/library/2008-02/04/content_24749.htm (accessed 10th November 2011) 4 http://www.skygod.com/quotes/predictions.html (accessed 10th November 2011) 5 R.E. Allen (ed) et al., p.547 The Concise Oxford Dictionary 8th edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)


I used Da Vinci and his works and the flying car in Bàopǔzǐ as vehicles to usher in the concept of science fiction in general. As a basis to its suspension of disbelief, science fiction draws from various real-world sources which when intertwined together form a tapestry which draws a possible picture of “fictional worlds”6. More often than not, contemporary science fiction visits topics which are current, for instance science fiction written in the wake of the Hiroshima bombings in 1945 are very much concerned with anything atomic and radiation. According to Sheila Schwartz’s essay Science Fiction: Bridge between the Two Cultures (1971), “*t+he fourth era in science fiction dates from 1945 when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and the gap between life and science fiction began to close.” For instance the Horus Heresy novels A Thousand Sons (March 2010) by Graham McNeill and Prospero Burns (January 2011) by Dan Annett engage the idea of the scientific versus the religious amongst other things, a debate which although goes back a while, is reaching new heights with the decline of Christianity in the West. Quoting from Isaac Asimov’s Asimov’s Mysteries, Schwartz says that “science fiction is no longer defined as literature in which the major organizing focus is science but is, instead, regarded as “a literary response to scientific change ... *which+ ... can run the entire gamut of human experience. Science fiction, in other words, includes everything.” She goes on to say that science fiction is more than a bridge linking the two cultures of science and the humanities only, it transcends to all cultures by drawing up a summary and expressing “the nightmare fears, myths, and inescapable concerns of all people today.”7 In Translating Science Fiction: Judith Merril, Kaributsu Ba’ in Japan, Judith Merril is said to have “believed in the power (and obligation) of science fiction to imagine alternate/probable futures.”8 According to Dianne Newell and Jenea Tallentire who wrote the essay, Merril had reputedly said that “when I was writing s-f, I was in a sense trying to translate visions of possible futures for people trapped in concepts of the past--or trying to translate what I perceived as realities of the present (by means of images of the future, cast in literary forms of the past!) to people whose present-realit[ies] were different from mine.”9 Rob Sanders, author of the Black Library novels Redemption Corps (2010) and Atlas Infernal (2011), cites the following from Practising Theory and Reading Literature by Raman Selden who writes about the two opposing approaches in the 19th century: that of the historicist who saw works of art as connected to each other throughout history and that of the scholar who viewed the same works of art as isolated efforts of genius. This is somewhat reminiscent of the diachronic and synchronic approaches to linguistics as propagated by Ferdinand de Saussure. According to Selden, “Historicism understood literary history as a developing totality which reflects a nation’s evolving spirit.”10 This idea was challenged by poststructuralists of the 60s and 70s on several grounds, notably on the exact meaning of the word ‘history’, the fact that “*h+istorical periods are no longer conceived as unified entities”11, and that the study of history is not as objective as one would like to think it is. This approach then gave rise to the New Historicism, a movement which was particularly influenced by Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser. Selden says that “*b+oth conceive ideology as actively constituted through social struggle...”12 On his blog, Sanders sums up all of this by saying:
6 7

Thomas G. Pavel, Fictional Worlds. http://www.jstor.org/stable/814025. (accessed 10th November 2011) 8 http://www.sf-foundation.org/sites/default/files/imported/publications/essays/TranslatingSF.pdf [accessed 22nd November 2011] 9 Ibid. 10 Raman Selden, p94 Practising Theory and Reading Literature New Historicism (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989) 11 Ibid, p95 12 Ibid.


Writers do not operate in a cultural black hole. They are influenced by what they read, they watch and experience. They are influenced by texts from both their youth and their present. This is an unavoidable consequence of a free exchange of ideas. [...] New Historicism is a category of literary theory that deals exclusively with such a process. For New Historicists, ideas do not exist in a vacuum and there are no instances of truly isolated genius: all writers are influenced by history, their personal history of experiences and the cultural expressions of the time.13 The writing of science fiction is, to some extent, based on writing within the bounds of presupposed logic about alternative worlds, “possible worlds” to use Thomas Pavel’s term, or possible futures. One must differentiate between science fiction and fantasy: the former makes the improbable (hypothesised forms of technology) probable, whilst the latter uses impossible devices (magic) in a probable situation. The various scenarios created for science fiction are, more often than not, divergent from the real, but most sci-fi relies on a substantial amount of suspension of disbelief, which is made possible to the reader by would-be scientific explanations or answers to various fictional elements. In a nod to Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale, the key elements to what makes a story fall within the genre of science fiction include the following:
    

A situation in the near or far future (such as Warhammer 40,000 which is set in the 41st millenium), or in an alternative past which contradicts established historical facts. An extraterrestrial scenario, set in outer space (e.g., through means such as advanced and prolonged space-flight), on other worlds inimical to or able to support life. Characters that include alien life forms, mutants, automatons, artificial intelligence that mimics or supersedes its human counterpart, or servitors which are part human, part machine drones. Technology that is way ahead of its time (e.g., lightsabers, genetcally engineered superhumans, sentient machines, warp fields). Scientific principles that are new (such as the recently discovered fact that neutrinos travel faster than light; antimatter) or that contradict established natural laws, such as time travelling, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel (warp travel in Warhammer 40,000; stargates in Stargate Atlantis; hyperspace in Star Wars and Star Trek). New and different political or social systems (e.g. dystopia in George Orwell’s Nineteen EightyFour and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, or a post-apocalyptic/survivor situation such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor where organised society has come to nothing). Paranormal abilities such as superhuman strength, extrasensory perception (the 6th sense or telepathy), and telekinesis to name but a few. These abilities may be inherent or may be induced.


http://rob-sanders.blogspot.com/2011/11/is-for.html [accessed 22 November 2011]



Warhammer 40,000
“Any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another” (Kristeva, 1986, 37).14


he reason I chose Warhammer 40,000 as the backdrop upon which I will be working is for its diverse and rich mythos, the immensity of its scope and the intertextuality laced throughout its mythology. It falls under the category of science-fiction, it is about human empire, the Imperium, which spans the Milky Way galaxy; however it is intertwined with a medieval and gothic fantasy. The tapestry of Warhammer 40,000 is replete with guns and swords, immeasurable cathedrals, tanks and starships, sorcery, daemons, holy machines and Inquisitors, ravenous gods and a nigh catatonic divine Emperor who reaches out to his empire by employing psychic means. One might say that Warhammer 40,000 crosses over to fantasy as well, hence the Maltese term for science-fiction, “fantaxjenza”15 is very apt when applied here.

To use Kristeva's notion of intertextuality, we have to consider that all of the novels set in Warhammer 40,000, are, as the authors have intended, part of a literary lineage which goes out beyond Warhammer 40,000. More often than not, as Bakhtin points out in his notion of heteroglossia a single text (or to stretch it a bit further a set of characters around whom a corps of text is based) consists of a variety of voices which proclaim ideas that are much broader than the authors could ever be. “SCIENCE fiction is a pessimistic genre, devoid of belief in the improvability of man, devoid of belief in the existential choice, devoid of the God and tradition of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The overwhelming tone is despair; the over-whelming emotion is fear. What are the concerns of contemporary life which are mirrored in science fiction?”16 The above quote, taken from Sheila Schwartz’s essay Science Fiction: Bridge between the Two Cultures (1971), meant for science fiction in general, encapsulates the dystopian universe of


http://www.signosemio.com/kristeva/a_paragrammes.asp [accessed 25 April 2011] 15 An agglutination of the words “fantażija” (fantasy) + “xjenza” (science). 16 th http://www.jstor.org/stable/814025. [accessed 9 November 2011]



Warhammer 40,000 before its inception in 1987. The last paragraph of the introduction to the mythos found in every Warhammer 40,000 novel goes: “To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruellest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.”17

Legion of the Damned (Jon Sullivan)

The Adeptus Mechanicus, the priesthood of Mars, is a gargantuan organisation responsible for maintaining the technology of the emerging Imperium. The idea of creating new technology is something seen as far-fetched. The Mechanicus is up to its neck in preserving existing technology, something which is not always possible. What was held as the Golden Age of Technology is seen as the Dark Age of Technology, held in awe and superstition with equal measure. The aura of decay wears heavily upon the Warhammer 40,000 universe. This contrasts heavily with the excerpt found in The Horus Heresy novels (set 10,000 years earlier but still part of the same mythos) which serve as a stark reminder of what was lost during the galactic civil war: “The dawn of a new age of supremacy for humanity beckons. Gleaming citadels of marble and gold celebrate the many victories of the Emperor. Triumphs are raised on a million worlds to record the epic deeds of his most powerful and deadly warriors.” Warhammer 40,000 is replete with references to existing texts which incorporate mythology and philosophy, science and history and so on. The notion of the God-Emperor is derived from Frank Herbert’s Dune, whilst that of the Old Ones and the Slann are taken out of the Cthulhu mythos by H.P. Lovecraft, Konrad Curze, Nostramo and the Night Lords are a clever combination of Joseph Conrad’s

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Soul Hunter (Nottingham: Black Library, 2010)


works and Batman, all with a much darker tinge, whilst the Yngir, the Star-Gods of the undead Necrons are the Dingir of Sumerian myth. The very idea of the genetically modified Astartes, the superhuman Homo Astartes, and their Primarchs being the next stage in humanity’s accelerated evolution overseen by the Emperor, an echo of Zarathustra in one aspect, is derived from Nietzsche’s Übermensch from Thus Spake Zarathustra, at a point when humanity is poised on a Great Crusade to reclaim the galaxy and promulgate the Imperial Truth which denies the existence of any divinity, thus casting off the shackles of superstition by being ushered into an age of enlightenment. The older gods were dead; they could no longer provide meaning with the coming of the Emperor, just as the Übermensch would herald the “death of God”. The Vlka Fenryka, the Space Wolves in Dan Abnett’s Prospero Burns are essentially Vikings in space whilst the naming of the home world of the sorcerous Thousand Sons as “Prospero” has its roots in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The duel between Horus and Sanguinius and the Emperor is derived from the biblical duel of the archangel Michael and Satan, albeit reversed. There is a delicious irony in naming the main character of the Night Lords in Soul Hunter as Talos. The name of Talos from Greek myth “means “the sun” in the Cretan dialect, and “cut down” or “hewn” in Greek.”18 According to Kristeva, “[T]he literary text appears to be a correlation of texts; any text is constructed in relation to another [...] what comes into play is the relationship between the texts, a relationship that energizes signifying productivity."The book refers to other books and [...] gives those books a new way of being, elaborating thereby its own signification" (Kristeva, 1998, 30). So although each text is unique, the emergence of signification is only made possible through the relationship maintained by this unique text with other texts.”19 One can also view the Imperium as an intertwining of the late Byzantine Empire (where it’s still strong in appearance, but rotten within with all the various politicking by the various organisations), and Medieval Europe at large, with the conflict between the religious organizations such as the Inquisition living in an uneasy balance of power with the military branch of the Space Marines (which in this case would be the European monarchs who periodically tugged against the church’s leash).

18 19

http://www.theoi.com/Gigante/GiganteTalos.html [accessed 25 April 2011] th http://www.signosemio.com/kristeva/a_paragrammes.asp [accessed 25 April 2011]



Another comparison is the way the Imperial Guard and the Space Marines are portrayed, which mirror the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS of Nazi Germany in World War II, the former being the Imperial Guard whilst the latter reflecting the Marines. The Imperial Guard is the official army of the Imperium and is at the service of the ‘state’, whose highest ranking commander is the Lord Commander Militant, one of the High Lords of Terra, whereas the Space Marines owe their allegiance only to the Emperor, and do not serve as vassals of the other organizations such as the Inquisition. The Waffen SS in this case bear a similarity to the Space Marines as when they entered service SS troops swore an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler himself rather than to the German state. As well as historical and mythological sources, Warhammer 40,000 owes a lot to George Lucas’s space opera Star Wars. Rogue Trader, the first edition of Warhammer 40,000 was developed in 1983, the year The Return of the Jedi was released. One such similarity exists between the bipedal Sentinel walkers of the Imperial Guard and the AT-ST Walker seen in Episode VI. Subsequent editions of Warhammer 40,000 and the introduction of new races such as the Tau (late 2001) were released in more or less the same time as the prequel episodes of Star Wars such as The Phantom Menace (1999). This can be seen through similarities in aesthetics between the Tau gunships and the Armoured Assault Tank of the Trade Federation. All of this, as can be seen in John Blanche’s art-book The Emperor’s Will, the Horus Heresy series and the other Warhammer 40,000 novels, has served to come up something unique, the many ‘voices’, the “mosaic of quotations” have meshed together to create an alternative world (or worlds!) worthy of academic research.


Star Wars AT ST walker (from The Return of the Jedi)

Imperial Guard Sentinel walker

Star Wars Trade Federation Armoured Assault Tank (from The Phantom Menace)

Tau Hammerhead Gunship


The Machined Bible in Warhammer 40,000


The above excerpt, taken from the second graphic novel in the Daemonifuge series published in 2002 is but one of the myriad references to religion in Warhammer 40,000, some obvious, other more subtle like the above strip which echoes the following excerpt from the Book of Revelation: Revelation 10:9 I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. He said to me, “Take it, and eat it up. It will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.” Revelation 10:10 I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up. It was as sweet as honey in my mouth. When I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. [Apk:10:9] U mort ħdejn l-anġlu u għedtlu jagħtini l-ktejjeb. U qalli: “Ħu, u ibilgħu, u jsirlek imrar ġo fik, imma ġo ħalqek jiġik ħelu għasel.”[Apk:10:10] Jien ħadt il-ktejjeb minn id l-anġlu u blajtu, u ġo ħalqi ħassejtu ħelu għasel; iżda meta kiltu, mlieni bl-imrar ġo fija. The story of Daemonifuge centres on Ephrael Stern, a warrior nun of the Adepta Sororitas. The Sororitas form the militant arm of the Ecclesiarchy, the Church of the God Emperor. Stern is endowed with mystical powers, the result of being imbued with the accumulated knowledge and consciousness of

Kev Walker et al., p 86-87, Daemonifuge Book Two: The Lord of Damnation, (Nottingham: Black Library 2002)


around seven hundred fellow sisters who were tortured unto dismemberment and had the remnants of their bodies and anima to construct a screaming cage, a living sculpture of skin and bone which echoes the words of the madman of Gadarenes “My name is Legion, for we are many.”21 This story, alongside others such as the duel between Horus and Sanguinius (albeit reversed), the Emperor and his Primarchs which mirror Jesus Christ and the Apostles, the monastic mien of the Space Marines, the very presence of a Church replete with cardinals and priests and so on point out to this religious influence. There is a continuous interplay between the religious and the technological; sometimes the two are interchangeable, sometimes the former serves as a ward by the superstitious masses against the latter.

Horus defeats Sanguinius, detail from The Emperor versus Horus (Adrian Smith)

Archangel Michael defeats Satan from Michael by Guido Reni in Santa Maria della Concezione church, Rome, 1636

There are other, sometimes less subtle, references such as the already mentioned contemporary22 religious debate in the Horus Heresy novel Prospero Burns: ‘I’m sorry. It’s easy to mock religion,’ Murza said. ‘It is,’ Hawser agreed.
21 22

Mark 5:9. Although by no means limited to our time, especially when cosidering that this debate has been raging since, I believe, the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, it is still very much in vogue with the likes of the New Atheism in 2007 propogated by the “Four Horsemen”: Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.


‘It’s easy to scorn it for being old-fashioned and inadequate. A heap of superstitious rubbish. We have science.’ ‘We do.’ ‘Science, and technology. We are so advanced, we have no need of spiritual faith.’ ‘Are you going somewhere with this?’ Hawser asked. ‘We forget what religion offered us.’ ‘Which is?’ ‘Mystery.’ That was his argument. Mystery. All religions required a believer to have faith in something inexpressible. You had to be prepared to accept that there were things you could never know or understand, things you had to take on trust. [...] Science deplored such a view, because everything should be explicable, and that which was not was simply beneath contempt.23 This goes in line with the following extract from Fr. Ray Francalanza’s thesis Sign and Signification where he writes about the call for reflection in discerning the mystery: “... each model, age or scholar carries its own tension. Moreover schools of thought are transient phenomena that ebb and flow with the times. [...] Then there is what I call the tired debate between faith and reason. [...] So immediately and I would add unfortunately, the theme of conversation and dialogue is taken out from the binary path of the sacred and the awe experience of grace in every day living...”24 The spiritually gothic and the medieval are reflected through the iconography and very presence of the Inquisition and the concept of the Great Crusade earlier in the chronology of Warhammer 40,000. The most direct reference to earlier forms of religion which pins the situation spanning the entire Imperium is found in an earlier passage in Prospero Burns, where one of the characters is of the Catheric faith, Catheric being a play on words with the word Catholic and Cathar: Catheric had a strand of Millenarianism in it. The proto-creeds that had given rise to it had believed in an end time, an apocalypse, during which a saviour
23 24

Dan Abnett, p139 Prospero Burns (Nottingham: Black Library, 2011) Rev Dr Ray Francalanza OSA, p25, 37 Sign and Signification: Networks of Discernment in the Church (University of Malta, 2009)


would come to escort the righteous to safety. An apocalypse had come all right. It had been called Strife and Old Night. There had been no saviour. Some philosophers reasoned that mankind’s crimes and sins had been so great, redemption had been withheld. Salvation had been postponed indefinitely until mankind had atoned sufficiently, and only once that had happened would the prophecy be revisited.25 The Council of Nikaea in A Thousand Sons is concerned with the use of Librarians, members of the Adeptus Astartes able to tap into the powers of the warp and use sorcery as a weapon. Just as Constantine the Great called the First Council of Nicaea which was the first attempt to gain consensus in the church through an assembled gathering representing the entirety of Christendom, so does the Emperor convene a council on the planet of Nikaea with various representatives from across the Imperium where he “...chose this moment to heal that rift and bring his sons together as one.”26 This assembly includes the Primarchs of some of the Legions, amongst them Magnus the Red, the Crimson King of the Thousand Sons. Since then, as it came to be known amongst others, the unofficial title of the Council of Nikaea is “the trial of Magnus the Red”27 just as in Nicaea, “the council's real business was to reach unanimous consensus on the christological views of Arius”28 and here one can link the figure of Arius, propagator of the Arian heresy, to that of the Crimson King.

Magnus the Red (John Blanche)

Certain figures and roles are replicated, for instance, Malcador the Sigillite’s role as advisor to the Emperor is a reflection of Ossius, bishop of Cordoba, as was the reluctance of both Emperor and Sigillite to convene the council in the first place, the former having done so with a heavy heart. At one point during the Council, Ahriman, Magnus’s Chief-Librarian “...could see the Master of Mankind clearly, reading the reluctance etched onto his regal features”29, with the Crimson King saying that the Emperor had no choice “but to appease his supporters”30. In a letter sent to the bishop of Alexandria and Arius, Constantine and Ossius “blamed both contestants alike for their controversy over theological questions that never should have been brought up. In it the emperor insisted upon the goals of peace, harmony, and unity.”31 After a long winded debate, with both sides pitching their arguments against their opponents’ the Emperor decrees that the Librarian departments are to be banned, his edict ending with the following sentence:

25 26

Dan Abnett, p138, 139 Prospero Burns (Nottingham: Black Library, 2011) Graham McNeill, p323 A Thousand Sons (Nottingham: Black Library, 2010) 27 Ibid. 28 http://www.jstor.org/stable/1202069 29 Ibid, p 319 30 Ibid. 31 http://www.jstor.org/stable/1202069


Woe betide he who ignores my warning or breaks faith with me. He shall be my enemy, and I will visit such destruction upon him and all his followers that, until the end of all things, he shall rue the day he turned from my light."32 Just as the use of sorcerous powers threatened to break apart the fellowship of the Legiones Astartes, the “squabbles and divisions over the employment of Librarians” festering and spreading “to become a rift that would never be sealed”33, so did the Arian heresy threaten to break apart the unity of the Godhead, Father and Son, as perceived by the Church and handed down by the Apostles.

The Primarchs at the Triumph of Ullanor (Neil Roberts)

The battle for the Imperial palace, the culmination of the entire Horus Heresy, is a reflection of John Milton’s battle between Lucifer’s followers, reflected in Horus and the traitorous Primarchs, and the armies of Heaven. The Emperor’s reluctance in confronting Horus, his most favoured son, is reflected in God’s reluctance to take part against Lucifer. Even the choice of name, Horus, derived from Egyptian mythology, reflects the dynamism of the character himself since amongst the many functions he served in the Egyptian pantheon were the sky god and the god of war. The Chaos Space Marines and their daemonic Primarchs, engaged in their Long War against the Imperium, and their refuge in the Eye of Terror, are a reflection of the devils residing in Pandæmonium in Paradise Lost. Just as Satan uses rhetoric to sway Mammon and Beelzebub, Belial and Moloch, so does Lorgar of the Word Bearers sway Horus Lupercal who in turn sways Fulgrim of the Emperor’s Children, Mortarion of the Death Guard, Angron of the World Eaters, Konrad Curze of the Night Lords, the twins Alpharius and Omegon of the Alpha Legion and Perturabo of the Iron Warriors to his cause, shattering the erstwhile brotherhood of the Primarchs. Another parallel which can be drawn is Satan’s harrowing journey to Earth where he braves the Abyss, and journeys across Chaos outside Hell before arriving to his destination, and Lorgar’s journey into the Eye of Terror, the place “where gods and mortals meet.”3435

32 33

Graham McNeill, p356 A Thousand Sons (Nottingham: Black Library, 2010). Ibid, p323. 34 Aaron Dembski-Bowden, The First Heretic (Nottingham: Black Library, 2010). 35 Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Aurelian (Nottingham: Black Library, 2011).



The aftermath of this galactic civil war is a ten thousand year long decay, with the Emperor becoming an increasingly distant figure as the light of the Astronomican, the psychic beacon which holds the Imperium together growing dimmer. In her essay, Schwartz asks the following question:

“What are the concerns of contemporary life which are mirrored in science fiction? The major one, hovering over all peoples, is the possibility of the destruction of the world; it is a repetition of the Biblical myth of Noah, but this time, with-out any hope of ultimate salvation.” In the 5th edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook, the current epoch of the Imperium is the Time of Ending, summed up in the following words: As the dark days close in, Mankind stands before the precipice. Now is the time of judgement, where faith shall be tested in fire, and courage put to its very limits. Secession and rebellion are rife in all corners of the Imperium. Sensing weakness, alien empires close in from all sides. The Space Marines and Imperial Guard are at war as never before, defending humanity from threats within, without and beyond. This is humanity’s darkest hour.36 Schwartz’s answer to her question is further emphasised by the grim feel of Warhammer 40,000’s aesthetic and the following tagline: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war” in contrast with the rise of the New Jerusalem following the turmoil at the end of the Book of Revelations. At the onset of the Horus Heresy, when the rebel Warmaster was approaching Terra, the Emperor laid the foundations of what would become The Holy Orders of the Emperor’s Inquisition. He bids his most trusted advisor, Malcador the Sigillite to “...draw about you men of character, skill and determination. These men are to be rigorously tested and trained to ensure that they are of the highest calibre and that their loyalty to me is unshakeable. These men will be the cadre of an elite group of investigators whose role is to root out heresy and treachery wherever it may hide.”37 This ties in with John Wyndham’s novel The Chrysalids38 which revolves around the world of Labrador, a place as punitive and repressive as the Imperium of Man. The survivors of the catastrophe, termed “Tribulation” in reference to the Book of Revelation, are zealous inhabitants who have embraced a creed that rejects deviancy from the norm. The tenets of this creed are:


Rick Priestley, Andy Chambers et al., p123 Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition Rulebook, (Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2008) 37 Alan Merrett, p324 The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Nottingham: Black Library, 2007). 38 Published in the United States as Re-Birth.


KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; BLESSED IS THE NORM; IN PURITY OUR SALVATION; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT; and, THE DEVIL IS THE FATHER OF DEVIATION.39 which ties in well with the following: Heed not the heretic! Look not upon the alien! Speak not unto the daemon!40 Burn the Heretic! Kill the Mutant! Purge the Unclean!41 As mentioned earlier, the Golden Age of Technology becomes the Dark Age of Technology and viewed with suspicion as being the reason for the Age of Strife or as it is colloquially known “Old Night” which followed. This paranoia is further exacerbated by the Horus Heresy and just as in Labrador, the citizens of the Imperium are watched over by the overbearing Inquisition which serves as an ecclesiastical tribunal and a sort of specialised police force/secret service as seen in the Eisenhorn short story Missing in Action. Of the twelve individuals gathered by Malcador, eight were Space Marines and were to be the first eight Grandmasters of the Grey Knights, the militant arm of one of the Orders of Inquisition, the Ordo Malleus. The other four individuals were “trusted servants of the Emperor during the building of his galactic empire. (…) They were divided in opinion, with two believing that the fledgling Imperium could not survive without the Emperor to directly lead Humanity, while the other two were adamant that the Emperor has ascended to a higher plane and that it was folly to interfere with the course of events as they had unfolded.” 42 The two Inquisitors who were loath to “interfere with the course of events” echo the Inquisitor in The Grand Inquisitor, a fable told by Ivan to his brother Alyosha in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. “Why have you come to get in our way? For you have come to get in our way and you yourself know it. But do you know what will happen tomorrow? I do not know who you are, and I do not want to know: you may be He or you may be only His likeness... [...] The old man shudders. Something has stirred at the corners of his mouth; he goes back to the door, opens it and says to Him: “Go, and do not come back... do not come back at all... ever ... ever!” And he releases him into the “town’s dark secrets and squares”. The Captive departs.”43

http://www.jstor.org/stable/814025. Nick Kyme ed., p2 The Inquisition (Nottingham: Black Library, 2007). 41 Christian Dunn & Marc Gascoigne Let the Galaxy Burn! (Nottingham: Black Library, 2006) 42 Gav Thorpe, p3 Inquisitor: The Thorians , (Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2006) 43 Fyodor Dostoyevsky, p326, 342 The Brothers Karamazov trans., by David McDuff (London: Penguin Books 1993, 2003. First published in 1880)


The God-Emperor is a reflection of the Captive/Christ mentioned since his corporeal body is imprisoned within the baroque machinery of the Golden Throne. The Inquisitor rulebook opens with a scene where “the four individuals” discuss the fate of the Emperor. Moriana suggests that the Emperor can be brought back to life and that he “need not suffer this hideous eternal life in death”44 but one of the two Inquisitors who were of a conservative mind is adamantly opposed to this, asking “What if the person brought back was not the man we once knew?”45, echoing the Inquisitor in Ivan’s fable. One of the more famous Inquisitors in Warhammer 40,000, is the Witch Hunter Fyodor Karamazov, whose name is an amalgamation of the book “The Brothers Karamazov” and its author Fyodor Dostoevsky. The themes of faith, free will, and morality are amongst the central tenets of the book. In addition, another Inquisitor by the name of Torquemada Coteaz is an obvious reference to the Spanish Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada who, like Coteaz, is known for being zealous as well as incorruptible. The machinations of the Inquisition in Warhammer 40,000 mirror that of the Inquisition in Europe: its workings in its pursuit to eradicate heresy through investigation and trial through torture and its meting out of castigation to those found guilty. This is also reflected in the choice of aesthetic as seen in the above artwork of Inquisitor Karamazov upon his throne and procedures such as Trial by Balance and Trial by Holy Seal. The artwork below, is of more militant Inquisitors, by militant those who take the fight to the enemy and eradicate mass roots of heresy, such as the Rebellion on Vraks, the revolt of Salem Proctor, the Macharian Heresy and so on, as reflected by the siege of Monstegur and the eradication of the Cathars in the Albigensian Crusade (1209 - 1229), a military campaign lasting for twenty years which was started by the Catholic Church in order to purge the influence of Catharism in the region of Languedoc in France. Arnaud Amaury’s notorious saying “Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own”46 is reflected in Inquisitor Karamzov’s uncompromising approach as noted in his saying “There is no such thing as a plea of innocence in my court. A plea of innocence is guilty of wasting my time. Guilty”47 which is further elaborated in the latest edition of the Grey Knights codex: Karamazov has no patience for those foolish enough to appear guilty when they are blameless. Such halfwits are guilty of wasting his valuable time, if nothing else, and are led without hesitation to the purging fires, alongside the murderers, traitors, saboteurs and heretics.48

44 45

Gav Thorpe, p5 Inquisitor, (Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2001) Ibid. 46 “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." Armaud’s alleged answer to confused crusaders who could not distinguish between Catholics and Albigensians [Cathars]. [http://www.crusadesencyclopedia.com/arnaudamaury.html retrieved 14th November 2011] 47 Nick Kyme ed., p54 The Inquisition (Nottingham: Black Library, 2007). 48 Matt Ward, p46 Codex Grey Knights (Nottingham: Games Workshop, 2010).



A bridge between worlds
An analysis of the translation of science-fiction
With an alphabet that has been established in 1924 and treated as a gutter language for decades, Maltese is a language in its infancy when compared to English or French or Chinese, with a literary tradition that is relatively young. Although the earliest poem in Maltese, the Kantilena by Pietru Caxaru dates back to the 1470s, it is a singular effort at best. Maltese literature is lacking seriously behind its Western and Eastern counterparts, with certain genres, notably science-fiction, being totally absent although efforts are being made to address this situation. To put it simply there is a lacuna when it comes to alternative genres of literature in Malta. As such that makes the translation of something as specified as Warhammer 40,000 more difficult to achieve in a convincing manner since one cannot rely on existing science-fiction works in Maltese. Therefore I had to, in some cases, come up with new terms for words which had no equivalent in Maltese. For this literature review I had to rely on papers and texts dealing with the translation of science fiction in foreign languages since, as I have already mentioned, there are no existing equivalents which deal with the local scenario. As mentioned in the preface, the difficulties posed by technological jargon were superseded by the biblical references since Maltese more than caters for that kind of language. I.A. Dautzenberg’s article A Survey of Dutch and Flemish Science Fiction (1981) starts by assessing the situation between Dutch and Flemish which mirrors in a way the situation in Malta regarding Maltese and English. The relevance of this article to the local scene, despite the absence of science-fiction in Maltese, is particular because it brings up some of the more negative/incredulous reactions I had when announcing the scope of this dissertation. Dautzenberg mentions that according to the Dutch, “...Flemish is experienced not as a linguistic variety of their own language, but as a wrong version of it. This false opinion is reinforced by the fact that nearly all serious Flemish literature is either written in pure Dutch or ‘translated’ by a Dutch editor.”49 This goes hand in hand with the local situation, where Maltese is perceived by some to be a sub-standard language, an erroneous belief passed down over the decades. This local attitude is reflected in the Dutch/Flemish situation where Dautzenberg says that “A symptom of this attitude obtrudes itself in the numerous nasty jokes which invariably present the Flemings as very stupid folk who cannot even speak normal Dutch. (The Flemings in turn tell jokes about the baffling stinginess of the Dutch.)”50 One must bear in mind that this article was written in 1981 with Dautzenberg going on to say that the article is somewhat a very sketchy survey, because of the total absence of studies in this area.51 That the same situation is replicated in 2011 in Malta speaks of volumes of the state of the alternative literary scene although one has to admit that sterling efforts are being made to redress this with events such as the Malta Comic Con which has been an annual event since 2009 and the publication of John A. Bonello’s L-Aħħar Ħolma52, which although falls under the category of fantasy, falls within the mark of alternative genres.

49 50

http://www.jstor.org/stable/4239408 [21st November 2011] Ibid. 51 Ibid. 52 [The-Last-Dream]


Dautzenberg cites the mid 1960s as the “boom in SF translating”, albeit the focus was on pulp SF rather than mainstream. Before the 60s, the real interest shown in pulp SF was directed towards the juvenile market although in the early 1950s the following adult SF was translated “Del Rey’s When the World Tottered (1950), Asimov's Pebble in the Sky (1952), Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon (1953), and so on.”53 The real breakthrough came with publishers such as Spectrum, Bruna and Meulenhoff, the last having started what was to be “the most important and ambitious series in the country”. Other publishers are mentioned, each having varying degrees of success (and abject failures). Of particular import and relevance is the following extract from Dautzenberg’s article: Some of these publishers had rather strange views on translation: the early Born and Centripress books especially and nearly all those from Ridderhof and Skala, were very badly translated, not only in the sense that the Dutch text does not exactly represent the original, but also in the sense that the language used by the translators seems to be the Dutch counterpart of the “Middle High Neolithic” which, as James Blish once wrote, Sam Moskowitz deploys in his studies. Moreover, some translations represent abridgements without the author's consent - sometimes to the point of mutilation. These practices have even occurred with so reputable a publisher as Meulenhoff: their early translations in particular are poorly done and their version of Last and First Men is a sheer bowdlerization. Although by the time Dautzenberg was writing, some 750 books were translated into Dutch, there were various discrepancies in the sense that some authors and famous works are not represented, the impression given is that the overall effort was rather haphazard. The greatest issue which had plagued science fiction in both book form and magazine has been that of lacklustre translations, in some cases Dautzenberg emphasises the fact by saying “very bad translations” and sometimes “totally corrupted by translation and abridgement.”54 In a situation that once again mirrors the local situation to a certain extent, Dautzenberg goes on to say, that “Dutch literature is essentially realistic” having little room for fantasy when the genre was popular during the Romantic period where the “quantity of Dutch fantastic fiction was very small. Consequently, no coherent or even continuous tradition of fantastic fiction exists, let alone a tradition of SF [...] It is therefore impossible to give a real historical account of the development of Dutch and Flemish SF and fantasy.”55 This differs somewhat to the situation in Russia and the former Soviet Union, where a comprehensive list of science fiction works have been translated from Russian into English, not the other way round. In a bibliography compiled in 1991, Richard P. Terra and Robert M. Philmus include: Russian and Soviet SF works written and published during the last two centuries, running from about 1790 to 1990. The overwhelming majority of them are mid-to-late-20th-century titles; few works of Russian or early Soviet SF or science fantasy have been translated into English.56
53 54

http://www.jstor.org/stable/4239408 Ibid. 55 Ibid. 56 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240060


When rifling through the scarce amount of articles related to the translation of science-fiction, one can’t help but notice that the 1960s were important years when it came to science fiction in general and more importantly the translation of books and magazines related to the genre when introducing it for the first time to a public not acquainted with it. Domna Pastourmatzi, in her article Hellenic Magazines of Science Fiction (1999), says that many Greek readers were introduced to the genre in the 1960s “when a small group of publishers [...] began printing translations of established authors. It was a modest beginning: the entire decade of the 1960s saw just eleven novels and one anthology translated into Greek.”57 The following decade was described by Christos Lazosas “a fertile decade for sf in Greece"58. According to Pastourmatzi, Dimitris Panayiotatos goes one step further: “It wouldn’t be an exaggeration ... to talk of a science-fiction and fantasy orgasm in Greece in the last three years”59 since over 120 novels and 230 stories were translated, mostly between 1976 and 1979.60 In the Dutch and Flemish scenario it was incompetent translations which were holding the genre down, in the Greek scenario it was a hostility towards American culture and the mentality that science fiction is a form of escapism from the problems plaguing the country. According to Pastourmatzi “Science fiction could [not] command the attention of mainstream literary magazines”61, citing the case of Odysseas Hatzopoulos, whose efforts in publishing novels by Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke were met with “scorn and ridicule”62. Science fiction, cooped up in what Pastourmatzi calls a “ghetto” was seen as para-literature, the opposite of “serious” literature. Petros Martinides, who according to Pastourmatzi takes “a highbrow attitude” and an “elitist approach”, saw “science fiction [as] a subliterary product for the semiliterate, impossible to conceive of as competing with the masterpieces of the "serious" literary canon.”63 A fledgling pattern which clearly emerges is that the translation of science-fiction was a precursor to the publishing of original science-fiction. In a way translation was used as a silent experiment, testing the ice as it is, before the writing of local science-fiction was seen as commercially viable. For instance Pastourmatzi says that the “second wave of translations after 1986 revitalized interest in sf and rekindled the desire to establish a Hellenic magazine that would cater to the needs of a growing readership.”64 Likewise, in Dautzenberg’s A Survey of Dutch and Flemish Science Fiction, the first wave of science-fiction were translations of foreign authors rather than original works. Another issue which plagued the Dutch/Flemish scene as well as the Hellenic scene is that of poor quality translations which have had a major impact when it comes to overall reception of the genre. This extends further to the works of Jules Verne, which as Teri J. Hernández says in Translating Verne: An Extraordinary Journey, have been since their inception translated poorly as we shall see later on. To make matters worse, “the sales of cheap books with poor translations seemed to rival the sales of more serious works, pointing to the sad conclusion that the small number of loyal fans would buy
57 58

http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240816 Ibid, citing Lazos, Christos. "H Elliniki Logotechnia tis Epistimonikis Fantasias: Mia Syntomi Episkopisi." Diavazo 220 (August

9, 1989): 23-30.

http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240816, citing Panayiotatos, Dimitris. "Fantastiko kai Epistimoniki Fantasia: Ennoia kai Ideologiki Leitourgia." Diavazo 20 (May 1979): 47-55. 60 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240816 61 Ibid. 62 Ibid. 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid.


indiscriminately anything that carried the label sf.” Apagorevmenos Planitis was the first magazine to professionalise the field with good quality translations but the ceasing of publication in 1990 left a void in its wake. The quality of the translations outside Apagorevmenos Planitis was uneven whilst “most of the sf translations being printed were amateurish jobs geared toward quick profits.”65 Till the time Pastourmatzi was writing the keen interest in texts written in English “gave the lion’s share to translated American writers, who from the start dominated and continue to dominate the Hellenic sf market.”66 In some cases however, the names of the translators were omitted from the publications themselves, a phenomenon which had dogged the translation of science-fiction in Greece. This may be due to the perception of the translator as being inferior to the author, echoing George Steiner’s view on the critic. When Steiner said “when he looks back, the critic sees a eunuch’s shadow”67 he was perhaps referring to the position of the critic in relation to the original work of art, that whoever is assessing critically always holds a secondary place, that without the initial work, criticism is an infertile practice and here the translator may somewhat be in a similar situation although a translators essentially rewrites the story in question. Usually the name of the translator is featured in the front pages of a book rather than on a cover and in much smaller print, with a short bibliographical note thrown in although in literary fiction within the canon a translator is much more recognised. The situation of translating sci-fi in Greece is by no means a Hellenic phenomenon. Some of the situations described are pretty much representative of a much larger market not only limited to sci-fi, extending as far to the translation of EU documents for instance by some (though not all) of the freelance translators. For instance in Greece, translating foreign authors is desrcibed as “a lucrative business for publishers, but not for most translators, who for the most part are private businessmen following the dictates of a free, competitive market: no university presses are involved.”68 The majority of translators are: “...*t+reated like temporary factory workers and are paid by the page, often without contracts. Many Greek publishers hire college graduates or anyone claiming a certificate of proficiency in a foreign language. Profit is the number one motive, since many publishers are basically merchants who lack the education to make informed literary judgments. As a result, most translations are amateurish – fast jobs that do not do justice to the original texts.”69 The number of professional translators who were well-versed in matters relating to literature was severely limited. This closely knit group of professionals was “comprised of authors, editors, and intellectuals who have sufficient knowledge and skill to earn a living from translations”70 as opposed to the majority who were either acquaintanced to the editors or were fans and budding writers “eager to see their name printed.”71

65 66

http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240816 Ibid. 67 George Steiner: Language & Silence: Humane Literacy (1968). Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1998. 68 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240816 69 Ibid. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid.


The problems of bad/woefully lacking translations of science fiction are particular when it comes to works by French author Jules Verne as Teri J. Hernaindez shows in his article Translating Verne: An Extraordinary Journey. Whereas in the Greek sci-fi scenario, translators lacked the required standard to translate effectively, the issue of censorship comes into play here: I subsequently learned that his reputation as an author had consistently been undermined by poor English translations and that Verne scholars were on a mission not only to educate his reading public about the real Jules Verne (the one that appears in the original unabridged French texts), but also to publish new and faithful translations of Verne's texts in English as well. Vernian scholars agree that the majority of the early English translations of Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires were severely abridged and often censored by British and American translators who, in order to turn out quick English publications, left out entire passages, made basic errors, or deliberately altered anti-British or anti-American references, creating texts that sometimes had very little in common with the French originals.72 The issue of domesticating versus foreignising comes to the fore here. Since the audience in question was either British or American, the degree of domesticating is less than say if the audience in question was Chinese or Japanese, which would have involved a different, unrelated language and seemingly ‘alien’ customs. As He Sanning says in his article Lost and Found in Translating Tourist Texts the advantages of domesticating include “maintaining the terseness of the text, obtaining the reader‘s understanding of the translated text, and gaining the interest of the reader.”73 The first translators of Verne’s work sought to make the texts palatable to their audiences by eliminating anti-British or antiAmerican references. However, its biggest weakness is that the cultural and historical elements of the original text could be lost in translation. For instance in a hypothetical situation, a Chinese translator may decide (or not) to ‘translate’ afternoon tea at 4 o’ clock in a British setting to a tea ceremony in China. Both are related if distinct activities with a different cultural baggage, however, this would aggressively domesticate the original text and spoon-feed the audience. Hernaindez’s project involved the translation of a novel which has not been translated before, therefore making his work easier since he was not encumbered “with already-existing corrupt versions.”74 In my case, when translating works of science-fiction into Maltese I may have found it difficult at first in that I had no local references to rely on, but at the same time I was prowling virgin territory and was free to make my own decisions as I saw fit, provided they were backed up substantially. As in the translation of Verne’s novel, the work of translation itself has been very demanding for a different number of reasons. Hernaindez mentions the “questions of the language transfer at multiple levels: of idiosyncrasies in the French syntax, of specific maritime technical terminology, of appropriateness of proper names...”75 For Hernaindez, as with any other translator worthy of the name, the process of translating takes place in a number of steps:


http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241324. http://www.jostrans.org/issue13/art_sanning.pdf [accessed 22nd November 2011] 74 Ibid. 75 http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241324.


I usually translate with the original French text in front of me, verifying technical vocabulary. Then, I distance myself from the text and come back to it later to reread it and see if it makes sense. I then make corrections and adjustments. I reread it again to make sure it flows well, that there are not any awkward phrasings, and that there is not a more authentic (i .e., natural) way to express it. One must pay attention to include “more natural syntax constructions in English”76 in the sense that the translation reads as if it is the original, a “translation of dynamic equivalence [which] aims at complete naturalness of expression.”77 Another different approach was Judith Merril’s78 translation of Japanese science-fiction into English when she barely knew any Japanese. In Translating Science Fiction: Judith Merril, Kaributsu Ba’ in Japan by Dianne Newell and Jenea Tallentire, her (for the 1970s) avant-garde methods in bridging two very distinct cultures are listed. Translation of Japanese science fiction stories “is said to be difficult because of the lack of a future indicative tense in the Japanese language, and because of the invented nature of the language and landscapes used in sf.”79 Japonic and Sino-Tibetan languages, notably Chinese eschew the use of tenses, instead relying on particle words to convey aspect. Merril’s ability to learn the basic knowledge of Japanese syntax enabled her to work with a team. At one point she helped a Japanese friend of hers by the name of Saito who had translated a work of the Japanese science fiction writer Hoshi Shinichi and given it to a young English woman to re-evaluate it, to polish what he felt was a rough translation. According to Merril, Hoshi’s style was “very, very simple” whereas although a beautiful piece of work, the “polished translation” departed heavily from the style of the source text and created a work which was quite Victorian in style. When hiring a second translator, Saito and Merril went over the possibility of how Hoshi would have written the story in English. The fulcrum of her intent was “getting at the nucleus of the author’s intent, rather than just the surface language”80 where “…it keeps going until they’re satisfied and I am, so it’s very slow, but we think we’re actually getting translation. Not just information translation, but the best quality and style and cultural translation as well.”81 It would be best to wrap up with a quote from her 1972 essay on translation for the Japanese SF Magazine which I feel applies not only to the translation of science fiction but the concept of translation in general: The first step, I believe, is learning to travel in more than one direction, and think in more than one pattern, at the same time: learning to sustain awareness on many different levels of perception, and to communicate across all artificial barriers.82

76 77

Ibid Eugene Nida, p159, Towards a Science of Translating, (Leiden: Brill (1964) 78 Or Kaributsu Ba’, as she was known in Japan, literally meaning “Monster Grandma”. 79 http://www.sf-foundation.org/sites/default/files/imported/publications/essays/TranslatingSF.pdf 80 Ibid. 81 Ibid. 82 Ibid.


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