22 outubro 2009

A little behind-the-scenes peek:

A little behind-the-scenes peek:

I thought some of you might be interested in the queries an author receives from a translator of his or her work. Here are the questions I was asked today by my Italian translator, who is just finishing up his translation of my novel FlashForward (page numbers refer to the 1999 Tor hardcover):


p. 13: Moving up the cube. - Do you refer in advance to the Minkowski cube? Or what?

Yes, I'm referring to the Minkowski cube ... a little foreshadowing.


p. 24: Solid-state microphone. - What do you mean exactly?

A futuristic technology; a solid block that picks up sounds. You can drop the "solid-state" reference if it's confusing.


p. 71: Christmas-banquet. - Should be a game of words referred to something I ignore. What is it?

Just a screw-up involving translating the menu for CERN's staff Christmas dinner into other languages, resulting in inappropriate dishes being served. This is supposed to be a humorous reference in the novel.


p. 105: KEK- Acronym for what?

I'm not sure, to be honest. But it's a real particle accelerator in Japan. I checked two sources; neither spelled out the acronym.


p. 110: A blind copy of your message - I use email but I never heard this expression.

A blind copy is a copy you get of a message that has gone to multiple people -- but your copy doesn't include a list of who the other recipients are


p. 132: I could use a trip - I don't remember the film Casablanca, but what is a trip, in this case?

"Trip" just means a "vacation" in this context -- "I could use a vacation."


p. 135: Begats - I couldn't find this word in any of the dictionaries I have. What does it mean?

In English translations of the Bible, the archaic English word "begat" (past tense of "beget") is used to denote parental lineages. If John is the grandfather, and David is the father, and Peter is the son, it would say "John begat David, who begat Peter." There are pages and pages of such family-history listings in the Bible.


p. 143: Quadrapole magnets. And (p. 275) Sextupole magnets. - Are they magnets with a particular form (4 or 6 poles)?



p. 153: Indeed it's just relativity writ large. - I didn't exactly grasp the sense of the phrase

"writ large" is a somewhat pompous English idiom. It means "expressed in a grand sense" (as if you'd written the words in big letters on a wall; "writ" is Old English for "written").
Lloyd might have simply said, "It's just relativity on a grand scale" or "It's just relativity taken to the next level."


p. 173: HEP - Acronym for what?

High-energy photon (a gamma-ray photon is a HEP)


p. 174: High-end stereo and virtual reality decks. - Inventions of a not far future, I imagine.

"high-end" in English just means pricey or expensive -- something offered to the high end of the marketplace (those people with lots of money). So "high-end stereo decks" already exist, but "high-end virtual-reality decks" are yet to be invented.


p. 197: And that Lloyd had stopped to smell the roses? - Is there a hidden meaning, under the literal one?

"stop to smell the roses" is an idiom in English; it figuratively means to take time out of one's busy schedule in order to appreciate the simple joys of life.


p. 198: This End Up & following. - Well, I understand these are common phrases, but could you explain better?

This End Up: phrase printed on shipping cartons to show what way they should be oriented when placed in a truck. A carton containing a TV set will say "This End Up," for instance, on its top.

Best Before Date on Bottom: appears on containers of perishable foods, such as single-serving plastic cups of yogurt, to indicate that an expiration date, after which the food should not be consumed, has been printed on the bottom of the container.

In order to form a more perfect onion: this refers to a line from the preamble to the United States Constitution: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union ..." But I changed the word "union" to "onion" (a kind of plant) to show that the Japanese clothing manufacturer who had put this slogan on a shirt had no idea what the words actually meant.


p. 224: Souls are about life immortal... and religion is about just rewards. - This puzzled me a lot. Does it mean that souls look for immortality and religion only gives a reward that is not what souls are looking for? But this should be in contrast with the credo of Mr. Cheung, who is a Christian. I'd like to nderstand the exact sense of the phrase.

"just rewards" is an English expression; the "just" in "just rewards" means properly due or merited -- your "just rewards" are what you really have coming to you, such as going to heaven or hell after death.

Cheung says:

"Souls are about life immortal, Dr. Procopides, and religion is about just rewards."

A little less poetically, he could have said:

"As a religious man, I believe my soul will exist forever after my death, Dr. Procopides, and whether it exists in paradise or damnation depends on what I've done while I'm alive."


p. 243: At 20 solar masses. - Is solar mass a unity of measure?

A solar mass is the mass of our own sun; a star of 20 solar masses is 20 times as big as our sun.


Btw, is there a scientific base for the hypothesis of the novel? The FlashForward, I mean. This is just curiosity.

No; I just made it up.

I have two words for this... My God...

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