I’m really thrilled to announce that the short story Roesin by Chinese scifi author Wu Guan is now up at Future Science Fiction here.
This was one of the more challenging stories I’ve ever translated because of the linguistic play the author made with radicals. Wu Guan’s original made use of the metal radical “jin,” throughout the text, substituting it for the human radical “ren” wherever it appeared and referred to machines in pronouns, nouns, tenses and verbs in order to reflect linguistic change in a post-human machine society. Radicals are components of Chinese characters that help indicate the meaning of the character or its pronunciation. The characters he used with the “jin” radical are largely archaic and disused characters, some of which were invented by one particular Ming dynasty emperor for his family members. I endeavored to reflect this in English by inventing a set of pronouns for the machines and appending –ron (short for iron) to several nouns.
I was also working in close consultation with Wu Guan for this piece, and in the original, the name of the protagonist and his human collaborator are identical. They are “松香“, which means Resin/Rosin in Chinese. Wu Guan suggested that since “Resin” can be either natural or synthetic, while “Rosin” can only be organic, we name the machine Resin while the human would be Rosin, and I suggested letting them fuse into “Rœsin” by the story’s end. An example of enhancement through translation!
Otherwise, this story reminded me a lot of Alastair Reynold’s Zima Blue, one of the first short stories I discussed with the science fiction group that met in Beijing while I was living there. So it’s kind of a nice circle for me to have translated it for a Western magazine. I hope you enjoy!