Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

While I Was Out

I finished my unofficial translation of Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass. The parody bits continued to be fun and interesting, and the original fantasy got more original. I learned that I was really, really ignorant of Pushkin's works. Finally, I found that of all the really cold things I've seen novelists and filmmakers do to their characters, there's just nobody colder and more matter-of-fact about it than a Russian. And this is a kid's book!

Not that that's a bad thing. Kiddie life is so much colder than kiddie lit that the cognitive dissonance can get hard on a kid. Also, after years of drippy issues books, there's something to be said for an author who just admits that there's a lot of alcoholism in Russian life, uses tiny references to build up to one character revealing his father's alcoholism, and then lets it go at that. That was the past; there's nothing the friends in the present can do about it but feel for him. That's life, even for kids.

But that's just one tiny shard from a book so bubbling with humor, inventiveness, and the creatures of Russian fairy tales that overall, it just makes you smile. I like Tanya and her friends. Heck, I even like her enemies. It breaks my heart that there are five Tanya Grotter books out now in Russia (and over one million sold), but no English translations out here. I want to find out what happens in Tanya Grotter and the Disappearing Floor! And I don't want to spend four months and change of my free time to find out!

(Well, actually I had it down to a chapter a week, or even less, by the end. But my point still stands.)


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