Cantonese Manichean Corridor

~~~

Forced against my will to consume Disney but not really.

When it comes to languages, especially Cantonese, I usually go with books or things I already know so I won’t be completely lost when I read them.

I read dozens of Geronimo Stilton books when I first started learning, the ones with a castle on the cover or a horror element initially then, later, the one where Stilton is on a fitness binge.

It’s a kind of brain death, but you’ve got to do it.

Cos then you get to the non-translated stuff

like Wai Si Lei.

~~~

Somewhere in my room, there’s a box with about 20-30 local Hong Kong sci-fi novels, all in Chinese, and I don’t think I’ve read more than five pages of any of them.

Give me a week of no interruptions and I could probably get through it, but it’d take a lot of dictionary work and only a vague intellectual concept as to what was going on in the plot. I wouldn’t be able to really feel any of it. Or judge the writing.

It is my sincere hope to one day reach the level where I can write a review of one of these novels that doesn’t sound like a seven year old’s school book report.

If it happens, I’ll put it up here.

~~~

‘We must expect not one, but a multitude of revolutions taking place in different countries at different times.’

Red Star by Bogdanov, the anti-War of The Worlds.

Not that I’ve read it yet. Just bits here and there. A utopian, communist society on Mars, capitalist drudgery on Earth, a Russian Bolshevik sliding between the two…

In some ways, Bogdanov saw Disney coming, only he called it the ruling classes and overstated its ability to put together military expeditions. Then he sailed off into the realm of endless blood transfusions. Interesting guy.

Would he have borrowed Jedi Academy from the library?

Continue reading

The case of the man from Japan // Andre “Bre” Breton

Elementary, Dear Data « Mission Log Podcast

~~~

Chapter 1: A Visitor Calls

~~~

It was a cold, breezy, temperate, zealous, overly described morning on Baker Street when Sherlock Holmes.

“If I’m not mistaken, Watson.”

“But Holmes!”

Murderer of four husbands walked in and threw down two teabags, announcing a surprisingly tall man from the embassy of Japan.

The tall man walked in, bowing.

“Case.”

“You have come from the butchers in Dundee, recently fingered your stepdaughter, dabble in alchemy and have a fettered interest in ‘no hands’ pottery.”

‘But Holmes!”

“Case. Confusing. Help.”

“Say no more. Watson, call a taxi. Mrs Hudson, isolate.”

~~~

Chapter 2: A Pleasant Journey

~~~

Near Bordeaux

Stared at the tip of his pipe

Near Lisbon

gambled with Watson

Near Mauritania

Tutted at the blacks

Near Lagos

nice church

Near the Cape of Good Hope

Stared at what used to bend, resentful

Near Madagascar

Wanked over rare bee

In the Indian Ocean

Scraped off the grottiest of the wallpaper

In the games room

Near Sri Lanka

Watched young boys run from Arthur C Clarke

Near Bali

Struggled to breathe

Collapsed on top of Watson

Near Hong Kong

bit his tongue

Near Taiwan

worked on his Japanese

Near Yokohama

lurked under the rustiest of the metal stairs

As the ladies came down

In Yokohama

Said Konnichiwa

Poorly

Continue reading

Welcome To Dvxxxnagshbi

TNG] Darmok - Let's Watch Star Trek

The year was 2079 and half the earth was anarcho-communist.

Aliens had been discovered six years earlier, a series of telescopes in Paraguay picking up a signal that, when deciphered by twelve year olds on the internet, simply said, ‘what go on?’

Discovered was a generous term

Contacted by was more accurate

But the Americans insisted on it, and everyone had to listen to the Americans as they had funded the telescope construction, at least fifteen percent of it, and when the second message arrived two days after the first, they used their satellites to intercept and their machines to translate and a six hour star-stunted special to present it back to the world.

The content of the second message?

‘We visit. Don’t move.’

By 2074, it was clear the aliens were at best a casual type of creature, at worst, barefaced liars, as their ships were nowhere to be seen, and the radar systems that few understood weren’t detecting any blips in the Kuiper Belt and people online were going back to The Oort Cloud Chronicles and Love Factor 6, and the politicians got bored too, realigning themselves to different struggles [the war on acrylic!], leaving the alien paraphernalia to the fringe and hoping with a great degree of confidence that taxpayers would forget about all the money they’d splurged on the Welcome to Earth/Please share your tech banners.

A year later, it was as if the aliens had never existed.

Of course, their exact nature was still debated by philosophy students, philosophy professors, philosophers for hire, anarchists, UFO enthusiasts, lunatics, people sitting next to lunatics in diners, astronomers, libertarians, exo-biologists, endo-biologists, Pluto lovers etc. but most people shrugged their shoulders [in spirit] and returned to quotidian life, thinking about food, food, food, food, food, creative pursuits, food and writing thank you letters to the scientists who’d perfected fusion.

The actual, real, genuine, couldn’t possibly be a lie truth was…the aliens were hanging out at a Lagrange point near Eris when they’d sent the signals.

And it hadn’t been intentional either.

One of their more senior observers had gotten so used to the ‘on base’ routine of their Eris habitat that, when they were told it was time to go home and spawn, they responded by fragmenting, stripping down to their core and hiding in the helium pools. That would’ve been fine, it had happened before on other bases…all they needed was enough time to program the nano-kleps, make sure the input data was sufficiently xenophobic…but this observer knew the routine and, somehow, managed to access the computer from the pools themselves.

Fortunately, they didn’t send any threats to the humans, but they did introduce themselves as a form of object-reality – an alien to their normal – and that was something difficult to walk back from.

Continue reading

New Release // Castle Damijana

Castle Damijana

————————–

1357: Pedro of Portugal dug up his dead mistress, made her queen, and forced loyal subjects to kiss her hand.

Billy makes a zine that no one reads, and puts it round London. At night he searches for 7 of 9 sex tapes and tries to understand fourth-wave feminist theory. Life stays like this until he gets an e-mail from ‘D’ in Ljubljana, asking him to come to stay. He thinks she’s a nut until she sends him eight grand in spending money. Off he goes, to Ljubljana, to Metelkova, to the outskirts of the city, to a castle on a snowy hill, to Damijana and her typewriter. One of them is a sociopath, can you guess which?

Plot-wise, it’s similar to the Star Trek DS9 episode where Jake Sisko gets yellow energy sucked out of his head by Meg Foster while writing his masterpiece, but this one’s set in Slovenia and is better.

Cover done by the legendary Soren who can be found/hired on corpsehaus

Note: this is a rewrite of an old book I wrote called ‘Ljubljana Witch’ – that one was around 40,000 words, this one is bordering on 100,000 so if you’re one of the few who read the original and thought it was a bit short, you’re in luck.

You can buy it on bookdepository

The Restaurant at the end of the Universe [in Chinese]

In the tradition of reading above my level, I got the Chinese version of The Restaurant at the end of the Universe // Douglas Adams from the library and, so far, I’m up to page two.

Not sure why I’m doing this, I have some of the Sherlock Holmes kids series in Cantonese to get through, but for some reason they’re not sticking, so here I am, pushing the rock up Mt Sci-fi.

Previously, I attempted So long and thanks for all the fish in Portuguese, and it’s already clear that, language-wise, I’m about to start having the same problems.

Problem 1 – idioms

This is also an issue I have with the kids books in Cantonese…they use a lot of idioms, some easy to guess, others impossible. Like in English, if a character says they’re a bit under the weather, you probably won’t know what it means unless you’re fluent. Same problem here, only worse, as Cantonese idioms are more localised and non-existent in western culture.

An example, the four characters highlighted in green below:

The best way I’ve found to get through it, is to skip them. Skip the whole sentence and aim for an understanding of the paragraph as a whole. If the idiom turns out to be foundational then go back and look it up.

Problem 2 – logic

In my experience, when you’re a non-native speaker of a language…anything up to high intermediate, possibly higher…you have to rely on logic and context to understand what people are saying.

Continue reading

Galaxies // Barry N. Malzberg [Thoughts & Spoilers]

ANTI-OEDIPUS PRESS: Galaxies

#

Author: Barry N. Malzberg

Setting: his living room

Plot: Malzberg can’t be bothered writing a novel so writes the notes for one

Subplot: Malzberg can’t stand whichever sci-fi writers he’s criticizing [Heinlein?], but sees them at conventions sometimes so doesn’t want to use their names

Sub-subplot: A ship falls into a black ‘galaxy’, where narrative descriptions are endless

Notes:

The cover is good, the plot description is good, the 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads make good points, but the 2 star reviews are closer to how I feel about this.

Basically, the novel is a series of short chapters that function as notes on a future novel as well as Malzberg’s feelings on the state of 70’s sci-fi. Straight away this brings up two problems. 70’s sci-fi is era specific and, although some of the points remain valid [e.g. writing filler to bump up the word count, hard sci-fi writers hiding their lack of writing ability behind hard science], the era itself is long gone.

The second problem: if you’re going to write notes for a novel, you have to a] make sure the concept of that novel is interesting and complex, and b] keep your novel length down. Even at 180 odd pages, Galaxies is exhausting.

In fact, I haven’t finished the book yet.

Don’t know if I will either.

I’m on page 68, I think, and Malzberg is currently writing out potential dialogue between Lena, the main character, and another character who isn’t on the ship, it’s a flashback, a potential flashback, and I don’t really know either of these characters, I don’t care about them, and if this is the case then you better at least make the dialogue interesting.

It isn’t. Continue reading

German Post Office [a poem]

Interview: Charles Band Remembers Klaus Kinski in CRAWLSPACE ...

#

I’m a doctor not a sponge fuck daddy dot spunk hippy

tutorial centres make mistakes too

in evi   table

yes

those were spaces between one word and the spaces were there they were there they were really there

weren’t they

oh

volcano in town

formal-looking

but no shoes

pretty dead for a Spaniard

I vote blue

gas pipes can’t

use verbs

well

dictionary out late

cry slowly with

Russians nearby

bobby  push

yes that one

renames herself pushkin

yet [i]

don’t talk about duels

talk about

crown gob slum pet patriotism

jazz please

with a fence

and tickets for crown gob

remember her?

Four times

fanny jackal

roams supermarket

no trolley but fish with a face

and

jevil is devil with a j

Slovene

mysteries are the best

even

Fairuza Balk can agree

but

no photos

later maybe