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Paper Girls: Logographic Language Decoder – Updated for Issue #5

Paper Girls #5 takes the reader all ever the place. The juvenile cyborg chrononauts communicate largely with one another, but the story finds an opportunity for some untranslated text. The first letter to appear initially in an entirely fictional word is Q, and we’ve dutifully added it to our decoder.

Paper Girls Time Traveler's Language Key Updated for 5

SPOILER WARNING!

Every month it feels like reading the logographic language gets a little easier. However this issue not only reveals some unusual terminology with the characters, we also get an entirely fictional word. For folks who’d prefer not to look up and substitute every letter, we’ve translated what Naldo and the Cronebergian Tardis are saying in “Now is Gone” below.

ISSUE 5 DECODED

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Paper Girls: Logographic Language Decoder – Updated for Issue #4

Paper Girls #4 is brought to you by the letter X. Accordingly, we’ve once again updated our Logographic Language Decoder. This issue employs all the punctuation we’ve seen before; except the tell-tale apostrophe. The cyborg chrononaut teenagers play a big role in this issue and get a commensurate amount of dialog.

Paper Girls Time Traveler's Language Key Updated for 4

SPOILER WARNING!

Going through issue and doing the decoding is one of the things I enjoy about reading Paper Girls. However, I realize that’s probably a specific acquired taste. For folks who derive no pleasure from substitution ciphers and just want to know what Heck and Naldo are saying, here are the translations for “Forever is Now.”

Issue 4 Decoded


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Paper Girls: Updated Logographic Language Decoder

Paper Girls #3 definitely brings some surprises as the action amps up. Startling revelations and deepening mysteries in almost equal measure. I was excited to see the relatively extensive logographic dialog. We were able to add three characters to the substitution cipher and have updated the chart accordingly. Welcome B, J, and ?.

Paper Girls Time Traveler's Language Key Updated

SPOILER WARNING!

We couldn’t be happier that folks are using the decoder. However, we realize that the appeal is probably limited to a particular subset of fans. If you’re only interested in what the Cyborg Chrononauts are saying rather than how to figure it out, here are the translations for “Death is Forever.”

Paper Girls 3 Decoded.


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Paper Girls: Cyborg Chrononaut to English Decoder Ring with Playlist

Paper Girls #1 features these guys. They’re a bit old to be trick-or-treating. And their costumes are either oily mummies or DIY stillsuits.

Paper Girls - These Guys

They speak a sort of alien logographic language. The imagery suggests something entirely alien but somehow familiar. Like if you’re not really familiar with Kanji or Mayan Glyphs you might accept it as a substitution.

The practical effect is that the protagonists don’t understand it, but it’s carrying information for the speakers. And it’s carrying information for the reader. It turns out it’s a simple substitution cipher. Just like you would have found in an old decoder ring. The Paper Girls would probably reference A Christmas Story.

Here’s the decoder ring… box… chart:

Paper Girls Time Traveler's Language Key

For folks who think it’s a keen idea, but would prefer not to do the translation themselves, here are the relevant panels from pages thirty four through thirty eight.

Paper Girls - Translation 34-8

For a bit more obsessive fun, Erin’s curating a Spotify playlist for Paper Girls in the vein of Kieron Gillen’s playlist for The Wicked + The Divine. She’s looking for recommendations.


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Book Review: The Three-Body Problem (Updated)

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu translator)

3body

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

The Three-Body Problem opens in 1967, one year into China’s Cultural Revolution, on a battle between to Red Guard factions. The typical Western Reader is probably already in speculative territory. We might have some notion of the chaotic, disruptive, destructive period, but it can still be hard to imagine internecine warfare among teenagers. As much as this is an introduction to a tumultuous period that will be recalled again and again in the novel, it’s also full of intimate details. A single death is rendered poetically, imbued with exquisite meaning yet ultimately pointless.

She waved the battle banner as though brandishing her burning youth, trusting that the enemy would be burnt to ashes in the revolutionary flames, imagining that an ideal world would be born tomorrow from the ardor and zeal coursing through her blood.… She was intoxicated by her brilliant, crimson dream until a bullet pierced her chest.

While the devastating reality of a disordered political environment is presented plainly, there’s little sense of judgement.  Compromises are made and hardships are survived. What’s perhaps most fascinating about seeing the political minutiae of another country’s history is that it tends to illuminate our own.

It’s via this careful exploration of Ye Wenjie’s experiences in the past that we come to understand the parallels Liu Cixin draws between the Cultural Revolution and the mystery in the modern narrative. While her father, Ye Zhetai endured numerous “struggle sessions” and never renounced the science he knew to be true, many other scientists sought to preserve their lives rather than their minds. Still others, committed suicide in fear and despair.

That’s what we come in on in the present. The clever cantankerous Shi Quang, a sort of hard-boiled detective straight out of Raymond Chandler, interrogates nanotechnology researcher Wang Miao about the mysterious ETO, an organization somehow tied to a recent pattern of suicides among theoretical researchers. At first Wang Miao can’t understand how his practical work could possibly be connected.

That’s the essence of the three-body problem. In classical mechanics, it’s the problem of taking an initial set of data that specifies the positions, masses and velocities of three bodies for some particular point in time and then determining their motions in relation to one another. In quantum physics, it focuses on the motions of three particles. In the novel both are important and scientifically unpredictable. But Wang Miao’s relationship to Ye Wenjie and the suicides is just as interesting.

It’s impossible to give a full accounting of what makes this book so fascinating without spoiling much of what makes it so enjoyable.  However, a few simply must be mentioned in hopes of attracting readers.  A massive online virtual reality game where scientific concepts come fast and dense, but also, humorously, literally represents the struggle for a species’ survival .  Elements of detective noir, Hollywood blockbusters, political drama, and documentary meld seamlessly together.  And I haven’t seen multi-dimensional physics explored with this kind of simultaneous seriousness and delight since Postsingular and Hylozoic.

Cixin Liu explores the similarities between first contact and revolution, the relative capabilities of states, civilizations, and worlds in a book bursting with science, ideas, and humanity.  Ken Liu has done an admirable job of translating one of China’s most popular science fiction titles, including several footnotes for the uniformed reader.

Recommended for fans of Rudy Rucker, Anathem, and Arthur C. Clarke.

Cixin Liu is a member of the China Science Writers’ Association and the Shanxi Writers’ Association. He was awarded the China Galaxy Science Fiction Award for eight consecutive years, from 1999 to 2006, and again in 2010. He received the Nebula (Xingyun) Award in both 2010 and 2011.

The best translations into English do not, in fact, read as if they were originally written in English. The English words are arranged in such a way that the reader sees a glimpse of another culture’s patterns of thinking, hears an echo of another language’s rhythms and cadences, and feels a tremor of another people’s gestures and movements.

Ken Liu is an author and translator of speculative fiction, as well as a lawyer and programmer.  He is a winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards.  Ken’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, the first in a fantasy series, will be published by Saga Press, in 2015.

Ken Liu will translate the third book in the trilogy, Dead End as well.  He commented on Tor.com that the compressed schedule required multiple translators.  The Dark Forest was translated by Joel Martinsen, who will also translate 2004’s Ball Lightning.

Tor.com has made Chapters 1-3Chapter 7, and Chapter 9 available online.

You can read translator Ken Liu’s story “Paper Menagerie” that won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards here.

The Dark Forest, the second title in the trilogy, is scheduled for July 7, 2015.

While the first two novels ground the reader in a familiar China with recognizable socioeconomic conditions, the third, in Liu Cixin’s own (trasnlated) words is pure science fiction.

“I wrote the third volume for myself and filled it with multi-dimensional and two-dimensional universes, artificial black holes and mini-universes, and I extended the time line to the heat death of the universe.  And, to our utter surprise, it was this third volume, written only for science fiction fans, which led to the popularity of the series as a whole.”

I’m actually looking forward to re-reading The Three-Body Problem come July, and again before the third installment.  Folks who’ve read both assure me that the quality and scope increases and enjoyment intensifies.  “Eliminate human tyranny! The world belongs to Trisolaris!”


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Book Review: The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition

When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published their “Children’s and Household Tales” in 1812, followed by a second volume in 1815, they had no idea that such stories as “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Cinderella” would become the most celebrated in the world. Yet few people today are familiar with the majority of tales from the two early volumes, since in the next four decades the Grimms would publish six other editions, each extensively revised in content and style. For the very first time, ” The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm” makes available in English all 156 stories from the 1812 and 1815 editions. These narrative gems, newly translated and brought together in one beautiful book, are accompanied by sumptuous new illustrations from award-winning artist Andrea Dezso.

From “The Frog King” to “The Golden Key,” wondrous worlds unfold–heroes and heroines are rewarded, weaker animals triumph over the strong, and simple bumpkins prove themselves not so simple after all. Esteemed fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes offers accessible translations that retain the spare description and engaging storytelling style of the originals. Indeed, this is what makes the tales from the 1812 and 1815 editions unique–they reflect diverse voices, rooted in oral traditions, that are absent from the Grimms’ later, more embellished collections of tales. Zipes’s introduction gives important historical context, and the book includes the Grimms’ prefaces and notes.

The source material for Children’s and Household Tales was originally collected from books as well as friends and acquaintances in and around Kassel, Hesse in what is now Germany as well as Westphalia for the romantic poet Clemens Brentano between 1806 and 1812.  Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm eventually came to distinguish between the Naturpoesie of the German Volk and the Kuntspoesie, or cultivated literature, which arose from and subsumed it.  Ultimately, Brentano found the collected tales unsuitable toward his purposes and gave the brothers his blessing to do with them as they pleased.  The first edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen was published in 1812.

While even those tales were edited  in order to create something more than a skeletal fragment of a story, they are generally representative of local traditions.  The Grimms explained in their introduction (included)

“We have tried to grasp and interpret these tales as purely as possible. In many of them one will find that the narrative is interrupted by rhymes and verses that even possess clear alliteration at times but are never sung during the telling of a tale, and these are precisely the oldest and best tales. No incident has been added or embellished and changed, for we would have shied away from expanding tales already so rich in and of themselves with their own analogies and similarities.”

This first edition met with only moderate success.  Critics complained of crude, malformed stories.  Indeed, the second version of “A Story About a Brave Tailor” ended with “[The rest of this tale is missing.]”  They lamented the copious scholarly notes (also included).  And they noted the unsuitability of straightforward violence by children for children.  These are the selling points for the original tales and the very aspects that would disappear as Wilhelm Grimm strove to make their work palatable to a larger audience.

“It was not until the second edition of 1819 that there was a clear editorial change of policy that led to the refinement of the tales, especially by Wilhelm, who became the major editor from 1816 onward.”

Each successive edition was a little more puritanically Christian, a little less violent, a little more polished.  As they gathered more tales, they gathered more versions and selected the subjective best, or best parts, among them.  As their audience broadened, the variety of voices narrowed.

Translator Jack Zipes is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota.  I first heard of him when he presented at 2007’s Fantasy Matters conference.  He wrote the introduction fro Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples in addition to dozens of his own books about fairy tales, folklore, and their collectors and creators.  Patrick Rothfuss, who also presented, calls him “brilliant.”  So, in case the academic credentials weren’t enough, he’s got the support of two of the biggest names in modern fantasy as well.  He describes the importance of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition in an interview.

The first edition is special and significant because one can still hear and ascertain the different voices of the people who provided the tales to the Grimms. These voices were effaced in later editions. If one studies the seven editions published by the Grimms, one can trace the continual editing of Wilhelm Grimm, who transformed the tales into aesthetically pleasing literary works. He also deleted many tales that appeared to be French stories, and he added Christian references, folk proverbs, ornate description, and moralistic comments. The tales in the first edition are curt, blunt, raw, and  dazzling in their naivete–that is, in their frank approach to the fantastic and absurd situations in people’s lives. In fact, many of the tales are more kafkaesque than Kafka’s tales.

Andrea Dezsö is a visual artist who works across a broad range of media. Her permanent public art is installed in two NYC subway stations, at CUNY Fiterman Hall, and at the US Embassy in Bucharest. Dezsö exhibits in museums and galleries worldwide and is associate professor of art at Hampshire College. (via Princeton University Press)

These early tales map the contours of an entirely different context in which tales are told versus the sanitized versions most readers are familiar with.  Of particular interest are the tales that were removed.  “How Some Children Played at Slaughtering” is exactly as disturbing as it sounds.  The frankly amoral presentation of the tale incites the reader to contemplate its implications and formulate a preemptive response here, now.  “The Tablecloth, the Knapsack, the Canon, and the Horn” upsets class boundaries in an apparently unacceptable way.

So it wasn’t just brutality that was removed, but also overt class struggle.  The tale readers know as “The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was” had a distinctly dangerous character to it. The 1812 “Good Bowling and Card Playing” features not a fool, not even a desperate character, but a youth with no better options.

Now, there was a young man from a poor family who thought to himself, ‘Why not risk my life? I’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to win.  What’s there to think about?’

In a similar vein, the early “Rapunzel” doesn’t let her secret  visitor slip so much as innocently inquire about her pregnancy.

This edition is an essential companion to the typical Grimm collection based on the 1857 seventh edition.  If you love the tales, the ability to compare and contrast the classics with the originals is invaluable.  Should you wonder which version to start with, Zipes himself edited and translated The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm All-New Third Edition.

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition is appealing because it offers the best glimpse into the folk tradition available in nineteenth century Europe and delivers it in a plain unadulterated manner.  It’s an eye opening look at the stories that have evolved into some of the most significant cultural metaphors in the Western world.

However, It’s worth noting that it has some esoteric appeal as well.  A certain type of pedant will enjoy the book because it will win arguments.  If you’ve ever heard someone, at some time, say something like “In the original “Snow White,” it wasn’t a kiss that woke her up.”  With this book in your perfectionist armory, you can tell folks exactly what the original stimulant was.

This volume should be in the library of any reader interested or invested in how and why stories change over time.  If you’ve ever found yourself particularly fond of an old text that’s continually reinterpreted or represented in any media, you’re likely to find something close to epiphany when you read these original tales.  The notion that there’s a pure story, the sort of one true form reinforced by postmodern intellectual property law, exhausts itself.  The Cinderellas of Cinder and Once Upon a Time are as valid as any other.

And, of course, if you’re here because we marked ourselves with Hipster Ariel, this is absolutely the one book of fairy tales that must be on your shelf.  It’s the intimidating, original, scholarly work that ends all other works.  The air of authenticity shimmering off it’s simple crisp cover and authoritative title only hints and the locally curated small batch tales collected within.

Recommended for Scholars, tale tellers, and Hipster Scouts.


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Book Review: The Three-Body Problem

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (Ken Liu translator)

3body

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

The Three-Body Problem opens in 1967, one year into China’s Cultural Revolution, on a battle between to Red Guard factions. The typical Western Reader is probably already in speculative territory. We might have some notion of the chaotic, disruptive, destructive period, but it can still be hard to imagine internecine warfare among teenagers. As much as this is an introduction to a tumultuous period that will be recalled again and again in the novel, it’s also full of intimate details. A single death is rendered poetically, imbued with exquisite meaning yet ultimately pointless.

She waved the battle banner as though brandishing her burning youth, trusting that the enemy would be burnt to ashes in the revolutionary flames, imagining that an ideal world would be born tomorrow from the ardor and zeal coursing through her blood.… She was intoxicated by her brilliant, crimson dream until a bullet pierced her chest.

While the devastating reality of a disordered political environment are shown plainly, there’s little sense of judgement.  Compromises are made and hardships are survived. What’s perhaps most fascinating about seeing the political minutiae of another country’s history is that it tends to illuminate our own.

It’s via this careful exploration of Ye Wenjie’s experiences in the past that we come to understand the parallels Liu Cixin draws between the Cultural Revolution and the mystery in the present narrative. While her father, Ye Zhetai endured numerous “struggle sessions” and never renounced the science he knew to be true, many other scientists sought to preserve their lives rather than their minds. Still others, committed suicide in fear and despair.

That’s what we come in on in the present. The clever cantankerous Shi Quang, a sort of hard-boiled detective straight out of Raymond Chandler, interrogates nanotechnology researcher Wang Miao about the mysterious ETO, an organization somehow tied to a recent pattern of suicides among theoretical researchers. At first Wang Miao can’t understand how his practical work could possibly be connected.

That’s the essence of the three-body problem. In classical mechanics, it’s the problem of taking an initial set of data that specifies the positions, masses and velocities of three bodies for some particular point in time and then determining their motions in relation to one another. In quantum physics, it focuses on the motions of three particles. In the novel both are important and scientifically unpredictable. But Wang Miao’s relationship to Ye Wenjie and the suicides is just as interesting.

It’s impossible to give a full accounting of what makes this book so fascinating without spoiling much of what makes it so enjoyable.  However, a few simply must be mentioned in hopes of attracting readers.  A massive online virtual reality game where scientific concepts come fast and dense, but also humorously literally represents the struggle for a species’ survival .  Elements of detective noir, Hollywood blockbusters, political drama, and documentary meld seamlessly together.  And I haven’t seen multi-dimensional physics explored with this kind of simultaneous seriousness and delight since Postsingular and Hylozoic.

Cixin Liu explores the similarities between first contact and revolution, the relative capabilities of states, civilizations, and worlds in a book bursting with science, ideas, and humanity.  Ken Liu has done an admirable job of translating one of China’s most popular science fiction titles, including several footnotes for the uniformed reader.

Recommended for fans of Rudy Rucker, Anathem, and hard scifi.

Ken Liu will translate the third book in the trilogy, Dead End as well.  He commented on Tor.com that the compressed schedule required multiple translators.  The Dark Forest was translated by Joel Martinsen, who will also translate 2004’s Ball Lightning.

Tor.com has made Chapters 1-3Chapter 7, and Chapter 9 available online.

You can read translator Ken Liu’s story “Paper Menagerie” that won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards here.

The Dark Forest, the second title in the trilogy, is scheduled for July 7, 2015.