12 Oct 2008
by Jeffrey Thomas
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The Taiwanese edition of LETTERS FROM HADES has reached my blood-encrusted talons, and it is truly a beauty. The cover follows the lead of the original, portraying an eye bound in human skin such as appears on the cover of the protagonist’s journal (the novel takes the form of a diary written by a man who “awakens” after his suicide to find he’s now an inhabitant of Hell). Being Taiwan, this eye has an epicanthic fold, and the whole thing looks like a groovy movie poster for an Asian horror flick. The book reads from back to front, for us American folks, like manga, but I find that easy to get used to. Not that I can read this edition, as it’s been translated into vertical strings of “complex Chinese” characters that seem to dangle down the page like beautiful vines. There are useful footnotes to explain such names/words as Virgil, The Wizard of Oz, Dante Alighieri, Ted Bundy, Gustave Dore, and Elvis Costello. And there’s a glossary in the back (front for us!) giving the characters for the names of characters such as the demon Chara (the protagonist’s fearsome love interest), etc. Also, like the Bedlam Press original, it contains as a bonus the short story COFFEE BREAK that inspired the writing of the novel. At 250 some odd pages, with its glossy covers folded into mock dust jacket flaps, it’s an absolutely gorgeous design, so slick and friendly to the hands — hard for me to put the thing down. It’s excitingly exotic. I’m eager to hear whether it’s well received over there. Anyway, the publisher is Fantasy Foundation, and my agent in Taiwan, Gray Tan of the Grayhawk Agency, is the guy who made it happen. Thanks, people! Here are their sites:
Fantasy Foundation: http://www.ffoundation.com.tw/modules/news/
Grayhawk Agency: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/Grayhawk/
And here’s the fantastic cover of LETTERS FROM HADES, Taiwan edition: http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j163/punktowner/letters_from_hades_TAIWAN_cover.jpg
BTW, the introduction I did for this edition is included as a bonus in my recent collection VOICES FROM HADES.
Another cool foreign language translation is the Czech edition of the anthology THE NEW WEIRD, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, in which my story IMMOLATION appears. I just received this, as well, and it’s so handsome I think I prefer its cover design to that of the original (my wife does, too, though my son Colin prefers the cover with the neat mechanical fly — not surprisingly!). This one looks like it could be a portrayal of China Mieville’s New Crobuzon, but that’s appropriate enough, as his is the name most associated with the New Weird movement, such as it is. Anyway, here’s a picture of it:
But why does Jeff VanderMeer get to be Jeff VanderMeerovi and Kathe Koja is Kathe Kojaova but I’m still just plain old Jeffrey Thomas? Well, at least IMMOLATION is called OBET, so that’s slightly exotic.
I understand there’s a Romanian edition of THE NEW WEIRD, too, so I’m looking forward to getting my talons on that one, as well. My plan to conquer the world lumbers onward.