Translating Aurelion into English

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Translating Aurelion into English

Postby Кал » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:47 pm

Selected extracts from my correspondence with the editors of the English translation of _Aurelion_:

In Sept 2013, Kal wrote:We're aiming at a 13+ US audience--but not at dumbing down the
language on purpose. After all, The Lord of the Rings can also be read
by a teen, yes? :) Language-wise, what really matters is not to mix
American and British English (though we may have a character or two
who sound more British); and to make sure each character sounds
consistent, both as a PoV narrator and in dialogs.


Please ignore the pluses and the parts in <brackets>: they're for
my future reference only. The pluses indicate that I've found the
word/phrase in a couple of dictionaries, in Wikipedia (+wiki), or in a
sufficient number of online sources (+www). Which doesn't mean it's
the right one. You can alwaws suggest better ones. ;)


> This world is medieval, right?

No. It's a combination of fantasy (swords and magic) and SF (with
flying cars, laser guns--the various shooters you'll see, etc.)--but
the characters behave mostly like contemporary people. Ever since the
first edition of this book, six years ago, I've been having a terrible
time coming up with a genre name. ;)

> Also, it would be useful if you could give me
> a list of characters and their backgrounds, education-levels, and
> personalities, so I know what they ought to sound like.

I knew this was gonna hurt ... :(

In order of apperance:

– Rad and Mephodi are senior-year university students at the Institute
of Magic. Rad is the more snappish and streetwise of the two,
mistrustful, a bit of a fool. Mephodi is calmer, highly intelligent
(he knows his SAT vocab and is not afraid to use it :D), with
suppressed emotion.

– Aik is a (Light) elf child, impish, a street urchin. (But not
foul-mouthed. None of them is, actually. Keep it PG-13, as Violet
said; be -creative- with the swearing, I say. ;) He can't read or
write (yet) but learns very fast.

– Kia is about 20, a (well-educated) pickpocket, trying to be tough,
but gradually discovering her need for friends. Her language can be
either colloquial or educated, depending on the situation.

– Raphael is a Light elf in his mid-twenties, paladin, a graduate of
the Institute of Magic. Annoyingly sarcastic, smart, can switch from
sophisticated irony to a pretty vile street speak.

– You'll see Kaela and Argoroth in only one scene (in this book at
least). They're what they sound like.

– Valerion is a Dark Elf of about 20, mature beyond his years (lots of
responsibility, a taxing childhood), torn between his bloody duties
and self-reflective nature. Well-educated.

– Valerion's subordinates--Romelion, Noterion, Zomerion, two unnamed
Dark Elves--don't get a lot of screen time. Still, you should be able
to make out their differences in character by how they talk and act.

– Fadgnal is a professor (reachut) at the Institute of Magic, about 80
years old, wise, benevolent and just this bit old-fashioned. I'm
afraid I may have made him sound too archaic at times. He's basically
your average Gandalf type (oops, I just spoiled his name's origin :D);
perhaps a little more human.

– We'll see more of Eroy later--and that's when I'll describe him. So
far, he seems to be the guy with the most vicious slang. :D

– Everyone else is a secondary character: they hardly appear in more
than one scene. Just make sure they don't sound wildly inconsistent.

There's more primary characters later on, but I'm already dead tired.
Let's introduce them in their respective chapters.


A couple of desires:

1. Do you mind using Track Changes in your revisions? Makes it much
easier for me to compare.

2. Whenever a word looks strange to you (such as Mehpodi and Rad being
'scholars', or the 'sellsters'), please consult the glossary:

And add suggestions to it if a lucky one strikes you.

2A. May we NOT italicize the Aurelion-specific words? Too many italics
will make the text hard to read. (I've seen lots of world-building
novels where the author doesn't mark the neologisms in any way.)

3. Please don't re-write parts where you're not sure what's happening.
Ask us instead. (The prologue has a lot of those.)

As I said in my first email: we don't want any content revisions. If
you think there may be a logical error somewhere, point it out;
however, chances are, it's ambiguous translation (or some other

4. Please give alternatives wherever you can. A simple 'cliche' (such
as in "Mephodi caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror
window") doesn't help us. :)

5. There's no main character in Aurelion. I won't say any more on this
now--but if you think it's important, let's discuss it live.

6. Some characters (mostly Mephodi and Fadgnal) are given to
introspection. Do NOT cut what may feel like 'infodumps' in their
thoughts/narratives. That's just the way they think. (Yes, there're
people out there who think in complete paragraphs. I've talked to one
or two--it's both uncanny and illuminating. :D) Instead, just check
the infodump-like passages as you would a normal essay/article.

7. Don't worry too much about ellipses. ;)

On 30 Sept 2013, Kal wrote:Important points for later revisions:

1. If you want to change odd-looking words and phrases (such as
"sellsters", "Confirmative," or "(Darkonus) demon it!", which I just
introduced), please consult the glossary first:


If they're present there, please add a comment (in the Googledoc) how
you would change them. Do not change them inside the text--I'll do it
automatically once we've agreed on the final version.

Re: reachut: it's used fairly often.

2. If there's anything in red (such as
"deparasitized/decontaminated"), please say which variant you prefer
(or suggest another one).

3. Most characters won't say "damn," ever. That's where we have to be
inventive. ;)

(I've already adopted "blasted" as one of Kia's favorite adjectives. ;)

4. I've added new comments, mostly questions about unclear
translation. Please have a look at them. To make it easier, I've
deleted every "resolved" comment.
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Re: Translating Aurelion into English

Postby Кал » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:00 am

Re: who's the protagonist in Aurelon

We've already established that there is no one main character in Aurelion.

On 16 Oct 2013 Dan wrote:Warning: for synopses it's not so important, but everything I've read and everyone I've talked to on the subject of cover letters and pitches stresses the importance of focus on a main character. Frequently Asked Questions are:
Q: but my book doesn't have a main character
A: it probably does. The main character (the person who drives the plot) is probably the point of view of your first scene
Q: no, the book really doesn't have a main character
A: then your book is probably not publishable in its current form. Certainly it won't be attractive to agents or publishers.

As far as Aurelion goes, I think the main character is the girl in the helmet. Just cutting off the first chunk of the manuscript so the book starts with her POV would work, I think.

Kal wrote:Interesting points. However, I'm confident they're not universal. (Who
is the main character in _A Song of Ice and Fire_?)

Tex Thompson and Dan wrote:Tex Thompson @tex_maam 19m
@bensen_m Could be OK, esp. if we replace 'main character' with 'focal character' - one to emphasize in blurb/query/synopsis/etc.

Tex Thompson @tex_maam 13m
@bensen_m for example: Ned Stark (in book/season 1 GoT), Malcolm Reynolds, Captain America in "The Avengers", Venkman in Ghostbusters

Tex Thompson @tex_maam 10m
@bensen_m it's not like they have so much more page/screen time than the others, but they're good vehicles for drawing in readers

So who do you think the Focal Character is?

Kal wrote:Collective novels are interesting not only for the fact that they're
written by a group of people--but even more so for the shift in
emphasis: from the traditional "protagonist/supporting cast"
disctinction to "every primary character is full-fledged, equally
important (whaddaya mean, MY character is not important?!)." That's a
long talk, and I should start wrapping up the application package. :)

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Re: Translating Aurelion into English

Postby Кал » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:40 pm


Version 2013-10-25

On the planet of Aurelion, an ancient coin holds the secret to preserving magic, now vanishing under the onslaught of high technology. The young elven pickpocket Aik steals this coin from a drunken mage-in-training and decides to keep it as his talisman, unaware of the peril involved. Kia, a young smuggler who pretends to be male in her full-body suit, saves the child from trouble—and lets him unlock a thousand feelings in her heart.

The victim of the theft calls his friend Mephodi, one of the most talented scholars at the local Institute of Magic. The conflict between mages and thieves ends in the city prison, where they encounter strutting paladin Raphael, who claims that the coin belongs to him since it is related to his father’s story. Mephodi takes over his mind, and the paladin sets them free, but the four are unexpectedly attacked by Dark Elves. The High Priestess of Darkonus has dispatched her most prominent warrior Valerion and his team to kidnap Aik because he is part of a prophecy concerning the world’s fading magic.

Mephodi manages to defeat the attackers, after they kill his friend. Kia steals a vehicle, and the three drive to a tutor of Mephodi’s. Raphael catches up with them there, but the professor urges the paladin to join the fugitives as their protector on a quest to the Temple of Nekros. Before Raphael, Kia, Aik, and Mephodi can head for the temple, they need to get a new vehicle from the base of Kia’s fellow smugglers.

Meanwhile, the Dark Elves break Mephodi’s spell, capture a patrol cruiser, and give chase to the fugitives. They overtake the group at the smugglers’ base, where Kia has bought herself from her mentor and fallen out with her best friend Dehenor.

Dehenor is captured by the Dark Elves. The others run away with a dwarven inventor and his shoddy turbozeppelin. In mid-flight, the zeppelin crashes onto the house of a solitary seer. The seer thrusts herself on the party, claiming she has a crucial part to play.

Passing through the Stone Forest, the zeppelin is attacked by a petrified creature that all but kills its crew. Fighting side by side, the reluctant companions are gradually turning into genuine friends.

Meanwhile, Valerion is beginning to feel sympathy for his captive Dehenor. Dehenor betrays Kia’s plans, just as he feels she has betrayed him in choosing to go with Aik.

The adventurers enter kobold lands, where, increasingly anxious about her inability to act as a parent, Kia makes up her mind to reveal to Aik she is a woman and take him away from the strange company. Just as she takes off her suit, kobolds capture her and Aik. She gets help from young kobold Kimle, who befriends Aik and shares his dreams of a life different from what kobolds are usually allowed. The characters are growing ever more aware of the similarities between Aurelion’s races.

In the meantime, class and racial wars have erupted on Aurelion. The depletion of magic and the unjust rule of the Higher Races fuel vicious conflicts. Fleeing from the kobolds, the party runs into one of these battles. A stray shell breaks the chain between their two wagons and separates Kia, Mephodi, and Raphael from the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, Valerion deserts from the High Priestess’s army and follows in the tracks of Kia. The Dark Elf wants to discover the secrets of his own race. Dehenor joins him in the hope of meeting Kia again and making sure his betrayal will not harm her.

It remains to be seen whether the friendships forged will triumph over blind fate and the calamities coming to Aurelion.
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Re: Translating Aurelion into English

Postby Кал » Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:57 am

Aurelion: the visual novel

BTW, starting this fall, we'll be doing a visual novel
( adaptation based on this
translation. It'll be a labor of love--done on a volunteer basis--but
if it attracts any donations, we'll split them among everyone
involved. Just so potential editors know. ;)
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Re: Translating Aurelion into English

Postby Кал » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:56 am

Why does Aurelion matter?

The Coin, the collective novel I’m currently translating into English, is another example of a text we believe to be worth sharing worldwide. It is interesting in terms of form: seldom do more than two authors join forces in writing a single novel—here, we have seven; and in terms of content: beneath the pointy ears and the blazing blasters, it is not hard to discern the fundamental, so very human issues of our own present. In an ever more fragmented world, is it possible to move from distrust to camaraderie? Is there such a place as home? How to get there? What do you surrender, what do you gain, as you grow up? The young authors draw on their personal experience for the answers—and so by meeting their protagonists, we also gain an insight into the generation that is going to succeed us.
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