The truth about stories is that’s all that we are.
Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Samovar aims to open up a meeting place between worlds.
Stories tell us who we are, and let us see who other people are. We already have access to an enormous wealth of speculative fiction in English, but we want to know more. We know that even as stories shape culture and language, culture and language shape stories. We want to know what worlds are being conjured in Finnish and Yoruba, what spells are cast in Japanese, and what futures are imagined in Mexican Spanish—because we know that each of these imaginings carries with it its own knowings.
Our plan is to publish respectful English-language translations of speculative fiction stories and poems from around the world alongside the originals, and to provide readers with a closer view of different traditions through podcasts, reviews, interviews, and articles.
Translation is a difficult task. No single human utterance means the same thing to all of us, because we each understand the world through our own different framework, and the magic of words and language is loose and contextual. But translation can be a powerful creative act, recognizing and celebrating these differences. Translation brings readers and writers together; it moves meaning across borders and through gradients of cultural identity, something which seems more vitally important than ever in today's world.
But it is hard, painstaking work. Often, the translator believes that they have done their job best if they disappear, if the reader is barely aware of their presence. Yet the realities of publishing can make them vanish twice, erased from the covers of books, and absent from reviews.
Samovar wants to make them visible, to shine a light on the work they do. If even established writers and translators find it hard to gain recognition for their work, emerging writers and translators face an even greater challenge. So we want Samovar to be a place for new voices to share and explore new worlds.
There are exciting things going on already: Rachel Cordasco is carrying on the work of Lavie Tidhar's World SF Blog, with a site featuring reviews, interviews, and a bibliography of translated works; Clarkesworld's Chinese SF project is showing what international collaboration can do, by working with the Chinese company Storycom to enable the translations and throw a spotlight onto exciting new works; and in so many other venues translators and editors are working together to bring new work in translation to larger audiences. We hope that Samovar will add yet more voices to this conversation.
As we write this, the Strange Horizons fund drive is underway. If it reaches its stretch goal of US$21,000, Samovar will become a regular bi-annual special imprint of the magazine. We are sharpening our pencils and drafting our first calls for submissions. We are putting on the tea (we're called Samovar, after all—tea is a vital part of our work). We are forming an advisory board and are delighted to be working with the Reading the Fantastic project at the University of Leeds, and the proposed new Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy at Anglia Ruskin University.
And we are looking forward to the stories.
The Samovar Editorial Team
Sarah Dodd is a lecturer in Chinese at the University of Leeds, and is one of the co-organizers of the Reading the Fantastic project. She is a graduate of the 2012 Clarion West Writers' Workshop and has published stories (as Sarah Brooks) in Strange Horizons, Interzone and elsewhere.
Greg West is a freelance writer. He has lived in Canada, India, New Zealand, the US, and the UK, and is currently based on the northwest coast of Ireland.
Laura Friis is a writer and freelance editor who has lived in a succession of rainy places, most lately Donegal, Ireland, where she mothers one child, plays in the sea, and cooks vegan food.
Dr. Helen Marshall is a Lecturer of Creative Writing and Publishing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England. Her first collection of fiction, Hair Side, Flesh Side, won the Sydney J Bounds Award in 2013, and Gifts for the One Who Comes After, her second collection, won the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award in 2015.