And Now the Cover to the New Chinese Edition of Old Man’s War

It’s, uh, colorful. 

The title is also changed: Now it’s something along the lines of “Enemies From 12 Planets,” which makes me want to go back and count how many planets I have people in the book land on.

I can’t wait to get my author copies of this version.

You can order your own copy here, incidentally. It apparently comes out next Monday. There’s some coincidental irony of it coming out the same day I turn in the latest installment in the Old Man’s War series.

A hit tip to J Martinsen for the link.

68 thoughts on “And Now the Cover to the New Chinese Edition of Old Man’s War

  1. Congratulations on your continued global expansion.
    The green guy in the front row is doomed, and you can tell by the look on his face that he knows it.

  2. That’s a very cartoon-y cover. I wonder if the novel translates into Chinese language and culture as a sci-fi sitcom.

  3. My formative years, which were spent in Asia, may have colored my opinion, but that is my favorite cover.

  4. Very cool. I’ve sent a link to this post to the only person I know who speaks Chinese. Maybe she’ll spread the love a little to her friends and family. :-)

  5. I don’t know if I can deal with this level of cute: I want a stuffed animal version of the fuzzy, toothy yellow one!

    The green guy in the front row is doomed, and you can tell by the look on his face that he knows it.

    He’s just realized he’s wearing a red shirt. He knows the score.

  6. I just started reading Old Man’s War, and just got to the part where they have begun training..so if you want me to keep track of planets they land on as I go, I certainly will.

  7. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to spread into the Chinese market. I had a conversation with a Chinese friend/Colleague last week about the rampant piracy of copyrights that happen when a work enters the market legally.

    She was rather honest that there’s a culture in China of “I’ll buy this for me, tear it apart and scan it and give it to 30 of my friends. Who’ll give to 30 of their friends and so on….”

    But, that was for professional texts and not fiction. Maybe it isn’t so bad for Science Fiction.

  8. Interesting cover – Katy, your post directed me here. Thanks!

    Next time when I go to China, I’ll have to check it out in the Chinese book shops :) Best of luck, John!

  9. The latest installment of Old Man’s War? Did I miss something? What is it?

    It sounds exciting.

  10. And I just realized that you do not mean a traditional Old Man’s War novel, but the Human Division episodic sequel.

  11. Scorpius:

    “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to spread into the Chinese market.”

    There’s a reason I don’t come to you for career advice, Scorpius. I’ve made a substantial amount of money in China.

  12. Wow, the Enemies of Humanity seem far more….endearing, yeah, that’s the word, than I recall from the book.

    I’d certainly look into marketing these as stuffed critters, though. Big bucks.

  13. “Somehow, I feel like this cover fits Redshirts better than Old Man’s War.”

    MEGA_DITTOs, Rachel.

    Seriously, I don’t know how you translate Old Man’s War into a Chinese book jacket concept, but it NEVER, ever would have been that.

  14. That green guy on the front right looks like you just told him you screwed his goldfish last night. I’m not sure that art represents OMW very well, but I still like it a lot!

  15. There’s a reason I don’t come to you for career advice, Scorpius. I’ve made a substantial amount of money in China.

    But imagine how much MORE money you could make if you listened to me? I mean, why be stuck with only affording a Lambda class shuttle when you could afford a souped-up YT-1300 light freighter?

  16. Scorpius, can’t say I see your logic.

    If he enters the Chinese market, he will sell X-Y copies there, where X is the total market for his book and Y the number of pirates. Very worst case, Y is equal to X – 1. More likely, it’s some percentage smaller– which probably works out to a pretty damn healthy absolute number, since China’s counts 2 billion heads.

    If he does not enter the Chinese market, he will sell 0 copies there and make 0 yuan.

    That math would look different if the whole process cost Scalzi a damn thing up front, but since he’s already written the book and translation/marketing/printing are in the hands of his Chinese publisher (who, being a Chinese publisher, probably had a pretty decent idea of what publishing in China is like going in)… Well.

  17. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to spread into the Chinese market. I had a conversation with a Chinese friend/Colleague last week about the rampant piracy of copyrights that happen when a work enters the market legally.

    Uh-huh. That’s not really new – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17017791

    Dickens still, however, made money in America.

  18. She was rather honest that there’s a culture in China of “I’ll buy this for me, tear it apart and scan it and give it to 30 of my friends. Who’ll give to 30 of their friends and so on….”

    That’s true to some degree, however I guess she left out the part where they have massive 5-6 story bookstores packed to the rafters with both books and customers (even on weekdays). Yes piracy exists, but local books (i.e. not imported English language versions) are cheap and customers are plentiful even in the smaller bookstores in smaller cities – this despite rampart piracy in both the printed and the ebook market (usually because the pirated versions often contain mistakes or are of poorer quality, and also because when it comes down to it, RMB 20 (~USD 3) really isn’t that much so people are prepared to pay it to get a better quality product).

  19. Also of interest might be this Sinica podcast on the current state of Chinese literature (the guests for this episode are are people with inside knowledge of the Chinese publishing market). They start to discuss the financial side of things at around the 30 min mark, and at 32:23 they discuss what it’s like if you have best-seller on the Chinese market – which is worth the equivalent of millions of US dollars to the writer (despite rampant piracy).

  20. “There’s a reason I don’t come to you for career advice, Scorpius. I’ve made a substantial amount of money in China.”

    That it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Could be construed as filthy lucre.

  21. The promo text in the Amazon listing is totally in line with the cover: it ignores the central conceit of the novel and instead fires off teaser questions about the the looming threat of an invasion from aliens assembled 5,000 km away from Earth: “What do the aliens look like? How can we identify them? How can we discover the aliens lurking around us? If aliens invade Earth, how will they launch their attack? What level of technology do they have? Does humanity have any chance of victory against the aliens? How can we kill them and protect ourselves?”

    This is the same publisher that caused a stir by putting a winking Osama (along with Vader and an Avatar character) on the cover of Asimov’s Foundation. That turned out to be the dust jacket; the actual cover was a more sedate image of a galaxy (compare the two here: http://product.dangdang.com/product.aspx?product_id=22621745 ), so maybe something similar will happen here?

  22. Author bio via Google translation: “John Scalzi (1969.5.10 ~), Chairman of the Association of American science fiction and fantasy author, America’s most popular science fiction writers and blog writers, most of one of the contemporary writers in the spirit of entertainment. “Enemies from Planet 12″ is a masterpiece of his popular around the world.”

  23. Hm…. Does John know that the translator was a hollywood script author? (People like them try to make a movie out of Pratchett’s Mort, but leave the figure of Death out.)

    It’ll probably read more like a seventh Bill the Galactic Hero book when retranslated.

    Just sayin…

  24. hah, I didn’t notice the planet at first, thought the pink guy with the gun was wearing some strange beret or Rasta hat or something…

  25. nitpick:
    Are there no races considered enemies of the CDF on whose planet(s) the CDF has yet to land?

    (Some days you wish your enemies were exactly quantified.)

  26. “This is the same publisher that caused a stir by putting a winking Osama (along with Vader and an Avatar character) on the cover of Asimov’s Foundation.

    You are, I assume, aware that ‘Al Qaeda’ literally means “The Foundation.”

  27. Enemies From 12 Planets

    Sounds like the title to a novel written for the Cylon demographic. Don’t forget to cut off the edges of the cover and pages.

  28. @Bill made me want to do a more accurate translation. “John Scalzi is the president of the American science fiction and fantasy author association, America’s most popular science fiction author and blog writer, and is one of the most entertainingly spirited contemporary writers. “Enemies from 12 planets” is his representative work, which is popular worldwide.” And it really is “from 12 planets” not “from planet 12″. I love how studying the language for 5 years makes me only marginally better than google translate and much much slower.

  29. Doesn’t Chinese have a character meaning “12”? Why do they have to borrow western numerals for that?

  30. Asian book stores shelves look markedly different than US, Australian and Canadian bookshelves. The color overtones in Japanese bookshelves for example, lean heavily towards red. It’s sometimes not obvious why things come out the way they do, but as long as you bet on your peeps wanting to make money you can still have a lot of fun when they surprise ya.

  31. @Simon S. says:
    October 3, 2012 at 7:56 am
    Doesn’t Chinese have a character meaning “12″? Why do they have to borrow western numerals for that?
    ——–
    Simon – Chinese does in indeed have a character for the number 12, and every other number as well. However the Chinese adopted what you call western numerals for the same reason that Europeans stopped using Roman numerals (by and large) – efficiency.

    Just as Roman numerals are still used in certain contexts, so too are the native Chinese numerical
    characters. But for the vast majority of circumstances, Chinese use the same numbers that are used in English (as do the Japanese and Koreans).

    However, it’s not really accurate to call them “western numerals” – the basis for the number symbols we used today were invented in India and brought to Europe by Arabs. They are properly known as “Hindu-Arabic” numerals as a result, although the version that we use was modified again in Europe, so it’s fair to say that they were finalized in the West.

  32. I took a look on amazon and then did a quick Baidu search on the Chinese name. The first 5-6 hits were links to various online storefronts to buy the book. The next several are were to forums for book discussion / sci fi enthusiasts, leading to some variant of this thread title: “来自12个星球的敌人即[Green Man Wars]* ” – “Foes from 12 Planets is the same as [Green Man Wars]*”, usually followed by a warning not to be fooled into buying it by the unscrupulous publisher. It seems like there has been an unauthorized translation going around for a while. A quick search on the Chinese characters took me to an online version. None of this is a reason not to sell legitimately into China but this is absolutely the environment: the bulk of customers do expect to be able to read books online for free.

    *Not actually ‘Green Man Wars’ – name changed because why help people pirate the thing? Not that anyone on this site would, probably.

  33. Edit: I also noticed the following in the foreword to the pirated online edition. Written in English! “And at the last, I have to apologize to the author of Old Man’s War for did not ask for his permission to translate his work and post in blog publicly. Nothing will excuse my violating of copyright of his book. I do not want others consider that China is a country full of piracy, so I want to say I am truly sorry to my imprudent behavior” Which is..rather sweet?

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