Old Man’s War Goes to Italy

Hey, today’s a big day for me in the land of (some of) my ancestors! It’s the day that the Italian version of Old Man’s War hits bookstores. It’s been retitled Morire Per Vivere, which if Google Translate is to be trusted translates out to something like “Dying to Live.” Well, that’s not entirely unrelated to the events in the book, so, cool. I’d been hoping for a while that I would get a Italian book deal because with a name like Scalzi, I don’t know. I just felt like it would be nice to be in that market. And now I am. Thank you, Gargoyle Books.

For those of you wondering how I read in Italian, Gargoyle has posted the first chapter of OMW/MPV on its site here; it’s the pdf link down there at the bottom. I took one quarter of Italian in college and did miserably at it, so someone will have to tell me if it’s a good translation. I’m going to assume it is.

In short: tell all your friends in the old country to go and buy it right this very second. Grazie.

25 Comments on “Old Man’s War Goes to Italy”

  1. You should have asked them to change your name to Giovanni Scalzi for the Italian edition.

    Italians might be more willing to buy from an Italian author.

  2. I like the cover. You don’t see enough roller coasters featured on book covers. Seriously though, I do like the cover.

  3. Congratulations!
    If you had a BrainPal, would you use it to create all these international versions of your books, or would you rather have native speakers do it? I’m curious if you envisioned the BrainPal as giving its user a deep enough understanding of the data it provides to allow a fluent, enjoyable translation or merely a competent literal translation.

  4. Ensley F. Guffey – Ensley F. Guffey is an author and historian of american popular culture. His is the co-author with K. Dale Koontz of <i>Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Guide to Breaking Bad</i> (ECW Press 2014), and is currently working on their second collaboration, <i>Dreams Given Form: The Unofficial Companion to the Babylon 5 Universe</i> (forthcoming, fall 2016). Ensley has also published academic articles on <i>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</i>, <i>Breaking Bad</i>, <i>Marvel's The Avengers</i>, <i>Farscape</i>, and <i>Babylon 5</i>. In between books, Dale and Ensley lead the carefree lives of pop-culture scholars, speaking at academic conferences, fan conventions, and otherwise obsessing about TV, Joss Whedon, comics, books, and films while forging their own version of "happily ever after," which generally involves buying more bookshelves.

    It sounds like a Fellini film. Can you imagine Old Man’s War/Living to Die by Federico Fellini? I can. It is both sublimely funny and deeply disturbing.

  5. How miserable did you do? I got a 32 (and yes that was out of 100). Worse still, I went home and told my 93 year old great grandmother (born and raised in Italy) that she was mispronouncing her words. Still haven’t lived that down. Needless to say she never made me biscotti again!

    Congrats on the Italian edition. What’s next on the Scalzi wish list … Swahili?

  6. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang with Doppler Radar 6,000,000

    I think I’ve been keeping up with all the translations but what’s the craziest translated title you’ve seen so far?

  7. I think I’ve been keeping up with all the translations but what’s the craziest translated title you’ve seen so far?

    It’s not a Scalzi joint, but I’m tickled by the Spanish title of Shaun of The Dead (a pun that only works in English) – Zombies Party (Una noche… de muerte) which sounds rather more festive than the film actually is. :)

  8. Romeo:

    “Old Man’s War” would be “La Guerra del Vecchio”. “Muorire per Vivere” is a bit hard to translate because it doesn’t quite make sense. My attempt would be something like “Dying in order to Live” or “Dying for Survival”

  9. I read the first chapter posted on Gargoyle. It’s reasonable, except for an imprecision. Near the end “From there you’re in the CDF’s hands” is translated as if it were “From now you’re etc”. And no, I will not buy the book. I have the US edition.

  10. I didn’t think you could improve upon Old Man’s War until I saw the Tie Fighters. Well played Scalzi, well played indeed Good Sir!

  11. I am happy for you sir. I have just bought one of your books -my first of yours- and i await it’s arrival. It’s “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded”. bytheway, Do the Tie Fighter-like ships exist in your book?

  12. @JReynolds “You should have asked them to change your name to Giovanni Scalzi for the Italian edition.”

    No need for that, John Scalzi is already a well known author in the inner circle of italian science fiction fans.
    A few of us read directly the original version as soon as a new book is published … and then playfully tantalize those that prefer to wait for the italian translation about “those uber cool books it’s a shame they are not yet translated”. :-)
    And besides that, there are a few articles here and there about a certain author and president of the SFWA, for example:

  13. Tie fighters … Uhm!
    Exactly in these days here in Italy there are LOTS of tv commercials about the 3D re-release of the Phantom menace.

    It makes me wonder how the italian publisher commissioned the cover art …
    Publisher: “You see, this book is about a guy fighting a war in space and on alien planets… ”
    Book Cover Artist: “Like Star Wars?”
    P: “Uhm! Yeah! An there is the 3D edition of the Phantom Menace out soon! Soo …”
    BCA: “So?”
    P: “Tie fighter! We need tie fighters! Lots of tie fighters! Free not-so-subliminal advertising from the movie re-release! Muah! Ah! Ah!”
    BCA: “Oh! Well! At least it’s not sparkling emo space marines!”
    P: “Good idea! But let’s keep it for the next book”.
    BCA: “……”

    It’s more likely that the book cover is from somebody that thinks tie fighter are cool, but i couldn’t resist joking about it. :-)

  14. It’s been awhile, but I geeked out big time on Star Wars as a teenager…and aren’t those tie bombers instead of tie fighters? I figure someone here knows well enough to correct me if I’m wrong.

  15. I read the 1st chapter. It’s not too bad, in fact compared to some translation they put out these days it pretty good. I find that translating english to latin languages is rather hard. Somehow the translations don’t sound natural.
    The translators don’t take the liberties required to make it sound right and you end up with rather dry dialogues. No one will ever speak like that. Ever.

  16. Giuseppe: I can see where that would be a problem. I know that this will never happen, but it would be fun to have an author-translator collaboration, where the author is explaining the feel of the dialogue so the translator could make it natural. Maybe an author-translator-author trio, where the last is an author in the language the book is being translated into.

    Like I said, never happen. Oh well.

  17. Logan: TIE Bombers have two pods, not one, so it’s not strictly a TIE Bomber either. It basically looks like a TIE Fighter with TIE Bomber wings.

  18. Alessia De Gaspari – Despite her best effort, she is a writer. This involves a curse which forces her to spend several hours a day having conversations with people who don't exist, trying to figure out events which never happened in worlds to which she'll never get to travel. Except when she daydreams, obviously. Which happens quite often.

    I’ll definitely buy it, and let you know if they translated it well. I hope so, obviously, but honestly the majority of books translated from English to Italian tend to disappoint. I don’t know if it has to do with how fast the translators are asked to work, or what else. I do know that I often find cringeworthy errors, omissions, or rather “creative” interpretations.

    Cheers from Italy

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