Redshirts in Korean and Polish

And they are two very different takes on the same book, I would say. Of the Polish one, I’m mildly curious as to how Adam Baldwin got on the cover, not to mention the young lady with the chest plate tattoo; neither of them really seem to be in uniform. I will say that the reviews of the book that I’ve seen in Polish (via Google Translate) pretty much seem to say “okay, that cover, maybe you should ignore that” and that otherwise it’s a good translation of the novel. So, yeah. I’m just going to go with my “the publisher knows their market better than I do” line, here. The Korean cover, on the other hand, I can be unreservedly enthusiastic about, because I think it’s clever and funny and captures a lot of the spirit of the book, and I really like it. And there you have it.

43 Comments on “Redshirts in Korean and Polish”

  1. I’m pretty sure the Polish cover was commissioned for a different book. On the other hand, it grabs one’s attention.

  2. The Polish one looks like something that may have been originally intended for another book entirely. If it were intended for this book, you’d expect at least one person with a, well, a red shirt. :)

    (According to Google Translate, the Polish title does indeed mean “Red Shirts”.)

  3. I think it’s pretty likely that the Polish Redshirts cover is indeed repurposed art. I remember that the first set of Russian covers I had were basically repurposed Warhammer 40000 covers (the newer covers are based off the books, however).

  4. That’s funky. Is this the first time you’ve been translated to Korean? I’ve been studying the language this year and dabbling in the popular entertainment, and so far I’m under the impression that the sci-fi genre isn’t nearly as culturally established over there (though I’m sure the enthusiasts are hiding somewhere). I’m surprised that a book that’s to some degree a riff on tropes has a market there.

    For those curious, 존 스칼지 레드셔즈 technically romanizes back to Jon Seu-Kal-Ji Re-Deu-Syeo-Jeu, but due to some sound change rules and Korean readers being well clued-in ends up being pronounced quite closely to the English original. In other words, the title isn’t translated; it was just transcriped into the Korean Hangul alphabet.

  5. I get the impression that European publishers use stock art for their covers (men and women in various types of armor with weapons, lasers, explosions, etc.) and the above is a prime example. Someone just chooses one that either seems to fit, or that the art director thinks looks cool (and will sell lots of copies). :-\

  6. That Korean cover is fantastic. It totally manages to telegraph what people should expect in picking up the book — at least to an English-speaking reader!

  7. So…what reading level do you think Red Shirts is? I am learning Korean and it might be fun to try….but then again, maybe I should just get it in English. Congrats on the translations!

  8. ^ You could grab both versions (English and Korean) and use the English version as a reference while trying to grok the Korean translation. I once bought a bunch of bilingual children’s books for the same purpose. It won’t really save you from looking at a dictionary while reading, but it’s kind of interesting to have an English text to refer back to and see examples of how various sentiments map back and forth in action.

  9. Well, the Polish cover isn’t any worse than the original cover of Bujold’s The Warrior’s Apprentice, which Bujold refers to as “the one with Elena’s combat nightie.”

  10. hahahah… I’m dying at the Google Translate reviews.

    “The great advantage of improving reception excellent book is that the characters are wonderfully paper, while credible. I do not know how this bastard did it.”

  11. [Deleted because not on topic. Also, we should not be surprised when a bigot says bigoted things. Even so, let’s keep comment threads focused please – JS]

  12. Biggest difference in the covers, for me: the Korean one made me want to learn what the story is. The Polish one looks like a book I’d never dream of reading.

  13. Is that a helmet on the woman’s head? Or some kind of fetching mini-hat like women wear in 1930’s movies? I can’t make it out on my screen.

  14. The Korean cover is fantastic. That’s some nicely done graphic art that I’d love to have in poster form, as a big fan of the book.

    The Polish one is so entirely baffling as to be hilarious.

  15. As I said on Twitter — I look forward to reading the cyberpunk-ish novel that the Polish cover belongs on, once you write it.

  16. ::I’m just going to go with my “the publisher knows their market better than I do” line, here. ::

    I don’t know about that, Scalzi – Tammy’s gotten some foreign covers where she’s gotten fan mail back asking, “Why did you put THAT on your cover?” A lot of fans don’t realize you don’t really have that much input on your covers, as a general rule….

  17. Yabob:

    If the pictures I’ve seen of Mr. Correia are any indication, he has a lot of push-ups ahead of him before he can model for that cover. Mind you, I would also have a lot of push-ups ahead of me to be on that cover, too. As I noted in the entry, I think it looks like Adam Baldwin.

  18. Bet the Polish cover sells more books! ;) They should have gone with 발. That works if you know Italian. Even with the goofy cover it must feel fantastic to see your work in so many languages. You are a major author for sure. I sorta wish you were not such a good guy so I could hate you but I’ll just have to settle for jealous!

  19. The romanization (rather than translation) of Red Shirts into the Korean alphabet is not surprising given
    1) how ubiquitous English words is in South Korea (both “red” and “shirts” are English words pretty much the entire country would recognize)
    2) “red” as an adjective in Korean often triggers associations with communism and the North Korean regime. Even the “Red Devils” (Korea’s World Cup fan club) chose to use a rather uncommon word for red (붉은) instead of the everyday (빨간).

    Also I’m with momsomniac and Eike. This may be my new Korean refresher course.

  20. Of the Polish one, I’m mildly curious as to how Adam Baldwin got on the cover,

    Everybody’s a casting director. :)

  21. I’m a bit curious as to how the whole concept of “redshirts” translates to other countries which might have had Trekkies but are unlikely to have had that particular slang term. It would be interesting to talk to a Korean or Polish person about what they think about the book …

  22. I’m a bit curious as to how the whole concept of “redshirts” translates to other countries which might have had Trekkies but are unlikely to have had that particular slang term.

    In particular, I’m betting the book is/would be called something different in Italy, where “redshirt” means roughly the same as “Minuteman” would to an American.

  23. I don’t speak a word of Korean (unless you count things like “kim chee” and “bibimbap”), but I sort of want to buy the Korean edition just for that cover.

  24. Nice cover on the Korean version. Really does capture the spirit of the thing. (Do you suppose there might be yet *another* universe that features the poor saps who have to be on the covers, the way there seems to have been for DC Comics back in the sixties? The Polish couple seem to inhabit that universe, or the one where those people go on their vacation.)

    Just finished “Redshirts,” and I’ll be calling my college roommate to recommend it. I gotta tell you, when the Catholic priest showed up, it was a definite WTF moment . . . I’d just been thinking how weird and meta it would feel if something “personal” were to happen, and then, it DID.


    I’ll be looking into your other stuff. Thanks for a great read!

  25. So what we’ve learned here is that in Poland, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. But in South Korea, maybe you can…

  26. John, I liked your unapologetic response to Steven Brust’s comment about your writing to the market. I can see that some people might think of this as a put down, but we know it wasn’t. I enjoyed OMW very much. While stock Sci-Fi, I found it a fun read with some new twists.

  27. R. M. Meluch did a novel where a whole bunch of characters, who were getting picked off like redshirts, were actually named “Redshirt” in various languages. … I may need to dig up the book, and see how the list compares with Scalzi translations.

    (I spoke enough Welsh to spot “Cryscoch”, which made me suspicious of the others. “Roodoverhemd” was another.)

  28. I’m not really seeing Adam Baldwin there. Face is totally different, and Baldwin always goes clean-shaven.

    Jean Reno during the Ronin-era, definitely.

  29. I’m seeing Ben Affleck on steroids. I like the artwork but it’s hilariously inappropriate for the content.

  30. @Magda, I think that’s her hair. Dyed bright red, and spiked. Because she’s a Badass Punk.

    I think the guy looks more like a buffed up Kevin James or buffed up James Gandolfini… with beards.

  31. It’s strange for me how lightly Mr Scalzi treats this obnoxious cover. As I remember, he himself took part in an action to ridicule that kind of covers. As a Polish sf fan I’d appreciate a stronger stand no that issue.
    I’m just going to go with my “the publisher knows their market better than I do” line, here. – isn’t that patronizing a bit? Maybe this cover does not show it, but we are not saveges here. Mostly.

  32. Łukasz Jezierski:

    There is in fact nothing I can do about the cover at this point. I was not offered any approval or input. If you find the cover patronizing, I suggest you talk to the publisher; they are the ones who decided it fit the market, not me. As noted elsewhere, this publisher is not the only one who has ever put a cover on a book of mine entirely unrelated to the story within. It happens more often than you might think. When it happens, it’s because the publisher thinks it will sell the book effectively.

    Where I will be able to have influence is in the future. If we work with the publisher again, I expect we will ask for cover approval, or at least consultation.



  33. I think the problem is that in Poland knowledge of Star Trek and Star Trek “language/phrases” is very low. Only Trekkies (and ST fandom in Poland isn’t as huge as in US or other european countries) will know what/who redshirt is. Only looking at this book I would think it’s about some soviet army, perhaps somewhere in the deep future? Perhaps the publisher done this to lure more SF fans than “only” Star Trek fans? Anyway, the last thing I’d think about after looking at this cover would be that this book has something to do with ST redshirts.

%d bloggers like this: