Recent Reads: Troubadour Verse Edition

Though I was inspired to return to Provençal verse by a game—one run by the inimitable Jeremy Tolbert—I’ve been interested in Occitan culture and literature for a long time. Honestly, it was kind of dumb luck, because reading Pound had reawakened in my a craving to return to old Occitanian song and verse, and when I realized I hadn’t read any a decade or so, I decided to get my hands on some. Fortunately for my bank account, a request for a branch loan at school worked out and I got both of the books I asked for: Meg Bogin’s collection of translations of work by trobaritz (female troubadours), and Robert Kehew’s well-reviewed general anthology of troubadour songs. This means that I’ve been reading the books discussed below over a period of a few months—I started in on the former in late 2018, in fact.  

But first, some listening for this post. My favorite CD of troubadour music is definitely the one by the Clemencic Consort. I still remember buying it, brand new, from an HMV Music store in Montreal years ago as part of a double-CD set, with the other disc containing the (equally fascinating) northern Spanish Cantigas de Santa Maria… and if the point of packaging the pair of discs together was to drive home the point that the Occitanians shared as much (linguistically and musically) in common with their neighbors south of the Pyrenees as they did with the northern French, it was an excellent decision.

That said, I think that there’s also some benefit to be gotten from listening to this second video—especially the first track, which absolutely sounds like something Spanish, and with clearly unmistakeable Moorish influence.

My reason for highlighting that will be clearer in my comments to the first book.

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RPG Quick Shots

This post contains some thoughts on a few shorter RPG books I’ve read lately:

  • The Derelict: A Tale of Terror for Call of Cthulhu by Sandy Peterson
  • Beasties: A Manual of New Monsters for Your Original Edition Game by Thomas Denmark
  • Caves of Shadow by Monte Cook
  • Fate Accelerated  by Clark Valentine with Leonard Balsera, Fred Hicks, Mike Olson, and Amanda Valentine

If that doesn’t appeal, this may be a post to skip. 

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She Bleeds by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul

Update (20 April 2019): I’m not sure why I never posted this, but anyway, I just discovered this among my draft posts. Maybe I was planning to publish thoughts on all four of the Gen Con LotFP books at once? I’m not sure, but anyway, I’m busy and the other Gen Con books (which I have, but which I haven’t looked at yet) will have to wait, so I’m putting this out there now. 

Original Post (20 January 2019): This is a quick look at Elizabeth Chaipraditkul’s She Bleeds supplement for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. As the back cover text reads:

She Bleeds is a gaming supplement for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, offering characters unique abilities if they engage with an otherworldly entity. This is not an adventure, but a supplement adding new character features. Therefore, this supplement most likely requires an adventure and most certainly needs at least one adventurer who is seduced into making questionable choices in exchange for the weird.

The book was surrounded by controversy, in part because one warehouse apparently destroyed some copies on the grounds that someone found the book offensive. Here’s the author’s original statement, and here’s the publisher’s clarification. Probably a little bit of a tempest in a teacup, but a telling one, perhaps.

I’ve just read my copy, and figured I’d share my thoughts.

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Blogging Pound’s The Cantos: Canto LXVIII

This entry is part 54 of 55 in the series Blogging Pound's The Cantos

Pound CantosThis post is one in a series of readings I’m posting of each poem in Ezra Pound’s The Cantos, one (or a few) at a time. The readings are atypical, for reasons made clear in my first post in this series. I’m not sure whether the fiction project that inspired this series will ever come to fruition, but I’d like to try finish the Cantos just the same.

There’s also an (updated) index of all the Cantos (and related sources) I’ve discussed so far.

This is my first post on the Cantos in eight months. I do hope to finish the Adams Cantos in the next few weeks, since there’s only two left. Then I’ll be into the Pisan Cantos—hooray! That said, I’ll probably slow down so I give each on the attention it deserves.

(Not to dismiss the Adams Cantos, but… well, I think there’s a reason there’s so much less interest in them (and the Chinese Cantos) than in what comes before them and after them.) 

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Readymade Bodhisattva, “The Flowering,” Los Angeles/Riverside, and More

This entry is part 68 of 69 in the series SF in South Korea

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to the SF in South Korea series on this blog, but that doesn’t mean that nothing’s happened in the field. It’s just that: 

  • My interests have broadened out from SF to other forms of speculative or “genre” narrative (and, in a big way, to include tabletop RPGs in general), and a lot has happened in many other narrative genres and different media within Korea.  
  • I’ve been a little less involved in the informal Korean SF world since 2013. We were abroad for a while, and then we had a kid and moved to the countryside and ave been busy ever since, and it’s all I can do to get some writing done. 
  • I’ve been, at the same time, more involved in other ways, like in working on translations and doing some support work on a major anthology.

All of of these things have made it harder to post: the first, because a widened scope makes it harder to keep up (especially while trying to continue to do creative work while parenting a toddler); the second, because, I’m less in-the-loop and have no time even when I do have interesting news; and the final point, because I don’t like to sound like I’m tooting my own horn too much. 

That said, I guess it’s time for a little tootin’…

Working backwards chronologically:

Today I got word that an a podcast episode of interest to non-Koreans who want to know more about Korean SF just got published. Soyeon Jeong, Sang Joon Park, Sunyoung Park, and I—as participants of the recent Voices & Visions event in Los Angeles—were interviewed by Dr. Henry Jenkins and Colin MacKay, the hosts of USC’s podcast How Do You Like it So Far? You can listen to Episode 36: Korean Science Fiction: Imagining other worlds, by clicking through or listening below:

Rewinding a little: at the beginning of April, Clarkesworld published its issue 151, which includes my co-translation with Jihyun Park of Soyeon Jeong’s short story “The Flowering”—the first of a series of Korean speculative fiction translations in the magazine. (We’re working on our second contribution to the series at the moment.) If you look over in the sidebar, you can see links for where to subscribe or pledge for Clarkesworld‘s Patreon. 

If you enjoy Jeong’s story, you may also enjoy Jeong’s story titled  “Home,” translated by Sophie Bowman and recently published by Guernica. (Intended or not, it forms a pretty interesting, smart counterpoint with the contrivances in Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations.”)

Jeong’s work isn’t the first work of Korean SF Bowman’s translated: she’s actually translated of Boyoung Kim’s wonderful short novel of love and marriage preparations, and a couple plagued by the effects of FTL travel (namely, time-dilation), I’m Waiting for You. (I haven’t heard, but I assume the translation is forthcoming with a publisher by now.) You can hear Bowman read from the translation on Soundcloud:

Moving back to late February, Readymade Bodhisattva: The Kaya Press Anthology of South Korean Science Fiction was published by Kaya Press. It contains two short stories that Jihyun Park and I co-translated: Seong Hwan Park’s “Readymade Bodhisattva” and Chang-Gyu Kim’s “Our Banished World.” (We also translated the afterword and I helped copyedit the other translations.) There’s links in my sidebar, under the cover image of the book, for where you can buy a copy in the US and in Korea alike. 

Kaya Press is an L.A. publisher who’s also working on at least one other Korean SF project: a collection of short stories by Boyoung Kim, which will include a reprint of our translation of “An Evolutionary Myth,” which originally appeared in Clarkesworld.

The release of the book occasioned a trip to Los Angeles for an event that is part of USC’s Voices and Visions series, titled Readymade Bodhisattvas: South Korean Sci-Fi and Transnational Technocultures as well as a brief stop in Riverside, California (as well as a side trip to Las Vegas for me) which I’ll say about a little more later on in this post.

Oh, and it was in early February—just a week before I left for Los Angeles, in fact—that Neil Clarke announced the SF translation project! Here’s a link to that announcement. 

Right, that’s the highlights. For those interested in the trip I made to L.A., connected to the launch of Readymade Bodhisattva, and on recent developments in Korean SF and my thoughts on this (not recently updated) blog series, click through and see the rest of this post…

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