Monday, December 26, 2011

(ENG) La Lucha con El Texto

La Lucha con El Texto (the struggle with the text) 

As we do the English translation of Horacio Kalibang by Eduardo Holmberg, (an amazing robot story written in the 1800's in Argentina), I realize that every translation is a poetic and interpretive act, characterized by struggles with the text and the subjectivity of the translator. So I made this logo "La Luchadora del Texto" to signify our struggles. Anywhere you see it you will see where we are struggling.

And here are some of our struggles.
1) Ana and I took some liberties with the text in the first section. The narrator, Fritz apologizes to the reader directly but in the 3rd person. This type of aside is common for Victorian writing. "Razón tendra el lector, y mucha, para quejarse por la extraña introducción que me he permitido regalarle.." (The readers will be right to complain about the strange introduction I have allowed myself to give them). Technically we should be saying "the strange introduction which I have allowed myself to give him". But for now at least, since there are two women translating, (and working quite hard I might add) we are using the gender neutral "them" in this instance until we can figure this out to our satisfaction.

2) Holmberg uses "pariente" regarding the narrator's relationship with Burgomeister Hipknock. The english translation of "pariente" is "relative" or "kinsman" In section 3, Holmberg uses the word "primo" which means cousin. "Para que el lector pueda apreciar la conducata de mi primo, el burgomaistre Hipknock". We decided to use "cousin" throughout, because "relative" in English is too confusing and general, especially since there are lot of relatives in this story.

3) Is Horacio Kalibang "it" or "he"? I was not sure about this when I first started reading the text. The Spanish prepositions indicated that Horacio could be an "it" or a "he" but not female. However, in Section 2, the people at the dinner party say "El hombre que ha perdido la gravedad" (The man who has lost his gravity). So from there, I decided that Kalibang was a "man" in this story, not an object.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

(ENG) Chapter 1: Horacio Kalibang

This is a science fiction story that I am translating from Spanish with help from Ana Lucía Alonso, an artist and animator from Argentina. I am going to post it section by section, and in the end I will make it a PDF and put it next to the Spanish translation on this blog. It has 7 sections, it's really more in the nature of a 15 page short story. If you have any comments on the translation, leave them on this blog posting. -sam smiley

Para los lectores de español:
Si desea leer el texto original "Horacio Kalibang o los autómatas" por Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg  en español, puede descargar el archivo PDF, haga clic en "ciencia ficción" en la página principal.

Horacio Kalibang or the Automatons

by Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg
translated by sam smiley and Ana Lucía Alonso

   "It is completely false" said the burgomeister, raising his lips to the green cup, in which his nephew had just served him a delicate Rhine wine.
   "And you believe this is outside the limits of the conceivable?" asked Hermann with malice.
   "The conceivable! The conceivable! Everything is conceivable, nephew, but not everything is possible."
   "So I have heard it said more than one time; but since I knew that fact  with its terrifying reality, I have come to understand that there exists strange phenomena, that human science cannot explain, and it may never be able to explain"
   "Your opinion is no more than a schoolchild"
“So what? you imagine, by chance that it is possible to be something else?  Only a whippersnapper,  who denies the truths revealed by man (with his concentration and incessant application to the study of nature), and accepts the folly, exactly as you have manifested? You believe, perhaps, that I was born yesterday? Has it occured to you to suspect that you are talking with a religious fanatic who is going to confirm your preoccupations by way of beliefs or faith? No, Hermann, no; you are very wrong. But, why don’t you serve the marshal? And you, Luisa, have you lost the taste for this, after what you have heard? Kaspar, pass me the ham. Captain! Rhine wine?”
    “Thank you, I have been served already.”
    “Marshal, a slice of ham? Excellent, my marshal, it is the best that is made in Pomerania, with goose breast.”
    The burgomeister was right. It was a delicacy, that everyone judged rigorously, without being able to declare any other result that it was exquisite, and therefore it was possible to qualify equally a beautiful woman, and a delicious ham from Pomerania.
    The readers will be right to complain about the strange introduction that I have allowed myself to give them, before introducing them to Horacio Kalibang, with all the solemnity that the character and the readers deserve; but it was not possible to begin in in any other way because to enter the room in which that conversation took place, at that very moment, the burgomeister Hipknock was contradicting his nephew, the lieutenant Hermann Blagerdorff, and as a faithful portrait, I could not do anything but take the recorded words without the past history.

To continue with the story click here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

(ENG) Henrietta Lacks: a "scientific american"

In the video that inspired this blog, INtransit V. 6: "scientific american"/La America Científica, AstroDime member Amanda Gill did a short video about Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who died in 1951 of cervical cancer in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Her cells were the first human cells to propagate outside the human body. As a result, many advances in medicine and cancer research have been made.

However, her family was not treated ethically after this "discovery" and was not compensated or acknowledged for their contribution. This brings up many ethical questions about what happens even today, when you "donate" a portion of your body and DNA during medical treatment.

Henrientta has not been truly acknowledged for her (involuntary) contribution until recently. However, in my mind, she is truly a "scientific american". Since Rebecca Skloot's book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, (2010) things have changed. In 2011, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland awarded her a posthumous honorary degree. In Vancouver, Washington, United States, a new high school is going to be named in her honor: Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School (HeLa High)

Here are some other resources on Henrietta Lacks to learn more about her:

Wikipedia entry:

A foundation for the Lacks family set up by Skloot and the family after she wrote the book:

Fascinating BBC documentary by Adam Curtis, archived for free. The music is a little dated, but the interviews reveal a lot about the implicit racism of science in the treatment of Henrietta Lacks.

-sam smiley

Saturday, December 3, 2011

(ESP) Señor Nic-Nac: Un tesoro de ciencia ficcíon

Cuando asistí a un grupo de lectura el año pasado, me presentaron la escritura de Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg, un botánico y naturalista que trabajaba en el siglo XIX en Argentina.

Wikipedia (English)

Wikipedia (Spanish)
Importante: la entrada en de Wikipedia en español es más completa.

Cuanto más descubría acerca de él, más me interesaba en lo que hizo, en el cruce de las fronteras de la ciencia y la literatura.

Actualmente estoy leyendo “Viaje maravilloso del señor Nic-Nac al planeta Marte”. Solo he encontrado este texto en Español, publicado por Ediciones Colihue, aunque yo pude comprarlo en Amazon.

Para mí, es soprendente que este libro no haya entrado en el canon de ciencia ficción al lado de Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, y Mary Shelley. En parte, es un problema de idioma, ya que no ha sido traducida al inglés. Ahora, sin embargo, es mi ganancia, porque realmente he disfrutado de las partes que he leido. Holmberg escribió el libro para popularizar la ciencia a sus conciudadanos Argentinos. Es bastante accessible, y a su vez no es difícil de leer para los adultos que están aprendiendo español.

Un pequeño sumario del cuento. Señor Nic Nac abandona su cuerpo con la ayuda de su amigo mysterioso, Seele. Utiliza la proyección astral para ir al planeta Marte. Marte parece tener muchas similitudes con Argentina. He llegado hasta este punto ahora pero estoy encontrando que es un libro realmente bueno para leer.

El libro se publica en una edición nueva, pero sólo en Español. El ISBN es 9505639074. Se publica por Ediciones Colihue (2006) en Argentina. Es en parte disponible en la web por Google Books.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

(ENG) Señor Nic-Nac: A Science Fiction Treasure

Through attending a reading group last year, i was introduced to the writing of Eduardo Ladislao Holmberg, a botanist and natural historian who worked in the 1800's in Argentina.

Wikipedia (English) Holmberg
Wikipedia (Spanish) Holmberg
Important: the Spanish Wikipedia entry is much more complete.

The more I found out about him, the more I was interested in what he did, in crossing the borders of science and literature.

I am currently reading "The Marvelous Voyage of Señor Nic Nac and the planet Mars." I have only found this text in Spanish, published by Ediciones Colihue although I was able to buy it on Amazon.

To me it is amazing that this book has not entered the canon of science fiction alongside of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Mary Shelley. Partly it is a language issue, since it hasn't been translated into English. Now however, it is my gain, as I have truly enjoyed the parts I have read. Holmberg wrote the book to popularize science to his fellow Argentinians. It is fairly accessible, and also it is not hard to read for adults who are learning Spanish. It was published in serial form in an Argentian newspaper in 1875.

A short summary of the story. Senor Nic Nac leaves his body with the help of his mysterious friend Seele. He uses astral projection to go to the Planet Mars. Mars seems to have many resemblances to Argentina. That is as far as I am right now but I am finding it a really great read. With the help of friends, I am going to try to publish it in English on this blog.

The book is currently published in a new edition, but in Spanish only. It has great notes by Pablo Crash Solomonoff. Its ISBN is 9505639074. It is published through Ediciones Colihue (2006) in Argentina. It is partly available online through Google Books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Welcome y bienvenida

español sigue..

This blog is a continuation of a DVD and video project realized by the media arts collective AstroDime Transit Authority. We ask the question: What is a 'scientific american'? What is 'scientific'? and What is 'american'?

We will be writing and producing artwork and video about art and science in the continental Americas. This blog will be a bilingual blog in Spanish and English. If you want to contribute ideas or suggest topics, email sam smiley at


Este blog es una continuación de un proyecto de DVD y vídeo realizado por el colectivo de artes y medio llamadas "Astrodime Transit Authority". Nos hacemos la pregunta "Qué es un@ científic@ american@?"

Nosotras vamos a escribir y producir obras de arte y de video sobre el arte y la ciencia en las Américas. Este blog será un blog bilingue en Español y Ingles. Si usted quiere contribir el arte o las ideas, envíe un email a sam smiley (