Waiting for the machines to fall asleep

FantasyPosted by Hans Olsson Thu, May 07, 2015 19:21:59
Now I've read all the short stories in the anthology ”Waiting for the machines to fall asleep” and I have some thoughts about it. It's tubular (I'll explain it further down)!

And I'll write this blog post in English, since I hope some of the English speaking readers have found their way here.

First a few thoughts on my own work: While writing my own contribution ”Melody of the Yellow Bard” I learned a lot of useful things about writing in a language that's not my own. I consider myself to be fairly good with the English language, but then again, it's not my native tounge. This brought on a few challenges, for example which words to chose in what situation, or the fact that you treat commas in dialogue differently in Swedish than in English. I also learned that it's very hard to have that instinctive feel of the language, as you have with your own native language. It's a challenge, but a real fun one!

As an example, how do you treat dialogues so they sound natural? Someone suggested that the people talking should mention each others names more, but for me that's not working at all. I can't see (or hear) people talk that way and make it sound natural.

A: One example might sound like this (using the characters from my short story):
”How are you, Rasmus?”
”I'm good, Clayton. How are you?”
”I'm good thanks, Rasmus, how are you?”
"I beg your pardon, I think you just asked that, Clayton."

B: Or you can do it like this, making it sound (to me) more natural:
”Hello, Rasmus.”
”Hi there!” Rasmus waved at Clayton. ”Waazzahh?”
”Uh, wazzup!”
”What do you mean? Are you Millhouse?”
”What? No... I just... Forget it.”

To me the option A sounds like they're both salesmen, trying to impress each other by thoroughly knowing each other name and repeating it every chance they get. Maybe it's just me. But I also think there might be a cultural difference. Maybe I'm writing in Swedish-English rather than English-English. This was one of the biggest challenges while working with ”Melody of the Yellow Bard,” but also one of the more fun ones. Hence I chose to keep my own Swedish touch to my story, and I'm very happy with it. Is it good for you to read? Who the hell knows, but in the end I'm very happy with how ”Melody of the Yellow Bard” turned out. And I hope that you find it good as well. If you read this blog post I guess you were curious enough to go here, at least.

So what about the rest of the short stories?

First of all: There was an interesting observation from one of the reviewers; that most of the short stories are gloomy, downbeat and ends with the protagonists' death or something similar. Does this mean that Swedes have a pessimistic view of the world? Or perhaps a realistic one? I don't know, and I can only speak for myself. As for ”Melody of the Yellow Bard” I was inspired by lots of things, but to mention two sources; Lovecraft (the sense of an outside, neverending threat appeals to me), and Will Murrays short story ”What brings the void”. These two examples has a certain touch to them which really inspired me.
And I should clarify that "inspired by Lovecraft" does not mean that I use his mythos. It simply means "inspired".

Anyway, in an anthology there are usually a few good short stories that appeals to me. In ”Waiting for the machines to fall asleep” I find most of them extremely good, fun and worth reading. Not all stories are for me, but that's also the beauty of an anthology. You get the mix, wether it's for your or not. I think one of the reasons that it works out so well is the language. Each author has their own voice, and ”speaking” it in a foreign language really works.
I'm very proud to be part of this, and thanks to Peter Öberg and the other authors who made reading it a great experience. It really is tubular!

Oh yeah, ”tubular”. I like video games, and when I grew up I played Nintendo games mostly. In Super Mario World, to SNES, you can find the Special World. In here there are 8 levels. For example we have the levels ”Groovy”, ”Awesome” and ”Way Cool”, which are words to express something... well, cool. And there was also this one level called ”Tubular”. So as a kid I thought this was a word equivalent to ”Awesome”, ”Cool” or ”Fantastic”. It has never left me since, although today I understand the logic of a level called ”Tubular” (!) in a Mario game. It's pretty tubular, come to think of it. And while I'm on that topic, the koopas are commonly known as ”ducks”. Yep.

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