Thousand-Handed Kannon, Argus and Clones


Sometimes I wish I could clone myself. There is simply so much to do and not enough time to get it done in. And that's just the things I really must do, not even including all the things I merely want to do. Work can really be all-consuming if you let it, and especially when you happen to enjoy the work you do.

At present, Kurodahan Press is merely a division of Intercom, Ltd., the translation and production company I started over twenty years ago. A lot of the resources developed by Intercom happpen to be an excellent fit for Kurodahan, too, and that was a lot of the reason Kurodahan was born: the rest of the reason was simply that it looked like (and still looks like) a worthy thing to do.

Well, it's been a couple years now, and we have a couple books out. Things are pretty much on track, and there are (as always) a bunch of exciting prospects in the air. Some good books are under way, such as Crystal Silence that we just signed this month.

Trouble is, it all takes time. I have to keep hammering away at technical translation to get the bills paid, and that takes a lot of time. Usually technical translation is performed on the client's schedule, which means they call up whenever they darn well please and set whatever deadline they like. It's impossible to plan for, and can be very difficult to handle without turning your schedule into a train wreck.

When I do have time to work on Kurodahan projects, there is always a lot to do... Himiko is undergoing a thorough developmental edit, and requires an awful lot ot English work, not to mention inputting and checking a host of Chinese characters, many of which are no longer found in most font sets (and if we can't find them, we have to make them: another fun and time-consuming chore). The manuscript is currently off with the author, who is studiously addressing the issues raised by the editor. It's taken a long time to get here, but the end is finally in sight.

What takes perhaps the most time, though, is finding new books to think about publishing. I have been working through the list of Best SF generated by Hayakawa SF Magazine every year. They actually produce two lists, one of novels and the other of shorter works, and while they obviously change every year the core titles remain almost untouched. Sad to say, I have still not read many of these crucial works. The 2006 version of the short story poll is up in English on the Locus site, by the way. The original Japanese list, which is considerably more complete, offers a good view of just what the Japanese consider good. (The numbers shown are merely the number of visitors to this page who read each story, and not especially meaningful in terms of what Japan as a whole thinks.)

Authors are constantly sending me new novels, or recommending someone else's books. That's how I was introduced to Takano Fumio's Musica Machina, remember? I probably get two or three books a month from people to read, although a number of them are books translated from English by friends, sending me copies because I helped them decode the author's English. I have all of David Brin and Michael Crichton in Japanese hardcover for exactly that reason...

And of course there are stacks and stacks of books that I want to read myself. New books are always coming out, and there are still dozens and dozens of books that I've bought and want to read right away... even though they've been on my shelf for years already. I would love to spend time wandering through Aozora, for example, an online site with a massive number of public domain Japanese texts, and a lot of really great stuff. The story being translated for the Kurodahan Press Translation Prize, in fact, is up on Aozora. I try to read books in English, too, which means reading Locus regularly. Again, far too many books that I really want to read but simply don't have the chance to get to. I make exceptions, of course, so if there's a new Caitlín Kiernan or Laurie King or Iain Banks or Zoran Živković, it usually gets bumped to the head of the list

When I was living in Tokyo, many years ago, it was a 90-minute commute one-way, and that gave me plenty of time to read, even if it was on a sardine-packed train. I was tall enough that there was still breathable air up around my nose, and as long as I didn't lift my feet off the floor (if you do you can never put them down again without landing on someone else's toes...), it was not that difficult. Now, though, it only takes about ten minutes to get to work, and by the time I get my book out and recall what I was reading last time, it's time to get off again. Maybe three or four pages a day, which is simply not enough.

Sure, I could read at home, except that when I'm at home my dogs (two King Charles cavalier spaniels) insist that it is time to play with them, not sit and read. And if I'm foolish enough to try to ignore them and read anyway, they try to lick me to death. It's hard to turn the pages when your hands are that gooey.

Sunday night I do have a little time, and could probably get some reading done, but I have to write this blog instead...


Kurodahan Press

Kurodahan Press
2305-9 Yunomae Machi
Kuma-gun, Kumamoto
868-0600 JAPAN