It’s April 23rd and that means there’s lots to celebrate. For much of the planet, it’s International Book Day, although the UK and Ireland have already celebrated that back on March 3rd. Perhaps they thought it was too complicated to have so many things happening on St George’s Day. (I’m not sure why that would affect anyone except the English, and as they don’t tend to do a lot to mark their patron saint’s day, even for them, it’s not really a strong argument.)
It’s also Shakespeare’s 400th something. Not birthday, of course, but “deathday” doesn’t sound quite right. The Bard did tell us that “cowards die many times”, but he didn’t say a anything about celebrating death days. I don’t think Cervantes did, either, though we could well be celebrating the same anniversary for him today. (Although there’s a valid argument that even if he did die on April 23rd, the calendars in use in England and Spain at the time were different so Cervantes and Shakespeare actually died 11 days apart.)
Over in Catalonia, they have no qualms about mixing books and saints. There, they celebrate St George’s day, though they call him Sant Jordi, and they are happy to combine their patron saint’s day with el día del libro, making a joint celebration often marked by gifts of books and red roses.
Today, then, it’s appropriate that the blog celebrates books and that it draws on my Iberian connections; hence the dramatic image at the start of the post: it’s the cover of an anthology of Spanish science fiction that has just been published. I think the dragon is a good image for St George’s day and the caballero is sufficiently reminiscent of Don Quixote to act as a nod to Cervantes.
The anthology is available in the original Spanish, but the picture shows the cover of the translated version, to which I contributed two stories: El Bosque de hielo (The Ice Forest) by Juan Miguel Aguilera, a “hard science fiction” novelette that won the 1995 Alberto Magno Award and the 1997 Ignotus Award, and Mensajero de dios (God’s Messenger) by Rodolfo Martínez, a 1997 cyberpunk story from his Drímar series. In fact, I was involved in rather more than that, as the project was a combined effort and we all participated in the editing and proof-reading process.
It was a fun project, not least because it had been a while since I’d read any real science fiction. The book also contains alternate history, time slip, fantasy and horror and is available from the publisher, Sportula and from Amazon.
It’s a pity that as I am “only a translator” it’s yet another book I’ve helped to write that I can’t add to my Amazon author page. A pity, too, that reviews and comments on Amazon are limited to the national pages they are posted on. Despite these and other reservations about the Amazon system, I do have several books on sale there. Among these, as some readers already know, is Poems from the Pueblo. Haiku and assorted fragments, which is available to download free for Kindle until Monday.
As well as poems, Poems from the Pueblo includes an essay on the process of writing a haiku – and on deciding the point at which it’s time to stop aiming for absolute minimalism. It isn’t a collection of traditional haiku: as I say in the video “fragmented thoughts on haiku” (available on my Amazon author’s page ) “every one of the traditional rules of haiku is ignored at some point”. But let’s be honest, it’s free and today is international book day: why wouldn’t you download it?
For those who think there is not enough homage to Shakespeare here, I’ll end with a picture of a swan on the Avon: