Here at Ooligan we’ve been working on our newest project, the French Sci-Fi Project, a collection of science fiction short stories translated from French, in partnership with PSU’s Language department. We’re excited to expand our horizons into the international scene with this new book and hope that we can continue to publish books in translation in the future.
But for now, if you’re interested in looking past the horizon on your bookshelf into international waters, here’s a list of five science fiction books that have been translated into English from a range of languages including Chinese, German, and Italian. In this list you’ll find mystery, aliens, challenged humanity, and international influence, giving anyone who’s just coming into science fiction a little breathing room to start their journey into the unknown.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
If you’re looking for the next science fiction world to dive into with a series, look no further than Cixin Liu’s Hugo Award winning book, The Three-Body Problem. In this first book of the trilogy, you’ll be introduced to the Chinese Cultural Revolution as the military sends signals out into the universe for signs of alien life. The reply? An alien race looking for a new home. Will they succeed in invading our planet with the help of a few of our own? Or will humanity come together to fight back against a global invasion? Pick up the whole series to find out!
The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, translated by William Weaver
As the French Sci-Fi Project inspired this list, it’s only natural that another short story collection be included, and Italo Calvino’s The Complete Cosmicomics, originally published in Italian in 1965, made the cut. Though Calvino originally published the stories in Italian, he later would publish these short stories in a literary magazine in Cuba, his native country, as well. The stories explore natural phenomena and the origins of our universe, with readers calling Calvino’s writing “nimble and often hilarious.” If you’re looking to think outside of the realms of our reality, pick up this collection!
The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke, translated by Ross Benjamin
As a winner of the Harrison Award for international achievements in science fiction, any of Jeschke’s works could be included in this list, but it was The Cusanus Game that won him the Deutscher Science Fiction Preis, a highly regarded German science fiction literary award. The novel, published in 2005, follows a biologist during the aftermath of nuclear fallout in Northern Europe. Jeschke serves up Fallout with a time traveling twist that captures readers interest until the end. Pick this book up if you’re ready to get back to the roots of the science fiction genre while keeping your feet (and the protagonist’s) firmly planted on our home planet.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
An international bestseller from Murakami, one of Japan’s most successful authors, 1Q84 is for anyone who enjoys The Matrix and has been diving too deeply into “ShiftTok” and the concept of reality shifting. The main character enters an alternate reality at the suggestion of a taxi driver. As the two main characters’ timelines overlap throughout the dystopian society, it reveals just how connected everything is. While lighter on the science fiction tropes, this book is sure to please anyone looking for a heartfelt story of human connection.
The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn: One More Last Rite for the Detective Genre by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, translated by Josh Billings
Want an Agatha Christie mystery novel with some Russian sci-fi humor? Look no further than the writings of the Strugatsky brothers and The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn. For at least three decades the brothers were the most popular science fiction writers in Russia, and the most influential Russian science fiction writers in the world. The novel reads like a Hercule Poirot mystery when the lead detective’s ski vacation is rudely interrupted by a dead body and mysterious events start happening around the chalet. This book, like the last, is for those who want a genre bend to their sci-fi, and want to be sitting on the edge of their seats to find out what happens next.
Add these five international science fiction titles to your list now, and be ready to dive into the world of French science fiction when Ooligan releases the French Sci-Fi Project in Spring 2024!