Lost in Translation
One thing about writing tie-in or other work-for-hire books is that no one needs to let you know when they’ve sold the foreign-language rights to those books. This makes for some interesting moments when you find your name popping up on a book you’ve never seen before in a language you don’t speak.
While looking for data on Amortels, I stumbled across a couple good examples of this. The first is Blood Bowl: Blut und Speile, which my limited command of German tells me translates to Blood and Games. This is a German edition of the Blood Bowl: Killer Contract comic I wrote for Boom Studios a couple years back, published by the fine folks at Panini.
The ironic part is that German has to be the worst choice for a translation of that book. When I first starting writing the Blood Bowl novels on which the comic is based, I was told I had to make the names more Germanic to fit in with setting better. Figuring it was all a joke anyhow — Blood Bowl is meant to be funny — I just ran exactly who the characters were through Babelfish.
The main hero’s name, for instance, is Dunkel Hoffnung, which means “Dark Hero.” His horse is Pferd, which means “Horse.” While these might be funny the first time you get them, I can imagine that it could become tired if every time you come across them they read as “Dark Hero mounted his faithful steed Horse!”
But I suppose that’s funny in its own way.
I also came across this French edition of More Forbidden Knowledge called 101 Trucs Fous Que Vous Ne Devriez Pas Savoir Faire. According to Bablefish, that’s 101 Insane Tricks Which Should Not Know To You To Make, while Google translate renders it as 101 Crazy Stuff That You Should Not Know How.
I just hope they also translated the disclaimer in the book, or they probably should have called it 101 Ways to Get Sued in a Foreign Court.