by Amanda Weiss, Will Slater, and Sofi Sanders
We are so excited to introduce the world to HIVEMIND: Global Speculative Fiction! With April 2021 marking the inaugural issue of our magazine, we want to provide a history of who we are as a team and a publication, as well as what our readers can expect moving forward.
HIVEMIND is a student-and-faculty-led global speculative fiction publication operating through the School of Modern Languages at Georgia Tech here in Atlanta. (Go Yellow Jackets!) Our mission is to amplify global voices in science fiction and fantasy, particularly underrepresented cultures, languages, and perspectives from around the world. Our definition of “speculative fiction” is broad and inclusive, encompassing modernist Proto SF to all the genres that inform the world of “Fantastika.” As you might have guessed, our name draws inspiration from our Yellow Jacket mascot, the swarm of brilliant minds here at the Institute, and the multiple meanings of the term “hivemind.” This serves as not only as a storytelling device, but also as a metaphor and a testament to the strength of both Georgia Tech and the speculative fiction community as collective units.
Our story begins with our editor, Amanda Weiss of the School of Modern Languages. An assistant professor of Japanese, Dr. Weiss works in the fields of East Asian media studies with a sub-focus on East Asian science fiction. This combination of interests (not to mention Dr. Weiss’s passion for science fiction and fantasy) served as inspiration for the conception of the HIVEMIND project. From there, she recruited two assistant co-editors from the M.S. in Global Media & Cultures program at the School of Modern Languages: Sofi Sanders and Will Slater. Their graduate studies are predicated on the study of a language concentration: Russian for Sofi and Spanish for Will. As we developed the site, Sofi became our visual editor, focusing primarily on developing the look of the site and its gorgeous visualizations. Will became our literary editor, focusing on editing website content and conducting interviews for our Non-Fiction section.
We must also highlight a fourth member of our team, Natalie Mueller, a brilliant undergraduate in Dr. Weiss’s Vertically Integrated Project on East Asian Media. Natalie transformed a translation of a proto-SF Japanese short story by Shunrō Oshikawa into two interactive pieces on the nature of machine versus human translation. The prototype of her two pieces – which employ flipping images, sliding translations, interactive quizzes, and other interactive elements – won her 2nd Place in the “People and Environment Track” of the 2021 VIP Innovation Competition.
From the School of Modern Languages’ focus on language and cultures, the theme of our inaugural issue was born: The Future of Translation. We started where every writer and editor must begin: with reading! Several students in our graduate program were already taking a course on translation theory, where we read works by academics Benjamin, Levy, Holmes, Bassnett, and Lefevere (among others) on themes ranging from translation as an art form to the possibilities of translating culture. We also read the entry on Linguistics from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction to learn more about the history of language in SFF. We developed a reading list of canonical works on language in science fiction and read pieces like Poul Anderson’s fascinating linguistic experiment “Uncleftish Beholding,” Robert Sheckley’s hilarious alien languages comedy “Shall We Have a Little Talk,” and Ursula K. Le Guin’s faux research paper on “therolinguistics” (the study of beast linguistics), “The Author of the Acacia Seeds.” (We were lucky enough to secure reprint rights for that last story for the Translation Issue!) We also searched through volumes of our favorite current publications (Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, among others) to learn more about how contemporary writers approach language, linguistics, and translation in their works. Without a doubt, our favorite tale was Ted Chiang’s brilliant “Story of Your Life and Others.” It is a story that, once read, cannot be forgotten.
From there, we began to curate our Fiction selection. After discussing the definition of translation by Merriam-Webster, we decided to explore translation both literally (as the act of changing from one language to another) and symbolically (as an act of changing a substance from one form to another). Brian K. Hudson’s “Digital Language” explores connections between Cherokee and binary languages and also concurrently promotes the preservation of the Cherokee language. Daniela Tomova’s eerie “Rendezvous with Yellow Jacket” was designed as a “visual translation” of her textual narrative, a journey to the top of Everest (and beyond). Sofi carefully selected Russian, Arabic, and Spanish folktales to “translate culture” through hypertext, images, and sounds in her project, “Translating Culture.” And as mentioned above, Natalie designed an incredible interactive piece for her translation of Shunrō Oshikawa’s “Race to the Lunar World.” (She drew the illustrations, too!).
In the Non-Fiction section, Will Slater interviews conlanger (person who creates languages) David J. Peterson, who is known for creating languages for an impressive array of television shows and feature films including Game of Thrones, The Witcher, Doctor Strange, and Raya and the Last Dragon. Will also speaks to writer and translator Andy Dudak about his work in Chinese SF translation and his successful career as a science fiction author. Sofi and Natalie discuss their respective translations in their non-fiction pieces, “On Translating Culture” and “Human vs. Machine Translation.” Finally, we invited scholar and writer Eliza Rose, an avowed Trekkie, to write a piece on translation in the Star Trek universe. Her essay, “Imperfect Containments,” creatively re-imagines the bounds of what we might define as translation.
HIVEMIND launches in April 2021, 50 years after the first SF class was taught at Georgia Tech by Professor Irving “Bud” Foote in 1971. To celebrate, we asked Regents Professor Lisa Yaszek to highlight the major SF landmarks in Georgia Tech’s history. Please check out our interactive timeline on our About Us page.
Which brings us to website design.
We wanted to create an attractive site with the flexibility to do any kind of multimedia narrative we might develop in the future. Sofi, our intrepid design person, experimented with plugins, WordPress themes, and CSS, eventually landing on The Gap theme and Elementor/Aesop Story Engine plug-ins. Our editorial team also relied on the expertise of numerous people at Georgia Tech. We would like to thank Steven Hodges, Nicholas Platt, and Kevin Pittman of the Office of Information Technology for their support in setting up the website, plug-ins, and story themes. (We want to especially thank Kevin for setting up the initial site and for his continued technical support). We would also like to express our gratitude to Brad Rittenhouse and Terra Gasque of the Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC) for troubleshooting technical issues and conducting workshops. The original website and inaugural issue of HIVEMIND were generously funded by the Denning Global Engagement Seed Fund from the Office of the Vice-Provost for International Initiatives, a DILAC grant, and a grant from Ivan Allen College. Thank you to all for making this magazine possible!
This issue, in addition to all of our future issues, will revolve around a central theme that will guide our selection of curated content. Throughout, we will focus largely on content that spotlights the role(s) that language and culture play in speculative fiction. We look forward to exploring the possibilities with you.
Amanda Weiss, Editor
Will Slater, Assistant Editor
Sofi Sanders, Assistant Editor
© 2021 by Amanda Weiss, Will Slater, and Sofi Sanders.
About Amanda Weiss
Amanda Weiss is Assistant Professor of Japanese at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she teaches courses on Japanese media and society and leads a Vertically Integrated Project in East Asian Media. She is currently completing two book manuscripts: an anthology on New Asian Fantasy with co-editors Ploi Pirapokin and Silvia Park and a monograph on collective memory in East Asian war cinema. Dr. Weiss is a 2018 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and her favorite authors include Kelly Link, Ken Liu, Neil Gaiman, N. K. Jemisin, Carol Emshwiller, and Ted Chiang.
About Will Slater
Will Slater is a graduate student studying Global Media & Cultures at Georgia Tech with a concentration in Spanish. His interests include cross-cultural communication as it relates to the development of creative industries with a Latin American focus. Specifically, he is currently examining Latina documentary filmmaking in Puerto Rico and why feminist Puerto Rican cinema should be utilized as a lens through which to examine some of the societal issues that have stemmed from the colonial framework that defines the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. As much as he’s fallen in love with the writings of short story authors such as Ted Chiang, Ken Liu, and Jorge Luis Borges, his favorite piece(s) of speculative fiction will always be his first exposure to the broad genre, the Star Wars franchise.
About Sofi Sanders
Sofi Sanders is an assistant editor of HIVEMIND Magazine, focusing on the visual design of the website as well as this Translating Culture collection and its accompanying article. She is a Russian-American graduate student completing the Global Media and Cultures Master of Science at Georgia Tech with a concentration in Russian. Sofi is currently focusing on the interrelationships within cross-cultural communication and also investigating the state of the Russian news media, particularly with regard to corruption, censorship, and bias. Her interest in speculative fiction stems from fond childhood memories of Lord of the Rings, as well as her passion for cross-cultural (meaning alien cultures too!) reading and writing.