toothycat: (moonshadow)
[personal profile] toothycat

Original here

"Greetings", the head of the interplanetary delegation bowed shyly. "We've come over to visit. Here we are..."
"Excellent, excellent!" The colonel smiled. "This is your first contact, isn't it?"
"Yes, it's our first time", the alien admitted. "So please be gentle with us, all right?"
"Don't worry, the first time is always scary", the colonel winked and laughed. "But you're mentally prepared, at least?"
"Well... yes..."
"We've been ready for a long time too", the colonel assured happily. "Here, see for yourselves."
He pressed a button and silhouettes of spaceships slid across the enormous viewing screen.
"Oh, you have so many!", the aliens chattered excitedly. "Why are they so big? And so... fearsome?"
"Well, they're battleships, of course!" The colonel was surprised at the aliens' slowness. "Just the weapons installations alone take up so much room, and then there are the shuttle hangars!"
He pressed a button and the image changed.
"And this is what our weapons look like in action. See that planet? Watch this! Bang, bang! Aha! Impressive, isn't it?"
"Yes, very" - the aliens admitted.
"Oh, and watch this. The next generation, hand-picked soldiers, the space special forces. Every one graduated from the war academy with distinction. Look at them, just look! Aces!"
"Forgive us, it seems we don't entirely understand... they graduated from what academy, did you say?"
"The war academy."
"Could you be more specific? What do they teach there?"
"Why, to fight, of course!"
"Just a moment. Would you allow us to connect to your databases?"
"Sure, help yourselves."
The aliens fell silent for a moment as they sifted through and absorbed unfamiliar information.
"Ah, we understand. And who are they taught to fight?"
"The bug-eyed martians", the colonel informed them readily.
"That is, us?"
"Well, yes."
The aliens took a step back.
"There seems to be some kind of mistake here. We came in peace! We've never fought with anyone in our entire history! We simply do not know how to fight!"
"Oh, don't you worry about that!" The colonel laughed. "We'll soon teach you!"

Original here

"Son, your teacher was complaining about you. She didn't manage to explain what the problem was, she just shook all over as she took her valerian drops. So I didn't quite understand - do you really have some kind of problem with simple addition?"
"Not at all, daddy."
"Really? Why don't we have a little test. So, suppose I have three apples in my pocket. I'll give one..."
"Daddy", the son interrupted, "I cannot suppose what you suggest, it is quite impossible. I know the volume of your pockets, and three apples will not fit. Of course, this is assuming we are talking about whole apples, not pieces, but if one considers your psychological makeup (and I have, after all, been observing you for six years now), one can assume that it is in fact whole, unharmed, apples that you are discussing. It is, of course, possible that you were simply considering very small crab-apples, but these are not available in our city, you did not bring any back from your last conference, and we have not received any packages. Knowing also the magnitude of your and mother's salaries, and the approximate sum of recent expenditure, I can deduce with some certainty that you would not in any case have enough money to purchase three apples. Unless, of course, you have spent the emergency cash you keep behind the toilet, but this also does not fit with your psychological profile. So don't try to fool me, Daddy. As for what's in your pocket..." - the son thought for a moment, - "it's a piece of string, or nothing at all. Am I right?"
"Gollum..." - the father swallowed.

Original here

Odin left the old seer's dwelling, shaking his head in confusion.
"So, what did she say?", Heimdall asked impatiently.
"I don't even know where to begin", Odin drawled. "Fenrir, for starters... You know Fenrir?"
The Æsir around him nodded.
"Fenrir is somehow going to swallow the sun and the moon."
"What complete codswallop!", Loki cried.
"Not making this up, 's what she said." Odin shrugged. "Also, the winter will last for several years."
"And then?"
"And then it gets even worse."
"The woman's gone nuts!", Loki laughed. "Completely off her rocker."
"And us, what'll happen to us? The Æsir?"
"I'll be murdered," said Odin darkly.
"What are you on? Howzat, then? But you're... you... well! What shall we do without you?"
"You'll be murdered too", Odin explained. "And you, and you, and also him."
Loki stared at the völva's house and pressed a fist to his lips, trying to stifle the giggles.
"And Loki will betray us", Odin glowered at him.
Loki's jaw dropped.
"Who, me...? Hey, look, this isn't even funny."
"Traitor", Thor spat at his feet.
"Hey, lads, calm down", Loki lifted his hands. "It's a laugh, right? Listen, I know a good one..."
"Not listening", Heimdall interrupted him. "We trusted you, really trusted you, and you!..."
"What are you on? I'm loyal! Who do you believe more? - me, or some crazy old woman that even..."
"The völva is never mistaken", Odin cut him off. "She never lies. You tell lies all the time."
"So piss off while you're still in one piece", Thor summed up gruffly, shifting his hammer to get a better grip.
"Hey, you're serious?!", Loki said indignantly. "Listen, this is no laughing matter. You know I'm..."
The hammer flew past his ear, Loki barely had time to dodge it.
"Ah, so?! Fine, then! Not gonna tell you anything else! You... you... you're all idiots! I'll... geh!" He shook his head, turned around and walked off proudly.
The Æsir exchanged glances.
"Well... it's his own fault, right?" Thor muttered.

The völva was never mistaken. The völva never lied. The völva, in fact, lived in another house entirely.

Original here

"So, children", the teacher said as he closed the book, "who can tell me whether this tale was happy or bad?"

"Happy, happy!" - the children shouted.

"And who can explain why? You, there, why don't you have a go."

"Because the prince married the princess", the child replied confidently.

"Almost. But not quite."

The teacher folded his arms behind his back and paced in front of the children.

"The fairytale we have just read is a happy one because its main character is the prince. He is the one that actually got the happy ending. Unlike the other characters, whose fate we do not consider. The prince kidnapped the princess just as she was about to be wed - but did anyone ask her is she wanted that? Perhaps she preferred the other chap - who, incidentally, was a very fine young lad. Two countries found themselves at war, thousands of soldiers were slain - but who cares? Each one of those killed was somebody's son, husband or father, but their fate and the sorrow of their families remains beyond the tale's bounds, the story is not about them. The story is about the prince who got what he wanted. He saw a beautiful girl, wanted her, made her marry him, and lived a long and happy life afterwards, ruling over the kingdom of her dead father. But because the story is, after all, about the prince, and not about the king, or the princess, or any of the nameless soldiers - it is a happy story with a happy ending."

The teacher stopped, faced the children and raised a finger.

"Remember, children. For just one fairytale to have a happy ending for one person, many other tales must end sadly. But it is only the fates of the princes that are taken into account. Only those."

Date: 2013-11-03 09:14 am (UTC)
chess: (something)
From: [personal profile] chess
I just wanted to say I really appreciate these translations, as you don't seem to have been getting much feedback on them :-).

Date: 2013-11-03 11:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Seconded! The thing, and the craft of the thing, is excellent.

November 2013

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