Among other things that happened over the holiday, a Japanese acquaintance came to visit my wife and I for some help in converting a photograph so she could apply for the green card lottery. While she was here, I flipped a software switch in my iBook that allowed her to read and type Japanese characters so she could check one of her old e-mail accounts.
While she was showing me how she used a Qwerty keyboard to type the characters, she plugged my name into a Japanese search engine and was reading me some of the results. One of the most interesting things was the way the titles of my books changed for their Hayakawa editions:
• The Company Man became Corporate Wars I and Corporate Wars II (Hayakawa decided to split that one into two parts… sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).
• Desperate Measures became Do Anything for the Big Project, or as my wife succinctly put it, Try, Try Again.
• Precious Cargo was a little more problematic. The title used some older characters that our friend had to look up. Their basic sense was that of a type of emissary send by the (pre-WWII) emperor to another country for the purpose of learning. This ultimately rendered Stalked Ambassadors.
• The Essence of Evil had the most interesting change, probably since it was a play on words that probably didn’t translate well. It became The Last Big Explosion.
I thought the titles were all appropriate in their own way. I thought it was interesting that they were not catchy or high-concept in the way that we conceive them, but instead described in their own concise way the basic thread of the story.
Now that my curiosity is piqued, I need to look up my Russian acquaintance to see if and how the titles changed on the AST editions.