Ed Erwin's Reviews > The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome

The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome by Serge Brussolo
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bookshelves: sf, sf-francaise

About 10 years ago I started reading SF books in French to help improve my language skills. It is more fun for me to read modern books in SF than to try to read the classics, and the language is much closer to what is currently spoken as well. (Though SF, and especially fantasy, often has many made-up words.)

Along the way I've discovered some really interesting writers, most of whose works have never been translated to English. Serge Brussolo is not one of my favorites, yet his work is consistently interesting and strange. I already had a copy of this in French, but when it came out in English I decided to go for the simple route and read it that way.

Brussolo is a *very* prolific author in multiple genres, so it is puzzling why this book in particular would be the first to get a translation. His works have a dream-like logic, sometimes tending towards nightmares, but also mix in other genres. This is no exception, with half of the story taking place in dreams. The main character is an artist who dives into dreams and brings back 'ectoplasms' which are then sold as art. (Thus even the real-world part of the story has a dream-like logic.) Inside the dream world, the story plays out like a detective story, because the character happens to like detective stories. These sorts of genre shifts are common in Brussolo.

One problem I've had with Brussolo before is that he sometimes seems to just put one new idea after another without much thought to structure or to developing individual ideas further. That is a bit of a problem here, with some interesting ideas left undeveloped, but the overall structure of this book does make sense.

The biggest discovery for me in this work is the translator Edward Gauvin. Without realizing it, I had already read and enjoyed five or six books that he has translated, including Aama, Vol. 1: The Smell of Warm Dust, Last Days of an Immortal, A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return, Best of Enemies: A History of US and Middle East Relations, Part One: 1783-1953, A Life on Paper: Selected Stories. He seems to have similar tastes to me, and his translations are clear, so I'll be looking for more of his translations.

One note on the title: the translation "The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome" is accurate, but I think it would also be accurate to translate it as "Locked-In Syndrome". I found one (but only one) online dictionary that supports my translation, so I guess this is an uncommon phrase. The French word "scaphandrier" is related to "scaphandre" or "diving bell". That immediately brings to mind The Diving Bell and the Butterfly in which the main character's condition is compared to being in a diving bell. The main character in this book also spends some time in a similar locked-in condition, alive and awake in a bed, but unable to move or communicate.
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Reading Progress

December 19, 2016 – Started Reading
December 19, 2016 – Shelved
December 19, 2016 – Shelved as: sf
December 22, 2016 – Finished Reading
December 27, 2016 – Shelved as: sf-francaise

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