The following passage is my translation of the first chapter of a book titled Paradyzja, which was written by Janusz A. Zajdel, a famous Polish science-fiction author. As far as I know, there are no complete English translations of his works; and the following passage is not one either. This was a part of my home assignment at the university, where I had to choose and translate a small excerpt from a book written by a Polish author. I decided to go for the very first chapter of Paradyzja, a book which might be called a Polish Nineteen Eighty-Four. Of course, since it is an introduction you won’t learn much about the book but I thought it would be the most reasonable thing to translate the beginning, so that my theoretical reader would be interested and not confused. I hope that you will enjoy it.
The ship turned slightly. The orbital platform disappeared from sight. Tibor closed the peephole and turned his face to Rinah. They both remained silent for a moment.
The first officer of the Regina Vacui freighter shook Rinah’s hand. He hesitated, looking for proper words.
‘May Fortune be with you and may you return safely. We shall wait for your return. In case of delay we’ll come up with some malfunction or accident.’
‘Thank you. I’ll try to cause no trouble,’ Rinah smiled.
Tibor noticed that the pale face of the passenger became even paler.
‘Be careful, Rinah,’ said Tibor putting his other hand on Rinah’s shoulder. ‘Paradisians are very strange.’
‘They say so on Earth but, as you’ve said earlier, you practically don’t know them. Then who may know the truth about them?’
‘I’m here for the sixth time but I’ve yet to make it past the orbital platform.’
‘How far is Tartarus?’, Rinah walked to the navigational map stretched across the table.
‘The average orbital length of the platform situated above Tartarus equals twenty seven thousand kilometres. Not even once has a ship been allowed to come closer. There we unload all the goods we bring. There we also take back the cargo.’
‘What are you taking this time?’
‘Tantalum, wolfram, platinum-group metals and some enriched ores of rare metals. They deliver it directly from Tartarus in space shuttles, just some simple containers. The stopover usually lasts about four weeks and the crew does not leave the ship. Even our mercantile-diplomatic agency has been placed there, on the platform.’
‘And Paradision? I don’t see its orbit on the map.’
‘We wish we knew where it is,’ Tibor laughed. ‘Nobody knows that. Rumor has it that it travels around in the distance of a few hundred kilometres over Tartarus.’
‘So you’ve never located it?’
‘No. Nobody has ever seen it. From this distance it’s nothing more but a mite! Diameter of four thousand metres…’
‘But… with the use of radiolocation…’
‘We’d be in quite a big trouble if we tried using any radar or laser detectors,’ Tibor smiled. ‘They are overly sensitive about their own safety. The orbit of Paradision is one of the greatest secrets of this system. From the briefing materials distributed by them you can learn lots of interesting things. You’ll find there even a quite detailed description of the structure and equipment of Paradision, its dimensions, rotational speed… Only the orbit and the orbital period are not mentioned. When we approach the orbital platform, which is the only transshipment port and the intermediate station before Tartarus and Paradision, we have to turn off all our finding equipment. They direct us with their signals from radiolanterns.’
‘Old wounds still stay fresh,’ Rinah sighed. ‘I hope that we’ll finally manage to earn their trust. Maybe my stay there will be a good start…’
‘Are you going to write a reportage?…’
‘Maybe even a whole book. All in all, this artificial world and its inhabitants is a very fascinating topic. How different from everything that we can imagine must their lives be.’
The red signal and the buzzer signaled the last phase of approach. The freighter came to the platform in order to connect with it by a system of grapples and passage locks. Rinah and Tibor took their seats in the navigational car.