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Latin-American Science Fiction

Latin-American Science Fiction

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Published by: Santi Beuzon on May 01, 2011
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Back to the Future: The Expanding Field of Latin-American Science FictionAuthor(s): Rachel Haywood FerreiraSource:
Hispania,
Vol. 91, No. 2 (May, 2008), pp. 352-362Published by:
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Accessed: 01/05/2011 09:02
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Backtothe Future:TheExpandingFieldofLatin-American ScienceFiction
RachelHaywoodFerreiraIowa StateUniversity
Abstract:This article examines theexponentialgrowthofthefieldof Latin Americanscience fiction inrecentyears,firstthroughanevaluationofaseriesofcritical/historical studies ofthegenre,and thenby tracingthetextualhistoriesofanumber of theregion'searliest works of sf.Thecontemporaryinterestinidentifying,retrolabeling,andrepublishingthe worksthatform the localrootsof LatinAmerican science fictionis indicative of thegrowing maturityofthegenrethere,asitstemsfromadesiretounderstand thenature and extentofparticipationin thisglobalyetNorthern-centeredgenreinareasheretofore viewedasperiphery.Theserecenttrendsmeanthatwriting,reading,teaching,orresearchinginthe fieldofLatin American science fiction isnowavastlydifferentexperiencefromeven afewyears ago.KeyWords:science fictionbibliography,science fictioncriticism,science fiction inArgentina,science fictioninBrazil,science fictioninChile,science fictioninMexico,sciencefictioninLatinAmerica,sciencefictioninthenineteenthcentury,sciencefiction inPeru,science fictioninthetwenty-firstcentury
BytheNumbers:TheComing-of-AgeofLatin-American ScienceFiction,1992-2007In1985theArgentinecritic PabloCapannadeclaredthegrowingindependenceofLatinAmerican science fiction fromNorthern models:"Lo m?simportantesquesehasuperadola
etapaderecepci?n?cr?ticaavecesyaerifica lasm?s?deunaliteraturaajena.Lamadurez
est?llegando"("Cienciaficci?nylosargentinos"56).In2000,thewriter and criticGabrielTrujilloMu?ozreaffirmed thistrend,describingMexicanreaders'increasingidentificationwith thegenre:"En nuestropa?s,porsucadavezm?sobviapresenciaenlacotidianeidaddenuestras
vidas,seha vueltoung?nero popular,unaliteraturapropia,cercana,comprensible"{Biografias
362).Althoughthegenredoesnotyetenjoythemarket shareorthelevelofwhatVeronicaHollingerhas termed"'institutional'respectability'"that itasin theNorth(232),sciencefictionisbeginningtocomeinto itswnin atin America. Notonlyhas therebeenawaveofpublicationinsciencefictioninthepasttwodecades,1but therehasbeenanexponentialincreaseincriticalstudiesof thegenre,particularlyin theareasofbibliographyandgenrehistory.Theserecenttrends havemeantthatwriting,reading,teaching,orresearchinginthe field ofLatinAmericanscience fiction isnowavastlydifferentexperiencefromevenafewyears ago.Letusestablish1992asabenchmarkforpurposesofcomparisoninourdiscussion of therecentdevelopmentsinthisfield. Fifteenyears ago,well intowhat Ram?nL?pezCastro hasdescribedas apublication"boom"inLatin American sciencefiction(10),itwasstillrelativelydifficult,fromeitherinsideoroutside LatinAmerica,toidentifymanytextsbelongingtothegenre,togainaccesstothosetexts,tolocate theirplaceinthetrajectoryofscience fictionproductioninLatinAmerica,ortoperceivetheshapeofthattrajectory.TheEncyclopedia ofScienceFiction,which has since becomethe international referenceworkofrecordinthefield,wasstillinitsirsteditionin1992,underthe titleTheScience FictionEncyclopedia(1979),andLatinAmericahadnoentryofitsown.Inthefairlybriefentryfor"Spain, Portugaland SouthAmerica,"writtenbyMaximJakubowski,aBritishexpertinrench sciencefiction,all referencestoSouth Americacomeinsixty-six-word paragraphattheend.OnlythecountriesofArgentina
Ferreira,RachelHaywood"BacktotheFuture: TheExpandingField of Latin-American Science Fiction"Hispania91.2(2008):352-362
 
TheExpandingFieldofLatin-AmericanSF 353
andBrazilarementioned,notitlesareincluded,nosecondaryworks,andonly eightauthors("JorgeLuisBorges,BioyCasares,Cort?zarandErnestoSabato[sic] [...],Andr?Carneiro,J.[er?nimo]Monteiro,Dinah deQueirozandGeraldoMour?o").OnlyafewmonographsonLatinAmericanscience fictionwereinexistenceatthis time inEnglish,Spanish,orPortuguese.Twoofthe earliestandmostwidelyconsultedarePabloCapanna's1966 Elsentidode lacienciaficci?nand Andr?Carneiro's1967Introdu?aoaoestudo da"sciencefiction."Theseworksarefairlyrepresentativeofsecondarysourcesavailablefromthe1960stothe1980s.Capanna'swellwrittenstudy,while itaddresses theArgentinereader ofsciencefiction,doesnotincludeinformation boutscience fictionwrittenbyArgentines;andof the140pagesofCarneiro'stext,justunderseven aredevotedtoBraziliansciencefiction,withtheremainderadiscussion ofNorthernsf.2 atin-Americanscience-fictionmagazinesand fanzinesalso tendedtoemphasizethepublicationoftranslations oftextsbyNorthernauthors,butsomeLatinAmericanwriters andcriticswerefirstpublishedinthesevenues.Unfortunatelythesepublicationshadlimited,localdistribution,andtheytendedtobeshort-lived(withseveralsignificantexceptions,atypicalrun
foramagazinewasaroundthreeissues).
Therewereoccasionalacademicdissertationsandarticlespublishedin theield before1992,butthemostfrequentandwidelydistributedsites forcriticismwereinanthologiesofnationalorregionalscience fiction.Theprefaces,introductions,uthorpresentations,chronologies,bibliographies,andsoforththatsurrounded theselectionswereofunevenqualityandreliability.Itwouldnotbedifficulttodrawsomeskewedconclusionsfromanexaminationofagoodnumberoftheseworks:that sciencefiction isapurelyspaceage genreinatinAmerica,that it isalwayshighlyderivativeofAnglo-Americansciencefiction,thattherearefewifnyearlyexamplesofscience fictionwrittenthere.Afewanthologiesthatstandoutfrom thesmallcrowdare,touseexamplesfromtherelativelystrongandconsistentArgentinesciencefictionmovement,Losargentinosenlaluna(1968),foritspioneeringeffortstotraceandrepublishearlynationalsciencefiction;Losuniversosvislumbrados(S?nchez1978,2ndedition1995),forthequalityofitsselections,for thehistoricalandbibliographicaldepthofitsprologuebyElvioGandolfo,and foritsannotatedchronologyofArgentinescience fiction(1947-1977);andMarcialSouto'sLacienciaficci?nenlaArgentina (1985),foritsintroductionand fortheinclusionofthecontributingwriters'answerstoaquestionnaireontheirwork,theirinfluences,and theirideason
sciencefictionasagenre.However,theimportanceofpersonalcontacts,word-of-mouth,andprivatecollectionscannotbeover-emphasized.
Threeparticularly significantbibliographiesofLatin-Americansciencefictionhave beenproducedsince1992.3 Thesecondedition ofTheEncyclopediaofScienceFiction("Zs?F"inTable1below),publishedin1993,containsanentrynLatinAmericawrittenbyMauricio-Jos?Schwarz,aMexicanwriter-editor-critic,ndBraulioTavares,aBrazilianwriter-critic.In2000theteamofYolandaMolina-Gavil?n,Miguel?ngelFern?ndezDelgado,AndreaBell,LuisPestarini,and JuanCarlosToledano(LatinAmericans andNortherners;academics,freelancecritics,writers,magazinepublishers,andlibrarians)combinedtoproducethe"Cronolog?adecflatinoamericana:1775-1999,"publishedinSpanishinthejournalChasqui.Thesameteam,withtheadditionofM.ElizabethGinway,hasjustproducedanupdated,English-languageversionofthisbibliographyinScience FictionStudiesentitled"AChronologyofLatinAmericanScienceFiction,1775-2005"{"SFS"inTable1below).AlthoughthesebibliographieswerepublishedinGreatBritainandtheU.S.,theinternationalreachofthepublicationvenuesand thediversityofthecontributorsareevidencethatthestimulibehindtheseeffortstcataloguingthegeographicandtemporaldiversityofLatinAmericansciencefictionarecomingfromwithinaswellasfrom
without.
Whilenoneofthesebibliographiesclaimstobeexhaustive?indeedallindicate theirncompletenessand invitecontributions?theyareconvenientlandmarks foracomparativeoverviewofthedevelopmentof theieldduringthelastfifteenyears.Thetablesbelowunderlinefourofthetrends revealedbythebibliographies.First,althoughsciencefiction hasbeenwritteninvirtuallyeveryLatin-Americancountry,somecountrieshavehistoricallyproducedmoresfthanothers

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