8/18/2013

Star Trek Commentary about the 21st Century (from the DS9 ep. 3.11 “Past Tense” aired 1995)

Sisko and Bashir (Avery Brooks and Alexander Siddig)
Sisko and Bashir in 2024 San Francisco.


In the Star Trek Deep Space 9 episode "Past Tense" (3.11 and 3.12, aired 1995) some of the characters are stranded in 2024 in a state-run overpopulated ghetto for keeping the poor, unemployed and mentally ill "out of sight." In the first part, after minute 22, Sisko and Bashir walk its streets and talk about the 21st as one of the "most depressing" centuries in human history.
Bashir: Look at this man. There's no need for him to live like that. With the right medication he could lead a full and normal life.

Sisko: Maybe in our time...

Bashir: Not just in our time! There are any number of effective treatments for schizophrenia, even in this day and age. They could cure that man now, today... If they gave a damn.

Sisko: It's not that they don't give a damn. They've just given up... The social problems they face seem too enormous to deal…

Bashir: That only makes things worse. Causing people to suffer because you hate them is terrible, but causing people to suffer because you have forgotten how to care... that's really hard to understand.

Sisko: They’ll remember. It’ll take some time and it won’t be easy, but eventually people in this century will remember how to care.

Bashir: Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Are Humans really any different than Cardassians or Romulans. If push comes to shove, if something disastrous happens to the Federation... if we are frightened enough, or desperate enough... How would we react? Do we stay true to our ideals or we just… stay here – right back where we started.

The story of Past Tense (I and II) is by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

2/13/2013

Pope Benedict XVI and Papal Resignation in Science Fiction

This article is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогерај: Папата Бенедикт XVI и папската оставка во научната фантастика
- на македонски на Блогспот: Папата Бенедикт XVI и папската оставка во научната фантастика     

A science fiction novel written during the lifetime of the previous Pope designated Benedict XVI as his successor in 2009.

The book Flashforward by Canadian writer Robert J. Sawyer was written in 1995, and published in 1999. Part of the action takes place in 2009, and Pope Benedict XVI is listed as part of a fictional news digest (pg. 93 of the paperback linked via the picture). Benedict XVI began his papacy in 2005. 

Sawyer made the second "prediction" in the short story "The Abdication of Pope Mary III," available on his blog.

Wikipedia lists several other sci-fi works dealing with papacy as such:
  • In "In partibus infidelium" ("In the Land of the Unbelievers") by Polish writer Jacek Dukaj, humanity makes contact with other space-faring civilizations, and Christianity - specifically, the Catholic Church - spreads far and wide. Humans become a minority among believers and an alien is elected as the Pope.
  • In Project Pope (1981) by Clifford Simak, robots on the planet End of Nowhere have labored a thousand years to build a computerized, infallible pope to eke out the ultimate truth. Their work is preempted when a human Listener discovers what might be the planet Heaven.

Another recent work of fiction (but not science fiction) dealing with Papal resignation is the Italian comedy from 2011 Habemus Papam, (We Have a Pope in English) in which the chosen cardinal gets a bit of cold feet and [spoiler alert!] declines the offer during the ritual of annunciation.


12/21/2012

Censorship Lift for “V for Vendetta” Shocks China

TranslationsThis post was written by Oiwan Lam and originaly published on Global Voices, it is available in:

English· Censorship Lift for “V for Vendetta” Shocks China
Español· La eliminación de la censura a «V for Vendetta» asombra a China
Italiano· Cina: Censura rimossa per film "V come Vendetta"


V for Vendetta, a thriller film produced in 2005 about a near-future dystopian society, previously censored in China, was aired on China Central Television Station (CCTV) Channel Six on December 14, 2012. Many people are surprised by the screening, in particular the mask of V, which has been used by activists all over the world as a symbol of resistance against government oppression.

Screening of a politically charged film

This video uploaded by youtube user loveforchina is an example showing how activists have made use of the film to protest against the human rights situation in China:



That's why CCTV's gesture soon became a hot topic online on Chinese micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo. A huati [zh], topical discussion, was even set up on the platform, which soon had more than 3469 conversation threads.
Trumpet Micro News (喇叭微新聞's highlights [zh] this popular discussion thread:

V occupied the China Central Television Station. A photoshopped image by Twitter user Kunshou.
Now! CCTV6 is showing V for Vendetta. This should be the first time the film is on show in mainland China.
The news highlight attracted many to join the conversation:
橐橐:Censorship means that there is a ghost in [the authorities] heart. Once the censorship is lifted, everything is normal. Maybe China does not really need the Chinese Communist Party for leadership, of course this is speculation.
叶孤城蝶恋花:I am so excited about CCTV 6's screening of V and feel that there is hope for the Empire after all. But I don't understand why they changed the film title (from V Revenge Killing Squad” V字仇殺隊)to “V Don't Move Team” (V字別動隊 - or V Commando Team) . Can someone explain?
Less censorship in the future?
Apart from the film title, its content had not been edited, as pointed out by the China Digital Times. LosAngels Angel pointed out [zh] that the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARF) is directly responsible for the management of CCTV 6's program, that's why the gesture has political implications:
On the evening of December 14, CCTV aired the censored movie, V for Vendetta for the first time. The move has triggered hot discussion among netizens and some found it unbelievable or said that the channel operators had fallen asleep [at the controls]. However, according to the TV circle, the production and management of CCTV's film channel are separate, the SARF is directly responsible for its administration.
Even Global Times, the state controlled media outlet, highlighted netizens' reactions on their microblog and attracted some critical comments:
南扉:Whether the movie can be aired or not is not decided by the people. If there is no reform within the system, people can only comment on whether the king is good or bad.
我愛壹玖捌柒:Those who decided to leave have already gone and no one cares what films are put on air. Why not show the three-hour long movie: Tiananmen?
Cupid_Yes:Why don't you open up the Great Fire Wall (internet filter)?
静静的粉玫瑰:Really hope that this is a good signal. China is a nation with rich culture. I miss the the Spring and Autumn warring states period where there were so many schools of thought competing with each other. A country has hope when it has liberated thought and diverse culture. Only till then people can look at the starry sky peacefully, while staying on solid ground.
Bridge bloggers were quick to pick up the news. Brendon Connelly also found the screening surprising:
I have no idea how many millions may have seen this story of a masked insurgent leading a revolution against a corrupt regime, and we can only guess what cultural impact it may – or may not – have had. Pretty soon, maybe, all of the cheap V masks won’t be just made in China.
So have things started to change in Chinese broadcasting? Xi Jinping assumed office as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China on November 15th and he may have brought a more liberal attitude with him…
…or perhaps V was a one-off. Time will tell.

11/19/2012

Russia: Boris Strugatsky Dies

This article is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогерај: Русија: Умрел Борис Стругацки
- на македонски на Блогспот: Русија: Умрел Борис Стругацки     

Arkady Strugatsky
en.wikipedia.org
Science-fiction writer Boris Strugatsky (79) died today, in a Moscow hospital.

Bulgarian portal OFFNews [bg] quoted Russian agency RIA Novosti that his health deteriorated rapidly during the last few days, and that he suffered from heart problems. RIA article in fact says:
Strugatsky died due to heart problems, a friend of the novelist who asked not to be identified told RIA Novosti. But novelist Nina Katerli said he died of blood cancer. The reports could not be immediately reconciled.
Boris (born in 1933) and his brother Arkady (1925-1991) were known as the Strugatsky brothers (shortened ABS) and, to quote Wikipedia:
"...are perhaps the best-known Soviet science fiction writers with a well-developed fan base. Their early work was influenced by Ivan Yefremov. Their famous novel Piknik na obochine has been translated into English as Roadside Picnic in 1977 and was filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky under the title Stalker.
Several other of their works were translated into German, French, English, and Italian but did not receive the same magnitude of the critical acclaim granted them by their Russian audiences. The Strugatsky brothers, however, were and still are popular in many countries, including Poland, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Germany..."
Another their notable novel is Hard to Be a God (1964), which masterfully combines high space adventure with Renaissance intrigue with prime directive dilemmas and post-World War II sentiments. .

Front page of an ex-Yugoslav edition of
Hard to Be a God
, translated into Serbian.
OFFNews quoted a segment of Boris Strugatsky's recent interview [ru], given for a monthly magazine "Top Secret" (“Совершенно секретно”):
"Against all obstacles humanity continues to live, to perfect itself, to win over itself - isn't that a cause for optimism?
I remained an atheist or, as it is currently suitable to declare, an agnostic.  For better or for worse, I could not force myself to believe in the existence of a self-aware Omnipotence that rules over my life and the life of humanity. Faith helps those who feel weak."

9/24/2012

Marvel's Thor in Arabic - Not a God

This post is also available in Macedonian
- на македонски на Блогспот: Марвеловиот Тор на арапски - не е бог
- на македонски на Блогерај: Марвеловиот Тор на арапски - не е бог 
 
Egyptian journalist and blogger Azza Moghazy related an interesting inter-cultural fact regarding the Arabic translation of Marvel Comics about Thor, which was subject to religious censorship:
When translated into Arabic we never learned that he was an old Nordic god. The Arabic translation introduced Thor as a fighter not a god...
By the way here is a discussion in an Arabic forum for comics about Thor. most of the participants agreed that Thor comics mustn't be translated or published in Arabic because it recognizes a pagan god.
The following scan of an Arabic Thor comics is from the that site, Arabcomics.net. According to Azza, the translation is:  "Thor .. the (master) of thunder. The legend becomes true." The comics was translated and published in Lebanon and distributed all over the Arab world (22 countries with Arabic as a native language).

Arabic version of Marvel's Thor
Monotheism--denial of existence of all other gods but one--is one of the fundamental common tenant of Judaism, Christianity (Old Testament, the First Commandment, Exodus 12: 1-17 & Deuteronomy 5: 6-21) and Islam (Qur'an chapter 47:19, 28:70). People living in secular societies might find it hard to imagine how such doctrines might be applied literally to the extent of controlling or modifying access to artworks or other products. There's no evidence that uncensored comics using stories about ancient gods as templates for superheroes lead to revival of the polytheistic religions of old, either Norse or Mediterranean (as in DC's Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, etc.).

My own experience as a kid who grew up under what we called socialism and what westerners call communism or totalitarianism in 1980s Yugoslavia is also censorship-free, at least concerning superhero comics. Even though the system was officially promoting atheism, there was no widespread persecution of religious people - in fact, "national" religious institutions such as the Macedonian Orthodox Church and Islamic Community were part of the system. Neither did this official atheism (denial of all gods) require censorship or altering of stories about religious figures, pagan or monotheistic. Especially in comics. World heritage and local ancient mythologies and the pagan past were also freely re-used by domestic authors, both state-supported and alternative. (Note: Experience of Yugoslav Communism was much different in degree of repression and censorship from the countries of the Warsaw Pact.)

--- Elsewhere in Sci-fi ---

Norse, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon mythology is often used by American science fiction writers, due to the obvious links of that culture to England. Two of the most interesting works based on exploring the links between the Norse ("Viking") and Arab/Middle East cultures and mythologies also use the same word in the title:
  • Eaters of the Dead by Michael Chrichton, the basis for the film The 13th Warrior, depicting contact and cooperation between Vikings and a man coming from the Caliphate of Baghdad. The film has its moments, but the book is much richer in (pseudo-historic and historic) details which make it somewhat juicier.
  • The Life Eaters - graphic novel written by David Brin with art by Scott Hampton, based on and expanding the storyline of Brin's amazing novella Thor Meets Captain America (Hugo winner).

5/26/2012

Conan Marvel Comics Documentary

Roy Thomas and Gerry Conwey, writers of 1970s Marvel Conan comics, speak about their work which lead to expansion of the brand into Schwarzenegger films.


Bonus: another documentary from the complementary perspective - Conan unchained, the making of "Conan" film.

3/26/2012

Mali Tuareg Rebelion and Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling

This post is also available in Macedonian | Овој пост е достапен и на македонски
- преку Блогерај: Бунтот на Туарезите во Мали 


Bruce Sterlings's "Islands in the Net" (1988) remains a time-resistant science-fiction book worth re-reading. Published over a quarter of century ago, it remains extremely current, in its anticipation of the influence of the Internet on the global scale. Part of the action takes place in Mali and is about the guerrilla fight of the Tuaregs/Kel Tamasheq, which recently gained prominence worldwide.



Tuareg fighter and Mali soldier.

Some time ago I noticed new Mali Tuareg-related article on Global Voices, which expanded into a continuous story after the military coup which attracted the attention of mainstream media. I decided to translate into Macedonian one of the articles, but ended up translating the sequel too, and supplemented that by translating part of the Wikipedia article on these people (as I presume most people at first glance would assume that Tuareg is just a vehicle brand).

Here are links to the original articles and their Macedonian counterparts.

7/18/2011

Dune with no dialog via Boing Boing

This post is also available in Macedonian | Овој пост е достапен и на македонски
- преку Блогспот: Дина без дијалог на Боинг Боинг
- преку Блогерај: Дина без дијалог на Боинг Боинг


Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza wonders whether if you remove all the scenes with dialog, one can get a better version of the film Dune by David Lynch than the producers' cut. As an experiment, he used this notion to assemble a short clip of the intro scenes, available on YouTube and Vimeo.


Дина без дијалог
Dune with no dialog

According to Beschizza, the complicated dialogs confuse the public which mainly consists of people who haven't read the original book and do not necessarily remember all the relations from it well enough to make out what's going on at a certain moment. In addition, the director's cut versions usually turn out much longer, which additionally exasperates the audience.

Can this approach be taken as an instance of the recommendation from another book about human relations, The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, who says: "Always say less than necessary."

7/05/2011

Military Robots to Become More Humanoid

In a recent Wired article (April 2011) "The Trouble With Humanoid Droids," Brendan I. Koemer advocates the need to make military robots look less human, in order to facilitate the feeling of responsibility by their remote-control operators. Namely, the robot operators tend to dissociate themselves more from the task performed by a robot if the robot looks more like a human, while "utalitarian" robots make operators more responsible because they make them feel they use just sophisticated tools, not partners.

“The humanoid form is such a powerful social cue,” Groom says. “If you see this humanoid shape, you’re going to respond to it like it’s a person.”
That response is precisely what the military must discourage among the humans who will be directing tomorrow’s robot army. Those weapons operators will need to understand that they, not their robots, bear the ultimate responsibility for what goes down on the battlefield. Robot designers can help foster that mindset by resisting the urge to anthropomorphize droids destined for service in combat zones. Make them look like killing machines, not friends.

Respect for this moralistic effort, but it sounds quite naive and hollow. The history of military technology development consists of creating weapons which increasingly "liberate" those who wield them from precisely this kind of responsibility. The effect of killing another human being with one's hands or a pistol are the same - a dead body. However, physical and psychological effort invested by the killer in each of these cases significantly differ.

According to Macedonian folk tale, when mace and sword specialist King Marko was shown a firearm, he  said sorrowfully "Now the smallest child can kill the greatest hero."  And pushing a(n infamous red) button requires much less prowess than pulling the trigger.

Nazis used the gas chambers to lower the level of stress of their soldiers who previously used to kill the "undesirables" by machine guns. In the wars U.S.A./NATO have waged since the 1990s, use of video-game-like interface for bombers greatly facilitated the feeling that the "collateral" damage done in target countries is not so real (combined with counting only "our" casualties).

All in all, if making more humanoid robots would lead to increasing effectiveness through lowering levels of stress, post-traumatic disorder or pangs of conscience for the soldiers, the military would make it so. In retrospect, all bloodshed is needless. If the armies were more interested in the moral aspects than meeting the (unquestioned) goals set by their political masters, no war would start in the first place. Therefore, expect not only anthropomorphic military robots soon - expect gorgeous humanoid droids. On killing sprees.

4/04/2011

An Introduction to Science Fiction in Peru

by Daniel Salvo

(This article was first published on Inter Nova)

The image of science fiction that readers usually have in mind does not correspond to the definitions created by the genre’s authors or literary critics. In fact, the prevailing concept of science fiction is the one made popular in the USA during the twenties and thirties when pulp literature — which was oriented towards action and adventure, with stereotyped characters and a simple writing-style — boomed. This popularisation period can’t be dismissed, since it contributed to the spread of science fiction, although only in its space opera version. The negative side of its popularity at that time is that it stigmatised the entire genre to the point that it is now very difficult for most people, especially English-speaking people, to consider science fiction a serious literary genre.

Possessing a massive bulk of imaginary concepts and a kind of pedantry on the verge of ignorance, science fiction has been looked at with distrust or even ignored completely by writers, critics and scholars.
As an example, we can mention the lectures given in literature classes at schools and universities. With some luck, science fiction may be mentioned by some other name or treated as sub-literature; otherwise, it is absurdly included in completely different categories, and so The Lord of the Rings has in one instance turned out to be a “marvellous reality” novel.

With such a background, the apparent absence of the science fiction genre in our country becomes logical. Either we take for granted that the texts must be pulp, space opera, sub-literature, or a lack of understanding of the genre and its potential has made the texts written so far go unnoticed. When researchers — even with a college degree — are asked about Peruvian science fiction authors, they prefer, instead of accepting their ignorance, to evade the subject or energetically claim that no Peruvian author has ever written science fiction.
So, what is science fiction? Where does it come from? Even though the term “science fiction”, created by Hugo Gernsback, has been used since the early 20th century, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley´s Frankenstein is considered to be the antecedent of the genre. The novel’s plot is well-known: a scientist from Geneva, Victor von Frankenstein, in his wish to liberate humanity from the anguish caused by death, gives life to a creature made from human corpses, using the science at hand in his time (late 18th century). Since this is a reaction to the scientific breakthroughs of the period, it is not a supernatural horror novel. It examines the social changes gripping the lives of Mary Shelley and her contemporaries within the context of science, and is thus akin to what we call science fiction today, because one of the genre’s characteristics is, besides a sense of wonder, a critical literary examination of the impact scientific and technical discoveries have on the human race.

Considering the events that took place in the 19th century, both in the technical and the political fields, what every writer, no matter where from, needed to ask herself was what will the future be? People in the nineteenth century (or at least Westerners) saw daily the miracles (and the disgraces) of the industrial revolution: electricity, telephones, automatic weapons. And as they witnessed this rapid progress they were also made aware of the great changes in their lives because it.

The same was true for Peru in the nineteenth century. We started this historic period with the gestation of independence movements that ended with the establishment of a republic. At the same time, a modernization process was started to match the times. The Peruvians of that period, many of them educated the European way, had the same perspective as their peers in Europe or the USA.

Therefore we have, for example, the early case of what is considered to be the second novel ever published in republican Peru, called Lima de aquí a cien años (Lima One Hundred Years From Now), by Juan Manuel del Portillo, Juan Manuel Portillo or Julián Portillo (there are no precise records about the author’s name), published by El Comercio newspaper in 1843. The commentary on this novel is not very favourable; it has even been said that it deserves oblivion. But can we speculate that this novel intended to anticipate the future? Its title seems to give a clue.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the science fiction short story was born in our country. The author who started the tradition was Clemente Palma (1872-1946), an author who has been the object of different literary studies, both in Peru and abroad. However, his role as the precursor or initiator of the science fiction movement in Peru has seldom been emphasized enough.

In fact, Clemente Palma wrote two stories and a novel with all the genre’s characteristics. For example, they speculate about the future, and the reaction of humankind to a seismic catastrophe and experiments duplicating human beings.

Cuentos malévolos (Evil Stories, 1904 [published in English as Malignant Tales in 1988]) includes “La última rubia” (“The Last Blonde Woman”), set in the year 3025, when gold has disappeared from the planet, esperanto is the universal language, and all the other races have been absorbed by the Mongols and Tartars. However, there are some remnants of the white race, which the last blonde woman of the title belongs to.

Later, and on the occasion of a Halley’s Comet sighting, Clemente Palma, under the pseudonym of “Klingsor”, published “El día trágico” (“The Tragic Day”) in the magazine Ilustración Peruana during the months of April and May 1910. This story reflects the collective hysteria and fear the human race felt due to the nearness of the comet, which was supposed to cause terrible catastrophes. Oliverio Stuart, the main character, together with his wife and mother-in-law, turn out to be the only survivors of a worldwide poisoning caused by the cyanogen gas that composed the comet’s tail. Locked in their bunker with enough oxygen and supplies, they witness the deadly silence that engulfs the planet they inherit.

XYZ deserves a special mention. A novel, it was first published in 1934 and described as “grotesque” by the author himself. The title does not say much about the plot or the characters, and maybe that is the reason why this novel has been unfairly forgotten. “XYZ” is the nickname for Rolland Poe, a Peruvian inventor who develops an early taste for algebra. Using radium and albumin from eggs, he invents a machine that can duplicate Hollywood actors (among others, there is a strange reproduction of Maurice Chevalier, forty centimetres tall). Once the existence of these duplicates is discovered on an island, the “originals” and other actors start a rescue operation that ends with the inventor’s suicide.

The Peruvian literary production after that, as is well-known, followed other paths, and little or no memories of Clemente Palma’s work remain. Nevertheless, it was hard for our authors to ignore science fiction. Nearly two decades after XYZ, we observe that speculations about the future and the effects of technology play a part in some writers’ themes, although not to the same extent as works by Anglo-Americans in the same period. In our country, a “professional science fiction writer” figurehead has yet to appear — it is even possible that a “professional writer” does not yet exist, either.

In 1950, Héctor Velarde (1898-1989), a humorist and architect, and author of different chronicles and essays about Lima´s idiosyncrasy, sarcastically dealt with the so-called modernity incarnated by the US’s growth into a first-world power (and the subsequent worldwide spread of the American way of life): the first supermarkets appear, but also an unmistakable fear of the atomic bomb. In his book La cortina de lata (The Tin Curtain, 1950), Velarde includes a play set in the year 2427, called “Un hombre con tongo” (“A Man With Tongo”). The author describes the city of Lima as follows: “Far away, an astronomical observatory showing an enormous stratospheric cannon. City expression like (H.G.) Wells´. Autogyros, air-taxis, elevated trains, bridges over buildings, landing terraces, towers.” Catholic priests wear antennae, elderly people can rejuvenate, ladies go shopping at the “Jirón de la Unión” impelled to do so by helixes fixed to their backs, and it’s possible to travel to the moon by being shot by a cannon. In another volume, titled La perra en el satellite (The Dog in the Satellite, 1958), Velarde includes the story “La Bomba” (“The Bomb”). In it the dreaded total destruction to be caused by a nuclear bomb deployment will miss one target: the residence of a lawyer and diplomat in Lima, who will turn out to be the last man on Earth, knowing he will not survive very long.

In the same decade of 1950, the works of Eugenio Alarco suddenly and surprisingly burst onto the scene. In 1952, Alarco — a humanist, historian and philosopher — published his novel La magia de los mundos (Magic of the Worlds), in which two twentieth century astronauts, survivors of a kind of stellar shipwreck on an asteroid, are brought back to life at a time when the human race has expanded throughout the solar system. A curiosity: in this distant future, human beings wear super-suits that allow them to fly. These suits are translucent, so their owners appear to be completely nude.

In the sixties, another novel by Eugenio Alarco, called Los mortales (The Mortals), published in 1966, stands alone. As a kind of sequel to La magia de los mundos, it takes place in the same universe but on other worlds, and shows the other side of progress. It reveals that just a few humans are able to access immortality and other benefits of the future, while the majority of mortals remain excluded.

The sixties decade probably saw the greatest boom of science fiction in our country. The outstanding authors of the time are José B. Adolph, Juan Rivera Saavedra and José Manuel Estremadoyro.

A review of José B. Adolph´s work deserves a separate article. From his first publication, he has covered a wide range of different genres, including science fiction. He has written about artificial intelligence in Artemio y MULTICAL (Artemio and MULTICAL), the evolution animals in La rata (The Rat), immortality in Nosotros no (Not Us), contact with extraterrestrial beings in Los bromistas (The Jokers). His most abundant work comprising science fiction stories may be his book Hasta que la muerte (“Till Death, 1971), which includes the story “El falsificador” (“The Forger”), which was also included in the Latin American Science Fiction Anthology Cosmos Latinos, published by the University of Texas in 2003. In 1977, Adolph published a novel, Mañana las ratas (Tomorrow the Rats), that shows a completely balkanised and anaemic Peru, ruled by trans-national companies, the directors of which live on satellites orbiting the Earth.
In 1976 Juan Rivera Saavedra published his Cuentos sociales de ciencia-ficción (Social Science Fiction Stories) – ironic stories about the human condition. Throughout them, Rivera Saavedra explores topics such as our relationships with robots, the exploration of other planets, racism and food shortage.

In a space opera mood, José Manuel Estremadoyro published Glasskán, el planeta maravilloso (Glasskán, the Wonder planet) and its sequel Los homos y la Tierra (Homos and Earth) in 1971. In the first novel he describes a journey to a planet where everything is perfect, in the way of the great renaissance utopias. In the second, the humans trained by the galacsins (dwellers of Glasskán) must return to our planet to offer peace and progress to humanity, Glasskán style. Since they can’t find anybody who deserves such gifts, they devote themselves to living out a series of terribly absurd adventures.

In the nineties, Giancarlo Stagnaro published Hiperespacios (Hyperspaces, 1990), a space adventure novel worthy of Isaac Asimov.

In the late nineties Un único desierto (Only One Desert, 1997) by Enrique Prochazca was published. It compiled an assorted selection of stories with innovative topics, including “2984”, a story where the distopian world created by Orwell in “1984” continues to exist in the future, and “Happy End”, where we witness the end of the human race due to an intentionally provoked catastrophe.

Also in 1997, in Chiclayo City, Carlos Bancayón Llontop published his book Las formas (The Forms), in an almost hand-made edition. Among others, this volume includes the stories “Nutrición” (“Nutrition”) and “Las formas”, a speculation about the place of man in the universe, and mental powers used to investigate the past, which reveals amazing facts about the life of an important religious figure.

The rise of the Internet in our country has allowed for the electronic production of stories and novels. With web pages devoted to Peruvian science fiction, we have been able to become better acquainted with new authors: Rubén Mesías Cornejo, José Donayre Hoefken, José de Piérola, Adriana Alarco and others.

The year 2003 was bountiful for science fiction: José B. Adolph published his novel Un ejército de locos (An Army of Madmen), about an Apocalypse unleashed via the Internet, and the story selection Los fines del mundo (The Ends of the World), which includes several science fiction stories. Meanwhile, Juan Rivera Saavedra published Oprimidos y exprimidos (Opressed and Exploited) with some genre stories. Finally, Manuel Antonio Cuba published his book 8+1, nine science fiction stories dealing with different topics, such as extraterrestrial exploration, the future of Earth, and communication with machines.

2004 was also lavish in electronic publications. New voices appeared, like Iván Paredes and Pedro Novoa, while Manuel Antonio Cuba published a new short story collection, Desde afuera (From Outside).
Some final information: the writer of this article has published the stories “El amante de Irene” (“Irene´s lover”) and “El nombre no es importante” (“The name is not important”). He has also collaborated on articles about the science fiction genre in the electronic literary magazine El hablador and in the magazine Ajos y Zafiros.

References:
  • Mora, Gabriela: Clemente Palma: el modernismo en su verisón decadente y gótica, Institute of Peruvian Studies, Lima 2000.
  • Palma, Clemente: Cuentos malévolos. Ediciones PEISA, Lima 1974. Including: Introduction by Augusto Tamayo Vargas, prologue by Miguel de Unamuno (reprint of the first edition, published by Salvat, Barcelona 1904).
  • Palma, Clemente and Tellería Solari, María: Crónicas del Halley, edited by María Tellería Solari, Lima 1989, including the stories “El día trágico” by Clemente Palma and “El testamento de Chantecler” and “Una visita al paraíso” by María Tellería Solari (“El día trágico” was originally published in instalments of the magazine Ilustración Peruana in April and May, 1910.)

Copyright © 2005 by Daniel Salvo, republished with permission by the author.

Daniel Salvo was born in Peru in 1967. After a degree in law he worked in a legal news magazine. In 2002 he started to edit Ciencia Ficción Perú, a website with articles on Peruvian science fiction. In 2005 he founded, in collaboration with some fellow witers, Coyllur, the Peruvian Association of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy. He is currently collecting notes and data about Peruvian science fiction writers and plans to publish an anthology with the temptative title En las ruinas de Utopia.