Brazil

Tagged: International

Brazilian Proto SF is being slowly rediscovered in the last decades, revealing some works that shed light on the problematic relationship between scientific ideas and the literature of fiction in the country. An early important text is Páginas da história do Brasil, escritas no ano 2000 ["Pages of a History of Brazil, Written in the Year 2000"] (1868-1872 in the newspaper O Jequitinhonha) by Joaquim Felício dos Santos (1828-1895), a Satirical work set in the future. Also satirical, but minor, is the earlier short story "O Fim do mundo" ["The End of the World"] (1857 Jornal do Commercio, Rio de Janeiro), by Joaquim Manuel de Macedo (1820-1882), in which a Comet strikes Rio de Janeiro causing havoc and some comic incidents. Machado de Assis (1839-1908), usually regarded as Brazil's most important nineteenth-century author, wrote "O imortal" ["The Immortal"] (1882 A Estação, Rio de Janeiro), a short story about Immortality with a Gothic atmosphere (see Gothic SF) and a nod towards a future tropical science.

Augusto Emilio Zaluar (1825-1882), Portuguese-born though later a naturalized Brazilian, was an admirer of Jules Verne and Camille Flammarion and emulated these masters in his O Doutor Benignus ["Doctor Benignus"] (1875) a Scientific Romance journey to the center of Brazil by Balloon and burro, during which an international team of Scientists, led by the eponymous doctor, faces Vernian adventures, discusses Evolution and establishes an Utopian settlement among the Indians. During the journey, Benignus dreams about a living being from the Sun who praises his efforts in civilizing his own country. A recently rediscovered novel, obscure in its time, is A Rainha do ignoto ["The Queen of the Unknown"] (1899) by Emilia Freitas (1855-1908), about a Utopian, feminist Island reached through a subterranean railroad Underground. A secret society of female paladins dedicated to improving women's conditions is featured in this novel, which has discreet cloak-and-dagger elements.

The Utopia is a frequent staple in Brazilian literature, with Fantasy, Mythological and science-fictional elements randomly mixed according to the writer's whims. It is present in such works as O Reino de Kiato (No país da verdade) ["The Kingdom of Kiato (In the Country of Truth)"] (1922) by Rodolfo Teófilo (1853-1932), another Island-based rational society with overt Eugenics elements; São Paulo no ano 2000, ou, Regeneração nacional ["São Paulo in the Year 2000, Or, National Regeneration"] (1909) by Godofredo Emerson Barnsley, an Edward Bellamy-influenced novel; Sua Excelência, a Presidente da República no ano 2500 ["Her Excellency, the President of the Republic in the Year 2500"] (1929) by Adalzira Bittencourt (1904-1976), which depicts a futuristic Brazil with a heavy Eugenics bent; and Zanzalá (1928;1936 O Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo; 1938 as Zanzalás) by Afonso Schmidt (1890-1964), about a pacific community in the year 2028 which tries to reconcile technology and Pastoral life. The mixing of sf and fantasy elements is typical of early genre literature in Brazil, which almost always comprises single fantastic novels written by Mainstream Writers of SF.

Works with clear sf elements by mainstream writers from the earlier part of the twentieth century include: A Liga dos planetas ["The League of Planets"] (1923) by Albino Coutinho, which features Space Flight to utopian Venus and Mars; A Amazônia misteriosa (1925; trans J T W Sadler as The Mysterious Amazonia: A Brazilian Novel 1944) by Gastão Cruls, an adventure novel featuring a tribe of warrior women (descended from the Incas) and a German Scientist who performs Moreau-like experiments on Indians; O presidente negro ["The Black President"] (1926 as O choque das raças ["Clash of the Races"]; vt 1945) by Monteiro Lobato, a Satire with racist/Eugenics overtones set in a future USA; and A República 3.000 ["The Republic 3000"] (1930; vt A filha do inca ["Daughter of the Inca"]) by Menotti del Picchia, an adventure novel featuring a futuristic lost City (see Lost Worlds).

A little-known but noteworthy novel is Há dez mil séculos ["Ten Thousand Centuries Ago"] (1926) by Enéas Lintz (1892-?   ), in which a traveller in the mountains meets an old man who by means of Telepathy reveals to him some fundamental secrets of the Universe, including the interior of the atom, besides taking him on a mental journey through the Solar System.

In the 1930s, the light, amusing, sf short stories by journalist and writer Berilo Neves (1901-1974) achieved an unprecedented success among Brazilian readers. Collected in A costela de Adão ["Adam's Rib"] (coll 1930), A mulher e o diabo ["The Woman and the Devil"] (coll 1931) and Século XXI ["21st Century"] (coll 1934), they feature interplanetary tourism, eccentric Scientists, extraordinary Machines and Drugs, always with a view to generating comic situations. The time-frame of the stories is variously set (with no visible differences) in "the year 2000", "the thirty-fifth century", "the year 5432", in a milieu of salons and clubs frequented by upper-crust people; the sf elements serve only to precipitate situations involving jealousy, amorous conquests and infidelities.

The first Brazilian Pulp magazines appeared in the mid-1930s, and were locally known as revistas de emoção or "emotion magazines" – something close to the "thrilling" label in the US. Romance Mensal: uma revista diferente das outras ["Monthly Novel: a Magazine Different from the Others"] (1934-?) was followed by Aventura e Mistério ["Adventure and Mystery"] (1936), Detetive ["Detective"] (1936-?), A Novela ["The Novella"] (1936-1938) – which was edited by Erico Verissimo – Contos Magazine ["Short Story Magazine"] (1937-1945) and Mistérios ["Mysteries"] (1938-?). Stories by Brazilians in these magazines were few; translated material included Lost Worlds stories and pulp Hero adventures featuring the likes of The Shadow. Later revistas de emoção included X-9 (1941-1962) and Meia Noite ["Midnight"] (1948-1968), which, despite their main connection with crime fiction, printed a range of science fiction and fantasy stories.

The very first Brazilian SF Magazine was Fantastic (1955-1961), apparently an authorized version of the homonymous US magazine Fantastic (1952-1980). This Brazilian version had only a dozen issues, though. It was followed by the short-lived Galáxia 2000 ["Galaxy 2000"] (1968-?), whose title suggests it was created to promote a coleção (numbered book line) launched the year before by Edições O Cruzeiro: Galáxia 2000 (1967-1971). This magazine was the first Brazilian incarnation of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which returned as Magazine de Ficção Científica ["Magazine of Science Fiction"] (1970-1971) – then edited by the pioneering author Jerônymo Monteiro – which published one Brazilian story per issue. This practice was not followed by Isaac Asimov Magazine: Contos de Ficção Científica ["Isaac Asimov Magazine: Stories of Science Fiction"] (1990-1993) edited by Ronaldo di Biasi, which lasted longer but published only 16 Brazilian stories compared to 20 in Magazine de Ficção Científica. This of course was an authorized version of Asimov's Science Fiction, though it also published material from the sister magazine Analog after issue 13. Created by Marcelo Baldini, Quark (2000-2001) was the very first Brazilian sf magazine that was not a version of an American one but entirely a local product. It began as a media magazine like Starlog, but from issue 8 onward adopted Digest format and concentrated on the publication of short stories. It lasted for only two more issues, but during that time it inverted the previous practice by printing more Brazilian stories than translations. Finally, Sci-Fi News Contos ["Sci-Fi News Short Stories"] (2001), the fiction companion to the long-lasting Sci-Fi News media magazine, appeared to compete with Quark, publishing only local stories, with two issues. Other titles appearing in recent years were non-paying online magazines (see E-Zines; Webzine).

Brazil's first writer of Genre SF was Jerônymo Monteiro, a rarity in the literary scene of that time in that he was an enthusiast for Anglo-American sf, and for mysteries and popular fiction in general. In the 1930s he wrote and directed a Radio series about the adventures of detective Dick Peter, who faced dangers of a science-fictional kind; these stories were later published by him under the pseudonym Ronnie Wells. In 1964 he founded the Sociedade Brasileira de Ficção Cientiífica ["Brazilian Society of Science Fiction"], and shortly before his death he edited Magazine de Ficção Científica (see above). He wrote many novels, often for children. His best adult novel is Fuga para parte alguma ["Escape to Nowhere"] (1961).

There was something of a boom in Brazilian sf in the 1960s, the First Wave of Brazilian Science Fiction (1958-1971), due primarily to Gumercindo Rocha Dorea (1924-    ) – founder of the Edições GRD publishing house and affectionately known as "the Brazilian Campbell" (see John W Campbell). In 1960 he began publishing translations of foreign sf authors and also some seminal volumes of short stories by Brazilian writers, including some from the mainstream. Two important anthologies edited by him were Antologia brasileira de ficção científica ["Brazilian Anthology of Science Fiction"] (anth 1961) and Histórias do Acontecerá ["Stories of the Will-Happen"] (anth 1961), the first of their kind, since no anthology of Brazilian sf had appeared before. Another publishing house, EdArt, run by Álvaro Malheiros, did a similar job on a smaller scale. Together, these Small Presses created the first wave of true sf in Brazil, though Clube do Livro and other publishing houses occasionally published Brazilian sf in the 1960s as well.

New authors of the time included: Dinah Silveira de Queiroz (1910-1982), with Eles herdarão a Terra ["They Shall Inherit the Earth"] (coll 1960) and Comba Malina (coll 1971); André Carneiro, the senior living Brazilian sf writer, with Diário da nave perdida ["Diary of the Lost Spaceship"] (coll 1963), O homem que adivinhava ["The Man Who Guessed Right"] (coll 1966) and others; Rubens T Scavone (1925-2007) with O homem que viu o disco-voador ["The Man Who Saw the Flying Saucer"] (1958), O Diálogo dos Mundos ["Dialogue of the Worlds"] (coll 1961) and others; Fausto Cunha, also a noted critic, and later an editor and translator, with As noites marcianas ["The Martian Nights"] (coll 1960) and others.

In 1969 a major sf symposium was held in conjunction with the Festival Internacional de Cinema, in Rio de Janeiro. This event brought some of the great names of sf to Brazil, including Brian W Aldiss, Poul Anderson, J G Ballard, Alfred Bester, Arthur C Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Robert A Heinlein, Damon Knight, Frederik Pohl, A E van Vogt and Kate Wilhelm, among others. This was the first international meeting for professionals only in the history of sf; it was organized by José Sanz, an active editor and prolific translator of sf who afterward presented, in SF Symposium / FC Simpósio (anth 1969), English and Portuguese versions (the latter trans A Arruda) of talks given at the meeting. The event led to the founding of World SF and in Brazil aroused temporary enthusiasm; generally, however, even though the 1960s writers mentioned above mostly continued publishing into the 1970s, First Wave Brazilian sf was in decline, replaced by a number of Utopian and Dystopian works dedicated to criticism of the military regime (1964-1985) and its associated technocracy. This Wave of Utopias and Dystopias (1971-1982) included Chico Buarque's Fazenda modelo ["Model Farm"] (1974), a fable modelled on George Orwell's Animal Farm (1945 chap) but written as a critique of capitalism and authoritarianism; Herberto Salles's award-winning O fruto do vosso ventre ["The Fruit of Thy Womb"] (1976); Ruth Bueno's Asilo nas Torres ["Shelter at the Towers"] (1979); André Carneiro's Piscina livre ["Free Swimming Pool"] (1980) and Ignácio de Loyola Brandão's famous Não verás país nenhum ["Thou Shalt See No Country"] (1981).

A renaissance of Brazilian genre sf took place from the mid-1980s, the Second Wave of Brazilian Science Fiction, beginning with the appearance of some lively Fanzines and fan organizations such as the "Clube de Leitores de Ficção Científica" ["Science Fiction Readers Club"], created by R C Nascimento in 1985. The first stories of several new writers appeared in fanzines like Somnium, Hiperespaço and Boletim Antares, or in fan anthologies such as Verde ... Verde ... ["Green ... Green ..."] (anth 1988) edited by Sergio Fonseca de Castro. Writers closely associated with the fan movement include: Jorge Luiz Calife, with a Hard SF trilogy made up of Padrões de contato ["Patterns of Contact"] (1985), Horizonte de eventos ["Event Horizon"] (1986) and Linha terminal ["Terminal Line"] (1991); Ataide Tartari, who used the pseudonym A A Smith in his novel EEUU 2076 D.C: um repórter no espaço ["USA 2076 AD: a Reporter in Space"] (1987); Henrique Flory with Só sei que não vou por aí ["All I Know Is That I Won't Go That Way"] (coll 1989) and Cristoferus (1992); Roberto Schima with Pequenas portas do eu ["Little Doors of the I"] (coll 1987); José dos Santos Fernandes with Do outro lado do tempo ["At the Other Side of Time"] (coll 1990); Ivanir Calado with A mãe do sonho ["Mother of Dream"] (1990) and Imperatriz no fim do mundo ["Empress at the End of the World"] (1992); and Braulio Tavares, who won a Portuguese prize with A espinha dorsal da memória ["The Backbone of Memory"] (coll 1989), a book of stylistically daring stories that rank with the best story collections by André Carneiro or Rubens T Scavone. This was followed by Tavares's Recursive SF novel A máquina voadora: história do sapateiro Gamboa, e de sua maravilhosa máquina de voar ["The Flying Machine: The Story of Gamboa, the Shoemaker, and His Wondrous Flying Machine"] (1994) and Mundo fantasmo ["Ghost World"] (coll 1996). All three have also been published in Portugal by Editorial Caminho, in an sf book line edited by Antonio Belmiro Guimarães. The same happened with Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro's Outras histórias ... ["Other Histories ..."] (coll 1997) and O vampiro de Nova Holanda ["The Vampire of New Holland"] (coll 1998), and Roberto de Sousa Causo's A dança das sombras ["Dance of Shadows"] (coll 1999).

During the Second Wave, Ivan Carlos Regina launched the first conceptual movement of Brazilian sf, the "Manifesto antropofágico da ficção científica brasileira" ["Brazilian Science Fiction Cannibal Manifesto"] (June 1988 Somnium); with it, he challenged the blind imitation of Anglo-American sf and mindless use of Clichés. His daring story collection O fruto maduro da civilização ["The Ripe Fruit of Civilization"] (coll 1993) exemplifies his ideas, in a very experimentalist fashion. The title of Regina's polemic echoes that of the seminal text "Manifesto Antropófago" ["Cannibal Manifesto"] (May 1928 Revista de Antropofagia #1), in which Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954) – one of the leaders of Brazilian Modernism – exhorted Brazilian writers to practice the "absorption of the holy enemy", i.e., to cannibalize foreign literature, taking from it anything that might be useful to the creation of a new literature in their country.

Some mainstream writers wrote borderline-sf works during the 1980s; e.g. Marcio Souza with A ordem do dia ["Order of the Day"] (1983), Herberto Salles with A porta de chifre ["The Horn Door"] (1982) and Floro Freitas de Andrade, whose Jogo terminal ["Terminal Game"] (1988) won the Nova Award for Best Book by a Brazilian author. Songwriter and performance artist Fausto Fawcett published his first novel Santa Clara Poltergeist (1990), mixing Cyberpunk elements and Psi Powers in a Near Future Rio de Janeiro; a collection in the same vein, Básico Instinto ["Basic Instinct"] (1992) soon followed.

In recent years, some of the most active authors from thave have released first novels: Octavio Aragão with A mão que cria ["The Hand that Creates"] (2006), Roberto de Sousa Causo with A corrida do rinoceronte ["The Race of the Rhinoceros"] (2006), a mix of contemporary fantasy and sf; Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro with Xochiquetzal: uma princesa asteca entre os incas ["Xochiquetzal: An Aztec Princess Among the Incas"] (2009), an Alternate History; and Fabio Fernandes with Os dias da peste ["Plague Days"] (2009), about the technological Singularity. The new century also has seen Ivanir Calado's first story collection, Anjos, mutantes e dragões ["Angels, Mutants and Dragons"] (coll 2010), and Jorge Luiz Calife has continued his Hard SF Future History with Angela entre dois mundos ["Angela Between Two Worlds"] (2010), a prequel novel to his Padrões de contato trilogy, while Ataide Tartari, a bilingual author, released two English-language novels in the USA, Amazon (2001) and Tropical shade (2003).

By 2005 there was already talk of a Third Wave of young or newly emerging authors motivated by the advent of the Internet and first based around an Orkut community founded in 2004 by Fabio Fernandes. Some of the first works of this phase are Flávio Medeiros's Quintessência ["Quintessence"] (2004); Clinton Davisson's Hegemonia: o herdeiro de Basten ["Hegemony: The Heir of Basten"] (2007); Cristina Lasaitis's Fábulas do tempo e da eternidade ["Fables of Time and Eternity"] (coll 2008); and Tibor Moricz post-apocalyptic Fome ["Hunger"] (fix-up 2008), likely the most violent fiction work in Brazilian sf. However, the most important Third Wave author might be a highly uncharacteristic one: Luis Bras (1966-    ), a pseudonym of the acclaimed two-time winner of the Casa de las Americas prize, Nelson de Oliveira. Like "a Brazilian Michael Chabon", Oliveira has given up his mainstream career in favor of science fiction and Young Adult fantastic fiction. His Paraíso líquido ["Liquid Paradise"] (2010) is as daring and rich a story collection as last seen in Tavares's A espinha dorsal da memória or Regina's O fruto maduro da civilização. His second book under the Bras name was Sozinho no deserto extremo ["Alone in the Extreme Desert"] (2012), a Last Man novel. Combining sf themes with mainstream effects, Bras's approach recalls those of the New Wave and post-Cyberpunk sf. As editor of the Projeto Portal magazines (2008-2010), he fomented the idea of bridging sf and mainstream, and launched through literary journal Rascunho the "Invitation to Mainstream" debate, in which he claims sf could revitalize a watered-down Brazilian mainstream literature.

About a dozen small to medium publishing houses, mostly in São Paulo, appeared during the Third Wave time-frame, motivated by this renewed Fandom and by a score of new writers eager to break into a field energized by sales phenomena such as J K Rowling's Harry Potter books and J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955 3vols). Bigger, established imprints such as Devir, Aleph and Conrad expanded their sf catalogues, while smaller (but very enterprising) ones such as Draco, Tarja, Terracota, Não Editora (this one from Porto Alegre) launched a number of new authors. However, most of these new houses adopt print-on-demand practices and most such publishers and authors fail to be acknowledged by mainstream media. In this new panorama of Speculative Fiction, sf properly lags behind horror, fantasy and urban fantasy. Nevertheless, Third Wave authors and publishers are keen to update local sf by promoting new trends such as the New Weird and Steampunk. Thematic Anthologies are the main outlet for such work. Yet, besides trend-promotion, dozens of Original Anthologies have appeared in collaborative fashion. In a market devoid of SF Magazines, they are a possible solution for beginning and continuing careers. [BT/RSC]

see also: Latin America.

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