Dorea, Gumercindo Rocha

Tagged: Editor

(1924-    ) Brazilian publisher regarded as the most important in the history of Brazilian sf, Gumercindo Rocha Dorea was born in Ilhéus, the town in the State of Bahia made famous by Jorge Amado's novels. Dorea was mainly responsible for the First Wave of Brazilian Science Fiction (1958-1972).

Dorea founded Edições GRD (today, GRD Edições) in 1956, and launched his coleção (a numbered book line) Ficção Científica GRD in 1958 with C S Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet (1938). Its second release was by the major mainstream Brazilian author Dinah Silveira de Queiroz, a story collection titled Eles herdarão a Terra ["They Shall Inherit the Earth"] (coll 1960). From then on Ficção Científica GRD would try to alternate translations with works by local writers – something unheard of at the time, for no program of systematic publication of Brazilian sf writers had ever existed before.

Through Queiroz, Dorea contacted then literary critic Fausto Cunha and published his story collection As noites marcianas ["Martian Nights"] (coll 1960) – obviously influenced by Ray Bradbury, the US sf author of the time with the highest reputation among Brazilians. Dorea went on to edit Antologia brasileira de ficção científica ["Anthology of Brazilian Science Fiction"] (anth 1961), the first of its kind (with Brazilian authors only), and Histórias do acontecerá ["Stories of the Will-Happen"] (anth 1961), with stories by André Carneiro, Cunha, Queiroz, veterans Jerônymo Monteiro (who had been writing since the 1930s), Rubens Teixeira Scavone (who wrote his debut sf novel in 1958), and mainstream writers who had expressed interest for sf like Antonio Olinto (who became a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters), his wife Zora Seljan, Clóvis Garcia, Lúcia Benedetti, Álvaro Malheiros, Leon Eliachar, Rachel de Queiroz (who would be the first woman to belong to the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 1977), and Ruy Jugmann.

The same pattern – pioneering authors and mainstream writers venturing into sf – would be the norm for Ficção Científica GRD. Dorea would publish in the following years: Scavone's O diálogo dos mundos ["The Dialogue of Worlds"] (coll 1961); Monteiro's novel Fuga para parte alguma ["Escape to Nowhere"] (1961), called a milestone by Fausto Cunha; Guido Wilmar Sassi's A testemunha do tempo ["The Witness of Time"] (coll 1963) and Levy Menezes's O 3.º planeta ["The Third Planet"] (coll 1965), an outstanding story collection. All these authors formed the "GRD Generation", a term coined by Cunha in his essay "A ficção científica no Brasil: um planeta quase desabitado" ["Science Fiction in Brazil – An Almost Uninhabited Planet"] (in No mundo da ficção científica ["New Worlds of Science Fiction"] anth ?1977).

Among translated works were Robert A Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (December 1965-April 1966 If; 1966), Clifford D Simak's City (coll of linked stories/fixup 1952; exp 1981), John Wyndham's Re-Birth (1955; rev vt The Chrysalids 1955), James Blish's A Case of Conscience (part 1 September 1953 If; 1958) and Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud (1957) – a prime selection that influenced readers and likely publishers too in the following decades.

These books were relatively small in size – 13 x 18 cm – and in 1963 Dorea launched a new coleção, Ficção Científica Gigante, in 14 x 21 cm. The first title was Walter M Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz (April 1955-February 1957 F&SF; fixup dated 1960 but 1959), followed by Yevgeny Zamiatin's We (1924), Kurt Vonnegut Jr's The Sirens of Titan (1959), Arthur C Clarke's The City and the Stars (1956), and Fredric Brown's The Lights in the Sky Are Stars (1953; vt Project Jupiter 1954). No Brazilians appeared in the Gigante line. Out of these coleções Dorea also published for the first time in Brazil Ray Bradbury with The October Country (coll 1955) in two volumes, H P Lovecraft with The Dunwich Horror and Others (coll 1963), and later George R Stewart with Earth Abides (1949).

The changing cultural and political climate brought about by the military dictatorship (1964-1985) shifted Dorea's focus and his sf publishing. The elite Anglo-American sf of the 1950s he favored was replaced in bookstores by popular adventure sf imported from France, Germany (Perry Rhodan), and Spain (as pseudo translations). On the other hand, Dystopian and Utopian works came to the foreground when local mainstream writers focused on criticizing the regime – a trend whose best example is perhaps Ignácio de Loyola Brandão's Não verás país nenhum (1982, trans as You Will See No Country 1985 US). In this new context, GRD Generation authors and the sf they represented were pushed to the background.

Dorea made a comeback with Ficção Científica GRD New Series in 1987. He soon published Enquanto houver Natal ... ["As Long as There Is Christmas ..."] (anth 1989), his fifth anthology, putting together for the first time GRD Generation authors (Dinah Silveira de Queiroz, Álvaro Malheiros) and Second Wave (1981 to the present) authors (Ivan Carlos Regina, José dos Santos Fernandes, Marien Calixte, Jorge Luiz Calife). In 1993 he put out another anthology, Tríplice universo ["Triple Universe"], with stories by Roberto Schima, Cid Fernandez and Roberto de Sousa Causo (winners of the first national sf short story contest, sponsored by the Brazilian edition of Asimov's Science Fiction). It was followed by Dinossauria tropicalia (1994), with dinosaur stories by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, Miguel Carqueija, Leonardo Nahoum, Calife, Finisia Fideli, Ricardo Teixeira, etc. Dorea also republished Calixte's collection Alguma coisa no céu ["Something in the Sky"] (coll 1985), with UFO encounter stories, and Calife's Linha terminal ["Terminal Line"] (1991), the third novel in his pioneering Padrões de Contato ["Contact Patterns"] Hard SF trilogy, which had been initiated in a different house, Nova Fronteira, and subsequently dropped during one of Brazil's economic crisis of the late 1980s.

No writer became more associated with the New Series than Henrique Flory, who here published two collections Só sei que não vou por aí! ["I Only Know I Won't Go That Way!"] (coll 1988) and A pedra que canta ["The Singing Stone"] (coll 1991), along with his Young Adult novella Cristoferus (1992). The New Series was discontinued in 1995, after Dorea's wife Augusta became ill. In 2011 he made a second comeback in the field publishing H Rider Haggard's The People of the Mist (1894) in partnership with Devir Livraria. Other co-published works may appear in the next years.

Dorea's signed blurbs – printed in cover extensions similar to dust-jackets flaps and known in Brazil as "orelhas" (ears) – are famous for lacking a commercial focus. More like editorials or commentaries, some were gathered in 2002 in his Ora direis ... Ouvir "orelhas" que falam de livros, homens e idéias ["Thou Sayest ... listen to 'Ears' that Speak of Books, Men, and Ideas"], the first book with his byline (he never took credit for his editing of anthologies).

As an sf publisher, Dorea has shown an interest in religion and a concern with the Cold War and nuclear threat. His Christian (Catholic) positions informed his editorial decisions and his personal politics, which rendered him unpopular in literary circles during the politically polarized climate of the 1970s.

Called "Quixotic" by friends and foes, Dorea is known for a terminal inability to make money. But his boldness, vision, and unselfish commitment to the promotion of Brazilian culture cause him to discover important writers for the second half of the twentieth century – especially mainstream authors Rubem Fonseca (who ventured occasionally into sf), Nélida Piñon (who came to be president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters), and award-winning poet Gerardo Mello Mourão. Without his work in the early 1960s, the First Wave of Brazilian sf, a major period of reference in the history of the genre in Brazil, would be very different or might have not happened at all.

Among the several honours he has received are an special award delivered at Fantasticon 2011, a fan Convention, and being elected "Personality of the Year" by the editors of the Anuário brasileiro de literatura fantástica 2011 ["Brazilian Fantastic Literature Yearbook"]. [RSC]

Gumercindo Rocha Dorea

born Ilhéus, State of Bahia, Brazil: 4 August 1924

died

works

nonfiction

works as editor (selected)

All titles edited anonymously.

  • Antologia brasileira de ficção científica ["Anthology of Brazilian Science Fiction"] (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Edições GRD, Ficção Científica GRD 6, 1961) [anth: pb/]
  • Histórias do acontecerá ["Stories of the Will-Happen"] (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Edições GRD, Ficção Científica GRD 12, 1961) [anth: pb/]
  • Amor, dimensão 5 ["Love, Dimension 5"] (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Edições GRD, Ficção Científica Gigante 7, 1969) [anth: pb/]
  • Os ciganos da estrela ["Gypsies of the Stars"] (São Paulo, Brazil: Ficção Científica GRD Nova Série 1, 1988) [anth: pb/]
  • Enquanto houver Natal ... ["As Long as There Is Christmas ..."] (São Paulo, Brazil: Edições GRD, Ficção Científica GRD Nova Série 4, 1989) [anth: pb/]
  • Tríplice universe ["Triple Universe"] (São Paulo, Brazil: Edições GRD, Ficção Científica GRD Nova Série 14, 1993) [anth: pb/]

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