In Peru, fantastic literature and science fiction have a long tradition that is still undergoing exhumation and rescue. The purpose here is to establish a first cartographic guide to sf in Peru, which from the outset is inevitably incomplete, given that new authors continue to be discovered and that, over the last few decades, sf production has been on the rise.
The first novel ever written in Peru was published in serial format in the newspaper, El Comercio. It was written by Julián M del Portillo (1818-1862), with the title Lima de aquí a cien años ["Lima One Hundred Years from Now"] (1843). The novel fits within the parameters of sf, as it posits a voyage to the future based on the device of the dream (an element used during the Romantic period, when the novel was written). The novel's importance lies not just with its age (it is one of the oldest in the Americas and predates the works of Jules Verne and H G Wells), but in the fact that in Peru, the novel was launched on the basis of fantastical and futuristic elements. The novel projects the educated elite's view of what the young nation of Peru should become, economically and politically; as was the case with many countries in post-independence Latin America, freedom from Spanish rule in 1821 was a recent event that generated instability around the question of political power.
During the Modernist period, interest in science and Technology increased. Of note are the works of Clemente Palma (1872-1946), texts such as "La última rubia" ["The Last Blonde"], included in Cuentos malévolos ["Malevolent Tales"] (coll 1904); "El día trágico" ["The Tragic Day"] (1910 Ilustración Peruana ["Peru Illustrated"]); and above all, the novel XYZ ["XYZ"] (1934). XYZ takes on modern-day themes such as Cloning, Virtual Reality and the creation of artificial life, which make the novel especially current and relevant because it was the first to raise these topics in Latin America. Clemente Palma's body of fiction is made up of the Cuentos malévolos, Mors ex vita ["Mors Ex Vita"] (1923), and the aforementioned novel, along with a selection of texts published in magazines of the day. In his works one can find themes linked to sf and the fantastic.
Authors of note during the avant garde – a period framed by the eleven-year regime of Augusto B Leguía (1919-1930) – include César Vallejo (1892-1938) and Alberto Hidalgo (1897-1967). In Vallejo's case, the texts collected in Escalas ["Scales"] (coll 1923) and the short novel Fabla salvaje ["Wild Talk"] (1924), utilize forms of the fantastic. From Escalas, the story "Los caynas" ["The Caynas"] stands out. Some of the texts in Hidalgo's Los sapos y otras personas ["Toads and Other People"] (coll 1927) convey the tensions of the subject in the face of advancing modernity and, as such, contain futuristic elements. Also noteworthy is his novel, Aquí está el Anticristo ["Here is the Antichrist"] (1957). Following World War Two, Héctor Velarde (1898-1989) authored a series of books that, employing the codes of humour and irony, approximate a modern, future world about which such texts as ¡Un hombre con tongo! ["A Man with a Bowler Hat!"] (1950) speculate. The most emblematic of his many books is La perra en el satélite ["The Dog in the Satellite"] (1958) which is framed by the Cold War and the race to the Moon. Another important author from this period is Eugenio Alarco (1908-2005), with two novels: La magia de los mundos ["The Magic of the Worlds"] (1952) and Los mortales ["The Mortals"] (1966). These are novels that interweave philosophical reflection and the portrayal of a future society.
Two key authors from the years 1960-1980 are Juan Rivera Saavedra (1930- ) and José B Adolph. They are the most-cited Peruvian authors in the sf genre. In addition to having worked in science fiction Theatre, Rivera Saavedra is known for his short stories, collected in Punto ["Point"] (coll 1964) and Cuentos sociales de ciencia ficción ["Social Science Fiction Stories"] (coll 1976). From José B Adolph's extensive production – in his first phase – the standouts are the short story collections El retorno de Aladino ["The Return of Aladdin"] (coll 1968), Hasta que la muerte ["Until Death"] (coll 1971), Invisible para las fieras ["Invisible for the Beasts"] (coll 1972), Cuentos del relojero abominable ["The Abominable Watchmaker's Tales"] (coll 1973), Mañana fuimos felices ["Tomorrow We Were Happy"] (coll 1974), and the novel, Mañana, las ratas ["Tomorrow, the Rats"] (1984), finished in 1977 but published many years after. From Adolph's second phase, of particular note is the trilogy comprised of the novels La verdad sobre Dios y JBA ["The Truth about God and JBA"] (2000), Un ejército de locos ["An Army of Fools"] (2003) and La bandera en alto ["Raise the Flag"] (2009) – the last published posthumously, as were his story collections Los fines del mundo ["The Ends of the Earth"] (coll 2003) and Es sólo un viejo tren ["It's Only an Old Train"] (coll 2007).
These authors were joined by José Estremadoyro (1914-1975), whose Glasskan, el planeta maravilloso ["Glasskan, The Marvellous Planet"] (1968) and its sequel, Los homos y la tierra ["Men and Earth"] (1971), tell of a human's voyage to a planet very similar to our own; 12:01 p.m. en el 2000 ["12:01 p.m. in the Year 2000"] (1962); by Eva Rosack (pseudonym of Consuelo Boza); by María Tellería Solari (1926-? ), who published brief sf stories in the magazine Lo insólito ["The Uncanny"] in the 1970s; by Harry Belevan (1945- ), whose novel La piedra en el agua ["The Stone in the Water"] (1977) contains echoes of H P Lovecraft; and by the works of Jorge Eduardo Eielson (1924-2006): El cuerpo de Giulia-no ["Giulia-no's Body"] (1972) and Primera muerte de María ["María's First Death"] (1988), which have sf elements, passages and scenes inserted into the principal narratives.
In 1980, Peru returned to the democratic system that had been suspended during the military dictatorship of Juan Velasco Alvarado and Francisco Morales Bermúdez (1968-1980). Sf and the fantastic began quietly gaining strength in the 1980s and 1990s. Those were the early years of the political violence (or armed internal conflict), waged by subversive groups, that so rocked Lima and the provinces during the administrations of Fernando Belaúnde (1980-1985), Alan García (1985-1990) and Alberto Fujimori (1990-1992). After Congress was dissolved in 1992 and the Constitution changed in 1993 to permit his reelection, Fujimori held power until 2000, when his regime fell owing to charges of corruption. In some cases, the country's real violence acquired allegorical dimensions in the fiction of the day. Within sf alone there is the novel Sodoma, Santos y Gomorra ["Sodom, Saints and Gomorrah"] (1986) by Aída Balta (1957- ); story collections that include genre narratives, such as Los grillos ["The Crickets"] (coll 1992) by Lucio Colonna-Preti (1950-2009), Operación Cosmos ["Operation Cosmos"] (coll 1996) by Abraham Jara Támara (1927-? ), Las formas ["The Forms"] (coll 1997) by Carlos Bancayán Llontop (1943- ), Un único desierto ["A Unique Desert"] (coll 1997) by Enrique Prochazka (1960- ), Crueldad del ajedrez ["The Cruelty of Chess"] (coll 1999) by Carlos Herrera (1961- ); and the novels Hiperespacios ["Hyperspaces"] (1990) by Giancarlo Stagnaro (1975- ), El fabuloso reino de Ancat ["The Fabulous Kingdom of Ancat"] (1998) by Guido Fernández de Córdova (1925-2004), who revisits J R R Tolkien's universe, and La fabulosa máquina del sueño ["The Fabulous Dream Machine"] (1999) by José Donayre (1966- ), which imagines a Dystopian universe with a nod to Peru's cycle of political violence.
Starting in the year 2000, there has been an explosive emergence of writers of sf and fantastic literature in Peru. This surge is due to various factors: postmodernism and the loss of ideology experienced by the younger generation starting with primary school in the 1990s (which broke with the realist or mimetic paradigm); the expansion in new Technologies (the Internet) and Virtual Reality; fiction's complete assimilation of mass culture (Cinema, Television, Comics, rock music); and the appearance of various independent publishers who are shaping genre fiction. On a secondary plane, Peru's relative political and economic stability also provide context.
Culminating works by authors from previous generations include Año sabático ["Sabbatical Year"] (2000), El mascarón de proa ["The Masthead"] (2006), Los espectros nacionales ["National Spectres"] (2008), and El misterio de la loma amarilla ["The Mystery of the Yellow Mound"] (2009) by José Güich (1963- ); Cuarenta sílabas, catorce palabras ["Forty Syllables, Fourteen Words"] (2005) and Casa ["House"] (2004) by Enrique Prochazka; El narrador de historias ["The Storyteller"] (2007) and 999 palabras para el planeta Tierra ["999 Words for Planet Earth"] (2008) by Enrique Congrains (1932-2009).
Other novels of special merit are: La Guerra de Mostark ["Mostark's War"] (2000) by Santiago Roncagliolo (1975- ); La ciudad de los nictálopes ["The City of the Nictalopes"] (2003) by Tanya Tynjälä (1963- ); Rito de paso ["Rite of Passage"] (2006) by Víctor Coral (1968- ); Entrevista a Mailer Daemon ["Interview with Mailer Daemon"] (2007) by Domenico Chiappe (1970- ); Aurora Seldon's (1971- ) saga, Hellson 1: Sinergia ["Hellson 1: Synergy"] (2008) and Hellson 2: Evolución ["Hellson 2: Evolution"] (2009); Los cristales de Vuhrán: El athyrant ["The Crystals of Vuhrán: The Athyrant"] (2009), Los cristales de Vuhrán: El sector Milian ["The Crystals of Vuhrán: The Milian Sector"] (2010) and El último aure de Terralan ["The Last Aure of Terralan"] (2012) by Iván Bolaños (197?- ); El Heraldo en el muelle ["The Herald on the Pier"] (2009), El heraldo en la barca ["The Herald in the Rowboat"] (2010) and Albatros ["Albatross"] (2012) by Hans Rothgiesser (1975- ); Las alas de la lombriz ["The Wings of the Worm"] (2010) by Fernando Luque Badanes (1964- ); Thecnetos ["Thecnetos"] (2010) by Luis Arbaiza (1973- ); El camino de los Aegeti ["The Way of the Aegeti"] (2010) by Jeremy Torres (1987- ); El catalizador ["The Catalyst"] (2010) by Augusto Murillo de los Ríos (1979- ); Los salvadores de Quispichix ["The Quispichix Saviours"] (2010) by Amador Caballero (1971- ), Viajes imposibles de un periodista ["A Journalist's Impossible Travels"] (2010) by Iván Meza Vélez (197?- ); Alex Gubbins y los piratas del espacio ["Alex Gubbins and the Space Pirates"] (2010) by Luis T Moy (1971- ); El fantasmocopio ["The Phantasmocope"] (2010) by Carlos E Freyre (1974- ); Tan cerca de la vida ["So Close to Life"] (2010) by Santiago Roncagliolo; Dimitri Galunov ["Dimitri Galunov"] (2011) by Blanca Miosi (1950- ); Claridad tan obscura ["Such Obscure Clarity"] (2011) by Carlos Herrera; La fauna de la noche ["Night Fauna"] (2011) by Sandro Bossio (1970- ); Vírgenes y herejes ["Virgins and Heretics"] (2011) by Javier Núñez (1982- ); Portador de fantasma ["Ghost Bearer"] (2011) and Domines ["Domines"] (2012) by David López Alfaro (1988- ); El planeta olvidado ["The Forgotten Planet"] (2012) by Carlos Echevarría (1992- ); Los viejos salvajes ["The Old Savages"] (2012) by Carlos de la Torre Paredes (1988- ); and Resplandor ["Radiance"] (2012) by Paco Bardales (1977- ). The novels by Bolaños, Rothgiesser, Torres, Murillo de los Ríos, Caballero, Moy, Alfaro and Echevarría belong to a subgenre which might be called "atemporal fantasy," nourished by the Star Wars sagas and Japanese Manga and having as a main plot device a portal that opens other Dimensions of the universe.
As for the short story, the collections cited in this paragraph either consist wholly of genre fiction or include sf stories, as does 8+1 ["8+1"] (coll 2003) by Manuel Antonio Cuba (1976- ) who, together with Jorge Revilla (1976- ), published Desde Afuera ["From Out There"] (coll 2004) and Más allá ["Beyond"] (coll 2005). Also of note are Peruanos ilustres ["Illustrious Peruvians"] (coll 2005) by Alejandro Neyra (1974- ); El inventario de las naves ["The Inventory of the Ships"] (coll 2006) by Alexis Iparraguirre (1974- ); Historias de ciencia ficción ["Science Fiction Stories"] (coll 2008), Horizontes de fantasía ["Horizons of Fantasy"] (coll 2010) and El otro engendro ["The Other Creature"] (coll 2012) by Carlos Saldívar (1982- ); Drei: Tres cuentos de necroficción ["Three: Three Necrofiction Stories"] (coll 2009) by Carlos Stagnaro Babbini (196?- ); En coma ["Comatose"] (coll 2009) by Percy Meza (1992- ); El polvo de los grandes ["The Great Ones' Dust"] (coll 2012) by Sebastián Esponda (1976- ); and El valle y otras historias fantásticas ["The Valley and other Fantastic Stories"] (coll 2012) by Yellina Pulliti (1980- ).
Further authors with sf stories to their names are: Alfredo Pita (1948- ), Eduardo Valdivia Sanz (1970- ), Carlos Yushimito (1977- ), Pedro Novoa (1974- ), Carlos Carrillo (1967- ) and William Guillén Padilla (1963- ). Added to these are writers who published online, like Rubén Mesías Cornejo (1973- ), Adriana Alarco de Zadra (1937- ), and Daniel Salvo – pseudonym of Julio Viccina (1967- ) – who published "The First Peruvian in Space", translated by Jose B Adolph, in The Apex Book of World SF (anth 2012) edited by Lavie Tidhar.
Certain Anthologies also stand out. Somos libres. Antología de literatura fantástica y ciencia ficción peruana ["We are Free: Anthology of Peruvian Fantastic Literature and Science Fiction"] (anth 1982) edited by Germán Atoche Intili was reissued online in 2012. In it are works by Adriana Alarco de Zadra, Carlos Calderón Fajardo, Leopoldo de Trazegnies Granda, Gonzalo del Rosario, Yeniva Fernández, Raquel Jodorowsky, Sarko Medina, Rubén Mesías Cornejo, Pedro Félix Novoa Castillo, Juan Rivera Saavedra, Carlos Enrique Saldivar, Daniel Salvo, Tanya Tynjälä, Gustavo Valcárcel Carnero and César Vallejo. Another notable anthology is Cuentos para sobrevivir al fin del mundo ["Stories for Surviving the End of the World"] (anth 2012) by Azul Editores. This volume includes Eduardo González Viaña, Carlos Calderón Fajardo, Miguel Ildefonso, Sandro Bossio, José Güich, Pedro Novoa, Daniel Abanto, Rodolfo Ybarra, Fernando Sarmiento, Susanne Noltenius, Pierre Castro, Daniel Salvo, Piero Montaldo, Melissa Patiño, Darío Carpio (1985- ), Christiane Félip Vidal (1950- ) and George Clarke (1969- ).
These days sf relies on the internet, which enables its diffusion via such Peruvian websites as Ciencia Ficción Perú ["SF Peru"] and Agujero Negro ["Black Hole"] (with help from former staff of Velero 25, a now-defunct webzine). As for printed SF Magazines, standouts include Argonautas ["Argonauts"], with four issues to date, and the brand-new Umbral: Revista peruana de literatura fantástica ["Threshold: Peruvian Magazine of Fantastic Literature"]. Independent publishers like Borrador Editores, Altazor, Casatomada and Estruendomudo have contributed to the spread of works by young authors.
It may be confidently asserted that Peru does indeed have a tradition of sf and the fantastic, and that its writers are shaping new narrative discourses and producing substantial changes in local modes of representation. [EHV/AB]
see also: Latin America.
- Daniel Salvo. "Panorama de la ciencia ficción en el Perú" ["A Panorama of Science Fiction in Peru"] (3 March 2004 El hablador) [see links below: mag/]
- Elton Honores. Mundos imposibles: Lo fantástico en la narrativa peruana ["Impossible Worlds: The Fantastic in Peruvian Narrative"] (Lima, Peru: Cuerpo de la Metáfora, 2010) [nonfiction: pb/]
- Elton Honores, editor. Lo fantástico en Hispanoamérica ["The Fantastic in Spanish America"] (Lima, Peru: Cuerpo de la Metáfora, 2011) [nonfiction: anth: pb/]
- Elton Honores. Narrativas del caos ["Narratives of Chaos"] (Lima, Peru: Cuerpo de la Metáfora, 2012) [nonfiction: pb/]
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