Argentina

Tagged: International

In 1816, a few weeks before the declaration of Argentine independence, the country's first science fiction story, "Delirio" ["Delirium"], was published anonymously in the periodical La Prensa Argentina. This short story starts a broad tradition of science fiction in Argentine literature, with more than 50 published works in the nineteenth century. The most outstanding works of that century belong to the doctor and naturalist Edward L Holmberg (1852-1937), among them Viaje maravilloso del señor Nic Nac ["The Marvellous Voyage of Mr Nic Nac"] (1875) and "Horacio Kalibang o Los autómatas" ["Horacio Kalibang or The Automatons"] (1879 Álbum del Hogar). His short work was collected in Cuentos fantásticos ["Fantastic Tales"] (coll 1957).

The first decades of the twentieth century offer many examples of science fiction stories, of special interest being the work of Macedonio Fernández (1874-1952), the Uruguayan-born Horacio Quiroga (1878-1937), Roberto Arlt (1900-1942) and especially the short stories of the poet and storyteller Leopoldo Lugones (1874-1938). The indefinable work of Jorge Luis Borges often borders on unconventional sf; perhaps his biggest contribution to the genre was his prologue to the 1955 translation of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles (coll of linked stories 1950), the first volume published by Editorial Minotauro, the most prestigious science fiction publisher in Spanish. A centrepiece work of the period between the mid- and late twentieth century is the work of Adolfo Bioy Casares, in particular, La invención de Morel ["The Invention of Morel"] (1940), where the protagonist, a fugitive on a deserted Island, witnesses increasingly strange events. The creators of Lost (2004-2010) claimed to be inspired by this novel.

The magazine Más Allá ["Beyond"] (48 issues, 1953-1957) was the first science fiction publication with short stories from Argentine writers. The country's first Fandom began in its letters from readers. Between 1957 and 1959 the first of the El Eternauta ["The Eternaut"] Comics were published, with scripts by Héctor Germán Oesterheld (1919-1977) and artwork by Francisco Solano López (1928-2011). The comic, which recounts an Extraterrestrial Invasion of Buenos Aires, has had enormous influence on sf developed in Argentina up until the present day.

The second half of the 1960s saw a peak of activity with the publication of some Anthologies, such as Los argentinos en la Luna ["Argentines in the Moon"] (anth 1969) edited by Eduardo Goligorsky (1931-    ) and a brief series of books published by Minotauro, where Angélica Gorodischer published her first book of science fiction, Opus dos ["Opus Two"] (1967). The work of Eduardo Goligorsky, author of A la sombra de los bárbaros ["Under the Shadow of the Barbarians"] (coll 1977), is closer to conventional sf. He became one of the few Latin-American writers to publish in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – with "When the Birds Die" (November 1967 F&SF, trans Vernor Vinge), but his pioneering stories are no longer regarded as relevant to Argentine sf.

In the 1970s, the publication of science fiction books expanded in Argentina, although only a fraction of these were written by Argentine authors. The highlight of this decade is the work of Gorodischer, in particular the collection of stories Casta Luna Electrónica ["Chaste Electronic Moon"] (coll 1977) and the novel Trafalgar (1979). The best of Gorodischer is the 1983 Kalpa Imperial sequence (trans Ursula K Le Guin as Kalpa Imperial omni 2003), a collection of stories or fables about a non-existent Empire.

The first issue of the magazine El Péndulo ["Pendulum"] was published in 1979. Under the editorship of Marcial Souto (1947-    ), a new generation of Argentine writers such as Carlos Gardini (1948-    ), Elvio E Gandolfo (1947-    ) and Eduardo Abel Giménez (1954-    ) was presented to the public, along with avant-garde English-language sf. El Péndulo came out with great irregularity and the final editions, as books, were published in 1990 and 1991. The magazine had a great influence and stimulated the development of Argentine Fandom and the publication of non-commercial journals as Sinergia ["Synergy"], Cuásar ["Quasar"] (still being published), Nuevomundo ["New World"], Vórtice ["Vortex"] and Axxón, the first magazine to appear only in electronic E-Zine format (1989-current) and now published on the web. In this period the profile of sf in Argentina was defined as akin to the fantastic and surrealism and away from the classical themes of the genre.

Carlos Gardini is the most prominent writer today and his work is the most consolidated in the past thirty years. His first collections of stories, Mi cerebro animal ["My Animal Brain"] (coll 1983) and Primera línea ["First Line"] (coll 1983), demonstrate great adeptness with the conventions of Genre SF. His latest novel, Tríptico de Trinidad ["Triptych of Trinidad"] (2010), is close to weird fiction.

During the 1990s there was a significant reduction in the publication of sf works. There were some important books, generally with pessimistic visions, such as Anatomía humana ["Human Anatomy"] (1993) by Carlos Chernov (1953-    ), and Cruz diablo ["Vade Retro"] (1997) by Eduardo Blaustein. After the immediate consequences of the economic and political crisis of 2001/2002, sf has found a new vitality. El año del desierto ["The Year of the Desert"] (2005) by Pedro Mairal (1970-    ) and Un guión para Artkino ["A Script for Artkino"] (2009) by Rodolfo Fogwill (1941-2010) have extremely original visions of classic sf topics. The work of Alejandro Alonso (1970-    ), an emerging author, is also of interest. [LPe]

see also: Latin America.

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