Ecuador

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To describe what is being done in the field of science fiction in Ecuador one must consider the early Fantasy literature, then the Scientific Romances of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, continuing to Science Fiction in the present.

The roots of science fiction in Ecuador are in Utopian texts written after the arrival of the Spanish in America. In these works myth is mixed with fantasy. The myths of El Dorado, where there are perfect and idyllic cities with buildings made of gold, and the Garden of Eden, are well described in some of the writings of the colonial chroniclers, such as Antonio de León Pinelo's book El Paraíso en el Nuevo Mundo ["Paradise in the New World"] (1650).

The Fantasy component can be found in two stories by Juan Montalvo (under the influence of European Romanticism): "Gaspar Blondín" ["Gaspar Blondín"] (1848 El Cosmopolita) and "Las ruinas" ["The Ruins"] (1866 El Cosmopolita), both published in the newspaper El Cosmopolita ["The Cosmopolitan"]. It can also be found in the short novel by Francisco Salazar Arboleda, El hombre de las ruinas, leyenda fundada en sucesos verdaderos acaecidos en el terremoto de 1868 ["The Man of the Ruins, A Legend Based on True Events that Occurred in the Earthquake of 1868"] (1869), about a fantastic encounter with the Devil during the Ecuador quake in August 1868.

However, the antecedents of Ecuadorian science fiction are in Scientific Romances and Fantastic-Voyage novels and short stories written by Francisco Campos Coello. The first Ecuadorian scientific romance/science fiction novel is La Receta ["The Recipe"] (1893), about a future Guayaquil in 1992, recognized by a time traveller (see Time Travel) who after drinking a formula, wakes up in a cosmopolitan city changed by the work of a pioneering man of science (see Sleeper Awakes). It follows the fantasy book Narraciones fantásticas ["Fantastic Tales]" (coll 1894), first published as a series of episodes in the magazine Guayaquil. In the foreword of this book, the editors state that the work of Campos could be signed by Jules Verne, recognizing that the Narraciones fantásticas ["Fantastic Tales"] are in the style of the French author. This book contains such stories as "Viaje alrededor del mundo en 24 horas" ["Journey around the World in 24 Hours"], "Fata Morgana" ["Fata Morgana"] and "La semana de los 3 jueves" ["The Week of the Three Thursdays"]. Another novel by this author, serialized in the magazine Guayaquil Artístico ["Artistic Guayaquil"] and apparently unfinished, is Viaje a Saturno ["Journey to Saturn"] (1901) about an encounter between a Scientist and an Alien who invites him to visit his planet (see Outer Planets). Following Verne's vein, another author in Guayaquil, Alberto Arias Sánchez, published Ratos de Ocio ["Moments of Leisure"] (coll 1896) in which the story, "Un viaje a prueba" ["A Test Trip"] appears. The story deals with an illusory trip to the Moon in a ship that looks like a condor (invented by an American engineer), in which an Ecuadorian participates.

Juan León Mera, under the pseudonym Pepe Tijeras, also signed some humorous stories involving concerns about science and Technology. He created a character named Doctor Moscorrofio in the stories "Aventuras de una pulga contadas por ella misma" ["Adventures of a Flea told by Herself"], "El médico de la muerte" ["The Doctor of Death"] and "Desde el infierno" ["From Hell"], written in the late nineteenth century in literary magazines and assembled in Tijeretazos y Plumadas ["Snips and Feathers"] (coll 1903). Moscorrofio is an adventurous Scientist who in the various stories invents a hearing aid to listen to fleas, performs a head transplant, and negotiates for his life in hell.

In the early twentieth century another writer, Manuel Gallegos Naranjo, published Guayaquil novela fantástica ["Guayaquil, A Fantasy Novel"] (1901), which portrays the city of Guayaquil of the year 2000 – named in the novel as "Bello Edén" ["Beautiful Eden"]. A mixture of myth and Disaster novel, it tells the story of a family whose son becomes the President of the country, who orchestrates public works, which then collapse due to an earthquake that sinks the city (see Disaster).

In Quito, another author, Abelardo Iturralde, published Dos vueltas en una alrededor del mundo: un viaje imaginario en sentido opuesto al movimiento de rotación ["Two Voyages Around the World in One: An Imaginary Trip in the Direction Opposite to Earth's Rotation"] (1908), in which a kind of imaginary trip around the world is made by an omniscient traveller in order to show the immensity of the natural world and that created by man.

A number of sf Anthologies in Latin America include "La doble y única mujer" ["The Double and Single Woman"] the first short Ecuadorian science fiction story of the twentieth century. This is by one of the most important authors of Ecuadorian literature, Pablo Palacio, and appears in his book Un hombre muerto a puntapiés ["A Man Kicked to Death"] (coll 1927); it features a Siamese twin who talks about her monstrous body and nature. Palacio, also an essayist and journalist, published in the weekly Cartel ["Cartel"] a political text that is also anticipatory in nature: "Comentario del año 1957" ["Commentary on the Year 1957"] (1932 Cartel), where he meditates about certain incidents which occurred during Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno's administration (1916-1920). It should be noted that other nineteenth-century texts also attempted to predict the future. Some are Utopian, such as the essay "Bosquejo de la Europa y de la América en 1900" ["Sketch of Europe and the America in 1900"] (1830) by Fray Vicente Solano.

The novel Los monos enloquecidos ["Crazed Monkeys"] (1951) by José de la Cuadra is considered by some to be another text that anticipates current Ecuadorian science fiction and fantasy novels. Although unfinished, it is a somewhat fantastic adventure story about journeys, experience and knowledge. The central character, motivated by a sorcerer, must find a fabulous treasure in the jungle. To do this he must train monkeys as symbols of new humanity (see Apes as Human), because they, by virtue of having innocent hands, can reach the treasure.

Juan Viteri Durand is considered to be the first Ecuadorian author interested in modern science fiction. In Chile he published Zarkistán ["Zarkistan"] (1952), a short novel introducing the topic of Telepathy mixed with metaphysical questions in a story about contact with Extraterrestrials (see First Contact). This did not appear in Ecuador until 1979.

Strictly speaking, it can be said that science fiction in Ecuador began in the 1970s. The work of Carlos Béjar Portilla may be the clearest example of Genre SF writing. Three works make references to future worlds: Simón el mago ["Simon the Magician"] (1970), Osa mayor ["Ursa Major"] (1970) and Samballah ["Samballah"] (1971). They are stories about mining in outer space, the relationship with Computers and Robots, experimentation with genes (see Genetic Engineering), or societies where humans live with other Extraterrestrial beings.

In the 1980s, Bruno Stornaiolo appeared on the scene and ventured into the genre with Réquiem por el dinosaurio o Mingherlino'92 ["Requiem for the Dinosaur or Mingherlino'92"] (1982). This futuristic novel portrays Quito in 2092, when overcrowding threatens human existence (see Overpopulation). To fix this problem the solution is to change man genetically, reducing him in size (see Miniaturization; Great and Small). The novel tries to increase awareness about the human condition. Another author who should be mentioned is Nicholas Kingman with Dioses, semidioses y astronautas ["Gods, Demigods and Astronauts"] (1982), a novel about an immortal man (see Immortality) in a poor village who has the ability to heal. His work is used by certain individuals to enrich themselves. This immortal has had contact with extraterrestrials, but feels dissatisfied because the mission of salvation with which he has been entrusted has been misunderstood, leading to his own sacrifice. Previously he had helped his nephews, a pair of restless rural Scientists to go away to the planet called "Frías" which they had discovered, to reach the Alien race, which gave him the secret for saving lives.

Also in the 1980s, Abdón Ubidia published his tales Divertinventos o Libro de fantasías y utopías ["Divertinventions or Book of Fantasies and Utopias"] (coll 1989). In this book the theme is a time in which Rejuvenation technologies, image management, manufactured reality and experiments with books, etc., are predominant. It was followed by a second volume of short stories, El palacio de los espejos ["The Palace of Mirrors"] (coll 1996), whose concerns include animal Telepathy, Robots, Clones and memory. A third volume of stories in the genres of fantasy and science fiction was La escala humana ["The Human Scale"] (coll 2009), dealing with the human being and Virtual Reality.

In the 1990s further writers deserve consideration, for example, Ugo Stornaiolo who publishes Crónicas del siglo 21 ["Chronicles of the 21st Century"] (1990) at the beginning of this period. The underlying concern in this novel is the survival of a family living in outer space in a time when humans have been able to extend their life expectancy.

Santiago Páez is another solid Ecuadorian writer who has written science fiction since the 1990s. Profundo en la galaxia ["Deep in the Galaxy"] (coll 1994) was his first book of short stories, featuring Time Travel, Utopian worlds, mythical indigenous worlds, and elements of the crime novel (see Crime and Punishment). While the stories deal with the Technologies that allow the changing of reality or Time Travel, the author focuses on the human dimension inherent in history and society. Another Páez book is Shamanes y Reyes ["Shamans and Kings"] (1999) about human beings who have moved to space: in the story, two brothers vie with one another to assert hegemony. Also worthy of mention is Crónicas del breve reino ["Chronicles of the Brief Kingdom"] (2006), a tetralogical novel that portrays 140 years of an imaginary Ecuador: although the novel begins in the early twentieth century, it also allows the reader to travel through the decade of the 1950s, where a group of travellers is committed to founding the settlement of the future capital of Ecuador, and through the 1990s, where adventurers seek treasures, until the Near Future of the year 2040, when Quito has been taken by mercenaries, and the country has been split apart. More recently he published Ecuatox ["Ecuatox"] (2013), an sf story with Satirical political intentions (see Politics).

Also significant is the work of Adolfo Macias Huerta, who writes fantasy mixed with science fiction (see Science Fantasy). La memoria de Midril ["Midril's Memory"] (coll 1994) is a book of stories about an imaginary culture, Mald, where characters seek to resolve their uncertain fates. This author also published the novel Laberinto junto al mar ["Seaside Labyrinth"] (2001) showing a decaying Quito, whose characters must voluntarily undergo aseptic death. Equally remarkable is La vida oculta ["Hidden Life"] (2009), about a pair of characters addicted to a Drug provided by the State, who must try to escape from their lives.

Also of note is Jorge Dávila Vásquez with Cuentos breves y fantásticos ["Short and Fantastic Stories"] (coll 1994) where, owing to the lack of temporal, spatial or other concrete references, the characters seem to live in the realm of myth.

In the same decade Fernando Naranjo Espinosa made his debut with La era del asombro ["The Age of Wonder"] (1995), a novel about Guayaquil in the 24th century and the next collision of the Earth with the Comet Mefistos (see Disaster). He also wrote Cuídate de los coriolis de agosto ["Beware of the Coriolis of August"] (coll 2006), a book of stories about the Technologies that allow Time Travel and interplanetary Space Flight, the maturation of a girl in the Post-Holocaust world, the possibility of Communication with other beings, and also the conflict in human Identity.

Leonardo Wild's work is also significant in the contemporary Ecuadoran sf. His work mixes science fiction, thriller, and Fantasy adventure formats with traces of detective fiction. His two early sf works, Unemotion ["Unemotion"] (1996) and Die Insel die es nie gab ["The Island that Never Was"] (1997), were published in Germany at the request of publishers there. Then he published Orquídea negra o el factor vida ["Black Orchid or Life Factor"] (1999) and Cotopaxi, alerta roja ["Cotopaxi, Red Alert"] (2006). Orquídea negra o el factor vida ["Black Orchid or Life Factor"] is the story of a galactic reporter who narrates how a bomb dropped from a Spaceship destroys a planet, and how some of its survivors try to find another planet to rebuild their society. Cotopaxi, alerta roja ["Cotopaxi, Red Alert"] is a scientific novel about the eruption of the volcano Cotopaxi, its monitoring and how political interests can affect people's lives. More recently Wild published Yo Artificial ["I, Artificial"] (2013), which is the Spanish translation of Unemotion ["Unemotion"], published originally in Germany, about the dying of the Earth due to global warming (see Climate Change) and socio-political problems. The story centres on the construction of a Biosphere Laboratory near Quito, in which a group of Scientists struggle to implement a liberation project for society, which is being controlled by mega-corporations who deal in natural disaster. The idea is to build Robot workers with which to penetrate such corporations.

One of the most representative female Ecuadorian writers, Alicia Yánez Cossío, also ventured into sf with a book of short stories, El beso y otras fricciones ["The Kiss and Other Frictions"] (coll 1999). Her theme is Technology and dehumanization in a future world; the characters try to use love to find a formula for survival.

In the twenty-first century there is growing interest in sf in Ecuador, not only by the aforementioned writers but also by a new generation of young people.

José Daniel Santibáñez published Ejecútese el mañana ["The Execution of Tomorrow"] (2000) where, in homage to the thriller, he shows a future world where everything is a commodity, where there is bigotry, and mercenaries accumulate money by carrying out killings. The murder of the daughter of the President of the Republic triggers a series of survival situations. Another important work is Imaginario para reinventar el tiempo ["Imaginary Reinvention of Time"] (coll 2001) by Miguel Donoso Gutiérrez. This is a collection of short stories whose theme is the postmodern world populated by Technologies and simulacra or Avatars.

One of the most cited authors of the new generation of Ecuadorian sf writers is Ney Yépez Cortés. His first two books of stories, Mundos abiertos ["Open Worlds"] (coll 2001) and Historias ocultas ["Hidden Stories"] (coll 2003), are concerned with mythical and fantastic topics mixed with esotericism. Two other novels, Las sombras de la casa Mitre ["The Shadows of the House of Mitre"] (2006) and Árbol de brujas ["Witch Tree"] (2009), show the paranormal and the fantastic in the work of a researcher with extrasensory powers (see ESP; Psi Powers) who must face an evil being. In Crónicas intraterrestres en la Cueva de los Tayos ["Intraterrestial Chronicles in the Tayos Caves"] (2010), Yépez takes the issue of Underground beings inside the Earth and their advanced civilization (see Hollow Earth).

An interesting sf play is Mickey Mouse a gogó ["Mickey Mouse a Go-Go"] (2001) by Paul Puma. This has been presented internationally and is about a Clone in the year 2100 who tries to escape from a society that changes technology into garbage. Another novel is Edgar Falconí Palacios Jr.'s, Euro boy ["Euro Boy"] (2001), about a man of the future in 2030, who makes a trip to the past (see Time Travel) to become aware of his life.

Another solid author is Jorge Valentín Miño. He ventured into sf with the novel Crayón púrpura ["Purple Crayon"] (2002), chronicling the struggle of angels, humans and other beings when the last eclipse happens at the end of the twentieth century. He has published two books of short stories, Begonias en el campo de Marte ["Begonias in the Field of Mars"] (coll 2005) and Identidad ["Identity"] (coll 2012). He is one of the most anthologized writers internationally, owing to the quality of his stories and the Awards he has received. This writer also regularly publishes stories independently in his weblogs.

Julio César Vizuete contributed Verde, verde ["Green, Green"] (2003) to Ecuadorian sf. This novel, Ecological in tone, shows the struggle of a group of green warriors who denounce the impact of Technology and exploitation on coastal areas of Ecuador. Maximiliano Ortega Vintimilla's El hombre que pintaba mariposas muertas ["The Man Who Painted Dead Butterflies"] (coll 2004) contains fantastic stories about extra-dimensional characters, hallucinations, and ghostly stories linking the present and the future. He also wrote El arcoíris del tiempo ["The Time Rainbow"] (2010), about the manipulation of Time and dehumanization on Earth.

In the field of epic Fantasy adventure and science fiction, another young writer is Catalina Miranda P. with Khardia, sacerdotes y demonios de la Atlántida ["Khardia, Priests and Demons of Atlantis"] (2005) and La estrella roja ["The Red Star"] (2009). In the first we go back to the City of Atlantis, threatened by the forces of evil and the struggle of a group of priests who must confront the event using only their wisdom. In the second, a mining exploration Spaceship traveling to Orion is diverted towards a different nebula in search of life. Miranda's work is oriented more to children and young people, at whom the Ecuadorian publishers have begun to target such works.

Also of note are two apocalyptic Disaster novels about Guayaquil (without necessarily being sf in the strictest sense, but having the flavour of the genre): Río de sombras ["River of Shadows"] (2003) by Jorge Velasco Mackenzie and El libro flotante de Caytran Dölphin ["The Floating Book of Caytran Dölphin"] (2006) by Leonardo Valencia. Velasco's novel shows the city of Guayaquil close to being destroyed by natural forces, a situation that helps the main character to find himself when, exploring some mangroves, he discovers a fantastic town within. In Valencia's novel, Guayaquil has been flooded and nearly destroyed; this leads his characters to write stories, emulating a fragmentary book that has survived. This work is about books and memory; in addition, it is Interactive Fiction, forcing the reader to go online [see links below].

In recent years a new handful of writers have shown aesthetic literary intentions in science fiction: Pedro Artieda Santa Cruz with La última pared roja ["The Last Red Wall"] (2008) which tells the story of three characters who live in a futuristic Underground City since the air of Earth has deteriorated; Renato Gudiño with El Edén de la tenue luz ["The Eden of Dim Light"] (2009), about the possible destruction of Earth; Yvonne Zúñiga with Casi mágica, relato fantástico ["Almost Magical, a Fantastic Story"] (2009) about the pursuit of happiness in another Dimension; Leonardo Vivar Ayora with La rebelión del silicio ["Silicon Rebellion"] (coll 2010), which is a collection of Robot stories mixed with the mystical, set in the Andes; María Fernanda Pasaguay with Ondisplay 2.0 ["Ondisplay 2.0"] (2010), a novel about a love affair through Virtual Reality Communication in 2017; Henry Bäx (pseudonym of Galo B. Silva) with El último Siloíta ["The Last Siloíta"] (2010) and El inventor de sueños, relatos de ciencia ficción ["The Inventor of Dreams, Science Fiction Stories"] (coll 2011), both about Technologies, improving the quality of life and, especially, the possibility of begetting life; José Carranza Carrillo with El clonado ["The Cloned One"] (2011) which examines issues surrounding the dilemma of human Cloning; Mariana Falconí Samaniego with Destino final: Orión ["Final Destination: Orion"] (2012) which states that angels are Aliens; Christian Valencia with Caos ["Chaos"] (2012) about some Computer hackers [see also under links below]; José Eduardo Villacís Mejía with Unvral, la llave del Universo ["Unvral, the Key of the Universe"] (2012), which aims to respond in a novel way to the mysteries of American origins; Carlos Mendoza with Angeluz, el pacto del solitario ["Angeluz, the Pact of the Solitary Man"] (2013), about a young man who finds a creature that takes him to a more hopeful world; Leonardo Vivar Ayora again with Fauna Cuántica ["Quantum Fauna"] (2012), a metaphor of the origin of the universe through a fantastic animal who sees humans as destroyers of the cosmic order; Andrés Paredes con Ciudad Diamantina: El Tatuador ["Diamantina City: The Tattooist"] (2013), about an inventor who crosses hyperreality to go to another world (see Dimensions); and Portilla Roberto Cardenas with León, la historia de un guerrero ["Leon, The Story of a Warrior"] (2013), a story of a man trying to stop a War between the human race and otherworldly beings.

The production of science fiction Comics deserves a special mention. Prior to his work as writer, Fernando Naranjo Espinosa was known in this field. One of the first Ecuadorian Genre SF comic books is his Quil, la chica del futuro ["Quil, the Girl of the Future"] (1985), first published in 40 instalments in the Guayaquil newspaper El Meridiano ["The Meridian"]. José Daniel Santibáñez also excels in the world of contemporary Comics and Graphic Novels in Ecuador. He first published a graphic series, "Ecuador, Siglo 21" ["Ecuador, 21st Century"] (1985), likewise in the Meridiano; and then a Comic magazine entitled Ficciónica ["Fictionics"] (1986). His work Cómic Book ["Comic Book"] (graph coll 2008) is a book containing 27 graphic stories of science fiction and crime (see Crime and Punishment), which merge cowboys, Time Travellers and various Monsters. Eduardo Villacis Pástor is another science fiction graphic artist, who narrates through the medium of an art installation entitled "El espejo humeante" ["The Smoking Mirror"] (2007), also featuring a catalogue with the same title. The work in question is a fictional museum that gathers the "evidence" of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to America and how the Aztecs considered him a immigrant from a world that they will then colonize: Old Europe, which will thus be subject to changes and eradication of civilizations, and will be the location where the new Aztec empire is to be founded. Villacís Pástor has another sci-fi art installation, with its own catalogue, entitled "Pretéritos futuros" ["Future Preterites"] (2007), which presents the future of Ecuador, its cultures and politics. Santiago Páez also ventured into the Comic with Angelus Hostis ["Angelus Hostis"] (graph 2007), coauthored with Rafael Carrasco Vintimilla. This comic portrays the city of Cuenca in 2120 where, after a series of crimes, some detectives try to discover the criminals (see Crime and Punishment) and find winged beings and hybrid beings called Androtronics. Also, graphic artist Rafael Carrasco Vintimilla drew Wandom 1.0 y la Galaxia Perdida ["Wandom 1.0 and the Lost Galaxy"] (graph 2013), available online [see links below].

Finally, mention should be made of some authors who have published thoughtful and theoretical texts on Ecuadorian science fiction. Leonardo Wild, in his article, "Las categorías de la ciencia ficción" ["The Categories of Science Fiction"] (1997) – republished in the journal Qubit (August 2008, #37) – was one of the first to reflect on the literature of this type, influenced by the thought of Isaac Asimov. Santiago Páez is another Ecuadorian writer who reflects and offers a more local definition in his article "Definiendo la ciencia ficción" ["Defining Science Fiction"] (August 2007 Anaconda, cultura y arte), also taking into account the work of Asimov. However, in another article, "Caminos para la literatura fantástica en nuestro país" ["Routes to Fantasy Literature in Our Country"] (1 August 2008 Qubit) [see references below], he criticizes those who are considered to be science fiction writers in Ecuador, saying that what they write should not be considered within the genre of science fiction. Equally important is Fernando Balseca's essay, "Ciencia ficción en los Andes Ecuatorianos" ["Science Fiction in the Ecuadorian Andes"] (in Memorias de JALLA Tucumán 1995, anth 1995, ed R J Kaliman) [see further reading below], which attempts to clarify the place of science fiction within the national literary tradition.

Further references to works of fantasy and science fiction in Ecuador can be found by authors such as: Rojas (1948), Barrera (1960), Barriga y Barriga (1980), Coll (1992), Donoso Pareja (2002), Ubidia (2006), Alemán (2007), Buendía (2012), Rodrigo Mendizábal (2013) and Rodríguez Pappe (2013) – as listed under further reading below.

In conclusion, it can be seen that science fiction in Ecuador has a significant history, although there is not a strong tradition. There is a vast literary universe in Ecuador covering other topics and genres, and the interest of Ecuadorian writers in writing science fiction continues to increase. [IRM]

see also: Latin America.

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