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Adolph, José B

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1933-2008) Peruvian playwright, author and short story author who worked in multiple genres but had a sizeable science fiction output. His most respected long work of sf is the novel Mañana las ratas ["Tomorrow, the Rats"] (1984). His shorter sf is scattered among anthologies rather than published in unified collections, in part because, although Adolph acknowledged himself an sf author, he insisted in interviews that sf was merely one of the many genres in which he worked.

Adolph was born into a Jewish family in Stuttgart, Germany. He emigrated with his family to Lima, Peru in 1938 and, even though decades later he returned to Germany in order to regain the citizenship that had been taken from him, he chose to become a Peruvian citizen in 1974. Adolph resided in Lima with the artist Delia Sara Revoredo Sedero, whose paintings were featured on several of his book covers.

A productive writer, Adolph published four plays, ten short story collections and six novels, one of which, De mujeres y heridas ["Women and Wounds"] (2000), is a single-volume trilogy. Some of his best early sf stories can be found in the volumes El retorno de Aladino ["The Return of Aladdin"] (coll 1968), Cuentos del relojero abominable ["The Abominable Watchmaker's Tales"] (coll 1973), and Mañana fuimos felices ["Tomorrow We Were Happy"] (coll 1975). More recently, Adolph has published sf on Internet sites such as Ciberayllu [see links below].

Much of Adolph's sf expresses a cynical, dark, though not humourless outlook on the human condition, with themes ranging from poverty, corruption, authority and Political violence to storytelling and the power of myth. Adolph's decades in journalism strengthened his sf by instilling in him a commitment to research, which he considered useful for conferring a touch of realism to fantastical texts.

Mañana, las ratas takes place in the Lima of 2034, when nation-states have ceded authority to a Supreme Council of global conglomerates. The titular "rats" are the developing world's poor and disenfranchised, who have been radicalized by the "cat-ox" (orthodox Catholics) and now threaten revolution. Written when Peru was in the early throes of the terrorist "Shining Path" guerilla movement, the novel is a critique of capitalism, Technology and Utopianism at the same time that it charts the classical stages of urban decay.

"El falsificador" ["The Falsifier"] (in Hasta que la muerte ["Until Death"] coll 1971) calls attention to the fictional potential inherent in historical accounts. The story opens with several pages transcribed from the chronicles of Pedro Cieza de León, a real sixteenth-century Spanish conqueror, before transitioning to a science-fictional reinterpretation of Christian myths and accepted histories of European/Indigenous contact in the New World.

Adolph's fiction has been reprinted throughout the Spanish-speaking world and has appeared in translation in a number of anthologies and textbooks in the US and Europe. [AB]

see also: Peru.

José Bernard Adolph

born Stuttgart, Germany: 21 February 1933

died Lima, Peru: 20 February 2008

works (selected)

about the author

  • Elton Honores. "El sujeto programado y la ciudad distópica en Mañana, las ratas." (2008 El Hablador #15) [see links below: mag/]
  • Elton Honores. "El otro mundo de José B. Adolph. Entrevista a Delia Revoredo Sedero" (18 January 2009 Ciberayllu web) [see links below: mag/]
  • Lucero De Vivanco. "Apocalipsis (post-bicentenario) en la ciudad de Lima: Representaciones de la 'modernidad' y la 'nación' en Mañana, las ratas de José B. Adolph." (36.71 Revista de Crítica Latinoamericana) [pp237-54: mag/]
  • Giancarlo Stagnaro. "La invención del futuro: Lima y la dimensión distópica en Mañana, las ratas de José B. Adolph." (78.238-8 Revista Iberoamericana) [pp147-61: mag/]


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