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Arango, Ángel

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

Working name of Ángel José Arango Rodríguez (1926-2013), who was the last surviving and active author from what is considered the generation of founding fathers of modern sf in Cuba: Arango, Oscar Hurtado (1919-1977) and Miguel Collazo (1936-1999). These three authors published the three seminal works of the 1960s: Oscar Hurtado with his long poem La ciudad muerta de Korad ["The Dead City of Korad"] (1964), Miguel Collazo with El libro fantástico de Oaj ["The Fantastic Book of Oaj"] (1966), and Angel Árango, with his first collection of short stories ¿A dónde van los cefalomos? ["Where do the Cephalhoms Go?"] (coll 1964); whose title story would become the embryo of his later saga and most important contribution to the genre. It was from this collection that, many years later, Andrea L Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilan, editors of Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (anth 2003), selected "El cosmonauta" ["Cosmonaut"] as one of the best examples of Cuban sf.

Arango published two more sf collections in the 1960s: El planeta negro ["The Black Planet"] (coll 1966), and Robotomaquia ["Robotomachy"] (coll 1967). In the former appeared one of his most famous and reprinted short stories, "Un inexperado visitante" ["An Unexpected Visitor"], that tells the story of Jesus Christ as a myth created by the historical misinterpretation of a castaway Alien in Judea.

Arango did not win any relevant sf award in Cuba; however, he wrote one of the island's few sf sagas to run from the 1980s until the 2010s. This series currently comprises four books. The first instalment was Transparencia ["Transparency"] (1982), followed by Coyuntura ["Juncture"] (1984). In the 1990s, Arango published the third part, Sider ["Sider"] (1994), and in 2011, now living in Miami, he self-published La columna bífida ["Bifid Column"] (2011). Although all of these novels are related to the 1964 short story "¿A dónde van los cefalomos?", which thematically belongs to a more traditional sf that denounces the dangers of science, this saga and its author would become one of the strongholds of socialist realism á la cubana. Even though Arango's initial influences are from the US Golden Age (Bradbury, Sturgeon and Asimov), the arrival of the socialist revolution gave Arango access to other authors like the Soviets, widely published in Cuba in the 1970s and 1980s. The Revolution produced an ideological evolution in Arango's work. His ideological shift is attested in his novels, and especially in his essay "La joven ciencia-ficción cubana. (Un lustro dentro del concurso David)" ["Young Cuban SF (Five Years of David Awards)"] (23.41 1984 Unión), where he writes that the new generation of authors see themselves as carrying the torch of communist values in their stories.

Arango's saga likewise carries this torch. In a difficult balance between the epic classic hero and the ecumenical new socialist man, Arango's plots describe a universal scientific quest pursued by his individual characters. As in the best Soviet sf novels, there is no social conflict or real dramatic action. Although his four novels cannot be reduced to a single idea, the main one is that human Evolution defines the human race as an animal with a universal plan. These novels form a teleology of humanity; a humanity that creates with its will and desire a perfect path toward a glorious destiny. [JCTR]

Ángel José Arango Rodríguez

born Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: 25 March 1926

died Miami, Florida: 19 February 2013

works (selected)

  • ¿A dónde van los cefalomos? ["Where do the Cephalhoms Go?"] (Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: Cuadernos R., 1964) [coll: pb/]
  • El planeta negro ["The Black Planet"] (Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: Colección Dragón, Arte y Literatura, 1966) [coll: pb/]
  • Robotomaquia ["Robotomachy"] (Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: Ediciones Unión, 1967) [coll: pb/]
  • Transparencia ["Transparency"] (Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: Ediciones Unión, 1982) [pb/]
  • Coyuntura ["Conjuncture"] (Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: Ediciones Unión, 1984) [pb/]
  • Sider ["Sider"] (Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: Ediciones Unión, 1994) [pb/]
  • La columna bífida ["Bifid Column"] (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: RoseDog Books, 2011) [pb/]

nonfiction (selected)


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