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Fuentes, Carlos

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1928-2012) Mexican diplomat and author whose acerbic Magic Realism – a more worldly version of that idiom than found in the works of his coeval, Gabriel García Márquez (1928-2014) – featured in stories and novels from the 1950s on. From his first collection of short stories – Los días enmascarados ["The Masked Days"] (coll 1954; part trans Margaret Sayers Peden as Burnt Water, 1980) Fuentes made a foray into fantastic literature. In the same collection he included sf like "El que inventó la pólvora" ["The One Who Invented Gunpowder"], about a planet where Entropy seems to work faster, but this proves to be all a conspiracy of world industry to induce consumption. Constancia y otras novelas para virgenes (coll 1989; trans Thomas Christensen as Constancia; and Other Stories for Virgins coll 1990) is a series of complexly elaborate fables. In his last years he reunited his most famous fantastic short stories in one collection, Cuentos sobrenaturales ["Supernatural Short Stories"] (coll 2007), including short stories originally published in Los días enmascarados and Cantar de ciegos ["The Song of the Blind"] (coll 1964), and also adding three previously unpublished tales. Among these is a fine and ironic mixture of sf and Fantasy, "El robot sacramentado" ["The Sacrament Robot"]. A new generation of Robots, developed and programmed in different countries and having the idiosyncrasies of each of them, help God to find Adam and Eve. As a reward, they are all christened, receiving new names and human capacities.

Novels of genre interest (very little of Fuentes's work is in fact purely mimetic) include Aura (1962 chap; trans Lysander Kemp 1965 chap), a ghost story which incorporates elements of vampirism, like the much later Vlad (2010; trans Alejandro Branger and Ethan Shaskan Bumas 2012), which is a savage Satire of contemporary middle-class Mexico featuring the undead Vlad the Impaler (see Vampires), who has come to Mexico City in order to negotiate a property deal. Titles of more direct sf interest include La Cabeza de la Hidra (1978; trans Margaret Sayers Peden as The Hydra Head 1978), set just before the outbreak of World War Three in Mexico; Terra Nostra (1975; trans Margaret Sayers Peden 1976), a vast Fabulation about the entire Earth (though centred in an Alternate History Paris); Cristóbal nonato (1987; trans Alfred Mac Adam and Fuentes as Christopher Unborn 1989), a Near-Future lament – as Mexico and the world implode from accelerating Climate Change – for Mexico and the world narrated by a child still in the womb; La Silla del Águila (2002; trans Kristina Cordero as The Eagle's Throne 2006), a Satire set in a Near Future Mexico (the year is 2020) in which the United States has sabotaged Mexico's communications systems (in retaliation for Mexico's not taking the American line on an oil issue), forcing everyone to communicate by letters (the novel is itself epistolary); and La voluntad y la fortuna (2008; trans Edith Grossman as Destiny and Desire 2011), which is narrated posthumously by the severed head of one of its twinned protagonists, commingles myth (the "twins" who are in some sense incarnations of Castor and Pollux and/or Cain and Abel) and Near Future Politics, comprising in the end a culminating Equipoisally-thrusting vision of twenty-first Mexico. As from the beginning of his career, Fuentes's primary focus was is native land. [JC/MAFD]

Carlos Manuel Fuentes Macías

born Panama City, Panama: 11 November 1928

died Mexico City, Mexico: 15 May 2012

works (selected)

  • Los días enmascarados ["The Masked Days"] (Mexico City, Mexico: Editorial Novaro, 1954) [coll: pb/]
    • Burnt Water (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1980) [coll: part partial trans of the above by Margaret Sayers Peden: hb/]
  • Aura (Mexico, Mexico: Ediciones Era, 1962) [chap: hb/]
    • Aura (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1965) [chap: trans by Lysander Kemp of the above: hb/uncredited]
  • Cantar de ciegos ["The Song of the Blind"] (Mexico City, Mexico: Joaquín Mortiz, 1964) [coll: pb/]
  • Terra Nostra (Mexico City, Mexico: Joaquín Mortiz, 1975) [hb/]
    • Terra Nostra (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1976) [trans by Margaret Sayers Peden of the above: hb/Jacqueline Schuman]
  • La cabeza de la hidra (Mexico City, Mexico: Joaquín Mortiz, 1978) [hb/]
    • The Hydra Head (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1978) [trans by Margaret Sayers Peden of the above: hb/Honi Werner]
  • Cristóbal nonato (Mexico City, Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1987) [hb/]
    • Christopher Unborn (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1989) [trans by Alfred MacAdam and Fuentes of the above: hb/Alan L Bean]
  • Constancia y otras novelas para virgenes (Madrid, Spain: Mondadori España, 1989) [coll: hb/Barbara Griffiths]
  • Instinto de Inez (Mexico City, Mexico: Alfaguara, 2000) [hb/]
    • Inez (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002) [trans by Margaret Sayers Peden of the above: hb/Christoph van Sichem]
  • La Silla del Águila (Mexico City, Mexico: Alfaguara, 2002) [hb/]
    • The Eagle's Throne (London: Bloomsbury, 2006) [trans by Kristina Cordero of the above: hb/William Webb]
  • Cuentos sobrenaturales ["Supernatural Short Stories"] (Mexico City, Mexico: Alfaguara, 2007) [coll: pb/Leonel Sagahón]
  • La voluntad y la fortuna (Mexico City, Mexico: Alfaguara, 2008) [hb/]
    • Destiny and Desire (New York: Random House, 2011) [trans by Edith Grossman of the above: hb/Thomas Woodruff]
  • Vlad (Mexico City, Mexico: Alfaguara, 2010) [pb/José Ignacio Galván]
    • Vlad (Normal, Illinois: Dalkey Archive, 2012) [trans by Alejandro Branger and Ethan Shaskan Bumas of the above: hb/Nicholas Motte]

about the author

This listing is confined to works related to his sf or fantastic literature.

  • Anthony Ciccone. "The element of fantasy-reality in Carlos Fuentes shorter fiction" (Buffalo, New York: University of New York at Buffalo, 1973) [nonfiction: PhD dissertation: pb/]
  • Georgina García Gutiérrez. "Cristóbal Nonato: Profecía apocalíptica, experimentación lúdica, crítica certera" (July-August 1990 Cuadernos Americanos 4-22) [pp167-190: mag/]
  • Santiago Juan-Navarro. "En busca de la utopía: la novela como alegoría de la nación en Cristóbal Nonato de Carlos Fuentes" (1991-1992 Explicación de Textos Literarios 20.1) [pp24-46: mag/]
  • Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz. Entry in Biografías del Futuro: La ciencia ficción mexicana y sus autores ["Biographies from the Future: Mexican Science Fiction and Its Authors"] (Mexicali: Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, 2000) [nonfiction: anth: pp121-129: pb/]
  • Miguel López-Lozano. Utopian Dreams, Apocalyptic Nightmares: Globalization in recent Mexican and Chicano narrative (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2008) [nonfiction: pb/]
  • Rafael Olea Franco. En el reino fantástico de los aparecidos: Roa Bárcena, Fuentes y Pacheco ["In the Fantastic Realm of Ghosts: Roa Bárcena, Fuentes, and Pacheco"] (Mexico, El Colegio de México, 2004) [nonfiction: pb/]
  • Daniele A P Zaratin. "Carlos Fuentes e a literatura fantástica: Continuidades e revelações na novela Constancia" ["Carlos Fuentes and Fantastic Literature: Continuities and Revelations in the Novel Constancia"] (São Paulo, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, 2012) [nonfiction: Master's degree dissertation: pb/]


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