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Salvador, Tomás

Entry updated 14 July 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1921-1984) Spanish author of both mainstream work and sf. He published five sf novels, three collections and sixteen short stories. Most of these books were published in hardcover and had frequent reprints, showing that he was a popular writer.

As a teenager Salvador experienced the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side in Madrid although at the age of 20 he enlisted as a volunteer in the Blue Division, fighting for Nazi Germany on the Russian front for two years, where he was decorated twice. Upon his return to Spain, he joined the political police of the Franco regime, but with a personal commitment to literature. Thanks to his skills as a storyteller, Salvador was a hugely successful writer in the 1950s, when he won the most important prizes in Spanish literature; his novel Cuerda de presos ["Prisoners Rope"] (1953) won the City of Barcelona Prize and the National Prize for Literature in 1954, and was adapted as a movie. He was a voracious reader; he wrote crime, social, historical and sf novels, ran Editorial Marte in the 1970s and took advantage of his privileged position to praise the possibilities of sf in the face of opposition from the cultural establishment of that time.

His first sf novel was La nave ["The Ship"] (1959), which describes a Generation Starship whose crew members, centuries after their departure, have forgotten the meaning of their journey. Shimp, the only one who can read the ship's log, discovers the reality of this world, is punished and banished to the dark lower levels for his sins, becoming a legend after his tragic fate. This novel has been compared to Non-Stop by Brian W Aldiss, published a year earlier, but because it was not published in Spain until 1961, and Salvador could barely read English, plagiarism is ruled out. La nave is an excellent example of sociological speculation, as well as a deeply anti-racist novel (see Race in SF), full of symbolism and highly literary, that deserves to be known outside of Spain.

A few years later Salvador published Marsuf, el vagabundo del espacio ["Marsuf, the Space Wanderer"] (coll 1962), a compilation for children whose protagonist is an old, blind, drunk astronaut who tells epic space stories, in the style of Rhysling, the blind balladeer of Robert A Heinlein's "The Green Hills of Earth", although in reality the tales are a transcript of Homer. These adventures were continued in Nuevas aventuras de Marsuf ["New Adventures of Marsuf"] (coll 1971).

After a lapse of several years, Salvador reappeared in the sf field with three novels that make up the Martin Lord trilogy and describe a future in which the pop culture of the 1970s has spread to the 21st century: Y ... (1972), T (1973) and K(iller) (1974). They are ambitious and experimental novels that presented an array of sf themes – such as Overpopulation, urban gigantism, supercomputers, the perverse use of the Media Landscape or the recreation of a utopic past – within the frame of a mainstream approach; unfortunately they did not have commercial success. His last sf novel was Las siete preguntas ["Seven Questions"] (1981), in which he approaches the theme of the Messiah and the importance of language.

Tomás Salvador wrote deeply human novels in a highly literary style, with much more ambitious sf plots than was usual in the genre. He rarely published in anthologies, although he took part in the seminal Lo mejor de la ciencia ficción española ["Best of Spanish SF"] (1982) edited by Domingo Santos. He died prematurely at the age of sixty-four. [MV]

Tomás Salvador

born Villada (Palencia), Spain: 9 March 1921

died Barcelona, Spain: 22 June 1984



Martin Lord

  • Y ... (Barcelona, Spain: Plaza & Janés, 1972) [Martin Lord: hb/Álvaro]
  • T (Barcelona, Spain: Plaza & Janés, 1973) [Martin Lord: hb/C San Romá]
  • K(iller) (Barcelona, Spain: Plaza & Janés, 1974) [Martin Lord: hb/C San Romá]

individual titles

  • La nave ["The Ship"] (Barcelona, Spain: Destino, 1959) [hb/]
  • Dick Mileto ["Dick Mileto"] (Madrid, Spain: Doncel, 1967) [novelette: hb/]
  • Las siete preguntas ["Seven Questions"] (Barcelona, Spain: Plaza & Janés, 1981) [pb/Gracia]



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