A brief introduction to the peruvian science fiction
By Daniel Salvo
Science fiction is not a usual literary genre in Peru and other South American countries. But, there were and there are authors who diverged from the mainstream, and wrote novels and tales which could be considered science fiction.
It started with Lima de aquí a cien años (Lima in the next century), a novelette written by J.M. del Portillo in 1843. It is about a voyage into the future, from the year 1843 to 1943, when England was sunk under the seas and the city of Lima, capital city of Peru, is plenty of telegraphs and a “carriage to the moon” exists.
In 1910, due to the Halley Comet, the author Clemente Palma wrote El día trágico (The tragic day), descripting the possible effects of the comet on the surface of the Earth. In 1934, Clemente Palma wrote also the novel XYZ, about clones or copies of Hollywood actresses made of radium and egg´s albumine.
The decades of the 1960s and 1970s saw major activity on the science fiction side. The authors of this “Golden Age” were José B. Adolph, Juan Rivera Saavedra, Eugenio Alarco and Juan Manuel Estremadoyro. The most prominent member of this group was José B. Adolph (1931 -2008), who wrote many tales and novels of science fiction. His works were translated into many languages, and included in most of the anthologies dedicated to Latin American science fiction. His novel Mañana las ratas, (Tomorrow the rats) published in 1984, is a dystopia of a Peruvian near-future where religious groups start a rebellion against the official powers, ruling from a spatial station. La verdad sobre Dios y JBA (The truth about God and JBA), published in 2001 and Un ejército de locos (An army of madmen) in 2003, were novels about artificial intelligence, the rise of the Internet and the new shapes of religion.
Juan Rivera Saavedra published Cuentos sociales de ciencia ficción (Social science fiction tales) in 1976, with very short stories satiryzing racismo, the political power and the effects of new technology in our lives. Eugenio Alarco published La magia de los mundos (The magic of the worlds) in 1952 and Los mortales (The mortals) in 1966. Two spacemen are marooned on a celestial body. Thousands of years in the future, they will be resurrected by the humans of the future, a bucolic but advanced civilization.
Jose Manuel Estremadoyro choose the way of the pulp science fiction with his novels Glasskan – El planeta maravilloso (Glasskan – The marvellous planet) and its sequel Los homos y la Tierra. (The homos and Earth), both published in 1971. A bunch of earthlings are taken by the inhabitants of the planet Glasskan, who are more than pacific and are uncapable of defend themselves of the Korpons, pig-like beings who likes to eat glasskanian legs in barbecue. After that, the earthlings return to the Earth as adventurers to fight agains the crime.
In 1990, a very young author, Giancarlo Stagnaro wrote Hiperespacios- Hyperspaces, a space-opera which happens in a very far future, when the mankind has colonized many worlds but has many enemies too.
In the beginning of the XXI century, with the help of the internet, most of the fans of science fiction starts to look for more information and produce it. In 2002, the site “Ciencia Ficción Perú” (http://espanol.geocities.com/cifiper2002) started its activities, and soon more people interested in science fiction were in contact. “Velero 25” (http://www.velero25.net), another and most interesting site devoted to science fiction, re-started activities in 2003. The same team who edits Velero25 (Daniel Mejía, Victor Pretell, Luis Bolaños and Isaac Robles) published the first fanzine of science fiction in Peru, Agujero negro – Black hole in 1999.
Many people send tales to be published in both sites, and in others trough the World (the argentinian site Axxon (http://www.axxon.com.ar) offers the most diverse quantity and quality of tales of science fiction, from Latin America and Spain).
Nowadays, new authors are publishing science fiction novels and stories. Enrique Prochazka started an interesting career as a writer with a novel and two volumen of tales (Un único desierto- An only desert 1997, Casa- House 2004, Cuarenta sílabas y catorce palabras – Forty syllables, fourteen words 2005), with basis in philosophy and exact sciences. Jose Guich Rodriguez, (El mascarón de proa – The figure head 2006 , Año sabático – Sabbatical year 2000; Los espectros nacionales - The national ghosts 2008) take both influences in the fantasy and science fiction, specially of the TV series The twilight zone . Jose Donayre Hoefken published La fabulosa máquina del sueño – The fabulous dream machine in 1999, next to the slipstream than the science fiction. In a adventurous, tolkenian space-opera way, we have Los cristales de Vuhran - Crystals of Vuhran (2005) de Ivan Bolaños Gomero, the first novel of a projected trilogy. The civilization begins again in another planet. In 2006, the novel Rito de paso – Rite of passage de Victor Coral offered a vision of a polluted world, where some human feelings, like love, are prohibited.
On the femenine side, there are at least three authors: Adriana Alarco de Zadra, who wrote tales for children, theater and short science fiction, published in websites like “Bewildering stories”. Tanya Tynjala is the author of La ciudad de los nictálopes – City of nyctalopes (2003), a future fable about a winged girl against an automatized city. And the young Yelinna Pulliti Carrasco, who has published some tales in websites like Axxon.
In 2004, Pablo Nicoli Segura published Aventuras de dos arequipeños en época de Cristo – Adventures of two citizens of Arequipa in the times of Christ. Two peruvians from Arequipa travel in time and try to avoid the death of Christ.
In 2006, Carlos Enrique Saldivar became editor of the magazine Argonautas – Argonauts, devoted to the science fiction, fantasy and horror. The magazine publish tales and poems of authors from Peru, and its fourth number is pending of publication.
To conclude this article, the most recent publications (in paper) in the field of science fiction in Peru are Los espectros nacionales – The national ghosts by Jose Guich Rodriguez (2008), 999 palabras para el planeta Tierra – 999 Words for planet Earth of Enrique Congrains Martin (2008) and Historias de ciencia ficción - Tales of science fiction by Carlos Enrique Saldívar, (2008.).
The year 2009 started with the re-edition of the novel El milagro de los milagros – The miracle of miracles, written by Zozimo Roberto Morillo, that was published by first time in 2005. It is based on a mathematician´s speculations and procedures that could prove the existence of God himself.