Dossier: Speculative Fiction
Latin American Speculative Fiction in LALT No. 6, selected by Alberto Chimal:
“Speculative fiction” is an imprecise term. Attributed to the American writer Robert A. Heinlein, as well as to various others, before and after, it was first used during a period between the late sixties and early seventies of the past century. At that time, he proposed its use to talk about an existing genre of literature, film, and popular culture in the United States: It was believed that it might serve as a more appropriate name for what was then called science fiction.
"Acceptance Speech of Romualdo Sánchez Galarraga for the National Prize for Literature of the Integrated Pan-Caribbean Republic (Year 2098)," short story by Yoss
"For many years, it was a courteous but, to tell the truth, not very sincere custom in our still young nation that in acts such as this, the individual honored with the highest award of our pan-Caribbean writing would start his speech expressing his infinite surprise at having been distinguished with such an honor. As if, for months beforehand, the identity of the awardee was not public, and at the same time as if, showing off in an exaggerated manner the grand modesty that should characterize a true intellectual loyal to the luminous ideals of Pan-Caribbeanism, he did not consider himself worthy of such an esteemed status."
When I was small, smaller than I am today, I had a friend I chatted with all the time. He didn’t know what I was; I don’t think he even knew how old I was. I think he thought I was twice his age. Eventually, he said he wanted to meet, but I couldn’t accept. Over time, he stopped talking to me: There are people who need to see, who need to touch, not just their lovers but also their friends, their world. Anyway: I appreciate your agreeing to chat via this medium. Should we start, or do you want to wait? I need you to let me know so I won’t make a fool of myself: My face is enough.
Accustomed to exercising military power, that afternoon Rachstad was strolling like a god in his cloudy gardens. He went along escorted by a group of anti-demographic agents that usually accompanied him on his rounds through “Reality.” “Reality” was a euphemism used by the soldiers and civil servants in the regime to refer to the unpoliced zones and the sites of tolerance where the local governments still hadn't closed the shackles; mournful zones where technology was scarce and that the regime maintained free of sanctions to serve their own interests.
She disliked him ever since he stood her up at the last minute with a group project during their first year of college. “I’m sick,” he said on the phone in a neutral tone that didn’t demand sympathy, and she offered to take responsibility for the paper. That night, while she was returning home in her mother’s car—the paper done and carefully copied on a flash drive—, she saw him walking down a business street with some goth chic, his hands in his pockets and his gaze fixed on some point in the distance. The girl looked like a vampire on stilts and moved her hands frantically as she talked; he, on the other hand, confined himself to nodding, his head at a slight angle, moving toward the darkness of the street.
Doctor An left in the early hours of the morning on a hipu bound for the heliport on the military base on the Perimeter. He didn’t sleep much that night. A secret mission would take him, over the course of the day, through the main cities of Iris, to discuss his discoveries with high-level officials and a hidden group of SaintRei scientists. He couldn’t stop coughing during the trip to the heliport. The hipu driver commented: it’s that time of year. He took out a little spray bottle to soothe his throat.
The orange trees will be heavy with fruits, and their flowers will fill the humid air of the western garden. A silky fog will cool the ends of the grass, of the herb grown from that meadow. The sun will always come out behind the almond tree and the branches of the oldest tree, a stocky ahuehuete, will extend first toward its rays, lengthening like a girl who wants to stretch. Around nine the garden will become populated with silhouettes. Some will greet each other. Others will be frightened by the falling of an orange, and they will run away laughing toward the shadow of other leaves. Some more will look toward the sea that, beneath the slope that elevates the western garden over the beach, will roar and will extend enough to climb up to the grayish blue of the sky.
Ecuador is a producer of science fiction in Latin America. I begin with this enthusiastic assertion, because despite the fact that Ecuador is a small country, its literary output exceeds two hundred titles per year. Science fiction seeks to occupy a small piece of this action, thanks to the writers that cultivate the genre; oftentimes, they do so hand in hand with fantasy. Still, how does one understand its development without placing it in perspective alongside the other nations of the continent?