Haywood Ferreira, Rachel. the Emergence of Latin American Science Fiction. Connecticut

By Brescia, Pablo | Romance Notes, September 2014 | Go to article overview

Haywood Ferreira, Rachel. the Emergence of Latin American Science Fiction. Connecticut


Brescia, Pablo, Romance Notes


Haywood Ferreira, Rachel. The Emergence of Latin American Science Fiction. Connecticut: Wesleyan UP, 2011. 304 pp.

In this book we witness Rachel Haywood Ferreira's strongest abilities as a scholar: her ample knowledge of diverse national literary traditions and texts, as she analyzes more than twenty-five novels and short stories from Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, as well as classics of American, English and German science fiction. She pays attention to the difficult paths of science fiction historiography, from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th centuries. We also appreciate her serious discussions on the role of science in national development and its influence on literary history, the impact of Darwin's theories on literary production and the cultural imagination, and the tension between technophilia and technophobia, among other matters. Haywood Ferreira's engagement with these issues makes her study an important contribution, not only to Latin American science fiction studies, but also to Latin American cultural studies and to world science fiction.

Working with what she calls the "pre-space" age, Haywood Ferreira makes a case for considering science fiction a "global genre" and emphasizes the need to insert Latin American science fiction production in it. On the other hand, she is keenly aware of the local circumstances that give the genre its Latin American "flavor": in the case of science fiction, many of the works analyzed show a particular inclination to get involved with political issues through a satirical bend. Drawing on some previously published material, she divides her book into four chapters. The first one, "Displacement in Space and Time: The Latin American Utopia and Dystopia," studies six 19th-century texts from countries with strong science fiction traditions--Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina-, asserting that readers will gain insight not only about the narrative motifs and themes (utopias, time travel, and the like) present in them, but also about the complex social and political forces that provided the cultural context that made it possible for these works to be published and read. As the author says: "The length of this chapter reflects the relative importance of the utopia in early Latin American science fiction as well as the length of the works discussed" (13).

The second chapter, "The Impact of Darwinism: Civilization and Barbarism Meet Evolution and Devolution," engages first with a recognized Argentine writer of the times, Leopoldo Lugones, and then with a group of authors dealing with apocalyptic narratives and narratives of evolution as related to time. …

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