October 31, 2020

Light at the end of the outbreak | Babelia


The world, as Margaret Atwood often says and would subscribe to Stefan Zweig, can change at any time. And in early March, it did. To understand what was happening – the assault on supermarkets, the lack of democratic definition, the future new normality -, for once, self-fiction – so in vogue and apparently totalitarian in the pre-CV era – was little more than wet paper. Something that seemed to have been written from another world and for another world, the mirage to which the new mirage of disinfectant masks, gloves and gels replaced. Hence, the fantastic, including any classic that dared to venture into its untamed territory, became, as soon as the pandemic erupted, a possible map or, at least, a place of comfort: it contained clues about what to feel when faced with uncertainty , for the first time in a long time, truly apocalyptic.

Cover of the anthology 'Broken Stars', by Ken Liu.
Cover of the anthology ‘Broken Stars’, by Ken Liu.

Knowing that everything that is pointed out in the present can serve in the future, and at the same time, do not stop radiographing that same present, the most remarkable thing about the return of the genre to bookstores, it has not been lowered to give any flywheel in search for hit of the moment. Yes, has been reissued The eyes of darkness, by Dean Koontz (RBA), instrumental substitute for the enormous Apocalypse by Stephen King (Plaza & Janés), because it hit the spot in 1984 or, rather, because reality seems to have been inspired by it – it is the novel in which a virus that causes deadly pneumonia escapes from a laboratory in Wuhan and infects the entire world. But, for the moment, nothing else. The parallel story of the fantastic runs its course exactly where it left off. A point in which, at the national level, industry and talent grows, and at the international level, China rules.

A good example of the latter is that, at the end of the month, Runes publishes Broken stars, a witch anthology that allows us to know how the genre is expanding in China, treating classical themes from points of view, closer, for obvious reasons, to Soviet science fiction than to Western science fiction. A Soviet science fiction tinged with an orientalism marked by the North American. Contains Broken stars, collection by Ken Liu, the star, with Cixin Liu (The problem of the three bodies), from the fantastic Asiatic, stories by up to 14 authors –among them, Cixin Liu himself, and others just as prominent, such as Anna Wu, Tang Fei, Xia Jia and Cheng Jingbo–, which offer from an alternative Chinese history to satire with aspect of space opera, space travel – science fiction hard– And till cyberpunk. The volume also includes three very interesting essays on the reason for the rise of the genre in China.

Cover of 'La musa fingida', by Max Besora.
Cover of ‘La musa fingida’, by Max Besora.

On the other hand, there are three examples this month of the extent to which the fantastic Spaniard is renewing himself and struggling to show the absurdity of contemporary society. We will start with the most intelligent pastiche pulp which is much more than a pastiche pulp, it is high and playful literature, The pretended muse, by Max Besora (Orciny Press), a Quentin Tarantino who would have read James Joyce more than necessary and dared to take him to the field of grindhouse bizarre, one in which metafiction and mutant hamsters coexist. In a similar vein, a member of the mysterious Juan de Madre Collective, responsible for the existentialists as well as pulp The unusual meeting of the nine Ricardo Zacarías and The barber and the superman, Manuela Buriel, I know disintegrates and offers Fierce animals (Aristas Martínez), the awakening of the consciousness of class (and species) of the adolescent Arcas, who demands a new unsubmissive Earth.

One thing the last of the national novelties have in common with the main of the international ones: they give back to the idea of ​​the city. In the case of Nomadic city, flock misery (Unusual), by Pablo Loperena, the idea of ​​that entity with streets in which we store ourselves, which we call a city, absorbs all our energy, because the novel is built around the great city-harvester and herd-misery binomial, that is to say , those who are exploited in the name of fierce capitalism. The opposite occurs in the first installment of a new trilogy, the Big Cities trilogy, from Hugo’s three-time winner for best novel, N. K. Jemisin. In The city that united us (Nova), New York City breathes through its protagonists – a graduate student, the director of an art gallery, a politician – who are capable of hearing voices that come from far away in time, because Through them the ancient soul of the city manifests itself, evidently claiming another place.

Cover of 'The Southern Book Cub's Guide To Slaying Vampires' by Grady Hendrix.
Cover of ‘The Southern Book Cub’s Guide To Slaying Vampires’ by Grady Hendrix.

And as a very tasty advance of what will come –because the rights already have a Spanish publisher–, a look at the imminent The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires -something like The Vampire Slayer Guide of the South Reading Club–, by Grady Hendrix, a hilarious cross between Fried Green Tomatoes, Desperate women and Dracula. That is to say, once upon a time there was a very rich suburb in which, from time to time, housewives held a book club, in which they used to talk about the romance and black novels they read –although mostly gossip was told–, until one day a handsome stranger arrives and turns him inside out. For starters, because he is a vampire. Who is going to have to get rid of it? The members of the club, of course. Another curiosity of this month, the almost 30,000 euros he has collected at Verkami Sergio S. Morán to continue with the saga of the paranormal detective Verónica Guerra that started (in Fantascy, the disappeared collection of Penguin Random House) with The god slain in the knight service. So there were once a lot of promising new principles.

News list

Broken stars. Anthology of Chinese Writers, edited by Ken Liu. Translation: María Pilar San Román. Runes, 2020. 480 pages. 24 euros.

The pretended muse. Max Besora. Orciny Press, 2020. 170 pages. 16.95 euros.

Fierce animals. Manuela Buriel. Aristas Martínez, 2020. 224 pages. 21 euros.

Nomadic city, flock misery. Pablo Loperena. Unusual, 2020. 368 pages. 19 euros.

The city that united us. N. K. Jemisin. Translation: David Tejera Expósito. Nova, 2020. 464 pages. 21.90 euros.

The Southern Book Club’s. Guide to Slaying Vampires. Grady Hendrix. Quirk Books, 2020. 352 pages. 22.99 euros.

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