The last couple of years have brought Anglophone readers several new publications that feature speculative fiction in translation (SFT) — a trend we hope continues. In Future Science Fiction Digest, Samovar, Constelación, and now Eita!, we can read science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, weird, and more from cultures and language traditions not our own, which in turn expands our imaginative horizons and enriches the genre.
Eita!, in particular, offers us something we’ve had too little of for too long: SF in translation from Brazil. Launched during the recent inaugural FutureCon, this magazine aims, in its own words, “to become a bridge to release national authors to the international literary market, encouraging consumption of Brazilian genre literature by an overseas audience.” According to the website’s submissions data (beautifully illustrated by artist Raphael Andrade), the magazine has already received stories from a variety of subgenres: alternate history, weird, horror, fantasy, and science fiction, sent from all over Brazil.
According to one feature on Brazilian science fiction and fantasy published on Tor.com this year, the genre has faced a hard road in Brazil, with only a few publishers specializing in these kinds of stories and larger publishers promoting mostly foreign fiction. Furthermore, speculative fiction is still seen as a lesser genre by many publishers, regardless of the fact that more and more authors are writing and winning awards for it.
Despite these pitfalls, a good amount of Brazilian speculative fiction has traveled beyond the nation’s borders, reaching the Anglophone world and opening up readers’ eyes to a rich tradition of which they weren’t previously aware.
Several works of Brazilian SF appeared in English in the 1980s, namely Stella Carr Riberio’s prehistory narrative Sanbaqui and Moacyr Scliar’s novels The Centaur in the Garden (translated by Neves), The One-Man Army, The Gods of Raquel, The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes, and the collection The Ballad of the False Messiah (all tr. Giacomelli). Focusing on the reality of the Jewish diaspora in Brazil, Scliar’s books and stories reflect, through a unique blend of magical realism and Jewish humor, the double-identity of Jews maintaining religious traditions in their homes and participating in the wider Brazilian culture. The Centaur in the Garden, in particular, features a centaur born to Russian parents and raised Jewish in Brazil who must find his identity among the multiple paths available to him.
Also translated in the 1980s was Ignácio de Loyola Brandão’s Zero and And Still the Earth (both tr. Watson), both dystopian novels featuring protagonists who must navigate life under the thumbs of oppressive regimes and widespread corruption. Brazilian SF author Andre Carneiro’s “A Perfect Marriage” (tr. Randolph) about a doomed computer-arranged marriage, was included in The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction in 1986.
But what have Anglophone readers had access to from Brazil recently? Just two years ago, Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro edited and Fabio Fernandes translated the stories in Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World (World Weaver Press). A mix of speculative fiction from Brazil and Portugal, this anthology explored what it might mean for humans to live truly sustainable lives. Celebrating the benefits and unflinchingly detailing the downsides of this scenario — authors such as Antonio Luiz M. C. Costa, Lodi-Ribeiro, Roberta Spindler, and others — imagine, among other things, humans using the sun as a form of photonutrition, corporations exploiting the public with the promise of sustainable technologies, and the synthesis of humans and plants.
Fernandes (author, editor, and Portuguese-to-English translator) and Lodi-Ribeiro (author ad anthologist) have themselves found audiences in the Anglophone world, with Fernandes’s Love: An Archaeology coming out next year from Luna Press Publishing and Lodi-Ribeiro placing stories in Inter Nova and Words Without Borders. Love: An Archaeology, Fernandes’s first collection in English, features stories that range the gamut of speculative fiction, but all focus on “love and its malcontents.” This anthology promises to be an exciting addition to SFT from Brazil.
Other recent short works of SFT from Brazil come to us thanks to author and translator Christopher Kastensmidt. His translations of Brontops Baruq Brontops, Camila Fernandes, and Flavio Medeiros have appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, while his translation of Cirilo Lemos’s “Act of Extermination” (a mix of assassins, telepathy, diesel mechs, and more set in an alternate early-20th-century Brazil), appeared in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (2015).
Most recently, Words Without Borders and Samovar Magazine have featured Brazilian SFT by Luiz Carlos Lisboa, Mario Sabino, and H. Pueyo. Both Lisboa and Sabino, translated by Clifford E. Landers, explore death and the uncanny, while in “Saligia,” Pueyo imagines the generational fall-out from the transgressions of an upper-class family (plus werewolves!).
These texts have given us just a taste of what to look forward to when it comes to Brazilian SFT, and Eita! will bring us a wealth of new, imaginative material. So let’s celebrate the birth of this new magazine and support it in its truly laudable endeavor.