sexta-feira, 22 de novembro de 2013

Globalizing Wells.

The prevalence of a strong anglo-american tradition in science fiction is overwhelming in the genre. 
European views usually rally around Verne as the founding father of SF with his scientific/adventure romances that so enthralled readers. There were other precursors, from Lucian of Samosata to Kepler or Voltaire, birthing a tradition whose elements coalesced during the industrial revolution into a speculative genre where science and imagination met. For those not immersed in anglo-american culture, Wells is unjustly seen as a footnote, read as the other guy writing science fiction at the same time when Verne dazzled XIXth century readers.

If one steps out of the anglo-american literary prevalence a great things await. I write this not from a sense of inferiority but of delight in global sensibilities, now becoming fashionable in contemporary science fiction due to the editorial work of Jeff Vandermeer and Lavie Tidhar's success. Those that only know about anglo/american SF and (as John Clute says) fantastika writers are missing out on a lot of great things. Verne is but the tip of the iceberg. French SF is thriving (do discover Laurent Génefort's Omale series); the German scene goes way beyond Perry Rhodan's publishing history, Chinese writers are exploding with ideas (and party support), while Haikasoru Press is translating amazing Japanese writers. The italian Tiziano Sclavi and the portuguese João Barreiros are also devious surprises.

About Wells, then. When i discovered him i was taken by the breadth, scientific value and utopian pessimism of his ideas. Showing us that in the end human hopes and dreams crumble to dust, like the pages in the books of The Time Machine future library, but hard science opens the doors to human progress. Somewhat discarded by European critics, clearly not a footnote, Wells stands as the author that most influenced global SF themes and ideas. Global writers owe Wells a fundamental debt. 

And yes, this was a bit shameless proselytizing.

(Mais um mini-ensaio para o Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. Desta vez o tema era a obra de Wells mas aproveitei para pregar o evangelho da FC global. Falta o emergir da africana e outras vertentes mas o limite de 320 palavras não dá para muito.)

(edit: o Coursera funciona na modalidade de peer review, e as reacções costumam ser surreais, desde o tipo que se deu ao trabalho de fazer uma análise gramatical de um dos textos sem se aperceber que foi escrito por alguém que não tem o inglês como língua nativa, apesar de vir indicado logo na primeira frase, à percepção geral que desvios às propostas de abordagem são heresias intoleráveis. Também são giras as críticas do tipo "deveria ter desenvolvido mais" em tarefas com limite de trezentas palavras. Para esta digressão à volta de Wells a crítica mais marcante foi a de arrogância: "Knowingly writing above the understanding of your general audience comes across as arrogant". Yep, pelos vistos falar de FC que escapa ao domínio anglo-americano num mooc sobre ficção científica com um público maioritariamente americano é a mais pura arrogância...)

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