Let’s start from the beginning. And is there anything better to start with than by introducing some of our writers?
For the next couple of weeks, you’ll get to know the crème de la crème of Portuguese fiction – most of which without any published work in English – for now – but that are well known within the Portuguese fandom.
And remember, when they get big abroad – you’ve heard from them here first!
We’ll start with one of the heavy-weights – João Barreiros.
Writer, editor, critic, translator – the name Barreiros can be found in almost all portuguese publications in the last 30 years connected to science fiction – anthologies, collections, solo publications or reviews in newspapers and magazines. João Barreiros has done almost anything that can be done in the genre in Portugal and has some publications in other languages. In english you can find Silent night in Infinity Plus, A night of the edge of the empire in The SFWA European Hall of Fame, Synchronicity and The test in Fantastic Metropolis.
His work is full of dark humorous jabs and you can expect almost anything to happen to the characters – tales with maximum loss, as they are known amongst the portuguese fandom. No – these tales are not suitable for children or sensitive readers. These are riddled with futurology and the heavy-use of complex technology concepts. And a sudden burst of violence can dematerialize pretty much anyone. Barreiros is known for using sarcasm, strong twists and for being an amazing worldbuilder. With just a few well-placed sentences, you can be thrown in the middle of a post apocalyptic waste with zombies and robots for company or right in the frontline of an alien war.
As an editor, Barreiros organized science fiction and fantasy collections for Editora Clássica e Gradiva, publishing books by Ian M. Banks, William Gibson, Peter Straub, Dan Simmons or A. A. Attanasio. Some of these writers would not be published again in Portugal. As a science fiction fan, Barreiros co-funded Simetria (the portuguese society of science fiction and fantasy, now almost deactivated) and Epica (an organization that was originally a spin-off from a science fiction convention in 2004 and that would be responsible for the Fórum Fantástico – one of the current main national events for Sci-fi / fantasy).
His bibliography is extensive. From collections to novels, João Barreiros has explored the world of H. G Wells with A verdadeira invasão dos Marcianos (The True Martians Invasion), Alien societies and … children! You see, João has been a philosophy teacher for decades and several of his tales have references to those years or of his own childhood: O Teste (The Test – a satyric and autobiographical story), O caçador de brinquedos (The Toy Hunter) or O Síndrome do Pai Natal (The Santa Syndrome).
Another characteristic of Barreiros bibliography is the diversity of themes and sub-genres of science fiction. As an example, A Bondade dos Estranhos (The Kindness of Strangers) is a frantically paced novel that presents a future where humans share Earth with three alien species and that each has their own agenda. This novel was published both in Portugal (2007) and in Brazil (2011). Another example is Lisboa no ano 2000, an anthology (which he organized) set in the city that never was – the city of Lisbon
100 years ago – as it was imagined by several writers, journalists and scientists, and where the sky is occupied by zeppelins and the earth is filled with dreamy inventions and vehicles that never were .
Very different in tone, Crazy Equóides (in portuguese) is an erotic tale where love kills. In the future projected by Barreiros, several human companies are expanding throughout the Universe – but not all of them have a nice ethical approach, particularly when the target planet is full of resources. The ship Mack The Knife is landing in the fifth planet of Tau Ceti system – but they were not the first – and what awaits them is far more dangerous than what they are prepared to face.
João Barreiro’s work is quite a spread. This variety of stories and functions along the history of the portuguese science fiction explains why João Barreiros is and always will be an heavy-weight, and an inescapable reference of the genre.