Books Review

Review – Lisboa Oculta: A Tourist Guide

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I must say that the idea of ​​unwary tourists running around the streets of Lisbon with their cell phones in hand, ready to record the phenomena described in this book, amuses me deeply. Climbing the aqueduct of Águas Livres, whistling in search of a certain sound that may collapse the greate central arch. Standimg at Terreiro do Paço underground statiog, staring sideways while searching for a door with two locks that gives access to the cell of a certain Old One that sleeps in R’Lyeh no more. Running away from the security guards at Palácio Foz, waiting for the night to set in and possibly being served at the Abadia restaurant. Trying to listen to those who gather at Jorge Luís Borges garden, in the vague hope that they were successful on finding the entrance to the library of Babel. Wandering around the Roman Baths or the Instituto Superior Técnico University, in the hope of catching glimpses of its ghosts.

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These are some of the delightful misinformantion about places of tourist interest in Lisbon that gave the inspiration for this anthology edited by Imaginauta. The classic idea of ​​the saccharine tour guide is, in this book, subverted with intrusions from the fantastic, through short stories written by some of the newest and leading voices of portuguese Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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The book feels a little light, but that is its the goal. More to stimulate the urban imaginary than exploring it exhaustively. In an intriguing proposal, Imaginauta has created a bilingual edition. Hopefully, tourists or travellers will eventually come across this book in bookstores they visit (perhaps in Bertrand’s mythical cave). Let’s also hope that they realize that this is not a tourist guide, but a well-designed and representative artefact of the best that is currently being done in portuguese fantastic literature. The graphic design, created by Credo Quia Absurdum, is quite unusual to this type of editions.

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