science fiction

science fiction
   There has been a noteworthy increase in the production of science fiction in Spain since the 1950s, though in relative terms it remains a minority interest. The genre has been cultivated by writers whose reputation is based mainly on other literary forms, such as Miguel Delibes and Manuel García Viñó, but its expansion since the late 1980s is mainly fuelled by translations of works by, among others, Arthur C.Clarke, Dan Sim-mons, Lois McMaster Bujold and Paul Anderson. A paperback series, Ultramar, specialized in publishing science fiction by Spanish writers, and a number of titles appeared around 1989, such as Javier Redal's and Juan Miguel Aguilera's Hijos de la eternidad (Children of Eternity) (1990) and Angel Torres Quesada's trilogy, Las islas del infierno (Islands of Hell) (1989). Spanish writers and publishers, however, found it difficult to compete with the volume of foreign works, and although in 1990 170 new science fiction titles were launched in Spain, none was by a Spanish writer.
   Enthusiasm among the reading public nevertheless remained high, reflected in the foundation in 1990 of a magazine for SF devotees, BEM (standing for "Bug-Eyed Monster"), which managed to retain a following despite the collapse of other similar publications. Science fiction writing has also been encouraged by literary competitions organized by the University of the Basque Country (Universidad del País Vasco-UPV) and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña-UPC). UPV initially awarded a first prize of 1m pesetas in two categories, for writing in Spanish and in Basque, though from 1992 these categories were merged, and the value of the prizes was modified. UPC originally had a similar arrangement for works in Spanish and Catalan, but in 1992 extended eligibility to works in English and French. Prize-winning novels and those gaining second place are commonly published, which has helped to disseminate the work of writers like Rafael Marín Trechera, author of Mundo de dioses (World of Gods) (1997), Angel Torres Quesada, author of El círculo de piedra (The Stone Circle) (1991), and Javier Negrete Medina, author of La luna quieta (Still Moon) (1991).
   There is a Spanish Association for Fantasy Literature and Science Fiction (Asociación Española de Fantasia y Ciencia Ficción), which in 1991 held the first conference for many years, at which some hundred people attended. The Association also awards the Ignotus Prize for science fiction, named after the pseudonym "Coronel Ignotus" used in the 1920s by an early practitioner of the genre, José Elola y Gutiérrez.
   Overall, however, science fiction in Spain is more than usually vulnerable to market fluctuations. By 1992 various specialized imprints had ceased publication, most notably the hitherto successful Ultramar. Spanish writers publishing under other imprints had to face increasing delays in publication, and the dominance of the field by translations of British and American works seems set to continue.
   Further reading
   - Pérez, G. and Pérez, J. (eds) (1987) Monographic Review/Revista Monográfica 3, 2(a useful symposium of essays on the genre in the Hispanic world).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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