Monday Original Content: Dagon Magazine and an Interview with Roberto Mendes
Dagon is a new Portuguese magazine, edited by Roberto Mendes and dedicated to showcasing both Portuguese and international speculative fiction. The first issue contains stories from Luís Filipe Silva, João Barreiros and Carla Ribeiro, and articles by Pedro Ventura and Nuno Fonseca. It also publishes Nir Yaniv‘s story, “Cinderers” from The Apex Book of World SF, features an interview with anthology editor Lavie Tidhar and an article by Larry Nolen.
The magazine was launched on the 23rd of January – click here for photos from the event.
This week on the WSNB, Charles Tan interviews Roberto Mendes:
It is an honour Charles. It was a book that first drove me into speculative fiction. I was eleven years old when the magic first appeared in my life, in the form of a book; It was The LOTR by Tolkien. I remembered feeling really small, standing at the gates of the gigantic Middle Earth. From that moment on I read almost every thing that came out by Tolkien. I also began to discover other writers, such as Jules Verne, Edgar A. Poe, Lovecraft, and many more. It was love at first sight.
I will have to say that pretty much everything excites me about speculative fiction. But not only in the form of literature: I love every type of art inspired by the marvellous world of fantasy, science fiction, horror, you name it! I love the drawings of many authors, like L. Royo, Karem Beyit, etc. I also love the music inspired in fantasy such as the classical Wagner (inspired by Norse mythology) and the recent metal by Manowar or the melodic metal by Ayreon, in which we can embark on a voyage into space, filled with science fiction references!
Well, I think the term “Speculative Fiction” stands for various genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy and all sub-genres. I believe that all these genres came from the same place: the mythology and the need to think about the past and the future, so I really prefer this term!
It is the only magazine of speculative fiction published in paper, since the magazine “Bang”, edited by Rogério Ribeiro, left the market (now it is published for free in the web). Its objectives are clear: to promote speculative fiction in Portugal, reveling in new worlds of opportunities for writers and readers. It is not only a magazine of literature, we are also going to have an illustrator working on every issue, who will draw a cover inspired by one of the tales and we intend to publish really good illustrations inside every issue. In the first issue, we have cinema reviews, articles (including one from Larry Nolen), tales from Portuguese writers such as João Barreiros, Luís Filipe Silva and Carla Ribeiro, a tale by Nir Yaniv (“Cinderers”), in cooperation with Lavie Tidhar, to whom I thank, and finally we have some poetry and an interview with Lavie. The name of first issue cover illustrator is Miguel Ministro.
I’ve edited the August 2009 issue as an experimental issue in e-book. It is free on the web, that was the first step for the magazine.
Here goes the link for the download. It has really great illustrations and those who cannot read in portuguese can watch them:)
Why the name Dagon?
Dagon is sort of a fetish character for me. It was a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain and agriculture, but it is more known as one of the characters that came out from the imagination of Lovecarft, one of my favorite writers. It is, mostly, a name that almost every reader of speculative fiction knows, so I thought it would be a great choice!
The state of the speculative fiction in Portugal, but it was an old dream of mine to publish a magazine like Dagon. The idea just popped into my head one day and I thought “well, the hell with it, I’m not going to just sit back and wait for the winds to change, I’m going to be an active part of a new age of speculative fiction in Portugal”. With the help of my girlfriend I started to make contacts with the writers, and I had already drawn some objectives: to be a magazine not only for regular writers, those that had their names already on the market. I wanted to publish new voices you know?
I’ve already assembled some tales to another project, an anthology of Portuguese SF, called “Vollüspa”, that will come out in March, and so I was already impressed by the quality of the works that got into my hands. Some people called me crazy, and told me that this project was too weak, that it was never going to last. But more and more people became really supportive, and now I’ve got really a lot of people to thank to.
After the first experimental issue, published for free on the web, a few editors approached me, with interest in the magazine. I’ve decided to accept the offer of the “edita-me” company, and they have been great all this time!
Well, mainly the Portuguese and Brazilian readers. Not only the genre lovers, I have the objective to reach out to a new market, the mainstream readers, showing them the quality of speculative fiction.
I think that Portuguese speculative fiction first needs to be strong within our walls, and only then we can reach to other markets, such as the international one. Maybe after the first four issues we will be ready to publish the magazine in English, and then everyone will have access to the Portuguese SF. But first, we need to be careful and to get better and better.
I thought that that would be more of challenge, but everything’s great so far, every contributor has been supportive, the translations work out really good (Jorge Candeias and Luís Filipe Silva were the translators), and the acceptance of the magazine turned out to be wonderful.
It will surely be a great afternoon!
Why did you choose the Web as your platform?
Mainly because when I edited the experimental issue, I did not have the necessary funds to publish it on paper. But it turned out to be a great choice. Ive learned a lot doing issue zero. The difference in quality between that issue and the first issue now is enormous!
We are like a frozen river: the silence is becoming overwhelming! With Dagon I intend to crack the ice a little bit, making some noise! In Portugal the editorial markey is failing and the readers are despairing every day but we have great writers like João Barreiros, Luís Filipe Silva or David Soares and emerging writers with enormous quality like Carla Ribeiro or Pedro Ventura. But the market is saturated with books of little quality, mostly vampire books taking advantage of the “Twilight” success or fantasy books, almost copies of Tolkien’s work.
There are only a few publishers that go out on a limb to publish Speculative Fiction: mostly Saída de Emergência, Editorial Presença and Gailivro! We had some good fanzines like Nova or Phantastes but now they are over, leaving Bang the only online magazine. The “edita-me” publisher is taking a risk in publishing a collection of Portuguese speculative fiction called Yggdrasil and I hope that will bring the writers and readers together. There are great gaps that we need to fill such as readers’ low knowledge of the genre and the inability of publishers to “teach” published fundamental works of SF.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced you?
Portuguese writers? Well, I’ll have to say João Barreiros and Luís Filipe Silva regarding science fiction. As to fantasy, Pedro Ventura. On horror I have no preferred Portuguese writers (well, there isn’t much of that specie either) but David Soares is a really good writer.
I think that our past could make us unique SF writers. But I do not think SFin Portugal has reached a stage in which we are unique. The only way to make our SF unique is to provide exotic references, exclusively Portuguese, as well as to reinvent our past of adventures through the world, a time of colonizers…writing about it, say, in a steampunk way, would be something unique! But a Portuguese SF writer cannot expect to write a novel set in New York, and then be perfect doing it or just writing a romance of vampires and expect it to be a masterpiece! But we have great voices, if only all of you could hear them… I mostly think we forget a lot about our great past, not realizing that the future of our SF is there, in our history, in our blood, in our hearts!