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Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Fabio Fernandes on Brazil in International SF – of presences and absences

Earlier this month, Fabio Fernandes was pondering on Brazil’s presence in Science Fiction, over at his blog Post-Weird Thoughts:

The Quiet War – Paul McAuley’s novel presents us a kind of old-fashioned space opera where Earth is mostly dominated by Greater Brazil, a sort of mega-country that seems to occupy all the Americas and then some. That is never made entirely clear – nor does it anything else regarding Earth culture. McAuley is interested in telling us a story of a war between our planet and humans living in other worlds in the system. The story is fast-paced but failed to attract me, and I still didn’t understand why he chose Brazil to rule Earth when any other country would do, since there is nothing on the novel that can give the reader any specific information on Brazilian culture. The characters doesn’t sound convincing, and even Brasilia, our capital city, seems cardboard-like in the end, which is a shame, because I was really looking forward a great reading here. I’m starting Gardens of the Sun next week, so let’s see if it can clarify something on that matter.

Flood – Stephen Baxter is a terribly competent writer when it comes to hard SF. In this catastrophe-ridden novel, which really scared the bejesus out of me, the world is quickly flooded entirely in a few decades, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. The protagonists are strong and resorceful, but (fortunately) not especially trigger-happy mankind-savior kind of people, something that annoys me to no end. But there is one thing that upsets me along the reading: there is not a single mention of Brazil in the novel. I’m not trying to be an übernationalist here, but let’s keep it straight: Brazil is one of the top economies of the world right now; we’re (very) quickly rocketing out of a underdeveloped position to a developed one in the geopolitical scene. So, it would be more than natural that Brazil could play an important role of some kind in that novel, economically at least. (I’m halfway through Ark and so far nothing, by the way.) Sometimes the absence is louder than the presence.

Anyone care to chime in on the discussion?

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March 25, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

2 Comments

  1. One thing I find myself thinking of reading this is how different the situation was in the ’70s-when in a considerable amount of science fiction Brazil routinely appeared as a superpower. (I have in mind, for instance, Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, or John Varley’s Titan, neither of which was about Brazil, but which certainly referenced it as such.)

    Of course, Brazil’s economic boom suffered in the years after that, and while the country has got renewed attention since then-as one of the BRIC countries, for instance-the other three countries in that group (Russia, India, China) got much more attention as rising or resurgent powers in recent years because of their faster economic growth (with China’s impact on the world economy especially pronounced), China and India’s larger populations, and their greater military capability. Additionally, those three countries are all involved in high-profile geopolitics to a much greater extent than Brazil is, so that I suppose observers of current events think much more about the implications of their power than they do about Brazil’s.

    Comment by Nader | March 25, 2010

  2. Incidentally, I wrote an article about this kind of speculation for The Fix back in 2007, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers in Science Fiction,” which is available here:

    http://ttapress.com/fix/features/rise-fall-great-powers/

    Comment by Nader | March 25, 2010


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