After a few years of apparent stagnation, the speculative fiction market has been gaining strength in Brazil, with top publishers bringing foreign authors, and independent publishers opening the door for local ones. There are exceptions, but that’s how most publishers operate. Imaginários 3, from Draco Pub. Co, is a fantasy, science fiction and horror collection from different generations. In its third volume it brings stories from Eduardo Spohr, Marcelo Ferlin Assami, Rober Pinheiro, Douglas MCT, Lidia Zuin, Marcelo Galvão, Cirilo S. lemos, Fernando Santos de Oliveira, Ana Cristina Rodrigues & Fábio Fernandes. Below is my take on some of them.
“Torre das Almas” from Eduardo Spohr is the first spin off based on A Batalha do Apocalipse, a novel from Spohr that beat heavyweights like Rick Riordan and Stephenie Meyer on the bestseller list in Brazil. Even though his narrative and dialogue have a simple structure, Spohr manages to captivate the attention of readers by telling the story of a war between two groups of angels. His angels have a modern feel, and each class has different powers, used in a way that reminded me of playing RPGs when I was younger. Those who are traumatized by the current wave of romantic angels have nothing to fear, there are no sugar coated kisses. The story of Spohr’s Celestial Eden is probably more appealing to those who read the novel, but first time readers will certainly enjoy themselves too.
Marcelo Ferlin Assami participates with a brief story “Breve Relato da Ascenção do Papa Alexandre” IX about the assassination of Pope Alexander IX, a complex story that I only really enjoyed on my second reading. He reminded me of the boldness of Não há nada lá, the first novel of Joca Terron, an important contemporary Brazilian author. While readers discover the plans of a conspiracy to kill the Pope, they will meet very peculiar inhabitants of a small, weird city. The story features cannibal bikes, murderous warthogs, man-created quakes, mutant corncobs and more. It may not be for everyone, but it’s nice to see an author taking chances and thinking outside the box.
Rober Pinheiro, known for his Thargor fantasy world, offers a fast-paced and funny story. “Noivas Brancas” is narrated in the first person by a space ship captain that reminded me of the noir movies’ classic detectives, decadent with elegance, waiting for the next mission to pay their bills. The nice twist is that, even though it is a science-fiction story, when the main character does drugs, he sees a fantasy world, enabling the author to join both styles he has been working with. To make things better, the drug fueled trip happens at the height of the story, the most hectic moment, when the captain and his team go rescue those white brides from the title. The way he narrates what he sees ahead of him is really great.
“Bonifrate”, by Douglas MCT, combines Pinocchio and steampunk without worrying about technological explanations, just using the fantasy elements. Like in the original story, the main plot in Douglas’s version is the search for identity and a discovery that doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. The author needs to improve his phrasing to avoid redundancies, but other than that, in his generation, Douglas is the author that best merges the pace of young adult literature with dark fantasy plots. It’s no surprise then that his first novel Necrópolis is a dark fantasy with a teenager as the main character.
Marcelo Galvão participates with “Vida e morte do último astro pornô da Terra”, which I had the pleasure of reading before it was published in hard copy. One of the strongest pieces in Imaginários 3, it tells the story of the decadence of human actors with the arrival of automata in the porn movie industry. Here there is an inversion of values and porn becomes legit, a great sensation that is covered by newspapers with awards like the Oscar. In addition to a fun text with smart situations – such as the agent trying to convince the main character to adjust to new market demands – Galvão knew how to build a good main character. It must be really tough for a porn actor that needs to compete with robots that are always ready and willing.
Ana Cristina Rodrigues keeps investing in her strong suit: mixing historical characters with a fantasy plot. In “Maria e a Fada”, La Marche tells Mary of Burgundy the story of Melusina, a curious fairy cursed to wander in search of love and become a dragon on certain nights. The fantasy story is a good fit for the life of Maria, a woman who has had no luck in love. Even though it has some romance in it, it’s not a story that bets on a proper happy ending.
At last, Fábio Fernandes becomes a character. Scavenging in a used book store, he discovers the text from “O Primeiro Contacto”. In it, Santos-Dumont and the Wright brothers, in their desire to fly, develop what would be the first ships to leave Earth’s orbit. On their maiden voyage, Howard Hughes, pilot and financier of the Wright brothers’ project, ends up being captured by aliens who look like octopi. The consequence of this is a series of space wars between Terrans and Eridanians, and we obviously need to do some catching up. What bothered me in it was the excessive references to real people – it would be diluted in a novel – but the creativity and humor make up for it.