Sue Burke (mount_oregano) wrote,
Sue Burke

Alucinadas: Women destroy Spanish science fiction

A major Spanish newspaper recently listed its top ten books of 2014: they included only one by a woman, a Polish poet at that. Don’t Spanish women write?

Of course they do, but they get published and recognized even less than women in the English-speaking world. Add to that a general disregard among the literary establishment for science fiction, and until the 1980s, almost no Spanish-speaking women seemed to see much point in writing science fiction.

That slowly began to change, and women fans and authors were welcomed by men in SF. But they still face a problem, one they share with men: the Spanish-language genre market is small, with few opportunities for publication.

To overcome that, and inspired by projects like Lightspeed magazine’s “Women Destroy Science Fiction!” special issue, Cristina Macía, Cristina Jurado, and María Leticia Lara Palomino decided in spring of 2014 to create an anthology to give women writers more visibility. Their call for stories was answered with 205 works by 185 female authors from 12 countries. In late November, they published Alucinadas. (Cover art by Ana Día Eiriz.)


It’s a clever title. Alucinado is slang for “astounded” or “impressed” and comes from the word “hallucinate.” So you could translate Alucinadas as “Astounded Women,” “Hallucinated Women,” or even “Female Fantastics.”

You can buy the anthology as an e-book for as little as €1.99 (US$2.43) – not a high price, but between a small market and a depressed economy, no one’s getting rich by writing science fiction in Spanish. This is a labor of love.

The eleven stories show an impressive breadth of imagination:

• In “La Terpsícore” (The Terpsichore) by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría, the captain of a ship, the Terpsichore, travels by means of versions of herself brought from other dimensions, each with its own ethical and existential problems.

• “La Plaga” (The Plague) is a military space opera, at times humorous, by Felicidad Martínez about an attack on a distant colony. The problem is figuring out exactly what’s attacking.

• “La Tormenta” (The Storm) by Laura Ponce opens with a routine visit by some soldiers to a distant colony, but it turns into a tender story about loyalty and love. It becomes, as the author says, “a story about a story about a story.”

• Yolanda Espiñeira says “El método Schiwoll” (The Schiwoll Method) is about betrayal. It’s also a tightly-paced thriller alternating between first and third person that opens with a woman being interrogated for a crime she might not have committed, but does she know who did?

• “Casas Rojas” (Red Houses) by Nieves Delgado explores what it means to be human or machine. It also tells the story of an arrogant man outsmarted. Like many of the stories, it ends with a twist.

• “Mares que cambian” (Seas That Change) by Lola Robles is set on a planet of islands where the main business is tourist sex change operations. The author says, “I believe I’ve also written a story about the need to belong to a place, a group, a people affected.”

• “Techt” (Teched) by Sofía Rhei presents a linguistic dystopia with echoes of Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, but in terms of the way technologies like text messaging and pre-fabricated best-sellers limit language and thought, made worse by a limited economy.

• “Bienvenidos a Croatoan” (Welcome to Croatoan) takes place in an underground post-apocalyptic Madrid. A drug take use memories and turn the past, present, and future into fiction, but people desperate enough to steal it for resale on the black market must avoid the temptation to use it.

• Marian Womack visited Black Isle in Scotland during the summer, and she turned her experience with its fragile ecology into the story “Black Isle.” In the future, technology attempts to recreate its lost ecology, but suddenly all the artificial animals start to die.

• Carmen Torras tells “Memoria de equipo” (Team Memory) in the form of blog posts by former members of a basketball team. When their star player winds up on death row, they mount a crowdfunded scientific investigation to prove his innocence.

• “A la luz de la casta luna electrónica” (By the Light of the Electric Moon Caste) by Angélica Gorodischer is the first chapter of the book Trafalgar, a collection of humorous stories about a somewhat honest intergalactic merchant. Here, he travels to a planet ruled by women with plans to sell comic books and runs afoul of the law.

Is there something “female” about these stories? Not that I could tell, not even a preponderance of female main characters. A few stories are tender, others unflinching. The frequent twists at the end may be pure coincidence or an editorial leaning, but it’s nothing especially pink rather than blue.

The anthology’s strongest point may be just that: women write a lot like men. Long ago and far away – in the English-speaking world – some men once feared women would “destroy” science fiction. They were the ones hallucinating.

— Sue Burke

Also posted at my professional website.


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