News & What's New - August 2019

The Spirit of Science Fiction by Roberto Bolaño
30 Aug 2019
"The most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation" wrote The New York Times on 20 December 2012. Roberto Bolaño was praised for the eleven novels he wrote. He was only 50 years old when he died on July 15, 2003.

The Spirit of Science Fiction (El espíritu de la ciencia-ficción in Spanish) was completed by Bolaño in approximately 1984. It was published posthumously in Spanish in 2016 and in English in 2019. The novel is seen by many as an ur-text to The Savage Detectives, another of his novels, "populated with precursory character sketches and situations" and centering on the activities of young poets and writers living in Mexico City.

In the novel Bolaño published several letters of admiration to American science fiction writers, one of them to Philip José Farmer. He shared the same ideas about the use of sex in science fiction. Bolaño proposes several ideas about this in his letter: «In each story, there should be at least one sexual act.»

Alas Farmer never saw this letter, although he would have liked it very much in my opinion.
But Fred Fischer (US) bought and read the book and did see the letter. It prompted him to write an interesting essay about this, with the complete text of the letter to Farmer for which Fred and I got permission from Penguin Press. You can read the essay here on the site.

(The shown covers are of the first Spanish edition, 2016, and of the English translation, published in the UK by Picador, 2019.)

Campbell Award Renamed
29 Aug 2019
Locus, the Magazine of the Science Fiction Field, had on August 27, 2019 a news item about the renaming of the Campbell Award.
Jeannette Ng, winner of this year's Campbell Award, started a discussion about its name:
«John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. Through his editorial control of Astounding Science Fiction, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists. Yes, I am aware there are exceptions.»
The award's name changed to "The Astounding Award for Best New Writer".

In 1954 Farmer already was very critical about Campbell. He calls to Mr. Campbell to dare to publish more interesting and literary stories as he was publishing at the time in Astounding. And to open up Astounding to new types of ideas and for allowing his writers to use more mainstream techniques.
Farmer wrote this in his essay "Parables are Pablum: A Reply to Mr. Farmer, a Letter to Mr. Campbell" in the fanzine Skyhook #23.

«Farmer is applauding from the grave», writes Fred Fischer (US) in his e-mail to me. I fully agree!

These are the numbers for the book pages this month.

1914 publications
1301 different covers

There are less covers than publications due to the reprints with the same cover, and due to omnibuses.

© Zacharias L.A. Nuninga -- Page last updated: 26 Aug 2020