Letter From The Editor - Issue 55 - February 2017

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A Memory of Freedom
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The Salt Man
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by Flávio Medeiros Jr.
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Guest Letter From the Editor - Issue 27 - March 2012

When I first moved to Brazil, over ten years ago, I visited a bookstore and discovered I couldn't find a single science fiction book by a Brazilian author. When I asked the owner why he didn't carry any Brazilian science fiction, he responded, "Brazil doesn't need science fiction. Brazil is science fiction."

After sweeping a half-dozen used bookstores, I turned up a few dusty tomes by Brazilian SF legends Jorge Luiz Calife and André Carneiro, and that's about it. It didn't take long to discover that science fiction in general was frowned upon in Brazil, and that even those who did read it disregarded out of hand the local authors, purchasing only imported titles.

In a climate like that, I would never have dreamed of attempting anything like the Hydra Competition.

But what a difference a decade can make. Since those first depressing visits to the booksellers, the Brazilian speculative fiction community has grown exponentially. Publishers like Devir, Draco, Tarja, Argonautas, and Estronho have taken up the banner of science fiction and fantasy, and authors have responded in kind. Anthologies and novels are launched weekly. A few Brazilian SF writers are selling hundreds of thousands of copies, and the major publishers are rushing to put out their own lines.

Fantasticon, Brazil's largest gathering of speculative fiction, celebrated its fifth edition in 2011, and we're hosting a "Fantastic Literature Odyssey" in Porto Alegre in 2012. Over seventy writers and editors have already confirmed their participation for this inaugural event, which shows how the community has come together.

Short fiction is booming, but the Brazilian short fiction scene doesn't revolve around the magazines as it does in the States. Instead, print anthologies serve as the primary proving grounds for new and old writers alike. These anthologies improve every year, as writers have the opportunity to work with editors and interact with their peers. However, only in rare cases does that fiction make it to the English-speaking world (one example being Jacques Barcia, who translates his own stories). The rest of it remains trapped within the country's borders, unable to find an outlet.

And that is what inspired the Hydra Competition. The Brazilian SF community is a welcoming one which has always treated me well, so last year I decided I needed to give something back. The most valuable thing I felt I had to offer was a translation - something extremely difficult and costly to come by in Brazil - and thanks to IGMS we could offer the sweetest prize of all: publication in a renowned international magazine.

While Brazilian SF still isn't as mature as that being produced in the English-speaking world, it offers its own flavor, and I felt the quality had come along enough to put it on the line and show the world what is being produced here. I'm thankful that Edmund Schubert and Orson Scott Card agreed! Orson served as a missionary in Brazil and has kept a special tie to the country ever since, so from the beginning it felt like the perfect match.

The competition produced three excellent finalist stories, all of them with markedly different personalities:

"(Story with Pictures and Conversation)" by Brontops Baruq, published in issue #26 of IGMS, is a meta-fiction which tells the story of an alien invasion through the drawings and text in a child's sketchbook, in itself described by dry commentary added at a later date.

"By a Thread" by Flávio Medeiros Jr., published in this issue, is a steampunk story that mixes alternate history with alternate fiction.

Finally, Giulia Moon's "I, Mother-in-Law" is a humorous tale about a witch meeting her foreign daughter-in-law at the worst possible moment.

The Hydra Competition has been a huge boost to a community always struggling to prove itself. Many in Brazil have described it as a "kick in the pants": an incentive for readers to try out local authors and an incentive for authors to produce more and produce better, and it wouldn't have been possible without the support of IGMS.

So I hope you enjoy the stories, and if you want to find out more, feel free to contact local authors or come visit one of our conventions. As Orson Scott Card himself can tell you, the Brazilian SF community will welcome you with open arms.

Christopher Kastensmidt
SF Author and Hydra Competition Organizer


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