A. M. Bourguignon
fiction's importance lies in its ability to allow us
thought-experiments for both society and the individual. We can try on different
futures, extrapolate trends, test for destruction, and find out what it might be
like if this, that, or the other things happens.
It's not important at all to the majority of readers, and to
the bigger majority of postliterates, except in the way its thinking influences
their lives in countless ways.
As a literary genre, science fiction exists because it must,
as a response to technological and scientific change. In attempting to encompass
these changes, it lets us begin to inhabit a world we no longer can fully
understand. It lets us find a place in complexity.
Ray Bradbury has said that the ability to fantasize is the
ability to survive, and doing so as realistically as possible, which some forms
of science fiction seek to do, is a step toward making this ability into a skill.
Finally, I would quote André Carneiro, Brazilian poet,
writer, film-maker, photographer, and critic: Science fiction is not an escapist
literature, but a way for placing man inside the fantastic reality of
Again, a way of colonizing the
future. If that's not important, then we have given up on ourselves entirely.
Well known as a poet, André Cameiro writes Brazil's best and
most original science fiction. He doesn't like the science fiction
classification and prefers to call his works literature and to have them judge
on that basis.
His life style reflets a fierce desire for independence from
all superficially imposed values and limitations. He has entered a number of
artistic fields and has achivied sucess and recognition in all of them. His
experimental films have won prizes in Brazil and other countries, and his
artistic photographs have received awards in intemacional exhibitions.
His stories and poems have been translated into Sweden,
English, French, ltalian, German, Spanish, Japonese etc. Recently his SF
writings have shown an intense interest in sexuality. He has written two novels
dealing with futuristic societies in which sexual arts are taught, practiced and
perfected as life's most precious and rewarding activity.
In spite of his rejection of the
term, Andrk Cameiro uses
science fiction to alter man's circumstances and thus provide a more adequate
laboratory for the study of the multifaceted dimensions of
humanity. Although he does have
space ships and people living on other
planets, he often changes only one basic
factor or element.
In "Darkness" a story appeared in Putnam's "BEST
S-F- OF 72" and other anthologies and college texts, André turns the light
and energy rheostat down and over a period of days plunges the world into
darkness. What happens to men and women under these altered circumstances
reveals a great deal about mankind, the fragility of his values and his carehlly
ordered universe. Quite naturally, within this altered reality, blind people
become the heroes and their leadership saves a number of lives. When light
retums the survivors rejoice in the simple fact of being alive and grat1ttlde
towards their blind benefators fades quickly into oblivion. "Darkness"
represents one of the classic short stories of our times and illustrates André
Cameiro's special use of science fiction.
André Cameiro essay on science fiction, "Introdução
ao Estudo da Science-Fiction" stresses three basic points:
I) Science Fiction is not an escapist literature, but a way
for placing man inside the fantastic reality oftechnological progress.
2) Science Fiction is above all literature and must be judged
3) The worst thing that happened to this genre was to call it
prejudice that surround it may well come from the fear that
man fears toward science. Man loves stability and science is constantly changing
ourworld and our way oflife.
Anyone interested in the uniqueness of Cameiro's science
fiction should consult David Dunbar's doctoral dissertation, "Uniqiue
Motifs In Brazilian Science Fiction", University of Arizona.
(Leo L. Barrow)