Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good science-fiction

By Martí­n Bonfil Olivera

Published in Milenio Diario, September 23, 2009

I'm a fan of good science-fiction: the one that, as the name implies, joins science with fiction to see what this union produces.

In good science-fiction, fiction starts from authentic scientific knowledge and extends it through imagination to obtain stimulating and even revealing stories. (Less frequently, science obtains from fiction the inspiration to make explorations that show new worlds, or new possibilities).

I'm not a deep connoisseur, but I greatly enjoy the classics, such as Isaac Asimov. I have just delighted re-reading his excellent book of short stories, The martian way (1955).

And I know even less about Mexican science fiction. But I have just finished a stupendous book, Gel azul (Blue gel, Suma de letras, 2009), a pair of short stories from my friend Bernardo Fernández, known as Bef, one of the best contemporaneous Mexican cartoonists (or moneros, as he would put it).

The already famous Bef has built himself a second reputation as a novelist, wining prizes in Mexico and Spain. His detective-style novel Tiempo de alacranes (Joaquín Mortiz, 2005) won one in the Semana Negra de Guijón (Black Week at Guijón, Spain), and Gel azul won the Ignotus prize. It deserved it.

The point is that Bef is a great story-teller: intelligent, precise, efficient, charming, sensitive. In his novels, his obsessions are recurrent: the filthy, violent, unsuccessful, fallen-on-hard-times detective who, deep inside, is very likeable; the cute girl, unreachable and bitchy; the mystery to be solved; the fight against mafia, be it dealers or organ-stealers from those who dream a blue-tinted virtual dream while connected to the web.

It is worth to try to find it (sorry, no translation to English yet). It made me happy, made me think and I spent a really good time.

Because is hard to live in a city and in a country where such terrible things happen. Epidemics. Drought and then a flooding. Two crimes inspired by crazy men "inspired by god" (although in last Friday's shooting at the Mexico City Balderas subway station, it was also a Christian believer the only civilian that confronted the criminal: its clear that fanatics, not religion, are the problem).

It is not only legitimate, but sometimes necessary to find a useful evasion. No doubt, novels like Asmov's and Bef's are two excellent choices.

(By the way, the cover posted its not the Mexican edition of Gel azul, it's the Spanish one… I liked it better, it's drawn by Bachán.)

(translated by Adrián Robles Benavides)

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