Latin American Science Fiction: Aliens, the Amazon, and Cornell Faculty

A “new wave” of Latin American writers are making the science fiction genre their own by rooting stories in their homelands and local histories. The influx of original work comes at a time when many readers and writers are looking for new literary depictions of Latin America that diverge from tropes of magical realism and realist violence.

Previously dominated by translations of foreign authors’ work the genre is opening up to regional authors who are looking to the future and highlighting different aspects of their communities. There are a few small publishing houses focused on Latin American science fiction supporting the effort.  

Latin American climate fiction, or cli-fi — speculative works concerned with the environment — is one example of the new sub genres of work emerging, including the work of Cornell Professor Edmundo Paz Soldán of Bolivia,  whose books are available in English.

Short stories are also attracting attention. Writers like Cornell Assistant Professor Liliana Colanzi of Bolivia are rewriting space fiction with “one foot in the jungle, the other on Mars,” according to Colanzi. “Mars was already very colonized by Anglophone science fiction.” What she wanted  was “to have the liberty to really create my own Martian colony.” Colanzi trod the red planet in her Andean centered book, “Ustedes Brillan en lo Oscuro,” or “You Glow in the Dark," winner of the 2022 Premio Ribera Del Duero In Spain. 

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Indiginous man in feathered headdress fights off insectoid alien next to person in futuristic red armor above a lush rainforest vista.
Luis Carlos Barragan Castro