Science Fiction Studies

#132 = Volume 44, Part 2 = July 2017

Mikel Peregrina and Jimena Escudero Pérez

Domingo Santos: Bringing on the Golden Decades    

Introduction. Domingo Santos, the pen-name of Pedro Domingo Mutiñó, has carried out a Herculean task in the development of Spanish sf, particularly as an editor (Barceló 291-92). He came to prominence in a difficult period of Spanish history; the second half of the Francoist dictatorship (1939-1975). This was a time of profound social and economic changes that would shape the efforts of modern, democratic Spain to insert itself into a globalized world. Parallel to this shift, Spanish sf progressively abandoned the bolsilibros, or pulp paperbacks, and went on to enjoy a period of popularity that brought together the best national authors of the genre in what has come to be known as the Golden Decade.1

This Golden Decade spans from 1985 to the end of the millennium, when authors such as Rodolfo Martínez, Eduardo Vaquerizo, Elia Barceló, César Mallorquí, Juan Miguel Aguilera, and Rafael Marín began their careers.2 They all published short-fiction collections and novels that received good reviews in specialized magazines, and most of them have continued to publish at a steady pace. These authors show a predilection for very elaborate discourse with complex plots and characters developed in an intimate fashion. Above all, they show a great concern for language and literary quality that had been rare until this point and they favor a more demanding standard from fellow professionals when writing sf (Moreno 433). These are writers who belong to a democratic and globalized Spanish society with access to all types of information, one that has integrated technology into its everyday life.

How, then, was this stage reached from such a precarious starting point? Spanish sf matured between the pulp period and the Golden Decade due to the translation of relevant foreign sf novels and short stories, the publication of sf works in specialized series, the work of the magazine Nueva Dimensión [New Dimension, 1968-1983] in disseminating sf, the emergence of Spanish fandom, and the rise of new Spanish authors searching for their own voices under the influence of Anglo-American sf. A review of this period shows that in each of these realms the name Domingo Santos arises because he combines the roles of translator, magazine and collections editor, and writer. Santos is, therefore, a paramount figure in the process of narrative transculturation between a dominant Spanish literature and a peripheral genre one, a process that would culminate in the fusion of the Anglo-American sf tradition with Spanish culture and literary fashions. This is the achievement of the Golden Decade writers.

This period constituted a very specific literary phenomenon. Its happening was the result of the interaction of four nodes, which Mario J. Valdés refers to as geographical, temporal, institutional, and formal (70). This article will not proceed historically or through hierarchical analyses but will focus on the convergence of factors of heterogeneous influence, both synchronic and diachronic, through the main figure of Domingo Santos. The interaction of these nodes, through Santos’s diverse talents as translator, compiler, editor, and author, will help us to understand the complex maturation process of Spanish sf and how this culminates in its Golden Decade.

Santos as Translator and Anthologist. Over four decades, from 1966 until 2005, Domingo Santos translated more than eight hundred texts. Most of them were translated from English into Spanish, although he also translated the works of some authors from French (Jacques Sternberg) and Italian (Lino Aldani). In some of these translations he also collaborated with other professionals, including Luis Vigil and Sebastián Castro. Most of this activity gradually drew Santos closer to the publishing houses, particularly within the Nueva Dimensión sphere, which we will discuss later.

Santos’s expertise in English developed from his role as an editor, which forced him to establish close contacts with editors and writers from the United States such as Donald A. Wollheim. He thus began his career in this capacity translating stories by Anglo-American Golden Age writers such as Arthur C. Clarke. He eventually translated some of the most fundamental Anglo-American sf novels into Spanish: Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) and all its sequels, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon (1959), Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) by Philip K. Dick.3 Among his translations, we also find classics such as Robert Heinlein’s The Man Who Sold the Moon (1950) and Theodore Sturgeon’s Venus Plus X (1960), as well as later works such as Orson Scott Card’s A Planet Called Treason (1979) and Samuel R. Delany’s Triton (1976).

Santos’s remarkable activity as a translator constitutes an essential formal node within the process of Spanish sf’s maturation. It is a gate, predominantly unidirectional, that connects Anglo-American and Spanish sf. Through these translations, Santos provided the Spanish public with important foreign sf works in its own language. Translation constituted a first and determinant stage within the process of narrative transculturation since it gave Spanish readers access to sf from other nationalities; some of these readers would eventually form part of the Hispacón Generation of writers, who brought Spanish sf into full maturity from the 1990s onwards.

As well as his work as a translator, Domingo Santos also compiled several sf anthologies. Social and political restlessness over the uncertain future of humankind, two parameters that dominate his literary production (Behm 84), also determined his taste as an anthologist. This can be seen in Antología no euclidiana [Non-Euclidean Anthology, 1976], in which he included works such as Robert Silverberg’s “In Entropy’s Jaws” (1971) and Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1973). Santos was determined to introduce a more pronounced socio-political perspective into the Spanish sf scene, one that would introduce anxieties that were highly popular on the international scene during those years, such as concerns about ecology.

Santos developed another ambition in his role as an anthologist: to promote the work of Spanish writers. He is indeed responsible for two of the most important anthologies in the history of Spanish sf. Primera antología de la ciencia ficción española [First Anthology of Spanish Science Fiction, 1966] is a perfect example. This compilation of eighteen stories provides a panorama of the genre’s first generation of Spanish sf authors beyond the bolsilibros realm. Some of them contributed just a few works to the field and others wrote sf only sporadically. But they can all be considered the main authors of this period: Santos himself, Juan G. Atienza, Alfonso Álvarez Villar, and Ángel Torres Quesada. In broad terms, almost all were sf pioneers who contributed to a highly heterogeneous and unique compilation of stories (Peregrina, El cuento español 244-45).

The second anthology is considered a cornerstone in the history of Spanish sf: Lo mejor de la ciencia ficción española [The Best of Spanish SF, 1982]. This book gives closure to an entire literary period by gathering together a selection of the best published stories of the 1970s. The anthology is, nevertheless, not exempt from controversy; some have criticized Santos for not including younger authors such as Rafael Marín or Juan Carlos Planells, who had already made their mark on the Spanish sf scene in the pages of Nueva Dimensión. This is why, as Julián Díez has observed, “the results are irregular, as it is to be expected in this type of book, though they are also very solid, considering that most of the authors selected were in no way related to the professional literary realm but were, like Santos himself, mere amateurs” (Las cien mejores 300).4

Santos as Editor. Following Mario J. Valdés’s approach, we must emphasize the role of publishing houses as a significant institutional and formal support for the burgeoning field of Spanish sf. Publication of sf in Spain has suffered from a “pendulating routine” (Saiz Cidoncha 504-07) throughout the years: successful series have been followed by market saturation and bargain bins. After several blooming periods, almost all the great series offered their stock at clearance prices at some point (see Moreno, Peregrina, and Bermúdez), giving many readers access to sf at a very low cost. The Spanish Golden Decade of sf in the 1990s is therefore partly explained by this publishing phenomenon, a key factor during the 1970s and 1980s.

The end of Francoism, the disappearance of censorship, and the opening of the market induced many publishers to issue new sf series.5 Some, led by passionate amateurs who knew American sf in depth, such as Santos himself, assumed the task of translating, with roughly one decade of delay, all the great titles that had shaped the genre during the 1970s. Thus, the great English-language novels written between 1965 and 1975, including early New Wave works, entered the Spanish market quite late, particularly because some of their themes—mainly those with sexual content—would have been forbidden by censorship. The case of the short story is just the opposite: many publishers took higher risks when publishing anthologies—Bruguera’s and Acervo’s are good examples—that gained considerable commercial success. Consequently, many short stories that had been awarded renowned prizes such as the Hugo reached the Spanish audience much earlier than the great novels by the same authors.

New and varied book series undoubtedly contributed to the maturing of Spanish sf because they provided readers with abundant new material that had been central to the development of American and British sf. Many of the Spanish Golden Decade writers were regular readers of such collections. The second phase of Nebulae, SuperFicción from Martínez Roca, and books from Acervo in the 1970s as well as the sf lines from the publishers Minotauro, Orbis, and Ultramar during the 1980s stand out among the sf books published during Spain’s transition to democracy. Significantly, out of these six publication venues Santos supervised or collaborated on four: Acervo, SuperFicción, Orbis, and Ultramar.

Nebulae was one of the most relevant series, particularly in its second phase under the direction of Francisco Porrúa. Along with the reissue of classics, he published contemporary authors such as George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman, and John Varley and introduced many short- fiction collections to the Spanish market, including those by James Tiptree Jr., Robert Sheckley, R.A. Lafferty, Brian Aldiss, and Ursula K. Le Guin. The same process was repeated with Minotauro some years later, again under Porrúa’s management.6 He always showed great concern for both the work and the author, and he was always very careful in his selection criteria. Porrúa eventually covered a wide chronological range from the big names of 1950s sf, such as Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, and Olaf Stapledon, to more modern ones, such as J.G. Ballard and Le Guin in the 1970s and William Gibson in the 1980s.

After Porrúa’s Minotauro, Acervo’s influence is also worth mentioning. This publisher had already issued luxury, hard-cover short-story anthologies in the early 1970s that sold successfully, but in 1974 it decided to market a new series of novels “from New Wave classics to samples of the most revolting commercial fantasy, including new generation space-operas, indispensable titles and even weirdo French” (Díez, “Las colecciones de cf [VII]” 38). Santos’s collection in this series included many Hugo and Campbell award winners, as well as New Wave works.7 Representative titles include Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon (1966), Herbert’s Dune (1965), John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968), Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron (1969), and Brian Aldiss’s Barefoot in the Head (1969).

This list reflects Santos’s aspiration to reshape the taste of Spanish readers to carry the genre into maturity. With such aims and drawing on classics of New Wave sf, he tried to publicize those works that had remodelled sf stylistically and thematically in the 1970s (Latham 214-15), inviting Spanish readers to face new concerns (including sexuality). He also promoted some Spanish authors from these years, such as Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo (Casa and García Bilbao 378), whose novel Viaje a un planeta Wu-Wei [Journey to a Wu-Wei Planet, 1976] was included in Santos’s Acervo collection.

Santos’s contribution was more limited in the case of SuperFicción, also managed by Eduardo Salas, Eduardo Goligorsky, and Alejo Cuervo. SuperFicción survived for two main reasons: it was very inexpensive and it showed a very personal style. This series specialized in reediting classics, and presenting new authors and anthologies (Díez, “Las colecciones de cf (VI),” 41). The latter are probably the most significant type of publication in this series, including Lo mejor de Stanley Weinbaum [The Best of Stanley Weinbaum, 1977]. The promotion of Spanish authors was rare, with only one experimental novel included: Joan Trigo’s Desierto de niebla y cenizas [Desert of Fog and Ashes, 1978]. It is worth mentioning, however, that Lo mejor de la ciencia ficción española was published in the SuperFicción series.

Ultramar, directed by Emili Teixidor with counsel from Domingo Santos, Luis Vigil, and Juan Carlos Planells, is a clear example of longevity and  publishing that offered good value for the money, marking an era in Spanish sf. The Ultramar books were characterized by their budget price and by the eclectic selection of works that ranged from new authors such as Octavia Butler to classics by Heinlein and Clarke. They also published highly regarded novels such as Delany’s Babel 17 (1966), Mundos en el abismo [Worlds in the Abyss, 1988] by Juan Miguel Aguilera and Javier Redal, and Rafael Marín’s collection Unicornios sin cabeza [Headless Unicorns, 1987].

Finally, the Colección de Ciencia Ficción series published by Orbis, that reached a hundred volumes, was conceived as a reprinting of different titles that had appeared in some of the already-mentioned series. Domingo Santos was in charge and he tried hard to select the most remarkable works from the collections with which he had been involved, such as Acervo or SuperFicción. This was an important effort to make some of the most prominent sf accessible to the public, from classics such as Isaac Asimov to more modern writers such as Roger Zelazny, including key anthologies such as Dangerous Visions (1967), edited by Harlan Ellison. Santos also made room in this Orbis series for some of the most outstanding Spanish authors of the time, including Rafael Marín and Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo. And he also reissued his own anthology Lo mejor de la ciencia ficción española.

Santos in Nueva Dimensión. Within Santos’s editorial activity, his work for Nueva Dimensión stands out. This publication is the longest running Spanish sf and fantasy magazine to date. Published between 1968 and 1983, it reached a total of 148 issues and 12 special issues and was also awarded two international prizes in 1972.8 The magazine was the result of the collaboration of three fans: Sebastián Martínez, Luis Vigil, and Santos. The last two had previous editorial experience with the magazine Anticipación [Anticipation] published by Ferma, which printed only seven issues, among which the last one, a diachronic vision of Spanish sf, is noteworthy. Anticipación failed due to its problems with censorship (the 1966 “Ley de Prensa e Imprenta” or “Press and Print Law”) and because of the ideological disagreements between the editors and the publishing house Ferma (Peregrina, El cuento español, 257-89).

For the new independent project of Nueva Dimensión, the aims previously outlined in Anticipación were maintained: a) to publish mainly short stories; b) to make unpublished material accessible to the Spanish readership; c) to strengthen the number of Spanish authors; d) to aim for an international scope; e) to publish articles and essays about the genre itself; and f) to include a news section informing the fans about new international sf and film as well as any related public events. There was also a correspondence section that fostered contact among the readers and fan communication, something commonly found in English-language sf magazines.

The number of stories published in Nueva Dimensión throughout its almost thirteen years is indeed impressive. Its long-lasting, popularizing task, together with the efforts of the publishers mentioned above that specialized in short- story collections, significantly improved the visibility of sf in Spain. Nueva Dimensión popularized many important sf authors and stories, even as the quality of the selections varied widely from issue to issue. Personal as well as socio-political circumstances surrounding the editors and the magazine itself influenced the publishing process, eventually leading Luis Vigil and Sebastián Martínez to abandon the project in 1978, leaving Santos as sole director. He then gave the magazine its greatest, and last, period of splendor.

As a rule, the magazine always showed a rather conservative streak in its concern to satisfy the varied tastes of the limited readership that kept it running. Therefore, it rarely took the risk of publishing more cutting-edge stories, unless they were accompanied by more traditional ones with linear and standardized narratives that suited popular taste. Its list of most frequently published authors demonstrates this trend: Asimov, Clarke, A.E. Van Vogt, Fred Hoyle, Eric Frank Russell, and Robert Sheckley. Exceptions might be noted in the cases of Ellison and Dick, two writers who were more innovative but nevertheless pleased Santos, Vigil, and Martínez.

This conservative tendency came not only from the public’s demands, but also from other political and economic complications. The political problems are a direct consequence of two historical developments fundamental in Spain during those years (Peregrina, El cuento español 305-06). The first is the widespread repression enforced by the Francoist regime; the second is the powerful control of the censors with whom the magazine often clashed. A stark example of this was the seizure of issue 14 of Nueva Dimensión because of the Basque-titled story “Gu ta Gutarrak” [We and Ours, 1970] by Argentinean author Magdalena Mouján Otaño.9 This parody of the origins of the Basque people, which the authorities found dangerously separatist, was eventually replaced by a Johnny Hart comic strip. Abusing the trust of the authors, the magazine often invoked censorship as an excuse to deprive them of their royalties. Some authors, including Ellison, sold their work at insignificant prices; others, like Silverberg, even gave it away.

Nueva Dimensión lingered on in this first period until shortly after Franco’s death in November 1975. In its second period, the magazine overlapped with the Spanish transition to democracy that finally allowed citizens to express themselves freely, bringing also a new freedom for the press. This allowed the editors of Nueva Dimensión to widen the range of themes—especially sexual and political—fulfilling their longstanding goal of breaking with the moral taboos imposed by the previous regime. A sign of this shift in the political situation was Santos’s decision finally to publish Mouján Otaño’s tale in 1979, thereby redressing the affront to the writer caused by the Francoist censors.

Economic problems also made the editorial line of Nueva Dimensión more conservative. In Santos’s own words, Nueva Dimensión “was never a business nor was it ever meant to be one: it was the expression of the desires of a group of people—not only of the three in charge, but of an entire galaxy of collaborators—to publicize and spread sf in Spain” (“Nueva Dimensión,” 424-25). The magazine found itself in the red on several occasions, and it had to confront other difficulties: the ban on imports due to the different coups d’état in Latin America during the early 1970s that reduced their sales drastically; the scam perpetrated by the distributing company Disedit in 1977 that almost forced the magazine to file for bankruptcy; the transformation of the publishing market as a consequence of the 1973 Oil Crisis; the increase in the cost of paper; and the rise of royalty prices in the US during the 1970s.

Despite all this, Nueva Dimensión represented a real renewal of the sf scene in Spain. First, it offered the Spanish reader material that had never before been translated or published in that country. Nueva Dimensión became the integrating center of the mutual communication process that created a more vibrant Spanish sf fandom. It was the germ of the first Hispacón (the Spanish sf convention). And it published many of the stories written by veteran Spanish authors—Santos himself, the aforementioned Juan G. Atienza and Alfonso Álvarez Villar, and José Luis Garci—as well as younger authors such as Rafael Marín, Javier Redal, Juan Carlos Planells, and Elia Barceló (Peregrina, El cuento español 556).10

As Santos boasted, “Most of the Spanish authors that today have a name in Spanish sf—except for the newly arrived, of course—cut their teeth in the pages of Nueva Dimensión” (“Nueva Dimensión” 422). Nueva Dimensión was, therefore, the fundamental referent for both readers and writers in the 1980s and 1990s. Within the field of Spanish sf—where readers, authors, critics, gatherings, publications, and specialized editorials developed autonomously, lacking any connection to the general stream of literature—Nueva Dimensión was an institutional node of immense relevance.

Santos as Author. Santos is also a renowned author of Spanish sf, a task he combined with his intense editorial activity.11 He is a self-taught writer who started his career at the age of sixteen, producing novels for the different series of bolsilibros under diverse pennames, including Peter Danger. In these works, he used hackneyed themes from different genres, including the western, crime fiction, and especially sf, all of which enabled him to acquire a fluid and agile writing style. Allegedly, a publishing house once returned a manuscript to Santos complaining that its quality was too high for the standards of their type of publication.

Santos eventually matured as a man of letters into one of the most successful authors of the first generation and published his works in collections and relevant series of the time, including the Nebulae line. This period of his career is characterized by a very intense, prolific literary production, comprising a dozen novels and almost seventy short stories. Much of this work was published during the 1970s, because Santos, burdened by his various publishing and editorial responsibilities, later pushed writing into the background. Although he attempted to return to writing with commendable efforts such as Hacedor de mundos [World Maker, 1986], these ultimately proved that his literary production was becoming more and more sporadic. Despite this diminished production, Santos continues to write to this day, although less prolifically, as evidenced by his novel El día del dragón [The Day of the Dragon, 2008], his participation in the anthology Empaquetados [Packaged, 2014], and the three novelettes that make up Bajo soles alienígenas [Under Alien Suns, 2013].

In the words of Fernando Ángel Moreno, Domingo Santos took “a first step from sf into prospective [his preferred term over speculative] fiction at a time when popular series were still the reference” (Teoría, 415). While his novels give the impression of offering nothing but drawn-out plots, flat characters, a linear narrative, and scarce stylistic concern, it is in his short stories where the best of Santos is to be found and where his great knowledge of American literature can best be appreciated. For this reason, apart from some odd successes such as Gabriel (1962)—a currently outdated novel that deals with the humanization process undergone by a robot—we need to step back and marvel at his work as a short-story writer.12

Most of Santos’s short stories appeared during the 1970s and 1980s, either in compilations such as Meteoritos [Meteorites, 1965] and Burbuja [Bubble, 1965], in anthologies of various authors such as Primera antología de la ciencia ficción española [First Anthology of Spanish Science Fiction, 1967] and in Nueva Dimensión, which in 1970 devoted an entire issue to his work. In these tales, as Miquel Barceló explains, “Santos tends always to speak about humankind, its possible future—mostly pessimist and dark—and he does so by using a patriarchal and admonitory tone as a warning of the many absurdities that we are perpetrating as a species” (312). It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the most common reflections in his stories are framed by ecological and political anxieties.

It was precisely these two concerns that dominated Santos’s most famous collection of short stories, Futuro Imperfecto [Imperfect Future, 1981]. This is a volume composed of eight tales that had already appeared years before, between 1967 and 1980, in several publications, mainly in Nueva Dimensión. The texts here are preceded by a “Historian’s Prologue,” a fictional resource that aims to provide the stories with real value as historical documents, analyzed in the hypothetical future from which the historian writes. All the stories obey dystopian directives: they describe future societies that are worse than the author’s contemporary one (Sargent 9).13 In them, an ordinary individual placed in this catastrophic society and alienated by the system becomes a victim. From the circumstances that alter his ordinary life in this context, the character acquires a critical consciousness that, depending on the story, may result in mere acceptance (“Señor, su cuenta no existe” [Sir, Your Account Has Been Cancelled, 1980]), adaptation (“Smog,” 1973), or opposition with a bad ending (“Una fábula” [A Fable; 1981]).

These texts portray a negative vision of humanity in which the individual invariably ends up subdued by the social organism, making them “anti-utopias,” as Tom Moylan has defined them (148-50). As is the rule in these ill-fated dystopias, the contradictions encountered in present society not only prevent finding a solution in the future but also, when intensified, produce a catastrophe for all of humankind (Ferreras 120). This negativity constitutes a recurrent feature in the work of many sf writers of the Francoist period, who focused their efforts on portraying dehumanizing societies (Saiz Cidoncha 343). Spanish authors proved incapable of building an imaginary space to oppose the regime through writing. Consequently, the critical and subversive power of dystopia was eventually set aside in favor of the dominant discourses, both those imposed by the Francoist authorities and those promoted by the opposition in exile (Peregrina, “La ciencia ficción distópica,” 217-19).

One of Santos’s more recent tales, “Una fábula,” whose political content is blatant, is a good example of the development of this dystopian narrative. This story had previously appeared in issue 11 of Nueva Dimensión under the title “Un lugar llamado Tierra” [A Place Called Earth, 1969], although for its inclusion in Futuro Imperfecto Santos revised it slightly. Here the author apparently opts for a utopia; however, as the narration moves forward the reader begins to perceive that this future society is not as perfect as it originally seemed. As Yolanda Molina-Gavilán notes:

This new society condemns its inhabitants to the alienating and absurd work of a communist future that is based on consumerist pragmatism. The world problems that provoke its rise are three tendencies in present society that Santos exaggerates: overpopulation, progressive automatization, and the inefficiency of the ruling bodies to respond to such problems. The ideology displayed in this story is mainly “anti-progressive” for its depiction of an idyllic rural world and a “de-personalizing” and devastating urban one. (158)

Through the main character, the last outcast and an anachronistic symbol of a forgotten past, the author highlights what citizens have given up to gain stability and secure welfare: humankind is now reduced to automatism. The ending reflects this anti-utopian tendency: the marginal subject ends up becoming part of that future society and any possible dissidence will die with him. As Juan Ignacio Ferreras has noted, “[a]t this catastrophic level, what can the failure of a single individual matter? All of mankind fails” (126). The other great concern in the book is ecology. From this perspective, Santos presents the reader with the devastating consequences of human activity for the environment and suggests with it a parallel ethical reflection on the same issue in political terms, an example of what Patrick D. Murphy calls “ecological writing.”

Santos’s tales, therefore, function as warnings to reader so that these tragic visions do not become reality. A good example is “Smog.” This story depicts an average day in the life of an environmental department worker named Mr. Simon. The setting describes a world so polluted that people cannot survive outdoors without masks to purify the air. “Encima de las nubes” [Above the Clouds, 1973] combines both political and ecological themes. The main plotline narrates a meeting of the Baller company, which intends to launch the new fuel, “iztiol,” whose processing releases huge amounts of contaminating waste. Santos presents the environmental issue from the perspective of ruthless businessmen who only care about the company’s profit. The secondary plotline features Mr. Álvarez, a middle-class worker with the urge to excel socially. His career rise is accompanied by his rise to the platforms orbiting the stratosphere, where the powerful live above the polluted planet.

out for their stylistic and/or thematic modernity: “...Y si mañana hemos de morir” [...And If We Must Die Tomorrow, 1969] and “Extraño” [Stranger, 1967]. “...Y si mañana” first appeared in Nueva Dimensión, but Santos made some changes to include it in Futuro Imperfecto, enhancing its sexual content (hetero- and homosexual licentiousness, orgies, onanism, etc.) and also adding drug use to the story. Santos was conscious of the social changes occurring at that time in Spain and aimed to update his texts so that they were closer to the new themes in mainstream sf (echoing Ballard’s Crash [1973], published in Spain by Minotauro in 1979). In “...Y Si Mañana” alienated youths are relegated by the system to some geographically isolated “Sessions” where they can indulge in a hedonistic search for pleasure—sex, drugs, and alcohol are the only means of escape from an oppressive reality (Peregrina, El cuento español 865). We are thus presented with young people who are trapped in a gray, meaningless world and who never really question the system: a very clear analogy to the Francoist period in Spain. The tale is also related to the Cold War and the constant menace of nuclear holocaust, at the same time explaining young people’s propensity to live in the present in a continual effort to carpe diem. Love and sex are nevertheless mixed with death in the story. Thanatos is eroticized: it can be seen in a poster that shows a couple making love with a mushroom cloud behind them. The only real way out for these youngsters is suicide, the tragic ending of the story.

The other short story that reflects Santos’s attempt to adapt himself to the new trends in sf is “Extraño,” a “rather obscure parable on the consequences of education” (Barceló 307). Inspired by Richard Matheson’s “Born of Man and Woman” (1950), this tale narrates the story of a mutant child who reacts against the world with the same virulence it shows to him for being different. Reading about a child shamelessly depicted as deformed is shockingly unpleasant, but the style in which the story is told is novel. Two narrative voices alternate: one, a traditional heterodiegetic voice; the other, the singular homodiegetic voice of the monster, displaying his stream of consciousness with scarce punctuation. This attempt to adapt mainstream narrative techniques to sf, as other New Wave writers did—something not present in Matheson’s text—is one of the most innovative features in Futuro Imperfecto. As opposed to the experimental form in “...Y Si Mañana,” in “Extraño” Santos’s style reveals his origins in the bolsilibros background. Here he follows a traditional narrative mode with zero focalization and an exaggerated use of the free indirect style. Santos’s writing is quite fast-paced; ironically, given his task as editor, he is not particularly careful in his text editing, as can be seen in his noun and adjective repetition, triteness, abuse of comparative clauses, and multiple enumerations.

This traditionalism is also revealed in other features of his stories. Despite the political and environmental themes, the stories often reveal Santos’s conservative and sexist mentality. This is easily noted in the way he depicts female characters mostly doing housework and bearing children, as is the case for Mr. Simon’s wife in “Smog,” or completely subdued to the patriarchal system, such as Ana in “...Y si mañana hemos de morir.” In this sense, Santos proves ultimately to be incapable of comprehending the social changes taking place in Spain during the 1960s when he depicted family models that were closer to the 1950s. Although he tried to adapt to the new times, he could only partially succeed.

Conclusion. Domingo Santos in all his facets—as translator, anthologist, editor, director of Nueva Dimensión, and writer—successfully promoted sf among Spanish readers. Within the history of Spanish sf, the period ranging from the bolsilibro’s decadence in the late 1960s through the late Golden Decade of the 1990s cannot be understood without this singular figure. In the many years he dedicated to promoting the genre, Santos introduced themes that were completely new to the Spanish scene such as ecology and politics, even as his conservative ideology and traditional writing style were not so progressive. Although it was thanks to him that sf in Spain moved beyond the unprofessional and prefabricated formulae of the bolsilibros, his greatest accomplishment was inspiring the rise of the Hispacón Generation writers that made up the Golden Decade. These are the reasons why Domingo Santos is considered to be the dean of Spanish sf and the most important promoter of the best period for the genre in Spain.

1. The bolsilibros (literally “pocketbooks”) were short novels that appeared in popular and inexpensive paperback series. These offered abundant dialogue, stereotyped characters, a linear narration, and extremely simple plots that made them both enjoyable and easy to understand—thus meeting the needs of a clear majority of readers. The repressed society of the Francoist dictatorship was disillusioned and lacked many means of distraction (television would not become popular in Spain until the late 1970s). The authors of these works were craftsmen who signed with Anglophone pseudonyms and were rarely taken seriously. Nevertheless, “with their crafted discourses,” these writers “mastered the most dramatic narrative tools” and “were able to create characters with thin development and gave agile rhythm to the most stilted stories” (Moreno and Díez 79). Although their numbers decreased, these books continued to be published throughout the 1980s and were also re-edited in the 1990s. Today the bolsilibros have earned the admiration of a group of fans who pay tribute to them through new writing, conferences, and academic research. For further information on this literature see Martínez de la Hidalga and Herranz.

2. The conventional date for the start of the Golden Decade is 1985, falling between the publication of Lágrimas de luz [Tears of Light, 1982] by Rafael Marín and Mundos en el abismo [Worlds in the Abyss, 1988] by Juan Miguel Aguilera and Javier Redal, two key novels that mark the period of maturity in Spanish sf.

3. The dates correspond to the original English-language publication, not to the Spanish translation.

4. All quotations originally in Spanish have been translated by Jimena Escudero Pérez.

5. There was a previous period of blooming for sf publishing houses in Spain during the 1960s. The first Nebulae line stood out among the publishers that offered the Spanish readership important works from the American Golden Age (mostly up to the early 1970s), though often they fluctuated in their frequency of appearance.

6. Minotauro had been publishing key sf works in Argentina since its beginning in the 1950s, but only after it moved to Barcelona in the 1970s did these editions start to circulate regularly among the Spanish public; before then, they were extremely difficult to find.

7. Santos resigned after the publication of issue 43 due to disagreements with the owner of the publishing house, Ana María Perales. From then on, the quality of the publication declined and a fantasy series replaced the sf series.

8. These were the “Special award to Nueva Dimensión for excellence in science fiction magazine production,” awarded by the 30th World Science Fiction Convention held in Los Angeles in 1972 and the award for the best “Specialized Professional Magazine” of Eurocon I, Trieste, in the same year.

9. This title, originally given in Basque, translates literally as “Us and Our People.” The translation given above represents how this title would be translated into Spanish for Spanish readers.

10. Garci later became the first Spanish film director to win an Oscar, for Volver a empezar [Begin the Beguine] in 1982.

11. We will only address here Futuro Imperfecto [Imperfect Future, 1981], often considered Santos’s most memorable collection. For a broader analysis of the author’s complete work, see Barceló.

12. Santos rewrote the novel in 2004, reissuing it as Gabriel revisitado [Gabriel Revisited].

13. Santos wrote some other dystopian stories not included in Futuro Imperfecto, such as “Gira gira” [Spin, Spin, 1970], a comic text on the parking problem in urban centers that was later chosen by Fernando Ángel Moreno and Julián Díez for Historia y antología de la ciencia ficción española.

Barceló, Miquel. “Domingo Santos: una mirada al futuro imperfecto.” La ciencia ficción española. Ed. Fernando Martínez de la Hidalga. Madrid: Robel, 2002. 291–316.

Behm, Florence. La ciencia ficción en España. Madrid: Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror (AEFCFT), 1993.

Casa, Ricard de la, and Pedro A. García Bilbao. “Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo. Ciencia ficción y pasión de escritor.” La ciencia ficción española. Ed. Fernando Martínez de la Hidalga. Madrid: Robel, 2002. 365–80.

Díez, Julián. “Las colecciones de cf (VI): SuperFicción.” Gigamesh 19 (Apr. 1999): 41–4.

─────. “Las colecciones de cf (VII): Acervo.” Gigamesh 20 (Jun. 1999): 38–41.

─────, ed. Las cien mejores novelas de ciencia ficción del siglo XX. Madrid: La factoría de ideas, 2001.

Ferreras, Juan Ignacio. La novela de ciencia ficción. Interpretación de una novela marginal. Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1972.

Herranz, Pablo, et al. Memoria de la novela popular: Homenaje a la colección Luchadores del espacio. València: Universitat de València, 2004.

Latham, Rob. “The New Wave.” A Companion to Science Fiction. Ed. David Seed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. 202–16.

Martínez de la Hidalga, Fernando, ed. La novela popular en España (2 vol.). Madrid: Robel, 2000, 2001.

Molina-Gavilán, Yolanda. Ciencia ficción en español: Una mitología moderna ante el cambio. New York: Mellen, 2002.

Moreno, Fernando Ángel. Teoría de la literatura de ciencia ficción: Poética y retórica de lo prospectivo. Vitoria: Portal, 2010.

─────, and Julián Díez. “Introducción.” Historia y antología de la ciencia ficción española. Ed. Fernando Ángel Moreno and Julián Díez. Madrid: Cátedra, 2014. 9–117.

─────, Mikel Peregrina, and Steven Bermúdez. “Condiciones para el nacimiento de la ciencia ficción española contemporánea.” Tropelías. Revista de Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura Comparada 27 (Winter 2017): 218–33.

Moylan, Tom. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2000.

Murphy, Patrick D. Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2000.

Peregrina, Mikel. “La ciencia ficción distópica ante el franquismo: otro frente de disidencia.” Dicenda. Cuadernos de filología hispánica 33 (Spring 2015): 209–22.

─────.“El cuento español de ciencia ficción (1968-1982): Los años de Nueva Dimensión.” PhD dissertation. Madrid: Universidad Complutense, 2014.

Saiz Cidoncha, Carlos. “La ciencia ficción como fenómeno de comunicación y de cultura de masas en España.” PhD dissertation. Madrid: Universidad Complutense, 1988.

Santos, Domingo. Futuro Imperfecto. Barcelona: Edhasa, 1981.

─────. “Nueva Dimensión: la revista española de ciencia ficción.” La ciencia ficción español. Ed. Fernando Martínez de la Hidalga. Madrid: Robel, 2002. 419–31.

Sargent, Lyman.Tower. “The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited.” Utopian Studies 5.1 (1994): 1–37.

Valdés San Martín, Mario J. “Rethinking the History of Literary History.” Rethinking Literary History. Ed. Mario J. Valdés and Linda Hutcheon. New York: Oxford UP, 2002. 63–115.


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