Discover the new Brazilian sci-fi with sertãopunk, cyberagreste and amazofuturismo

Discover the new Brazilian sci-fi with sertãopunk, cyberagreste and amazofuturismo

Among the great beauties of our country are miscegenation and the intense exchange of multiple cultures, which over the decades have created new and rich forms of expression. Some of them became part of our own identity and, since then, we have never stopped experimenting. And although the productions of the genres of fantasy and science fiction are relatively young here, we can say that we are facing a generation that has been innovating from curious subdivisions, such as amazofuturismo, tupinipunk, cyberagreste and sertãopunk.

Well, before reaching these new terms, we need to go back a little bit of our sci-fi history. Jerônymo Monteiro, a young man from a humble family, living in the neighborhood of Brás in São Paulo, was a key figure in the beginning of our own science fiction. Brazil already looked this way, with O Imortal, by Machado de Assis, and O Doutor Benignus, at the end of the 19th century, but it was with Monteiro and we can say that we had something genuinely Brazilian.

Image: Reproduction / Obvious

Influenced by HG Wells, Monteiro, under the eyes of his father's disapproval, insisted on wanting to create his own plots and, in 1933, he succeeded: with the pseudonym Ronnie Wells, he published The Hand Collector, considered the first police novel in the country, with the first national detective character. Even before this launch, Monteiro was already standing out as a journalist in Cruzeiro magazine and in Diário de São Paulo. After working at Correio Paulistano in the 1950s, he was called by Editora Abril to be the first editor and responsible for Donald Duck magazine. In 1964, he founded the Brazilian Science Fiction Association.

Throughout his trajectory, until his death, which happened in the early 1970s, he published several stories, characters and scenarios that mix authors from the 19th century, like Jules Verne and Mary Shelley – but with our own “little stamp” ”.

The pioneer Jayme Monteiro (Image: Reproduction / PublishNews)

And look: in the whole history of science fiction, it is only more recently that we have seen more black authors, with Afrofuturism. Monteiro, who had dark skin, humble roots and came to face the early years of the Military Dictatorship, also stands out for being a representative author between 1920 and 1970.

  • What is Afrofuturism, an artistic genre that mixes African culture with sci-fi

A salad of references

Between the 1960s and the 1970s, we had the first generation of science fiction writers in the country, the so-called “GRD”, an acronym that comes from the name of editor Gumercindo Rocha Dorea, who published works like Geraldo's Sword in his publisher Melo Mourão, and Eles Inherido a Terra, by Dinah Silveira de Queiroz, as well as titles by Zora Seljan, Fausto Cunha, among others.

In the 1980s and 1990s, more writers and fans came together and developed works with an identity close to our reality, through clubs, fanzines, role playing groups, games and comics. Publishers like Record started to dedicate themselves to this vein, and classic works by authors like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick could be found easily.

This has all influenced a new wave of national science fiction authors, who have been mixing various references in more visual narratives into innovative concepts in our culture.

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Tupinipunk, amazofuturismo and cybergreste

In the 1990s, we already saw works by cyberpajé Edgar Franco, a comic from Minas Gerais who projects a post-human dystopian society. In early 2000, we followed the emergence of the concept called tupinipunk, which the Brasil Tupinipunk page defines as “satirical subgenre of science fiction in Brazil”. Like the cyber-baroque, the idea is to add elements of our own culture to the sci-fi narratives.

“Amazofuturism and cyberagreste are terms that have emerged in recent times to try to classify speculative fiction works with regional themes, more specifically situated (or that refer to traditions and social or cultural issues) in the Amazon rainforest and in the northeast, respectively. As a northeasterner, I can't say much about amazofuturismo. About the cyberagreste, the term comes from a series of illustrations by the gaucho Vitor Wiedergrün ”, explains Zé Wellington, author of Cangaço Overdrive.

Image: Reproduction / Vitor Wiedergrün

The aforementioned Vitor Wiedergrün has gained prominence in recent seasons for developing archetypes of northeastern culture and cyberpunk-inspired cangaço. "I always liked Brazilian culture and thought it strange to see nothing of that culture in works of fiction and fantasy. Over time, I started to think and imagine some mergers and, right away, I thought about what Brazil would be like in a cyberpunk future. some research and sketches of clothing from the south and northeast, but I ended up opting to start the designs focused on the cyberpunk hinterland, hence the emergence of the Cyberagreste series ", he says, in an interview for UOL Tab.

Image: Reproduction / Vitor Wiedergrün

Similar ideas are present in the material by illustrator João Queiroz, who follows the Amazonian-futuristic line. “A few months before creating the Cyberamazon illustration, I was interested in cyberpunk and all its theory and aesthetics. I did some work with this theme and I soon realized that the current aesthetic of the genre stagnated in a 1980s retrofuturism, because, of course, Blade Runner, Akira, Alita and Ghost in the Shell are still great sources of inspiration ”, he commented, also to UOL.

Image: Reproduction / João Queiroz

Even though components of the Eastern tradition are not part of our general history, this has all been brought to national scenarios. "This is not part of my reality, so I thought: 'why not bring cyberpunk to Brazil?", Asks Queiroz.

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Cyberagreste or sertãopunk?

Even if the intention is similar, there is a certain division in the understanding of the concept of the mixture between cyberpunk (science fiction with dystopian and futuristic elements) and steampunk (sci-fi with a 19th century "Era of Steam" aesthetic) with Brazilian elements. Northeastern author Zé Wellington explains it better. "Although it is possible to understand that Vitor (Wiedergrün) created this series due to the aesthetic admiration he has for the northeast, there are some mistakes in the representations of the Northeasterners in them, some of them even reinforcing stereotypes that are fought by the authors of the region", he says.

Image: Reproduction / Editora Draco

“It was certainly not the illustrator's proposal that the name of his series of illustrations should become a literary movement, this association happened after a series of reports that reflected his work. In this sense, a new term was proposed by the Northeastern writers Gabriele Diniz, Alan de Sá and Alec Silva: the sertãopunk. Taking into account that this term is much more comprehensive and coined by those who make speculative fiction in the region, I have preferred to classify my work with him. ”

Image: Reproduction / Editora Draco

One example of the sertãopunk is Cangaço Overdrive, a comic book released in 2018 by publisher Draco that addresses the future of Ceará in a drought scenario, in a land forgotten by the government. “When I wrote Cangaço Overdrive, I was entering a very personal process of trying to bring elements of my reality into my stories. The more I explored the northeastern regional elements, but I saw that there were very compelling and necessary themes there ”, highlights the creator Zé Wellington, who had the drawings of Luiz Carlos B. Freitas at his side.

However, the screenwriter claims that his plot did not come to establish a label. "Classifying this by some name came only afterwards and was done by the readers, not by me."

And how will it be going forward?

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Zé Wellington plans to launch this year a continuation of Cangaço Overdrive and an adaptation of the classic Ceará Luzia-Homem. “Even though I work with stories that go beyond reality, Cangaço Overdrive comes up with issues that afflict us today, such as exploitation by large corporations and xenophobia. What has changed a little lately was my care when building these stories about my region and my state. Much of the science fiction and fantasy that I have read all my life is done outside the Northeast, and I know that some problems of representation of my own people have been embedded within me. Seeking more information and reading from local authors has helped to avoid these misunderstandings ”, he reflects.

Image: Reproduction / Vitor Wiedergrün

Currently, there is a whole generation of authors working on authorial science fiction inspired by our own culture, such as Gabriele Diniz, Alan de Sá, Alec Silva, Ricardo Santos, Ian Fraser, Hugo Canutto, Airton Marinho and Flavio Luiz.

“More Northeastern authors gaining space and receiving due recognition for their work. Being away from the south-southeast axis is a daily challenge for those who produce in the northeast, north and midwest regions. The time has come to give visibility to the writers and artists of these regions ”, stressed Zé Wellingon. “There are a lot of people wanting to read stories of the speculative genre set in the northeast. I think our culture is unique and has a universal appeal ”, concludes the author.