series of interviews featuring the contributors of Shine: An
Anthology of Optimistic SF edited by Jetse de Vries.]
Jacques Barcia is a speculative fiction writer and information technology reporter from Recife, Brazil. His short fiction has appeared in Brazilian, American and Romanian online markets. He’s one of the authors actively supporting Greenpunk.net and the Outer Alliance initiative. When he’s not writing, Jacques acts as the lead singer of Brazilian grindcore band Rabujos. He’s married and has the smartest, loveliest, bookishiest daughter in the world. Jacques is currently working on his first novel. He can be reached at www.jacquesbarcia.wordpress.com. .
interview. First off, what’s the appeal of science fiction for you?
Jacques Barcia: In one word, potential. Or freedom. Speculative fiction lets me write about (or experience) anything, in any setting or time period. Even in a totally made-up world with twisted laws of physics, magic and hyper-science coexisting. Anything’s possible as long as there´s internal consistency. Also, Fantasy and SF characters go beyond the human condition. It speaks of the inhuman, transhuman and posthuman conditions too.
fiction? What are the challenges in writing such a genre?
JB: Since I´m so much more interested in SF/F/H than
realism, I think it was only natural to write genre fiction. The biggest
challenge is, actually, the best part: speculation. To dedicate a lot of
creativity developing the social, economical, ehtical impact of a
piece of technology, and make it believable, is really hard. And so
made you decide to contribute to theShine anthology?
Did you find the criteria of
near-future optimistic SF difficult?
JB: The theme and the challenge, basically. The near
SF part of the submission guideline
wasn´t really a problem. The part about being optimistic was. But
when I read Jetse´s articles about optimism in
SF, he kinda made me remember why I´ve been involved with anarchism,
action groups, the extreme music scene, indymedia and the punk and
subcultures for the biggest part of my life. I was trying to make the
little bit better. I wanted a better future.
So, what if some of those attempts to change society for the better did
But how to write that in a way it didn´t sound like simple
That was tough. Can´t say I’ve succeeded, but it was a hell of an
CT: Do you think science fiction is
changing the world? How?
JB: I believe every
artistic expression, as a manifestation of culture, can and does change
world as much as it´s changed back by it. But those changes are likely
happen in very subtle, small-scale ways. Science fiction, in particular,
changed the world many times. It has influenced scientists, products,
aesthetics, cultural movements. It has influenced people. Like
me. And you.
CT: How would you describe Brazil? From your view, is
it an optimistic place to live in? How has this influenced your writing?
JB: Which Brazil?
There are several. Really, every state, or every major city is a
I think Brazil
today is a much better country than it was in my childhood. But we´re a
democracy. We´re 500 years old, but we´ve something like 20 years as a
democracy. Social inequalities are huge. Literacy is low. Oligarchies
present and are still the real rulers of the country. There´s
bureaucracy, violence, etc, etc, etc. But things are changing for the
Slowly. People are tired of all that. People are doing things to change
country. I´d say people are critically optimistic. Things are far from
but are not that bad. Things have problems, but can be improved through
This kind of critical thinking surely has influenced my writing.
I interviewed you before, you said
that Brazil leans more towards science fiction. Could you elaborate more
JB: Brazil, for some reason, doesn´t have any
in fantasy. There´re absolutely no fantasy novels written by Brazilian
and only a few foreign authors were published in the past. Can´t say
fact is that, except for Tolkien, fantasy literature is almost unknown
There´re games, comics, movies, etc, but no written words. Robert
example, was finally translated only a couple of months ago. Ok, The
Avalon is well known here too, but that´s all, I guess. One thing that´s
here, though, is vampire fiction. Steampunk´s growing fast, too. But the
is that, except for fangs and blood, SF reigns supreme in Brazil.
were the challenges in writing
“The Greenman Watches the Black Bar Go Up, Up, Up”?
JB: Trying to come up with an optimistic story that
relevant, fun and didn´t sound didactic or “Pollyanic”. I guess all the
in the Shine antho had the same trouble.
CT: If you were to make a prediction, how
you envision the future of Brazil?
think it´s more interesting to shape the future than predict it. Except,
in fiction. But then, those two things are really one and the same,
they? Thanks for the opportunity, Charles. And readers, please, get
your copies of
the Shine antho. It´s a great book, with great stories and fantastic