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[Interviewer’s Note: This

is a

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 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 .

Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the

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.

CT: What made you decide to write science

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 the Shine 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

straight edge

subcultures for the biggest part of my life. I was trying to make the

world a

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

capable of

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.

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

are still

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.

CT: When

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

why. The

fact is that, except for Tolkien, fantasy literature is almost unknown


There´re games, comics, movies, etc, but no written words. Robert

Jordan, for

example, was finally translated only a couple of months ago. Ok, The

Mists of

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.

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


1 Comment on EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jacques Barcia

  1. Roberto de Sousa Causo // April 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm //

    Hi. I’ve met Barcia a couple of times, but from what he says about fantasy here, it seems we live in different Brazils–or alternate realities.

    Fantasy is the fastest growing genre in Brazil nowadays. Not only Tolkien and Bradley, but C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), Lloyd Alexander (Chronicles of Prydain), Philip Pullmann (His Northern Lights trilogy), T. H. White (his Arthurian fantasy tetralogy), Mary Stewart (her Arthurian tetralogy), Bernard Cornwell (more Arthuriana), Persian Wooley (idem), Terry Brooks (parts of the Shannara series), Terry Goodkind, Robert E. Howard (parts of the Conan series), Michael Moorcock (one Elric novel), Tad Williams–all have been published here in the past and most of them recently. I don’t know what Barcia’s definition of fantasy is, but if you assume Neil Gaiman writes contemporary fantasy you’ll have at least three of his remarkable novels–“American Gods,” “Neverwhere,” and “Anansi Boys”–and some story collections. The same can be said of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

    This is a post-Harry Potter publishing world, and all major publishing houses have at least one young adult series, and some have entire lines dedicated to YA fantasy. Eoin Colfer, Rick Riordan, Justine Larbalestier, Ysabeu S. Wilce, and Garth Nix are represented here. The demand is so big books are being purchased in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Australia, building up a very international field.

    What about Brazilians? We’ve had pioneers such as Luiz Roberto Mee who wrote Tolkien inspired high fantasy in the 90s, and Roberto de Mello e Souza who wrote a very interesting mix of Arthurian fantasy and Brazilian regionalist fiction. Maria Nazareth Alvim de Barros wrote a more traditional celtic Arthurian fantasy–and literary fantasist Jose J. Veiga was a favourite of several generations of readers. Most fantasy careers in the Tolkienesque high-fantasy are beginning now, with authors like Michelle Klautau (two novels), Raphael Draccon (two novels), Estus Daheri, and Jorge Tavares, among plenty of others. Writing a sort of historical fantasy, Orlando Paes Filho was a national bestseller with his Angus series of illustrated novels, and Helena Gomes has an ongoing series of seven planned novels that mix fantasy and science fiction.

    I myself have written a fix-up novel of heroic fantasy blending Native-Brazilian and Norse myths, the Tajare Saga, wrote a contemporary fantasy novel set in the US, “A Corrida do Rinoceronte” (Rhinoceros Race), and edited an anthology with fantasy stories from Canada, Brazil, Portugal, and the US. Brazilian authors there were Braulio Tavares, Gian Danton, Cesar Silva, Daniel Fresnot, Anna Creusa Zacharias, and Rosana Rios.

    Most of this stuff is not as good as it is supposed to be, but in any case, compared to all that sf is trully lagging  behind. Or at least that is what I see from this alternate Brazil.

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