Edgard Refinetti lives in São Paulo, Brazil. He collects e-books, strange names, recollections and other intangible items. One of his stories is about to be published in an upcoming Brazilian kaiju anthology.
Edgard recently attended Odisseia de Literatura Fantástica de Porto Alegre in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and was kind enough to write this guest post about his experience at the event. If you have attended speculative fiction conventions outside the United States, I’d love to hear from you about your experiences!
by Edgard Refinetti
The time has come to get our hands dirty with iridium and incrust a new mark in our generation.
— Manifesto Irradiativo
Far, far down, on the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, an event evolved to become the biggest and best science fiction and fantasy literature convention of the country, the Odisseia de Literatura Fantástica de Porto Alegre (Porto Alegre’s Fantastic Literature Odyssey). It’s held in the capital of the state, Porto Alegre, a city over 500 miles from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the main publishing centers, and, even so, it attracts readers, writers, critics and publishers from all over the country.
The event venue this year was a cultural center dedicated to Érico Veríssimo (1905-1975), a classic Brazilian author that published both mainstream and speculative fiction and is best known for the mainstream trilogy “The Time and the Wind”.
The 4th edition of the Odisseia opened on April, 10th, dedicating the first afternoon to receive school trips and young readers for meet-ups with authors such as Simone Saueressig, Flávia Côrtes and Estevão Ribeiro, among others. At night, Roberto de Sousa Causo, a well-known Brazilian SF writer and scholar, gave the opening lecture discussing the history of Brazilian science fiction and a future outlook about its output and its interactions with the international scene.
For the first time, an art exhibition was added to the event, presenting illustrations inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. The dealers room included many tables of publishing houses, big and small, along with tables with T-shirts, accessories, fan-clubs and the like.
Cirilo S. Lemos, a local author that is featured in the TOC for Sean Williams’s The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, was autographing his new fix-up novel E de Extermínio (E for Extermination), that begins with the novelette included in Sean Williams’s upcoming anthology.
I also talked about the ‘Manifesto Irradiativo‘ with one of its creators, Jim Anotsu. He and Alliah published, in January, this manifesto for diversity in Brazilian Speculative Fiction that also touches many other interesting topics. It’s available in English and I particularly believe that its relevance exceeds Brazilian borders. Jim told me they are discussing the next steps, probably involving publishing stories aligned with its proposals.
On Saturday and Sunday, the event included panels discussing Alan Moore, Stephen King, Oz universe, alternate history genre and its variants, the craft of illustrating books, worldbuilding, the current Brazilian science fiction and fantasy scene, the small press Draco (celebrating its 5 years) and the webcomic ‘Contos do Cão Negro‘ (‘Black Dog Tales’).
Steampunk, a local obsession, also deserved a panel recapping all the short and long fiction production that, curiously, is quite bulky in relation to all the recent Brazilian output. An example available in English is “By a Thread” by Flávio Medeiros Jr., published by Inter Galactic Medicine Show. The Conselho Steampunk (Steampunk Council) keeps the culture alive, organizing and supporting steampunk lodges spread all over Brazilian territory, and promoting the production of fiction, art and costuming.
My own contribution to the programme was a discussion of non-Brazilian authors that deserve to be best known by our readers. Despite the long list the panelists prepared, we just managed to talk about Mark Charan Newton, Joe R. Lansdale, Kate Elliott, Aliette de Bodard and Ken Liu.
Closing the event, the band Bando Celta played celtic music, at times even mixing with Brazilian music.
All in all, the Odisseia welcomed 1,700 visitors, a solid growth since its first edition when the event attracted 500 people. The Odisseia’s creators, Duda Falcão, Cesar Alcázar and the 2011 Nebula nominee Christopher Kastensmidt, plan to build on this growth, intending also to bring non-Brazilian authors to the event.