The Beginnings of Socialist Realism in Cuban Science Fiction

One of the consequences of the abrupt break in the evolution of Cuban literature that took place in 1971, due to purely extra-literary causes, was the almost complete disappearance of the fantastic current that had reached such a boom in the previous decade, subjected to a criticism inspired by the principles of socialist realism. Within this non-realist current was also included science fiction, which had been intimately linked to the fantastic and the literature of the absurd, as can be seen, for example, in the case of Ángel Arango (1926-2013).

Historiography usually points to the year 1978 as the date when the publication of science fiction in Cuba was resumed, at which time also began a period that lasted until 1990 known as “science fiction of the eighties”, during which there was an unusual flourishing of the genre in Cuba, both in terms of the number of works published and the number of authors involved. That is why it has always been believed that in the first half of the seventies the publication of Cuban science fiction on the island stops completely.[1] This is true in general (no books were published), but with a curious exception. In 1972 and 1974, that is, at the height of the so-called Gray Quinquennium (and in what has been considered a zone of silence in Cuban science fiction), Cuban author Alfonso de los Santos Hernández published two science fiction stories in Bohemia magazine (which was then the most widely read Cuban magazine).[2] Alfonso de los Santos was born in 1929 and apparently worked at Bohemia during the 1960s as a proofreader. He studied journalism in the seventies and collaborated in the magazines Verde Olivo and Santiago. His book Vísperas received First Mention in the 13 de Marzo Contest and was published by Letras Cubanas in 1984. The science fiction stories of this author are interesting because they announce some of the characteristics that the later Cuban science fiction of the eighties would have. That is to say, De los Santos already begins to move away from the poetics that animated the science fiction of the previous decade. Since it is unlikely that his stories will be reprinted, I will briefly summarize the plot of both.

The 1972 story is entitled “Findings in the Amazon.”[3] A paleontological expedition to the heart of the Amazon has an encounter with arborescent-shaped aliens that move by means of mobile “root-feet” and have much more advanced technology. The otherworldly beings are friendly and even protect the humans from an assault by a jaguar. They explain to them that they are there extracting peat, which they feed on and which is disappearing on their own planet. In return, the aliens bring them a piece of stone and assure them that inside it the researchers will find what they were looking for. After the aliens leave, the humans are amazed to find that they have left no trace of their quarrying. When they open the stone, they discover that inside is a fossil.

The tale, which is a first contact story, shows an asymmetrical relationship between two civilizations: one highly advanced and the other (the terrestrial one) “underdeveloped” by comparison. The aliens are there only to exploit Earth’s resources, but we are assured that this is not harmful, as Earth’s peat reserve is “inextinguishable.” The aliens are friendly and respectful to the humans and, before leaving, give them a gift, so the relationship takes on a tinge of reciprocity, i.e., it is no longer a simple “exploitation.” De los Santos implicitly assumes that a more technologically advanced civilization will necessarily have an altruistic and ethical behavior. With this the conflict in the story is reduced to almost zero (this lack of dramatic conflict is the main weakness of the story). The Earth scientists are good and the aliens are even better. That’s all.[4]

This story has an interest far beyond its very modest literary level. It is a story of a kind such as had not been written in the previous decade in Cuba and it already announces the arrival of socialist realism to science fiction, although still in a discreet form.

A surprisingly scarce number of works on socialist realism have been published in Cuba, both from the theoretical point of view as well as in the study of concrete cases. Reflection on socialist realism, however, was very important during the 1960s and some of these texts, published in the context of polemics, are still among the best written on the subject in our country.[5] This lack of research is surprising, since at the same time it is widely admitted that Cuban literature and art were influenced, to varying degrees, by socialist realism during the 1970s and until the mid-1980s, while on the other hand everyone knows that Cuba was strongly integrated into the Soviet orbit during those decades (not only economically) and that today it is the only country in Latin America that is part of the so-called post-Soviet space. It is true that this was a peculiar socialist realism, which did not adopt some of the forms of the classic Soviet socialist realism, which is why it is sometimes called a “Creole version” of socialist realism. But it should be kept in mind that this feature is not exclusive to Cuba and that one of the first things that Katerina Clark, an important scholar of the subject, warns us is that socialist realism:

[…] is not, first of all, a single doctrine” and that, just as there are “many different communisms,” there are “in much the same way, […] many different Socialist Realisms. Different countries, different political parties, and critics with different partis pris have each evolved different definitions of it.[6]

In Cuba the issue is complicated by the fact that, unlike other socialist countries, socialist realism was never officially proclaimed as an aesthetic doctrine, which, together with the late interest[7] in this artistic method (and without forgetting the previous history of opposition to socialist realism), contributed to accentuate that moment of national originality. At this point, it is no longer possible to write anything serious about socialist realism without taking into account the vast theoretical corpus on the subject, and this will be precisely our starting point before moving on to the analysis of the topic at hand.

Socialist realism in narrative is characterized by a set of features among which the ones we are most interested in highlighting here are: optimism, positive hero, idealization, ritual sacrifice, conflictlessness (in Russian безконфликность), “heroic code” or cult of heroism and didacticism.[8] The principles in force in the Soviet novel of the 1950s were adapted to the characteristics of science fiction and the first (and most influential) model was Ivan Ephremov’s The Andromeda Nebula (1956). To the general features of socialist realism, Efremov added a utopian vision in accordance with the principles of Marxism-Leninism, although already socialist realism itself, as Ukrainian researchers Sharova et al. write, includes the “assertion of a utopian concept of the world and a utopian worldview.”[9] It should also be noted that utopia had always been one of the sources of science fiction and even many early works of this genre are utopias.

The extreme idealization of the protagonist characters in socialist realism, the inevitable fruit of the dogma of the positive hero, brings as a consequence that tendency to low conflict (or to focus on irrelevant conflicts) that is characteristic of this type of literature. This trait originates in the impossibility of formulating criticisms of the utopian reality described. Abram Tertz (pseudonym of Andrei Siniavski), for example, in his study On Socialist Realism (1960), said that in the Soviet Union they even wrote novels where all the characters were positive heroes. He went on to say:

This is but natural, since we are coming ever closer to the Purpose. So that if a book about the present deals not with the fight against the enemies but with, say, a model collective farm, then all its characters can and must be positive. To put negative characters in such a situation would, to say the least, be strange. And so, we get dramas and novels where all moves smoothly and peacefully. If there is a conflict between the heroes, it is a conflict between good and better, model and supermodel.[10]

The inevitable result of that practice was reader boredom. As Jonathan Gottschall says in The Storytelling Animal: “Hell is story-friendly”;[11] that is, in literature it is normal to present very acute conflicts that pit characters against each other or put them at odds with themselves, and the character is usually expected to be a reflection of human nature and not a model of anything.

Years ago, Juan Carlos Toledano, in a study of the science fiction novels of the Cuban Ángel Arango, in addressing this same problem wrote: “Since the new man is a character either good or better than any other man, and bad characters cannot be socialist, SF authors could only come out with two possible solutions for dramatic conflict: the scientific quests, and the evil capitalist or counter-revolutionary villain.”[12] It is indeed possible to see that authors inspired by socialist realism, at least in the field of science fiction, appealed to alternatives to endow their works with an indispensable dose of conflict: first, to shift the conflict out of the utopian field, to conceive it as a struggle between the positive hero and the forces of reaction, which coexist with the utopian society (in a divided world, for example, or on another planet), or which continue to exist as remnants or survivals within the present of the work. An example of a hostile class society on other planets is found in Guianeya, a novel by the Soviet author Georgy Martynov, without much literary merit but which greatly influenced Cuban science fiction.[13] The other source of the conflict was to be found in the confrontation of mankind with the universe, to which the notion of sacrifice was then added. That is why the works of Soviet science fiction abounded in accidents that endangered the lives of the protagonists or even killed them (Erik Simon, referring to the typical clichés of Soviet science fiction, mentions “the obligatory rescue attempts for wrecked astronauts and the sacrifice of one’s own happiness, often even of one’s own life, in the service of science”).[14] This death of the character, however, was full of meaning and was presented as a necessary sacrifice, as a price to be paid for the future to open up. The sacrifice is supposed to be the fruit of a decision by the character; but even when this factor of conscious choice fails, things are presented in such a way as to infer that the death or suffering was not absurd or pointless.

The theme of humanity’s conflict with the universe does of course appear in Western science fiction and, in particular, is very typical of the variety called “Hard Science Fiction.” But it is not usually associated with what Katerina Clark, in her classic study of Soviet socialist realism The Soviet Novel, called “ritual sacrifice.”[15] And likewise the motif of accidents is frequent in this type of science fiction. For example, Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust revolves around an accident on the Moon. But the idea that the solution of the conflict requires the sacrifice of one of the protagonists is absent, as occurs, for example, in the story “The Black Column” by Voiskunski and Lukodianov, another story that was well known in Cuba.[16] That is, in Western science fiction accidents are solved thanks to the application of the ingenuity and technological and scientific knowledge of the characters (as in Hal Clement’s Gravity Mission, for example), while Soviet science fiction is always infiltrated by that strange (if you look at it closely) idea that a blood price must be paid.[17]

“Findings in the Amazon,” by Alfonso de los Santos, has so little anecdote that we almost overlook the main point: that this is precisely where the crux of the story lies, that the first contact between earthlings and an alien civilization does not generate any conflict. This was a novelty, since Cuban science fiction of the 1960s, on the contrary, was distinguished by the acuity of the conflicts it presented, which did not exclude relations between humans and aliens. One of its most common themes was the clash between different cultural norms as a cause of misunderstandings and clashes between mankind and aliens. This is, for example, the theme of the anthological story “The Cosmonaut” by Angel Arango. (It was the author’s most published story outside Cuba and merited a commentary by writer Alfred Van Vogt; on the island the most anthologized and reprinted story has always been “An Unexpected Visitor,” no doubt because of its social theme, but “The Cosmonaut” is one of Arango’s best stories and raises an entirely serious problem). The three mini-stories that José Hernández Artigas published in 1963 under the title “Cósmicas” also have as a common theme the aforementioned struggle between different cultural norms (and it cannot be ruled out that Arango, in some way, wrote “El cosmonauta” under the influence of that one). Several stories in Collazo’s El libro fantástico de Oaj also deal with this theme of conflict between divergent cultural norms, and we cannot fail to mention “Pilones, pilones y más pilones” and “No me acaricies, venusino,” by Juan Luis Herrero, also built around this confrontation. It is also worth adding that already in his aforementioned work on Angel Arango, Spanish professor Juan Carlos Toledano (one of the first to study the relationship of science fiction on the island with the models of socialist realism) had noted this same deficit of conflict in Cuban science fiction of the 1980s, in relation to which he did not hesitate to opine that it was “a feature incorporated from socialist realism.”[18] In general, it can be said that, looking beyond science fiction, almost all Cuban art, cinema and literature of that period were marked, in one way or another (and to one extent or another), by the aforementioned conflictlessness.

An interesting detail of the story is the intervention of non-humanoid aliens, which departs it from the conventions of Soviet science fiction, characterized by its anthropomorphism, and reveals the influence of Western science fiction.[19]

In, “Symbiosis,”[20] De los Santos’ other story, from 1974, as in the previous story, there is also no overt ideologizing, although significantly it is preceded by an epigraph from F. Engels. Communication with a ship is lost while it was exploring a small planet and a rescue mission is sent in search of it, headed by Captain Encinares. The planet’s atmosphere is breathable and the soil consists of a bluish-black earth “rich in albumen,” according to the author; a fog covers the terrain as far as the eye can see. Other than that, the landscape is a desert. The rescue mission finds that the ship is intact, but inside they find the bodies of its three crew members. A notebook left by the expedition’s biologist allows them to learn what has happened: the astronauts who have breathed the planet’s air are attacked by native bacteria, causing severe headaches and memory loss. They also discover that the fog is composed of these same microorganisms. Encinares and his crew bury the dead, but during the exploration of the ship a member of the team, named Cliford (sic), becomes infected. Attempts to find a cure are unsuccessful and Cliford, aware of his fate, opts for suicide. When his companions go to bury him, they discover that plant shoots have begun to grow on the graves dug two days earlier, which causes great excitement among them: “They may be future trees! […] Peas, maybe! Maybe rose bushes!” And with this jubilant exclamation the story ends.

The tale is a variation on the universal theme of “life in death”: the astronauts are victims of the bacteria of the world they have discovered, but from them new life is born, in the form of vegetation. This is also the theme of metamorphosis, as it appears in mythology, and of death-resurrection. But the story, despite the accident and the lives lost, is ultimately optimistic, for this death is not the end, nothingness, but a transition to a new form of existence. Although the story does not say so, it can be assumed that humans transformed into vegetables will be integrated into the cycle of life on the alien world, adding a new element of complexity, previously absent (throughout the story it is insisted that the planet is a desert with very rudimentary forms of life). The death-resurrection theme has been linked to socialist realism by Katerina Clark:

The symbolism of death and new birth is at the heart of every rite of passage. In the Stalinist novel death and symbolic mutilation had a predominantly mythic function. When the hero is liberated from his individualistic self at the moment of passage, he dies as an individual and is reborn as a function of the collectivity.[21]

Note also that the story does not describe a symbiosis per se. This title is only understandable if one accepts that the earthlings have obtained something in exchange for their pain and death (which is what seems to be suggested). Compare this twist with the anecdote in Angel Arango’s story “The Black Planet,” where the sacrifice of the astronauts is sterile, absurd, meaningless.[22] In other words, in the background of “Symbiosis” appears the theme of sacrifice, which was studied in depth by Clark in The Soviet Novel.[23] In particular, Clark refers to the ritual character of sacrifice in the literature of socialist realism:

Sacrifice played a major role in all Stalinist novels. The reasons for this, however, were not limited to Russian revolutionary myth and actual Stalinist practice. They were, at least in part, formal; that is to say, sacrifice is a major element of the traditional rite of passage, both in the preparations for that rite and in the moment of passage itself.

Alfonso de los Santos’ stories already announce the new vision, and even some of the themes, that will be predominant in the Cuban science fiction of the eighties, of which they are precursors. Before the seventies the only science fiction story of socialist realism published in Cuba (as far as I know) was “Vuelo al origen,” by Franco Martín, which appeared in the magazine Bohemia in 1965.[24] I have not been able to find any information about this author, who was probably not Cuban, but a technician or professional from South America invited to work in Cuba.[25]

I briefly summarize his argument. Regia is an inhabited planet where evolved descendants of human beings have reached a high degree of civilization. But there is an enigma that intrigues them: this development presupposes, according to them, at least a million years of evolution, but Regia is not such an ancient world. Where, then, did the human species originate? Guided by the intuition of the unnamed protagonist of the story, a group of explorers travels to the star Mindra, in the neighboring galaxy, in search of answers. On the eighth planet they discover the remains of an ancient civilization and among them a plaque, addressed to the future, with the explanation they seek. Long ago the original system of mankind was destroyed when their sun went supernova. They then created a new home on Mindra, a star in the constellation Auriga:

To preserve our civilization, our people and our social doctrine, we have been obliged to come to this [planet], so as not to let the mission we have as an integral part of this universe die out and from here follow to the rest of the worlds, including the most distant nebulae, to carry our message of peace and civilization. Perhaps one day some of us will return in search of our origin.

And the message is signed: “The President of the Governing Council of the Confederation of the Solar System, Year 100 000 of the Manifesto of Marx and Engels.”[26]

This, rather than a literary work, is a fictionalization of ideology, exposed in a crude way. But the story is interesting for another reason: those who are familiar with Cuban science fiction of the eighties will not fail to notice the thematic similarities. But why were no such science fiction works written in Cuba as early as the 1960s? The promoters of socialist realism on the island were very active in those years, but most Cuban writers (and artists in general) rejected such formulas, which had shown their sterility in other latitudes, and Cuban literature managed to develop, at least for a while, on the fringes of an aesthetic that imposed a heavy ideological yoke on creation. Speaking of the characteristics of socialist realism in the Soviet Union and its differences with respect to the dominant ideas about art in the West, Jørn Guldberg pointed out: “the idea that political explicitness and lack of ideological ambiguity are ideas which are incompatible with artistic truth—ideas which are in conflict with the nature of art.”[27] There is an approach (not at all strident) to social issues in certain works by Arango and Collazo.[28] But neither of them tried to draw the future in the light of the ideas of Soviet-inspired Marxism-Leninism. During the sixties even some satirical works were written, although this was never the predominant tone in Cuban science fiction of that time. The most interesting examples can be found in Juan Luis Herrero (“Cromófago” and “Menelao tiene sueño,” both from 1964)[29] and Miguel Collazo (“El laberinto de Mñes,” 1967).[30]

Illustration used for the short story “Simbiosis”, by Alfonso de los Santos, published in ‘Bohemia’ magazine

De los Santos’ stories do not stand out for their literary level and are rather an instance of the aesthetic backwardness of the seventies, but they should not be overlooked in a history of Cuban science fiction, especially considering the scarcity of examples coming from those years. These stories show that already in the early seventies the process that would lead to the establishment of a new type of science fiction in Cuba, marked by the Soviet influence and the models of socialist realism, was underway. The stories of this author still exhibit some traces of the science fiction of the sixties, which can be seen in their metaphorical style (evident in the second one), the way they avoid direct ideologization and the representation of non-humanoid aliens, more typical of Western science fiction, and even in the motif of suicide, which would become a taboo. But at the same time, they already announce the new vision that will be distinctive of science fiction written on the island in the seventies and eighties. Therefore, it can be said that with the appearance of these stories the sixties stage in Cuban science fiction was definitively closed. From then on, socialist realism would become the dominant trend in science fiction on the island until the late 1980s, when it went into crisis and finally disappeared, along with the world that had given birth to it.[31] Cuban science fiction in the 1990s would follow other paths.

Referencies & notes:

[1] It has always been stated that the publication of Cuban literary science fiction resumed in 1978, when the books Siffig y el vramontono 45-A, by Antonio Orlando Rodríguez, and De Tulán, la lejana, by Giordano Rodríguez, appeared. The former was a work of children’s literature.

[2] In 1976 Virgilio Piñera wrote the short story “El otro yo,” which shows some relation with science fiction, but was not published until the following decade (in the volume Un fogonazo, 1987).

[3] Alfonso de los Santos Hernández: “Hallazgo en la Amazonia,” Bohemia, no. 22, June 2, 1972, pp 25-26.

[4] It is tempting to read the story as an allegory of the relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union, which had entered a qualitatively new phase with the entry of the island into the CAME (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) in 1972.

[5] See: Graziella Pogolotti (ed.). Las polémicas culturales de los sesenta. Third edition. Havana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 2022.

[6] Katerina Clark. The Soviet Novel. History as Ritual, The University of Chicago Press, 1981, p, 3.

[7] By the 1970s socialist realism was a style in retreat or in the process of being abandoned in the socialist world into which Cuba was trying to integrate. This open extemporaneity of Cuban socialist realism was another factor contributing to its relatively short-lived hegemony.

[8] For the definition of socialist realism, I have relied mainly on the books: The Soviet Novel (1981), by Katerina Clark; On Socialist Realism (1960), by Abram Tertz (Andréi Siniavski); Le réalisme socialiste en France (2002), by Reynald Lahanque; and The Culture of the Stalin Period. ed. Hans Günther (1990). In the text by Tetiana Sharova, Sergii Sharov, Oksana Ohulchanska and Alina Zemlianska “The Key Features and Periodization of Socialist Realism in the Literary Context,” the authors define socialist realism in literature on the basis of three “vectors”: structural-stylistic, cosmic-universal and figurative (characteriological). Here I have limited myself to citing a handful of features for the specific needs of the present analysis.

[9] T. Sharova, S. Sharov, O. Ohulchanska, A. Zemlianska: “The Key Features and Periodization of Socialist Realism in the Literary Context,” Journal of History Culture and Art Research, no. 9, 2020, p, 249.

[10] Abram Tertz: On Socialist Realism, Pantheon Books, New York, 1960, p. 50. Reynald Lahanque provides another translation of the end of this classic passage by Siniavski: “les progressistes et les superprogressistes, les bons et les meilleurs” (Le Réalisme socialiste en France (1934-1954), 2002, Thèse d’État sous la direction de Monsieur le Professeur Guy BORRELI, Nancy II, 2002, p, 118). On the problem of the “conflictlessness” of socialist realism, see also Natalija Majsova’s remarks in Soviet Science Fiction Cinema and Space Age (Lexington Books, 2021, p, 59): “as socialist had allegedly been achieved, there could be no more room for social conflict, and conflict as a dramaturgical device had to be abandoned, the logic went,” and then she quotes Maria Belodubrovskaya’s analysis on the same subject: “Conflictlessness is an aberration. It leads to undramatic recounting of events and as such is closer to an illustration or a chronicle than to storytelling proper.”

[11] The expression is actually a quote from the writer Charles Baxter, which Gotschall uses to illustrate the central thesis of a chapter in his book. Gotschall, who approaches literature from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, acknowledges that to say that stories are based on a conflict or problem is almost a cliché, but that this very fact “has desensitized us to how strange it is.” There is a “basic formula” for stories, but it is “intensely strange” (Jonathan Gottschall: The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2012).

[12] Juan Carlos Toledano: “Ángel Arango’s Cuban Trilogy: Rationalism, Revolution and Evolution,Extrapolation, vol. 43, no. 4, 2002, p, 428.

[13] Georgy Martynov: Guianeya, Editorial Mir, Moscow 1967. (It appears as published in 1974; the 1967 data, which coincides with my memories, is taken from Javier de la Torre: “La ciencia ficción en Cuba y la etapa del Quinquenio Gris”) The novel was widely read in Cuba in the late sixties and during the seventies and, as reported by De la Torre himself (referring to an article by Raul Aguiar), it had a radio adaptation.

[14] Erik Simon: “The Strugatskys in Political Context,Science Fiction Studies, vol. 31, no. 3, Nov. 2004, p, 381. He then adds: “The accidents themselves are less irritating than is their frequency, which is taken for granted and which is totally inadequate from our current perspective.”

[15] Katerina Clark: The Soviet Novel. History as Ritual, The University of Chicago Press, 1981.

[16] It was published in the short story selection Café molecular (Mir Publishing House, Moscow 1968), which was widely circulated on the island.

[17] This motif or theme of sacrifice also appears later in Cuban science fiction of the 1980s (for example, it is central in Una leyenda del futuro, by Agustín de Rojas, which is, by the way, a wonderful novel), and fades away in the later science fiction of the 1990s, together with the motif of the accident. On the centrality of the theme of sacrifice in De Rojas see Michel Encinosa Fu’s prologue to the second edition of Espiral (Letras Cubanas, 2014, p, 23).

[18] Juan Carlos Toledano: op cit, p, 428.

[19] Elana Gomel speaks of “this cosmic anthropomorphism, which is characteristic of Soviet sf as a whole, […] Most run-of-the-mill Soviet sf simply takes the humanity of the cosmic Other for granted […]” (“Gods like Men: Soviet Science Fiction and the Utopian Self,” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 31, no. 3, 2004, p, 363).

[20] Alfonso de los Santos Hernández: “Simbiosis”, Bohemia, no. 40, October 4, 1974.

[21] Katerina Clark: op cit, p, 178.

[22] I have commented on this interesting story in my article “Ciencia ficción cubana en los sesenta: Arango, Collazo y Herrero.” I would like to add here that the story admits an additional interpretation: the author, who writes from the “periphery,” takes a polemical position with respect to the space exploration enterprises of Anglo-American science fiction. It is a mistake to believe that Cuban science fiction of the sixties passively copied the Anglo-American models of the genre; quite the contrary: it dialogues creatively with them.

[23] Katerina Clark: op cit, p, 177.

[24] Franco Martín: “Vuelo al origen,” Bohemia, no. 1, January 1, 1965, pp 10-12.

[25] The name Franco is common in the American Southern Cone, but unusual in Cuba, where Franco is found mainly as a surname.

[26] Ibidem, p, 12.

[27] Jørn Guldberg: “Socialist Realism as Institutional Practice: Observations on the Interpretation of the Works of Art of the Stalin Period,” in Hans Günther (ed.), The Culture of the Stalin Period, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 1990, p, 160.

[28] For example, in Arango’s “Un inesperado visitante,” “Kii y los marcianos” and “La bala en el aire,” and in Miguel Collazo’s El viaje.

[29] [26] For an analysis of the social satire in Herrero’s science fiction see my article “Los futuros en crisis de Juan Luis Herrero,” Espacio Laical, year 17, nos. 3-4, 2021, pp 91-101.

[30] Miguel Collazo: “El laberinto de Mñes,” Bohemia, June 16, 1967, pp 32-33. The story, which shows a continuity with the stories of El libro fantástico de Oaj, was probably going to be part of El libro de las invasiones, a volume of short stories that was never written (or published). The story deals metaphorically with the relationship between the writer and the State, which it presents as a misunderstanding.

[31] A final note that is almost a postface: in reality, the crisis of socialist realism begins already in the second half of the eighties and in the following decade it is definitively abandoned (although it should be noted that in the nineties some titles were published that had remained from the old editorial plans of the eighties, such as Sider, by Arango, and that are in fact examples of science fiction of the eighties). On the other hand, not everything published in the period is framed within socialist realism and the influence of Soviet science fiction. Juan Carlos Toledano has already pointed out that this artistic model was not equally assimilated by the various authors in his text “Sputniks cubanos” (Kamchatka 5 July 2015, p, 192).

Rinaldo Acosta. He is the author of the book Temas de mitología comparada (1997, Pinos Nuevos Award and Critics Award) and of a compilation of essays devoted to science fiction published by Letras Cubanas: Crónicas de lo ajeno y lo lejano. Acerca de la ciencia ficción (2010, Critics Prize). He was in charge (together with Fabricio González Neira) of the selection of narrative and essays Otras tierras, otros soles: Una mirada a la ciencia ficción (Letras Cubanas, 2017).


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