We have within our grasp Detroit and Calcutta, everything mixed together, North and South, advanced technology and depressed areas, and the most diverse ideologies coexist, contaminate, and cling to each other. This exclusionary gatekeeping was broken in the s by venues edited by competent connoisseurs, and from this point until around Italian readers had access to a comprehensive range of translated sf.
Still, an opportunity had been missed, and niche markets were never fully able to counter the cloak of invisibility imposed by holders of cultural capital. Cosmopolitanism was among the stakes in one of the most spirited polemics in the magazine Robot , in which a young writer denounced the lingering ruralism of many Italian stories, especially when authors tried to gesture towards the mainstream see Giambalvo : can Italian sf come closer to literature only by recoiling towards its own past?
In the formative decades, American Studies, not Italian, was the discipline paying the closest attention to sf. This is my aim in this overview: 4 not definitiveness in name-listing and individual assessments but rather an attempt to sketch a history without a teleology let alone an end , with centers and peripheries that do not erase each other, following chronology but sometimes deviating from it, without taking one strand as representative of the whole, accepting the field as multi-faceted and complex.
At the turn of the century, most sf classics not only Jules Verne and H. Rider Haggard were available in Italian. If a strand of high literature discovered the Gothic see Foni , it was popular writing that addressed the expanding readership and its interest in science and utopianism. Around a hugely successful tradition of exotic adventure tales not free of Orientalism, but driven by genuine fascination for the international , there were important attempts at sf. The most optimistic author was Ulisse Grifoni, in whose works humanity reached Mars and established socialism.
Luigi Motta, Yambo also a film director and journalist , and Calogero Ciancimino provided numerous future wars, inventions, and mad scientists. Such publications continued during fascism, which opposed proposals for sf magazines see the de Turris anthology , while a previously prolific sf film industry stopped abruptly see Bertetti.
The s. In this period critic Sergio Solmi, a friend and collaborator of Calvino, wrote about sf as contemporary folklore, successor to early-modern chanson de geste. Johannis , cover-artist Kurt Caesar, and hard-boiled crime writer Franco Enna. In Monicelli persuaded one of the largest publishers to start Urania , a newsstand series of what he called fantascienza , a term that began to be used by other series as well.
Volume 3 "Italian issue" () | University College Cork
The early Urania was frequently idiosyncratic and demonstrated a paternalistic view of the Italian audience. Still, both Urania and its main rival Cosmo Ponzoni published some strong works, and although most Italians used foreign-sounding aliases, using pseudonyms is not unique to Italian sf.
Numerous Atlantis novels e. Among space-opera authors, Luigi Naviglio appeared worried about a crisis of masculinity, which only interplanetary adventure could revitalize; his Estinzione uomo [Extinction: Man] presented a dystopian, women-dominated world. Her self-conscious, almost recursive I giorni di Uskad [Uskad Days, ] is the best among her many alien scenarios.
In this period new magazines began to publish Italians without pseudonyms and a school of short-story writers developed. Hard sf by writers such as Giovanna Cecchini, Cesare Falessi, Ivo Prandin, Gianni Vicario, and above all Lino Aldani dominated the fiction section of the aerospace magazine Oltre il cielo Beyond the Sky, , but this work was often far from triumphalist about space exploration.
Meanwhile, the magazine Futuro and the anthology series Interplanet bridged sf and literary publishing, an effort later shared by the magazine Gamma. Over almost fifty years, he gave opportunities to new writers at home and abroad as an editor and as liaison with European markets especially France and Eastern Europe : his role as father of Italian sf is uncontested. In the near future of Quando le radici [When the Roots, ], generally considered his masterpiece, the drop-out protagonist must choose between alienating factory work and a bucolic community in his hometown in the valley south of Milan.
Finding stagnation as unsatisfactory as techno-degradation, he joins a Gypsy group to reconcile rejection of bourgeois life with a longing for the unknown. Later novels are La croce di ghiaccio [The Ice Cross, ], an alien anthropology explored through the communication efforts of a dissenting priest, and Themoro Korik , an investigation into the secrets of a Roma community. In this decade a new generation of writers, inspired by the Italian edition of Galaxy , discovered dystopian and social sf.
A smaller number of writers wrote with absurdist twists. The most popular satirist emerging in the s was computer scientist and futurist Roberto Vacca, one of the few believers in sf as prediction and in the need for a technocratic elite, whose nonfiction The Coming Dark Age was widely read in the US. Irony became bitterness in some post-nuclear-apocalypse novels, and Scerbanenco presented a fragmented Italy whose survivors flock towards an ostensible utopia which is yet another dictatorship in the sophisticated Il cavallo venduto [The Sold Horse, ], written with an intensity stemming from personal WWII experience see Gallo in this issue for more on Italian sf by non-genre writers.
Short fiction was preferred by the most prestigious mainstream writers who wrote some sf in this period: Primo Levi whose work is analyzed in this issue by Mori and Calvino.
Censorship or Profit? The Manipulation of Dialo – Meta – Érudit
Calvino linked science with mythology in his Cosmicomics , which follows the adventures of antihero Qwfwq in a prehuman world that mirrors and critiques our own. Specialized bookstore series, providing careful translations, and a fresh generation of editors Vittorio Curtoni, Gianfranco de Turris, Sebastiano Fusco, Giuseppe Lippi, Gianni Montanari, Ugo Malaguti, Sandro Pergameno, Riccardo Valla, Gianfranco Viviani, and others with very different aesthetic and political approaches allowed readers to join the conversation abroad, while a national fan scene coalesced and Carlo Pagetti inaugurated academic sf studies.
As Chayt shows in this issue, these were also crucial years for sf film, which found new life around simultaneous with tv experiments that mostly disappeared around in low- and mid-budget productions. In his early fiction, the post world has explicit echoes of the Resistance, and the quest for survival of mutants and persecuted outcasts is an analog for generational utopian longings. Against the frequent background of wars often involving mind-control, Curtoni explored subtly different relationships as the only hope against worlds in decay, which involved sex-change in his only novel, Dove stiamo volando [Where Are We Flying, ].
His irregular trickle of carefully crafted short fiction went on until his death in in a highly personal voice oscillating between anger and sarcasm, found in the collections Retrofuturo [Retrofuture, ], Ciao futuro [Hello Future, ], and Bianco su nero [Light Over Darkness, ]. A few longer works by non-genre writers stand out. The s and Women in SF. Among fanzine writers, Franco Ricciardiello stood out. At the beginning of the decade, only a few authors of traditional space opera Antonio Bellomi, Luigi Menghini were on bookstore shelves or newsstands.
One main force of renewal was the increased presence of women writing sf. Cyberpunk offered a chance for rephrasing the feminist focus on the body. Later sf included YA novellas rewriting Conrad and Melville and the dystopian Eva , a detective story responding to the war in the former Yugoslavia.
The s and History. For many, cyberpunk was less literature than political movement, a neo-Situationist form of engagement, and earliest examples came from small underground presses. Publication opportunities were offered by numerous anthologies and by magazines such as Nova and Futuro Europa and later Carmilla. Many established writers were revitalized. In terms of both sales and influence, the leading figure in the last twenty years is Valerio Evangelisti, champion of the aesthetic and political power of popular genres against outdated ivory-tower ideals. Starting with Nicolas Eymerich, inquisitore [Nicolas Eymerich, Inquisitor, ], Evangelisti mixes times the Middle Ages; a corporation-dominated twenty-second century ravaged by low-intensity wars of incredible cruelty and genres sf, historical novel, supernatural in a style I would term juxtaposition.
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The Eymerich cycle concluded with Rex tremendae maiestatis , whose title comes from the requiem mass and an American sequence began with the collection Metallo urlante [Screaming Metal] see Somigli in this issue. Both are predicated on a view of history in which conflicts and injustices remain forever unresolved, past and present wounds forcing us critically to rethink the future. Dick among its characters. Current signals point to an emerging steampunk scene. Into Former punk-rocker Riccardo Pedrini now a member of the Wu Ming collective set Libera Baku ora [Set Baku Free Now, ] in both Italy and the Caucasian region, an anarchic parable on control over warring factions, none of which may claim moral superiority.
Recent space fiction oscillates between classic and new sf.
No New Earth: Apocalyptic Rhetoric in Italian Nuclear-War Literature
As the s opened, the book market shrank, probably more than the rest of the economy, and sf received one of its severest blows. Still, there remain opportunities, especially provided by Urania for novels, while in short fiction the new Robot magazine initially with Curtoni at the helm, succeeded in by Sosio keeps a connection with current Anglophone sf.
I can only be ambivalent regarding the current state of affairs. Invisibility and misunderstandings make professional activity difficult; nevertheless Italians do not stop imagining the future. New small presses have appeared, while anthologies and ebooks provide venues for short fiction, and a group of non-specialized authors keeps working in sf.
Heralded by Vallorani, Evangelisti, and Altieri, the ideal center in Italian sf is the intersection with hard-boiled fiction, inaugurated by Dario Tonani. His ongoing Mondo9 series, started in and successfully translated into Japanese, is a steampunk-flavored planetary romance about human-machine dis- integration in which the inorganic appears as much an agent as the organic.
For connettivisti, approaching the new is a political choice; many of them employ outer-space scenarios, and in stories by De Matteo Revenant , and Sandro Battisti the sublime posthumanity borrowed from British sf is a tool to address the social complexity of a globalized future. If present-day scenarios make him more accessible to the generalist audience, his fascination for Chinese-box conspiracies mixing esotericism, farce, and tragedy is definitely postmodern.
In such a diverse field, one can only trust in a further diversification of its voices and an open attitude both from the marketplace and literary institutions. I also thank Donatella Izzo and Darko Suvin for their comments on a longer draft of this essay. I dedicate this overview to the memory of Vittorio Curtoni and Riccardo Valla: friends, professionals, and scholars. All translations from Italian are my own. One could trace specific regional sf histories; for example, see Catani on Puglia in Southeast Italy.
History and Tv in Italy
I am referring to stances in the public arena. As to theology, I concur with Saiber that Catholicism is as rich a source of potential icons as other denominations— especially taking into account folk-popular religiosity—and has been so for many writers in the fantastic at large and in sf.
The first Italian sf magazine, Scienza fantastica , appeared earlier the same year, while Urania briefly had two lines, a magazine and a novel series, the former folding soon. La fantascienza.