Among the most precious possessions of my childhood was a collection of science fiction books. Those pages filled long hours of my life, allowing me to know other worlds and to escape — at will — the flat reality. My sister liked the tales of far off planets, space ships and extraterrestrial civilizations. I preferred the possible fantasies, that left me with the feeling that at any moment something could happen: Time travel, genetics-manipulating scientists and creatures rescued from yesterday were my favorites.
From the pens of Karel Čapek, Isaac Asimov, Daína Chaviano, Stanislaw Lem and Oscar Hurtado, my adolescence was a time enlivened with robots, humanoids, fairies, flying saucers, and remote galaxies. Several compilations of the genre had been published in those years, in editions with yellowed pages and cramped typography. On our bookshelf there was a place of honor for The Martian Chronicles, Quick Freeze and The Call of Cthulhu, the great stories of Ray Bradbury and the novel The Space Merchants. Those books for us were like doors to another dimension.
The 23rd Havana International Book Fair has brought a selection of science fiction authors. On the Cuban side José Miguel Sánchez (Yoss) stands out, while the foreign author of greatest note is the Russian Serguei Lukianenko. Absent, however, are the great titles of the last decade in a genre that keeps evolving and attracting readers. The reason for such a failure is the lack of many local publishers’ economic capacity to buy the copyrights from foreign writers. There is also a certain underestimation of the genre, which has failed to find a place in the annual plans of what is printed and promoted.