The OF Blog: No sea disponible in inglés: Javier Negrete, Buscador de sombras

Monday, August 18, 2008

No sea disponible in inglés: Javier Negrete, Buscador de sombras

I have heard about Spanish SF/Fantasy/Alt-History writer Javier Negrete for a couple of years now. I have heard about how effortlessly he switches between various subgenres, how well-plotted his stories are, not to mention the depths of his characters and the manner in which his prose flows. However, I resisted importing any of this multiple UPC and Premio Ignotus winner until this month because of the high costs associated with ordering from Spain. If his La luna quieta novella and La espada de fuego novel are at or even above the level of the award-winning 2001 novella Buscador de sombras, then Negrete might have to move toward the head of the line for non-English language authors whose works need to be translated as soon as possible.

I don't have the time/energy for even a quick review, so I'll just provide a book description, first in Spanish and then in English:

Buscador de sombras consolidó a Javier Negrete nueve años después como un autor de referencia en el panorama de la literatura fantástica española.

En esta novela corta, ambientada en un futuro cercano, la humanidad está condenada a no soñar debido al síndrome de Pisan que provoca la muerte lenta de todos aquellos que entran en fase de REM. Un científico español se encuentra en el corredor de la muerte de un cárcel norteamericana por haber subministrado una inyección letal a una mujer.
Hunter of Shadows (or Shadow Hunter might be even more appropriate) strengthened Javier Negrete nine years later (after La luna quieta/The Quiet Moon) as an author of note in the panorama of Spanish literary fantasy.

In this short novel (novella), set in a near future, humanity is condemned not to dream due to Pisan's Syndrome which provokes slow death of all those which enter REM sleep. A Spanish scientist finds himself on Death Row in an American prison for having ministered a lethal injection to his wife.
However, this brief description does not describe the twists in the plot or the thematic elements present in Negrete's story of this apparently deranged Spanish scientist and his search for "dark matter" and the horrific discoveries that follow. Told in both "present" and retrospect PoVs, Buscador de sombras is one of the better-written SF tales that I've read in some time. Clocking in at around 160 large font MMPB pages, it is a story that others would have been tempted to expand into a full novel, but thankfully for the story's cohesion, Negrete resisted the temptation, as the pacing and plot developments are excellent. I cannot help but to think that if translated and published in English that Negrete's SF would find a healthy readership. Perhaps in the near future, as more of his work is translated into other European languages (currently only in Spanish and French, I believe).


David Moles said...

I like "autor de referencia." More... authoritative than "author of note," somehow.

Dark Wolf said...

Hey, Larry, you need to stop doing this, I already told you I have to find space for new books :)
This one sounds interesting, too. So of to searching again. I already found a book of Roberto Bolano translated in Romania. It was published while I was on vacation, "Nocturno de Chile". I have to buy it ;)

Larry said...

Yeah, it does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

And Mihai, like I said in the other post, buy more bookcases! As for Bolaño, hope you enjoy it, as it's one I've yet to buy/read.

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