Once Upon a Time in a World – Antonio Luiz M. C. Costa

“Once Upon a Time in a World” (short story) by Antonio Luiz C. M. Costa

English Publication History: Solarpunk (World Weaver Press, 2018)

Original: Portuguese (Era Uma Vez um Mundo), 2012

Translated by Fábio Fernandes, 2018

Synopsis: The beautiful international celebrity Pagu is joined with a band of cohorts, including Tarsila, Oswald, Candido, Anaide, a man named Guira, a woman named Tina, and another man named Luxemburg. In a world blessed with boundless renewable sources of energy, the advent of fusion draws them to the first reactor, but this reactor also draws the attention of another band of cohorts will malicious intent: sabotage, kidnapping, and murder; among the marauders: Franco, Marinetti, Hitler, Mussolini, Salgado, Rosenberg, and Salazar.

Analysis: This is alternative history steampunk/solarpunk with real historical figures in place of the characters, all of which were notable for their presence in the early twentieth century. Among the protagonists:

  • Patrícia Rehder Galvão, a Brazilian modernist: b.1910 – d.1962
  • Tarsila do Amaral, a Brazilian modernist, b.1886 – d.1973
  • Henrique Oswald, a Brazilian composer, b.1852 – d.1931
  • Candido Torquato Portinari, a Brazilian painter, b.1903 – d.1962
  • Anaide Beiriz, a Brazilian poet, b.1905 – d.1930
  • Guira (?)
  • Tina (?)
  • Luxemburg (?)

Among the antagonists:

  • Francisco Franco Bahamonde, a Spanish general, b.1892 – d.1975
  • Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti, an Italian futurust, b.1876 – d.1944
  • Adolf Hitler, of namesake, b.1889 – d.1945
  • Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, of namesake, b.1883 – d.1945
  • Arthur Rosenberg (?), a German Marxist, b. 1889 – d.1943
  • António de Oliveira Salazar, a Portuguese statesman, b.1889 – d.1970
  • Saldago (?)

Others in the story:

  • Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (?), an American poet, b.1885 – d.1972
  • Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher, b.1889 – d.1976
  • Antonio Francesco Gramsci, an Italian Marxist, b. 1891 – d.1937
  • Deré Lubidi, unknown, b.1900 – d.?

Review: If you’re keen on history, specifically early twentieth century Brazilian art history, which I am not, this story may hold some weight; as it is, however, much of the nominal connotations are lost on me. Just researching the names alone took me a long time let along trying to apply their histories with the stories plot. Taken as it is, the story is awkwardly plotted as if forcing a square into a circular hole. Once it does gain traction, it’s too fast and too didactic at times. This story, itself, is thus far an awkward inclusion to the collection.

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