Vaporpunk: An Exclusive Sneak Peek


In cooperation with Tachyon Publications, Beyond Victoriana is proud to present the following excerpts for the Brazilian steampunk anthology Vaporpunk. That’s right, here is the only place where English-language readers can get a taste of steampunk from this collection. Below, we’ve included the teasers in the original Portuguese and in translation.

The complete stories from Vaporpunk are currently only available in Portuguese and are looking for an English-language home. We hope by posting translated teasers here, a publisher would be intrigued enough to discuss acquiring English-translation rights for any of these stories. Interested folks can contact Fabio Fernandes at zeroabsoluto [at] gmail [dot] com for details.

Update: Additional information about Vaporpunk in Portuguese can be found here. For non-Brazilian readers wanting the Portuguese edition, you can take orders from the publisher by contacting editoradraco [at] gmail [dot] com.

Now, onto the stories!

Excerpts from Vaporpunk

Edited by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro and Luís Filipe Silva
English translations by Fabio Fernandes and Larry Nolen
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Editors & Translators’ Bios

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Octavio Aragão, “A Fazenda-Relógio”

A explosão da caldeira principal da fazenda-relógio Nossa Senhora da Conceição iluminou a noite de Jundiaí. Ambrósia correu para longe, o calor nas costas. Buscou um ponto onde pudesse enxergar os estragos produzidos pelo fogo. Não queria perder o espetáculo, quando os bonecos começassem a queimar.

Na colina estavam Tinoco e Barnabé, ainda cheirando a querosene, deliciados com a travessura.

— O Alcebíades não queria que a gente fizesse isso.

— Então o Bide não devia ter atirado a primeira pedra. Ele é muito inteligente, mas não manda em nós.

— Será que demora?

— Não sei. Tem precisão do fogo chegar aos trilhos. Aí vira um corrupio e logo ateia em tudo o mais.

Octavio Aragão, “The Clockwork Plantation”

The explosion of the principal boiler of the clockwork plantation Our Lady of Conceição illuminated the night sky of Jundiaí. Ambrósia ran for a long time, the heat on her back. She sought a bridge where she would be able to discern the damages caused by the fire. She did not want to lose the spectacle, when the dolls would begin to burn.

On the hill were Tinoco and Barnabé, still smelling of kerosene, delighted with the mischief.

“Alcebíades didn’t want the people to do it.”

“The Bide ought not to have thrown the first stone. He is very intelligent, but he doesn’t rule us.”

“Will it delay him?”

“I don’t know. The fire needs to reach the tracks. There it will become a whirlwind and soon everything would be in flames.”

Octavio Aragão has a doctorate and Master of Visual Arts from Escola de Belas Artes – EBA, UFRJ (2007 and 2002). He is a Level 1 Adjunct Professor of Communications – ECO/UFRJ. He is the author of the novel A Mão que Cria (2006) and editor of the short story anthology Intempol (2000). He is co-author of the book Imaginário Brasileiro e Zonas Periféricas (2005), with professor Dr. Rosza Vel Zoladz, and he has published articles in magazines such as Arte e Ensaios eNossa História.

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Yves Robert, “Os Oito Nomes do Deus sem Nome”

África Central, 20 de Julho de 1884

D. Carlos, Príncipe Real de Portugal e Duque de Bragança, avança devagar no meio da escuridão. A sua escolta ficou, com grande reticência do Capitão Vaz Pinto, postada à entrada da gruta segurando os cavalos que se mostram particularmente nervosos nesta noite sufocante. Os cinco guerreiros Watwelé que lhe serviram de guia no dédalo irregular de rocha negra e úmida, também ficaram para trás depois de o chefe lhe indicar com a ponta da lança um ponto de luz tremeluzente mais à frente. Muito mais à frente.

O príncipe encontra-se na parte mais escura do percurso onde nem a luz das tochas que o precedem, nem a luz do local para onde se dirige, chegam para o alumiar. Caminha devagar, tateando o chão irregular com os pés, tentando encontrar um compromisso entre a postura digna de um futuro monarca e o cuidado necessário para não tropeçar nas pedras e buracos que se escondem na escuridão.

Devagar, metro a metro, o pequeno ponto de luz alaranjada cresce, o calor e a umidade aumentam, o cheiro enxofrado dificulta cada vez mais a respiração.

Yves Robert, “The Eight Names of God Without a Name”

Central Africa, 20 July, 1884

Dom Carlos, Royal Prince of Portugal and Duke of Bragança, advances slowly in the middle of darkness. His escort remained, with great reluctance from Captain Vaz Pinto, posted at the entrance of the cave, securing the horses that are particularly nervous in this suffocating night. The five Watwelé warriors who served them as guide through the irregular maze of black and humid rock, also remained behind after the chief indicated with a point of the spear a point of flickering light further ahead. Much further ahead.

The prince finds himself in the darkest part of the route where neither the light of the torches which preced them, nor the light of the place where it is directed, manage to illuminate it. He walks slowly, testing the irregular floor with his feet, attempting to find a compromise between the dignified posture of a future monarch and the caution necessary in order not to trip on the rocks and holes which are hidden in the dark.

Slowly, meter by meter, the small point of orange light grows, the heat and humidity increase, the sulfurous stench makes it more difficult each time to breathe.

Yves Robert holds a degree in Information, has a Master of Mathematics and is an Assistant Professor at IADE – Instituto Superior de Artes Visuais, Design and Marketing. Beyond his activity as professor and programmer he writes publicity texts specializing in the area of direct marketing. He has various stories published in Brazilian and Portuguese anthologies.

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Flávio Medeiros Jr., “Os Primeiros Astecas na Lua”

Quando você é um agente duplo, precisa aprender a conviver com algumas situações desagradáveis. Alguns sentimentos, por exemplo. O primeiro é a culpa; não é fácil agir furtivamente contra o país que considera sua pátria. No meu caso, a Inglaterra, onde nasci. É preciso estar constantemente passando em revista os vários motivos que o levam a agir em favor do inimigo para conseguir ir adiante, e convencer-se deles muitas vezes é difícil. Além disso, existe o medo e a vergonha diante da simples perspectiva de ser descoberto por seus compatriotas. Por outro lado, ao mesmo tempo em que procuro me convencer da nobreza de minhas intenções no momento em que vendi secretamente meus serviços à França, apoiado precariamente nos ombros muitas vezes sólidos das coisas desprezíveis que vivi e testemunhei, não há como evitar a baixa autoestima e ignorar o desapontamento pelo desprezo e pelo desdém no fundo dos olhos daqueles a quem você serve secretamente. Afinal, antes de qualquer outra coisa você é um traidor, e é um nativo de um país inimigo, e eles não conseguem deixar de cogitar se, uma vez traidor, você não vai fazer de novo. Se isso uma vez serviu para salvar minha vida e dar origem à existência dupla que eu hoje levo, ironicamente é um fardo que sou obrigado a carregar em dias perigosos e noites insones.

Flávio Medeiros Jr., “The First Aztecs on the Moon”

When you are a double agent, you must learn to live with unpleasant situations. Some sentiments, for example. The first is guilt; it is not easy to act secretly against the country you consider your motherland. In my case, England, where I was born. It is necessary to be constantly spending in review the various motives that lead you to act in favor of the enemy in order to be able to go forward, and to convince yourself of them is often difficult. Moreover, there exists the fear and shame of the simple thought of being discovered by your countrymen. On the other hand, at the same time in which I try to convince myself of the nobility of my intentions, in the moment in which I secretly sell my services to France, precariously supported on shoulders many times hardened by despicable things that I lived and witnessed, there is no avoiding of low self-esteem and no ignoring the disappointment of the disdain and derision in the depth of those eyes to whom you secretly serve. Finally, before anything else you are a traitor and are a native of an enemy country, and they are not able to stop thinking if, one time a traitor, you will not do it again. If that one time served to save my life and give origin to the double life which I live today, ironically it is a burden which I am obliged to carry through dangerous days and sleepless nights.

Flávio Medeiros Jr. was born and lives in Belo Horizonte. He wrote during all his infancy, due to this he plays football poorly. One day he decided he would be a doctor and write as a hobby, or be a writer and practice medicine as a hobby. As a last result, he opted for the former. He graduated with a degree in medicine and became an ophthalmologist. He is the author of the SF crime novel Quintessência (2004). He has stories published in the collections Paradigmas 2 (2009), Imaginários v. 1 (2009) and Steampunk (2009).

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Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, “Consciéncia de Ébano”

Mbundo Aquinhoado

João contemplou a paisagem fulva da janela do trem que descia a Borborema. Os raios do sol poente arrancavam reflexos dourados aos milharais que se estendiam pela planície lá embaixo. As mudanças recentes trazidas à região o levaram a refletir sobre a própria vida. Em verdade, que já era entrado nos anos, mas julgava possuir motivos mais do que suficientes para se orgulhar de sua carreira.

Amargurado, não obstante o fulgor do espetáculo propiciado pelas águas trazidas desde o São Francisco, João concluiu que, por mais que se esforçasse, não conseguia sentir orgulho algum do papel que as circunstâncias o compeliram a assumir.

Desde jovem, demonstrou pendor invulgar para seguir as tradições militares do lado paterno da família. Após as temporadas normais de adestramento na Cerca de Subupira ao longo da adolescência, seguiu para o porto de Ipojuca e ingressou na Academia Naval. Quatro anos mais tarde, graduava-se como primeiro cadete da turma de 1795.

Nove anos depois, já aos 31 anos, quando servia como imediato a bordo da briosa fragata Henrique Dias, recebeu aquela visita da dupla de agentes que iria mudar sua vida.

Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro, “Ebony Conscience”

Mbundo Aquinhoado

João observed the tawny countryside through the window of the train that was going to Barcelona. The setting sun’s rays cast golden flames on the cornfields which extended through the plains down below. The recent changes brought to the region led him to reflect on his own life. In truth, he was already advanced in years, but he judged to have motives more than sufficient to be proud of his career.

Embittered, despite the brightness of the display provided by waters brought from São Francisco, João concluded that, for more than he struggled, he did not succeed in feeling pride in some role that circumstances compelled him to assume.

From youth, he demonstrated an uncommon penchant for following the military traditions of his father’s side of the family. After the normal training period at Cerca de Subupira during adolescence, he proceeded to the port of Ipojuca and entered the Naval Academy. Four years later, he graduated as First Cadet in the class of 1795.

Nine years later, now 31 years old, when he served as First Mate on the proud frigate Henrique Dias, he received that visit from a double agent that would change his life.

See bio under Editors & Translators Bios

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Jorge Candeias, “Unidade em Chamas”

As passarolas erguem-se da lezíria, lentas e imponentes, uma atrás da outra. É um espetáculo inédito: nunca tantas passarolas haviam descolado ao mesmo tempo, nunca tantos balões, aletas e cascos pintados em desenhos irregulares azuis e brancos se haviam visto a flutuar no ar calmo do Verão de São Martinho. Sidónio não pode ver por completo esse espetáculo: ele vai-se desenrolando a todo o seu redor e a longa formatura de que faz parte não lhe permite mais do que um olhar de soslaio por baixo da continência, um movimento imperceptível de cabeça, um desfocar de olhos para prestar atenção à visão periférica. Mas ouve-o. O ranger das cordas e o ruído oco das alavancas de bambu, os gritos de gaivota dos mestres de manobra, as ordens imperativas dos oficiais e, acima de tudo, o crepitar das chamas a devorar o carvão e o silvo dos gases a sair em turbilhão dos recipientes onde são guardados sob pressão, para irem encher os pequenos balões auxiliares que rodeiam o comprido conjunto principal de balões enclausurados numa rede, onde o brasão nacional e o do Corpo sobressaem discretamente da camuflagem aérea. O gás secreto, sem o qual provavelmente não existiriam passarolas, fornecido em exclusivo a El-Rei pelas oficinas Gusmão que se estendem mesmo em frente, do outro lado de um rio incaracteristicamente vazio das embarcações que noutro dia qualquer já o teriam enchido de cor e movimento, num longo complexo de edifícios baixos dominado pelo grande barracão principal e, claro, pela capela. O gás que, por tudo isso, é conhecido no Corpo como gás gusmão.

São sons que Sidónio conhece bem. Pertence ao Corpo Aéreo há quase dois anos, depois de ter sido arrancado à aldeia pelos recrutadores do Conde de Alvor. Um arrebanhar de rapazes e homens mais novos, mesmo que já casados, algumas perguntas feitas por um homem de fala estranha, um subordinado qualquer vindo de alguma ilha, talvez mesmo colônia, e um papel rabiscado entregue aos pais, lamurientos porque é esse o papel que a condição de pais lhes atribuiu, mas secretamente aliviados por terem menos uma boca a alimentar. O papel lá se há de encontrar na aldeia, guardado na caixa das preciosidades da família junto do crucifixo e dos brincos que a mãe usou uma única vez no dia do casamento, sem que nunca nenhum dos seus membros o tenha lido, embora a mãe talvez tenha pedido ao padre ou ao senhor Francisco, escrivão do regedor, que lhe traduzisse os rabiscos em algo que pudesse entender. Sidónio também já sabe o que contém. Primeiro disseram-lho, e, mais tarde, ler e escrever papéis daqueles fez parte do que aprendeu antes de pela primeira vez pôr os olhos numa passarola.

Jorge Candeias, “Unit in Flames”

The passarolas lift off from the field, slow and grandiose, one after the other. It’s a completely new spectacle: never before had so many passarolas had taken flight at the same time, never before so many balloons, fins and hulls painted in irregular blue-and-white designs were seen afloat in the still air of São Martinho’s summer. Sidónio couldn’t see the show in its entirety: the whole thing unfolds all around him and the long formation he’s part of doesn’t allow him more than a glimpse under the salute, an imperceptible nod of the head, an unfocusing of the eyes to a better use of his peripheral vision. But he can hear. The grinding of the ropes and the hollow sound of the bamboo levers, the shouts of the maneuvering masters, the imperative orders of the officers, and, above all else, the crackle of the flames devouring the coals and the hiss of the gases escaping in a whirlpool from the recipients where they are guarded under pressure, fill the small ancillary balloons surrounding the long main set of balloons locked in a net, where the coats-of-arms of the Nation and of the Corps protrude discreetly from the aerial camouflage. The secret gas, without which probably there wouldn’t have been passarolas in the first place, offered exclusively to the King by the Gusmão Workshops just on the other side of the river, a river uncharacteristically empty of the vessels that, on any other given day, would already have filled it with color and movement, in a long compound of low-ceilinged building dominated by the big main shack, and, naturally, by the chapel. The gas that, by all this, is known in the Corps by the name of gusmão gas.

These are sounds well known to Sidónio. He has belonged to the Air Corps for almost two years now, after having been forcibly taken from his home village by the recruiters of the Earl of Alvor. A massive taking of boys and younger men, even married ones, a few questions asked by a man of strange accent, some subordinate from an island, maybe even a colony, and a scratched piece of paper proffered to the parents, all weepy because such is the role that the burden of parenthood has given them, but secretly relieved because now they have one mouth less to feed. The piece of paper is certainly to be found in the village, well-kept in] the chest of family treasures, along with the crucifix and the pair of earrings that his mother used only once, on the day of her wedding, without any of its members having ever read it, even though his mother perhaps had at some point asked the local priest or senhor Francisco, scrivener for the magistrate, to translate for her the scribbles into something she could possibly understand. Sidónio already knows what’s in there. First because he was told, and, later, to read and write papers such as that one was part of the things he learned before putting his eyes for the first time in a passarola.

Jorge Candeias is an Algarve Portuguese and has developed in recent years intense activity in media connected to SF and fantasy on both sides of the Atlantic (although more over there than here, for obvious logistic reasons). Currently making a living as a translator, he has on his resume a pair of translations of which he is proud. He also has a short book, Sally (2002) stories appearing in Portuguese, Brazilian, English, and Argentine publications, both on paper and in bits.

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Carlos Orsi, “A Extienção das Espécies”

— O senhor está propondo que, pelo estudo da anatomia, o homem poderá ganharconhecimento suficiente para criar homens?

Lembro-me de que, à menção da possibilidade de “criar homens”, uma tristeza imensa pareceu invadir os olhos do Fabricante de Autômatos. Tristeza, misturada a um desespero mudo, aprisionado, interdito: o olhar que eu esperaria ver na face do Velho Marujo de Coleridge.

— O caminho que o senhor sugere já foi explorado — disse-me ele, sem oferecer maiores explicações. — Com resultados francamente insatisfatórios. Não, o que sugiro não é a síntese, mas a análise: encarar o ser vivo como uma comunidade de mecanismos, de funções que são executadas mediante carne e osso por mera contingência; que poderiam ser praticadas por outros materiais. Proponho olhar para a semente como se fosse a máquina que constrói a árvore, do mesmo modo que polias e alavancas construíram as pirâmides.

— Sementes não são mecanismos — contrapus. — São criaturas. Há uma diferença…

— O senhor viu e apreciou meu mastim — insistiu o Fabricante. Naquele dia ele
levara pela primeira vez à minha morada o cão de bronze, que corria, divertido, atrás de uma borboleta ao crepúsculo, enquanto o metal polido de seu corpo reluzia sob os raios quase horizontais do sol poente, tingidos de esmeralda pela mata translúcida. — Máquinas capazes de imitar a vida. Imagino até que ponto essa imitação poderia ir. Qual a menor unidade viva que poderia ser recriada mecanicamente? Uma mosca? A perna de uma mosca? O pelo na perna…

— Isso não é contrariar o rumo atual do progresso? — questionei. — Na Europa e na América do Norte, a tendência é a da criação de autômatos cada vez maiores, cada vez mais complexos…

O Fabricante de ombros:

— Essa complexidade é ilusória… Um mero truque de salão. A verdadeira complexidade, para ser recriada, requer, primeiro, a compreensão da partícula mais simples.

Carlos Orsi, “The Extinction of the Species”

“Are you proposing that, by the study of anatomy, Man can acquire enough knowledge to create other men?”

I remember that, upon mentioning the possibility of “creating other men”, a deep sadness seemed to invade the eyes of the Automata Maker. Sadness, mixed with a mute, imprisoned, forbidden despair: the eyes I would expected to see in the face of Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.

“The pathway you suggest, sir, had already been explored,” he said, without offering further explanations. “With frankly unsatisfactory results. No, what I’m suggesting is not synthesis, but analysis: to view the human being as a commonwealth of mechanisms, of functions which are executed through flesh and bone by mere contingency; which could be practiced by other materials. What I propose is this: to look at the seed as if it were the machine that builds the tree, in the same way that pulleys and levers built the pyramids.

“Seeds are not mechanisms,” I countered. “They are creatures. There is a difference…”

“You have seen and liked my mastiff,” insisted the Maker. In that day, he brought for the first time to my home his bronze hound, which ran, amused, after a butterfly in twilight, while the polished metal of its body gleamed under the almost horizontal rays of the setting sun, emerald-tinted by the translucent forest. “Machines capable of imitating life. I wonder to what point this imitation could go. What is the smallest living thing that could be recreated mechanically? A fly? The leg of a fly? A hair in the leg of a…

“Would that not run counter to the path of progress?,” I questioned. “In Europe and in North America, the current trend is the creation of bigger and bigger automata, more and more complex…”

The Maker shrugged:

“This complexity is illusory… A mere sleight of hand. The true complexity, in order to be recreated, requires first the understanding of the simplest particle.”

Carlos Orsi is a native of Jundiaí (São Paulo) and is a writer and journalist specializing in the coverage of scientific themes. Already he has had published the short story volumes Medo, Mistério e Morte (1996) and Tempos de Fúria (2005) and the novels Nómade (2010) and Guerra Justa (2010). His works of fiction have appeared in anthologies such as Imaginários v. 1 (2009), magazines and fanzines in Brazil and outside it.

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Eric Novello, “Os Dias da Besta”

Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro. A mata densa e os ruídos noturnos alimentavam a imaginação dos soldados, já abalados pelo dia incomum. Há tempos os jardins não reuniam tantos homens de pernas bambas. Nenhum deles sabia ao certo o que a Guarda Imperial havia levado para o laboratório e a maioria torcia para não ter que descobrir, rezando por um final de turno tranquilo. As diversas histórias que corriam na cidade tinham em comum somente o teor de absurdo. Cada soldado, escravo ou comerciante mudava detalhes de modo a espelhar seus próprios temores. Estamos em guerra, uma guerra como nenhuma outra. Fomos atacados por criaturas de outro mundo, tão afastados que estamos da Santa Igreja. Só pode ser coisa da Argentina, uma nova tramóia daqueles invejosos. O que os bruxos uruguaios evocaram dessa vez? O medo exalava como o aroma das especiarias. O calor do alto verão não cedia há mais de um mês. Canelas, cravos e alecrins tão agradáveis separadamente enjoavam os homens já sem forças, o suor pingando-lhes da testa. A nota criativa dos pasquins de que os temperos disfarçavam o cheiro dos experimentos conduzidos no Centro de Pesquisa Pedro de Alcântara ganhara de repente uma estranha veracidade.

Ser segurança da área de pesquisa era um cargo de prestígio, porém ingrato. O soldado passava por um treinamento rigoroso e precisava jurar confidencialidade sobre as atividades conduzidas, sob pena de parar no fundo do oceano. Para os candidatos, a expressão ter a vida revirada ganhava um novo significado. Não podiam contar nem às esposas nem às amantes o que viam ou deixavam de ver. D. Pedro II levava a sério sua meta de transformar o país em potência tecnológica que fizesse inveja aos ingleses e deixasse os vizinhos se corroendo de raiva. Apesar de os ministros nem sempre concordarem com a gastança de dinheiro exigida pelos inventos, diziam em uníssono que acabar com os patrulheiros marítimos da Inglaterra era questão fundamental para a soberania do Brasil. Tinham vindo com a desculpa de impedir o tráfico negreiro e continuaram em águas brasileiras, mudando a cada ano as explicações de seus representantes.

Pedro, por outro lado, via apenas uma explicação: espionagem.

Eric Novello, “The Day of the Beast”

The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro. The dense forest and the noises of the night fed the imagination of the soldiers, already shaken by that very unusual day. For quite a long time those gardens didn’t see so many wobbly-legged men. None of them knew for sure what the Imperial Guard had taken to the laboratory, and most of them hoped they didn’t ever have to find out, praying for a nice, easy end of shift. The many stories spread around town had in common only the sheer absurdity of them. Each and every soldier, slave, or merchant changed details in ways that mirrored their own fears. We are at war, a war like no other. We have been attacked by creatures of other world, so apart we are from the Holy Church. That can only be a scheme of Argentina, a new plot concocted by that bunch of envious rascals. What had the Uruguayan sorcerers summoned this time? Fear wafted around like the aroma of the spices. The high summer heat was in its peak for more than a month now. Clove, cinnamon, and rosemary, so pleasant when taken separately, started to sicken the already weak men, foreheads dripping with sweat. The overly imaginative notes in the newspapers stating that the spices masked the smell of the experiments conducted at the Pedro de Alcântara Research Center now rang strangely true.

Being a security guard of the research area was a respected job, though merciless. Every soldier underwent a rigorous training and had to swear utter secrecy about the activities conducted there, under penalty of going to the bottom of the ocean. To the applicants, the expression having his world turned upside down acquired a fresh meaning. They could not even talk to their wives or to their mistresses about what they saw or didn’t see. D. Pedro II took very seriously his goal of turning the country into a technological power that would make the Englishmen envious and his neighbors really angry. Even though his ministers didn’t always agreed with the wild spending the inventions demanded, they all said as one that exterminating the sea patrolmen from England was of the utmost importance for Brazilian sovereignty.

They had come with the poor excuse of stopping the slave trade, but they were still in Brazilian waters, changing every year the explanations from their representatives to be there.

Pedro, on the other hand, could see only one explanation: espionage.

Eric Novello is a translator, writer, and scriptwriter. He has had published the novels Dante, o Guardião da Morte (2004), Histórias da Noite Carioca (2004) and Neon Azul (2010). He has participated in various collections and co-edited the first two volumes of the series Imaginários and Meu Amor é um vampiro (2010). His website is http://www.ericnovello.com.br

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João Ventura, “O Sol É que Alegra o Dia”

A Manuel Himalaya não eram estranhas as armas de fogo — costumava acompanhar um tio caçador pelos montes e vales em redor da sua aldeia natal — pelo que instintivamente se atirou ao chão, onde já estava quando soou o segundo tiro.

Conseguiu ouvir o som de passos pesados que se afastavam correndo, antes de ver chegar o imediato do navio e um marinheiro com uma lanterna.

— Estava no passadiço quando ouvi os tiros! Está bem? Não foi atingido? —
perguntou-lhe o imediato, vendo-o levantar-se do chão e sacudir o pó da sobrecasaca.

— Parece que não, mas acho que tentaram — e dirigiu-se à amurada, onde os
impactos das duas balas eram por demais evidentes.

Pouco tempo depois chegou ao local um indivíduo que Himalaya já tinha visto em diversos locais e por diversas vezes ao longo da viagem, e que o imediato apresentou como o detetive do navio, Mr. Tom Springer.

Este com um canivete recolheu as duas balas incrustadas no metal da amurada e introduziu-as num envelope, que guardou no bolso.

— Estou convencido que não vale a pena o esforço de fazer buscas para encontrar a arma. A esta hora deve estar a caminho do fundo do mar.

E dirigindo-se ao imediato: — Por favor, destaque um membro da tripulação para acompanhar Mr. Himalaya até ao seu camarote. Eu preciso de lhe fazer algumas perguntas e irei daqui a pouco ter com ele, depois de telegrafar para a polícia de Nova York a relatar o sucedido.

Meia hora mais tarde, Tom Springer batia à porta do camarote de Manuel Himalaya.

— Terei que ter um relatório pronto amanhã quando a polícia vier a bordo, e preciso de lhe fazer algumas perguntas para elucidar alguns aspectos.

— Faz favor, Mr. Springer.

— Mr. Himalaya, o que vai fazer aos Estados Unidos?

— Vou participar na Exposição Universal de St. Louis, onde vou ter em exibição um invento meu, o Pyrheliophero…

— E esse invento em que consiste?

— Concentrando a energia solar, permite atingir temperaturas muito elevadas que podem ser usadas para fundir metais, produzir vapor, enfim, o que for preciso…

— É possível que o motivo para o que aconteceu seja esse. Deve haver no meu país quem não esteja interessado na difusão do seu invento.

— Mas por quê?

— Pense um pouco, Mr. Himalaya. Se o senhor tivesse feito, ou estivesse a fazer enormes investimentos para extrair carvão ou petróleo do subsolo, acha que gostaria que aparecesse alguém com uma máquina que funciona com um combustível gratuito?

— Bem, desse ponto de vista… Mas ir até ao ponto de tentar matar-me?

— Os negócios a esta escala são uma guerra, Mr. Himalaya. Definem-se inimigos e tenta-se eliminá-los. É o Wild West no seu pior.

João Ventura, “The Sun Brightens the Day…”

To Manuel Himalaya firearms were not strange at all – he used to accompany an uncle who was a hunter through the hills and valleys around his home village — and that was why he threw himself instinctively to the floor, where he already was when he heard the second shot.

He also heard the sound of heavy footfalls running away from there, before he saw the ship’s First Mate and a sailor with a lantern coming closer.

“I was on the bridge when I heard the shots! Are you all right? Were you shot?,” the First Mate asked him upon seeing him rising from the floor and dusting his overcoat.

“Apparently not, but I think they tried to,” and went to the rail, where the impacts of the two bullets were too much self-evident.

A few minutes later a man arrived at the spot that Himalaya had already seen in several places and at several times during the trip, and who the First Mate introduced as the ship’s detective, Mr. Tom Springer.

Using a pocket knife, this gentleman collected the two bullets in the metal of the rail and put them into an envelope, which he put in his pocket.

“I’m convinced that it’s not worth it to search for the weapon. By now it must be on its way to the bottom of the ocean.”

And, turning to the First Mate: “Please, assign a member of the crew to escort Mr. Himalaya to his room. I need to ask him a few questions and I will meet him soon, after sending a cable to the New York Police reporting the occurrence.

Half an hour later, Tom Springer knocked at Manuel Himalaya’s door.

“I must have a report by tomorrow and before the police comes aboard, so I’ll need to ask you a few questions to make clear a few things.”

“If you please, Mr. Springer.”

“Mr. Himalaya, what are you going to do in America?”

“I’m going to the St. Louis Universal Exposition, where I’m having an invention of mine in on exhibit, the Pyrheliopheron…”

“And this invention of yours, what does it do?”

“By focusing the energy of the sun, it allows to reach very high temperatures, that can be used to fuse metals, to create vapor, anyway, whenever it’s needed…”

“Is it possible that your invention is the reason for what happened here? There must be in my country someone who’s not interested in your invention being presented there.”

“And why is that?”

“Think, Mr. Himalaya. If a man had made, or were on the verge of making huge investments for extracting coal or oil from under the earth, would you like someone else to suddenly appear with a machine that works with a free kind of fuel?”
“Well, now that you mention it… But why go to the point of trying to kill me?”

“Business at this scale means war, Mr. Himalaya. Enemies are defined and then you try to eliminate them. It’s the whole Wild West at its very worst.”

João Ventura writes short fiction which can be found on the internet – E-nigma, Tecnofantasia, Épica, Storm Magazine, Contos Fantásticos, Axxón, Quimicamente Impuro, Breves no tan Breves, Bewildering Stories, and Antipodean SF. He has had texts also published in fanzines and has participated in various anthologies – A Sombra sobre Lisboa (2006), Universe Pathways (2006), Graggeas (2007), Contos de algibeira (2007), Brinca comigo! e outras estórias fantásticas com brinquedos (2009), and Almanaque do Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead de Doenças Excéntricas e Desacreditados (2006). His blog is fromwords.blogspot.com.

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***

Editors & Translators’ Bios

Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro (co-editor)– Rio de Janeiran author of SF and alternate history. “Alienígenas Mitológicos” and “A Ética da Traição” were published in the Brazilian edition of Asimov’s. Author of the novel Xochiquetzal – uma princesa asteca entre on incas (2009), and he participated in the collections Outras Histórias (1997), O Vampiro da Nova Holanda (1998), Outros Brasis (2006), Imaginários v. 1 (2009). As editor, he edited the anthologies Phantastica Brasiliana (2000) and Como Era Gostosa a Minha Alienígena! (2002). He has worked since 2004 as a consulter for Hoplon Infotainment, being one of the creators of the online game Taikodom.

Luís Filipe Silva (co-editor) – He is the author of O Futuro à Janela (winner of the Caminho de Ficção Científica in 1991), the novels Cidade da Carne e Vinganças, and, with João Barreiros, Terrarium. He has had stories published in Brazil, Imaginários v. 2 (2009), Spain, and Serbia, in the Luso-American anthology Breaking Windows, and in the anthology representing European SF in 2007, Creatures of Glass and Light. His most recent work is Aquele Que Reponsa na Eternidade, a Lovecraftian novella. His website is TecnoFantasia.com.

Author of the novels Os Dias da Peste (2009) and Os Anos de Silício (2011), Fabio Fernandes’s (translator) short stories have been published in several countries. An excerpt of his story “The Arrival of the Cogsmiths” was published in Steampunk Reloaded. He is currently writing his first novel in English. (he’s between blogs right now, but can be found in Twitter -@fabiofernandes)

Larry Nolen (translator) has been a teacher of English and history for most of the past twelve years. He recently has begun translating Spanish and Portuguese-language authors into English. His translation of Augusto Monterroso’s “Mister Taylor” will appear in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Weird anthology in 2011. His blog, The OF Blog, is found at http://ofblog.blogspot.com.

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18 responses to “Vaporpunk: An Exclusive Sneak Peek

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  2. Tim

    Awesome stuff. The translations are pretty good, but the stories feel even better in their original Portuguese.

  3. Where can I buy or download any of these stories, in Portuguese?

  4. @Adam

    Thanks for the interest, we´re taking orders from foreign readers by e-mail, payment can be made thru paypal.

    editoradraco at gmail.com

    Best regards,

    Erick S.

  5. Erick,

    Sounds good. How would I find price in dollars, plus shipping?

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