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French Novel World Premiere in Brazil

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Written by French author Jean-Pierre Laigle, Rendez-vous avec la destinée was published for the first time in the world as Encontro com o Destino [http://www.devir.com.br/literatura/fc_encontro-com-o-destino.php] (São Paulo: Asas do Vento, 2012, 128 pages) in September 2012, during Fantasticon 2012, Brazil’s biggest science fiction and fantasy event.

The book belongs to Asas do Vento, an imprint of Devir, dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, horror, and adventure fiction in pocket book format (9 x 15 cm). In this particular case, the novel has  a semi-hard cover , with a great artwork by Vagner Vargas [http://www.vagnervargas.com.br/] and a cover design by Tino Chagas.

Rendez-vous avec la destinée is the first in a hard sf/space opera series set far in the future, but with interestelar transportation bound by the light speed limit. Destined to reach Alpha Serpentis at 24 parsecs from Earth, Arc 1 is a giant generation starship that transports not only the forefathers of the colonists who will settle planet Axara in Alpha Serpentis, but huge gene banks as well – Earth’s whole genetic heritage.

Somewhere along the way Arc 1 is intercepted by a military spaceship, Macbarath, manned by genetically altered humans working for the Corporative Monopoly that rules Earth. The military wants the gene banks of course, and a diplomatic and military struggle ensues, a premise that resembles British writer Karen Traviss’s in her 2004 novel, City of Pearl. However, the core of the narrative is the evolution of Senator Jurate Kalonaityte and the computer Prime Memory, whose sole task is to make sure Arc 1 will complete its mission. Kalonaityte gains control over the senate and will handle the strategies for facing the Corporative troops.

Even though this densely packed novel features a space battle and combat in the corridors of the generation starship, its main interest lies in the unfolding of the political intrigue. Heavily relying on dialogue, it resembles Isaac Asimov’s exposition techniques in the Foundation series. Future installments in the series will have deal with unstable alliances, the leitmotif of immortality introduced in this first one, and new feats of cleverness by Kalonaityte. On a different tone, Laigle is a polyglot and the languages used by the humans and the trans-humans of the far future reflects his linguistics interests – one of the languages spoken in Arc 1 derives from Dannish, Swedish, and Norwegian, and the other one from Malay and Indonesian.

Besides English, French is the most important language for world sf, and French science fiction was quite popular in Brazil during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Jules Verne, Camille Flammarion), and after World War II (René Barjavel, Stefan Wul, Francis Carsac, Phillippe Curval, Jimmy Guieu, Richard Bessière, Pierre Barbet). Nicely translated from French to Portuguese by Humberto Moura Neto and Martha Argel, Encontro com o Destino helps Brazilian readership to reevaluate French sf as a potential source for literary conversations in the field of hard science fiction.

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