Interview with Mariano Villarreal, Editor of the “Terra Nova” Anthologies – Ricardo Manzanaro (Spain)


    Mariano Villarreal_TN2

    After the great success of first volume of “Terra Nova”, a few weeks ago was launched the second volume of the Terra Nova anthology, featuring renowned authors and stories which have won many awards. We’re having a chat with one of the editors, Mariano Villarreal.

    Ricardo Manzanaro : How did the idea of the first volume of ” Terra Nova” come from ? With what objectives the project started ?

    Mariano Villarreal : I´ve always liked stories and anthologies. I am of the opinion that the short story has been one of the areas where more and better science fiction has developed throughout its history. A few years after the new millennium, every commercial SF Spanish magazine (I think it´s excessive to qualify them as professional publications) – as Gigamesh, Solaris, 2001, Galaxia or Artifex – has disappeared (in some cases the editors said euphemistically that their magazines “hibernated”). Without the dedicated magazines regularly publishing fantastic literature, this country became a wasteland for SF&F. Yes, some fanzines sporadically took over, and there was relative rise of digital publishing on websites, forums and online magazines, but the fact is that hardly existed the stabled media which could attracted a minimum of readers, a guarantees’ place in which writers could regularly publish and readers enjoy good genre stories.
    Honestly, I never thought about running any anthology as project manager. My view is focused solely on enjoying the finished product as a reader, and I grieved that the existing potential (willing authors, good stories to tell, reasonable technical possibilities), was wasted because there wasn’t the suitable media to encourage it. Although, otherwise, what happened was in a way logical, given the minority niche market we’re talking about.

    So, the push that encouraged me to try my luck was an interesting crowdfounding project: in the beginning of 2011, the “Alamut” editor was trying to save a very interesting fantasy series written by Paul Kearney, “The monarchies of God”, whose two first volumes was already published, but had not reached the sufficient level of sales to consider the issue of the remaining three volumes. The initiative achieved enough popular support and proved that the subscription system, at least for small projects addressed to a limited audience, can be the difference between absence and viability. Subscription, as in the old days of the fanzines, the reinvention of an old idea adapted to the new times. And if he had worked for “The Monarchies of God”, why not try it with an anthology of science fiction stories?
    The only thing was to have a serious talk with a publishing house. Thanks to my work as webmaster of “Literatura Fantástica”, I had many contacts, and I achieved success in relation to whom I thought was the best for this project: Rodolfo Martínez, the creator of the Sportula imprint. Together with Rodolfo, I’ve reached the overall anthology goals: an annual volume, commited for original short stories in Spanish, texts having literary and speculative arguments, and also the inclusion of one or two foreign authors’ stories, providing professional translations, a cut price, paying royalties, adjusted circulation copies to cover subscriptions and specialized libraries, and, above all, a commitment to digital publishing and print on demand. Something modest but ambitious .

    Ricardo Manzanaro : How was the the process of creating the first book until it’s edition?
    Mariano Villarreal 2

    Mariano Villarreal : Once our objective to edit an SF anthology was set we continued adding collaborators. First, Luis Pestarini, the publisher of the Argentine magazine “Cuasar”, the magazine editor Dean of science fiction in Spanish language, and we’ve joined forces from across the Atlantic; also Manuel de los Reyes, with his extensive experience as professional translator. And other valuables collaborators, as Elias F. Combarro (alias Odo), an expert on the present science fiction in English and others.
    Moreover, we announced our project in the specialized media and opened a call for incoming stories, in the end we decided to publish only three texts from the two hundred we had received from everywhere on the face of the Earth, which can give you an idea of the level of the standards that Luis and I established for the final selection. On the other hand, advance subscriptions went well, project had interested many people and was supported by dozens of fans, so so I convinced (without much effort) my colleagues that we could afford to include authors like Ted Chiang, Ian Watson, Ken Liu, among others. Aspect that has proven to be the key to the first volume of Terra Nova’s success.
    The book was published in December 2012, and was born with a clear vocation of continuity. But aside from subscriptions, we didn’t know how to estimate the acceptance that could be achieved by an anthology combining some of the best international stories and authors with spanish language texts. We have to wait for the results.

    Ricardo Manzanaro : How was Terra Nova’s first volume appreciation? What about sales and the reviews?
    Mariano Villareal 3

    Mariano Villarreal : It overwhelm our most optimistic expectations, literally. I can provide you with some data: it was the publishing house best-seller in 2012, even though it went on sale in December, and remains so throughout 2013. It was also among the best-sellers of specialized online libraries like Cyberdark or Gigamesh that month and some of the following. Almost a year later it continues to be among Amazon Spain’s digital bestsellers… I think we can consider it a success, although measured in small press dimensions, so that must be relativized. Anyway, I´m particularly pleased about the fact that we had been able to pay the Terra Nova’s contributors, just one month after book was edited, something unsual.
    In regard to reviews, the results are even better: 7 Ignotus Awards nominations (Ignotus are the most important popular vote genre Awards in Spain, in categories as the “Best Anthology”, “Short story”, “Novelette”, “Foreign story” and “Ilustration”. These seven nominations is a record in these awards, never a title has obtained as many as those. On December 14th this year we´ll know if we’ll get an award….

    Ricardo Manzanaro : The second volume’s edition process has been similar to the first or there were differences ?

    Mariano Villarreal : The change of the Publisher to a great commercial imprint like Fantascy (Penguin Group Random House) has led to a very noticeable improvement in distribution, marketing, financial aspects, which certainly opened some doors. But essentially, as coordinator and editor, I intend to continue the same editorial policy: publishing stories about social and human conflicts, set essentially but not exclusively in our present and/or in the near future; quality narratives that would appeal to an broader audience than the genre fans; trying to achieve a balance between the Spanish written and English written stories; including one or two stories written by a Hispano-American authors, offering a wider view of the science fiction written in Spanish, illustrations, etc.
    I think that this second Terra Nova Anthology is more ambitious and better reflects the identity characteristics that I intend to imprint in these anthologies. But the reader, of course, has the final word.

    Ricardo Manzanaro : Can you detail second volume key features ?

    Mariano Villarreal : The second book includes eleven stories, six of them written by worldwide recognized authors and the rest by Spanish and Hispano-American writers. Overall they total a dozen internationally recognized awards and nominations. Stories like “The Man Who Ended History : A Documentary” by Ken Liu (2012 Hugo, Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards finalist), “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” by Aliette de Bodard (Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist), “Her Husband ‘s Hands” by Adam-Troy Castro (Nebula, Bram Stoker, Seiun, Grand Prix de l´Imaginaire nominations), “Crystal Nights” written by the great Greg Egan, “The Last Osama” by Lavie Tidhar (set in his “Osama” novel universe, 2012 World Fantasy Award winner) and “Spider, The Artist” by Nnedi Okorafor, which is her first Spanish publication.
    As for stories in Spanish, Terra Nova 2 begins with Felicidad Martínez’ novella “La textura de las palabras” (The Texture of the Words), a great Ignotus Award nominated text, that I had the pleasure to include it in the“Terra Nova” english version. Also , “En el filo” (On the Edge) by Ramón Muñoz, which is this great writer’s return to genre, “La djin” (The Djinn) by Pedro Andreu; the spooky story of German Amatto, “Non-human Eyes Can’t Mourn? (2007 Avalon Award), and “Juicio Final” (Final Trial) by Carlos Gardini, whom I consider the best SF spanish stylist of all time.
    The cover illustration was made by Angel Benito Gastañaga, the artist who also drew the cover of the first volume and, hopefully,will keep doing the following.

    Ricardo Manzanaro : Do you intend to continue with the project if it goes well with the second volume ? Do you have new projects ?
    Mariano Villarreal : As I write these lines the second volume has just been published and prudence advises to wait results. But we already have some relevant data, such as that just 24 hours after being released TerraNova 2 has reached the top spot on Amazon Spain science fiction ebooks category (in a tough battle with “Ender´s Game” just released in Spain) and is one of most sold in some genre book stores. The editors and I are confident in the possibilities of this periodic line of anthologies’ chances, so for some months we are working on third volume, already incorporating some surprises ahead. In addition, in a short time we hope to publish the basis of a call for the reception of stories, and and as soon as it happens, every writer interested for it it´s invited to send us a Personally, I like to publish one or two volumes a year, because we have the capacity to do it and quality material is not lacking, but all that should be established by the market and the publisher. I also like to start a parallel anthology dedicated to fantasy stories, horror, dark fantasy, steampunk … but first Iwant to see how Terra Nova evolves, which is my priority.
    Finally, if you let me, I would like to invite the readers of Europa SF to take a look at the English language edition of Terra Nova. It includes the translation of the five stories originally written in Spanish that we published in the first volume (three Spanish authors , one Argentinean and one Cuban ), plus the aforementioned novella by Felicidad Martinez and an introductory article about science fiction in Spain written by me. It’s offered at a really affordable price, and you will be able to find some of the best science short fiction that is currently written in Spanish. If that is not enough, Terra Nova has received rave reviews in some Anglo-Saxon dedicated sites as the prestigious Strange Horizons, and some of it‘s stories has been translated into other languages, or are in reprint procedures for some other anthologies.
    Very cordial greetings to all EUROPA SF ‘s readers and friends !

    © Ricardo Manzanaro & Mariano Villarreal

    A video presentation of the Terra Nova 2 Anthology by Mariano Villareal :

    Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction

    Edited by Mariano Villarreal

    Co-selected by Mariano Villarreal and Luis Pestarini

    Translated by Sue Burke and Lawrence Schimel

    Six top Spanish-language authors prove that science fiction remains sharp and visionary, with stories about the deepest anxieties, challenges, and problems of our societies. Their speculations and metaphors analyze and dissect a reality in continuous change.

    • The Texture of Words, by Felicidad Martínez: women seek to lead despite being blind and dependent, while men fight constant wars.
    • Deirdre, by Lola Robles: in the future, robotics can create made-to-order lovers.
    • Greetings from a Zombie Nation, by Eric J. Mota: a stagnant society turns its citizens into the living dead.
    • Light a Lone Candle, by Victor Conde: social networks want too much and never let go.
    • Bodies, by Juanfran Jiménez: in a globalized and pseudodemocratic Europe, the rich practice sex tourism by means of mind exchange.
    • Memory, by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría: personal relationships and sex roles evolve in radical ways on a terraformed Mars in a relatively near future.
    • Science Fiction from Spain, by Mariano Villarreal: a close view of what Spanish science fiction is and has been.


    Terra Nova 2 : Antología de ciencia ficción contemporánea

    • Presentación (Foreword) – Mariano Villarreal (España)
    • “La textura de las palabras” (The Texture of the Words) – Felicidad Martínez (España) Finalista del premio Ignotus 2013
    • “Separados por las aguas del río celeste” (Scattered Along the River of Heaven) – Aliette de Bodard (Vietnám-Estados Unidos-Francia) Finalista del premio Sturgeon 2013 Traducción de Raúl García Campos
    • “Las manos de su marido” (Her Husband’s Hands) – Adam-Troy Castro (Estados Unidos) Finalista del premio Nebula 2012 Finalista del premio Stoker 2012 Finalista del premio Seiun 2013 (Japón) Finalista del premio Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2013 (Francia) Traducción de Raúl García Campos
    • “¿Pueden llorar ojos no humanos ?” (Non-human Eyes Can’t Mourn ?) – Germán Amatto (Argentina) Premio Avalón 2007 de Relato Fantástico de la Asociación Asturiana de Ciencia-Ficción
    • “Juicio Final” ( (Final Trial) – Carlos Gardini (Argentina)
    • “Araña, la artista” (Spider, the Artist), de Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria-Estados Unidos) Traducción de Manuel de los Reyes
    • “La djin” (The Djinn) – Pedro Andreu (España)
    • “Noches de cristal” (Crystal Nights) – Greg Egan (Australia) Finalista del premio British Science Fiction 2008 Finalista del premio Locus 2008 Traducción de Carlos Pavón
    • “En el filo” (On the Edge) – Ramón Muñoz (España)
    • “El último Osama” (The Last Osama), de Lavie Tidhar (Israel) Traducción de Raúl García Campos
    • “El hombre que puso fin a la historia: documental” (The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary), de Ken Liu (China-Estados Unidos) Finalista del premio Hugo de novela corta 2012 Finalista del premio Nebula de novela corta 2011 Finalista del premio Sturgeon 2012 Traducción de Pilar san Román
    • Covers’s illustration : Ángel Benito Gastañaga (España)

    E-book or printed volume.

    Mariano Villarreal (1967, Spain) is the administrator from 2003 of “Literatura Fantástica” (Fantastic Literature), a web portal dedicated to the critical information and news from spanish science fiction & fantasy. He is a member of Terbi – the Basque Science Fiction Association, has been responsible for a collection of short fiction at the PortalEditions, he is a regular contributor to the “Literatura Prospectiva” (Prospective Literature) site, and for five years he was the administrator of the Ignotus Awards of the Spanish Association of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror (Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror). He has edited the “Visiones 2006” (2006 Visions) and “Fabricante de sueños 2000” (2000 Dream Maker) anthologies (in collaboration), has published numerous articles and reviews in the specialized spanish media (BEM, Solaris, Hélice), besides being part of awards jury’s like Xatafi-Cyberdark (of the specialized critics in the Fantastika literature), the “El Certamen Internacional de Novela Fantástica Los Sueños del Espantapájaros” (The Great International Novel Contest Dreams of the Scarecrow) and “El Melocotón Mecánico” (The Mechanical Peach). Mariano is one of the editors of Terra Nova. Antología de ciencia ficción contemporánea/Terra Nova. Anthology of contemporary science fiction fiction.


    Ricardo Manzanaro

    Ricardo Manzanaro Arana, a medical doctor and an university professor, is the President of the TerBi Asociación Vasca de CF Fantasía y Terror (TerBi Basque Association of Fantasy & Horror) from Bilbao, Spain. Ricardo has published over forty stories in various media and he’s a contributor to EUROPA SF and Amazing Stories.


    Latest articles

    Related articles