TEN QUESTIONS FOR VLADIMIR HERNÁNDEZ:
Interviewer: Corey Griffin
Translation: Daniel W. Koon
3/27/2006
En español

Translator’s note: Words or phrases that appear in English in the original are shown in italics.


1- What inspired you personally to write science fiction stories, as opposed to other types of fiction like fantasy? SF is a genre that provides much more creative freedom than the other forms of fiction. I am, above all, very interested in social and personal problems generated by technology, and for that reason SF is the ideal genre to deploy my speculative and extrapolative tools. And, curiously, I need to give myself certain “constraining rules” (physical and social) in order to narrate a story within a specific playground. 2- Were there any authors or directors of films that were particularly influential to your writing? I don’t think that film has exercised much specific influence (other than peripherally, that is as a contribution to my own sense of wonder) in my work: but, on the contrary, the literature of Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and more recently the Britons Paul McAuley, Iain Banks and Charles Stross have had a great stylistic and general influence on my concerns as an SF writer. 3 - Do you believe your writing more closely follows trends of science fiction from “Anglo-Saxon” countries, or that it still has a Cuban feel to it? Yes, as I mentioned in my last response it’s clear that I identify completely with English-language SF and its specific manner of exploring the development of the speculative genre; still, I think that I have a certain subtle influence from Soviet (Russian) SF and something from Cuban non-SF literature in its formal aspect. 4 - Do you believe your ideas for writing have changed much since you left Cuba? No, my ideas haven’t changed in the years I’ve spent outside Cuba. If anything, my esthetic and conceptual horizons have been expanded. But it’s clear that my SF is still very much in the process of evolving. 5- All of your stories seem to focus on multiculural groups of people working together. Why is this? Because generally my stories work within the framework of a near future where the effects of neoliberalism and globalism are taken for granted, where among other things, the heroes tend to be exponents of different cultures working on a common goal. That’s how I see the future. 6- I noticed many popular brand names in your writing (at least in Hypernova). What caused you to use these sorts of references in your work as opposed to fictional companies? SF is not about the future, despite what one thinks; most of the time SF is about the present. Perhaps that’s why so many well-known names appear, so many consolidated corporate fusions in my stories. 7- Your visions of the future seem to vary greatly. What made you think of the different outcomes of humanity (like the neo-slums of Semiotics for Wolves and the extinction of all males in Nemesis)? I like to vary the outcomes in my stories, to show different kinds of humanity living together, surviving or in control in different epochs. As I see it, the neo-slums of Semiotics are a direct extrapolative consequence of the Third World of today. On the other hand, the extinction of males in Nemesis is a way of approaching an extreme case of “terrorism/genocide”, associated with an emotional or philosophical state. 8- What made you think of the different technologies that would exist in the future (like the Infoverse in Hypernova)? All the technologies (biotech, nanotech, VR, “hybrids-tech”) that appear in my stories are derived, extrapolated from emerging technologies of today, or from already mature technologies such as computers and cybernetics; one of the most exciting intellectual tasks of an SF writer consists in trying to imagine some new technology which could help other stories, other types of conflict, to develop. 9- Do you think your visions of the future could ever come true, or are they more for entertainment? When we write SF we focus on the literary, intellectual or simply “entertainment” aspects of the story which we are telling, we never think of the vision as a deed which will come true sooner or later. As I see it, writing SF is an exercise in creative freedom focused in the very dynamics of the story you are telling and not in the possibilities of turning it into reality. SF is prospective literature, not futurism. 10- Is there any work that you are more satisfied with than the others (in other words, which one do you like best)? The story I feel most satisfied with up till now is called Interface Dreams, the story of a man who finds himself, who grows emotionally as a human being, trying to save the life of a stanger (It’s a sort of prequel to Hypernova.); it has a lot of action, it takes place in the post-Communist Cuba of 2050 and possesses the collection of characters and situation (even gadgets) that I like the most of all my stories. I hope you can read it soon.

Respuestas en español


1- La SF es un género que me aporta mucha más libertad creativa que las otras formas de ficción. Estoy, sobre todo, muy interesado en los problemas sociales y particulares generados por la tecnología, y por tanto es la SF el género idóneo para desplegar mis herramientas especulativas o extrapolativas. Y, curiosamente, necesito trazarme unas "reglas de contención" (físicas y sociales) para narrar una historia dentro de un playground determinado.

2-No creo que el cine ejerciera mucha influencia específica (excepto de una manera periférica, más bien cierta contribución de sense of wonder) en mi obra; pero, en cambio, la literatura de Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, y más recientemente los británicos Paul McAuley, Iain Banks y Charles Stross han ejercido gran influencia estilística y genérica sobre mis preocupaciones como autor de SF.

3-Sí, como se nota en mi respuesta anterior, es evidente que me siento completamente identificado con la SF anglosajona y su manera específica de explorar el desarrollo del género especulativo; no obstante, creo que tengo cierta sutil influencia de la SF soviética (rusa) y algo de la literatura cubana (no SF) en el aspecto formal.

4-No. Mis ideas no han cambiado durante los años que llevo fuera de Cuba. Si acaso, los horizontes estéticos y conceptuales, se han ampliado. Pero está claro que mi SF aún está en pleno proceso de evolución.

5-Porque, generalmente, mis historias trabajan en un marco de near future donde doy por sentado muchos de los efectos del neoliberalismo y la globalización, donde entre otras cosas, los protagonistas suelen ser exponentes de diferentes culturas trabajando por un fin común. Es así cómo yo veo el futuro.

6-SF is not about the future, lejos de lo que se piensa; SF la mayoría de las veces es sobre el presente. Tal vez por eso aparecen tantos nombres conocidos, tantas fusiones corporativas consolidadas en mis historias.

7-Me gusta variar los outcomes en mis historias, mostrar diferentes tipos de humanidad conviviendo, sobreviviendo o dominado en épocas diferentes. Tal como yo lo veo, los neo-slums de Semiotics son una consecuencia directa (extrapolativa) del tercer mundo de hoy. En cambio, la extinción de machos en Nemesis es una manera de abordar un caso de "terrorismo-genocido" extremo, asociado a un estado emocional o filosófico.

8- Todas las tecnologías (biotech, nanotech, V.R., "hibrids-tech") que aparecen en mis historias son derivadas, extrapoladas de tecnologías emergentes actuales, o tecnologías afianzadas ya como la informática y la cibernética; uno de las tareas intelectuales más excitantes de un autor de SF consiste en tratar de imaginar alguna nueva tecnología que pueda ayudar a desarrollar otras historias, otros tipos de conflictos.

9-Cuando escribimos SF nos concentramos en el aspecto literario, intelectual, o simplemente "entertainment" de la historia que estamos contando, nunca pensamos en la visión como en un hecho que se cumplirá antes o después. Tal como yo lo veo, escribir SF es un ejercicio de libertad creativa enfocado en la propia dinámica de la historia que cuentas y no en sus posibilidades de hacerse realidad. SF es literatura prospectiva, no futurismo.

10-El relato con el que más satisfecho me siento hasta ahora se llama Interface Dreams, la historia de un hombre que se encuentra a sí mismo, que crece emocionalmente como ser humano, intentando salvar la vida de una desconocida (es una suerte de precuel de Hypernova); tiene mucha acción, se desarrolla en la Cuba postcomunista del 2050 y posee la colección de personajes y situaciones (even gadgets) que más me satisfacen de todas mis historias. Espero que podáis leerla pronto.

Return to
Cuban SF site
Return to Koon's webpage
Contact Koon