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Reviewed by:
  • Distopia: Fragmentos de um Céu Límpido ed. by Ildney Cavalcanti and Felipe Benicio
  • Jaqueline Pierazzo
Ildney Cavalcanti and Felipe Benicio, eds. Distopia: Fragmentos de um Céu Límpido. Maceió: Edufal, 2016. 208 pp. Paperback, $11.00, isbn 978-85-5913-027-0.

Tom Moylan's Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia was first published in the year 2000. Seventeen years later, this work still enlightens discussions and catches the attention of both science fiction and Utopian studies. Still, we have to acknowledge the fact that we are facing a belated translation. This could easily be a problem if the present edition had not provided a new perspective on Moylan's Scraps. This edition, brought together by the Brazilian research group "Literature and Utopia," not only shows the contemporaneity of Tom Moylan's insights but also sheds new light on the original book thanks to the introduction by Ildney Cavalcanti and Felipe [End Page 695] Benicio, "Reflections" by Elton Furlanetto, and the preface by Moylan himself. Even the translator's note helps to bring the book into the context of contemporary society.

Cavalcanti and Benicio's edition encompasses the translation of the second part of Tom Moylan's book, "Dystopia." The other two parts that were left behind are "Part One: Science Fiction and Utopia" and "Part Three: Dystopian Maneuvers." The first one, as the title already indicates, concerns itself with concepts and academic studies regarding Utopia and science fiction. In its turn, the third and last part involves a more practical approach to the concepts developed in the previous chapters with the analysis of works by Kim Stanley Robinson, Octavia Butler, and Marge Piercy. The part highlighted by Distopia: Fragmentos de um Céu Límpido deals with the concept of critical dystopia through the consideration of works such as the short story "The Machine Stops" and the novels Brave New World, 1984, and We.

The choice of disjointing Tom Moylan's original book and the option to give priority to the part about dystopia are explained in the introduction. Regarding the exclusion of the first part, the editors claim that there are already a substantial number of publications both internationally and in the Brazilian academic context regarding Utopia and science fiction but not as much about dystopias. On the other hand, in regard to the third part of Scraps, the explanation relies on the fact that the books analyzed by Moylan are unknown to the majority of Brazilian readers since they were never translated into Portuguese. In spite of the compelling justifications, one feels that something is missing, that this should be (and in a certain way it is) part of something bigger, of a project that will include not only the two missing parts of Tom Moylan's original book but also a series of translations regarding the works analyzed by Moylan and other dystopic novels and stories. Indeed, bearing Brazil's current social and political context in mind, now seems to be the perfect time to explore (critical) dystopias as a way to reflect upon and understand our present reality in order to think of a better future. Nonetheless, the edition does not ignore the other two parts of Moylan's Scraps; rather, it maintains the unity of the original book. Thus, even if only the second part is emphasized, the rest of the work is still present in the texts that complement the translation.

Since Tom Moylan's book has already been reviewed and studied for the past seventeen years, this review will focus on the novelties brought by the [End Page 696] Brazilian edition: the preface, "Reflections," and the translator's note. We will start with Moylan's preface since it seems to be the biggest contribution of this edition to Utopian studies and even to Moylan's own works.

Moylan's preface acts in a similar way as his 2014 edition of Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination, which not only brought back the discussions that appeared in the first publication but also shed new light on them through a new introduction penned by the author. In the same way, his preface to...


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