Time­less Ar­gen­tine pulp SF

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! Pub­lisher Fantagraphics

Writer Héc­tor Ger­mán Oester­held

Artist Francisco solano lópez

You may well not have heard of The Eter­naut, but in Latin Amer­ica, this thing is ba­si­cally Watch­men – the sem­i­nal comic whose iconog­ra­phy has taken on a life of its own. It’s never been pub­lished in English be­fore, but, char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, Fantagraphics have taken on the task of bring­ing its de­lights to a wider au­di­ence.

First se­ri­alised in Ar­gentina be­tween 1957 and 1959, The Eter­naut is a work of vast scope that leaps across dif­fer­ent SF gen­res. First, as the world falls vic­tim to deadly ra­dioac­tive snow, it’s a Cold War-era postapoc­a­lypse story; a bleak, eerie sec­tion de­tails the la­bo­ri­ous steps taken by hero Juan Salvo and his fam­ily and friends to sur­vive in a world sud­denly turned hos­tile.

How­ever, it gets steadily weirder, go­ing on to en­com­pass alien in­va­sion and time travel. Play­ing against this, Francisco Solano López main­tains a lu­cid art style that’s nei­ther stylised nor overly de­tailed. His mono­chrome line work gen­er­ates real em­pa­thy for the char­ac­ters caught in this sur­real world. Mean­while, writer Héc­tor Ger­mán Oester­held fills the story with satir­i­cal al­lu­sions and is con­stantly in­ven­tive, chang­ing the sta­tus quo just as you feel you’ve got the mea­sure of it.

The at­ti­tudes are a lit­tle dated (es­pe­cially to­wards women), and the se­ri­alised na­ture means that, when read in large chunks, the plot­ting can be dis­jointed. But it’s easy to see why the story en­dures – this is very smart pulp SF with orig­i­nal­ity and heart. It stands up to­day as both a pe­riod piece and strangely time­less. Ed­die Rob­son

This is very smart pulp SF with orig­i­nal­ity and heart

Writer Héc­tor Gerán Oester­held was one of the thou­sands “dis­ap­peared” by Ar­gentina’s mil­i­tary junta in the late ’70s.

The X Fac­tor au­di­tions were get­ting emo­tional.

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