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ES

Abstract

In “The Silent Towns,” from the 1950 collection The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury tells the story of the last man and woman left on Mars. While Walter has romanticized visions of a perfect match, he is ultimately disappointed by Genevieve’s and chooses to live out his life alone. Sixty years later, director Elena Palacios Ramé revived this science fiction classic to ask a simple question with a complex answer: What happens if you move the story to Havana? In the short film Los pueblos silenciosos (2010), Palacios replaces Mars with an abandoned Cuban capital, matching Walter with an extravagant Afro-Cuban model named Lucía. Walter still runs away, but this time it is out of sexual intimidation rather than disgust. Los pueblos silenciosos follows the director’s pattern of translating classic stories, as demonstrated by Satisfacción garantizada (2007), based on Isaac Asimov’s “Satisfaction Guaranteed”; and El zorro y el bosque (2009), from Bradbury’s “The Fox and the Forest.” By rewriting these canonical texts, Palacios presents the transgressive political potential of science fiction. In just 30 minutes, Los pueblos silenciosos contests the genre’s colonizing tendencies, while also forcing her audience to recognize present misogyny and racism in Cuba. The figure of Lucía challenges past representations of black bodies in science fiction, which often grants Afro-descendent characters magical, superhuman qualities or hyper-masculine, militarized survival skills. Lucía is confident, asserts her sexuality and stands up to Walter’s nostalgia for earlier Cuban social networks that excluded or ignored her. Palacios’s work demonstrates science fiction’s unique ability to challenge international power relationships, comment on domestic inequalities, and speculate on the uncertain future of Cuba.

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/2167-6577.5.2.3

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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