Monday, August 15, 2005

Outer Space Pyrites

A catchy briefing of "Piritas siderais", found in "Brazilian Science Fiction: Cultural Myths and Nationhood in the Land of the Future", by M Elizabeth Ginway, thanks to Google Print: In Piritas siderais (1994), the title of which refers to the gold-colored nuggets commonly known as "fool's gold", black American Berzelius Baldwin makes a pact with the devil to be immortal, with his soul to be places in the body of a Brazilian black who happens to be the twin brother of Zé Seixas, the protagonist of the story. However, when that twin dies in utero before the reincarnation can take place, the attempt fails. In order to keep his end of the bargain, the devil improvises a genetic chip which renders Baldwin's body immortal, but only if it is nurtured with a constant supply of gold, an abundant supply of which Baldwin has located on an as-yet-uncharted planet, ruled by an Afro-Brazilian deity. Baldwin believes that he can secretly obtain the gold from the planet by channeling. Maria, the priestess, claims that her chicken, Leda, has the power to provide part of this service by imitating the goose that laid the golden eggs. Zé and his friend Terêncio, who also happens to be an excellent medium, volunteer to go along with the plot. When the Afro-Brazilian god Oko magically appears, Terêncio, in an act of recalling Zeus's seduction of Leda the swan, channels Oko's powers so that the chicken is able to lay golden eggs. Of course, like the god's name, Oko (oco or hollow in Portuguese), the victory is hollow because Terêncio, after his orgiastic night with the chicken Leda, is famished and cannot resist roasting her in order to satisfy his hunger, thus completing this satiric fairy tale and justifying the title, "Outer Space Pyrites".