California Italian Studies
Flying Saucers Would Never Land in Lucca: The Fiction of Italian Science Fiction
- Author(s): Saiber, Arielle
- et al.
For the six decades of its life, Italian science fiction has been virtually absent on the shelves of Italian and non-Italian SF readers. One can find translations into English, for example, of SF novels and anthologies written in Romanian, Czech, Chinese, Finnish, Serbian, Ukrainian, but none in Italian. It has been consigned by SF scholars to the “ghetto of the ghetto.” Yet, Italy has been producing SF since the 1950s, some of it quite exceptional— notable for its “humanistic” bent, both in the sense of its intensive focus on human realities in a changing world, and in its use of the humanities, that is, its prominent references to a vast canon of literature, philosophy, religious writing, and fantastic imaginings. The infamous pronouncement in the late 1960s or early 1970s by Carlo Fruttero, the editor of the major Italian SF serial “Urania,” when asked why they rarely if ever included works by Italian authors—“it is impossible to imagine a flying saucer landing in Lucca”—was a curious sort of selective blindness shared by much of Italy and, consequently, by the rest of the world. Flying saucers have been landing in Lucca (although they seem to prefer to hover around Milan, Rome, Venice, Bologna, and Turin) for quite some time, and many of their crafts are magnificent, deserving of recognition and study.