gu ta gutarrak: a science fiction tale    The literary magazine Nueva Dimensión published science fiction short novels, short stories, essays and comics from 1968 to 1983. In those golden years of the genre, the magazine soon became important, and, in 1972 for instance, it received the prize for the best science fiction magazine in Europe. Many international authors published material in the magazine but it was a Basque-Argentine woman who made the magazine front-page news across the world. Her name was Magdalena Mouján Otaño. It has been six years since Magdalena Moujan Otaño passed away. This Basque-Argentine wrote what must surely be the most famous science fiction story in Basque literature. Magdalena Moujan Otaño was born in Pehuajó in the province of Buenos Aires in 1926. Her grandfather was the Zizurkil bertsolari (ad-lib poet-singer in Basque) Pedro Mari Otaño, who had trice travelled to Argentina as a shepherd and teacher. He had always wanted to die in the town where he had been born, but, as is the case of most poor people, his poverty soon made his desires seem a thing of science fiction: he was buried in the dry hard soil of the Panpas.
Magdalena was a clever and bright woman who showed a special ability for study from an early age. She doctored in mathematics in the 50s and worked as a professor at several different universities. In 1966, as a consequence of the military coup (the national sport of most South American countries at the time) she was a victim of oppression and was expelled from the university where she was working. Nevertheless, she continued working as a teacher here and there where she could. She was always acutely aware of her origins and she worked in the investigation and dissemination of Basque culture, particularly in the Arturo Campion Centre in La Plata. Along with science, her major love was literature.
As an author, she, above all, wrote stories, most of them science fiction, and amongst those was “Gu ta Gutarrak” (“We and Our Own”). It’s based on a verse written by her grandfather in 1899 and well known by Basque Argentines.
The magazine Nueva Dimensión published the story in issue number 14 in 1970. As soon as the magazine had been the delivered, Spanish Home Secretary Fraga Iribarne had the magazine seized in an act described as “an act of preventive censorship”. In 1966 the same Fraga, had revoked the then law concerning censorship. This “democrat” played an intelligent game with the law that bore his name. He pretended to show, internationally, that Spain had done away with censorship. The law, however, was a farce. Whilst the law did not allow anything to be censored before being released, it enabled the powers that be to remove anything they didn’t like from the market ̈a posteriori ̈. As a consequence of the huge financial costs this entailed, many publishers and authors applied self-censorship or “voluntary censorship” to their work. The point here is that issue number 14 of Nueva Dimension was seized because of the short story “Gu ta Gutarrak”. Today, the handful of copies of the issue that could be sold that May in 1970 are in the hands of collectors. In the reprinted issue Moujan Otaño’s story was replaced by Johnny Hart’s short story “Formicología”. This case of censorship soon became major news internationally (relatively speaking of course – we are talking about science fiction literature and Iker Jimenez – popular presenter of stranger than fiction “true” stories – wouldn’t be born for another three years yet.) “Gu ta Gutarrak”, albeit 100 issues and 9 years later, was eventually published in Nueva Dimension.