Spanish Mutant Fictioneers:

Of Mutants, Mutant Fiction and Media Mutations

Christine Henseler
Union College

Con la era de la pantalla global, lo que está en proceso

es una tremenda mutación cultural que afecta a

crecientes aspectos de la creación

e incluso de la propia existencia.(1)

—Germán Sierra


         You may have heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are strangely buffed and masked anthropomorphic turtles named after Renaissance artists Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Rafael. Living in sewers, away from Main Street, these turtles combat evil in urban New York City using no less than the Japanese art of Ninjutsu. They first appeared in comic books in 1984, then as lead figurines in 1986, and by 1987 these “Heroes in Half Shells” were calling out “Turtle Power!” through our television sets, movie screens, cartoons, video games, even our Pez dispensers and skateboards.

         Seen on screen, in print, in video trailers and even comics (no Pez dispensers yet), the Spanish Mutant Fictioneers have had similar effects on contemporary readers and literary critics. (2) Disguised as professors, physicist, biochemists, and film historians, they have been calling out “Mutant Power!” from the pages of their novels, and critics and journalists have been delighting and denouncing them as “Nocilla!” “Afterpop!” “Pangea!” or “Mutantes!”. (3) They are largely publishing through indie houses like Berenice and DVD, and they are taking words into their own hands by addressing their fans and foes directly through blogs, personal web pages, Facebook and Flickr. (4) They are nomads, living in Spain and the United States, physically and virtually travelling the world, ingesting words and images along the way. Their power resides in mutating words in print and print across media.                           

         The Spanish Mutant Fictioneers are disrupting traditional narrative practices, metamorphosing genres, exploding texts off the page into vast media landscapes, imploding times and spaces, and ingesting any and all cultural references along the way. Their artistic directive undermines traditional literary practices by seamlessly moving from high to low culture, from word to image, from print to electronic text and by developing more open-minded narrative strategies along the way. Their moniker, Mutantes, inherently embodies duality: it implies the existence of both the misconfigurations and dangers of a new literary scene and the potential creative power of new cultural signifiers.

Spanish Mutant Fictioneers

The moment when the Spanish Mutant Fictioneers errupted on the literary scene, when their work connected and coagulated and their “monstrous” deformations became apparent, they emerged like comic heroes onto the pages of cultural magazines and newspapers. Their  showing has been attributed to the year 2004 by the likes of Nuria Azancot, Irene Zoe Alameda, and Jorge Carrión who believe that a series of new texts determined the beginning of a new literary group or generation. (5) On a critical front, Eloy Fernández Porta published Afterpop: la literatura de la implosión mediática (2007), Vicente Luis Mora published Pangea: Internet, blogs y comunicación en un mundo nuevo (2006) and La luz nueva: Singularidad en la narrativa española actual (2007), and Agustín Fernández Mallo wrote Postpoética: hacia un nuevo paradigma (2009). Several short story collections presented new names and visions, such as Juan Francisco Ferré and Julio Ortega’s Mutantes: Narrativa española de última generación (2007) and Porta’s and Vicente Muñoz Álvarez’s Golpes de crueldad social (2004). Apart from these works, a series of novels added to the group’s morphing appearance, including Ferré’s short story collection Metamorphosis (2006) and his most recent novel Providence (2010); Jorge Carrión’s La brújula (2006) and Crónica de viajes (2009); Germán Sierra’s Alto voltaje (2004) and Intente usar otras palabras (2009); Robert Juan-Cantavella’s Proust Fiction (2005) and El Dorado (2008), Cero absoluto (2005) by Javier Fernández, and, most notably Agustín Fernández Mallo’s trilogy, Nocilla Dream (2006), Nocilla Experience (2008) and Nocilla Lab (2010). (6)

The critical and creative vision of the three main characters of this mutant power house—Mallo, Porta, and Mora—has contributed to their definition as the “Nocilla Generation,” the “After-Pops,” or “Pangea.” Despite the importance of all three of these labels, their authors and their works, they are too limiting in focus. “Mutantes” provides a more broad definition based on creative process, change, and evolution, terms at the heart of this group’s artistic expressions. As such, 2004 presents an artificial boundary between the old and the new that is antithetical to the writers’ inherent characteristics. Many first works of this group were first published in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, including Germán Sierra’s El espacio no aparentemente perdido (1996) and Efectos secundarios (2000), Javier Calvo’s Risas enlatadas (2001), the experimental fiction of Robert Juan-Cantavella’s Otro (2001), or Jorge Carrión’s Ene (2001). And, as I argue elsewhere, I believe the textual and extratextual results of the Mutantes derive directly from Spanish Generation X narratives of the 1990s, and, on a US front, from the Avant-Pops before them. (7)

The term Mutantes is especially enriching when we take a closer look at the authors and their works. The Spanish Mutant Fictioneers are not “just” authors, they do not “just” write fiction. They are constantly changing hybrid embodiments of authors/critics/producers/performers/video artists/scientists/poets/bloggers. They infect the printed word with Google maps, video games, reality television shows, and hypertexts. They transfer their words into media spaces, specializing in the art of zapping, mashing, sampling, and remixing. Some would say they “deform” the word through a host of media supports, such as blogs, videos, and hypertexts. Others believe their media deformations create circular spaces of pure self-promotion. But despite these critiques, the Mutantes are successful transmedia artists who move fiction across a variety of media platforms, developing new products that interrelate, converge, and mutate into new shapes and forms along the way. These Spanish Mutant Fictioneers speak to critics and readers directly, they speak in their own language and they communicate through the same spaces as their fans and critics, whether through electronic blogs or cultural print journals.

The word Mutantes inherently embodies duality: it implies the existence of both the misconfigurations and dangers of a new literary scene and the potential creative power of new cultural results. Since the early twenty-first century, in Spain readers and critics have been recognizing the innovative potential of the Mutantes’ “wild deformations” through a host of conferences, and workshops. In November of 2009, Germán Sierra, Jordi Costa, Mercedes Cebrián, Agustín Fernández-Mallo, Robert Juan-Cantavella, Jorge Carrión, and Eloy Fernández-Porta were invited to an event called Ctrl+Alt+Del, Reiniciando el monstruo. The conference inherently addressed the construction of the monstrous in relation to literary innovation. The way the organizers described the event portrayed the Mutantes as an anti-commercial and mainstream literary group, one whose literary deformations presented a space for alternative meaning making:


En estos tiempos de pacificación cultural, de literatura normalizada, de difusión masiva de lo estético y políticamente correcto y de mansedumbre estándar, el replanteamiento de lo “monstruoso” puede ser, en el peor de los casos, una piedra de toque para la reflexión y un llamamiento a la resistencia artística, en el caso más deseable. Lo deforme, lo raro, lo extraño, lo monstruoso, lo que huye de la norma y se presenta como alienación por la alienación, tiene la fuerza suficiente para despertar la conciencia dormida y hacer que “el seso avive y despierte.” Por ello, Ctrl+alt+del debe ser configurado como una intervención artístico-intelectual, y no como un encuentro al uso.


Ironically, what is here defined as a writing model that evolves outside of mainstream mass diffused products, is one whose monstrous powers embraces all levels of society and culture. The “monstrous” is both an anti-establishment critique and a moment of critical pause; it suggests the creation of a series of narrative products that reside outside traditional models and expectations, when indeed, the “norm” has been to embrace the “monstrous deformations” of new media technologies on all levels of daily life. To be located “outside” is now, rather, to remain “unconnected” and “unaffected” by technology. In other words, the Mutantes present literary critics with an up to date, direct, real-time exhibition of literary results, suggesting that those who do not understand, may well appear monstrously disconnected.

Author and critic Eloy Fernández Porta intellectualizes the above crosscurrents between literary criticism and information narratives in his highly acclaimed book After-Pop. Porta observes that critics do not seem to understand how to converge both literary and audio-visual cultures into new critical models. They reduce some texts to superficial sites of popular surface culture and seem to ignore that there has been “un cambio de signo del objeto pop, que desde Adorno hasta McLuhan lo habían teorizado como leve, fácil, superficial. Y cada vez más se convierte en un objeto sofisticado, que implica lecturas de segundo y de tercer grado” (Humanes 9-10). He suggests that critics now talk about “low popular culture” and “high popular culture,” the latter referring to pop culture’s highly interactive relation to new media and the need for different linguistic paradigms to understand the new frameworks. So as to demonstrate the results of such a critical approach, in After-Pop Porta spits out a hybrid, deformed text in which he seamlessly shifts from literature to film, punk to comics, rock and roll to high philosophical theory. His book embodies a mutating criticism that ingests and shifts between all modes of (high and low) popular culture and metamorphoses his ideas into narrative style and form.

In fiction, Agustín Fernández Mallo mirrors Porta’s critical “deformations” through what the novelist and poet calls “lecturas transversales.” These are readings and writings that ingest everything that surround authors and readers, from film to music, science, art, advertising, cooking or home furnishing. Given the breakdown of traditional hierarchical structures, Mallo sees contemporary society not as a vertical, but as a horizontal web that refracts large numbers of everyday elements. To not reach out, to not allow the text to be saturated with absolutely everything that infuses daily life, reduces products to unintelligible items/novels located outside of time (343). Mallo’s view on a society as a “horizontal web” may be likened to a series of spaces or slices of life in which a person from Mars might find everything from a dirty toothbrush to a classical Greek mask. Whether on the level of fiction (Mallo), or literary criticism (Porta), the goal is to seamlessly shift from idea to object, from text to screen, from lyrical poetry to objective essay, easily spanning times, spaces, and contexts.

As a possible reference to the rebooting of the literary canon, the keyboard reference, Ctrl+Alt+Del, in the title of the above intellectual encounter then relates “deformation” with the advent of new media technologies. The relationship that these conferences establish between new media and literature is a central feature of the Mutantes, and it is best presented in the Mutantes short story volume co-edited by Juan Francisco Ferré and Julio Ortega. In this book, Ferré defines contemporary life as in a state of metamorphosis resulting from the apocalypse of humanist culture, hyperconsumption, and technology (16). He states that if there is a drug to which the authors of his volume are addicted, it is called “information,” a sexy, cheap, easily found, and lawless immaterial drug that can be conditioned or altered (17). Each author, he says, takes different doses of this drug, but collectively the drug changes the writers’ neural circuits and mental processes, turning them into what Kathryn Hayles in a different context has called “Information Narratives.” (8) Hayles argues that these texts present a shift from the more traditional staples of interpretation (plot, text, author, reader) to the encoding of pattern and randomness (Posthuman 36). As such, linearity gives way to more spatial narrative patterns that depart from the effects and structural outgrowths of different media and software applications.

Ferré summarizes the effect of these changes through three categories: the “New,” the “Innovative,” and the “Advanced.” (9) He believes that the literature of the Mutantes is contaminated by all cultural forms, charged by the innovative and changing qualities of national and international trends in narrative history, and centered around some of the most radical advancements in the arts and economy, politics and communication, technology, consumption, society and aesthetics, science and sexuality, etc. (13-14). His contributors’ literary appropriations of the comic and film, of sociological irony, the world of the image and fashion, virtual reality, or the Internet, define a group that brings the superficial to the surface of the page and displaces the real into the amalgamated projects of media technologies. Ferré believes that the goal of this new age is to create a kind of “post-literatura, de literatura del post e, incluso, del post-it” (13). Indeed, one could say that this narrative is sometimes restricted to the limited space of a post-it note, at the same time that it opens its coordinates to a post-spatial era.

Much like the linking properties of the Internet, the concepts and ideas that define the Mutantes post-, post-it era are connected and reappear in various forms and formats. Porta’s After-pop concept falls in line with Mallo’s transversal reading theory, which consequently connects to Ferré’s definition of mutantes, and Spanish author and critic Vicente Luis Mora’s concept of pangea. Mora appropriates pangea to signal to the re-unification of tectonic plates and to a sense of unity to the world through cyberspace and its various on-line and off-line outgrowths such as the Internet, virtual reality, the blogosphere, videogames, human-computer interfaces, etc. On the literary front, these spaces of communication translate into a dissolution of linear time for a more absolute presence and circularity, virtual identity, a return of a totality understood in terms of a multiple and instantaneous globality, a non-existence of locals, and a non-existence of truth concepts. Mora says that the pangea-type novel must convene characteristics that concern structural manifestations of visual or virtual technologies like blogs, chats, e-mails (Luz 72-73). Through the terms After-pop, mutante and pangea, all three authors signal to the qualities and applications of global intercultural and transcultural connections realized through storytelling.           

Author Mutations & Nomadic Aesthetics

The Spanish Mutant Fictioneers are writers with both feet on the ground, each foot in a different discipline, walking within a mobile labyrinth with no “entrance” or “exit” signs. They are global nomadic citizens with backgrounds in a host of disciplines and with professional interests and applications spanning many fields. They are world citizens; they travel continents, countries and cities, they live abroad for short and long periods of time, and they speak several languages. (10) Some love to travel in person, while others travel the Net in the privacy of their homes. In some cases a combination applies: Mallo’s novel Nocilla Dream was created during the author’s hospital confinement in Thailand and subsequent zapping of television shows. In Los mares de Wang (2008) Gabi Martínez fictionalizes his physical travels to China, while Jorge Carrión follows his Andalusian ancestry to Australia (2008). Carrión also recreates his virtual travels through Google maps in Crónica de viajes (2009) and on in his “Blog nómada sobre libros y viajes,” suggesting that the spatial dimension of “travel writings” has become more linguistically complex.

The spatial multi-dimensionality of the nomadic writer is discussed by Agustín Fernández Mallo in his essay, “Tiempo topológico en Proyecto Nocilla y en Postpoesía (y breve apunte para una Exonovela).” The author argues that the Mutantes are “nómadas en un espacio que ya es la Red.” He motions to the global dynamics of the Internet as presenting artists with identificatory roots that allow them to recreate their roots as they surf the web, unproblematically assuming the sum of their rootedness in all places, near or far, old or new (“Tiempo”). Mallo references French art curator and critic Nicholas Bourriaud’s work in The Radicants (2009) to relate the image of the nomad to that of the “radicant” as a,


setting of one’s roots in motion, staging them in heterogeneous contexts and formats, denying them any value as origins, translating ideas, transcoding images, transplanting behaviors, exchanging rather than imposing. The author extends radicant thought to modes of cultural production, consumption and use. (11)


Mallo understands Bourriaud’s use of the “radicant” as a metaphor with etymological roots in the plant world. “Radicants” are ivy or trumpet creepers that take on new roots as they advance and cling to different surfaces. In the words of Mallo, “van dejando atrás sus raíces a medida que ascienden y crean nuevas raíces con las que agarrarse a la tapia. No son raíces, sino pequeñas adhesions mutantes. Nomadismo estético” (“Tiempo”). This aesthetic nomadism that is centered on mutant adhesions, relates to surfaces, scar tissue, wounds that bind or deform to create new cells and structures; it refers to a constantly changing and growing structure with multiple roots and outgrowths that move and cover much ground. Similarly, the Mutantes points of entry and exit also originate from multiple places and spaces. Their nomadic aestheticism is born from their multiple disciplinary roots and personal interests, and, together they cover much professional ground, changing literary growths along the way.

The Mutantes’ aesthetic nomadism is determined by the many professional and personal surfaces and spaces that contribute to their hybrid reconfiguration of narrative standards. (12) Carrión has a degree in the Humanities and teaches classes on contemporary literature and creative writing at the University of Pompeu-Fabra. He also writes for several literary magazines and produces and edits his own books. Vicente Luis Mora has a Law degree and a background in Philosophy. He directs the Centro del Instituto Cervantes in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He writes for various literary magazines and academic journals, and his blog, Diario de Lecturas, was recently awarded the “Premio Revista de Letras al Mejor Blog Nacional de Crítica Literario” (2010). Eloy Fernández Porta is Professor of Literature and the History of Film. He writes novels, books of literary and cultural criticism, and is known for his spoken word, DJ, and video art performances. Javier Fernández studied Engineering and is presently working as editor and literary scholar; Irene Zoe Alameda studied Philosophy and has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University; she is currently making films and directing the Instituto de Cervantes in Stockholm. Agustín Fernández Mallo is a Physicist who works in a hospital, and Germán Sierra is a Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Santiago de Compostela. In sum, the Spanish Mutant Fictioneers are multifaceted and highly educated individuals whose professional backgrounds span multiple fields and contaminate each other in significant ways. As such, they press on and outward, and stretch the bounds around which definitions of the “novelist” and the “novel” has been defined.

         Mallo and Sierra’s professional roots in the sciences, a physicist and a neuroscientist/biochemist by trade, directly affect their fiction and their criticism, most specifically their use of scientific language, images, and concepts in text. In “La Ficción-ciencia de Germán Sierra,” colleague Robert Juan-Cantavella discusses how Sierra uses scientific metaphors and language in his narrative to describe cities as living organisms, people like cellular masses within which couples are attracted to each other like ions through physical, rather than psychological, forces (as in the short story “Iones” in Alto Voltaje). Sierra often presents characters in the shape of artists fascinated and involved in the sciences and technology, as in the case of the writer Arturo in Efectos secundarios or Pablo, the photographer in Intente usar otras palabras. (13) Or they come from the world of the sciences and medicine, as found in the shape of the biologist in his first book El espacio aparentemente perdido. (14)

Mallo’s work similarly metamorphoses narrative, poetry and essay, as well as science, art and technology into a series of products that, on one hand are highly emulative of television and computer technologies, as in his Nocilla trilogy, and critical of the enriching interrelationship between art and science. Mallo identifies a process of creation that is less linear than it is spatial, explaining that A and B is not contained in A+B, but rather presents us with a system that is better represented as A+B+? Spanish author Juan Bonilla uses this same line of thought on infinite addition in the prologue to Mallo’s novel Nocilla Dream. He refers to the work of Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari to differentiate between the verb “to be” and the conjunctions “and…and…and…” to point to a more rhyzomatic theory of writing. In this context, the above conjunction can be likened to the “radicant” (or Mutante author) as a plant with an infinite number of roots and outgrowths (root + root + root +). The strength of the word “and” or the mathematical sign “+” is one that Bonilla believes has the power to uproot the verb “to be.” Uprooting “to be” leads Mallo to a compendium of cultural and scientific references presented as perpendicular and transversal movements without beginnings or ends (Bonilla 7). Subsequently, Mallo’s “poesía postpoética” may be equated to a process of new “becoming,” of a web of webs in continuous experimentation and expansion (Bonilla 8). To write “poesía postpoética” entails writing “poemas que no dejen necesariamente fuera de juego aquello que nos rodea: cocina, economía, ciencias, publicidad, música, etc. Es una red en el sentido contemporáneo del término: nodos y enlaces” (Sáenz). For Mallo, the poet, novelist, scientist, the world becomes his laboratory, and in this laboratory every reaction leads to another, and another, and another…like a large web of idea flows. In a video interview about Nocilla Lab, Mallo thus declares that to not be rooted, to not have roots allows for less traditionalism and more innovation and freedom. (15) It is precisely the erasure of the sum of their parts, then, that makes the Spanish Mutant Fictioneers move and grow in hybrid ways.

Mutantes 2.0

Despite the diverse background of the Mutantes, the nomadic web of their word flows converge in ways that are best defined by the application “Web 2.0.” The “2.0” does not refer to specific technological updates of the World Wide Web, but rather to the qualitative and cumulative changes of its software uses. Similarly, the work of the “Mutantes 2.0,” as one could call them, signals the production of user-centered and user-generated multi-media material whereby authors and readers create and interact with each other’s material and various media platforms allow their work to mutate from text to image and from the printed to the electronic page. In addition, the authors’ sense of connection is immediate and they embrace e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter to celebrate the collaborative and participatory nature of their communications and have open and honest conversations with critics, authors and readers alike. In sum, their work is inherently interconnected, transmediatic, and convergent.

The Mutantes inherently live in an age in which old and new media are colliding and authorial and critical positions are shifting. This change is best described by media studies scholar Henry Jenkins who explains this “convergence” signals to,


the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want. Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about. (2-3)


Convergence should not be understood primarily as a technological process bringing together multiple media functions within the same devices. Instead, convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content” (Jenkins 3). In the realm of literature, this user-oriented vision suggests that it is not enough to say that authors are appropriating more media technologies to promote and create their work, but rather, they are partaking in a cultural mindshift in which their positions have changed in relation to the world at large, and in which scholars must become more active “cultural seekers “as well.

Thanks to the ease in use of new software applications, including social networking and video production, and recording and remixing technologies, scholars must follow the Mutantes across media platforms. Case in point is Doménico Chiappe’s webpage at The page presents viewers with a series of large and small silver-grey spheres seemingly hanging in space. When one moves the arrow over a circle, the following links appear (from top to bottom): novela multimedia, literatura, periodismo blog, videos, música, área de prensa, teoría, bio/contactar. Clicking on “música” leads to a new page titled “Novela cantada para Internet.” By pressing the play icon, the public (the use of the term “readers” now seems insufficiently narrow) can listen to the words and music fully and in part produced and spoken by the author. Under “Video,” a series of Youtube clips appear. The first one, a rather amateur-feeling musical/spoken word performance of Chiappe’s short novel Entrevista a Mailer Daemon (2007) is seen to have taken place at the Spanish superstore Fnac. The second, a “puesta en escena” of his narrative hypertext is defined by Chiappe in the video as “an experiment within an experiment.” Then, in the full house of a poetry festival in 2005, Chiappe displays a video version of his hypertext “Tierra de Extracción” ( in the background while playing music, singing and letting a young woman read his “novel” in the forefront of the stage, the background images literally playing off the contours of her face.

The public dimension of web pages and Youtube videos allows these authors a previously unimaginable connection with a worldwide audience. In today’s interconnected world, it is quite common for the Mutantes (as well as other authors) to upload onto Youtube, blogs or publisher’s websites, the video recordings of their book presentations, multimedia and spoken word performances, remixes, and other visual material. These videos may be as traditional as an interview or a reading in a room before an audience, or as non-traditional as Gabi Martínez’s remixed explanation of his novel Sudd, where content and context intersperse with the voice and image of the author, images of lakes, oceans, and beaches, classical film extracts, and photographs of his travels. (16) Similarly, videos such as “Retrospectiva de los viajes y libro de Gabi Martínez” also present the public with a visually enhanced version of his travels as put onto paper. (17) The remixes they create themselves or have professionally cut, are not only the result of their fiction, but in Porta’s case, of literary criticism and theory set to stage, image, and voice. For example, Porta stands before a screen showing a video remix while speaking into the microphone in theatrical tones and reading from his critical works, or joining the “other Fernández” (Mallo) in a duet spoken word performance of After-Pop and Nocilla. The results are highly interactive and multimedia performances, often remixed with additional images and fragments from various sources (such as Porta’s latest television interviews for the Premio Anagrama de Ensayo 2010, for ∍®0$. (18)

The self-critical and promotional spaces afforded by new media sites—authors promote their work on their own Facebook pages, through blogs on Twitter, or with videos of their book presentations that they upload to YouTube—has led several Spanish literary critics to undervalue the quality of their work. They have criticized the Mutantes for publishing visual and verbal pieces that serve to promote only themselves. (19) Carrión is an especially interesting case. Not only has he edited, produced, and published his own short novels, turning certain limited editions, such as those for GR-83 and Crónica de viajes, into cult books, but he is also one of the first writers in Spain to produce a series of four “book trailers” for his novel Los muertos (2010).

Created by friend and producer Sergio Espín, the trailers remix a host of materials, voices, and spaces. All four begin in the following fashion: screen one displays a row of shelved books on top of which may be read the words Del autor de…, which come into focus then disappear and lead to: Australia / Híbrido de Western y Crónica de viajes. As if the television connection were disappearing, the screen “times out,” then reappears again with the words Llega a nuestras pantallas / Un thriller, un ensayo, una máquina textual. New screen. Carrión himself starts to read the first words of Los muertos…. Nueva York….” The screen changes to show several comic-book scenes of a cityscape while we listen to the voice of the author (a spoken word graphic novel of sorts). The scene shifts again to a background of books and the words La tradición de Cervantes Nabokov y Borges. Next screen. En la era de Matrix, Facebook y Lost. Next screen. Un relato sin límites. Screen change. La primera novela del siglo XXI? And the narrative of the novel continues, enhanced by black and white cartoon-style images that move faster and faster as the character gets beaten up and coincide with ironic voice of the author saying: Bien venido, bien venido. The first video ends with the invitation: En sus pantallas / librerías / e-books El 19 de febrero de 2010 Los muertos de Jorge Carrion.

         Each one of Carrión’s book trailers (all slightly different in content and form) begins with the presentation of himself and his work as seen in the first few screen shots. They converge with the voice of the author (his own words echoing/ multiplying in the third trailer), paragraphs of the novel read by Carrión in different guises and spaces (most often his office), the use of images from different sources, including comics and film and television, the multiplication of screens within screens, such as the representation of a computer on Carrión’s desk showing a black and white classic film, or, as in the last trailer, the duplication of narrative, television image and Larry King “live” on CNN. The result of the four segments of Los muertos may be termed a literary trailer remix meant to sell you the media phenomenon that is the novel, soon in theatres near you.

         The convergent result of this remix has not gone unnoticed by public, authors and critics alike. Vicent Moreno, in a working paper titled “Blogs, Podcasts y Youtube: Redefiniendo la literatura en el siglo XXI,” has commented on the public feud that Carrión’s trailers provoked. Moreno refers to an interview published in El País titled “Léeme o muere” conducted with Gabriela Wiener, herself a journalist, writer, and blogger. (20) In this exchange, and its subsequent reactions in print and blogs, the Spanish literary establishment’s romantic notions of authorship and their negative responses to anything “new” comes to the forefront of discussion. Wiener questions the legitimacy of Carrión’s “promotional techniques” in the construction of the contemporary author, wondering whether Carrión’s four trailer’s are an “ejercicio de ego o simple expresión de los tiempos que corren.” Wiener acknowledges and motions to the long history of authorial self-promotion, most recently the reproduction of a photograph of Ray Loriga himself on the cover of his novel Héreos (1993). (21) She motions to the critical wisdom of Eloy Fernández Porta who believes that the authors’ self-promotional ways is quite common practice in the case of writers who,


provienen de la literatura underground, donde muchas editoriales no tienen jefe de prensa, de modo que cada uno debe buscarse la vida. Incluso dentro de los grandes grupos editoriales —en los que publican muchos de los más devotos del autobombo—, ante la saturación del mercado y los superventas, el autor suma hoy ideas y recursos, trabaja por su cuenta para destacar y llegar a los lectores que le interesan, basándose intuitivamente en nociones como "visibilidad 2.0", "marca personal" o "gestión de la reputación" (ver el libro Márketing para escritores, de Neus Arqués). Y sin ignorar los nuevos formatos, más bien defendiendo su libro con los medios a su alcance. Un libro 2.0 reclama un escritor 2.0. (Wiener)


To be a “2.0 writer” essentially demands a self-critical and self-conscious position vis-à-vis new media technologies. While literary critics and historians previously joined and interpreted the work of authors, now the writers themselves pull much of this information together on their own personal web pages. As such, an author webpage includes everything from their own biography, their work, and any and all critical and scholarly work written about them. As Jorge Carrión intelligently observes, “la crítica de la textualidad del otro se lleva al ámbito de la obra propia” (“El escritor”). In other words, author websites and blogs now lead to a theory of one’s own, an “autocrítica” that demands a self-conscious position in the act of writing. To speak of this situation in terms of promotional tactics ignores the basic fact that many individuals constantly insert their selves into cyberspace, they are globally connected and intimately hybrid individuals. Why should the Mutantes be any different?     

Mutant Power Or Artistic Bullying?

The Mutantes are connected. They surf the web, they zap television shows, they watch YouTube videos, and they post blogs. Their work is defined by a series of new action verbs, technologically inspired neologisms such as surfing, zapping, uploading, blogging, and remixing. These verbs define their daily activities, the multi-faceted nature of their work, and the stylistics of their narrative productions. The Mutantes emphasize process over product, suggesting a strong connection between literature and technology as their writing moves across media platforms and mutates into different visual and verbal applications. As Germán Sierra explains by referencing Marshall McLuhan, his and his colleagues’ novels are largely, but not exclusively, “about media. The medium is no longer ‘the’ message, but just one among many possible messages. [He says], I use literature as a tool to discover ‘alternative’ messages that emerge in the mediatization processes” (E-mail).

Sierra’s media message, or messages rather, emerge through specific media applications and events, thus defining its structural outcome. For example, his application of a “biogame” inserts into his fiction the unpredictable into complex systems of hybrid scientific-narratives; the function and form of video games infuse Gabi Martínez’s novel Atico (2005); Mallo’s Nocilla trilogy presents readers with the rhyzomatic qualities of the Internet in a “poetic” blog format, while Alberto Olmos, in Algunas ideas buenísimas que el mundo se va a perder (2009) literally writes a blog novel, with real and fake blog extracts and images. Carrión travels the world and even creates his own fictitious Google maps in Crónica de viajes, and Mora’s novel Alba Cromm (2010) integrates fictional chats, blogs, and interviews to create a fragmented cybernetic thriller. The Mutantes “mediatization” process is determined by the media applications they choose to translate into text. The spatial and temporal axis of video games provide different textual results than the 140-word limit of blogs or the mashing layers of Google Earth, thus emphasizing the need to distinguish between software applications in print.

The Spanish Mutant Fictioneers bring the whole world into the folds of their pages and they bring their pages to the whole world. Henry Jenkins calls the new aesthetic that emerges in response to new media convergence, “transmedia storytelling.” He acknowledges that  “transmedia storytelling,”


places new demands on consumers and depends on the active participation of knowledge communities. Transmedia storytelling is the art of world making. To fully experience any fictional world, consumers must assume the role of hunters and gatherers, chasing down bits of the story across media channels, comparing notes with each other via online discussion groups, and collaborating to ensure that everyone who invests time and effort will come away with a richer entertainment experience. (21)


When Jenkins talks about the “art of world making,” he refers to Pierre Lévy’s book on Collective Intelligence (1997) in which the philosopher argues for the creation of a new (potentially collective) knowledge space, or cosmopedia, the result of new computer technologies that allow for “a dynamic and interactive multidimensional representational space” (174). (22) Lévy sees this space as containing as many semiotics as exist in the world itself (175), from “static images, video, sound, interactive simulation, interactive maps, expert systems, dynamic ideographs, virtual reality, artificial life, etc. (174-75). His cosmopedia allows for the dematerialization of “the artificial boundaries between disciplines, making knowledge ‘a large patchwork’ in which virtually any field can be folded onto another” (x). The same may be said of the activity before literary critics who must patch together authors hybrid roots and outgrowths by not only reading, but also surfing, viewing, and interacting with their work, and the work of others, on a variety of media platforms. For example, to read a novel like Nocilla Dream demands holding the book in one hand and a computer in another (a pen is no longer enough), looking up the dozens of intertextual references (some of which come with URL addresses), and recreating this radicant growth of knowledge spaces that spans any and all disciplines, topics, and voices. To read the texts of the Mutantes 2.0 demands a 2.0 Literary Critic.

         Jenkins’ remarks on transmedia storytelling and Levy’s on cosmopedia inherently theorize the Mutantes disruption of traditional literary practices. It is here that a short diversion into Mallo’s visual “Proyecto Nocilla: La Película” provides us with an example of the awareness of a “collective” as a potentially disruptive cultural space. (23) Mallo begins his video by proposing an idea. He suggests the creation of a collective text created by a group of writers who do not know each other and do not know what the other is writing about. In other words, each author would begin to write his or her own section of the book in isolation and Mallo would then bring the creative chaos of all writers together to discover and unveil the “hilo conductor poético” of them all. This work, he says, would be unveiled in a room with all writers seated in one line, behind them a sign of the “author collective,” and the writers faces, like terrorist, covered. It is here that Mallo stops, stating that this would be hard to pull off, that authors are too prideful, too vain and too self-conscious to perform in such a way. It is here that Mallo’s “collective” project falls apart to remark on the participatory and open qualities of a Web 2.0 approach to storytelling and the more closed, insular, and hierarchical practices of traditional fiction and literary criticism.

         The hidden goal of the Mutantes is to open the cultural mindset to all—not just the popular‑human knowledge and activity and bring to the forefront the monstrous deformations of traditional literary practices. In this process, their own collective of writers joins as much as it leaves out. Although the stylistic application and use of new media technologies across platforms is not the only characteristic of the Mutantes, it is this dimension that sets them apart most clearly. That said, their 2.0 embodiments can not be pinned down—they are inherently determined by the process of mutation. As such, the Mutantes themselves are remade and remixed, their spirit metamorphosing and continuing to live outside of itself, as best portrayed by Javier García Rodríguez’s satirical novel Mutatis mutandis (2010). In this book, the scholar humorously reflects on Mallo’s concept of “lecturas transversales” by remarking that:


no se puede escribir tanto ni sobre tantos asuntos. No se puede estar al día sobre tantos músicos, artistas, spoken-worders, video instaladores, blogueros, poetas, performanceros, fanzinerosos. Hablan [los mutantes] de autores que nadie conoce, escuchan música que no existe, ritmos ignotos, promocionando una especie de bullying artístico hacia todos aquellos que no están en la onda (y me imagino que decir “estar en la onda” es no estar en la onda). (Castañón)


It is not without a strong hint of sarcasm that one blogger’s response to this paragraph intelligently remarks on the deformed quality of the Mutandis book itself as “un libro híbrido como un monstruo cultivado, la excusa hipertexturizada —pero con hilvanes finos, no se piensen— para retratar desde algo como post-cubismo (porque en estos tiempos todo es post) a la denominada ‘generación mutante’ de escritores” (Castañón). The blog that ironically comments on the book as a sarcastic take on the Mutantes fiction and criticism is perhaps one of the best examples of a mutation that continues ad “media” infinitum. The result may be one of monstrous deformations, of artistic bullying, of incomprehension, or simply, of contemporary criticism at work.

         As an inherent part of today’s cultural convergence, or as a post-it note to the above post-musings, it is worth repeating that the power of the Spanish Mutant Fictioneers is to multiply identities and to deform narratives across platform, often in real time. A good example of the effect of the Mutantes’ mind shift on the literary panorama is the blog of Vicente Luis Mora whose subtitle summarizes well the changes that are affecting the literary enterprise: “En este blog se intenta una lectura crítica de literatura—entre otras cosas—alternativa a la común: buscamos una crítica para el siglo 21 en tiempo real.—‘El artista es un productor de directo’ (José Luis Brea).” The Mutantes, the literary underdogs of direct contemporary cultural production create new spaces of signification by ingesting bits and pieces of information and feeding on the converging powers of new media applications. The “monstrosity” of their human-computer interfaces results in an ever-widening web of textual remixings, mutant literary hero texts and figures multiplied in each other and in others. Their Mutant Power will no doubt increase exponentially, and soon you will, no doubt, watch them on your screens and want to purchase Spanish Mutant Fictioneer Pez Dispensers.




[1] To be found at:


[2] Agustín Fernández Mallo’s Nocilla Lab includes a comic strip, and Gabi Martínez’s book Sudd is currently being turned into a comic book, published by Glénat.


[3] The four terms derive from the creative and critical work of Agustín Fernández Mallo, Eloy Fernández Porta, Vicente Luis Mora, and Juan Francisco Ferré respectively.


[4] In the past few years a series of small independent presses have emerged. They include DVD, Berenice, El Caballo de Troya, Poliedro, Reverso Edciones, Plurabelle, Periférica, Laetoli. See:


[5] See Alameda’s “La literatura de la ‘era Gates;’” Azancot’s "La generación Nocilla y el afterpop piden paso"; and Carrión’s El escritor bicéfalo: la convivencia del escritor de creación y del crítico creativo en un mismo cuerpo.”


[6] The Mutantse groups include the following authors, to differing degrees:

Jorge Carrión, Javier Calvo, Agustín Fernández Mallo, Germán Sierra, Vicente Luis Mora, Eloy Fernández Porta, Javier Fernández, Mercedes Cebrián, Isaac Rosa, Irene Zoe Alameda, Robert Juan-Cantavella, Doménico Chiappe, Alberto Olmos, Kiko Amat, Gabi Martínez, and Jordi Costa. They are mostly male, although some women have been quoted (incorrectly, I believe), as belonging to the Mutantes: Mercedes Cebrián, Flavia Company, Imma Turbau, and Carmen Velasco.


[7] I argue for this textual mutation in my forthcoming book Spanish Fiction in the Digital Age; Generation X Remixed (Palgrave/Macmillan).


[8] “Information Narratives” display characteristics that are related to the changing economy in a more exaggerated form. Hayles emphasizes that a focus of pattern could take place in any epoch, but the difference in today’s cultural production lies in “its interpenetration with randomness and its implicit challenge to physicality. Pattern tends to overwhelm presence, leading to a construction of immateriality that depends not on spirituality or even consciousness but only on information” (36).


[9] Juan Francisco Ferré’s definition of Mutantes is based on the following three categories:

“* NUEVA: contaminada por todas las formas culturales, altas o bajas, neutrales o comprometidas, corruptas o vírgenes, que circulan en el hipermercado del capitalismo y la sociedad de consumo” (13).



cargada con toda la historia del media narrativo, en sus avatares nacionales e internacionales, entendida como tradición de la disidencia y la mutación, la renovación de las formas y también la inclusion de nuevos contenidos.” (13).


“ *AVANZADA: radicada en una concepción de la cronología acorde con los desarrollos más radicals, menos epidérmicos o superfluous, del arte y la economía, la política y las comunicaciones, la tecnología y el consumo, la sociedad y la estética, la información la ciencia y la sexualidad, etc. (14).


[10] The Mutantes are highly self-aware of their positions as hybrid individuals in today’s contemporary literary scene. Jorge Carrión has written about the hybridity of his texts in a conference paper titled “El escritor bicéfalo: La convivencia del escritor de creación y del crítico creativo en un solo cuerpo,” in which he defines himself as a travel writer”who has hybridized the genre. He explains that, in 2003 he wrote a short story titled “El Grito. Días extraños en territorio Neruda,” in which he, “hibridé la crónica de viaje (es decir, la tradición de la literatura de viajes), el relato de intriga o terror (esto es, la tradición de la literatura de ficción) y el diario de un escritor parecido a mí que se pregunta sobre la experiencia que se narra en el texto y sobre la forma en que esa experiencia podría ser narrada (por tanto: la crítica).”


[11] To be found at:


[12] Mallo and Mercedes Cebrián publish as much poetry as they do narrative. In 2006, Cebrián published Mercado Común, and in the novel, El malestar al alcance de todos (2004), she interweaves fourteen short stories with eleven poems. Mallo has been publishing books of poetry since 2001, most notably Carne de Píxel (2008), and he has written one of the most powerful and influential critical mediations on contemporary poetry, Postpoesía. Hacia un nuevo paradigma (2009). His poetry is easily defined in narrative terms and his novels may be viewed as poetic blogging. In his essay “Hacia un nuevo paradigm: Poesía postpoética,” Mallo calls for a reappreciation of poetry among the arts. Inspired by the history of “cine expandido,” he uses the term “poesía expandida” or “poesía postpoética” to talk about poetry that uses and is inspired by the sciences and by new technologies (4). In this vein, Mallo flattens the playing grounds and argues for the representational quality of both the arts and the sciences. Whether speaking of a metaphor or an equation, he believes both to present humans with a representation of something else and to allude to a something else that lacks finality or end (“Hacia” 2).


[13] From the blog of Carlos Gámez,


[14] From the blog of Carlos Gámez,


[15] See the video at:


[16] To be found at:


[17] This video may be found at:


[18]  I should state that the quality of the video productions vary and their results are often quite amateur.



[19] See Vicent Moreno’s discussion on “autogestión.”


[20] Gabriela Wiener was born in Peru in 1975. She has published a book titled Sexografías (2008), a series of chronicles written in “estilo gonzo—me encuentro en las antípodas del observador pasivo–; hay algo de actitud robacámaras, sexo, hasta coches y una droga beatnik (

Her blog may be found at the following address: see


[21] As the title of the novel Egosurfing by Llúcia Ramos (b. 1977) indicates, there is a strong connection between the Web and the insertion of the “I,” or “ego” within virtual spaces. Whether or not individuals surf the Web for reasons of vanity, Web 2.0 naturally identifies a culture of “autogestión” given that it is determined by human-computer interfaces. The effect of these interfaces may be found in the multiplication and mutation of texts on different platforms as well as the mutlplicity and duplication of identities in text. One just has to look at novels such as Juan Francisco Ferré’s La fiesta del asno (2005), or Vicente Luis Mora’s Alba Cromm, to notice that the topic of identity is reappearing and metamorphosing in a variety of guises.


[22] Mallo has said that, Cuando me siento a escribir no pienso ‘soy un escritor, y voy a escribir”, sino que me siento ante mi teclado y reciclo toda esa información procedente de la baja y alta cultura –términos ya en sí mismos anacrónicos- sin preocuparme de qué material estoy usando ni de cuál es su origen espacial y temporal” (“Tiempo topológico”).


[23] The project may be found at:





Alameda, Irene Zoe. “La literatura de la ‘era Gates.’” Oct. 24, 2007. Web Aug. 18, 2010


Amerika, Mark. “Avant-Pop Manifesto: Thread Baring Itself in Ten Quick Posts.” N.d. Web May 12 2010. <>


Azancot, Nuria. "La generación Nocilla y el afterpop piden paso." El Mundo. El Mundo, 19 June 2007. Web. 21 April 2008.


Calvo, Javier. “La historia de la Nocilla.” La Sept. 12, 2007. Web. August 2, 2010.


Carrión, Jorge. “El escritor bicéfalo: la convivencia del escritor de creación y del crítico creative en un mismo cuerpo.” Hybrid Storyspaces Project. Developed by Debra A. Castillo and Christine Henseler.  



Castañon, Sofia. “Mutatis Mutandis, Javier García Rodríguez . La tormenta en un vaso. Jan. 20, 2010. Web. August 10, 2010.<>


Fernández Mallo, Agustín. “Hacia un nuevo paradigma: Poesía postpoética.” N.d. Web June 3, 2010 <>


---. Pospoesía: Hacia un nuevo paradigma. Barcelona: Anagrama, 2009.


---. “Tiempo topológico en Proyecto Nocilla y en Postpoesía (y breve apunte para una Exonovela).” Hybrid Storyspaces Project. Developed by Debra A. Castillo and Christine Henseler. <>


Fernández Porta, Eloy. Afterpop: la literatura de la implosión mediática. Córdoba: Berenice, 2007.


Fernández Porta, Eloy, and Vicente Muñoz Álvarez. Golpes: Ficciones de la crueldad social.

            Barcelona: DVD Ediciones, 2004


Ferré, Juan Francisco, and Julio Ortega, Eds. Mutantes: Narrativa española de última generación. Córdoba: Berenice, 2007.


García Rodríguez, Javie.  Mutatis mutandis. Eclipsados, Zaragoza, 2009.


Henseler, Christine. "Commercial Contamination: The Economic Development of the Spanish Publishing Industry, 1960-2000." Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. Vol. 9. (2006): 149-61.


Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York UP, 2006.


Mora, Vicente Luis. La luz nueva: Singularidad en la narrativa española actual. Córdoba: Berenice, 2007.


---. Pangea: Internet, blogs y comunicación en un mundo nuevo. Sevilla, Fundación José Manuel Lara, 2006.


Moreno, Vicent. “Blogs, Podcasts y Youtube: Redefiniendo la literatura en el siglo XXI.” Hybrid Storyspaces Project. Developed by Debra A. Castillo and Christine Henseler. <>


Sáenz Cochuelo. Oscar. “Nocilladream.afm.” Web August 2 2010 <>


Wiener, Gabriela. “Léeme o muere” March 5th, 2010. Web. August 2, 2010.