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Portuguese born Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias graduated in Environmental Engineering and Natural Resources of the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco. He lives today in the Basque Country, Spain and on his social media listing addresses himself and an author, ornithologist and a cork tree expert! THE GOOD DICTATOR is his debut novel – and it promises to be the first in a series Gonçalo is calling ‘The Birth of an Empire. The translation form the Portuguese is by Ethan Mortimore.
Gonçalo has created a character that is likely to become as well known as the similar characters of other world journeys as Jonathan Swift’s Lemuel Gulliver in his 1726 GULLIVER’S TRAVELS – the destination of this fantasy is of course the moon. With an amazing immediacy of skill we are introduced to our ‘hero’ Gustavo in a manner that allows us to identify with him – ‘Gustavo looked at the rear view mirror. He was thirty-seven years old and he already noted the years on him; he was becoming bald. He already had a respectable widow's peak that insisted on increasing with the years. Truth be told, the loss of hair had concerned him quite a bit when he first noticed, (back when he counted twenty-eight springs) that his hairline was receding. He did not want to become like his father or his grandfather; but after plenty of reading about the matter he realized that he did not have that much to say on his fateful biological heritage. He had bright blue eyes and his wrinkles already began to stand out around them. His face was very round and his neck was slim. He once had had fleshy lips, but over the years, they had begun to become thinner and thinner. He was not the handsome boy he once was anymore, but he was still an attractive man. He was 1.80m tall, and had a dry, slim body – as a result of his weekly hundred kilometer-long bicycle ride. He worked at Vila Franca de Xira's City Hall, an old building which had been restored many times, and that was right in the center of the city, along with the noisy and stinking city market. He had been working there as a senior computer technician for ten years. He had started when he was twenty-seven years old, after getting his degree in computer engineering from the University of Lisbon. This had been his job ever since he had arrived at the City Hall.’
But this average sort of man we son learn is not the least bit average - he loathes his in laws, has fallen out of love with his wife, and treats his job as a secondary nuisance. As the summary suggests, ‘An unidentified object parked on the moon - and no one seems to know where it came from. Gustavo, a middle-aged computer programmer with a comfortable and grey life, decides to make a list of what he would need to survive a hypothetical attack. He becomes obsessed with the list, spends a fortune, robs a drugstore and his own family and actually the majority of people think Gustavo was being paranoid and delusional with preparation for the world to fall to pieces. Yet when the inevitable happens and aliens destroy most of the world’s population, Gustavo is ready. Especially as it puts everyone surviving back into the dark ages. Now hunting, fishing, and growing food have become the priorities. And Gustavo is the new Good Dictator.
A thoroughly enjoyable book, this story also provides considerable food for though as we all are wondering about the state of existence on the planet at this increasingly absurd time in history. Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias – learn how to pronounce it and remember it as a writer who is likely to become a controversial seer!