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WesternSFA


Three Messages and a Warning
edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris N. Brown
Small Beer Press, $16.00, 261 p
Published: February 2012

I found this in my gift bag at World Fantasy Con, a felicitous surprise. Beautifully printed and lovingly assembled, these tales unfold in your imagination via a subtlety of expression that is a tribute to the translators’ art as much as to the original writers. Of the 34 stories collected here, some have the brevity of parables; others are lengthy enough to immerse you in an alternate reality so thoroughly that your ordinary world may fade away as you read. In terms of narrative style, I was variously reminded of Rilke, Kafka, Saki, Le Guin, and Tiptree.

“Today, You Walk Along a Narrow Path” a lost story by Maria Isabel Aguirre is narrated in second person, and that is the only way it can be told.  “Murillo Park” is a tale of time displacement and an almost-romance by Augustin Cadena; “The Hour of the Fireflies” is hard SF told with deceptive simplicity. “Lions” by Bernardo Fernandez is a darkly metaphoric warning of how neglected things can take on a life of their own, and how we may not be the darlings of evolution we fondly imagine ourselves to be. The two main characters in Gerardo Sifuentes’ “Future Perfect” are certainly egoists; the question is, are they also geniuses or delusional madmen?

 “A Pile of Bland Deserts” furthers the literary tradition of food as a vehicle for love and narrative, as in Like Water for Chocolate or Chocolat; the writing is as exquisite and the final epicurean dessert described.

One of my favorites is “Trompe-l’oeil” by Monica Lavin, about a woman’s transformation of her grief. Another favorite is “Future Nereid”, a literary romance, and another tale of time displacement, by Garbriela Damian Miravete.  Great Speculative Fiction does more, I think, to humanize us than any other literary genre, with the possible exception of great children’s literature — which is also speculative. This collection transports us across the barrier of language, negotiating as a matter of course the barriers of culture, country, and sense of self. Well worth the effort of tracking down.  – Chris Wozney

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