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August 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Book CoverCosmos Latinos - An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain by Andrea L. Bell (Editor), Yolanda Molina-Gavilan (Translator)
Wesleyan Trade: ISBN 0819566330 PubDate: 07/01/03
Review by Ed Carmien [carmien@mac.com]

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The stories in Cosmos Latinos form a miniature Road to Science Fiction, a la James Gunn. The oldest stories date from the 1800’s; the newest from less than a decade ago. Bell and Molina-Gavilan carefully sculpt a roadmap of development for the reader, with detailed yet succinct biographies of the authors. Researchers who wish to do more work in this field will find invaluable details about the central figures, publications, and trends of this body of work.

There are spectacular stories here. My personal favorite is Pepe Rojo’s “Grey Noise,” a tale that skewers our media-obsessed society thoroughly and without regrets. “The Day We Went Through the Transition” by Ricard de la Casa and Pedro Jorge Romero delivers a deft, human twist to the ideas of Heinlein’s classic “All You Zombies.” And if you think guys like Gibson and Stephenson have a lock on the old ultra-violent cyberpunk angle, check out Michel Encinosa’s “Like the Roses Had to Die,” a nearly surreal romp that rivals, even exceeds Gibson’s Night City for setting and the opening pages of Stephenson’s Snowcrash (the pizza delivery part) for action.

Sure, there are problems with literature in translation. Sure, there are some cultural tweaks and moods (readers of Cosmos Latinos Take note: Read The Footnotes As You Go Along) that the editors take care to explain as best they can. Sure, this is a university press book, not a publication of one of the commercial houses. Even so, the early science fiction here is interesting for students of the genre, and the later science fiction is damn good, even great, entertaining and thoughtful and highly publishable. I hope some of these stories will find their way into other English-language anthologies, not as representatives of off-shore SF but on their merits alone.

The bulk of these tales were translated by the editors. Part of the appeal here must be due to the quality of the translating: generally speaking, fiction is best in the language it was bottled in. Bell and Molina-Gavilan, and the other translators, have managed to capture the magic more often than not, an extra-notable feat when something as abstruse as science fiction can be is the subject of the translation.

Most readers will be happy enough to borrow this book from a local library; serious students of science fiction might wish to own a copy. It is a “must-own” for scholars who wish to research this element of the world of science fiction. However you come to read this book, be prepared for a fun and enlightening journey, as the road heads south (mostly) from this part of the English-speaking world.

© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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