Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic
Translated by Eduardo Jiménez Mayo;
Edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris N. Brown
Review by Mario Guslandi
Small Beer Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781931520317
Date: 14 February 2012 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
I knew little about contemporary Mexican fantastic fiction, which very seldom finds its way into the genre anthologies published in the USA or the UK. Thus I was intrigued in the extreme by the present book, collecting a large number of Mexican stories (translated to English) by authors previously unknown to me. It's always interesting to get a taste of a different culture and to experience a different approach to the fantastic beyond the clichés and tropes with which we are familiar. Interesting is the right word to describe my reaction, as a reader, to this unusual anthology.
While I can recommend the book to the curious and the scholars, sharing my own experience, I must confess that, in general, I have not been particularly impressed by either the quality or the originality of the tales included. Too many of the stories are actually just sketchy vignettes, others have flimsy or undeveloped plots. Most lack inventiveness and/or narrative strength. Fortunately a few stories are worth mentioning and the names of their authors must be duly noted for possible, future reference.
"Today, We Walk Along a Narrow Path" by Marìa Isabel Aguirre is a short but intense meditation about the mystery of death, while "The Guest" by Amparo Davila is the dark portrait of a sinister guest bringing trouble into a household.
In "Future Perfect", by Gerardo Sifuentes, an illustrator of SF books has to face unexpected facts beyond imagination. In Agustìn Cadena's "Murillo Park" an impossible friendship begins on the benches of a city park during the siesta hours.
Beatriz Escalante contributes "Luck Has Its Limits", a perceptive tale featuring a bored wife hoping to get rid of her rich but unbearable husband. "Pink Lemonade", by Liliana V. Blum, effectively depicts a grim, apocalyptic future where survivors fight for food.
My favourite stories are Leo Mendoza's "The Pin", the insightful portrait of the empty lifestyle of a selfish and cynical sale representative and René Roquet's "The Return of Night", a fascinating piece of primeval horror where the newly created world is dominated by the dark presence of bats.
English translations of further work by the latter two authors certainly deserve to be made and sought after.