Spanish Speculative Fiction in Translation

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Rachel Cordasco

It’s been a great year for Spanish speculative fiction in translation. From short-story collections to hefty novels, and from Spain to the Dominican Republic, Spanish SFT offers us a gateway into the cultures and traditions of Spanish-speaking writers who wrestle with questions of consciousness, alien life, space travel, and many others. Below is a list of Spanish SFT out this year:

Castles in Spain, edited by Mariano Villareal, translation team headed by Sue Burke

This engrossing collection of the best short sci-fi and fantasy from the Golden Age of Spanish sf (the 1990s) will make you wish that it was five times longer. With award-winning and thought-provoking stories by such writers as Elia Barcelo and Cesar Mallorqui, Castles in Spain is sure to inspire anyone interested in artificial intelligence, cloning, and really anything that brings together science and philosophy.

Super Extra Grande by Yoss, translated by David Frye

Hilarious and thought-provoking, Yoss’s tale about a veterenarian who treats only the galaxy’s largest organisms pokes fun at human intrigue and ambition while offering an alternative space-exploration narrative to that currently dominated by the US and Russia.

The Year 200, by Agustin de Rojas, translated by Nick Caistor

Like Yoss, de Rojas was one of Cuba’s leading science fiction writers, and The Year 200 is the second in his acclaimed trilogy (which includes A Legend of the Future and Spiral). This complicated story about a plot by the previously-beaten capitalist Empire to return a few hundred years in the future to overthrow the Communist Federation is both chilling and ridiculous. De Rojas’s version of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers asks us to consider what price we’re willing to pay to build an “ideal” society.

Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya, translated by Jessica Powell

A collage of genres and stories, Wicked Weeds brilliantly interrogates the figure of the “zombie,” asking us to consider it from multiple angles (philosophical, folkloric, historical, artistic). The gentlemanly zombie at the heart of the book is intent on finding the source of that spark that we call “life” in order to bring himself fully back into the world. As the novel progresses, though, we grow increasingly aware that he may not be the “zombie” of Caribbean folklore after all…

Monteverde: Memoirs of an Interstellar Linguist by Lola Robles, translated by Lawrence Schimel

This slender novel about linguist Rachel Monteverde’s attempts to communicate with a secretive race on the planet Aanuk asks us to think about the language barriers on our own planet and the ways in which we work to transcend them.

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