In an anthology of stories by Latino and Latina authors based in the United States, Goodwin presents a diverse group of voices working in the realm of speculative fiction.
The term “Latin@” is a gender-neutral alternative to the traditionally gendered conventions of the Spanish language. The choice to use it in the title of this anthology is a reflection of its inclusive and broad-ranging table of contents. With 24 pieces that include short stories, poems, and a photo sequence of a fictionalized moon landing, this book offers readers an enthusiastic introduction to “Latin@ authors from both coasts and from eight different national traditions.” The individual works explore various genres of speculative fiction, from creeping psychological disturbance to alien invasions to noir-tinged romps in a New York City infested by ghosts, and while some of them have been previously published, many are original to this anthology. Each story receives a brief introduction that notes the author’s other works and, perhaps, reveals a preoccupation with his or her academic credentials. While a number of the stories are unfortunately insubstantial, lacking a sense of wholeness or feeling like wisps of ideas that have yet to be vividly imagined, there are several standout selections. In “Sin Embargo,” by Sabrina Vourvoulias, the psychology of immigration and asylum collides with inhuman transformation. Junot Díaz’s stunning “Monstro” offers a terrifying vision of an outbreak of a disease with zombielike horrors in Haiti. “Caridad,” by Alex Hernandez, reimagines a girl’s coming-of-age party as the forcible bestowal of a networked brain. The deeply upsetting and disorienting “Difficult at Parties” displays Carmen Maria Machado’s virtuosic ability to carve truth out of strangeness. These stories alone affirm Goodwin’s assertion that, despite their differences in viewpoint or subject matter, the stories “maintain the wonder and astonishment that only science fiction and fantasy can offer.”
An uneven anthology that nevertheless contains some fascinatingly thought-provoking stories.