An uneven anthology that nevertheless contains some fascinatingly thought-provoking stories.

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LATIN@ RISING

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60940-524-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Wings Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

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THE CITY WE BECAME

This extremely urban fantasy, a love/hate song to and rallying cry for the author’s home of New York, expands her story “The City, Born Great” (from How Long ’Til Black Future Month, 2018).

When a great city reaches the point when it's ready to come to life, it chooses a human avatar, who guides the city through its birthing and contends with an extradimensional Enemy who seeks to strike at this vulnerable moment. Now, it is New York City’s time to be born, but its avatar is too weakened by the battle to complete the process. So each of the individual boroughs instantiates its own avatar to continue the fight. Manhattan is a multiracial grad student new to the city with a secret violent past that he can no longer quite remember; Brooklyn is an African American rap star–turned–lawyer and city councilwoman; Queens is an Indian math whiz here on a visa; the Bronx is a tough Lenape woman who runs a nonprofit art center; and Staten Island is a frightened and insular Irish American woman who wants nothing to do with the other four. Can these boroughs successfully awaken and heal their primary avatar and repel the invading white tentacles of the Enemy? The novel is a bold calling out of the racial tensions dividing not only New York City, but the U.S. as a whole; it underscores that people of color are an integral part of the city’s tapestry even if some white people prefer to treat them as interlopers. It's no accident that the only white avatar is the racist woman representing Staten Island, nor that the Enemy appears as a Woman in White who employs the forces of racism and gentrification in her invasion; her true self is openly inspired by the tropes of the xenophobic author H.P. Lovecraft. Although the story is a fantasy, many aspects of the plot draw on contemporary incidents. In the real world, white people don’t need a nudge from an eldritch abomination to call down a violent police reaction on people of color innocently conducting their daily lives, and just as in the book, third parties are fraudulently transferring property deeds from African American homeowners in Brooklyn, and gentrification forces out the people who made the neighborhood attractive in the first place. In the face of these behaviors, whataboutism, #BothSides, and #NotAllWhitePeople are feeble arguments.

Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-50984-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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