Dive into another world in these speculative fiction tales by Hispanic authors

By Tracy McPeck

Sure, realistic fiction is great, but nothing captures the imagination quite like speculative fiction, which is basically the umbrella term covering everything outside of our own world. These include sci-fi, horror, supernatural and fantasy, including many sub-genres such as alternate history or dystopian fiction (a personal favourite). Speculative fiction asks the question “What if?”. What if an asteroid split the moon in two? What if ghosts were real? The possibilities are only limited by the imagination of the authors and readers.

You may be familiar with speculative novelists such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, or more contemporary authors such as Stephen King and Margaret Atwood. But there is a whole world of writers from different cultures and countries who bring their unique experiences, traditions and ideas to the table in answering that tantalizing “what if?” question.

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, I’d like to highlight a few horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories by Hispanic authors:

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“The Hacienda” by Isabel Cañas. In this supernaturally suspenseful novel, Beatrice’s father is executed and her home destroyed during the fall of the Mexican government. Seeking safety, despite rumors about the fate of his first wife, Beatriz is seduced by the dashing Don Rodolfo Solórzano in order to have a home on his country estate. But when Rodolfo returns to the capital for work, things get strange at Hacienda San Isidro. Beatrice feels that she is being watched by invisible eyes, and Rudolfo’s sister Juana refuses to enter the house at night. Beatrice’s sleep is disturbed by strange visions and voices. And what really became of the first Doña Solórzano? Desperate, Beatriz turns to the young priest Padre Andrés for help. It is Andrés’ skills as a witch that are needed to combat the evil presence that haunts the Hacienda.

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“Five Midnight” by Ann Dávila Cardinal

While visiting her father’s family in Puerto Rico that summer, Lupe’s love of true crime becomes all too real when she visits one of several crime scenes overseen by her uncle, the police chief. Things get personal when Lupe finds out that someone (or something) is after a group of estranged friends who called themselves “los cangrejos” and that her cousin was also a Cangrejo. Lupe teams up with fellow Cangrejo and recovering addict Javier to try and save her cousin before it’s too late. Cardinal’s debut is a fascinating horror story that delves into the world of addiction and gang-related drug crime while illuminating the spirit of Puerto Rico.

Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms and Space, edited by Zoraida Córdova. This anthology of a variety of science fiction and fantasy authors from across the Latin American diaspora invites you to stretch your imagination further than you ever thought possible. Divided into three broad categories, each story is a gem in its own right, exploring outer space, Shakespeare’s blood feuds and doomed lovers, social justice and more. Carefully curated by editor Córdova, this exciting anthology stands out.

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“The Devil Takes You Home” by Gabino Iglesias. Southern noir meets genre-bending storytelling in this dark thriller from the award-winning Iglesias. Desperately in debt with his young daughter’s illness and his marriage falling apart, Mario reluctantly takes a job hijacking a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Joined by an old friend and cartel insider named Juanca, Mario embarks on a mission that could either make him $200,000 richer or dead. As the trio make their way across Texas, across the border and back, hidden motivations surface alongside inexplicable, terrifying encounters. Even if Mario makes it back alive, he will never be the same.

“The Daughter of Doctor Moreau” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

In this reinterpretation of the classic HG Wells story, young Carlota Moreau lives with her father, the eccentric Dr. Moreau, his assistant Montgomery Laughton and their experiments on a remote estate in Mexico. Known as hybrids, these experiments are part human, part animal monstrosities designed to blindly obey their creator. The project is financed by the wealthy Lizalde family, and when the thoughtless but charming patron’s son Eduardo Lizalde shows up unannounced, the property is thrown off balance. His arrival ignites both Carlota’s questions about her father’s many secrets and her unfulfilled passion.

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Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin. “Kentukis” or little eyes have pervaded the world. Little stuffed animals with cameras instead of eyes and wheels instead of feet, they’re connected to an anonymous global server and can be found everywhere from homes in Hong Kong, shops in Vancouver, schools in Tel Aviv and bedrooms in Ohio. Some Kentukis can serve as cute pets, even when a stranger is watching from behind their eyes. Or you could be the Kentuki, a voyeur in someone else’s life where you control the creature’s actions. Kentukis have helped save lives, expose illicit love affairs, create new virtual families, and foster vicarious experiences around the world. There is beauty in the connection possibilities created by Kentukis, but what happens when things go wrong?

Visit librarypoint.org/hispanic-heritage/ to discover more books, films, and resources celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Tracy McPeck is the Adult Services Coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library.