The anthology opens with Karlo Yeager Rodríguez’s short story “How Juan Bobo Got to los Nueba Yores,” a lovely and bittersweet tale that takes readers on a wild ride across space and time from Puerto Rico to New York and back. This is the next generation of Juan Bobo stories! As the story says: “The old stories started with once upon a time, but Juan knew it didn't mean things happened for certain. Things could have happened already, are yet to happen, or never happened at all. Maybe his story followed the same rules.”
Ernest Hogan: “Those Rumors of Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice Have Been Greatly Exaggerated”
In Ernest Hogan’s short story “Those Rumors of Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice Have Been Greatly Exaggerated” Chuncho and Lola pick up a very strange visitor as they drive their frankentruck through New Mexico. The strangest thing there is really, that is, an anthropologist, and the fun has just started!
Sabrina Vourvoulias: “St. Simon of 9th and Oblivion”
Sabrina Vourvoulias’ short story “St. Simon of 9th and Oblivion” is a coming-of-age immigration story like no other. Set in Philadelphia’s Little Italy, the younger of the two Zelaya sisters meets the mysterious St. Simon who offers her a life-changing challenge: “Do nothing solely to fit expectation.”
Samy Figaredo: “Ancestral Lines and Other Tall Tales”
Samy Figaredo’s one-act play “Ancestral Lines and Other Tall Tales” embodies the complexities of race, gender, and sexuality in a conversation between Aleja and their ancestors. DNA tests can be illuminating but they just highlight the fact that, for many Boricuas, ancestry cannot be officially traced back. As their roommate says: “You and I don’t just get to go online and trace ourselves back like that, and look up our long lost cousin with some huge English countryside estate, and call ourselves the descendants of Vikings and classical composers—” How will Aleja make sense of it all?...
Tammy Melody Gomez: “Quetzal Feathers”
In Tammy Melody Gomez’s wonderful poem “Quetzal Feathers” a dreamer is propelled by a magic feather into a Mayan dreamscape. The poem expresses the deep longing not so much for the homeland but for the earth.
Lisa M. Bradley: “Tía Abuela’s Face, 10 Ways”
“Tía Abuela’s Face, 10 Ways” by Lisa M. Bradley is a transition story. As Lo undergoes a new form of body modification surgery, she reveals the prejudices and threads of support connecting her family. This is one of those stories that, because of its originality, sticks with you for a long while.
Stephanie Nina Pitsirilos: “Jean”
“Jean” by Stephanie Nina Pitsirilos finely interweaves the Nuyorican experience with the mythology of the X-Men, exploring trauma from the distant perspective of Nova, a Rigellian Recorder. This story is a love-song to comics and their life-transforming potential!
Louangie Bou-Montes: “Like Flowers through Concrete”
Louangie Bou-Montes’ short story “Like Flowers through Concrete” is a post-apocalyptic tale set in what was once Northampton MA. Wyatt, a water/soil tester, and Simón, an expert gardener, nurture a budding relationship as they renew the earth. This story has the sweet intoxication of la flor de maga.
Roman Sanchez: “A Flock for the Sandhill Crane”
“A Flock for the Sandhill Crane” by Roman Sanchez is one of those stories that could only exist in this space of Latinx history and speculative fiction that we are sharing. It tells an inter-generational dystopian tale centered on the Valdez family and their unique relationship to the ancient señora de guadalupe.
Diana Burbano: “Fancy”
Diana Burbano’s short play “Fancy” is set in a dystopian and sexist United States in which feminist activists work to liberate young girls and to help them cross the border out of the country. Stray and Fancy, representing two generations of feminists, meet in prison and collide in conversation. As the younger Fancy says: “We're still fighting Mama. I know it looks different to you. I know it looks like we have given up, but the young fight in a different way...”
Eliana Buenrostro: "Time Traveler Intro"
Eliana Buenrostro’s poem “Time Traveler Intro” offers a picture of the strange shape of the migrant life that bends space-time as it does trauma. The poem describes it: “I live so many multitudes and in so many realities. There's the me in Chicago. The me in el Distrito. The me in Guadalajara. The me in La Piedad. The me on Prozac.”
Sara Rivera’s “The Music Box” tells a multi-vocal tale of MariE and Ignacia, sisters separated as kids who yearn to reconnect. The story is set at the Music Box, a strange and new musical venue in which Ignacia performs as she struggles to make sense of a post-war, post-bomb world. This is the first of two beautiful stories by Sara.
William Alexander’s short story “My First Word” centers on the life of a traveling family who work as garbage collectors, though the garbage they collect is not the normal sort. The protagonist Leita is just beginning to understand her place in this surreal, hurricane-shrouded, fairy-tale-like, world. Kafka for kids!!
Pedro Iniguez: "Do as I Do"
Pedro Iniguez’s short story “Do as I Do” is set after the robot apocalypse, with the last remnants of humanity just barely surviving. Maria finds an earlier, uncorrupted, robot prototype who helps her on her path from Mexico City towards Oaxaca in an attempt to bring new life to the world. *Robots in fiction are a powerful method of crystallizing human emotions into their basic forms!
Pedro Cabiya: “The Clarification Oral History Project”
One of the great things about science fiction and fantasy is its ability to make social injustice clearer by changing some of its key features or creating a new environment in which it exists. Such is the case with Pedro Cabiya’s “The Clarification Oral History Project,” a fictional brochure concerning a strange phenomenon that took place in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Think about the title and you might be able to guess what it is!
Alex Temblador: “Curanderas in the Ceiling”
Doctor’s offices and hospitals are often where cultures and languages collide. In Alex Temblador’s short story “Curanderas in the Ceiling,” the protagonist comes to the hospital for a surgery, translating for her mamá and curandera Doña Maria, and trying to balance the needs of the cultures that circle around her.
Daniel Parada: “Dream Rider”
Daniel Parada’s “Dream Rider” is a tale of a family reuniting through some ancient methods while set in a futuristic Mesoamerican world. Take a look below...
Laura Villareal: "Spooky Action at a Distance"
Something that modern physics has clearly taught us is that Space is not empty. Space-time, the fabric of the universe, is made up of a web of quantum fields and particles. Laura Villareal brings her own incisive poetic language to the quantum realm with her poem “Spooky Action at a Distance.” The poem is told from the perspective of a quantum particle on Pluto who, somewhat uneasily, is waiting for a sign from her partner particle light years away.
We move through the world tethered to technology. On average, we use our smartphones around 5 hours a day. But what would happen if that amount dramatically increased? Grisel Acosta’s subtle and unnerving tale “BlindVision” offers a picture of the future of mobile technology, as David discovers that he has been walking miles and miles completely unawares.
Roxanne Ocasio: “The Chupacabra Next Door”
Lorraine, Ohio may seem the quiet lake shore town, however, in Roxanne Ocasio’s short story “The Chupacabra Next Door,” the town is inhabited by evil-fighting Chupacabras and the human allies who fight alongside them. A young artist named Maryssa, it turns out, is from a family of allies, and begins her warrior training with the boy next door. It’s just that punching is hard on her drawing hand! BTW, the International Chupacabra Council is centered in Ponce
Reyes Ramirez: “An Adventure of Xuxa, La Ultima”
Zombie stories are adept at showing how when things fall apart that racial prejudice is lying just under the skin. In Reyes Ramirez’s short story “An Adventure of Xuxa, La Ultima” the heroine comes across a white supremacist community whose leader rewrites the Preamble to the Constitution to read: “We the White People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union.” Meanwhile Mil Fuegos, the nihilist general of zombies, is coming... Don’t miss it!
Stephanie Adams-Santos: “Night Flowers”
In Stephanie Adams-Santos’ short story “Night Flowers,” the protagonist and her uncle head towards the jungle after a virus has decimated humanity. But all is not safe in the jungle, nor with her uncle. Reading “Night Flowers” is like entering a fairy tale, but as with E.T.A. Hoffmann’s stories, this one is rich and dark, with expansive interior spaces, full of whispers and dusk.
Julia Rios: "Alma y Corazón"
Mystical and supernatural experiences often carry with them the sense of reality. At the same time, our rationality and our scientific society counter with a critical voice. At its best, this is a fruitful dialogue (and ancient, think of Plato’s Allegory of the Chariot). In Julia Rios’ short story "Alma y Corazón," Alma continues to see the demons that she battled with her sister Corazón. Is she the victim of supernatural PTSD or is she prescient to a new onslaught of evil? Meanwhile, it is Alma and Corazón’s quince!
Frederick Luis Aldama, Fernando de la Peña, and Rodrigo Vargas: “Ella”
“Ella” is a graphic short story penned by Frederick Luis Aldama and drawn by Fernando de la Peña and Rodrigo Vargas. The story is a slice of a dystopian life, a moment in which Ella is feeling uneasy about working-living in a maquila as she dreams of something other than the all-encompassing capitalist system that is using her. It’s time for an upgrade! Think of the workers in Sleep Dealer but with an even more invasive technology. See image below...
Steve Castro: “Two-Bullet Cowgirl Blues,” “A Mirage,” and “The One”
We are including three poems by Steve Castro: “Two-Bullet Cowgirl Blues,” “A Mirage,” and “The One.” A cowgirl with some exceptional powers, Julio on a spaceship searching for a way to heat up his mammoth tacos, the sole child survivor of the apocalypse. Pura Vida!
J.M. Guzman: "Grave Talk"
J.M. Guzman’s dark cyberpunk story “Grave Talk” is one of a kind. Alejandra and Nita have a past, a complicated one that they haltingly discuss as they walk through Teshani, the cyborg city, the city of immigrants. Alejandra is sick and only in Teshani, the Shivering City, can she find a way to form a new body. William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer opens with the now famous line “The sky above the island was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Guzman’s story has a very different vision of above: “There was no sky, only a ceiling of old flesh pocked white.”
Nicholas Belardes: “A Dangerous Wand”
Nicholas Belardes’ “A Dangerous Wand” is an enticing and surprising origin story of a powerful wand. Séaran, a young woman of the Cocopah tribe, is a master glassblower, and when Salvador Tiré, member of the Society of Wands and Distinguished Luminaries, shows up seemingly out of nowhere, he calls on Séaran to make the wand.
Sara Rivera: “Madrina”
The situation in Sara Rivera’s “Madrina” is dire, as the spaceship The Baily is lost, far from Earth, and far from its destination Katla. Dr. Lilet DeEsparza, cultural anthropologist, is trying to find the way by means of a new technology which enables her consciousness to travel through Space-Time! Sara also has another story in the book: “The Music Box.”
Scott Russell Duncan: “Bad Sun,” “Beacon,” “Her Number,” and “Old Folks”
We have four works of flash fiction by Scott Russell Duncan in the book: “Bad Sun,” “Beacon,” “Her Number,” and “Old Folks.” In these stories, a kid just wants to play in the sun, a priest takes drastic measures to find the “light” within, an accountant seeks hidden codes in her numbers, and the old folks at the retirement home are being a bit too friendly to the young Latinx kid who has showed up. Strange allegories and dark emotions are on the menu!
Ezzy G. Languzzi: “Soledad”
In Ezzy G. Languzzi’s “Soledad,” the protagonist is trying to keep her Mexican restaurant afloat while dealing with her cochino of a husband. But with an inherited vial of mezcal, Mamá magic arrives just in time!
Patrick Lugo: “Contraband”
“Contraband” by Patrick Lugo is the third graphic short story in Speculative Fiction for Dreamers. Juan has been captured at the border and his sister, a contraband runner named Cruise, is tasked with making his delivery of something rare, something strangely organic in an inorganic techno-world. “Cach ju lature” says the calavera-man! See image below...
Grisel Y. Acosta: “The ENCRoach Program”
In Grisel Y. Acosta’s poem “The ENCHRoach Program” the government embeds listening devices into cockroaches, that is, the bugs become actual bugs. This new buggy surveillance system then becomes a reflection on power, wealth, and revolt. Grisel’s work is in good company with two classics: Pedro Pietri’s “Suicide Note from a Cockroach in a Low Income Housing Project” and Oscar Zeta Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People.
Tabitha Sin: “Homebound”
Home can mean many things, an apartment, a city, a nation, but for many of us, home is the people to whom we are responsible, the people who are there for us in joy and despair. In Tabitha Sin’s short story “Homebound,” Eliana endures the forced sterilizations, environmental destruction, and government surveillance that people of color often endure. Her parents were deported when she was a kid, leaving her alone in New York, but when the past unexpectedly calls, she might just be homeward bound.