When you publish a lot of book reviews, you get used to hearing manufactured publicity from publishers… half-hearted quotes from their other writers, and glib comparisons to best sellers. Which makes it so refreshing when you encounter true buzz building around a wonderful new book — chatter on social media, unsolicited endorsements from other writers, and excited discussions among friends. That’s what I’m seeing with Carlos Hernandez’s first book, a quirky and compelling collection of science fiction stories that’s rapidly building a tidal wave of admiration and anticipation in advance of its release next month.
Curious about all the commotion, I reached out to Carlos to see if I could get him to say a few words about his book, and he was generous enough to send me the comments below. Enjoy.
The title of my collection, The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, is so esoteric and personal that it might leave a body wondering how it could serve anyone as a guide to anything. But I’ve picked up travel guides to places I am unlikely ever to visit just for the utter delight of reading them, grateful for the maps, the region-specific vocabulary, the window into human experience there aren’t world enough and time for me to get first-hand. The ones I relish most are deeply introspective, well-mannered, street-smart, generous. They understand the transformative power of small acts, of minute observation, of language. And they are, despite everything they have seen in their travels, deeply in love with humanity.
Guides are applied philosophy. They’re about finding success and wonder in a setting where your understanding is woefully incomplete (which is why you bought a guide in the first place). The best of them are lively and sensual and full of human warmth. They show you ways to stay safe and be respectful of the new place in which you find yourself, and provide a tantalizing preview of the joys that await you as reward for your adventuring spirit. They’re cheerful and practical and optimistic — “You can make it here! I will show you how!” — and come with expiration dates.
All truth comes with expiration dates. Guides just know their mortality from the start and are more than happy with being useful right here, right now.
Even our buddy John DeNardo over at SF Signal got in on the action, listing the book in On My Radar, saying:
If you tell me that it’s for fans of Kij Johnson and Kelly Link then it’s a no-brainer. Besides, I love discovering new authors!
Here’s the book description:
Assimilation is founded on surrender and being broken; this collection of short stories features people who have assimilated, but are actively trying to reclaim their lives. There is a concert pianist who defies death by uploading his soul into his piano. There is the person who draws his mother’s ghost out of the bullet hole in the wall near where she was executed. Another character has a horn growing out of the center of his forehead — punishment for an affair. But he is too weak to end it, too much in love to be moral. Another story recounts a panda breeder looking for tips. And then there’s a border patrol agent trying to figure out how to process undocumented visitors from another galaxy. Poignant by way of funny, and philosophical by way of grotesque, Hernandez’s stories are prayers for self-sovereignty.
Carlos’ latest project is a short story co-written with our very own C.S.E. Cooney, coming out in Clockwork Phoenix 5.
The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria will be published by Rosarium Publishing on January 1, 2016. It is 240 pages, priced at $19.95 in hardcover and $15.95 in trade paperback.
See all of our coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.