The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

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A quirky collection of short sci-fi stories for fans of Kij Johnson and Kelly Link

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.

The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

Genre: Speculative fiction

Published: January 2016 by Rosarium Publishing

Source: ARC via Netgalley

Quick thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read micro short stories but the ironic humour and weird twist endings in this collection did remind me a little of Kelly Link and Kurt Vonnegut. Though the voice of this collection is distinct and stand on its own. The abrupt endings did suit the form. Reading short stories while on holiday was actually a good idea because I could read one in between each pit stop. I have to be in the right mood to read ironic stories with dry humour so there are a few I got into more than others. (Probably due to my own abrupt travel hop mode.)

I liked how magic, family dilemmas and the Santeria were woven into the final namesake story. I was not familiar with the cultural and historical roots of Santeria, so I enjoyed learning more about it from a kid’s point of view. The tales around the animated panda, the possible soul in the piano and the hunted unicorns from a parallel universe fascinated me from a speculative perspective.

 

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