Reviews and Press for Cuban Science Fiction, by Yoss and Agustín de Rojas

Updated September 25, 2015

Just as new possibilities of travel and communication open between Cuba and America, Restless Books brings you a mind-expanding suite of Cuban Science Fiction—the first of its kind in English translation—that explores life on the long-isolated island through the powerful lens of the imagination. Published in the summer of 2015, the first installments—A Planet for Rent, by Yoss, and A Legend of the Future, by Agustín de Rojas—have received tremendous praise and attention from readers. See below for a selection of the reviews and press coverage, including a profile in the New York Times, reviews in NBC News and The Nation, features in io9 and, and much more.  

by Yoss

Translated from the Spanish by David Frye

Cuban Science Fiction

A Planet for Rent is the English-language debut of Yoss, one of Cuba's most lauded writers of science fiction. Translated by David Frye, these linked stories craft a picture of a dystopian future: Aliens called xenoids have invaded planet Earth, and people are looking to flee the economically and socially bankrupt remains of human civilization. Yoss' smart and entertaining novel tackles themes like prostitution, immigration and political corruption. Ultimately, it serves as an empathetic yet impassioned metaphor for modern-day Cuba, where the struggle for power has complicated every facet of society”

—NPR, Best Books of 2015

Book Details

Paperback List Price: $15.99 • ISBN: 9781632060365 • Publication: 6/2/15 • 5.5” x 8.25” • 272 pages • Science Fiction / Cuban Literature • Territory: World English • eBook ISBN: 9781632060082

Buy From: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoogleiTunes | IndieBound | Kobo | Nook

by Augustín de Rojas

Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor

Cuban Science Fiction

“Finally, we have the chance to read a landmark work from one of Cuba’s greatest science fiction writers…. If you like intensely psychological sci-fi that deftly piles on the suspense, this novel’s for you…. The boundaries between dream and reality, and then between human and machine, almost melt away as the story progresses. And it is de Rojas’s skillful manipulation of those boundaries that makes A Legend of the Future so addictive.”  

—SF Signal

Book Details

Paperback List Price: $15.99 • ISBN: 9781632060358 • Publication: 6/2/15 • 5.5” x 8.25” • 240 pages • Science Fiction / Cuban Literature • Territory: World English • eBook ISBN: 9781632060105

Buy From: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | iTunes | Kobo

Praise and Highlights

The New York Times: A Profile of Yoss and Cuban Science Fiction

“When people think you’re crazy, that’s the beginning of freedom,” says Mr. Sánchez, who found escape in his craft. (Eliana Aponte)

“When people think you’re crazy, that’s the beginning of freedom,” says Mr. Sánchez, who found escape in his craft. (Eliana Aponte)

"In prose that is direct, sarcastic, sexual and often violent, A Planet for Rent criticizes Cuban reality in thinly veiled terms. Cuban defectors leave the country not on rafts but on 'unlawful space launches'; prostitutes are 'social workers'; foreigners are 'xenoids'; and Cuba is a 'planet whose inhabitants have stopped believing in the future.' The book is particularly critical of the government-run tourism industry of the ’90s, which welcomed and protected tourists—often at the expense of Cubans—and whose legacy can still be felt today." The New York Times


The Nation: Some of the Best Sci-Fi Written Anywhere Since the 1970s

“The best science-fiction writers are the peripheral prophets of literature: outsiders who persuade us to suspend our cynicism and disbelief long enough to explore an often uncomfortable vision of the future, not only to show us what could be, but most importantly what shouldn't be allowed to happen, allowing our imaginations to escape the shackles of our blind rush towards so-called 'progress'. One such prophet lives ninety miles off the coast of Florida, in Havana, Cuba, and his name is Yoss.…  Some of the best sci-fi written anywhere since the 1970s.… A Planet for Rent, like its author, a bandana-wearing, muscly roquero, is completely sui generis: riotously funny, scathing, perceptive, and yet also heart-wrenchingly compassionate.… Instantly appealing.”  The Nation


Newsweek: Yoss is a Fashion Icon

José Miguel Sánchez collects Anime and swords in his home in Havana. He is the island’s most celebrated science fiction writer. (Lisette Poole)

José Miguel Sánchez collects Anime and swords in his home in Havana. He is the island’s most celebrated science fiction writer. (Lisette Poole)

“‘Cubans like to have ‘swing’ [the Cuban word for swag], even though their house is falling down,' he says. His room is adorned with anime posters and Samurai accoutrements, which usually aren’t available in Cuban stores. Yoss is often seen near his home and the University of Havana, jogging in shorts and combat boots. Locals know him as the guy with the unusual metal style, long hair and headbands, an outfit that looks more at home in Seattle than it does in Cuba." Newsweek


NBC News: Cuba's Best Writers Now Published In English

"Can one Cuban author boldly go where none have gone before and inspire American readers? Heavy metal rocker turned science fiction writer José Miguel Sánchez (known for his pen name, Yoss) believes he can.... Yoss's novel is part of an international literary canon of science fiction classics that makes invisible walls visible by showing everyday readers how inequality segregates people by class, politics or ethnicity." NBC News


Words Without Borders: Echoes of Wells, Ballard, Huxley, and Atwood

“Brimming with pertinent topics such as sex work, intolerance, immigration, the dissolution of gender binaries, and government corruption, this compelling book is highly relevant. Joining a literary tradition of writers who envisioned Earth’s future in terrifyingly comprehensible ways, such as H.G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Aldous Huxley, and Margaret Atwood, Yoss’s portrayal of Earth’s dystopian downfall weaves together fantasy and reality—at times troublingly close to the latter.… Yoss skilfully weaves themes and characters together into a rich tapestry, and each section gives us a more fulfilling, and fearful, vision of a dominated Earth–now an intergalactic tourist destination." Words Without Borders


Foreword Reviews: An interview with Ilan Stavans

"Cuba is a utopia gone sour. (Don't all of us live in something like that?) Science fiction there is more than a hundred years old, meaning it starts before Fidel Castro dreamed up a dystopian future in the Sierra Maestra in 1958. But the crop of SF writers active under Communism is particularly intriguing; they write about alternatives realities with the full knowledge that they live in one of them. Of course, the argument should be made that SF, no matter where it comes from, isn't about the future; instead, it is a veiled depiction of the present." Ilan Stavans in Foreword Reviews


Daniel José Older: A Planet for Rent is Devastating and hilarious

"Devastating and hilarious and somehow, amidst all those aliens, deeply deeply human." —Daniel José Older, author of the Bone Street Rumba series and Salsa Nocturna


The BooksellerWhat 1984 did for surveillance, and Fahrenheit 451 did for censorship, A Planet for Rent does for tourism

“What 1984 did for surveillance, and Fahrenheit 451 did for censorship, A Planet for Rent does for tourism.… It’s a wildly imaginative book and one that, while set in the future, has plenty of relevance to the present.” The Bookseller


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