It seems worth noting that on his historic visit to Cuba, President Obama's very first activity was laying a wreath at the memorial of José Martí. As the president, who was himself somewhat of a poetry snob in his younger days, must know, Cuban literature has always been closely intertwined with its politics (Martí was as much a poetic founding father as he was a military and nationalist hero), and the written word will be a significant part of fostering meaningful exchange between the long-separated Cuba and United States. In honor of the president's official visit (the first since Calvin Coolidge's in 1928), check out Restless's Cuban Science Fiction Bundle—the first two books in the groundbreaking series, Agustín de Rojas's A Legend of the Future and Yoss's A Planet for Rent, for the steeply discounted price of just $20, available only from Restless.
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 Tor.com, and much more.
Translated from the Spanish by David Frye
“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
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
Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor
“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.”
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
Praise and Highlights
The New York Times: A Profile of Yoss and Cuban Science Fiction
"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
“‘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 Bookseller: What 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
From the Blog
All Reviews and Coverage
Asymptote: In Review: “A Planet for Rent” by Yoss
B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog: Take a Trip Around Planet Earth with 9 Translated Science Fiction Novels
BoingBoing: Discovering Cuban Sci-fi
BookRiot Podcast: All the Books! Podcast, Episode #7: New Releases for June 23, 2015
The Bookseller: We Love This Book: A Planet for Rent
Chicago Tribune: Cuban literature at the dawn of the thaw
The Complete Review: A Legend of the Future by Agustín de Rojas
Cuba Counterpoints: The Year I Turned Sci Fi
Diesel Bookstore: A Planet for Rent
Electric Literature: Galactic and Confined: Restless Books’ A Planet For Rent and A Legend of the Future
Dhaka Tribune: A Multiverse of Ideas
Dhaka Tribune: Sci-fi and samosas
Foreword Reviews: Summer 2015 Cover Feature
The Globally Curious: Book Review: A Planet for Rent
Guernica: Science Fiction from Cuba
Literary Hub: Excerpt: Aptitude Assessment
LitReactor: Bookshots: 'A Planet for Rent' by Yoss
Locus: New Books: 23 June 2015
New York Times: Sci-Fi Writers Find Warmer Climate Amid Cuban Thaw
The New Yorker: Cuba, Sí
Newsweek: The Other Havana
Our Man in Boston: Cuba Si : Anniversary of the Triumphant Cuban Revolution
Pop Rocket: Summer Reads
Publishing Perspectives: Restless Books’ Publisher Searches for Cuban Science Fiction
Publishers Weekly: A Planet for Rent
Repeating Islands: A Planet for Rent
San Francisco Book Review: A Planet for Rent
SF Book Reviews: A Legend of the Future
SF Book Reviews: A Planet for Rent
Three Percent: Science Fiction in Translation
Tor.com: Excerpt: A Legend of the Future
Tor.com: Cuban Science Fiction Sweepstakes!
Typographical Era: Featured Translation: A Legend of the Future by Augustín de Rojas
Unshelved: A Planet for Rent
Vol. 1 Brooklyn: June 2015 Books Preview
Words Without Borders: Yoss's 'A Planet for Rent'
For media and publicity requests, contact Nathan Rostron.
“Every time I go back to Cuba, I find out something new about art, music, or literature. The culture in Cuba runs very deep and branches out in so many directions.”
We're pleased to unveil new covers for our Cuban Science Fiction series, coming out in print beginning June, 2015 with A Planet for Rent and A Legend of the Future. We wanted the covers for this series to have a unique and striking look, so we turned to acclaimed designer Edel Rodriguez. Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1971. In 1994, he graduated with honors in painting from Pratt Institute and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Hunter College. His artwork has appeared in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The New Yorker, and many other publications.
We spoke to Rodriguez about his early influences and inspirations in Cuba, his vision for Cuban Science Fiction, and the real-life future of his native country.
How did your childhood in Cuba shape your artistic sensibilities?
I grew up in Cuba in the 1970s surrounded by political billboards and posters. All of them made an impression on me back then and continue to do so to this day. The bold colors of the landscape, the houses, and cars definitely inform the color relationships I use in my work. I also enjoy working in unusual ways, using homemade materials and processes, some of the same things I did as a child. Back then it was due to necessity, but the instincts are still there.
How did you approach the covers for this series?
I wanted to create something that was surprising for a series of science fiction covers. A selection of images that popped out at the viewer. Some science fiction covers can be muted, subtle, and realistic. I wanted to create a series that was strong, colorful, bold, and clear.
Did you already have an awareness of Cuban SF?
I was not aware of the genre, but I’m always finding out new and unexpected things about Cuba. Every time I go back to Cuba, I find out something new about art, music, or literature. The culture in Cuba runs very deep and branches out in so many directions.
You just returned from Havana. With the political and cultural situation evolving so rapidly, what’s the mood among your friends and family? How are Cubans thinking about the future these days?
Americans tend to think that things are moving very rapidly, but most Cubans, myself included, don’t think that. They’ve lived with the system for decades and know how slow and resistant to change the politicians can be. The overall mood is a wait-and-see attitude. At any point the government can do anything to sabotage negotiations. Right now, the government propaganda is all about support for Venezuela, and they’re using that to scuttle deals with the US. Cubans are wondering why their government keeps coming up with excuses and don’t just deal with their problems in a direct way. They want to know when their alliances with other countries stop getting in the way of direct relations with the US and the rest of the world. There is some hope, but the infrastructure is such a disaster that most think it will take decades for real improvement to happen.