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The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  577 ratings  ·  112 reviews
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 mo
Paperback, 280 pages
Published February 15th 2016 by Rosarium Publishing
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Rick Riordan
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How to even describe this book?

Imagine twelve of the best Twilight Zone episodes collected as short stories, updated for 2016 and told largely from different Cuban American perspectives, with equal parts humor, magical realism, cutting-edge science fiction and culture clash.

Hernandez's imagination is so fertile it leaves me awestruck. I'm hesitant to give examples because it would spoil some of the fun, but for starters you can expect unicorns, giant robotic pandas, evil spirits, multiple dimens
Althea Ann
Oct 02, 2015 rated it liked it
**** The Aphotic Ghost
A strong opener to the anthology. An updated selkie story for the modern age, with marine biology, immortal jellyfish, and an ascent of Mount Everest.

*** Homeostasis
Delicate treatment of a classic sci-fi theme: 'cybernetic' enhancements and the line between technology and whatever it is that makes us human. Imagine a more mundane Robocop.

** Entanglements
This one felt a little bit too sappy/Lifetime drama for me. A physicist finds out that his girlfriend is married to anothe
K.J. Charles
A very well written, decidedly weird collection of shorts, sf/f/ghost story/fables. Author has a tendency to set up a situation and then end the story at the climax, not telling us what then happened, which is in keeping with the weird haunting mood, but a tad frustrating for the plot-driven reader. Strange, imaginative, and fascinating.
Really enjoyed this collection. Will write more later.
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Well, this was a pretty original collection of stories, mixing science fiction and fantasy elements against a backdrop of Cuban culture (sometimes with clashes of various, if only generational ones) and magical realism. In this book, you'll get research centres on space stations, aliens visiting Earth and confronted to ubuesque situations, reality TV shows about hitmen, a piano haunted by the soul of his previou
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley.

I wanted to like this more than I did, I truly did.

This is a collection of fantasy/science-fiction short stories. Several of them have Hispanics as either main or supporting characters. This is a good thing; we need diversity. Hernandez also has a very fertile imagination. There is a high level of creativity in the stories. He writes about panda reproduction for crying out loud. The central characters are nicely varied in terms of gender, and in many cases he wr
Migdalia Jimenez
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Hernandez blends sci-fi, fantasy and latinx culture here perfectly. His fantastic story-telling ability, wit and originality make every story a delight to read.
I mean where else are you going to read a story abot a couple of right-wing nuts patrolling the Arizona border looking for 'illegal aliens' and stumbling across actual interstellar aliens?

I can say so much more about how much I loved this book, instead I'll just say, go out and read this as soon as you can, it won't disappoint.
Charles Dee Mitchell
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-sf
This first collection of twelve stories brings the author’s breezy tone and sharp wit to a range of traditional sf tropes. The setting may be on or off Earth and the time the present day, the near or the far future. Most of the protagonists are scientists from a variety of fields. Hernandez’ one repeating character is Gabrielle Reál, a reporter from the San Francisco Squint. She writes a debunking column, but consistently run up against situations that test her professional skepticism. The scien ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 The first 3 stories were weak but the other 200 pages I just enjoyed so much. My heart just loved the different angles and perspectives we got and I just really saw myself and my family in these stories. Its also not generally very depressing which I enjoyed surprisingly. Guess I should try and find more happy sci-fi once in a while.

Recommendation: If you want a fun sci-fi short story collection with amazing Latinx representation give this a shot. It really won me over by the end.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lindsay by: Book Riot Community
Some of the stories were just fine, but the ones I liked I LOVED. And I am eternally grateful to have had each day of my Comps Week book-ended by escaping into Hernandez's hilarious and puzzling worlds of love. Totally not surprised he's a comrade of DJ Older. ...more
Even though each individual story didn't necessarily work for me, this solidified Carlos Hernandez as an author that I actively enjoy. Some of stories in this collection weren't to my taste and even still, I felt the need to know what happened next. Here you'll find science that is fantasical, magical, and horrifying in turn; Latinx (mostly Cuban) folx who you don't always want to root for but can still sympathize with; and words that will haunt you even after you're done reading them.

The Ap
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am completely obsessed with this book and the writing. OBSESSED. I want more more more
Chrysten Lofton
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5.0⭐ “There’s a little melancholy in the way she tilts her head. Then she says, “He moved.”

If you’re here, and you’re following my reviews, thank you for rolling with me. We’re on episode 30 of Stitcher’s LeVar Burton Reads, and we’re gifted with “Fantaisie Impromptu No. 4 in C#min, Op. 66” by Carlos Hernandez.

I’ve got so much praise for this story, but a special hat-tip to LeVar and his team for incorporating the song’s actual music into the prose. I think that it changed how I h
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
12 fantasy short stories. The stories are primarily told from Cuban American viewpoints and are humorous reads dealing with sci-fi and magical realism.

★★★★ The Aphotic Ghost - A modern selkie story with marine biology, mountaineering, and a father looking for his missing son.

★★★★★ Homeostasis - Cybernetics and souls. After a neural implant, where is the line between being human and artificial intelligence.

★★★ Entanglements - A love triangle with parallel universes.

★★★ The International Studbo
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

Funny, creative, thought-provoking, culturally-diverse, & the absolute best kind of weird! "The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria" is one of the most enjoyable books I've read all year. If not for the poor print quality (bright white pages, awkward spacing, & several typos), I'd have almost thing to complain about. Oh, except for the time Hernandez writes, "I make a wtf face." I bet you can guess my reaction to that sentence...

My favorite stories are "Homeostasis", "Fantais
Michael Burnam-Fink
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2020
The name alone was enough to sell me on this collection. And it's pretty much exactly what it says on the cover, a collection of slipstreamish scifi from a American-Cuban perspective. One story is set on a space station, two concern a neural cybernetic implant, but the main thrust is people, their passions, and their souls, in a world much like our but a little more vivid. Hernandez plays with the stereotypes of Cubans and the culture of machismo, while also having his characters be physicists, ...more
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the coolest titles I've seen for a short story collection and, by and large, I felt the stories here delivered on that promise. Most of this is near future science fiction told from a Cuban perspective with more than a dash of magic and religion tossed in for good measure. "The Aphotic Ghost" which opens the anthology and the title story which closes it were my favorites, but I enjoyed all of them with "Entanglements," "the International Studbook of the Giant Panda," and "More Than Pigs a ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
In the story “Fantaisie Impromptu No. 4 in C#min, Op. 66” by Carlos Hernandez, artists are said to often give their heart and soul to their work, and in the case, it is literally true. A concert pianist's wife insists her husband's soul is in a piano, after his debilitating illness and death. But if his soul is locked into a piano what of his eternal soul in heaven? In this tale science and faith intersect with a "deus ex machina" ending. Listened to this story on LeVar Burton Reads. ...more
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5, but this is more of a me issue if anything. I think I was just not in the right mood for this book, even though it had been in my TBR for some time. I did enjoy “Entanglements” and “American Moat” though.
Peter Tillman
Skimmed ebook from library. Didn't look like my sort of thing. ...more
Superb, Brilliant and Compelling Tales from a Notable New Voice in Contemporary Anglo-American Speculative Fiction

Carlos Hernandez's "The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria" is one of the most notable recently published debut short story collections I have read, worthy of comparison with the latest from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and China Miéville, among others. Much to his credit, Hernandez, who was trained primarily in mainstream literary fiction writing, has mastered bri
Vesselin Bakov
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best short story collections I have read in the past few years. Funny, interesting, and a page turner. It's also insanely quotable, even if most of the quotes would not make sense before reading the book, all of these make me giggle now:

"He looked like some piebald prophet came to carry humanity onto its next evolution"

"I put my faith in everything I did not understand about the world and stabbed my wife in the ass"

"And then I almost kicked a pigeon"

I would recommend this book to ...
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could not have loved this more. I cannot also be more in the target demographic. I *think* non-Cubans looking for a great sci-fi short story will also thoroughly enjoy it, but it so thoroughly hit so many of my emotional deep spots that I can't say that with any clarity. While you're figuring that out, I'll be buying a paper copy to put on the shelf for my kid to find in 15 years, and perhaps be as enchanted as I was. ...more
I didn't know how much I needed this collection of short stories until I read it. All of these stories deal in their own ways with the questions of assimilation, of Latinx (and particularly Cuban) identity. How do we square the traditional Latinx view of the world, its magical realism and supernatural dimensions, with the rationality and science of the dominant culture? Each of these stories hints at the ways we can enrich the one with the other. ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In his debut collection, Carlos Hernandez explores the ways in which we conform our identities to fit into worlds that would otherwise break us. But all of his characters strive to reclaim the parts of themselves that could easily be thought of as lost. Funny, smart, and fierce, these stories are a breath of fresh air in a tightly constricted world.
Danni Green
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hwe, rov
This was an excellent Halloween read. Brilliantly constructed and interwoven array of stories drawing upon the author’s characteristic blend of humor and dead-seriousness, poking at the boundaries of mildly grotesque to absolute what-the-actual-fuckery. As with any collection of short stories, I liked some better than others, but I especially liked how the stories in this book tied together in ways that became more obvious toward the end of the book. I also appreciated how clearly the author’s u ...more
Zig Claybourne
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Been a long time since I burned through a story collection with this much glee, and when I say “burned through” I don’t mean rushed, I mean the mental engines were ignited from the first story and kept blasting after that. The book has a level of emotional depth that MFA grads sell kidneys for, and the imagination factor is superb, or have you already read a story about robotic panda sex, fundamentalism, and nostalgia for the re-grounding of self all in one? This is not your usual predictable, f ...more
Alexander Ruiz
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating collection of short stories that mix sci-fi with elements of my understanding of magical realism. From the haunting, Aphostic Angel, which is by far my favorite of the stories, to the more autobiographical story that shares its name with the book, very well written, both melancholy and hopeful and the perfect mix of his Cuban roots and sci-fi. The scope and span of Hernandez's imagination is impressive and interesting. With stories ranging from aliens to unicorns, from robot panda ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
To be honest I selected this book because I heard about the Panda story, and we've got an inside joke at work about Pandas. Even having read the Panda story, I still don't think I could describe it to my co-workers without sounding crazy. Almost every story in here is a little bit crazy, which makes them lovely stories, because you get drawn into and accept the crazy so easily. A Chevy truck turns into Margaret Thatcher, sure! Unicorns slipping through dimensions because people played around wit ...more
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