Julie Capell's Reviews > Más espacio del que soñamos

Más espacio del que soñamos by Leonardo Espinoza Benavides
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it was amazing
bookshelves: author_male, pub_post-1945, scifi, short_stories, type_fiction, en-español

This short story collection was everything I hope for every time I pick up a new scifi author, but rarely find. Espinoza has a completely refreshing, new point of view. Each story is constructed differently, containing characters that are completely realized, each with her or his own voice and journey. In addition, the author shows an impressive control of vocabulary, plot, characters. Not a single story is too long; there are no unnecessary details here. The stories generally are not connected and do not take place in one universe, however there are several that do seem to come from the same imagined place and time, one where humanity has created intelligent robots that do a lot of the heavy and dangerous jobs. The hints we get of this world are extremely intriguing and I for one would like to read an entire novel set in this reality. What follows are my micro reviews of each story in the collection.

Chateau Jota Prullansky – this story is used as a framing device for the whole book. Snippets of it appear between the other stories and present the reader with an artist engaged in the ultimate retreat: leaving the Earth for a room on the moon where she/he (the gender of the artist is neither revealed nor important) finally feels free to exercise her/his art without censure or pressure. I had to look up the name “J. Prullansky” to understand the reference to Chilean-French artist Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky, who has worked in many mediums including novels, music and painting. He is best known for his surrealist films, the first of which was Fando y Lis. I remember reading the play Fando y Lis (written by the Spaniard Fernando Arrabal) when I was in college, one of the first times I was exposed to something truly avante guard and bizarre (wow, 35 years later my degree in the literature of Spain and Latin America pays off!). Although the story makes an off-hand reference to the play, Espinoza was likely also influenced by Jodorowsky’s science fiction comics.

Campos de maíz y acero – unique vision of a future in which the have-nots still exist, and must find new ways to make technology “pay off” for them. This tale of robots and fields of corn felt distinctly Chilean and was exactly what I was hoping to find when I cracked open this book. Scifi from a South American perspective.

Sueños de ciudad – This story, part sendup of the “business” of academic studies and part scary dystopia, made me laugh out loud. Very well done extrapolation of what might happen if our insatiable need to be entertained in each and every moment of the day could be exploited and mined for maximum productivity, and what might happen to human relationships as a result.

El vermuza de la policromata – This story shows off the author’s ability to create in a few strokes a complete character whom the reader cares about intensely. It also contains some of the best writing in the book, as the author describes the undescribable. Beautiful story, possibly my favorite.

Un horizonte curvado – What begins as a straightforward scifi tale of scientists marooned on Mars unfolds slowly, with the truth of the situation only gradually becoming clear. The first scifi tale I have read dealing with pregnancy in outer space; kudos to the author for being brave enough to tackle this very emotional tale. Surely his background as a surgeon helped him get the tone of this one exactly right.

Wagner en mariahilf – alternate history and the best kind of short story: a kicker at the end that is a total surprise.

Ríos de amapolas – simple story that nevertheless displays the author’s fine control of narrative and his beautiful ability to describe the ethereal.

Océanos color rosa – another apparently straightforward scifi story of a shipwreck on an alien planet that rises above the usual tropes through strong character development and lovely descriptions of an alien sea.

Padre Williams – One of the stories set in the “robot world” and with a uniquely Latin flavor.
Naipes – Normally I am a huge fan of time travel stories but I have to admit I could not understand what happened in this one. Too convoluted?

El nácar de las nubes – Love the way the author uses beautiful images even when describing something terrible

La caverna – Nicely turns the usual first contact tropes upside-down.

La herradura entre las zarzamoras – More beautiful writing and a very touching tale, deftly told. One of my favorites in the book.

El mecanólogo – A tale of hostages and desperate measures.

Puesto Cerro Isla II – Fairly straightforward tale of combat, demonstrating the author’s ability to write about something as viscerally real as war as well as about the imaginary and fantastic.

Los shakesperianos – Unassuming story of space travel, one of the few weak ones in the collection.

Mustafá – Interesting take on the idea that anything can be weaponized.

El primer emperador – Manages to convey a lot of information on the death cycle of a star. Not sure it’s very successful as a story.

En la inocencia de los dioses – I LOVED this story, great writing, great way to use scifi tropes to go in a new direction.

Erz – First contact from the point of view of a rural community—voices rarely heard in scifi.
Another great story with a terrific twist at the end, and a worthy terminus to the collection.

[at the time of this writing the book is only available in Spanish]
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Reading Progress

August 17, 2018 – Shelved
August 17, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 17, 2018 – Shelved as: author_male
August 17, 2018 – Shelved as: pub_post-1945
August 17, 2018 – Shelved as: scifi
August 17, 2018 – Shelved as: short_stories
August 17, 2018 – Shelved as: type_fiction
September 9, 2018 – Started Reading
October 28, 2018 – Shelved as: en-español
October 28, 2018 – Finished Reading

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