Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Herrera (Signs Preceding the Ends of the World) spins a wondrous collection of science fiction and parables about the desire for intimacy and expression. The spare opener, "The Science of Extinction," features a man alone in an increasingly "rewilding" world. He's left with only memories of his family and a fading will to sustain himself, which he maintains by leaving a note on his windowsill, in case someone else might see it. In the Philip K. Dick--esque "The Obituarist," everyone is made invisible on the street by wearing "buffers," except for tradespeople such as the obituarist, who's illuminated by a glowing badge, and who stumbles into a strangely moving scene after making a routine house call. "Consolidation of Spirits" mashes up Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" with Beetlejuice, imagining what happens when a clerk named Bartleby, who's responsible for keeping track of the spirits of the dead, becomes a ghost himself. "The Last Ones," a standout, offers a vivid account of a man walking across the garbage-clogged Atlantic Ocean and holding onto a faint hope of companionship. In another highlight, "The Monster's Art," a bailiff removes art from a monster's cage while wishing he could make his own. The emotional heft, combined with Herrera's commitment to genre, yield satisfying results. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Featuring a knockout 15 stories, seven focused on a married couple across decades, international star Atwood's Old Babes in the Wood examines love and relationships, loss and memory in her first collection since 2014's Stone Mattress. In Ten Planets, award-winning Mexican author Herrera conjoins sf, noir, and the meditative aspects of Jorge Luis Borges's Fictions and Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics in short-short stories whose subjects range from sentient objects to a bacterium that gains consciousness after its host ingests a psychotropic drug (30,000-copy first printing). From Macarthur Fellow/Pulitzer Prize finalist Link, White Cat, Black Dog offers seven reimagined fairytales that illuminate the contemporary world, with stories including a woman in poor health stranded at an airport and a billionaire putting his sons through absurd tasks to see which should be his heir.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A miscellany of thematically linked stories about strangers in a strange land, life on Mars, and other curiosities. In this spare but inquisitive collection of stories, award-winning Mexican writer Herrera concerns himself more with human nature and morphologic alchemy than ray guns and bug-eyed monsters despite the science-fiction character of the stories. In the opening amuse-bouche, the apocalypse comes not from planetary annihilation but four simple words scribbled on a notecard: "Everyone is going away." Readers' suspension of disbelief is challenged next by "Whole Entero," in which a stomach bug achieving consciousness dies not from her host's fatal condition but from her own melancholy sadness; or equally by "The Objects" (one of two stories with identical names), which provides a portrait of an anthropomorphized rat who muses, "When you're a pestilent creature, the world is no longer pestilent." Similarly, "Living Muscle" imagines a planet made of the stuff of people, though the narrator's final declaration that "we have decided to send no more probes" might be more of a wink than an epiphany. The marginal whodunits "The Obituarist" and "The Cosmonaut" flirt surreally with noir, noses, and "fucking invisibility." In a related branch of the genre family tree, a ghost buster named Bartleby delights in the specters embodied in "Consolidation of Spirits." A flat Earth, dragons, and a world divided into "Ones" and "Others" serve as the medium for thoughts on the human need for both connectivity and conflict in a handful of stories: "Everybody knows that the Creator is not a mouth but the eye of a dragon, and that the world is but a blink, a blink, a blink set to happen: now." A high point is "The Earthling," in which a stranger in a strange land is united with another creature who recognizes him for exactly what he is. A conceptually heavy, emotionally empathetic accounting of the most alien of conditions. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.