- Red Dust
- ISBN: 9781632062468
- Published: July 2020
- Pages: 208
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 14/09/2020
- Language: English
For those who haven't heard of him, Yoss is a Cuban science fiction author. He's one of Cuba's most iconic figures in literature, having written over twenty books so far, run science fiction workshops and even found time to be the lead singer of Heavy Metal band Tenaz.
Red Dust (translated from Spanish by David Frye) is Yoss' homage to Raymond Chandler; a space opera featuring a positronic robot detective on the hunt for some dangerous extra-terrestrial criminals. In this vision of the future, humanity has had to accept their place in the universe, bowing to the superior weaponry and technology of Alien races. Humans are allowed to conduct business with these Aliens (which include praying-mantis-like Grodos with pheromone speech and gargantuan Collosaurs with a limited sense of humour) through the Intergalactic trading station William S. Burroughs.
Raymond is a detective on the station, part of the android police force who navigate between Alien and human, keeping the peace and evaporating wrong-doers. He's been doing the job for centuries, however nothing has prepared him for the fugitive perp Makrow 34, a Cetian with psi powers. Having such ability means he can alter the shape of the Gaussian bell curve of statistical probability—making it rain indoors, say, or causing a would-be captor to shoot himself in the face. Raymond will need all his training, experience and his impressive knowledge of hard-boiled fiction to have any chance of catching Makrow.
While Red Dust is a homage to Chandler and hard-boiled fiction in general, it's done so in Yoss' unique style - that is with a great deal of humour and a retro futuristic feel. The authors experiences in Cuba flavour his works and Red Dust is no exception, think a more political Douglas Adams. He paints an interesting picture about the future of the human race, that despite advances, when we finally make contact with an interstellar race, we find out we are small and insignificant in comparison. We have to bow down to the superior tech, and in some cases, superior intelligence, throwing the Earth into an economic and technological turmoil. This intergalactic federation doesn't allow humans to mingle with others, but allows the acquisition of some alien technology.
The book is full of action and the pace is pretty swift. He overcomes the deep-seated cliche that is on the surface by breaking the fourth wall, pointing out the more obvious literary references as they happen. This helps to create the light-hearted feeling that pervades the book - along with some genuinely funny, somewhat inane humour.
I like to see how different cultures handle science fiction, and this is a great example. It's different to what you see produced elsewhere, irreverent, wacky fiction that still manages to explore some series themes - sometimes though slapstick humour. Don't buy it expecting to read a hard-boiled noir style, because it isn't that sort of book - but if you like a lot of off-the-wall humour or want to explore fiction outside the confines of the US / UK market, then look no further.
Written on 14th September 2020 by Ant .