Books

Ten Planets review: A short story collection that slinks between genres

Ten planets by Yuri Hererra is a trove of 20 sci-fi-ish stories, each one a little stranger than the last

Ten Planets book cover

Ten Planets, Yuri Herrera’s first, sinuous collection of 20 short stories, is also full of new worldings, each more astronomically strange than the last. His tales might flirt with the tropes of science fiction, but ultimately they slink between genres. There are vignettes of imagined futures, twinkling with Borgesian promise, placed beside hard-boiled noirish pieces that expose the absurdity of bureaucratic systems.

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I was delighted by The Cosmonaut, which outlines the work of a nasal detective, who has a peculiar skill for discovering secrets; he claims the truth is mapped out on people’s very noses. Even as their environments disintegrate, Herrera’s characters are sincere in their desire for intimate connection: creaturely entities and spirits alike. Where The Last Ones figures the tenderness between strangers adrift in space, The Obituarist examines (and ironises) our longing for recognition in a dystopic society where death is the only catalysing factor.

Ten Planets

Annie Hayter is a writer and a poet

Ten Planets by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman, is out on February 7 (And Other Stories, £11.99).

You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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