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Book Review

'Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic'

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Ever read a poem about a guy who emotionally abuses a mannequin and leaves her silicon heart broken in a dumpster? Me neither, and I've suffered through more than a few Ted Hughes tomes. But this scenario, beautifully rendered in Esther M. Garcia's haunting verse, is exactly the kind of thing you'll encounter in Three Messages and a Warning, an ebullient collection of south-of-the-border speculative writing that leaves little doubt that if the 1960's British New Wave magazine New Worlds were to find a new home it would be in old Mexico.

The marriage of nightmare and reason that J. G. Ballard once remarked dominated the 20th century and led to an ever more ambiguous world has also made science fiction writers out of anyone with a Facebook account; the problem with writing the future is that the future is always behind us now. Three Messages and a Warning, an assemblage of writers who come from underground as well as academic backgrounds, could never have actually been published in Mexico according to its editors (two lawyers who have nothing but this book to bind them).

In Pepe Rojos's "The President Without Organs" we get a satire of political inertia that reads as if Philip José Farmer rewrote Deleuze's Anti-Oedipus, while Bruno Estañol offers a cognitive devil deal that plays off Nietzsche's "Eternal Return," while poking fun at bad theater and worse financial planning. Mexico, which has taught American TV how drunken clowns can do the news before we even had Fox (google "Brozo"), can also teach us a few things about writing fiction as philosophy.

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic
Edited by Eduardo Jiménez Mayo and Chris N. Brown.
Introduction by Bruce Sterling
Small Beer Press
$16.00, 240 pages

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