cover image A Planet for Rent

A Planet for Rent

Yoss. Restless, $14.99 e-book (344p) ISBN 978-1-63206-008-2

This heavyhanded collection of interlinked stories written between 1993 and 1998 depicts a future Earth conquered by a confederation of alien races%E2%80%94collectively known as xenoids%E2%80%94and turned into a Galactic Protectorate: part museum, part resort, with an economy dependent on xenoid tourism. Humans are second-class citizens with little hope of advancement. Some try to escape by becoming sex workers, law enforcement, athletes, or artists. Some literally sell their bodies as "horses" for alien visitors. Others try to flee across the heavily-guarded planetary border, a desperate and often fatal move. Yoss's allegory of his native Cuba and the exploitation of its people is not subtle, and the prose tends toward textbook-like descriptions. The description of most female characters relies heavily on their sexuality, which is particularly disconcerting (though a sadly plausible portrayal of sex tourism) when committed by the prepubescent narrator of "The Platinum Card." But the human characters' palpable desperation and the impossibility of their circumstances become increasingly moving, and some stories, such as the blistering "Performing Death" and its protagonist's excruciating, literally suicidal performance art, provide a wrenching depiction of the corrosive effects of prejudice and colonialism. (Oct.)