cover image Ten Planets

Ten Planets

Yuri Herrera, trans. from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. Graywolf, $15 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-64445-223-3

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.)