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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Strange Horizons -- September 17, 2018

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Strange Horizons, September 17, 2018

"Tamales in Space, and Other Phrases For the Beginning Speaker" by Gabriela Santiago

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

"Tamales in Space, and Other Phrases For the Beginning Speaker" by Gabriela Santiago consists of alternating sections of narration, description, dialogue between unidentified speakers, and written messages from one character to another. A woman cooks on a space station orbiting a distant planet. The aliens inhabiting the station experience her creations as if they were literary works. She struggles to communicate with them, leading to a joyful breakthrough.

This is a pleasant tale, possibly intended as a metaphor for the writing process. It is very light, and some readers may not wish to make the effort to work their way through the author's impressionistic style. (The story is very short, and reading it twice makes the plot clearer.) The most enjoyable aspect of this work of culinary fiction may be its mouth-watering descriptions of delicious Mexican cuisine.


Victoria Silverwolf has a slight cold.