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Working name of José Miguel Sánchez Gómez (1969-    ). Yoss, probably the most prolific and internationally known sf writer in Cuba, became known in sf circles in 1988, after winning the prestigious Cuban Premio David ["David Award"] for new, unpublished writers, in the sf category, with the collection Timshel ["Timshel"] (coll 1989). The collection, including such stories as "Historia de gladiadores" ["A Story of Gladiators"] and "Timshel", anticipated the Cyberpunk scene in Cuba during the Special Period. After his debut, Yoss continued publishing short stories in different Anthologies, such as "Trabajadora social" ["Social Worker"] in Polvo en el viento ["Dust in the Wind"] (anth 1999) edited by Bruno Henríquez and "El performance de la muerte" ["Death Performance"] in Horizontes probables ["Probable Horizons"] (anth 1999) edited by Vladimir Fernández. He himself edited the sf and fantasy anthology Reino Eterno ["Eternal Kingdom"] (anth 1999).

Yoss was an active member of the sf collective that made sf visible in Cuba with national and international conferences such as Ibeficción 94, Cubaficción 96, CuásarDragón 95 and Habana 99. He has been a member of the most important sf literary workshops, including the Oscar Hurtado, directed by Daína Chaviano, Julio Verne, and Espiral, a workshop he helped create in the 1990s. He has published novels for adult and Young Adults alike. In 2000 he wrote the YA novel Los pecios y los naufragos ["The Wrecks and the Shipwrecked"] (2000), winner of the Luis Rogelio Nogueras award 1998; and later he published two of his least known works, Al final de la senda ["At the End of the Trail"] (2003) and the collection Precio justo ["Just Price"] (coll 2005) – winner of the Cuban Calendario award for 2004. In 2007 he published the novel Pluma de León ["Lion Feather"] (2007) in Spain, reissued a year later by the prestigious Cuban publisher Letras Cubanas. Pluma de león is considered by Yoss himself an erotic novel, and it depicts a universe in which humans rather than Aliens are the tyrannical race of the Galaxy, an element quite atypical in Yoss's fiction.

His international breakthrough came with the fixup novel Se alquila un planeta ["A Planet for Rent"] (fixup 2001; trans David Frye as A Planet for Rent 2015), first published in Spain. The plot is an allegory of Cuban events during the 1990s, projecting an image of oppression and lack of moral values on the island through a Near Future tale in which Earth is oppressed by Aliens, who transmogrify the planet into a tourist destination. With Se alquila un planeta, Yoss created a personal universe with distinct extraterrestrial races that oppress Earth and make humans second- or third-class universal citizens. This universe was to recur in his sf; what started as a clear allegory of Cuba facing foreign tourism eventually became a fictional reality in which we are all Cubans, laymen facing the powerful.

Having been published in Argentina, France, Mexico, Italy and Spain, his participation in the prestigious Spanish UPC award has given Yoss a constant international presence. In 2003, his story Polvo rojo ["Red Dust"] (2004; trans David Frye as Red Dust 2020) was a UPC runner-up. Polvo rojo is a homage to both Raymond Chandler's (1888-1959) noir novels, and Isaac Asimov's Positronic Robots. The main character of the story is an Android called Raymond with a positronic brain, who tries to resolve an intergalactic crime, while pursuing an understanding of its own existence.

In 2004, Yoss edited and wrote the prologue to the anthology of Cuban short stories La guayaba mecánica ["The Mechanical Guava"] (anth 2004) in Italy, and won the Premio Domingo Santos of the Asociación Española de Fantasía y Ciencia Ficción y Terror ["Spanish Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Horror"] in 2005, with his short story "Morfeo Verdugo" ["Morpheus Executioner"]. But his most important anthology has been Crónicas del Mañana: 50 años de ciencia ficción cubana ["Chronicles of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Cuban Science Fiction Short Stories"] (anth 2008), put together to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. This collection marked another official recognition of the genre in Cuba. It is divided in three sections preceded by three introductions by Yoss himself, relating the history of Cuban sf.

Finally, after participating several times, Yoss was the winner of the UPC award in 2011 with Súper Extra Grande ["Super Extra Large"] (2012 ebook; trans David Frye as Super Extra Grande 2016), the story of Jan Sangan, a human veterinarian who – able to do so because Faster Than Light travel has been invented by Latin Americans – specializes in treating enormous animals across the galaxy (see Medicine). This novel is a Space Opera of parodic tone, slightly departing from the author's usual allegorical and critical approach. Also in 2012 he published the novel Condonautas ["Condonautas"] (2013; trans David Frye as Condomnauts 2018), whose main plot again features Sex as a universal force among different galactic species. [JCTR]

José Miguel Sánchez Gómez

born Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba: 2 April 1969

works (selected)

works as editor


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 21:01 pm on 22 April 2024.