Latine science fiction and fantasy books are very dear to my heart. For starters, SFF is my all-time favorite — whether you think of it as the broader speculative fiction, or the more specific genres of science fiction and fantasy. I just love reading stranger and more unusual stories. Because I myself am strange and unusual. No, but all Beetlejuice references aside, I can’t describe the joy of reading not only SFF, but SFF that represents bits of my own culture. I was born in and live in Mexico, and while I know that every Latine culture is different. I also know that there are some threads that bind us. Which is why it’s so much easier for those stories to take a permanent residence in my brain.
So, today I want to share with you some of the best Latine SFF books! Two small disclaimers before I jump in. The first is that this list is by no means a complete or definite account. There is a lot more Latine SFF out there! The second small disclaimer is that the first part of this list leans more toward the more strict sci-fi and fantasy side. But I did want to include some books in the end that are more speculative and can toe the line between genres. Because hey, why not have the best of both worlds?
So without further ado, let’s get into it!
Latine Sci-fi and Fantasy
The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
Anna-Marie McLemore is famous for their stunning YA fantasy retellings. This is one of their latest releases, and it’s raw and absolutely stunning! It’s a difficult book to read, for sure, because of the subject matter. But it can also be tender and heart-achingly beautiful. The Mirror Season follows two teens named Ciela and Lock. They were both sexually assaulted by the same person at the same party. Ciela knows this, but Lock does not. He has no memory of that night, even as it unravels his life. Wanting to help, Ciela decides to befriend him. But she knows the name of their assailant — and she also knows that their survival depends on no one finding out the truth.
The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta
This book just came out and it’s such a unique and intricate YA fantasy! Can we also take a second to appreciate that cover? The Lost Dreamer is inspired by ancient Mesoamerica, and it’s full of magic and mayhem in the form of seers resisting the patriarchy. The story follows Indir and Saya. They’re both seers, but only Indir is a trained Dreamer. We follow her as she tries to keep two secrets from King Alcan — because if he knew the truth he’d kill all the Dreamers. On Saya’s side of the story, we watch as her mother abuses her gift — until she loses her special necklace and realizes she is living a lie. Both women will have to decide if they want to risk it all for answers and survival.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
We can’t talk about Latine fantasy without touching upon magical realism! So of course I can’t ignore The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina — especially since it manages to have the vibes of classic authors like Isabel Allende and a more modern setting. The book has two storylines. On one side you have the Montoya cousins who have a fraught relationship with their grandmother, Orquídea. When she transforms into a tree, and an unknown shadow starts to come after them, they go back to Ecuador to find out the truth about their family. You also get to see Orquídea’s story as it unfolds — and both storylines are equally enthralling and full of magic.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Let’s switch gears and talk about Latine sci-fi! Dealing in Dreams is a YA dystopia in which women control the world. It can be a wild and surreal ride, as well as bittersweet. But it’s absolutely worth reading! The story is set in a place called Mega City, in which crews of young women patrol the streets. Nalah is the fiercest of their leaders, but she dreams to change and to live in the exclusive Mega towers. To prove her loyalty and secure the future she wants, Nalah has to brave the border and find a gang called the Ashé Ryders.
Infomocracy by Malka Older
If you’re into hard sci-fi with heavier politics, Infomocracy is absolutely for you! It’s a story about power, corruption, and the weight of information in a technological world. The book follows three main plot lines and characters and is set in a world in which a search engine named Information has monopolized the world. The first character is Ken, an employee of the idealistic Policy1st party. The second is named Domaine. He’s an activist that stands against the pax democratica. The third and last character is Mishima, an Information operative. They all have something to gain from the outcome of the upcoming election, and the story follows them before, during, and after this event that might change their lives.
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes
Some books are for thinking, others are for enjoying the cozy and humorous vibes and just having an overall great time. We need both kinds of books, and it’s a joy when you find one of the latter that is also sci-fi! Chilling Effect is a space opera about found family — and aren’t those the best kind? The story follows Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of her ship, La Sirena Negra. They normally deliver small cargo, but their lives change when Eva’s sister is kidnapped. Now Eva has to do all kinds of unsavory missions and raise the money to pay for her sister’s ransom. All while lying to her crew. What could go wrong?
Terminal 3 by Illimani Ferreira
My last sci-fi for you today is another humorous romp that will make you laugh out loud! The premise also somehow reminds me of Men in Black in a weird but fun way. Terminal 3 is set on Earth, at the dawn of the 22nd century. Los Ángeles has become a hub of galactic travel, and our protagonist, Gabe Chagas, is a member of the LAX security force who deports aliens for a living. His life changes when he receives a cryptic message directing him to a non-existent gate, promising answers of his mother’s disappearance.
Latine Speculative Fiction
Eartheater by Dolores Reyes, translated by Julia Sanches
Latine speculative fiction is amazing, genre-blending, and so unique I absolutely have to include it on this list. Starting with this fantastical, haunting, and horrific book in translation. Eartheater is a dark and feminist tale of pain, death, violence, and loss. The story follows a young unnamed woman who starts to compulsively eat dirt. This allows her to have visions of broken and lost lives — starting with the truth about her mother’s death. At first she keeps her newfound power a secret, but word of her ability begins to spread and her community looks desperately at her for answers.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-García (July, 2022)
Most know Silvia Moreno-García for Mexican Gothic or Gods of Jade and Shadow. But I wanted to highlight her upcoming release because it’s a horrific sci-fi reimagining of the classic The Island of Doctor Moreau set in Mexico! The story actually follows Moreau’s daughter Carlota, his assistant Montgomery, and his hybrids. They all live in a carefully balanced ecosystem. But with a life so full of secrets and questions, anything can tip the balance. Enter the son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, Eduardo Lizalde — a charming and careless man who unwittingly starts a chain reaction that will change everything for the inhabitants of the island.
Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space edited by Zoraida Córdova
Anthologies are particularly great reads because they help you discover a wide variety of new voices. That’s definitely the case with Reclaim the Stars, especially since it highlights voices from the Latin American diaspora. This book features 17 YA authors that dance around the lines of sci-fi and fantasy to show that stories are truly universal. With mermaids, ghosts, princesses, and space — there’s a story for everyone in this collection! Although I must say that “Reign of Diamonds,” “Creatures of Kings,” and “White Water, Blue Ocean” definitely stand out.
Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa
Some magical realism is less fantastical and more speculative — like this one. Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer has ghosts and even a genderless angel. But at its core it’s a story about generational trauma, identity, and loss. The story follows siblings, Rufina and Rafa, who live in a tourist town called Ciudad de Tres Hermanas. This is their last weekend together in their hometown after their mother’s death. Rafa is having a very hard time, and Rufina devises a bet to keep him from going over the edge. If they make enough money for plane tickets by performing at the town’s plaza, they’ll leave together. If not, Rufina has to accept Rafa’s plan for his future.
Goddess of Filth by V. Castro
Last but not least, a fantastical horror novella. A feminist possession story with a twist — Goddess of Filth is a dark coming-of-age, full of the supernatural and the kind of horror that will haunt you in your dreams. The story follows best friends Lourdes, Fernanda, Ana, Perla, and Pauline. One night, the group holds a séance. Things take a turn when Fernanda starts eerily chanting in Nahuatl. They leave it at that. But weeks later, Fernanda starts acting very strangely and out of character. The local priest swears it’s a demon and becomes obsessed with vanishing it. But Lourdes soon realizes it might be something else — a possession-gone-right you could say.