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They Will Dream In The Garden coverI was excited to read this collection by Gabriela Damián Miravete, in part because she is a vibrant, intriguing author, but also because I fondly remember meeting her at WisCon 43 in 2019, when she was presented with the Otherwise Award for this volume’s title story. First published in English and Spanish in Latin American Literature Today (2018) and translated by Adrian Demopulos, “They Will Dream” is a haunting story about violence against women in Mexico. “Haunting” is an especially appropriate descriptor because the garden of the title is inhabited by three-dimensional holograms of murdered women who tell their stories to visiting schoolchildren. The Caretaker who designed the garden was driven to do it by the murder of her friend years before—and her own membership of a group of women who practice self-defense. Set in a vaguely near-future world, “They Will Dream” is the perfect ending to a collection that contains very different kinds of stories.

While some of the stories are dreamlike and surreal and others are clearly science fiction, they all revolve around individual women who are either trying to overcome trauma or actively defending themselves from danger. These women are scientists, inventors, engineers, daughters, wives, and friends. In “Music and Petals” and “The Visit,” the trauma comes from a threatening figure, whether it’s a sexually abusive brother or an unidentified person from one’s childhood. The narrator of “Music and Petals” is the only one in the collection who is a child, but her descriptions of the strange music she hears in the basement where her brother rapes her is reflective of the girl’s deep connection to a traumatic past she didn’t know about. One might assume that the unnamed narrator of “The Visit” is this very same girl, only grown up, who has arrived at a commune run by retired women to “cure her soul” from some unidentified painful incident(s). Indeed, the love and healing from being around female family members and friends is central to “La Purificación,” in which a woman’s dream of her grandmother, aunt, and other women becomes so real that she wakes up from it surrounded by crumbs from the bread they baked together.

While these stories are beautifully written and translated, I have to say that my favorites are the apocalyptic tales. “The End of the Party,” which features an adorable but badly behaved hairless cat, imagines the panic that breaks out across the world when strange spirals slowly begin consuming the Earth. The focus here is squarely on the protagonist Verónica’s state of mind as she tries to meet up with her family members in another part of town. Miravete is quite adept at communicating the depth of the characters’ fear, as in this passage:

They shared in silence the certainty that this would reach them sooner or later. It was, more than the sharing of a fact, the feeling that it would take over everything: that proximity to this void would lead, little by little, to chairs no longer being chairs, apples losing their colorful juicy fruit qualities; the people would be replaced by that darkness, that blindness, that nothing. She herself, having seen it, already felt incomplete. (pp. 27-8)

Miravete deftly evokes the uncertainty and coming catastrophe with just a few references to the coming destruction.

Meanwhile, in “The Art of Memory,” an engineer named Cordelia realizes that she may be the only survivor of a faulty shuttle launch. Earth has been contacted by aliens that call themselves humanity’s “brothers” and proffer technology that would allow humans to travel to the aliens’ planet in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, the launch results in a series of destructive waves that will ultimately destroy the Earth. In a last desperate attempt, Cordelia joins the dead cosmonauts on the shuttle, hoping to ride one of the coming waves out to the alien planet. An alien species may or may not be involved in the zombie-like attack in “The Bridge,” where people begin dreaming of constructing bridges to dead loved ones, only for those same dead people to be reanimated and attack their family members. In “Conspiracy of the Elements,” on the other hand, the world seems to be ending thanks to an unprecedented rainstorm, but the natural world protects the one town that has prepared in a sustainable way for the deluge.

The natural world also features in “The Synchrony of Touch,” a story about three friends who discover a special flower with unknown mind-altering properties. After inhaling the “seeds” of this flower, the friends find that their connection to, and communion with, the natural world—and each other—is heightened in a way that never truly leaves them, though it fades over time.

The permeability of time features in “Future Nereid,” in which a woman who feels as though she was born in the wrong era is able to communicate with an author who somehow was writing into the future to her. By searching for his obscure books and stories, she forges a mysterious connection with him that draws her into the past and his presence. Time is also a main character in “Retreat from the Outside World,” in which a nun, accused by another nun of multiple crimes against the Church, has attempted to build her own recording device to capture sound. With the help of her devoted confessor and some censored books, Sister Ágata de la Luiz is successful to a point—but is then forced by her superiors to stop her experiments.

Overall, They Will Dream in the Garden is one of the most important collections of the year. Thanks to translator Adrian Demopulos, Anglophone readers can now read (more of) Miravete’s remarkable work. Rosarium Publishing also deserves a special mention—not just for bringing more of Miravete’s stories to Anglophone audiences, but also for putting the translator’s name on the cover with the author’s.



Rachel Cordasco has a PhD in literary studies and currently works as a developmental editor. When she’s not at her day job or chasing three kids, she’s writing reviews and translating Italian speculative fiction. She runs the website sfintranslation.com, and can be found on Twitter.
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