Reviews > Published on July 2nd, 2015

Bookshots: 'A Planet for Rent' by Yoss

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


A Planet for Rent

Who wrote it?

'A Planet for Rent' is science fiction of the highest caliber. It tells us to imagine a strange new world, and as we explore it we come to understand our own a little better.

Yoss, critically acclaimed Cuban sci-fi author and lead singer of the heavy metal band Tenaz.

Plot in a Box:

The people of Earth were on the verge of destroying themselves and their planet until they were “rescued” by incredibly advanced alien colonizers. As a protectorate, but not a member, of an intergalactic civilization, the people of Earth are doomed to live as scenery in the galaxy’s biggest tourist trap. The book is a collection of stories about the many different people of Earth, all united in their desire to flee their stagnant homeworld.

Invent a new title for this book:

Refugee World

Read this if you liked:

Stanislaw Lem, William Gibson's Sprawl trilogy

Meet the books lead(s):

It’s a collection of short stories that follow many different characters. Some know each other tangentially, while a select few appear in more than one story. Highlights include the hooker willing to sell her body as an incubator to bug-like aliens just to get off of Earth, the artist who quite literally destroys himself for his work, a crooked but ethical member of the native security force, a champion athlete who devotes the entirety of his being to playing a game that entertains the alien overlords, and one of humanity’s greatest scientific minds who abandons his work and his world for better opportunities amongst the stars.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

You would need a casting director for this one, though I would seriously recommend Danny Trejo for the corrupt-yet-decent security officer.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Earth is a kitschy tourist trap for rich aliens where we live as indentured servants on our homeworld. It’s not a nice place, unless you’re an alien overlord.

What was your favorite sentence?

Better the frying pan you know than the fire you don’t…

The Verdict:

Yoss’ dystopian nightmare tour is not just an excellently written piece of sci-fi, with its rich world-building and well-crafted characters, it's also a not-so-subtle allegory for ‘90s Cuba. The aliens robbed Earth of its own destiny, making it subject to a democracy it has no say in, and an economy in which humans and their labor are essentially worthless. Earth becomes a theme park for wealthy aliens that want to misbehave in exotic locales without fear of repercussion, where the natives either work for the all-powerful Tourism Agency or turn to prostitution, crime, or fleeing in a makeshift spacecraft. Maybe if you’re an exceptional artist or talented athlete some noble benefactor might see fit to raise you from your humble origins so that you may be paraded before high society like a prized pet. Humanity’s best and brightest no longer work for the betterment of Earth, but in the hopes of being recruited to pursue better opportunities in a far-off place. People curse the ones that make it out, but never look back if they get lucky. Yoss has told a fictional tale that rings all too true despite the aliens and spaceships. A Planet for Rent is science fiction of the highest caliber. It tells us to imagine a strange new world, and as we explore it we come to understand our own a little better. 

About the author

BH Shepherd is a writer and a DJ from Texas. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2005 with degrees in English and Demonology after writing a thesis about Doctor Doom. A hardcore sci-fi geek, noir junkie and comic book prophet, BH Shepherd has spent a lot of time studying things that don’t exist.  He currently resides in Austin, where he is working on The Greatest Novel Ever.

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