There is something magical about reading a narrative in which the author’s unbridled joy pours from every sentence ... Yoss is perhaps the most singular voice in contemporary Cuban science fiction, and Red Dust is an explosive mix of science fiction and noir that pays tribute to both genres while also showing how much the author loves them ... While love for noir is at the heart of the novel, science fiction is the heart itself. It’s also the entire structure of the novel. Yoss has never been afraid to come up with wild ideas, and he does that a few times in Red Dust ... a book that delivers plenty of passages that entertain while also presenting bizarre science and strange possibilities ... While most of the alien mayhem isn’t overtly political, there are a few instances in which he gets political or does a brilliant deconstruction of how the center-periphery model operates and how it is designed to ensure those who possess power retain it and those who depend on the center are doomed to remain in ignorance and dependency ... an odd mix that somehow works beautifully. Fans of science fiction will immediately fall in love with Yoss’s imagination, and fans of noir and detective stories will get a kick out of seeing the author taking classic tropes into outer space and seeing classic novels through the eyes and mind of an android. Restless Books has done a fantastic job by bringing Yoss’s work to English speakers, and translator David Frye has once again managed to translate a narrative with strange words, unique phrasing, funny turns of phrase, and even a hint of Spanglish without losing any of the spark and humor that make Yoss’s work such a pleasure to read. If you’re a fan of Yoss, this is a superb addition to his oeuvre. If you’ve never read Yoss, then this is the perfect place to start.
For readers similarly attached to Chandler, Raymond will be a delight. His narration is an immensely charming Philip Marlowe impression: goofily self-conscious, often laugh-out-loud funny, and perfectly translated. (I shudder to imagine how hard translating pseudo-Chandler must have been; Frye deserves a tip of the fedora Raymond never takes off.) Red Dust is pastiche at its finest, and it delivers a happy ending that seems to warm even Raymond's robot heart.
... inventive ... As a fan of science fiction, this quick read is fun ... Yoss builds a new world in Red Dust and refers often to Asimov, detective novels, and creates space ships and creatures, that all took me a few pages to learn. The payoff was well worth it. Good science fiction demonstrates the weaknesses and strengths of humanity ... I really enjoyed Raymond. I also couldn’t guess where the plot was going, it is fresh, unique. Yoss’s humor shines through either because he understands English or because the translator is that talented. The strength of the book is the relationships between Raymond and a couple of key characters, but the action is also clear and gives the book tension. I’m happy to have discovered the world of Yoss and will look for more of his quirky novels.
For readers acquainted with Yoss’s very particular imaginative landscape, Red Dust will feel like a familiar homecoming, sprinkled with the dust of something new ... Through the eyes of such protagonists, Yoss shows us the galaxy as through a glass darkly, neither majestic nor terrible, but just a series of power relations that need to be negotiated—a distinctly earthy frame to what is otherwise a soaring space opera ... also has the remaining elements that make up a Yoss story: careful—but smoothly integrated—nods to science, epic space battles, dazzling technology, inter-textual references to classic science fiction novels, biting observations on colonialism on a galactic scale, and wry humour that prevents both the writer and the reader from taking anything to seriously at any point ... But above all else, Yoss’s galaxy is a galaxy without judgment. That is not to say that his characters are necessarily amoral, or that the stakes don’t really matter: in a spectacular climax to the novel, Yoss compels us to pick a side and root for one party.
... entertaining ... Yoss avoids the pitfalls of aping Chandler’s similes or reworking the author’s work ... very much a Yoss novel. In terms of the general premise and structure, it’s a little more conventional than Condomnauts, yet the book features Yoss’s knack for imagery ... I also appreciated Yoss’s character-work: Raymond is a delight – not overly robotic, but also not entirely human – and the buddy/cop relationship with Vasily is handled with a good dose of humour and heart ... Kudos then to Restless Books, who have now translated four of Yoss’s novels from Spanish into English – by the wonderful David Frye – with the most evocative and eye-grabbing of covers. It’s a privilege to read the work of a writer as inventive and erudite as Yoss, but it wouldn’t be possible without the terrific support of publishers like Restless Books.
... it's clear from early on that Red Dust is playful homage to the twentieth-century masters ... Raymond isn't quite a Chandlerian hero, but it affects the style and attitude quite well at times, having learned the lessons of the master from his work ... bit light and thin -- more anthology-novella (as it was, in fact, originally published as) than sturdy stand-alone -- but it's good and quite clever entertainment, as Yoss proves adept at comfortably weaving in various homages while also making the story his (or Raymond's) own. It has an easy, almost effortless feel to it, but what Yoss does here requires quite some talent; he's a very good writer, with a good feel for just how far to go with his material, be it homage, world-creation, or action. He's particularly good on character ... The plot -- of escaped convict, hunt, and confrontations -- is arguably familiar and quite basic -- but then it often is in the hardboiled novels Raymond admires, and Yoss has enough unusual twists (as are also often found in its favorite reading) to amuse. While never too ambitious, the details, the characters, and the homages -- overt as well as more subtle -- are all nicely done, making for a quick good read.
... a simple, elegant narrative ... Yoss goes beyond a reliance on overused storytelling methods to craft an entire story from overwrought science fiction tropes slamming into detective noir cliches. The premise should make for a predictable story at best. However, Yoss’ choice of narrator and ability to converse with the reader make Red Dust a breezy, fun read perfect for summer afternoons ... With its copious amounts of cliche, a reader could easily lose interest or find themselves unattached to characters in Red Dust. Raymond, however, keeps the reader engaged, sarcastically pointing out obvious literary references as they happen. The first-person narrative shatters the fourth wall with constant, direct allusions to the story’s noir influences. The resultant quirky lightheartedness creates the feeling of watching a cheesy movie with a good friend, joking about each plot hole and contradiction. As a result, the plot holes don’t matter, and the contradictions are fun instead of frustrating ... If you are looking for either hard science fiction or gritty noir mystery, Red Dust is not for you. If you want to peruse those worlds through a rosy tint and listen to the narration of a sardonic positronic companion, then this book will happily fill a short few hours of your time.
Yoss brings a hard-boiled noir aesthetic to this uproarious space opera ... Yoss plays the mix of sci-fi and square-jawed detective fiction for some big laughs while layering in loving allusions to the greats of both genres. Though the mile a minute plot briefly stalls for some late-night philosophizing between the heroes, it regains its footing and barrels into a cinematic shoot-out of a finale, complete with bullets, blasters, and samurai swords. This is good fun.
... a quirky blend of science fiction and hard-boiled mystery ... The trench coat–wearing robotic detective makes for an appealing and at times comedic protagonist, and Yoss’ clear and focused writing style keeps the reader turning pages throughout. But while the worldbuilding is exceptional in some parts (an independently owned space station held together by superglue and staples, for example), the characters never rise above two-dimensionality. The narrative, however, is action-packed—literally jumping from one adventure to another—and the conclusion’s highly satisfying ... No real thematic punch but a fast, furious, and genuinely fun read.