“Monstro”

 Much as I professionally despise the New Yorker, I must applaud Junot Diaz’s short story, "Monstro," in the June 4 & 11 edition (of 2012), colloquially known as "the science fiction issue." (Incidentally, the illustration for it — a photograph by Dan Winters — sucks.) Told in Ivy League-inflected Dominican slang, with a killer plot, "Monstro" occurs on The Island (sometimes known as "D.R."). Junot is creating a sweetly hip-hop, class-conscious sci-fi, which reconsiders immunology, eschatology and imperialismo. Here’s one paragraph:

 

For six, seven months it was just a horrible Haitian disease — who fucking cared, right? A couple of hundred new infections each month in the camps in and around Port-au-Prince, pocket change, really, nowhere near what KRIMEA was doing to the Russian hinterlands. For a while it was nothing, nothing at all… and then some real eerie plep started happening.

 

Remember, this is narrated by a 19-year-old. (Oh, right, I forgot to tell you.) It’s set in a near-future, where global warming has accentuated the disparities between the poor and the… partiers. (In this story, being rich means going to nightclubs.) But the two imaginative touches, "KRIMEA" and "plep," add extra dosage to our passage.

 

True, Junot couldn’t figure out how to end this story — but maybe no one could have. Even Conan Doyle! After all, the ninth sentence is: "These days everybody wants to know what you were doing when the world came to an end."