Alfredo Cardona Peña was a poet, narrator, essayist, journalist, and science fiction writer from Costa Rica, considered one of the greatest Latin American authors of the 20th century. He lived in Mexico from 1939 until his death in 1995, and his literary, journalistic and educational work was carried out mainly in Mexico City. He became a widely-read columnist in Mexico's Rotary Mexican News, which gave him access to key figures of the artistic and intellectual scene of Mexico’s capital. His fearsome Chronicles column earned him reputation as an analyst of the cultural times, and his weekly interviews with the controversial muralist Diego Rivera, from which The Monster in His Labyrinth derives, became an overwhelming success.
Cardona Peña also wrote for Costa Rican newspapers La Nación and the Universidad Seminar. He he also authored short stories covering various genres from fairy tales to horror and science fiction. Humor and sharp irony were his specialty. Cardona Peña was appointed teacher of Spanish Language Literature at the National University of Mexico in 1945.
Cardona Peña received numerous awards including the Central American Award (1948), twice the National Literary Prize of Costa Rica (1961, 1981), the Magón Culture Prize (1985) the highest distinction awarded by the State in Costa Rica, and in Mexico, the Alfonso Reyes Prize for short story and the National Prize of Campeche (1983). He also earned awards in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and in the US, where he was presented with the Continental Poetry Award by the American Atheneum of Washington (1951).