Monday, January 26, 2015
Look out! Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom will be coming at you at the 38th Annual Writers Week at the University of California, Riverside. I'll be teaching a master writing class on Feb. 4. The knowledge I've picked up from decades of writing will be free for taking.
Or, to put it in proper sideshowese:
"Step right up, folks! We've got one of the weirdest mutations to come out of East L.A. here for your examination -- a Chicano with sci-fi growing in his brain! Don't be afraid! Come on, get a good, close look! We're pretty sure his rare condition isn't contagious . . ."
Friday, January 23, 2015
That's right, in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, your humble Chicano cartoonist celebrates Charlie Hedbo, High Aztech, and blasphemy.
Just to make things clear:
Is happening in your town?
In Ireland, it's art:
So, let's respect all religions:
Monday, January 19, 2015
Awk! We're over halfway through January, 2015 and I haven't let you Mondoites know what I've been up to. Better get to it, then.
I've been doing a lot for the new Digital Parchment/Strange Particle Press versions of my books, and my story collection, Pancho Villa's Flying Circus. You'd be amazed at what has to be done, not to mention dreaming up and commiting publicity.
That includes another blog, and my Tumblr, Ernest Hogan. I should probably add links to my blog page.
I've also been writing a “Chicanonautica Manifesto” for Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies.
Yup, it's academia, or at least the parts of it concerned with things Latino/a and the decolonialization of science fiction. You can read all about it in Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction edited by Isiah Lavender III, specifically in Lysa M. Rivera's essay “Mestizaje and Heterotopia in Ernest Hogan's High Aztech.” I'll write more about the book when I finish reading it.
Another academic connection is that I've been asked to do a master class on writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror with an emphasis on the Latino/a angles for University of California, Riverside's Writer's Week. It's pretty damn soon, so I better get my act together.
My career has not only risen from the dead, but threatens to go running amok across the landscape. And I haven't even mentioned all those unfinished projects, writing and art, that are left over from last year.
I better get to work, and watch out for all the political turmoil flying around as art gets weaponized and entertainment gets politicized, and the future breaks out all over in a dazzling array of manifestations.
Friday, January 9, 2015
As we hurtle into 2015, Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, wonders about 2014, the year science fiction discovered diversity.
After all, all that stuff back in the Ninteen-Hundreds was just the beginning:
Now Latinos are in the future:
And women are sci-fi:
Not to mention Afrofuturism:
So get ready for things that are really alien:
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Sedona keeps calling us back. Emily and I were just there a few weeks ago. And we also, for some mysterious reason, honeymoon there. We never really thought about it the first time, or the second time. And this third time, it justs seemed right.
It was dark when we reached Sedona, and it was festooned with Christmas lights. Like before, Google Maps got us lost. We had to ask directions at a fast food joint with a flying saucer out front, and they didn't know anything. Eventually we found the Baby Quail Inn.
The air was cool and crips, the sky was full of stars. We had burgers at the Cowboy Club.
The next morning, the huevos rancheros at the Coffee Pot had my mouth tingling; then it spread to my ears . . . there may have been some psychoactive effects. We ate inside this time, the décor would be great in a post-Apocalyptic Spaghetti western: giant kachinas and wild west landscape murals in glowing colors.
The Baby Quail Inn had Wi-Fi. I got on Facebook, mentioning our being in UFO country and seeing a hummingbird. Rudy Ch. Garcia said, "They don't enter the airspace . . . " That had me thinking about sugar-powered drones that look like hummingbirds. Looks like there's no escaping sci-fi paranoid fantasies these days.
The truly spectacular red rock landscape eclipses the town New Age commercial silliness. Schnebly Hill Road turned out to be too primitive for El Troque, but was an incredible hike.
We found the Mystical Bazaar to be a good landmark for finding our way back to the hotel.
With my new iTouch, I took pictures along the main drag of Sedona. There's a new kind of funkiness, almost sci-fi, Wild West stuff. Maybe it will eventually replace the old Yuppie New Age pretensions.
We did a scenic drive in the changing afternoon light. There was a mist over the mountains. And subtle visual magic that you can't really catch with a camera.
When we had tacos for two at Oaxaca I could hear Lalo Guerrero singing in my head. The restaurant was playing tropical music mixed with tracks of Christmas songs in Spanish. They had a painting of fat people dancing, but it was signed by somebody other than Botero.
In a mineral shop – they called it a “crystal” shop – they were selling pretty rocks at high prices because of mystical properties: “They absorb negative emotions. Just put them on your stomach, but be sure you wash afterwards . . .”
The next morning, while checking out and getting free muffins, we met the actor Dick Curtis, owner of the Baby Quail Inn. He was telling a story about Admiral Byrd and a penguin.
After another breakfast at the Coffee Pot – I had buckwheat pancakes this time, we stopped at Red Rock State Park, and hiked past the sign about rattlesnakes, along the tracks of deer and mountain lions, down a trail lined with poison ivy.
The storm that has just pounded California blew clouds and cold air our way as we headed back home. In Jerome, women were hanging tinsel decorations spelling out “HO.” We stopped in Prescott, and had burgers made from “locally-grown” beef, then we took scenic routes back to Phoenix.
We kept seeing cattle that we may eat someday.
Friday, December 26, 2014
You know Coatlicue:
And the Aztecs know the Virgin of Guadalupe:
Is that a UFO or a drone over the Basilica?
And don't forget the tamales!
Monday, December 22, 2014
I grabbed the The Wizard and the Witch: Seven Decades of Counterculture, Magick & Paganism by John C. Sulak, figuring it would be fun bit of nostalgia, but then it hooked me. In the early chapters, science fiction is mentioned on almost every page, more often than drugs. Turns out that Oberon Zell and Morning Glory, the founders of the Church of All Worlds were science fiction fans, influenced by Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Doctor Demento, the Firesign Theater, and later, even Star Wars and Harry Potter.
It's not just a book about an alternative lifestyle/religion; the narrative intertwines science fiction, fandom, and the development of home computers with the story of modern Paganism. They also make unicorns and search for mermaids, and pioneer social networking before and after the Internet. There's also the “it's complicated” soap opera of polyamorous relationships. And this kind of Paganism is so science-friendly -- even philic. These are people who didn't just consume science fiction – they lived it.
Ron Cobb, the underground cartoonist who designed the space hardware for Alien, once said that he considered science fiction to be a verb – something you do, rather than a product you consume. And it's amazing what people can do.
It's kind of sad to see how today's nerds compare to yesterday's fans. Kids don't really believe me when I tell them that in science fiction conventions back in the Seventies you kept finding yourself in scenes that looked like an indoor Woodstock. Now they all line up to get their chance to worship their favorite corporate franchises.
But there is something in the air these days. Maybe the discontent will save the nerd identity from becoming just another marketing strategy. This book could help. It's a wild read.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Friday, November 28, 2014
Besides plugging the new Cortez on Jupiter, and it's looming publicity storm, in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, I ask what you, the audience, wants from me in the class I'll be teaching for UC Riverside's upcoming Writer's Week.
When ever I go near a classroom, I expect something like this:
Dr. Gonzo's advice to Raoul Duke is downright Felliniesque in Italian:
So, what's it like for Latino writers nowdays?
And remember what Harlan Ellison said:
Thursday, November 20, 2014
One of the perks of being a writer is being able to indulge in research. My wife, Emily Devenport, and I have made it into the art of the road trip. And yeah, it gets zen.
Like recently, when Em needed to do some research for the Grand Canyon for a post-apocalypse novel she was working on. We found ourselves driving up to Flagstaff as long shadows swept across the mountains and valleys. It was too long a trip to do in one day, so we decided to make a weekend out of it, heading north from Phoenix after I got off work.
Soon we were in Flagstaff, on Route 66, checking into the Luxury Inn. We stayed there the last time we were in town. The Ganesha decorations were still in the office. We even got the same room. Déjà vu all over again.
Sometimes you have to return places, reconnect, see what's changed, what's stayed the same.
The déjà vu continued into the evening when we ate at another one of our Route 66 favorites, the Galaxy Diner. It was packed; we had to crowd into overflow seating among swarming French tourists as a live musician played songs from the Sixties. And they still had the delicious Black Angus steak special. The Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit played as we paid our bill. Très Americano, amigos.
In the morning, a cloud shaped like a flying saucer hugged the mountains.
We returned to the Galaxy for breakfast. It was quiet; a few locals and some Europeans who were probably also heading for the Canyon.
There were murals on decaying structures on the reservations, mostly colorful images, plus messages: WATER IS LIFE and SACRED SITES NOT FOR SALE.
One thing I do on road trips – and life (hell, ain't life nothing but a road trip?) – is cherchez la weird. It's a way to do research even if you don't have a specific project in mind. Keep the senses open, take notes. Get enough of it rattling around inside your skull and they'll start bumping into each other, generating ideas. If you're lucky, some of them will be crazy.
The Grand Canyon is just too big for the human sense of scale. Too big to fit in a landscape, spilling over the horizon, like an ocean without water -- too big to fit on this little planet. Kind of like Jupiter, making me think of Cortez on Jupiter.
Then, a voice out my vision of Mars, spoke:
“Whatcha wanna make the Big Valle into an ocean for? Whatcha need an ocean on Mars for? The Valle is a universe. It's the universe! Everything outside it is insignificant.”
I'm not sure whose voice it was. Maybe a mountain man. Or maybe a valley man. A Valle man? Or maybe a woman? A person who lived outside of civilization and was comfortable with things beyond human scale. Like the Valle Marineris, the Grand Canyon, or the Unkar Delta down on the north bank of the Colorado River deep down in the Canyon, with its ruins of prehistoric and Pueblo occupations.
And once again, we were following in the footsteps of conquistadors: Signs reminded us that the Grand Canyon was discovered by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in the late summer of 1540. Later Garcia Lopez de Cardenas went down into the Canyon, led by Hopis.
Hmm. Was Columbus a conquistador? He was working for the same outfit.
Em took a lot of notes. I nearly lost my hat to the winds.
Soon we were on our way down a road with mountain lion crossing signs.
On the reservations, there were post-apocalyptic, abandoned-looking shacks with signs saying: WE'RE OPEN and INDIAN ART & JEWELRY. There's probably a story or two there.
There was lightning, and a rainbow as the afternoon sun blasted us. There were more rainbows near Flagstaff. For once they were chasing us.
We spent the night in Sedona, where the gas station convenience store has copies of What is a Vortex? next to the cash register.
Most of Em's research had to do with the Grand Canyon, so we mostly goofed off in Sendona, but I still found things worth taking note of:
As we checked out of the motel, a balloon hovered in the sky, and I picked up a brochure for UFO Vortex. They give tours of “a UFO hotspot.” “We provide the most powerful Military Night Vision Gear which amplifies the light 70K more than the naked eye sees” and “We ALWAYS see UFOs!”
We had breakfast at the Coffee Pot, Home of 101 Omelets with its dazzling New Age/Pseudo-Native American/psychedelic décor. They also had buckwheat pancakes. We ate on the patio next to the fake waterfall and a sign warning:
HUNTING OR FISHING
UNDER PENALTY OF LAW
Some people want to make the entire universe into a Disneyland.
After some hiking, where we encountered mule deer and saw datura blooming late in the season in Oak Creek Canyon, we went back to Sedona (remembering what Tahir Shah said: “'Previous journeys in search of treasure have taught me that a zigzag strategy is the best way to get ahead.”) We returned to another favorite restaurant, Oaxaca, for tacos.
They had a new habanero salsa. It got my ears tingling . . . and my brain . . . the effects were antidepressant at the very least. If only medical science would study the mental effects of chili – but then maybe not – certain forces would have it criminalized.
We took the I-17 south, homeward. A dust devil manifested, and collided with el Troque.
When we got home, our windshield was thick with splattered insects, and our minds were buzzing with inspiration.