Monday, May 25, 2015
Riots in the streets. Conflicts spreading like viruses. And a presidential election looming. Looks like it's time to go searching for America again.
It's not that we lose America. It's more like we lose track of it. It's especially easy in this days of social media, when you can fine tune your input according to your tastes – then, oh, the shocks when your step out of your comfort zone onto . . . the road.
That's where you find the real America, on the road. Huckleberry Finn knew it. So did Jack Kerouac. And Hunter Thompson.
And so does John Waters.
His latest book, Carsick, is another fine example of the Great American Road Book. He tells of hitchhiking across America, and more.
Carsick is another work of American literature that straddles the borders between fiction and nonfiction. After an introduction, he presents two outrageous novellas: one presenting the best case scenario, the other the worst. Waters' own twisted utopian and dystopian visions. Magnificently outrageous. The kind of stuff that makes you fall in love with America as the fantastic place where anything is possible, the way it should be, if only so many Americans weren't afraid of everything.
This gets into speculative fiction territory, crashing through alternative universes and all. Maybe John deserves a Hugo award for this.
Then, he goes on to document his real trip. Celebrity hitchhiking in the time of interwebs. Real people that are strange in ways his imagination didn't expect. The amazing, mind-blowing thing is – and I'm fighting the urge to commit spoilers here – it leaves you feeling good, and hopeful about this country.
It's the sort of book we need right now. And it makes me once again think of John Waters as a Great American.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Monday, May 11, 2015
Hogan's debut, first published in 1990, introduced the subgenre of Chicano SF to a startled, dazzled American audience. Now, 25 years later, the book's Spanglish prose and freeform plot still amuse. All Pablo Cortez cares about is creating art, whether it's humongous graffiti sprayed across Los Angeles or zero-gravity paint slinging in space. Uncool authorities and timid collaborators can't stop him. When he confronts the alien Sirens of Jupiter, who have zapped the minds of earlier explorers, he takes their overwhelming flood of bizarre images as subject matter for new masterpieces. Hogan keeps Pablo's obsessive rants from becoming too intense by working them into a collage of comments from friends and enemies, along with hefty chunks of Aztec mythology, as he builds a jangling, rambunctious picture of artistic genius. This is tons of fun for freethinking readers who appreciate heroes with cojones. (Mar.)
Note: PW called Pablo "Pedro" at one point, but I corrected the error.
Buy it now!
at 4:35 PM
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
As if there weren't enough turmoil sweeping across the planet, it looks like not even the art world is safe. After years of being seen only in obscure publications, the interwebs, and on those rare occasions when I show off my sketchbooks in person, some of my drawings are making it into an art gallery.
From the web page:
On view in the Project Space from May 09-Jun 13 2015
Josh Rios and Anthony Romero will present Part Two of Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!—a project space installation that features various arrangements of the artifacts from their inaugural performance alongside other works that deal with Chicano centered imagery and histories. In addition, a suite of drawings by Chicano sci-fi writer Ernest Hogan will be on display. The collection of works on paper represents the smallest of fragments culled from Hogan’s vast archive of sketchbooks, notes, and drafts, which Rios and Romero are working to curate for an exhibition in the Summer of 2016.
Did I mention that said drawings will also be for sale?
Just what is the world coming to?
Friday, May 1, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
They mock the secessionist petitioners in Texas and other states, celebrate the infestation of even the smallest American heartland towns by African, Asian and Aztec cultures . . .
The above is a quote from Vox Day, one of the puppies who has caused the current shitstorm over the Hugo awards. For those of you who have not seen the wide-ranging media coverage this story is getting, a bunch of guys who don't like the trend in diversity in speculative fiction hijacked the nominations of the Hugos, throwing the future of the awards into doubt. Personally, I haven't paid much attention to the Hugos (or the Nebulas) in decades, but this is starting to hit close to home.
Because, Aztecaphobia is alive and well!
They're afraid of Aztecs coming to their hometowns. The Wild West stereotype of the blood-thirsty, half-breed never died. In Arizona, we still hear people talking about rumors of cannibalism and human sacrifice in the barrio. Schoolchildren speaking Spanish can trigger panic attacks.
Or as a little old lady from Phoenix once said, “We don't want downtown smelling like tacos!”
I've always considered the smell of tacos to be a sign of an advanced civilization.
The idea of an Aztec future must be their worst nightmare. I wonder if they've read any of my books or stories?
Dell Harris' cover painting (he called it “Scorpio”) for the self-published High Aztech ebook must put stains in their underwear.
If you want to get that edition, with that cover, you should buy it now, because Digital Parchment Services is working on a new Strange Particle Press edition of High Aztech, that – among other things – will have a new cover, that and incorporated imagery by a famous Communist artist!
Don't listen to the puppies, folks! Dream the dreams you lust after. Create the futures you want, be they African, Asian, Aztec,Texan or Arizonan. We need more visions, not less. Everybody, let your imaginations go wild!
Don't worry if it scares anybody. They may pull dirty tricks and try to shut you down – it's been the story of my life – but it's worth the fight. If they can't face Aztec cultural warriors, they are doomed.
Besides, one persons dystopia is another's utopia. One culture, one civilization, isn't enough. Imagine more. It's what sci-fi is supposed to be all about.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Thursday, April 9, 2015
There's a lot of talk about politics in science fiction these days, especially having to do with the Hugo awards. I've always thought that science fiction was good place to play around with political ideas. And I haven't given any kind of a damn about the Hugos or the Nebulas in decades. The genre has just gotten too big, not just the product of a few publishers and magazines. The World Science Fiction Society and SFWA both have too narrow a focus to grasp what's really going on.
A while back, I followed Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan on Twitter – I'm more of a Trash-humanist than a Transhumanist, but as a science fiction writer I find the movement a source of ideas to steal -- er, I mean inspiration. He followed me back, and sent me a link to get a free Kindle copy of his novel The Transhumanist Wager. The title didn't sound particularly exciting to me, but I downloaded it, because I thought I might be in the mood someday.
(Note to those of you who want your books reviewed. Free copies are a big help.)
Later, I ran across a news item about Istvan, founder of the Transhumanist Party, announcing that he was the party's 2016 presidential candidate.
I've come to believe that politics is the art of making and selling of alternative realities. Science fiction is good place to demonstrate your ideas for the future. A presidential candidate's science fiction novel? What would that be like?
With my expectations low, I read The Transhumanist Wager.
It's not great literature. Istvan tends to tell rather than show. And he does go on about his beloved Transhumanist ideas, especially in the last third of the book. One line – worthy of Ed Wood – sticks in my memory: “The explosion was humungous.”
But it is an action-packed propaganda piece about Jethro Knights, a young man with a lot in common with Istvan, and who, of course, is obsessed with Transhumanism and abolishing death. The main villain is a Anti-Transhumanist/pro-Christian religious leader with a band of pet terrorists.
This is in an alternate universe where politics are essentially Pro- and Anti-Transhumanist. The bad guys manage to kill Jethro's fiance and blame him for the terrorist act in which it happened. Jethro has to flee the U.S., then hooks up with a Russian billionaire who was impressed with an article about going back in time and bringing people back from the dead. A new country, Transhumania, is created on an artificial island. Scientists are offered big bucks and great deals to live and work in this geek utopia dedicated to making Transhumanist ideas into reality.
Of course, the rest of the world, still obsessed with religion, attacks Transhumania, but is no match for the futuristic defenses. Transhumania takes over the world, and destroys all religious monuments and Washington, D.C. – there is no mention of any “collateral damage.”
I don't think this part is going to much help in the presidential campaign.
Not all people like the new world order, but thanks to superior technology, Transhumania quashes the opposition. Jethro grows old as the venerable world leader, then gets sick, dies, is frozen, and later is revived in a wonderful Transhumanist future.
I found myself turning the pages. My jaw dropped often. I enjoyed a peculiar kind of delirium.
This novel is political suicide in the religion-obsessed United States of America, but Zoltan Istvan realizes this: “The Transhumanist Party will not win this election. But it can change the questions the real elected leaders will ask.”
I'm all for making politicians face new ideas. And this should at least make the upcoming elections more entertaining.
Friday, April 3, 2015
It's getting weird:
New recombocultural connections are being made:
And it's just getting weirder:
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Spring has hit Arizona. More like summer in other places. It's gonna be a long, hot one.
Emily and I are getting out to hike again. She's encouraging me to take my iTouch along and take pictures. The clunky complexity of photography has always turned me off in the past, but this new pocket-sized gadget does have possibilties for my hit-and-run aesthetics.
Here's some shot from the White Tank Mountain Regional Park:
Like I said, Spring Comes to Arizona:
. . .actually, Em took better ones of that skeletal saguaro.
Speaking of my wife, I call this one Landscape with Emily:
An excellenct example of we call, Gnarlitude:
Finally, An Homage to Max Ernst: