Also known as India:
Shades of Aztlán:
And what about Martians?
Also known as India:
Shades of Aztlán:
And what about Martians?
Houston? Houston? Do you read?
Okay. Maybe not Houston—my dad warned me to stay out of Texas (but I’ve been there anyway). Maybe . . . Phoenix? West Covina? Ellay? Teotihuacán?
Once again, just a dazed Chicanonaut in an old eccentric orbit, approaching . . . What is that planet? Could I have really lived there all my life?
No word on Zyx. Pancho is coming along. Other folks are getting back to me. Gads, I succeeded. I’m a writer. I got away with it
So, once again, I’m waiting. A writer ends up waiting on a lot of stuff. All the time.
The way to deal with it is to not, by any means, to sit around waiting. Keep moving forward. Get distracted. Find something else to do. Something else to think about. Maybe even write something.
I’ve become an expert at this. Or maybe it’s another aspect of the peculiar way I’m twisted.
Is this going to be a soft landing? A splashdown? A huge, smoking crater that was once a major metropolitan sprawl festering in the middle of the burning desert?
Meanwhile, some of the cacti are drying up while others are undergoing a bizarre resurrection . . .
Wherein, Frank Reade Jr., the original steampunk:
Takes his new steam man to Central America:
Faces giant snakes (among other things):
And finds a lost city:
Here I go, groping for something besides the heat to write about. Gotta admit, it is getting cooler. Dropped down to low triple-digits. That’s the sort of madness that gets you when you live in Phoenix.
I’m waiting for news from the Writing Front. Something else that will burn away your brain if you let it. Best to get distracted. Hey, what’s that over there? A squirrel? A meteor? A desiccated tarantula? That long, lost monsoon? Are those clouds? Did I just hallucinate a raindrop hitting my arm?
And then, I get an email with an attachment. It’s the final manuscript of my story collection, Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus & Other Fictions (I’m starting to think of it as Pancho). This is starting to feel real. Looking it over is an impure pleasure.
Looks like I’ll be able to point to this book when people ask, “What have you been doing with your life?”
Actually, it’s just the tip of my iceberg, what people can see from their own personal Titanics.
It sure has been a long, strange trip.
Then I had a day when I was trying to get back to my mom about a tune she heard while on hold with her doctor, the computers at work were acting funny, I found a lizard that was both desiccated and flattened (I put the corpse in my wallet and carried it around all day), I got a royalty check, Facebook removed some of my content and I couldn’t tell what it was.
Did a certain ex-president just show signs of imminent unraveling? Or is it wishful thinking on my part?
Fortunately, Phoenix was at the outer fringes of Hurricane Hilary’s reach. It clouded over, cooled down to the double digits, and now and then some light sprinkles messed up the windshield of mi troque.
Are my new glasses ready yet? How close to x-ray vision will they get me?
Somehow, things aren’t feeling apocalyptic, but that may just be me.
The day after the hurricane, it dried out and the temp shot up. Back to the new normal.
New normals come more often these days. Like future shock or something.
Finally, my new glasses came. Almost as astounding as the cataract surgery. How many years was I walking around in that fog?
I sent my corrected Pancho to my publisher. Hard not to get excited.
Suddenly we have what will probably be the most bizarre election campaign ever, rearing its hideous head.
Why not? It’s tarantula mating season. There’s weird shit in the air.
And the killer heat is back, with a vengeance.
It’s got old-fashioned colonial mentality:
Was written by a guy who died on the Titanic:
Features a visit to Jupiter:
And has dinosaurs:
Even though it sounds like a bad Hemingway parody, that phrase sums up this summer.
I’m not bothered much. It didn’t take very many summers in the Metro Phoenix Area heat island to make me a hydration fanatic.
Always remember that if you're wondering if you’re dehydrated, you probably are.
Also, believe it or not, on these extreme, record-breaking hot, dry days, you can guzzle water and not have to urinate as often as you’d think. The body struggles to cool itself, sucking up moisture like a sponge.
I also don’t hang out in the sun, and spend most of the time in shady, air-conditioned environments. Now and then I venture out to take pictures of the quiet drama of shriveling cacti.
More often, there are human bodies lying on the sidewalk. Sometimes the police are already there.
It’s like being on a planet unfit for human habitation. Don’t think we’re hurting the planet. We could make it impossible for us to live here, and it would shrug it off like it got rid of a pesky virus or parasite.
Everything is drying up, fading, burning . . . in . . . slow . . . motion . . .
Even the fantastic cacti are having a hard time.
It’s some kinda inferno out there.
But then, when compared to future summers, this will be considered cool.
It’s her latest novel:
Silver nitrate was used in making film, and was flammable:
The novel deals with Mexican cinema:
Including horror films:
So far this year I’ve written four short stories, and I have two ideas waiting in the wings. I can’t seem to get away from them. The machine in my head I spent my formative years building takes my perceptions, filters them through my imagination, and makes them into short stories. I really don’t have to think about it anymore.
This is because in those early years, I thought I was going to be like Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, churning out short stories, publishing them all over, collecting them in books.
Yeah, once upon a time it was possible to make a living writing short fiction. This ended before I started writing.
It didn’t stop me. Never let something being impossible deter you, kiddos . . .
The short story market is no longer a source for viable income, but the short story refuses to die. If you don’t care about money you can publish all over the place. Unfortunately, I need money to survive, and it would be nice to get an additional stream of cash so I could retire from being a hired hand at a library, and spend more of my declining years writing down the monsters growing within my skull and turning them loose on the world.
Somehow, science fiction magazines still exist nearly a century after Hugo Gernsback founded Amazing Stories back in 1926. They also refuse to die. I’m proud to have published in some of them, including Amazing. Too bad they don’t pay more, and their agendas don’t mesh with mine more often . . .
I’m a bit spoiled these days. For a couple of decades now markets have come looking for me. Most of my sales–I think in terms of business and money, sorry–come from an email request from someone putting together an anthology or some other project. (Note: I immediately scan through these messages looking for dollar signs and numbers.) I get published this way as often as I did when I was knocking myself out looking for places to send my work.
Now I’m in the position of having stories without homes again. Argh.
In an ideal world there would be several high paying markets out there that would buy them as soon as I send them out. Unfortunately, I live in this world. The “big” money options usually dry up quick (don’t give me any of that positive-thinking voodoo talk, that shit don’t work, I know, trust me, dammit!) and I end up tin-cupping in the impoverished world of small presses and/or electronic publishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that I can get stories published. I’ve even done it for free on occasion.
Yes, Harlan, they should pay us writers, but getting published is always better than not getting published.
If you hold out too long for someone who will pay, people start thinking you’re dead. Really. It’s happened to me.
And sometimes a story needs to be published at the right time.
So off I go, grumbling all the way, hoping that someone will make me smile.
I still don’t see why, with our current technology, a humble short story couldn’t go viral, shake the world, change the course of history . . .
Yeah, I am a dreamer.
And just as I was doing the final edit on this, I had one story officially accepted, and got news that my first story collection, Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus, will be happening soon.
Dream hard, my friends.
Cacti are a vegetal form of surrealism. Living sculpture that challenges not just our aesthetics, but ways of life. Once one bit me on the ass, leaving long vampire fangs, and giving me visions of life on Mars.
Cereus Peruvianus Monstrose is the master (mistress? does the concept of gender apply here?) of this artform. Lifestyle? Survival strategy? My wife brought one home over twenty years ago, and it has been a constant source of wonder.
It can’t seem to take a bad picture. Point, shoot, and you get an amazing composition. Who is the artist here? Is there any real, conscious action? Is this even a human activity?
When it got too big for its split-open, plastic pot and fell over, it just kept growing, out and up. And now the killer summer chews on it, sucking away juices, burning away skin, changing colors, creating something new, intruding into our world, changing us. This may be the way we survive.
“If Hunter S Thompson and Alfred Bester had a Chicano child, it would be this.” -- Dave Hutchinson
“Sometimes I read it front to back sometimes back to front. Sometimes I just drop down in the middle of it it and read anywhere. It's a great book.” – Misha Nogha
“. . . each of you with a wild mind and a cerveza or two under your belt should immediately buy it and see what truly imaginative, ALIVE, literature can be . . .” -- Arlan Andrews
". . . trailblazing, damn amazing . . . Vintage Gonzo Chicano SF" -- Saladin Ahmed.