Saturday, November 21, 2009


Arrrgh! My usual sources for bullfighting news and video and have run short on new stuff. The season is over, the weather is cooling off in the Northern Hemisphere. You need El Sol for a proper bullfight.

. . . though the idea of one taking place in a snow-filled arena, with the bull exhaling clouds of steam as his body heat and blood vaporizes the white powder is appealing. It would have to be a bull designed for a subzero climate. Perhaps with some reconstituted Ice Age bull genes spliced in. This may end up in a story . . .

Luckily, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere. A bit of searching had me happily discovering, a Peruvian website that will get me through this winter, when I’m going to have to survive working through the Great Retail Meltdown of 2009. It will be a struggle to stay civilized, and I’m going to need serious diversion to keep my savage mind from running amok.

Not only is there the usual news, photos, and video, but access to complete Peruvian television programs, blogs by both bullfighters and aficionados, and links that will take me months to explore. Oh boy! A portal to another world! It’s like finding a news site direct from Mars!

Already, I’ve discovered Milagros Sanchez the latest female torero, and boy wonder Michelito Lagravere.

Also, South American bullfighting has a different feel from the Spanish. In Spain, it’s all very dignified, with the royal family looking on and preliminary rituals that look like something out of the Middle Ages. In South America, it’s more rough and tumble. In one video, it seemed like it was all the entire torero crew could do to keep the bull from breaking down the arena walls and eviscerating the audience. It’s like classical versus rock and roll.

Not only does this sort of thing get my blood pumping, it makes me forget about the crap I had to participate in during the day: “I was only following orders! I’m only a clerk!”

And it inspires the hell out of me. Some wild science fiction and art will come out of this!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Here I go explaining myself again. It’s what I get for being so complicated. My name is Ernest Hogan, and I write science fiction, and I’m a Chicano. Some of your heads started spinning when you read that.

I have reasons for preferring Chicano to the more popular Latino ( as in “sexy Latino star”) or Hispanic (as in “the suspect is Hispanic”).

Latino is the most globally inclusive term, derived from Latin America, that was coined by the French back when they had dreams of a non-English-speaking New World empire with a French-speaking elite. When you talk about the Latino world, you include Quebec, Haiti, and Brazil.

Hispanic is more specific, dealing with places and people that were touched and transformed by the Spanish Empire. It’s a step up from the days when anyone who spoke Spanish was considered a Mexican. Still it covers the majority of the Americas, and parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

So, I call myself a Chicano, even though it was once an insult, very much like “nigger.” It literally means “bastard Mexican.” It was originally what Mexicans called Americanized Mexicans who lived on the wrong side of the border (the American side).

During the Sixties, in imitation of the Black Power movement, it was turned around into a term of pride. It also connects to a place and time. I am a Chicano, therefore I’m from the Southwest of the United States (AKA Aztlán, the Aztec homeland), and lived through the second half of the Twentieth Century. It puts me in both geographical and historical context. And it connects me with the Chichimecas, which is a generic term for the nomadic tribes of Aztlán, who eventually became the Aztecs.

But what about the Irish name? Yeah, I’ve got a cowboy from Cork, Ireland in my family tree. And that actually makes me more, not less Chicano. To be Chicano is to be impure, polluted, a mongrel. Add something to the mix, you become more Chicano.
Which brings me to science fiction and visions of the future.

Have you noticed that if you take someone from India, the Middle East, or anywhere on the tropical zones of the planet where people have brown skin, teach them a little English, dress them in American clothes, put them in an urban environment – they become Chicanos!

When you’re a mixed-up stranger in a mixed-up strange land, you are a Chicano. You don’t need the Spanish language, or a Hispanic heritage, or any Latino connections. You don’t even need brown skin. Hell, you could even have blue eyes!

Here in the Twenty-First Century, globalization is making Chicanos of us all. The interface between you and your world is volatile and unstable – a recombocultural witch’s brew out of which bubbles brave new mutations and abominations. If you want an example, just look into a mirror.

I’ve had half a century’s head start on this. If you need any advice, let me know.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Way back in another millennium, in a magazine called Science Fiction Eye, in an essay called “Guess Who’s Killing the Short Story,” I predicted the end of the short story.

A few years ago, I thought my prediction had come true. It looked like the only people who read short stories started doing it the day after they decided they wanted to write them. And a lot of people were writing stuff along the lines of: The Day I Almost Let My Hair Down – And Thank God I Changed My Mind.

So, why is it now, I’ve sold one short story, have another soon to be podcast, sent off another to a waiting editor, and am finishing still another to another editor?

For those of you who have been taking part in a sensory-deprivation experiment for the last few years, a whole lot of change has gone on. We are witnessing the Apocalypse of the Bookstores, soon we will see the Great Publishers Die-Off, and then it's the End of New York as the Center of the Publishing Universe (in a decade or so, that city will only be known as an Atlantis-like fable).

Of course, this will be hard on writers, but then we’re always swimming neck-deep in inky, candiru-infested waters. I feel sorry for my colleagues who were doing well in the last decade. But then, as Henry Cabot Henhouse III said, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred!”

So, how is it that I’m suddenly doing a ridiculous amount of short story biz, amid all this turmoil?

Shortly after writing the “Killing” essay I really did try to give up writing short stories. Then I was unable to interest publishers in my novels, since Sci-Fi as Nerd Lit had become the official policy. When I decided to try again, I no longer thought of them as Literary Art, but Entertainment Modules.

Then the landscape shifted. New media and corporate collapse are bringing about the end of publishing as we knew it – and actually, it’s not a bad thing. For those of you who haven’t been struggling with the business, it’s sucked for a long time. There are no good old days here. It’s never been a good time to be a writer.

And with the shifts and upheavals, a new world is forming. People want entertainment that is an alternative to the corporate megaproductions, stuff that comes at them through cracks from the emerging society. Places are popping up where I can sell and promote my wacky Entertainment Modules.

And in the world of texting and e-mail, the skills of a writer (and artist), honed over some hard decades, come in handy.

It all makes me feel more like a professional and less like a guy with a bizarre addiction that he’s disguising as a hobby. And if more money starts coming in – look out.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


The world is in turmoil. Looks like the times they are a-changing, as we used say way the hell back when. It looks kinda apocalyptic, but I’m not worried. Like my wife, Emily, I don’t believe in the end of the world – it’s just change, you make some adjustments and go on.

As usual, I find myself hurtling ass-over-tea-kettle into a new frontier . . .

Theme & Variations a podcast anthology of science fiction with musical themes edited by Michelle M. Welch is now online. A new science fiction story on MP3 about music will become available every week for eight weeks. Maybe one of the stories – or hopefully, the whole anthology – will achieve my mad dream of science fiction that makes people want to get up and dance.

Mine will be the last, available on December 16,“The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars.” It first appeared the April 2001 issue of Analog -- about a guy working as a janitor on a Mars colony. The corporation in charge tries to use him to manipulate the workers. Paco has is own ideas, so does nanohudu that’s doing the terraforming on the molecular level.

Michelle put in some great blues by Jack Mangan to make it rock.

This is my second podcast, though my first in English, after the Russian one of "Coyote Goes Hollywood." I’d really like to hear from someone in Russia someday. Is anybody really using it for a ringtone?

I’d really like to know.

Meanwhile you can catch the rest of the Theme & Variations stories. I hope that somebody gets up and dances.

Wouldn’t it be great if science fiction could someday make the whole world get up and dance?