Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I'm experiencing time dilation. The last few months seems like years. And now, here I am, in a new world and a new job, with new situations coming at me. Once again I'm crossing another border, entering a new frontier.

When I was young, I wanted to be an explorer. Some diabolical gods granted my wish.

So now I'm in a rush to learn how to make a book into an ebook. With “Guerrilla Mural of A Siren's Song” coming out in Marty Halpern's Alien Contact in November, the time is ripe for Cortez on Jupiter to be released in the new format. Unfortunately, it's from my antediluvian (I wrote it back in the late Eighties), pre-computer days – I have to scan it, then go over it to correct all the glitches caused by the OCR process. Then there's getting it formatted . . .

Also, I'd like to put in some images. Another crash course I need to take.

There's also some other deals pending, but I won't talk about them yet. I'm kind of superstitious about such things.

If this sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. This is all making me happy. I'm merrily going over Cortez on Jupiter with Miles Davis' On the Corner (pure sonic science fiction) blasting through the house. The ravings of Pablo Cortez are inspiring me, as if I didn't write them – and making me feel twenty years younger.

I'm experiencing what are either delusions of grandeur, or a boost to my self-confidence.

If I can get Cortez on Jupiter ready as an ebook in the next few months, then why not shoot for doing Smoking Mirror Blues (which is already a computer file), in time for Día de los Muertos? And then I can scan High Aztech and have it ready for 2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar and the beginning of a new world.

Yeah, I really think I can do this. I feel good, and good things are happening -- like the other day, Emily was cleaning out a closet and found a box full of my artwork that I had either forgotten about, or thought I had lost.

Some of them are on this post.

There were also some Cortez on Jupiter drawings in that box.

Think I need thank some diabolical gods. And make some sacrifices . . .

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Is anybody surprised that I devoted the latest Chicanonautica at La Bloga to “Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas” appearing in Analog? I also discuss where Paco Cohen and the NeoMartians idea came from. Crazy ideas. They are out there.

So, here’s some extras that show the sort of stuff that influenced me in writing these stories:

First, Lola Beltran doing a classic that was a big favorite with mi familia, even though ever since they played it at my grandmother’s funeral, it makes me cry:

Getting away from the traditional into roque ‘n’ roll with Lalo Guerrero y Los Lobos:

Then there’s the mad dream of Wild West sci-fi:

And this sweet countercultural/utopian vision from a more innocent time kept running through my head:

Lastly, my Mars is in part inspired by the dystopian California where I grew up, that Frank Zappa captured so well:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


In case you haven't heard, I have a story in the July/August 2011 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. It's a special double issue, so you get my story and a lot more for your hard-earned $7.99. And to further drive the point home, here's the beginning:

Everyone else slept while I dove the Rolling Serpent along the Tharsis Highway, where it runs parallel to the steaming Marineris Canal, through the pre-dawn darkness toward the distant lights of New Las Vegas. Then a black bug kamikaze'd right between my eyes. I blinked hard, expecting it to splatter against the windshield. But no, that didn't happen.

The insect stopped just short of impact, hovered, flying backwards, staring me down.

It seemed be what we call, back in the varrios, a ninja bug. I had thought that they were a NeoMartian folktale. I had even written a song about them:

If the corpos don't like you

They'd send ninja bugs at you

So don't go boo-hoo-hoo

Be a nice little you

And there it was, the black bug with the red glowing eyes.

That's from “Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas.”

Even though it's a sequel to “The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and Mariachis of Mars,” I wrote it so it could read on its own. But if you're at all curious, the first story is available as a podcast.

And there are more Paco Cohen/NeoMartian stories growing in my brain . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011


That's right, now that it's getting warm and water tempts the children of Aztlán, in Chicanonautica over at La Bloga, I'm once again haunted by La Llorona. Here are some video extras:

I mentioned La Venganza de La Llorona, starring Santo and Mantequilla Nápoles. It's one of the more interesting and unusual Santo movies, which (in that series of films) is saying something. Here's an exciting scene:

The expansion of La Llorona's territory is another concern. Here's documentation of her making inroads into Hollywood via Universal Studios:

There's still no sign, except for mentions on a couple of sites, of the La Llorona Verizon commercial. A conspiracy theory may be in order. Meanwhile, here's another Verizon commercial – NOT the one I remember with the “Can You Hear Me Now” guys – but also in the scary Mexican woman vein:

Down in Mexico, in Xochimilco, they do an Aztecan version of the story:

Back on the Americano side of the border, the tradition rides in the family car:

Sunday, May 15, 2011


A new Ishmael Reed novel is out! People should be dancing in the streets! How come the media isn't covering this major cultural event? Hm . . . could there be something to this talk about the Jim Crow media?

Maybe everyone was just too busy with that earthquake/nuclear disaster in Japan, the Arab Spring revolutions, and the sputtering global economy. Maybe literature, or at least the audience for it, is dead.

Anyway, it's called Juice! And it's about O.J. Simpson.

Well, actually, no. O.J. never shows up a flesh & blood character in novel. We just get his media image, and a lot of opinions about him -- the way a lot Americans experience the sex symbols they're in love with.

It's actually about Paul Blessings (though most of the time he's called Bear) a diabetic African American cartoonist who becomes obsessed with O.J. Simpson, or rather that infamous media image. Bear and his world are a whole different universe than any stereotypes you see in contemporary entertainment and political discourse.

Reed also draws some of Bear's cartoons, blurring the line between literary and visual art, not to mention fiction and reality.

Bear's cartoons tend to be misunderstood. But the way things get misread as they go from one human being's self-expression to content for the brave new media seems to be the point of Juice! It's a novel of the Information Age -- or should that be Dysinformation Age? And it captures life in the online Twenty-First Century reality better than any other that I've read.

It's so easy to filter out opinions you disagree with, and surround yourself with material that backs up your preconceived notions. You feel happy and secure. But sooner of later, reality bites you in the ass.

And don't expect Juice! to stick to any party line. This is trickster stuff. NeoHooDooism is alive and well. We get an alternative universe with left-leaning TV network that is like a combination of PBS and NPR that is criticized for it's racism. The way cartoon characters and celebrities can become more real than actual humans is demonstrated. This is an expedition in the terra incognita where Philip K. Dick blazed trails. It twists and turns, and surprises.

And it's funny.

Juice! reminded me of how much the world has changed in the few decades. I had a time travel fantasy about what it would be like to take a copy back to the Sixties, to show it to both the emerging African American Literature audiences and science fiction fans of the time. Their minds would have been blown by this vision of their future.

Come to think of it, a lot modern book consumers would get their minds blown by this vision of their present. Years of corporate publishing, cranking out market-researched bestsellers made not to challenge their off-the-rack identities, has taken it's toll. This is the age of disappearing bookstores and lite reading.

Guess I better go out into the virtual street and make some noise of my own . . . before it's too late.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This just in: my story "Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas" is on sale now in the July/August 2011 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact! It's a sequel to my previous Analog story, "The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars" -- that's right, Paco Cohen rides again!

Real science fiction! Buy it! Read it! Live it!

And there's more hype to come . . .

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The whole Borders/work situation really beat me up the last few months. I'm still recovering. On a good day, I look around, saying, “I could have sworn I had a writing career stashed around here somewhere,” and “It seems I used to be an artist . . what was that about it?”

As the desert warms up, I'm feeling better, even felt up to playing the part of a writer at LepreCon. Em was busy, not just with her job, but studying for a chemistry exam. So,off I went on my own, in the troque, down the freeways, across the artificial lake, to downtown Tempe, not far from Arizona State Univerisity. I didn't know what to expect.

Eager wannabe writers showed up at two in the afternoon on Friday for the “How to Write Action Scenes” panel. Most of them were female. A lot of them took notes. They got advice on how to write the sort of commercial fiction that hasn't been selling much lately – at the Borders liquidation sale, these books didn't start moving until the discounts got up to 70%off.

No one showed up for the “The Great Downfall (of Borders)” panel. A young woman came in the door, but just wanted water. Then an old lady peeked in the window . . . So much for this hot topic.

The panel on Arizona geology went well thanks to an enthusiastic audience and knowledgable participants – I moderated and provided comic relief.

The “ancient, prehistoric” science fiction panel went well, again thanks to the audience and bookseller Marty Massoglia. I played the role of comedic sidekick.

I also met with some writers:

Rick Novy says that not many of you folks are buying 2020 Visions, so to inspire you to order a copy now, here's the opening scene of my story Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs:

A video clip from an unidentified source:

Aerial view of mountains in a desert area much like that on both sides of the US/Mexican border. The camera flies over an area of thick vegetation. Zoom in. It is an illegal marijuana farm. Bombs are dropped. The plants burst into flames.

Still burning, they begin to walk.

There it is folks! Science fiction! Buy it! Read it! Live it!

There are also stories by my wife Emily Devenport, Rick Novy, Jack Mangan (who was at the convention playing master of ceremonies at Meet the Pros), and many other who are are too numerous to list here.

Do it now! You don't want to have to answer to Victor Theremin, don't you?

I also met the New Mexico writer, David J. Corwell y Chávez, and we discussed La Llorona and how her domain is beginning to extend beyond the Southwest.

Over all, it was a quiet convention, which was alright by me. I wasn't up to the a lot of mind-blowing excitement. I needed to touch base with kindred spirits, and get a clue or two about what the hell I'm going to do about this crazy creative business that keeps taking over my life.

As I sat the patio, occasional people dressed in pirate and steampunk costumes passed. As I wandered the halls, it was hard to tell that anything, much less a science fiction convention, was going on.

Maybe it's getting too quiet. Maybe science fiction needs a desperate shaking up . . .

I contemplated future creative activities as I drove past buses that flashed VENUS and MERCURY on their destination signs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Inspired by recent holidays, in Chicanonautica , over at La Bloga, I demonstrate that there's more to Mexican culture than what you can find at your local taco franchise, and I make some mad scientist modest proposals.

And of course, La Cultura offers all kinds of extras:

Speaking of Mexican restaurants, did you know that they've got them in Ohio?

How about some charras (Mexican cowgirls) doing the escaramuza? Yes, they are wearing long, frilly dresses, and are riding side-saddle.

Another reminder of what Cinco de Mayo is really about:

And one more Judas burning for the road:

Monday, May 2, 2011


Things broke down in the last few weeks at Borders Paradise Valley. With no bathrooms and not much merchandise, business got slow. It was an endurance test. I had a hard time thrashing my notes into something coherent.

Little Old Ladies From Hell were out in force. They were making the circuit of all the closing stores. “The other stores look nekkid compared to yours,” they chortled. A lot of them suddenly had use for shelves and fixtures -- and of course they're connected to non-profit organizations, so they have to ask about tax exemption.

An old fart pulled up a long horse-trailer and filled it up with shelving and fixtures.

They kept asking “When's the last day?” I started to to fear we may be the last store to close in the area.

The “Area-e” desk that once glowed in the center of the store like a sacrificial altar became just another fixture for sale, its red, particle board & plastic veneer tops pried off, exposing a complex tangle of wiring that once ran the computers.

Customers” who don't need bathrooms stared at empty shelves and exposed wires – for hours.

The official close date of 4/16/2011was announced. I put it on my name tag. The information didn't make customers happy.

There was a lot of impulse buying of marked down Sony and Cruz readers. “Hey, gimme one of those, too!”

A man bought one of the fixtures holding up a LAST TEN DAYS! sign.

An effeminate boy showed his mother the least disturbing illustration of a manga he could find to convince her let him buy it.

A workshop on applying for unemployment, doing a resume, etc. at the North Scottsdale store was announced.

Nerdy teens in lame manga-inspired costumes complained about the graphic novel selection.

Then they changed the final day to the 17th! I amended my name tag . . .

While moving the science fiction section, the seat of my pants split – I had to tie my overshirt around my waist & show my HOMELAND SECURITY/Indian war party T-shirt. Once again, I went naked before the world, and nobody noticed. They weren't paying attention

We got a delivery – all the stuff the Tucson store couldn't sell.

The guy giving the unemployment/job hunting seminar showed up at our store by mistake. He didn't believe he was wrong. After some arguing, he got out his cell phone and called them.

Finally, we sold out of e-readers – even one of the original Sony's without a touchscreen.

A new sign appeared in the back room: “Attention – Our new Closing date has been moved to the 19th or the 20th.” I drew a big question mark on my name tag.

Then they committed to the final date: Wednesday, 4/20. It was my day off. I didn't mind missing it. The customers were having some heavy emotions, and I didn't want to deal with it:

What if something happens and there's no internet and ebooks don't work – what will we do to pass time?”

What am I going to do on Friday nights?”

Where are those homeless people going to go?”

Then, because someone complained, a health inspector made us reopen the bathrooms that hadn't been cleaned in weeks, a couple of days before the end.

Another note appeared in the back room: “Paychecks for 4-22-11 will be sent to your homes. Then your check for this week will come in your mail mid week next week.”

I'm glad to be out of there. Hope those checks clear.