Thursday, November 24, 2011


It's Thanksgiving and guajolote this time on Chicanonautica over at La Bloga. So here's some video extras that celebrate the guajolote:

We start with an irreverent tribute:

Then show an interesting wedding ritual:

And demonstrate that in Spanish, “gobble, gobble,” translates to “gordo, gordo.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


All you have to do is click on the link here on Mondo Ernesto, and you can read “Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song” for free. Why should you bother shelling out hard-earned cash for Alien Contact?

I've been pondering this conundrum. Marty Halpern asked me to review the ebook version when I told him I had successfully loaded it into my trusty iPod touch. At first I wasn't sure if it would be considered kosher, but then I realized that most of this book was written by other people, and if I come clean and admit that this is promotion rather than an attempt at “objective” criticism (can a critic ever really be objective?) it should okay, especially if I make it entertaining.

So here I am in my straw hat and striped jacket, waving around a bamboo cane in front of the gaudy, hand-painted facade of this sideshow. Come one, come all! We've got it right here! Some of the best science fiction of the last thirty years, in a convenient package that you can have in both paperback or Kindle formats!

Following Marty's suggestion, I read the e-version, and it turns out to be a great way to read an anthology. I carried it around in my pocket and read it on the run, having some blowmind lunch breaks, making some crazy days better then they might have been.

In his introduction, Marty gives a nod to the Bug-Eyed Monsters of pulp science fiction, and to sci-fi movies. The original Invaders from Mars, and Alien were an influence on him, as they were with me. But Alien Contact isn't all just invasions, space wars, and extraterrestrial menace – though there's plenty of that, too. We get a diverse spread of variations on this theme that cause the mind to reel. We get aliens in many forms and settings, interacting with a variety of humans.

It makes me realize that that when you have humans contacting aliens, the humans are forced to define themselves.

My favorites were:

The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything” in which George Alec Effinger (look him up if you haven't heard of him) has fun with the idea of “higher” intelligence.

Kin” Bruce McAllister's gloomy, but brilliant take on how humans may be treated by a “superior” species.

Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earls'” is the kind of story I always hoped for when reading science fiction – Adam-Troy Castro turns conventional ideas about space travel and aliens inside out, and reminds us that when looking at the unknown, we should expect the unexpected.

Exo-Skeleton Town” is an extremely original tale in which Jeffery Ford performs daring feats of the imagination on how humans interact with aliens, but also how technology will change the way we interact with each other; it refers to old movies.

Lambing Season” has Molly Gloss' New-Mexico-sheepherding-heroine's skill with living among other species come in handy when she meets an extraterrestrial.

And if any or all of these stories cause you to lust for more about where they came from, there's a lot of background information available, online at More Red Ink and SF Signal.

I agree with Keith Brooke in his review in The Guardian that Alien Contact is “an excellent snapshot of modern SF.” It would be a great gift idea for those just starting out with the genre, and for those of us who remember a lot of the stories from when they first appeared in magazines.

You're probably going to want to read it yourself, too.

Monday, November 14, 2011


My announcement for Alien Contact wasn't the first time I used the “Buy It – Read It – Live It” slogan. It's been rattling around my brain for years. While shuffling through a box of old art work looking for “alien” images for this current publicity blitz, I ran across the original drawing I did back in 1996.

I drew it at a book signing event at a Phoenix bookstore that probably isn't there anymore. My wife Emily was there, so was Rick Cook, and the late G. Harry Stine. Michael Stackpole, and a few other local writers may have been there, too.

Please forgive the memory fog – this was way back in the 20th century . . .

Anyway, the slogan was inspired by how, even way back then, everyday life was beginning to seem like science fiction. At least, to those of us old enough to remember when weird, technological wonders were something you used to go out searching for, rather than part of an ever more interactive environment.

Hello. I am an innovation. I am going to make your day more complicated.”

The slogan also fit the whole “alien contact” theme, so I did a bit of recycling and retrofitting, and turned it loose into the unsuspecting world.

It just goes to show that you never know when these things lurking in the back our your brain will come in handy.

I may do some variations on it in future hype-o-ramas.

Watch for these exciting developments.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I wasn't expecting a notification about a Stanza upgrade on my iPod touch. Not after the recent fiasco with the upgrade to iOS 5.0. But, somehow the corporate entities – that usually behave non-humanoid aliens or schizophrenic gods – got together and fixed the ugly situation that left readers separated from their ebooks. I did the upgrade, and Stanza works again, all my ebooks are there – including the ones I paid good American money for.

So now, with eBook Search, and Stanza, I've come out of this ahead, with more access to ancient, weird, obscure reading material, mostly for free. I am a happy customer, consumer, user, or whatever we're all becoming in this here 21st century.

It is also raining in Phoenix today. I wonder what the temperature is like in Hell . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011


This time, Chicanonatuica not only uses La Bloga to shamelessly pimp Alien Contact, but speculates on the possibility of there being other Chicano science fiction writers, lost in the 21st Century cyberwilderness.

Science fiction beamed its way into the barrio from the beginning, no sociological borders were able to hold it back. I remember my father using the word "teleport" in a room full of Chicanos while describing an episode of The Outer Limits and everybody knew what it meant.

Dad and I also used to watch Space Patrol back in East L.A.:

And Commando Cody:

The first time I saw Forbidden Planet was at a local drive-in:

Later, KHJ-TV channel 9's Strange Tales of Science Fiction introduced me to many an Atomic Age flick that messed with my grade school mind, and this was the theme song:

This cultural phenomenon was well documented by Chicano-influenced Frank Zappa:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Check out this interview with me at SF Signal. I talk about Alien Contact, "Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song," and the "alien" subgenre.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


The Information Age is such fun. You never know when something in going to come hurtling down the electronic pike and make your week more exciting.

And my week was pretty exciting already, with Alien Contact coming out with my story “Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song.” I had also just downloaded an advance copy of the ebook version, via Stanza into my iPod touch, and was looking forward to carrying it around and flashing it at people.

I was feeling so good, I decided -- aw, what the hell – download the new iPod software that my computer had been nagging me about, get all upgraded and ready to go . . .

So I put the new iOS 5.0 into my iPod touch, then went to get a peek at the Alien Contact cover. I got an error message:

Unhandled exception . . . You can try to continue but the application may be unstable.”

Unstable? It was frozen solid – totally unresponsive!

I grumbled obscenities as I figured out how to get the Alien Contact epub file into my iPod touch though iTunes and iBooks.

Then I surfed into the news that iOS 5.0 has been discovered to be incompatible with Stanza, making that app useless on the iPod and iPad and separating readers from their books.

I was contemplating recently dead Steve Jobs quivering between sainthood and godhood as his corporation pulls an underhanded power grab, when I heard from Marty Halpern, editor of Alien Contact, who had seen my tweet about downloading the ebook, asking if I would be willing to review it.

I asked Marty if it would be kosher for me to review the book when I had a story in it. He said it would be okay, if I explained the situation and talked about the parts of the book I didn't write. Kinda weird, but that tends to be my speciality, so I said, yes, I'll do it.

Then I went shopping for a new eReader app.

I found one called eBook Search. It's free, and works through iTunes and iBooks. (I wonder if there's a Ouija board app that would allow an interview with Steve Jobs about this?) There are a lot of pop-up ads asking “Are you a Stanza Refugee?” and offering to get rid of the ads for 99 cents. Like Stanza, eBook Search has access to ebooks from Feedbooks, Project Gutenberg, Smashwords, and Munseys.

It also has access to Baen Books and Internet Archive, where found some books I couldn't get through Stanza, like: P.T. Barnum's autobiography, because I feel it will help in surviving the the world the way it is rapidly developing; Vincente Blasco Ibáñez' classic bullfighting novel Blood and Sand; and Dames Don't Care by Peter Cheyney, creator of hardboiled detective Lemmy Caution.

But still, there are a number of books that I had on Stanza that I no longer have access to, some that I paid for.

I suppose that somewhere, Steve Jobs and P.T. Barnum are having good laugh.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


And the selling of Alien Contact, and "Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song" is off and running, with a guest blog I wrote over at SF Signal. It's called "Once Upon a Time in SoCal: The Making of 'Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song," and it offers some yet undisclosed insights into how I came up with a character like Pablo Cortez, and the bizarre fate of the original story, and it how it became the novel Cortez on Jupiter. There are things I've never told before here.