Wednesday, December 28, 2011


John Ottinger III calls Alien Contact “an excellent collection.” He's also the first reviewer to mention “Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song.”

Though he admitted that he didn't really get the story, he wrote that: “It's likely to be the favorite story in the anthology of people with a less analytical and more artistic bent than myself, but for me it was rather confusing.”

So here's to all you artistically bent folks out there!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We're getting Holidazed this time on Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga. Over here at Mondo Ernesto, we're offering some holiday extras:

El Vuh makes an offering for the Winter Solstice:

And in case you wanted to know what some of the Maya have to say about this:

Here in Aztlán, we have the tradition of the luminarias:

And, of course there's that all-important holiday tradition of tamales:

Saturday, December 17, 2011


These days, you never know when you're going to end up in the middle of something experimental. Flaming chunks of the unexpected keep crashing down on your path, forcing you into out of your routine. It happens to me a lot.

So there I was, minding my own business, farting around – er, I mean, keeping in touch and promoting myself on Facebook – when I saw a post by Norman Spinrad announcing that several of his books were becoming available free from Amazon's Kindle Owner's Library from December 15 -17. I was especially interested in one title: An Experiment in Autobiography.

As a writer, I find writer's autobiographies fascinating. And Norman led an interesting life, through interesting times. I was hesitant about signing up for one more goddam thing, but what the hell, it wouldn't hurt to go on Amazon and see what the deal was.

When I looked up An Experiment in Autobiography, I noticed that they were offering if for $0.00, including free wireless via Amazon Whispernet. “You Save: $3.00 (100%)”

I got out my trusty iPod touch, and – without having to sign up for anything – purchased Norman Spinrad's autobiographical experiment for $0.00.

I started reading it right away, blasted through until the Low Battery message flashed, hit Dismiss, and kept going.

Yes, I enjoyed An Experiment in Autobiography. The journey through the writer's life from Beat Generation Fifties through the Psychedelic Sixties and beyond hooked and reeled me in. There's valuable background about the New Wave (the interface between science fiction and the Sixties “revolutions,” not the French movies, or the Seventies music) which, believe it or not kids, is going to come in handy in the next few tumultuous years. It also shows how hard it is to make it as a writer, and how there has been something very wrong with publishing in America for the last few decades. I highly recommend this book.

The free purchase deal may be gone by the time I post this (I'm an old-fashioned writer -- I write in a word-processing program, paste into my blog, edit, and all that good stuff), but if you get a free trial membership to Amazon Prime you'll be able to borrow it for free from the Kindle Owner's Library. The writer is supposed to get royalties on the lending. As Norman put it, “Let's see if it works or if it's a scam.”

Meanwhile, I downloaded free Spinrad ebooks – reading a writer's autobiography, or biography, tends to make you want to read and re-read their books.

No, I'm not sure about how all this is going to work out, but we've got to experiment here, and the worlds of librarian/futurist Stephen Abram's mind-blowing speech at the Phoenix Public Library's Staff Development Day echo through my mind: “We're not in the book business – we're in the reading business.”


Suddenly, it hit me, like an orange gorilla dancing in front of a dazzling Arizona sunrise, my story "Burrito Meltdown" -- inspired by Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- is still available in the anthology Angel Body and other Magic for the Soul edited by Chris Reed and David Memmott, from Back Brain Recluse and Wordcraft of Oregon. Amazon even has a few used copies.

"Burrito Meltdown" is a wild romp about Arizona, illegal aliens, and UFOs, and it just as just as hip and relevant as ever thanks to Sheriff Joe and the Justice Department.

Here's how it begins:

A hyperscrambled satellite feed, from a CIA stealth saucer over Chiapas, Mexico:

Aerial view of unknown pre-Columbian ruins. On the top of a pyramid, priests in feathered headdresses commingle fresh blood from a male jaguar and a female human virgin.

The jaguar hisses. The virgin screams.

The priests look up, directly at the camera. One pulls a cell phone from under his robe and makes a call.

The camera zooms back to the horizon where a pyramid-shaped UFO appears. A beam of light lashed toward the camera.

The screen goes blank.

Monday, December 12, 2011


This is a convoluted tale of the writer biz. It's bizarre and disturbing. It's also true. So there.

The September/October 2011 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction features an excellent novelet by Chris DeVito, Anise. It's everything I look for in good, brain-slamming science fiction: sex, death, religion, politics, all twisted by technical innovations into a new reality that is actually our troubled world turned inside-out. The zombie trend that is all the rage these apocalyptic days is taken in an unexpected direction. And talk about a different kind of love story . . .

Yeah, I know, it's no longer on the stands, but I've noticed that over the last few years back issues of F&SF have been appearing on the freebie tables of science fiction conventions. Be on the lookout. Grab one if you can.

Anise comes off as very up-to-date. The only clue that is was really written in 1992, “when I was a lot less bloody and broken,” as Chris puts it, are the long, delirious paragraphs that modern advisors on commercial writing tell us readers won't plow through – but they are worth it.

Why would such a gem take so long to get published? This is where the truth gets ugly and twisted.

Like any good writer, Chris sent Anise out to the markets, and was rejected all over the place, until Scott Edelman bought it for Science Fiction Age. Unfortunately, the publisher “declined to publish it because of its explicit sexual content.” The contract eventually ran out, and Chris kept the money.

Yes, kids, these things do happen. I know, it's happened to me.

Like a good professional, Chris sent Anise around again, and “everyone rejected it all over again.”

In the mean time, Chris had written and published two books about the jazz great John Coltrane: The John Coltrane Reference, and Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews.

After this Chris became interested in fiction again: “I dug out Anise and – with no hope at all – submitted it to F&SF, partly because I have fond memories of the magazine and mostly because it's now the only print publication that doesn't have stated restrictions against explicit sex/violence.”

And editor Gordon Van Gelder had the good taste – not to mention the cojones – to buy and publish it.

It makes me happy because, like I said, I've had similar frustrating experiences in publishing.

I first “met” Chris back in the early Nineties, when the world was in economic turmoil, and I couldn't seem to sell anything I had written anywhere. People who wanted to start crazy magazines would seek me out. Yup, one of these folks was named Chris DeVito.

A sealed envelope arrive in the mail. It contained a copy of something called Fuck Science Fiction (no kidding – that was what it was called). The cover was a collage made from porn photos that you could play Name That Infection with. There was also a letter from Chris saying that he was a big fan of my infamous, twice (as far as I know) filmed story “The Frankenstein Penis,” and would love to publish me . . . but couldn't afford to pay me anything.

These folks who want to start magazines never seem to have any money.

I wrote him, saying to get back to me when he got ahold of come cash, and by the way, I had an idea for a sequel to “F-Penis,” “The Dracula Vagina,” that I would write when I found an editor insane enough to buy it.

After some lively correspondence, Chris bought and published “The Dracula Vagina” -- one of my most bizarre works – in a one-shot called Proud Flesh.

I also did illustrations and the cover. And there was a T-shirt. I still have mine, and wear it on special occasions.

I've had better luck publishing fiction than Chris, but I've been through the same Hell. The publishing establishment won't touch my novels. My short fiction usually appears in offbeat fringe markets (Analog seems to be the great exception). The worlds of mainstream publishing and science fiction have always been uncomfortable with me. They often make me feel like a Hell's Angel at a church social.

That's why I get this sharp-toothed smile when I look at allthe upheaval we see going on today.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


With la Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe coming up on December 12, Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, does an update on last year's UFOlogical speculations, looking at movies about the LADY. Here we've got some video of how the new holiday is celebrated in Mexico:

It does look like there's a preference for PreColumbian costumes, and dancing that harks back to ancient rituals involving virgins:

Though sometimes, it's more churchy with knee-walking pilgrims, music, and balloons:

Here the dances, costumes, and rituals look like an Aztec revival, as the pilgrims seem to be more like penitentes:

And why not some delicious pan dulce for fun and profit?

Saturday, December 3, 2011


The seasonal consumer orgy has begun. May these rituals resurrect the world's economy. It's a lot like that great, ancient North American tradition of the potlatch:

So let me humbly suggest that while buying all those gifts, you give the gift of Ernesto – buy and give books and magazines with my stories.

The most recent of these is the anthology Alien Contact, edited by Marty Halpern, including “Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song,” the diabolical germ of my novel Cortez on Jupiter (very soon to be an ebook – stay tuned for updates).

You can still order Tales of the Talisman, Vol. 6, No. 3, with my story “The Great Mars-A-Go-Go Mexican Standoff” in which Spike Gershwin, interplanetary detective, saves the Solar System, from a stateroom of a luxury spaceliner/casino while wearing a Godzilla suit. I've been getting the urge to write more about Spike, so get this and be ready.

2020 Visions, edited by Rick Novy, is an exciting pack of stories about the near future. My contribution is “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs,” a wild romp with Victor Theremin, the science fiction writer whose life has become indistinguishable from what he writes, through the exploding US/Mexico border as radioactive marijuana runs amok. There's also Em's wonderful “If the Sun's at Five O'Clock, It Must be Yellow Daisies.”

Full-Throttle Space Tales #4: Space Horrors, edited by David Lee Summers, delivers the scares beyond Earth's atmosphere. “Plan 9 in Outer Space,” my collaboration with my wife Emily, is an offbeat tale of deep space zombies, and a guy who wants to be the Ed Wood of his generation.

Also still available, as both paperback and ebook, is Voices for the Cure: A Speculative Fiction Anthology to Benefit the American Diabetes Association, edited by James Palmer. In “Human Sacrifice for Fun and Profit” I introduce Victor Theremin. Somehow, I contemplated the Singularity and created a monster alter ego who took on life of his own – watch out, I may write more about him if things get crazy enough. And the money goes to diabetes research, so you get to read my perverse story and feel that you're helping make the world a better place.

Speaking of human sacrifice, I guess if the potlatch strategy doesn't get the economy rolling, we can always try something more like the rituals of my Aztec ancestors.