A New Edition From Strange Particle Press . . .

Friday, December 7, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA TALKS HIGH AZTECH NEAR THE BORDER


Chicanonautica, at La Bloga, recalls my recent trip near the border:



To talk about High Aztech at San Diego State University:


As part of William Nericcio's English 220: Robotic Erotic Electrico class:


Ticmotraspasarhuililis:

Thursday, November 29, 2018

CYBERPUNK FROM FRANCE



I’m always on the lookout for science fiction from outside the Norteamerico English-speaking zone. Sci-fi pretends to span galaxies and has been flirting with Chinese imports and Afrofuturism, but in reality most of it is still by and about white people who are a fraction of the U. S. of A. How do people squeeze their minds into those cramped, little worlds?

So I decided to give H+ incorporated, the first novel in English by French author Gary Dejean, a go.
 
I’m also curious about what Europeans are thinking about the future, even though I’ve started to think of cyberpunk as an artifact from the twentieth century, but then these days it’s becoming a short term for the expanding world of transhumanism, and other developments.

H+ incorporated delivers the c-punk goods. We get humans incorporating technologies into their bodies--we might even say their souls--and young people struggling to survive in dystopian future, that shows the cyberculture is becoming global and there is a lot of resentment and anger about the mess the older generations (mine included) have made of the world.

There wasn’t any of the Francofuturism I was hoping for, but it is implied that the young people of France have a taste for marijuana as well as angst.

Also, cyberpunk that goes back to good ol’ 1984 has developed from a revolutionary movement into a venerable, even respected genre.

Dejean does give it a fresh slant, fusing transhumanist body augmentation with fast and furious action, and a gorehound sensibility that moves at a pace that will satisfy readers who grew up playing video games.

I admire the professionalism of it, even though I had some minor gripes, but then I read in the author bio that H+ incorporated was adapted from a screenplay that Dejean is trying to get produced. Again, professionalism.

What I took for lazy writing--characters who are only referred to as the rasta, the Latino, and the Japanese are questionable in a traditional novel, but common practice in screenplays. That and setting it Manila, in the Philippines, but not providing details to make the reader feel it is screenplayese.

This isn’t a traditional novel, but I do love the novelistic detail. It makes for a better reading experience.

Gary Dejean is writing for the brave, new improved world. Old farts like me should pay attention.

Friday, November 23, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA TASTES GUAJOLOTE CON MAN CORN


In honor of Día de los Guajolotes, Chicanonautuica reviews a book called Man Corn, over at La Bloga.

It's about mysterious activities around Chaco Canyon:


Involving disarticulation:


And body processing:



So be thankful!

Friday, November 16, 2018

DONALD JESUS TRUMP IN THE YEAR 2034


I laughed when I saw it. Usually, books with titles like America 2034: Utopia Rising are awful--political tracts disguised as fiction. Sometimes they’re weird enough to be unintentionally hilarious. With the midterm election nearing and body count rising, I could some sicko laughter.

Then I read the blurb on the back. Futurist satire? Donald Jesus Trump? Force fields? The United Enterprises of America? I bought it.

After all, these are sicko times.

Besides, it begins with a character named Winston Smith (born in 1984) needing to take a piss. When I start a book with a scene like that, I’m setting that mood for irreverent shenanigans . But then that’s me . . .

I was bowled over by the torrent of craziness. I was reminded of my reading of new wave speculative fiction back in the Nixon years. Jonathan Greenburg has a wild imagination and keeps the weirdness coming hot and heavy.

Not only is there the United Enterprises of America, a Trump-centric, sociopathic fascist/corporate state, but also the United Peoples of America, a “Wetopia” held together by the telepathic effects of the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca. A dystopia and a utopia--in conflict-- presented at the same time.

The Enterprises is a fiendish and brutal riff on what America under Trump could become. It's grotesque to the point that even a lot of Trump haters would be offended. Real policies and beliefs are taken to horrifying extremes. I won't go into any details, but it, like Trump, boldly goes into Adults Only underground comix territory.


Too bad he has no shame and is immune to satire!

On the other side, the Peoples seems to be based on conservatives fear and believe about liberals. It consists of the “Left Coast,” separated from the Enterprises by a force field technology and connected to a drug-induced We Are All One philosophy. Would Elon Musk, Larry Page, and Eric Snowden buy into what is essentially a mind-control cult?

If Greenburg is making a point about polarization and the dangers of cult-thinking--Trump’s appeal is that of a cult leader--it’s so subtle I missed it, and there isn't that much subtlety in this novel. 

I’m reminded of hippy-dippy naiveté circa 1969: “Like, wow, man, if we could just slip Nixon some acid, he’d see the light, and bring the troops back from ‘Nam, y’know?” I’m pretty sure that Hunter Thompson, William Burroughs, Abbie Hoffman, and even Timothy Leary would have laughed.

But I’m not sure if Greenburg is going for laughs here. His publisher is called Informing to Empower Media, which is straight out of the novel. Could it all be a “things go better with ayahuasca” commercial?

No matter. It's fucking bizarre. So much so that it manages be stranger than the latest headlines, which is quite an accomplishment.

I just hope that in a few years, we’ll be laughing at how outrageous it is, rather than being amazed over its accurate predictions. 

. . . I wrote the above before the midterms, and headlines are getting even stranger. There's a whole lot of meltdown and disintegration going on. My laughter gets even more sicko.

Friday, November 9, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA JUDGES EXTRA-FICTION AND BEYOND


Chicanonautica is about my judging the Somos en escrito Extra-Fiction writing contest, over at La Bloga.

Latinoids always bring something extra to their writing:



Because we come from different cultures:


But now, it's different:


And we've become the future:

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

EXTRA-FICTION WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR DEAD DAZE


Happy Halloween, or as some like to spell it, Jalogüin, the day before the Days of the Dead/Días de los, Muertos. Put 'em together and you get Dead Daze (see Smoking Mirror Blues), the three-day rasquache/recombcultural holiday (holidaze?) of the future.

And not only do we have some celebration in order, but the winners I've picked for the Extra-Fiction Writing Contest 2018 have been announced over at Somos en escrito. Click and check it out.

Meanwhile, dress up and party, remember your dead loved ones, and give my regards to Tezcatlipoca.

Friday, October 26, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA SPYS ERNESTO ART IN SAN ANTO


Chicanonatica, at La Bloga, tells of Ernesto art in San Antonio.

In Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly.

What is the path of the Butterfly?


What do Native Americans have to say?


And what about Chicanos?


And is our future a thing of the past?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

CONJUGATING HINDI IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD


Sometimes I think Ishmael Reed is the only person paying attention to what is really going on. His new novel, Conjugating Hindi, a satire of the world during the Trump--I mean, Kleiner Führer administration, is dead-on hilarious and scary as all hell. Does the job that science fiction should do, but usually fails at.

And what is that job? Why, it's taking a look at current changes, giving us clues to where it’s going and what to do about it. (Yeah, some people say that’s more speculative fiction than, sci-fi, but who goes to a bookstore looking for spec fic?)

This one is right on the cutting edge, set in 2017, now the sudden past; it’s almost a new kind of journalism, beyond gonzo, which is so Twentieth Century. This makes it an alternative universe, one that defines the present, and lays the foundations for the future.

We also get historic and myth figures appearing in dreams. Magic realism, if you will.

As it says on the back cover blurb, this is Reed’s
global novel. One that crosses all borders.”

Global. As in the whole planet. Not just the cultural ghetto skewed to a New York/Washington D.C. axis that kicks and screams when it becomes obsolete.

Delusions like that don’t die easily. But then that’s the point of most of Ishmael Reed’s work.

Sometimes it seems like wild fantasy, but the outrageous things that happen in Conjugating Hindis war with India have already happened in other wars. If you think the news is fake, what about history? What are we doomed to repeat?

Here emerging conflicts are brought to light, along with the fact that the answer is for people who disagree to come together, talk, argue, even fight, as they struggle to figure it out.

Afrofuturists take note, buy, and read. And even though I’ve said it before: Afrofuturism is just a reboot of Reed’s NeoHooDooism.

We need this sort of thing to survive the world that Kleiner Führer--I mean Trump--is making.


Friday, October 12, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA ATTACKED BY MUTATING STEREOTYPES




The latest Chicanonatuica  is about stereotypes, over at La Bloga.

We know them well:


They are used to sell products:


But things change when cultures collide:


And what kind of future are we in for?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL


I was once asked “How long does it take you to write a novel?” My mind went blank. I tried to think about, but all I could come up with was “I don’t know.”

Really, I don’t know. I have a day job. And a life. It’s all kinda crazy.

I don’t come up with an idea, rush to the computer, bang away for a few days, weeks, or months, and turn out a novel. It’s more like I get an idea, let it rattle around with all the other stuff that’s seething in brain, and maybe, just maybe in a few years, I’ll get started. Sometimes I’ll make some jangled notes, write some fragments, file them away. 

Right now, I have at least four novels in the works. Then there are the ones that are just peculiar notions.

We won’t get into the brainstorm I had the other day while on a cross-Phoenix El Bravo/Chino Bandido run, when enchilada sauce leaked onto my shirt like an old-time spaghetti western gunshot wound . . .

For a while, I tried to work on several novels at once, but it didn’t work. Early on, my wife, Emily Devenport (author of Medusa Uploaded) and I noticed that while short stories can be like a bout of the flu, novels are closer to demonic possession in the way they hijack your brain. Too much of this could crash your jellyware hard drive.

So a year or so ago, I decided that I’d concentrate on Zyx; or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin. (I prefer Bring Me the Brain . . ., but publishers and editors like short one-word titles, and I do try to please--honest, I really do!) I thought I’d be done by now.


People who’ve never written, much less published anything, keep talking about how someday they’re going to take a month or so off, rent a cabin in some quiet, isolated place, and squeeze out a bestseller. Pardon me while I choke down some vicious laughter. Has anybody ever come close to writing anything that way?  Peace, quiet, and especially isolation (inspiration comes from going mano a mano with reality) are all overrated, and don’t help you write.

Get used to being interrupted. We just live in that kind of world. If a simple thing like life can knock a novel out of your head, you may not be cut out to be a writer.

If you want to write, learn the fine art of running the day job gauntlet. I’ve found that a job where you’re doing grunt work with your hands, leaving the brain to chew on the literary cud, works better. They often give you break time--take it.

Become an expert at stealing time. Be on the lookout for opportunities, and pounce! Don’t be afraid to get predatory.

Learn to write on the run.

Way back in the twentieth century, I used to carry around little memo pads and stubby ballpoint pens. They fit in my pocket as I mopped floors and cleaned toilets. A lot of High Aztech and Smoking Mirror Blues were written that way.

Nowadays, I carry an iTouch, and write a lot with one finger on a tiny screen, using Google Drive.

I’m finishing up a detailed outline of Zyx, the first time I’ve done that with a novel. It’s taking shape, coming alive. 

We may be coming close to the demonic possession phase, which is also difficult, but keeps life interesting . . .

In the immortal words of Super Chicken, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.”

Friday, September 28, 2018

CHICANONAUTICA MEETS STEAMPUNK BANDITOS



Look out! Steampunk banditos are coming, and you can read about it in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.

We're talking about steampunk:


And banditos:


In a different kind of Aztlan:


In a new novel by Mario Acevedo:


Monday, September 24, 2018

IN POST-APOCALYPTIC NEW MEXICO



After a brief sweep through Arizona and Monument Valley, we came to New Mexico, AKA The Land of Enchantment. Its magic took hold as we passed through Navajo and Zuñi territory. The landscape wowed us as usual. In Farmington an ADULT VIDEO store was right after a JESUS WATCHING YOU billboard. When we arrived in Truchas, a rooster crowed, even though it was well after noon.


New Mexico’s usual post-apocalyptic ambience was stronger this year. There have been many apocalyptic events, the coming of the Spaniards, the coming of the Anglos, the coming of opiods and meth. This time, it looked like current political developments had taken their toll.

In Taos (short for La Cuidad de Don Fernando de Taos), the Sun God Lodge was closed “4 REPAIRS.”

To make matters worse, the Wired? Coffee-Cyber-Cafe was out of business, signs taken down, zen garden with its statuary, fountains, and koi ponds gutted, murals left to fade in the sun. No more of their cafe mochas.


Luckily, they had cafe mochas at Taos Java, a similar, but more crowded place with a drive-thru window. Their artisan-made apple empanada wasn’t bad. The atmosphere wasn’t quite so post-modern hippy-dippy. Folks were doing wi-fi connected business meetings rather than playing chess and contemplating the Great Whateverthehell.

At a gas station I saw a group of bikers who may have been unintentionally androgynous. Or maybe it was intentional . . .


Flyers for yoga classes and events that combined music with sending out good vibes to improve the human condition by spiritual means were still posted everywhere, but there was also Zombie Tactical Guns & Ammo.


Some changes have been going on.

And some folks were driving like they got their Labor Day weekend drinking started early and planned on being in jail or the hospital by sundown.

After a rainy night, and a cool morning, with John McCain’s funeral on the TV, we decided to give Santa Fe a try.


On the way, I saw that Truchas, which is quivering somewhere between ghost town and an art colony, is full of empty structures sporting Sotheby’s for sale signs. Some of the farms are still in business, but it looks like our getaway place may be feeling what ever’s in the air. Guess you can’t have paradise without trouble.


Along El Camino Real, encroaching storms looked like dark, frozen tidal waves.

I found some interesting books--most notably Christy G. Turner & Jacqueline A. Turner’s Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest--but Emily and her mother didn’t find their usual thrift store treasures. Emily speculated on the political situation influencing the economy.


Later, while driving back to Truchas after dinner in Chimayó, we saw a spectacular double rainbow in a slate-gray sky. Then a fantastic storm erupted. Yeah, enchantment. The magic don’t need no stinking socioeconomic prerequisites.


Emily and I did another run to Taos the next day. Found a place that showed promise: The Coffee Spot. No cafe mochas, but the Mexican lattes are amazing. So are the breakfast burritos. It has a funky, arty, decor and a garden with outdoor tables where you can get inspired.

While Em did some more clothes shopping, I wandered around and took some pictures of post-apocalyptic scenes, Jackson Pollock shots, Andy Warhol shots . . . Here snapshots turn out as weird art.


Coyotes went berserk our last night in Truchas.

We got news of the fiasco at the Zozobra ritual in Santa Fe. A “security miscommunication” caused the giant effigy to be set fire early, while a lot paying customers were locked out. Dissatisfaction was in the air.


We made our way home under miles of low, scattered storm clouds and showers, through reservation lands where the tourist mythology camouflages Aztlán under the Great Hollywood Cowboy and Indian Myth. Though lately, UFOs and dinosaurs are added to the mix.

I saw a taco-shaped cloud, and sacred datura growing south of Payson/Cottonwood next to the I-17.

Then we got stuck in a traffic jam in the rain.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

IN MARTIAN UTAH



Utah changes as you head southeast. There’s less of a Mormon influence, and it becomes less of a contrivance to give European and Asian tourists a taste of the Wild West myth. It gets more Indian as you approach the Navajo reservation, and new age/hippy-dippy influences have bubbled up from Sedona.

There was an icy breeze in the morning. A big relief after months of the Phoenix heat. We were in overshirts, while the locals were showing off their tanned legs.


At the Capitol Reef Inn & Cafe, they played flute-dominated Native-style music, and the waitress showed her new tattoo to a regular customer.


Emily left her camera around her neck as we drove through Capitol Reef itself. We stopped a lot for her to take pictures of the fantastic, Martian-looking landscapes. Hoodooistic mountains looked like buried cities. I fondled the red, silky sand. 


This was close to where Disney filmed their John Carter of Mars movie. I’ll probably never make it to Mars, but I’ve lived most of my life in Aztlán, and that’s pretty damn good. “Welcome to Mars” from Cory McAbee’s musical space opera Stingray Sam got stuck in my head.



You could film a low-budget movie about truckers on Mars there. I filed the idea away. Who knows what it could become? The Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars universe came from me getting an idea about a sci-fi spaghetti western that could be shot around Phoenix.


Further along Utah State Route 24, we once again had to stop at Carl’s Critter Garden, and take pictures of mechanoid monsters, and their messages of mystic wisdom. It had changed since we last saw it. Carl must be busy with new creations. Long may he keep this roadside wonderland alive!


We finally saw a real, live Indian crossing the street in Blanding, while we were looking for the Dinosaur Museum that we drove past.

We found the Edge of Cedars Park Visitors Center/Museum where more sacred datura grew in the parking lot. The museum was small, and mostly about the Navajo/Diné, rather than the other tribes of Utah, but had some impressive sculptures.


A real standout is “Ant Man on Kiva Ladder” by Joe Pachak. The ant man isn’t the Marvel character, but a reference to the insect-like figures that appear in petroglyphs all over the southwest. Yes, humanoids with antenna were part of Aztlán long before the white man invented sci-fi. They probably depict the insect people of Native mythology, but who knows?

I won’t even get into the three-fingered lizard men . . .


Two young Native men worked at the museum, and a Native woman came in as a customer.


On our second pass through Blanding, my hunter/gather eagle-eye spotted the Dinosaur Museum, which is a real find, worth the pilgrimage into the cinegenic wastes. Not only does it have fossils, and flesh and feathered replicas, but it includes artifacts of dinosaurs in popular culture, the movies, and displays about the artists who brought the ancient beasts to light long before CGI.


Later we made another trip to Bluff, built on the site of a pueblo established around 650 AD, over which an Anglo town was installed in 1880. The Navajo tacos at the Twin Rocks Cafe were great as usual. Indians seem to be taking over the town, which is a good thing.

The next morning, at the complimentary breakfast at the Kokopelli Inn, tourists spoke French while the women in the office discussed Navajo politics.


There were still election posters in the Rez as we cut through it into Arizona on the way to New Mexico. A lot of women were running for office in this place where Red Mesa High School had a team proudly called the “Redskins,” and a RED MESA EXPRESS T-shirt features a flying saucer.

Aztlán can’t help being its own kind of sci-fi.