Thursday, September 29, 2022


Now that I don’t have a novel chewing on my brain, I’ve gotten back into drawing. Like you may have heard, I’m an artist/cartoonist/illustrator as well as writer. It doesn’t really help, more like further confuses the issues.

While working on the novel, I’d start a drawing, and sometimes it would take me months to finish it. As I keep saying, it’s like demonic possession. Now I’m cranking out a lot more.

Usually I start with an abstract expressionist squiggle that I thrash around until it becomes a surrealistic composition. A good warm up for a day of creativity.

Lately, I’ve been going back to my smeared grease pencil over Crayola crayon technique–got to check out a few stationary stores, and see if I can find some of those old-fashion rubber erasers that fit over the end of a pencil. The new kind actually erase rather than smear, which comes in handy for some effects, but not what I need. Meanwhile, I use a separate pink rubber eraser, but it’s better to have it all as one tool . . .

Ah, the technical difficulties.

I’m thinking of getting some watercolors and experimenting with adding some color to these pieces.

It would be fun to fool around with acrylics or oils, but that takes time and more space than I have in this little house. Maybe I could clear a corner of the garage for a painting studio . . .

I often fantasize about retiring to fool around with paint. It’s a lot of fun, but then what do I do with the damn things? I never understood the fine art audience. Who are these people? What do they want? I’d probably have to open my own gallery, and/or run around talking people into buying paintings, which is kind of like selling ice boxes to eskimos.

I’m more of a cartoonist, but never could get a good cartooning gig.

These skills do come in handy. Being the cheapest artist I know, I can come up with something if I need it.

Like now, I’m going to have to convince someone that an insane novel is worth publishing. Maybe some art would help? I can co character studies, and lettering. So what I think things should look like, maybe some sample covers.

Mostly, I want to get back to making filling up those sketchbooks part of my life again, not just something I visit when I have time off from earning a living.

There I go, dreaming of some kind of utopia again. It would be nice.

Meanwhile, I keep getting all these visions in my head. They're pretty weird. Maybe I should draw them . . .

Friday, September 23, 2022


Chicanonautica reviews The Daughter of Doctor Moreau at La Bloga.

It's by Silvia Moreno-Garcia:


And takes on H.G. Wells:

And his novel The Island of Doctor Moreau (filmed as The Island of Lost Souls):

That she set in the Yucatan:

Thursday, September 15, 2022



After a couple of years of pandemic CoKoCon was live, in-person again. Emily has a nasty cough courtesy of the extra-wet climate change monsoon, so I had to go all by myself. It felt strange. Would there be anything of old-school, “traditional” fandom left?

The launch of Artemis 1 was scrubbed that morning. I hoped the rest of the weekend would be better. I wasn’t sure if it would be. There was apocalyptic weather all over the world, floods, droughts, heat waves. Here in the Metro Phoenix Area we were having an Excessive Heat Warning.

Meanwhile, fans were also gathering in Chicago for WorldCon and Atlanta for DragonCon. Bigger events. More like the modern conventions. I put links to my books on Facebook and Twitter, for coventioneers checking in there.

I put one of my bandanas in my pocket before I left. Good thing. Masks were required to enter the convention center. I was asked for my vaccination card, for the first time since I got it.

Covid ain’t over yet, kids.

The Native-style Wild West in the lobby was the only decor. We could have been in an orbital space colony.

A friend, who was wearing a kilt as usual, had a couple of my books for me to autograph, others said hi, recognizing me despite my bandido guise.

Without Emily, there was only one other panelist, Diana Terrill Clark, to talk about “Soundtrack for Your Writing.” We had a small but lively audience, and we all had fun. It’s what happens when science fiction is the common ground for diverse interests.

After, two old friends, a mad scientist and his forensic DNA analysit wife (both now retired) took me to dinner. This is what I miss about old-school fandom, relating to people, a human, if weird, community, opposed to consumers gathered to worship corporate product.

The next morning Emily felt up to going to the JL Patisserie where we had our usual quiche and coffee, but she wanted to go home after she started coughing. On the drive back home, I had ideas for sequels to the novel I just finished.

I remembered to take along El Porvenir, !Ya! and Speculative Fiction for Dreamers, but forgot my sketchbook. My convention-legs are gone . . .

My first panel was “State of the Industry” with Jenn Czep and Adam Gaffen. I commented on my surprise at the title, that somehow, after all these years this has actually become an industry, then laid down some ancient sci-fi wisdom. There was a lot of talk of riding indies and falling biggies. The small presses, hooked up with the interwebs are thriving, finding new markets. If I can’t get a big time deal for my new novel, I’m sure to find it a home, and readers. 

It would be nice to make enough money to retire soon, though.

I had a signing. I was supposed to be doing it with Emily, but without her and no sketchbook, I had to get creative. Luckily, Tezcatlipoca inspired me to gather up some blank-backed flyers. I took a selfie with the books, drew a self-portrait, and an old-timer with a walker talked to me and wrote down where to order my books.

Bruce Davis was the only other panelist for ‘Writing Near Future Science Fiction’ We rambled around the subject. Covid seems to be the latest Great Leap Forward for societal mutation. We got into intercultural interactions, and creativity as a survival tool. People came up afterward and asked about the books I had brought.

In all, it was a pleasant, goofy, human-scale event. Us old-timers are still around, but dwindling away, and attendance is rather skimpy. I hope this kind of convention keeps happening. The younger generations need our bad influence.

Friday, September 9, 2022


Chicanonautica announces the 2022 Extra-Fiction Contest at La Bloga (Guess who’s the judge again . . .)

It’s our imaginations, gente:

Folklore collides with pop culture:

And ¡GUAO!

Because if we don’t do it . . .

Thursday, September 1, 2022


Back in Arizona, gas was $4.99 a gallon. I kept seeing saucer-shaped clouds. Some UFO believers say that they are a way aliens camouflage their vehicles, which is silly. With faster-that-light travel, is that supposed to be the best stealth technology they can come up with?


In Flagstaff, we traded the Prius for our Elantra. Gas prices would be more of a concern even though they were lower.

Got on Route 66–the Mother Road is taking on a mystical significance. Maybe we’re seeing the beginnings of a new religion with the slow death of the petroleum economy. Could places like the Galaxy Diner become shrines to departed technologies for pilgrims of the future? Burgers and fries a ritual? It is, in a way, for Emily and me.


A young hitchhiker held up a sign: I NEED WEED!

Road construction got us hung up in a traffic jam in Oak Creek. Bored kids kept getting out of their cars and running around, taking selfies. Eventually, we arrived at the Matterhorn in Sedona for Fourth of July Eve.

We had tacos at the Oaxaca. Bliss.

It was a quiet morning in Sedona. We enjoyed the view from our balcony, sunrise over the red rocks, the empty street, a lone guy with a backpack and a dog walking by . . .

Then we went to the Coffee Pot for breakfast. In the mood to break tradition, I tried their breakfast burrito with chorizo y papas. I have a new favorite for the joint!

And I heard people speaking French.

There were some flags in Sedona, but mostly the 4th stuff was subtle.

Gas was $4.83 in Cottonwood.

“Our little spiffer gets good gas mileage!” said Emily. Down the road gas was $4.79 a gallon.

It was $4.95 in Prescott. We got into town at about 9 AM. There was some 4th stuff, but again, more low-key than I expected. Not as many flags. No political signs or opposing demonstrations like we saw in the past.

But then it was early . . .

Turns out this was the last day of Prescott’s Frontier Days, THE WORLD'S OLDEST RODEO. The streets were crowded. People were wearing and selling red, white, and blue, star & stripe spangled Abbie Hoffman specials.


Surprisingly, there weren’t any more cowboy hats than you’d expect in Arizona, but an entire family did stampede out of a store with shiny new ones.

And we kept seeing two blondes in mostly white, postmodern cowgirl regalia. They looked like sisters. They seemed to be everywhere. Are they the future of the Wild West?

The only politics came through the radio ads playing in stores. Right- wing businessman/candidates spouting the same clich├ęs that have landed hacks in office for generations, you know, Trump used them a few years ago . . .


There also was a metal LET’S GO BRANDON wall decoration for sale.

We found out about the Highland Park mass shooting via Facebook while waiting for ice cream on Whisky Row under a model of P-51 Mustang.


Then I noticed a half-staffed flag.


We stood at the Hassayampa Inn, a glorious, art deco time warp of a hotel. They play jazz on the overhead, a lot of Cab Calloway, and even some Louis Jordan. When I asked our server at the Peacock Room where the music came from, I got a confused look and an admission of ignorance.

Prescott is still very, very white, old, and Midwestern. We were the youngest people having dinner. The food was great, though expensive.

The festival in the town square had packed up and vanished by sundown. The night was quiet. No fireworks. No music or partying. Old folks have their say here.

We were still full from dinner in the morning, so we skipped breakfast, just grabbed coffee and pastries from the hotel’s coffee shop.

According to a local paper, the Yavapai County election commissioner resigned because of threats from Trump supporters.

Soon we were back in familiar territory with the sun blazing in our eyes.

I’m going to have to stop taking notes and pictures, even through it all seems different now. Things keep getting alien. Another new normal to adjust to.

When when got back to Phoenix gas was $5.45 a gallon. The only place in the country where it was higher was California. And it was $5.27 at Safeway.

Yeah, it is still not quite post-Trump/Covid America.