Wednesday, January 31, 2024


And suddenly, it’s 2024 . . .

What? My new book, Guerrilla Mural of a Siren’s Song: 15 Gonzo Science Fiction Stories is not only out, but on the long list for British Science Fiction Association award for Best Collection. I do have friends and fans in the United Kingdom but wasn’t expecting this.

And there was a bump in sales—which is the important thing—and something else to use and go around self-promoting with extreme prejudice.

Speaking of which, I was on Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s radio show Mex Files. I read the beginning of the story, “Uno! Dos! One-Two! Tres! Cuatro” which actually is an experiment in gonzo science fiction. It will be available as a podcast soon. Stay tuned for details.

Speaking of gonzo, I will be teaching an online “Gonzo Science Fiction, Chicano Style” class for the Spring 2024 Palabras del Pueblo workshop, Somos en escritos’ way of encouraging writers in the Latinoid Continuum to go stark, raving sci-fi across our troubled planet.

I also picked the winners in the Somos en escrito Extra Fiction Contest. Once again, it was a close race. All of the finalists deserve recognition.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get help peddling my new novel, Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin, to a big time publisher. I have these mad dreams of making money and retiring from my day job and devoting more time to writing all these book and stories that are festering away in my twisted brain . . .

Meanwhile, people keep getting back to me about pending projects. This will be a busy, crazy year.

To be continued . . .

UPDATE: The Mex Files episode podcast is available!

Thursday, January 25, 2024




The last leg of an epic road trip in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.


Back through Planet Nevada:

Cattle country:

The Valley of Fire:

And there are plastic skeletons:

Wednesday, January 17, 2024


At Wallowa Lake, in Oregon, while taking pictures, we saw a rainbow.

Then Emily saw lightning.

Then thunder—that I could feel—rolled all the way across the gray, overcast sky. We got out of there just in time, as it started to rain—gentle at first, then it pounded, soaking the mountain landscape.

Next stop was Hell’s Canyon. 

Mossy trees and mountain bones sticking out at the top of the world.

There was another rainbow.

That kind of day, and more Halloween yard art. 

Yeah, art. Not just decorations.

Who knows about what looked like a dead body in a black garbage bag hanging from a tree . . .

After some confusion on the roads that twisted through the mountains, it got dark and the half-moon rose. It lit our way as we crossed the bridge over the Snake River into Idaho.

That night I dreamed that I was traveling on a colonized Mars. It was a lot like the 21st century Wild West. The view out the window could have been from my dream, or one of my stories. What planet was this?

The next morning, it was still dark at 7:12 AM. What time zone was this?

It was another Super 8, this time in Idaho.

It was decked out for Halloween.

An ornament–or maybe it was an offering–that resembled a dead child tied up in a bloody sack hung by the door . . . 

Plastic skeletons and other store-bought items were all over. Even a lone calavera in the rafters.

One dummy in skeleton pajamas sat on a swing. I had no head. I took a picture of it. A woman appeared with a head and attached it. I told her that I thought it looked better without the head. She avoided eye contact and pretended she didn’t see me.

And they had soy milk in the breakfast room.

Cascade, Idaho, had murals celebrating the logging industry at a bar,

a rock and roll scarecrow,

a wonderful neon hotel sign that blazed in broad daylight,

and a quaint sign for a park.

For some reason, a truck stop past Boise had an impressive variety of decorative skulls. Maybe a Halloween thing, but there were so many of them. Was there some arcane reason the truckers needed such accouterments in these parts? Maybe to appease a local deity . . . Could be that the occasional bagged dead adult or child wasn’t enough . . .

Further along Highway 20 the classic wide-open spaces

were  accessorized with relics and ruins—some with graffiti—

abandoned cars,

ovens, and washing machines that gave it a post-apocalyptic feel.

One spectacular tableau was fenced off with a gate, but there was no lock, just a sign asking to close the gate, so’s not to let the livestock out. We didn’t see any livestock.

We rode the edge of a storm for a while. When it caught us, we stopped and ran out into the rain to get some shots of more rusty mechanical monsters.

They are all over rural America. Monuments to dying technologies. Wonder what will come to replace them?

Soon we were heading homeward.

I dreamed of dealing with all kinds of people and technical difficulties. The real, workaday world looms, chewing on my subconscious.

In the news I read about the discovery of another lost world: Zealandia, or Riu-A-Māui in Māori.Things like that make me happy.

Later, we were behind a truck with two stars and bars decals—something from another lost world. I tried hard, but just couldn’t get a shot of it and Michael in the stars and stripes sunglasses he found at one of our sightseeing stops all in focus. Some things are not meant to be, I guess . . . 

And I should mention that in Idaho, gas was mostly below $3 a gallon.

When we asked for directions, a gas station attendant said, “There’s a lot of silly intersections around here.”

Thursday, January 11, 2024


Chicanonautica crosses borders of various kinds, at La Bloga.

There’s cheap motels:

Mexican restaurants in Oregon:

Evergreens turn yellow:

And a specter is haunting Sasquatchlandia:

Wednesday, January 3, 2024


As we were leaving the motel in Crescent City, a woman got our attention with a two-armed wave. Was there something wrong? Without saying a word, she pointed. There were elk grazing on the trees and bushes at the edge of the parking lot.

We were heading out of California, into Oregon, and Sasquatchlandia. A different state.

A different region. Different flavors of weird.

Across the border in Brooking, gas was less than $5 a gallon, and there were a helluvalota cannabis places.

We grabbed doughnuts at the Honeybee Bakery. That is, after making our way through the building’s mural-festooned maze.

Driving through the marine-layer fog, we found a coffee stand and it had decaf!

Then we headed through the mountains on our way to Bandon past Prehistoric Gardens.

Suddenly, the roadside was crowded with a lot of fantastic wood sculptures.

We stopped and took a lot of pictures.

There was a wide-open barn turned workshop that looked abandoned—

it made Mike sad to see all good woodworking equipment rusting and covered with muddy dust.

In back were some shipping containers converted into what looked like a later-day hippie commune—

some of them looked abandoned, others seemed occupied, but crumbling.

A UPS truck pulled up. The driver wandered around, quickly realizing we were tourists. A guy who looked both hippie and nerdish staggered out of one of the shipping containers. When the driver asked about the occupant of the barn/workshop, the answer was: “Oh, he’s here. Sometimes he answers. Sometimes he doesn’t.”

Once again we stopped at the place that sold Bigfoot Nuts.

We were in and out of fog all day.

In Coos Bay, I found a book on the mound builders, and we had lunch in a well-muraled Mexican restaurant called Pueblo Nuevo.

Back on the highway, I saw a truck flying a huge flag. I could make out the word FUCK, but it was flapping so hard I couldn’t read if it was meant to insult Trump, Biden or some other poor sucker.

Then, in a seaside antique mall guarded by a statue of Godzilla, one of the vendors has a bedsheet-sized JOE BIDEN SUCKS sign. Out of his radio, I heard: “I’m beginning to think we don’t deserve Trump.”

Later, back on the road, the news of the trials in Washington D.C. made us smile.

In the forest-y area near Florence, we came across what looked like a wild Halloween party in bright colors and broad daylight.

Only no one was moving.

They were all frozen in place, like statues.

That was because they were statues of a sort, scarecrow-like figured in masks and costumes, murderous clowns, witches, werewolves, lots of skull faces, and pop culture references.

No doubt someone’s continuing art project, with more figures being added every year.

One fine day, there will be so many of them that they will seem to have taken over . . .

Further north, gas was $3.89 a gallon. It just kept getting cheaper.

In a motel in Lincoln City, I had a vision: Oz overrun by suburbs and corporate land developments. The funky and fantastic stuff is relegated to junk yards, thrift stores and museums where tourists shop. Wizards and witches are unemployed and homeless. Winged monkeys beg and steal in the streets.

Lincoln City was dripping wet when we left. Even the air. A strange, cold humidity.

The spider webs on folksy western-themed wooden statues were covered in dew beads, like a peculiar Christmas decoration. Did the spiders mind the cold? Do they shiver?

The heavy mist covered the farmland.

In Hebo, the crossroads of the Nestucca valley, Mike bought us coffee at the Yellow Dog Espresso.

In Garibaldi, we saw the first Trump sign of the trip. It was small, low key and managed to be tasteful, as was the house it was mounted on.

Then the mist, that had become a heavy fog, became a light drizzle.

In Rockaway Beach we came across more Halloween yard decor that included a vehicle.

In Seaside there was a big sign advertising TSUNAMI MARIJUANA.

There were still a lot of espresso places along the 101, though most of the yoga places we saw last time we passed through didn’t survive the pandemic.

In Westport along the Columbia River, there was a weird sticker tableau. Orwellian signage and a mutation of Charlie Brown. Dystopian small town dada. Couldn’t tell if it was a statement or just spontaneous juxtaposition.

Then we crossed the bridge into Washington.

It was an urban sprawl along the I-5 with signs for all the usual franchises peeking through tall trees. Generic corporate America, except for a hand painted sign with Uncle Sam asking: “How many Americans will we leave behind in Ukraine?”

Autumn leaves were changing color.

I kept seeing signs with the names of tribes I had never heard of. 

The traffic got heavy in Seattle. The graffiti showed skill, the colors were more conservative. More media than message. Not very arty. Mostly tags.

Then in Conway we found a wacko junk art place, bristling with character, creativity, and craziness. That spirit lives here too.

And the gas station across the street played jazz and sold ice cream.