I’m going to be in ridiculously good mood for a while. I have a story in the July/August 2011 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and for a chamuco who dreamed of growing up to sell stories to science fiction magazines, it's quite a high.
It’s called “Death And Dancing in New Las Vegas,” continuing the saga started in “The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars” that was in Analog back in April of 2001. Yeah, I know, it’s been a while -- it was a rough decade . . . And I wrote the latest story to be read on its own, but for those who are interested it’s available free online through the music-themed speculative fiction podcast anthology Theme and Variations.
It deals with the colonization, though I use the term “development,” of Mars by ruthless corporations. Terraforming (making Mars Earth-like) is being done through nanohudu that acts like a virus, transforming the planet and people. And I deal with the problem of who gets brought in to do the dirty work . . . a metaphor for immigration.
This idea goes way back with me -- back when I first moved to Arizona to live with Emily. We were taking walks in a nearby mountain preserve and working with some people who were trying to make movies.
One of them was a guy who knew a lot stuntmen who rode horses. He needed work because they weren’t making a lot of Westerns anymore. I flashed on an idea for a Road Warrior/spaghetti Western on a terraformed Mars with horses instead of cars. The production company never got off the ground. I stashed the idea in the back of my brain.
There it fermented and mutated. I thought about the technical considerations of such a world, came up with the nanohudu idea. Soon it was a Flash Gordon/Edgar Rice Burroughs adventure with lots of bizarre creatures and plants.
Unfortunately, publishing was getting weird. Nobody in Nueva York wanted to talk to me. I started to listen to all kinds of advice. Instead of writing the simple story, I generated a bloated proposal for a sprawling epic -- the kind everybody told me was the only thing that was selling.
And of course, it didn’t sell.
I locked the monstrosity up in my files in disgust, but in a few years, a strange thing happened. While working as a grade school custodian, the character of Paco Cohen came to me. Yeah, I usually don’t create them, they suddenly appear in my brain . . . He took my nanohuduized Mars and turned it on its head, made it more real than I ever imagined.
I’ve published two stories about him so far, and have ideas for more. Maybe they’ll become a Martian Chronicles-type book someday.
I also have been getting the urge to go back to the original idea of a straight-forward NeoMartian adventure story. Today’s young adult market may be ready for such a thing.
Ernest Hogan will be doing Chicanonautica here every other Thursday, alternating with Lydia Gil. Expect wild stuff!