Thursday, May 03, 2012

Chicanonautica: Bless Me, ChupaCabra

As Mr. Sci-Fi Chicano, I’m impressed with the fantastic elements of Bless Me, Ultima. This tale of witchcraft came along decades before Harry Potter. As with a lot of Chicano/Latino literature, the fantastic is there -- magic realism, as some say. Maybe we just don’t edit these things out of our reality. 
Maybe that’s why some folks in Arizona want to ban it.
There are also references to fireballs in the sky that sound like UFOs, but: These fireballs were brujas on their way to their meeting places.
This hit a personal note for me, because I once saw such an object while camping near the Superstition Mountains. First it looked like a bright star, but drifted, like it was hovering, along the horizon. Then it lit up with a couple of flames that looked like the afterburners of jet aircraft, and it took off in a quick, straight, diagonal line across the sky, disappearing into the darkening night. It made no sound.
UFO? Remember it stands for Unidentified Flying Object (OVNI -- Objecto Volante No Identificado in Spanish). Brujas? In Aztlán, these things go back long before the Space Age.
In a more recent book, Rudolfo Anaya brought up the subject again: Some of the old timers say it’s aliens from spaceships. The Navajos call it witchcraft.

The book is Curse of the ChupaCabra, a young adult novel with a cover that looks like a horror movie poster, and a strong anti-drug, anti-gang message. Its heroine, the young Professor Rosa Medina, investigates the ChupaCabra, and ends up taking a whirlwind tour of the monsters of Aztlán, native magic, genetic experiments, and drug dealers, and finds her inner, ancient warrior in the process. It’s just the sort of thing that can tear 21st century kids away from their video games and manga for long enough to notice a bigger world.
Or, as Anaya says: Brave new worlds could evolve where the cultures of the world met.
And there’s even a sequel: ChupaCabra and the Roswell UFO. 
Meanwhile, mysterious objects continue to appear over Aztlán. Spaceships? Witches? Brave new worlds?  Ancient traditions? Or maybe just the latest drones keeping an eye on us, and the border? 

Ernest Hogan explores brave new worlds evolving between cultures for fun and profit.

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