Saturday, June 09, 2012

Spic vs spec - 1. Chicanos/latinos & sci-fi lit

by Rudy Ch. Garcia

For varied reasons, when I was growing up in San Anto, one thing set our home off from the others--we read science fiction. My father--the cabrón--assumedly was the precursor of this, though I can't say about my abuelos. The reading of sci-fi (yeah, I know some authors hate the term) continued long after we kicked el cabrón bruto's ass out of the house and began a semi-nomadic life through shanties and the projects. I kept the tradition alive.

I remember when and how I acquired the bug, the one time our sire read us a short story called The Rag Thing. Me and the others were all curled up in the bed with him and listening to this crazy dishrag that turned into a monster and ate the whole town. Actually, the cabrón stopped before the ending and never finished it for us. But we wanted to know how it turned out, so I became the reader from my siblings. Among other genres, I continue reading sci-fi to this day.

At some point in the past I decided to try mi pluma at getting something published. It finally happened this year when cyberpunk founder Rudy Rucker, Sr. accepted the story Last Call for Ice Cream on his personal webzine at Flurb.net.

Here's how Rucker described it:
"Rudy Garcia’s Last Call for Ice Cream is a hypnotic stew of spanglo slanguage, wry and funny, with a special surprise in every sentence, and a renegade view of life in these United States."

Now, when Rudy Rucker likes one of your stories, in the sci-fi world that's a gigantic plus. When your story is rife with "spanglo slanguage," it's a bigger deal because we know how hard it is for the mainstream lit world to accept "latino lit."

El cabrón is dead and can't read the story and there's no doubt some Freudian slivers to this whole thing in my life and this post, but let's set that aside.

When I read the following review of my story, I got surprised, and, sure, offended somewhat:

"The issue ends with Last Call for Ice Cream by Rudy Ch. Garcia, a rambling piece about a guy trying to write a vidscript. It has so much slang that it becomes tiresome very quickly." [by Sam Tomaino]

I guess Tomaino didn't like it much, though I don't know if the slang he refers to is the spanglo slanguage or the English terms I invented. Not to accuse him of monolinguistic prejudice, I put the vato's critique into the realm of no le cai, because to some people maybe the story is "tiresome."

The incident got my brain clicking, wanting to explore some old questions in new ways.

Do Chicanos/latinos read sci-fi? How much, how many? Why don't more? How many are writing sci-fi? Should more latinos be writing it? Why don't we have a bronce version of the Black Science Fiction Society or afroamerican sci-fi mags? Is there some significance to the answer of any of these?

Consider this only the beginning of a series to explore these and other questions that I haven't imagined. I welcome input from anyone--writers, readers, non-latinos, aliens--to see what new directions we might give the topic.

And if you want to add the either side of the critique of my first accepted sci-fi story, make certain you mention Garcia or Rucker, depending on which Rudy you're referring to.

This series continues here.

Es todo, hoy
RudyG

9 comments:

ERNEST HOGAN said...

A lot of food for thought here. I may have to re-read it, and make notes for future Chicanonauticas. We need to make contact with the Spanish-speaking, sci-fi world -- there are several blogs en español that I'm following . . . As for this side of the Border, it's an interesting story -- my dad read science fiction magazines in East L.A. back in the Forties -- in the Seventies, some Chicano activists though that sci-fi and technology were tools of the Anglo oppressors. Of course, today Chicano hackers are part of Aztlán landscape. I guess I have some work to do . . .

ERNEST HOGAN said...

And I almost forgot! Spic Spec Fic! I can see it on a book cover!

BellaVida Letty said...

I'm Boricua, I read sci-fi and am writing a sci-fi screenplay.

Manuel Ramos said...

You have better things to do than to fret about a review. A review, good or bad, doesn't make the story any better or worse. It is what it is.

By co-inky-dink, the current issue of The New Yorker has a "sci-fi" (somebody doesn't like that term, really?)theme and, sabes que, there's a story by the one and only Junot Diaz (and also stories/articles by Jonathem Lethem, Anthony Burgess, Ray Bradbury (QEPD), Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, etc. Le Quin's article talks about the gender ghetto of science fiction - I think her point is to write good stuff and it will be read.

David Garcia, Jr. said...

I used to not like science fiction literature, thinking that writers didn't have to go to outer space to find characters, settings and conflicts worth writing about, when we have all of the above aplenty here on earth. "Childhood's End" changed all of that. Then I realized that I liked science fiction films and that I had a limited view of science fiction lit (bug-eyed monsters). I'm now aware of the breadth of the lit genre, from hardwired to gutterpunk and have a lot of respect for its writers. How's this for a character arc: I'm the author of "Destiny's Quest: Transformation" a YA novel manuscript about a teenager who discovers that she has powers and has to rescue her brother from some hybrid monsters.

Jose Antonio Romero said...

I recently watched the movie 'Prometheus' with my girlfriend and she mentioned that there was no Brown jente in the film. I noticed right away as well but I didn't expect there to be any. This lead me think about the very topic you bring up about the lack of Sci-Fi literature coming from the Latino community. I remember hearing about the term afro-futurism from a companera and I thought about what that might encompass and thought it would be great idea to incorporate that genre into the Brown community and fully develop the concept. I thought about a world in which various Barrios began to create a community based on healthy lifestyles that would promote quantum leaps into autonomous education. This education would give the access to leaps and bounds into a world that would be a truly advanced civilization. My imagination went wild when I thought of the ancient indigenous cultures that had existed and the Barrios coming into full contact with these lost knowledge systems. What would happen if they re-examined these ancient knowledge systems and incorporated them into their daily live and synthesized something completely unique and free from conventional advanced technology. This is a topic I feel that is worth touching on because its not a popular idea I feel and gets easily overlooked because of the social stigmas conceived of the Brown communities. That is why the potential of a truly rich sci-fi story coming from the Barrios could and will blow away wigs.

ggwritespoetry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ggwritespoetry said...

So interesting. I was just talking about this with Rene Saldana and David Bowles at TLA last month. I am Latina, Mexicana actually. My second novel, Summer of the Mariposas from TU Books is fantasy/ magical realism, and I have another SF novel in the works, but I agree with you; we definitely, absolutely, positively need more Hispanics writing SF.

Anonymous said...

To all who commented:
I'm using your material in the 6/15 Sat. post that continues this topic.
RudyG