Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chicanonautica: Strange Rumblings in the Global Barrio

It didn’t take long for the year to go stark, raving sci-fi, did it? The Pope called it quits, a meteor buzzed and boomed Russia, and an asteroid came by for a visit. Keep watching the sky, there’s weirdness raining down.

Then, in Mexico, another UFO -- or OVNI, if you prefer -- was photographed near the volcano Popocatepetl. This new one moves horizontally, and looks like it could be either a digital flaw or mischief. It’s amazing how many UFOs move at a perfect right angle to the camera. Also, note how blurry it is compared to the crystal-clear dash cam footage of the meteor over Russia.

Getting more down to Earth, I’m sorry to report the death of Ángel Arango, a Cuban science fiction writer. He was one of the writers I discovered in anthologies I picked up in Mexico. His first book, a story collection, was ¿A Dónde Van Los Cefalomos? in 1964. His novel La Columna Bífida is available at Amazon. In recent years, I got to know him on Facebook, where we shared our love of Hispanic culture and bullfighting. 

Another writer in those anthologies was Angélica Gorodischer from Argentina. Her masterwork Kalpa Imperial is available in an English translation by Ursula K. Le Guin. My cyberpunk generation cohort, Paul Di Filippo just reviewed her latest work to be translated into English (by Amalia Gladhart), Trafalgar, that should help to breakdown the barriers of the Tortilla Curtain, that sadly, still disrupt the global development of science fiction.

But, fortunately, a new generation isn’t intimidated by such barriers, bringing the dream of the Global Barrio closer to reality. One of these writers is Nas Hedron. He divides his time between Canada and Brazil, expresses the need for a Star Trek-like universal translator, and has written and published Luck and Death at the Edge of the World, a novel that takes place in a world where the U.S./Mexico border is thing of the past. Its hero, Nat Burroughs, shuttles from L.A. to Mexico City in a world where the barriers between life and death, as well as government and organized crime, are dissolving. A resurrected Alan Turning even shows up. It’s state-of-the-art, cutting edge speculative fiction.

Makes an old vato like me feel I need to take some notes, do some updating.

I was not just impressed by the novel, but also by the way he’s presented it in ebook form, providing connection to his other work, and his blogs, where he provided details on the background and world building. He even provides a suggested music playlist. It’s science fiction breaking free of the restraints of the printed word, plugging into the new media, and causing those changes in perception that allow you to survive in this mutating world.

It makes me feel a little old, but then the kids don’t get the thrill of realizing how futuristic it all is.

Ernest Hogan's novel Smoking Mirror Blues in now available on Smashwords as well as Kindle for only $0.99.

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