Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chicanonautica: How I Accidentally Created Chicano Sci-Fi

Suddenly, buzz about science fiction diversity is crackling through the air. And a monster called Chicano Sci-Fi is roaming the night. Frank S Lechuga keeps calling me its father. A DNA test may be in order.

But all those years of humping science fiction should get me something. I imagine her looking like Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein. Ummmm . . .

I do feel like shouting, “IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE!”

But I didn’t set out to become the father of Chicano Sci-Fi. I just happened to be a born-in-East-L.A. Chicano who wanted to write science fiction. I didn’t know that it was something I shouldn’t be doing. After all, this was America, and people kept telling me I could be whatever I wanted!

One day, I took that “write what you know” advice to heart, and wrote a non-science fiction fragment that turned in into a stream of fascinating Chicano characters inspired by my family and people I had known. These characters came to life -- again, “IT’S ALIVE!” -- like no others I’d created. 

Combine that with all the material from La Cultura that most readers would consider “new” and I realized that I was onto something. I experimented with putting Chicanos in a science fiction context that eventually became Cortez on Jupiter.

Being proud of my Aztec heritage -- sí, cabrones, my ancestors were cannibals, and I’m damn proud of it! -- I perversely projected it into the future, that evolved into High Aztech and Smoking Mirror Blues.

This hasn’t made me rich and famous -- I still have a day job, kids -- but it has been a constant source of inspiration that has me publishing short fiction to this day, and newfangled postcolonialists and Afrofuturists include me in their publications.

I was a pioneer -- which of course, is another way of saying illegal alien. I boldly went where no Chicano had gone before.

And I believe that this is only the beginning.

Chicano is when and where I’m from.  It’s a subset of Hispanic, which includes non-Mexican immigrants, and is a favorite way of describing crime suspects. Latino is global, from Latin America, coined back when the French saw us being ruled by a Francophone elite, but that lets in the French Canadians, Haitians, Francophone Africans, and the Portuguese-speaking Brazilians.

Latino is also favored by show biz. Those Latino sex symbols sell like crazy. 

It's also a hemispheric majority.

And lately, Chicano -- Xicano, Xicana/o --  has been seen as an attitude and political stance that I’m all for. Combine that with new developments that transformer lowriders, barrio cyberpunks, and other emerging subcultures are coming up with, and Chicano Sci-Fi could sweep the planet, and beyond.

After all, as I’ve said before, Chicano is a science fiction state of being

Which reminds me, I have to get back to my novel about a mariachi on Mars . . .

Ernest Hogan, was born in East L.A., and his mother’s maiden name is Garcia. He wanted to be a science fiction writer when he grew up. He succeeded.


Adrian said...

That was a funny and entertaining piece, straight from your heart -I can tell. That takes a lot of huevos!

I have to be honest, I tried reading the High Aztech, but the language was a bit too far out for me. I didn't write it off completely, because I wanted to see where the story would go, but I did shelf it for now. Even so, I totally appreciate your work, and I have to agree with the rest that you pioneered chicano scifi. Even if you still work your day job, that is something big.

It would be cool to get your work into film. I think it's well suited. Have you checked out this site?



Nobody believes that I wrote HIGH AZTECH so the reader didn't have to understand the Españahuatl! Glad you appreciate my work and complemented my huevos.

Actually, one of my short story has been made into two student films:

I am aware of SciFi The review one of my books.


That should be TheY reviewED one of my books . . .