by Ernest Hogan
La Bloga readers may find my Mondo Ernesto serialization of Brainpan Fallout -- a Nineties experiment that went from the Phoenix area coffee house giveaway Red Dog Journal to the infant internet and gained me fans in strange places -- of interest. The main character/narrator/hero is a young Chicano.
And I think I’ve finally gotten rid of all those pesky typos and mistakes that often ruined the jokes. Not that anybody’s complained, or even noticed them all these years.
I didn’t really think much about sneaking in a Chicano -- I had done it in Cortez on Jupiter. I had also researched The Red Dog Journal’s audience, going to the coffee shops, poetry slams, marijuana-choked parties, listening to their conversations. I was trying to create pulp fiction for them. They were predominately white, but considered themselves to be anti-racist, so why not?
I believe that audiences need to be challenged. Since then, as a bookstore clerk I’ve seen how genre readers get bored with the same old routine. They have their habits, but need things stirred up now and then. Maybe the adventures of Flash Gomez in the 20th century would do the trick.
With 20/20 hindsight, Flash was the prototype for the Chicanonaut: A Chicano going out of bounds, crossing the borders of his barrio into strange new worlds.
He wasn’t based on anybody in particular, but after it was going for a while, I saw a Univision news story about young Nueva York bike messengers. One of them said, “Llámame Flash.”
Brainpan Fallout is also an example of my groping for Afrofuturism, or at least an alternative to the all-white future that was still the default setting for most sci-fi. There are black characters involved in cyberpunkish activities, but with their own agendas. This was long before the current postcolonial trends.
I’m glad I had the chance to go mad scientist after things crashed for me, and like Henry Miller in Tropic of Cancer, that “Everything that was literature has fallen from me.” I recreated myself in my own image, and took the chance to offer some advice to the younger generation as a vato who’d been around on the countercultural merry-go-round a few times on what to watch out for when they finally get flung into the gaping jaws of their future.
It’s also good for some laughs.
Ernest Hogan is busy drawing and writing about luchadores, and preparing to talk about Chicano sci-fi at the University of California Riverside for their Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program.