Thursday, April 02, 2015

Chicanonautica: The Wild West Ain't What It Used to Be

It's coming – the Anthology With No Name. Really, for now it's being refered to as the Diverse Weird Western Anthology. There are two volumes scheduled.

It'll be edited by Cynthia Ward and feature stories by La Bloga's own Rudy Ch. Garcia, Misha Nogha, Don Webb, and may other fine writers.

I'm sure somebody will come up with a snappy title.

Oh, yeah, I'll have a couple of stories in there:

My poststeampunk romp, “Pancho Villa's Flying Circus” (previously published in We See A Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology) will be in Vol. 1.

And “Lupita's Hand,” a fantasy of Wild, Wild Aztlán (previously published in Unconventional Fantasy: A Celebration of Forty Years of the World Fantasy Convention) will be in Vol. 2

Another reason I'm enthusiastic about this anthology: I was one of the inspirations for it. Editor Cynthia Ward wrote about fantastic westerns on Facebook and mentioned “Pancho Villa's Flying Circus” among others, and wouldn't it be great to have an anthology of such stories? Over the next few hours, there was a FB discussion that ended in a deal being made and Diverse Weird Western coming to unnatural life. This is what the social media is for, muchacho/as!

This is part of a larger trend, an extension of the Great Genre Meltdown of the '00s: the western is back but not in a traditional way. Used to be if you tried to mix anything fantastic or sci-fiish with the western, editors would automatically turn it down, saying that they didn't know what to put on the cover and the audience would be confused. Now publishers are experimenting with supernatural and steampunk westerns. And they don't seem to have any problem coming up with cover images.

I see an opportunity here for Chicano/Latino/Hispanos and writers of other cultures. The western is American mythology, though it has threatened to go global ever since the invention of the spaghetti western. Every generation recreates the western, updating the myth for its own needs. And do we ever have needs in the 21st century.

As Marshall McLuhan said in The Medium is the Massage: We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. Suburbia lives imaginatively in Bonanza-land.

And Star Trek and Star Wars are just Bonanza in space drag.

This is a time for new visions. Let us take this genre about clashing cultures and blow the subrban minds, give them new ways to live imaginatively. Let's blow the old stereotypes wide open. How about westerns for the recombocultral era of Postcolonialism, Afrofuturism, and Chicanonautica? Let other cultures into the new frontier! Go wild!

I'm hoping for things like Ishmael Reed's Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down and Alejandro Jodorowsky's El Topo. Only wilder.

Ernest Hogan is descended from New Mexico Irish vaqueros and Villaista curanderos, lives in Arizona, and often listens to Tejano radio stations through iTunes when he writes.


Anonymous said...

You're spot-on, Nesto, and in all fairness, we also need to blow the minds of urban gentry hipsterdom. Urban Fantasy reenvisioned by PoC. - RudyG


Right on, Rudy. Urban gentry hipsterdom, and the current generation of fantasy consumers need attacks on their delicate sensibilities. It's about time.