Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chicanonautica: The Art and Artists Behind the New High Aztech Cover

As if the political turmoil being slathered all over the planet in the year 2016 wasn't enough, a new edition of my novel High Aztech is coming out. And get a load of that cover! Eyeball-snagging even if you don't recognize the source material.

It's a collage, artfully combining images from a Dell Harris painting and a Diego Rivera mural. And the typography is great, too.

Y'see, amigo/as, art begets art. Creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum. Diversity fuels it. Recomboculture blazes the trails. Dare I say it? All culture is appropriated, just ask the Aztecs, Mesoamerican masters of appropriation that they were.

So, let's take a look at the art and artists that contributed to this cover:

When I first saw Dell Harris' painting Scorpio, I was blown away. The cybervato seems to have stepped out of High Aztech. Dell painted it in 1990 while I was working on the novel. Neither of us has any idea of what the other was doing. Maybe there was something in the air. I just had to use it for the cover of my self-published e-version.

Of course, some people thought it was a bit much with the electronic codpiece and nail-studded baseball bat suggesting extreme sex and violence. The Specter of Puritanism is alive and well and living in América del Norte. I struggle with it on a daily basis.

I still think it's a great cover, by a great artist, and will use it when opportunities arise.

The other image is from Diego Rivera's Palacio Nacional mural La Gran Tenochtitlán. I've been to Mexico City/Tenochtitlán/el D.F., and standing before it changed my life. I may never have written High Aztech if I hadn't visited La Capital Azteca. Lady Tenochtitlán stepped off the wall, took my hand, and whisked me off to an alternate universe and otherwise inspired the living hell out of me.

Diego's Aztec murals present an idealized vision of a PreColumbian past, while in places presenting images that shock sensibilities nurtured on Western Civilizaton; it had the same motivation as Afrofuturism. They both present images of other worlds, other possibilities, that are meant to inspire people to see their own world in a different way, maybe even to try to change things. Diego is a big influence on me. Now and then I try to write long delirious paragraphs that have the impact on the reader's mind of seeing one of Diego's murals up close and personal.

The Lady and the Cybervato were brought together in the incredible Aztec marketplace, thanks to the vision and talents of the folks at Digital Parchment Services, Jean Marie Stine, M. Christian, artist Samantha Hursey, and book designer Frankie Hill. As time goes by, more artists contribute. New art and new cultures are created.

Who knows, maybe even a new world? Or should I say worlds?

I can hardly wait for the Strange Particle edition!

Ernest Hogan's High Aztech has been called “pure Chicano cyberpunk” by Lysa M. Rivera in her essay “Mestizaje and Heterotopia in Ernest Hogan's High Aztech”in Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction, edited by Isiah Lavender III.

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