Saturday, February 05, 2011

Chicanonautica: Prophesy, High Aztech, and Nerve Jelly

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay! Would you look at what’s going on in the world? Upheaval in the Mideast, tensions at the Border next door, mass shootings, riots . . . Reminds me of my novel High Aztech:

Just as we turned the corner down a street where the crowd thinned, the whine of the helicopter’s guns spitting out nerve jelly rounds cut through everything. Gelatin shells burst, splattering what looked like green blood that soon looked like it was oozing out of everything: people, the pavement, buildings, cars. Soon all the people who were hit by the nerve jelly were twitching, falling down and going into convulsions.

A barefoot beggarwoman foamed at the mouth as her baby cried beside her.

Patioynene pulled me through the weed-jungle in the form of a boarded up huehue American Dream-style tract home. When we came to the rotting gate, I kicked it down without thinking. We hid in the patio while nerve jelly splashed into the drained swimming pool, threatening to fill it.

I don’t try to predict the future when I write science fiction -- still, people keep telling me that the world is getting to be like my stories. I’ve always been more interested in science fiction as a confrontation with changing reality rather than escapism. And as a Chicano, I’m plugged into cultural influences that most science fiction writers don’t have access to.

Looking back, I shouldn’t have been able to publish High Aztech. It was another case of me stumbling into the right place at the right time so I could get away with something outrageous. Ben Bova trusted me, and let me go wild. Others at Tor did their best to sabotage the book. Despite it all, it has become a cult novel.

As a child of the Sixties, I’m obsessed with riots. A riot can happen, and suddenly who you are and your place in society can change. I watch them like a spectator sport. Like my character Victor Theremin, I scan the Web for video of riots around the world. Lately, there’ve been too many to keep up with. I’m experiencing overload.

I find myself looking for more civilized amusements -- like bullfighting.

High Aztech would be selling like hotcakes if it was in print. But it is not.

I believe that one reason Tor quashed it and tossed me out is that High Aztech wasn't the sort of corporate-controlled genre fiction that publishers and the BigBox chain bookstores had decided was the fast track to big bucks. Lately, that stuff is just sitting there gathering dust in the BigBoxes. Publishers and bookstore chains are imploding. New technology is bringing about catastrophic change. A Sputnik Moment, if you will.

I should really get to work and make High Aztech available as an ebook.

Or as I wrote in High Aztech:

The first two Kalis fired nerve jelly rounds at the crowd. There was some panic and fighting, but the party went on.

I wonder how many revolutions we can have on this planet at the same time?

Ernest Hogan is the author of High Aztech and is solely responsible for its content.


Melinda Palacio said...

e book for sure. have your own publishing riot.

e said...

A rather (in a most positive sense) outrageous cover for a sci-fi novel caught my eye in a second-hand book store in Manchester recently. It made me pick the book up. Then by chance I happened to notice that there was another book on the shelf by the same author that was somehow related to the first one. I leafed through the two books, trying to figure out what they were about - and bought both of them.

The books were High Aztech and Cortez on Jupiter, and the cover I'm talking about is the same High Aztech cover you posted here. A while after finishing those two books I managed to get Smoking mirror blues from Amazon. Finished it today.

Getting these books out in the wild again wouldn't be such a bad idea. High Aztech especially. eBooks would probably be the way to go? At first I resented the idea of reading books on a screen, but some experimenting with an iPad got me quickly convinced that it's not only a good idea, but a rather pleasant reading experience also.

Anyhow, cheers from a random reader from Finland. No Aztecs here, though.

e said...

Oh right, you posted two different covers for HA. I meant the second one. The one with the creepy golden guy with lightning on him.

Ernest Hogan said...

I better get to work on e-booking right away . . .

Glad to know that my books made it as far away as Manchester and Finland.

The golden guy with lightning was on the British cover. Both CORTEZ ON JUPITER and HIGH AZTECH had British and American editions with different covers. The Brit HIGH AZTECH cover was based on a gold pectoral of the Mixtec god "5-Crocodile, Swallowed Sun."

mchristian said...

High Aztech remains one of my fall-time favorite books .. and, yes, you may blush! If you haven't found an ebook publisher for a new release I work with a fantastic one: Renaissance. In fact the publisher is an old hand at SF and has been re-releasing some classics and other wonderful stuff. Drop me a line and let's chat!