Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicanonautica: Futures for Arizona

by Ernest Hogan

Writing about what you know isn’t just good advice for a writer. You can’t seem to help it, even if you write science fiction -- especially if you're a Chicano. La Cultura percolates through my work. And since I’ve been living in Arizona, I mine its natural weirdness for material.

From when Brainpan Fallout was serialized in The Red Dog Journal, a Phoenix coffee house giveaway zine to “Burrito Meltdown” in Angel Body and Other Magic for the Soul to “Doctora Xilbabla’s Datura Enema” in Rudy Rucker’s Flurb, and “Novaheads” soon to be in Claude Lalumière’s Super Stories of Heroes and Villains, Arizona has provided me with a fertile location for my stories.

I really should dedicate a book to the politicians of the Grand Canyon State. They have been such an inspiration to me.

But what about Arizona’s real future? Beyond the racist dystopia that has become the current stereotype . . .

The real estate barons who caused the latest economic crunch have long dreamed of making Arizona into duplicate of the SoCal sprawl. They would buy up the desert, install shopping centers and ticky-tacky housing, with the idea that “If you build it, they will come.”

The problem is, where’s the water going to come from? Captured comets?

So you see them, modern ghost towns along the highways. Even an occasional lonely Walmart among the cactus.

And now the Navajo Nation is making a bid to for ownership of the Navajo Generating Station, that besides sending electricity to Nevada and California as well as Arizona, pumps a lot of water to central and southern Arizona.

This could change things.

Then there’s the real reason we have nervous legislators coming up with crazy plans to seal off the border with Mexico, and keeping our history and culture out of the schools:

In the Metro Phoenix area, especially on the West Side where I live, it’s becoming more and more Latino. There are more signs in Spanish. More and more often, when you need something, it’s a young, bilingual brown person behind the counter, at the computer taking care of you. I’m not just talking Mexican restaurants, but hospitals, and the police.

In my neighborhood, a lot of the people who would complain about all the “Mexicans” and “illegals” -- sometimes when my wife and I were walking by -- have moved out. Funny how a lot of white people can’t take it when they’re outnumbered -- makes you wonder how their ancestors ever “won” the West. Now it’s looking more like White Flight.

The Build the Fence/Show Your I.D. crowd is also getting older and and dying off. Sheriff Joe, Governor Jan, and their ilk will find their clichés harder to sell in a few years.

And recently, while we were taking in a spectacular view while hiking, my wife, said, “I wish all the houses would go away.” 

I was reminded about rewilding. To quote the Rewilding Institute’s mission statement:

To develop and promote the ideas and strategies to advance continental-scale conservation in North America, particularly the need for large carnivores and a permeable landscape for their movement, and to offer a bold, scientifically-credible, practically achievable, and hopeful vision for the future of wild Nature and human civilization in North America.

Interesting. I have a story idea about it that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Maybe I should. Soon. 

After all, the future is coming.

Meanhile, I’m having a vision in my smoking mirror of a future Arizona that is mostly park and nature preserves, and Indian nations -- maybe reservations to keep cowboy culture alive -- financed by tourism and casinos.

Ernest Hogan’s underground cult novel, High Aztech will be available again soon. . .

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