Thursday, October 02, 2014

Chicanonautica: Our Hijo de la Chingada Conquistador Heritage

by Ernest Hogan

Seems I can’t do anything without it causing controversy. Though the overwhelming reaction to the cover of Digital Parchment’s new edition of Cortez on Jupiter had been positive, there has been some objection to Pablo Cortez being depicted as a futuristic conquistador.

I understand people’s reaction to the symbolism. The conquistador in his helmet is seen as a villain while the “pioneer” (originally from the French for “foot soldier” as in “peon”) in his coonskin cap is idolized a hero. But as my great-grandfather Hogan said about the Wild West, who the good guys and bad guys are depends on who’s in charge at the time.

I like the cover. It's similar to an idea I had when the first edition was in the planning stages. The conquistador I envisioned was more of an H.R. Giger monster, but this new one is more commercial -- doing the important job of catching the eye of cybershoppers and getting them to read the synopsis.

A good book cover makes people think, “What the hell?”

Also, in way, Pablo Cortez is a conquistador. He conquers, not Jupiter, but the society he lives in.

Like it or not, as Hispanics/Latinos/Chicanos/Nican Tlaca, we carry conquistador DNA. Otherwise we’d be Indians. It’s our whole hijo de la chingada thing, or as my grandmother once so delicately put it:

“The soldiers would come into the villages, and take the girls away on their horses  . . . and then they would be their wives!

We live in a world they made -- especially here in Aztlán, where we walk in their footsteps, and the extermination of the natives was not complete, the difference between Nueva Hispana and New England. 

As I wander like Don Quixote seeking adventures or like the Aztecs searching for the place to build their metropolis, I often feel like a doomed warrior on an absurd mission in an alien land. Though I do identify more with Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico than Cortés, Pizarro or Aguirre.

Hmm . . . Was Columbus a conquistador? He was working for the same bosses.

It’s given me ideas that I may never get around to writing:

What if space explorers acted like conquistadors rather than idealistic bureaucrats?

What about a badass mestizo gunslinger who wears a conquistador helmet?

Or an Aztec anti-conquistador, going to Europe to deconstruct their culture?

Ernest Hogan’s Cortez on Jupiter is available for pre-order for a new Kindle edition with new cover and introduction. There will be a softcover edition, too. Stay tuned for details as they develop.


Mario Acevedo said...

Thought provoking post as always. As you pointed out, we have Conquistador DNA...and we speak their language! Like it or not, the Conquistadors were bad ass. Many of them were also Jewish, hiding among the Catholics to escape the Inquisition.

Anonymous said...

Conquistador DNA is recessive; it will be blended into browns, eventually. I have more objections about the cover's symbolism, but I gotta go let some doc practice on me. Later. RudyG, parte conquistador--la parte de verbüenza.


In New Mexico, I keep running into the conquistador and Jewish traditions -- new worlds to explore. And arguing about the symbolism can only enlighten us, so bring it on. But, of course, book covers are all about salesmanship, P.T. Barnum/Marshall McLuhan stuff. We'll see how this one works, then keep on experimenting!