Thursday, January 08, 2015

Chicanonautica: Are We Discovered Yet?

It's the year 2015, and looking back at 2014, some interesting stuff has happened, and it has to do with the core Chicanonautic concerns. Seems that science fiction and fantasy – or at least the offical stuff from big time publishers – has discovered diversity, and is giving awards to women of color. Big news! The future and the universe are diverse!

Since I've been doing this for decades, and jumping up and down screaming to get people to notice, I have mixed feelings about it. I was diverse before diversity was cool.

I remember when all science fiction was considered trashy, and fantasy didn't quite get picked up on the radar. Getting published was considered a minor miracle, and if you made any real money, maybe you weren't really sci-fi after all.

Add the fact that you might be a Chicano or something weird like that -- well, I had a lot of people look at me like I was crazy and try to talk me out of it. I guess I got used to it. I never did expect much acceptance or cooperation. I figure I'm like movie monster, running amok until the authorities bring in the heavy firepower.

I was out to see if I could get away with things, and I managed to do it.

But the times have changed. Magazines like The Atlantic and The New Yorker are publishing articles that would have been the stuff of fanzines when I was getting started. The masses eat up sci-fi franchises brought to them by multinational corporations that they know and trust.

Maybe a book or two gets bought now and then, but I don't see my writer friends and acquaintances getting rich.

I'm not getting rich either, but 2014 was a successful year for me. My multi-book deal with Digial Parchment Services' Strange Particle Press is going well. Editors doing “diverse” antholgies are getting in touch with me for stories. And academia has discovered me, so if I play my cards right, my books will taught on campuses all over. My readers, who have been called a “noisy minority” have grown up to be editors, publishers, and professors.

Seems like all the hard work I've been doing for decades is paying off, but I do wonder. I've been right here all along, stomping the terra, and it took this long to discover me. Haven't I been visible or noisy enough?

Maybe it's because I've always been an outsider, waging a guerrilla war for my own existence, that I'm uneasy about diversity in science fiction and fantasy being the coming thing. I don't know how to be in. I don't trust the Establisment. What if they decide that it's just a fad: “Diversity? That so 2014!”

But then, what if writers like me are the coming thing? Science fiction is busting out all over the place, in real life, with changes happening faster and faster. Is it more than a coincidence that this is happening simultaneously with the post-Ferguson racial strife?

The future is coming, and it's looking scary. It'll cause some freak-outs. People are going to need new visions to help them sort it out. Diverse writers with wild imaginations can do that.

Ernest Hogan is the author of the novels Cortez on Jupiter, High Aztech, and Smoking Mirror Blues. Watch for his story collection, Pancho Villa's Flying Circus.


Mario Acevedo said...

Great post, as usual. I do hope you reap plenty of what you've been sowing (the good stuff, anyway). But it is the Latino literary community who harbors the most prejudices against genre fiction. I'm leery of the recent jump by Latino academics "discovering" Spec-lit since I've never seen them in any of the venues where the genre exists.

msedano said...

the future doesn't have to be like the past. with increasing numbers of chicanas and chicanos gaining entrée to grad school, they're going the shake the hustings for dissertation and thesis topics, sabes. how many raza wordsworth scholars does the world need? so that coterie of Latino academics and cacademicos will be pounding down Hogan's and Acevedo's doors looking to make youse famous.

Anonymous said...

If some ways, 'Nesto, you're dead-on. Quién sabe qu´más hay. Except for whatever we choose to create, other than following the beaten, old-white-gringo track.
Vamos a ver.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

America is having an identity crisis; it just hasn't fully realized it yet. The Neo-Majority is inheriting the madness of the current state of things. I see the current cycle differing from others in that we as unwelcomed native immigrants do not have the "advantage" of blending into the whole and are in many ways apart from it altogether. Science fiction is an ideal genre to facilitate the shift but also to provide a solidarity amongst all citizens. I am a new author, an old soul, and a teacher of the social sciences. Thank you for encapsulating the zeitgeist and being a forerunner in the effort to undo the alienating conditioning many suffer from. - Adrian Mendoza -author of The Kaleidoscope: The Gift of Madness


How does a Chicano sci-fi writer survive in a world where you get treated like talented leper by New York, and cartoonists are gunned down in Paris? Looks like the brave, new Global Barrio is off to running start this year. And people are interested, academics included. I'll give it my best quixotic/trickster skills, and hope to put on a good show. Maybe changing the world un poquito will be side-effect.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Yes, I agree Ernest. We have to remain the most efficient cogs in the machine. By continuously working hard, our efforts will speak for themselves. Others will be replaced but as you said, "little by little", change will happen as we become the machine itself.
Adrian Mendoza – Author of The Kaleidoscope: The Gift of Madness

Anonymous said...

Be sure to wear long coattails,ese. I want to grab onto them.

Low Writer