Saturday, January 17, 2015

U.S. Latino spec-lit world blossoms

In the last two years, I've worked on half a dozen stories and books. Sci-fi, fantasy, historical fantasy, diverse characters and indigenous plots. This week I realized I'm "waiting in anticipation" too much and instead of describing more about my writing-trek, here's just of taste of what else is happening in the world of Latino speculative writers. Much more than this is going on that makes me optimistic about our writing.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination

I'm only halfway through Silvia Moreno-Garcia's debut novel Signal to Noise, but here's a synopsis from her website:
A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

About the book:
“Numerous ’80s musical references make this unusual story a welcome blast from the past.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“A captivating story about friendship, music and magic, set in Mexico City.” – The Future Fire
Magic and music meet in this must-read novel.Nerds of a Feather
“It’s a sweet book that functions as a time capsule of sorts.” Lisa Shininger

From Sylvia: "Listen to my playlist for the novel. Also note a reviewer made a more comprehensive list of all the songs. Find the book on Goodreads"

Silvia's taken the classical path of seeking literary patrons, something I need to do more of. You can read about that and support her work.

Victor Milán
[with an accent on the A]

New Mexico resident, Victor Milán's next book, The Dinosaur Lords, is schedule this coming June. Here's info from his website:

"A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden – and of war. Colossal plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meat-eaters like Allosaurus and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from bat-sized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.

"Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán's splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics…and the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where we have vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engaged in battle. And during the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac – and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world."

The Dinosaur Lords arrives July 2015, but can be pre-ordered from Tor Books, 416pp.

Daniel José Older
Bronx latino moving up

I also just received a paperback of Daniel José Older's debut novel, Half-Resurrection Blues - A Bone Street Rumba Novel, that I'm reading. Here's info from the publisher:
“Because I’m an inbetweener—and the only one anyone knows of at that—the dead turn to me when something is askew between them and the living. Usually, it’s something mundane like a suicide gone wrong or someone revived that shouldn’ta been.”

"Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

"One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead. But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…"

Older will also be coming out with Shadowshaper, an action-packed urban fantasy, young-adult novel, in June, 2015. Here's a description:

"Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend. Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "No importa" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep.... Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

"Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present, and future."

Junot Díaz
No Young Adult sci-fi?

Atlantic Monthly published what I assumed would be the opening to a sci-fi novel that Díaz has been working on. Here's the latest news on that:

"In a new interview, The Long, Wondrous Interview with Junot Díaz You Have to Read in the journal Paradoxa, Pulitzer-winning author Junot Diaz speaks at length with Taryne Jade Taylor about the allure of genre fiction, colonialism disguised as sci-fi, writing, and immigrating to the U.S. at an early age (he refers to it as "a profound fracture of my reality, a temporal and spatial anomaly"). During the interview, Diaz also said that his attempt to write his new (YA?) novel—which was excerpted in a 2012 issue of The New Yorker—has "ground to a halt," admitting, "I'm probably going to have to abandon it."

The journal Paradoxa might have more details that I'll share after I receive it. Here's a sample of the The New Yorker excerpt:

"Everybody at school knew Alex. Shit, I think everybody in Providence knew him. Negro was star like that. This flash priv kid who looked more like an Uruguayan fútbal player than a plátano, with short curly Praetorian hair and machine-made cheekbones and about the greenest eyes you ever saw. Six feet eight and super full of himself. Threw the sickest parties, always stepping out with the most rompin girls, drove an Eastwood for fuck’s sake."

I read the entire piece and thought it was typical Díaz literary, with added picante of invented, futuristic phrasing, and even dizzier prose than his other novels. But he may never complete the novel. I've been thinking on that and if I come up with anything worth sharing, I will. I can't imagine Díaz not producing something that could become classic, Latino spec lit. Here's two excerpts from the interview that lead me to believe this:

"I fell for (sci-fi) genre because I desperately needed it—in my personal mythology, genre helped me create an operational self. I suspect I resonated with the world-building in many of these texts because that's precisely what I was engaged in as a young immigrant. And then of course there was the sheer pleasure of these stories, of these narratives.

"I'm not alone in noting the irony that a genre like sci-fi, historically obsessed with alterity, should have so much trouble with actual people of color and women and LGBT peoples. But when one understands the degree to which nearly all our genres are haunted by, and have drawn a lot of their meanings, materials, and structures from the traumatic Big Bang of colonialism and its attendant matrixes of power (coloniality)— irony strikes one as the least of our problems.

"Alien invasions, natives, slavery, colonies, genocide, racial system, savages, technological superiority, forerunner races and the ruins they leave behind, travel between worlds, breeding programs, superpowered whites, mechanized regimes that work humans to death, human/alien hybrids, lost worlds—all have their roots in the traumas of colonialism."

More latino spec coming

Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fiction will be the first anthology to bring together U.S. Latinos/as who are working in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres. It is truly an exciting time for Latino/a speculative fiction and there is a large movement of fans and scholars who are recovering its history and promoting the work of contemporary writers and artists. The editor is Matthew David Goodwin, who recently reported he'd received over sixty new submissions.

Here are some of the authors and artists already scheduled to be in the anthology: Kathleen Alcalá, Giannina Braschi, Pablo Brescia, Ana Castillo, Daína Chaviano, Junot Díaz, Carlos Hernandez, Ernest Hogan, Adál Maldonado, Carmen Maria Machado, Alejandro Morales, Daniel José Older, Edmundo Paz-Soldán, Alex Rivera, Sabrina Vourvoulias. Publication is planned for summer of 2015.

Es todo, hoy, but the year's just beginning.
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia, Chicano spec author working on his own good news for 2015



There's more out there than I can keep up with. And I do have some insight into YA: A couple of years back I heard from the woman who picks YA for the Phoenix Public Library that the publishers (I'm assuming New York) still think that YA is a suburban white girl thing, so that's what they publish, meanwhile, librarians looking for books for teenage black and brown males are out of luck. She also said that YA aged guys tend to skip the "age-appropriate" stuff and go directly to adult fiction. I know that's what I did.

Anonymous said...

Ernesto, I believe that means we need to be writing for those teens, especially the boys. I am. - RudyG


I agree, Rudy, but we can't expect the industry that packages and sells YA book to be supportive. I spent my teens reading things that the authorities would prefer I didn't know about. I guess I'm looking for a new niche in the publishing universe to come along -- the penny dreadful/dime novel/pulp fiction of the future.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ernesto, the industry is not "supportive," more exclusionary. I only expect us to force them to open up by our writings. Other niches, we or the young will create. I don't know that EPub is all that that can amount to. - RudyG


The time is ripe for some kind of revolution.