Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chicanonautica: Paco Cohen and His Interplanetary Identity Crisis

by Ernest Hogan 

You can order it now, ahead of the official, February 1st 2017 release, Latin@Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction & Fantasy, edited by Matthew David Goodwin, a literary/cultural landmark for the brave new world featuring writers who are familiar to La Bloga readers Kathleen Acalá, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Junot Díaz, Daniel José Older, and many others.

And there’s a story by me: “Flying Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails,” a prequel to my Paco Cohen, Mariachi of Mars series that so far consists of “The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars” (Analog, April 2001) and “Death and Dancing in New Las Vegas” (Analog, April 2011).

(Yeah, I know that New Las Vegas is a linguistic train wreck, like the La Brea Tar Pits. Aztlán is littered with such things. I am assuming that the tradition will continue and the colonialization goes interplanetary.)

Lucky for me, and not without irony, “Flying Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails” has become relevant again. When I originally wrote it, I was making fun of the political situation a few years ago. When it didn’t sell right away, I was afraid that it would become dated. Guess I’ve got to realize that when writing about the Latinoid condition, political turmoil is normal, and it never goes out of style.

There’s a song by Bruce Cockburn,“The Trouble with Normal.” And the trouble is that it always gets worse.

I do wonder why Trump is so interested in going to Mars? Will his deportation force be part of the space program?

Somehow, I’m just twisted enough not to let it get me down. I have this vision of people like Paco Cohen, surviving in hostile environments, creating fantastic new cultures, reinventing themselves when an oppressive society smashes them.

Aztlán standing in for Mars.
¡Que Chicano! Talk about the Latonoid condition . . .

So now l’m working on another story, “Chasing Mermaid Songs Beyond the Yeti Highway” in which Paco -- who now goes by Teo – and his wife and daughter take off for the Martian outback, and find . . .

Maybe I shouldn’t reveal that yet.

What I need to do is keep writing. This vision won’t leave me alone. And I promised Ben Bova that I’d continue with these stories until they become a book like Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles -- a Great Martian Novel. I even have a title, Paco Cohen is Alive and Well and Living on Mars.

I gotta do it. Like Paco’s mom said, “Mijo, don’t be a yutz!”

Ernest Hogan is not a mariachi, and has never been to Mars, but he still wrote HighAztech, Cortez on Jupiter, and SmokingMirror Blues.

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