Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chicanonautica: Latin@ Rising to a Latinoid Galaxy

by Ernest Hogan

Here I go, writing about an anthology with one of my stories in it. Feels kind of weird, but most of Latin@Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction & Fantasy is not by me. And this is not a review--it’s more like a celebration. I’m not playing critic here--I’m being more of a cheerleader. Yay, team!

As Ishmael Reed said about the Black Experience, more than once, “It’s not a ghetto, it’s a galaxy.” As I’ve said, also more than once, it’s the same for Latino Experience.

Or, if you prefer, Latino/a, Latina/o, Latin@, Latinx. Personally, I prefer Latinoid.

Latin@ Rising offers a diverse, panoramic look at the Latinoid galaxy. From a Texas publisher, edited by Puerto Rico-based Matthew David Goodwin (see? I’m not the only Latinoid with a non-Hispanic name), and with an introduction by Mexican-born Frederick Luis Aldama, it features authors from all over the Latinoid Hemisphere. The stories are both rural and urban, take place in Aztlán, New York (maybe too many there, but it is still the center of English-language publishing, and a close competitor with Mexico City for the capital of Latinoid culture), Latin America (remember than the term was coined by the French who imagined themselves as an elite ruling over us), from as far away as Europe and the Moon, and my story takes place on Mars, but mostly is flashbacks to Texas . . . There’s humor, tragedy, horror, serious “literary” pieces, and professional pop fiction that could revolutionize the market (yo, New York! Get hip!).

There's famous Junot Díaz, and some writers I’m familiar with from my La Bloga association: Kathleen Alcalá, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and Daniel José Older, as well as a lot that I’m delighted to be introduced to.

If this were just a “mainstream”--mainstream minority? the language fails us here (what language is this anyway?)--anthology it would be impressive, but here we’re plugged into the science fiction/fantasy/horror megagenre. The imagination is unleashed! And this time it’s the Latinoid imagination, that is more diverse than Anglo culture, drawing on a wider selection of cultures, mythologies, and experience.

Even in the local, Chicanoid/Aztlán the difference between Eastlos and San Anto, or even just San Francisco is notable. Tribal conflicts happens. And it gets even more complicated, and interesting, when you throw Puerto Rican, Cubans, and refugees from “Latin” America into the mix. When you boldly go beyond your local barrio, like a Chicanonaut, you get a whole lotta recomboculture going on. Brave new futurismos, fantasies, and horrors breaking out as you embrace cultures and let the imagination go berzerk.

Maybe we could give Afrofuturism some friendly competition?

Meanwhile, buy this book, and recommend it. Suggest it to libraries, show it to teachers. I’m not saying it will change the world, but it is a start.

Ernest Hogan’s story in Latin@ Rising, “Flying Under the Texas Radar with Paco and Los Freetails,” tell why Paco Cohen left Texas to become a mariachi on Mars. Eventually, it will be part of the novel Paco Cohen is Alive and Well and Living on Mars.

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