Thursday, September 27, 2018

Chicanonautica: The Steampunk Banditos Are Coming! The Steampunk Banditos Are Coming!

I thought that Mario Acevedo had taken his Chicano vampire detective hero Felix Gomez to the outer limits with his last novel, Rescue From Planet Pleasure. It went from paranormal noir into sex-crazed space opera the likes of which I had never seen, and I’ve been reading kinky sff since the Nixon administration. Little did I know that Mario has more, wilder things in the works.

Steampunk Banditos: Sex Slaves of Shark Island, the seventh novel in the series takes things into a whole other dimension, literally. We’re talking Coyote time travel--that’s right, Coyote as the great trickster spirit of the continent that in these particular timespace coordinates is known as North America. This isn’t just a trip back in our history, but into an alternate universe, one where the Southwest is known as Aztlan (I like to put the accent mark on the “a,” Mario doesn’t, so I’m leaving it out here, for the sake of consistency--doncha love how Latino culture is full of disagreements about spelling, pronunciation and what the chingada language are we arguing in anyway?). Also, Chinese gangsters are everywhere; Felix Gomez ends up working for one.

There also don’t seem to be many Anglos around.

In other words, it's a volatile, rasquache mash-up that blasts apart all the walls between the genres (which, let’s face it, are nothing but marketing strategies), and sends astounding fragments soaring through the reader’s mind. There’s the detective angle, because the investigator/narrator helps when thrusting us into a weird new world. The ever-popular vampire theme, along with werewolves, finds a new home in the Wild West. And its paranormality dovetails into sci-fi with a mad scientist and some monsters.

Oh yeah, there’s also these amazing women. The sex slaves of the title don’t just sit around signing and whimpering until they are rescued--they pick up weapons and . . .

It’s probably better if I don’t reveal too much.

As you can tell from the drive-in movie/pulp fiction (if you are too young to know what either of those are, do some research, your education is seriously lacking) titles, this isn’t highbrow literature with a grim agenda here. Steampunk Banditos, and the rest of Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez novels, are pop culture. They are full of colorful images, ideas, and thrills. 

In other words, it's fun.

They are also from a Chicano viewpoint. I once heard Mario say that it would be weird for him not to write that way.

The Latino Lit crowd needs to look into Steampunk Banditos, and Mario’s other works. They could learn a few things from his page-turner style that made him a national best-selling author.

And the ending indicates that there’s more to come, which should be mind-blowing.

Ernest Hogan’s High Aztech will be taught as part of a course at San Diego State University, and he will be flying out to meet the students.


Daniel Acosta said...

It's disturbing to see that sex slavery/ human trafficking is used for entertainment. Sex slavery is a serious, dehumanizing abomination, and should not be celebrated in the arts.


I take it you haven't watched much television and movies, or read much popular fiction in the last twenty years . . . and this in not celebration.