Thursday, April 11, 2019

Chicanonautica: Quantum Santeria, Assimilated Cubans, and Other Latinx Manifestations

by Ernest Hogan
Since I write and have published quite a few short stories, I'm often asked to review story collections. This can be a problem.

Sometimes the stories are so diverse they send my mind soaring. They're a pleasure to read, but then I realize that I have to write it all up in concise way to give the reader and idea of what it's all about. Usually, saying something about each story would take too much space, and get tedious, giving those who read the review the wrong idea.

The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez is one of those books.

So I have to get clever. Look out, mi gente . . .

Carlos Hernandez not only writes the full range of SFF (that's Science Fiction and Fantasy, just in case you aren't up on all the latest abbreviations). We get stories that would satisfy the old school Hard Science crowd, does top-notch Latinx fantasy that blends into what some would call magic realism. And sometimes he does it all at once, as in the title story.

He gives us a large swath of the Latinoid Galaxy.
Ishmael Reed has often said of the Black Experience, “It's not a ghetto—it's a galaxy.” The same goes for Latinx (or whatever suffix we finally end up putting on it) Experience. The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria illustrates this. It's diverse without even trying.

The collection kept surprising me. There's a lot impressive speculating on up-to-date science, ghosts, Latin culture that is different from mine (Cubano and Chicano are very different things), but at the same time, familiar. And we get Latinx characters that are often educated professionals, the type of folk we usually read about in sci-fi . . . funny how in 2019 that's still something new.

The stories take place all over. And the Border comes up. Dare I evoke my vision of an Intergalactic Barrio? 

And the imagination fueled by Latinx culture and experience! 

There's this story, “The International Studbook of the Giant Panda” about virtual panda sex. Get your minds out of the gutter, pervs! It's done to save the species, a noble cause. It's still one of the strangest stories I've read in a while,and is stick in my memory. I'll have to bring it up when people say some of my stories to too far in that direction.

And it's just one of the stories.

Hey, Carlos, you got any more?

Ernest Hogan is writing, and trying not to be distracted by springtime in Aztlán.

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