Thursday, November 07, 2019

Chicanonautica: Further Thoughts on Judging Extra-Fiction

by Ernest Hogan

Once again I judged the finalists of Somos en escrito: The Online Latino Literary Magazine’s Extra-FictionContest. It is an honor to be have been chosen to do it for the first two years. Makes me feel like some kinda chingón.

I took the job seriously. And it wasn’t easy. The competition was tight, as it should be.

Also, my decisions may be controversial, as they should be. We are Chicano/Lantio/x. Our very existence in controversial.

I gave first place to El Parbulito by Gloria Delgado. A story that digs into our past, and is based on a true story. Some may argue that it is not “extra-fiction,” but dammit, it’s more fantastic, not to mention just plain weirder, than a lot of the deliberate science fiction and fantasy stories I’ve read last year. And a prime example of the wonder can be found in La Cultura.

Second place A Story of the Fourth Crusade by Rosa Martha Villarreal is about Hispanic, not Latino/x, culture. But the volatile mix of cultures and wars of the Iberian Peninsula, and the reach of the Spanish Armada are integral to Latinidad. A lot of the things we think of as puro Mexicano are actually from Spain. And Spain is non-Anglo, and the gateway to Africa, and the Middle East. The author also references Borges in an introductory note.

Hmm. Do 21st century vatos read Borges? “Me and Jorge Luis were cruising the Boulevard . . .”

When Corn People Wage War by Tania Romero, the third place story (actually the first chapter of a novel) time trips, bringing in Mayan myths (or should I say realities?) percolating into the present. Once of the great Latino Lit themes. It stands on its own, and promises to go on to some interesting places. I’d like to read the novel when it’s finished.

My Many Faces by Venetia Sjogren provides a snapshot of a Latinx identity crisis, and Nous Somme Dans Une Texte by David Vela presents a Latinx in Paris, a fish out of water, as are we all. The both deserve their honorable mentions.

Another finalist,Wayward Angel of the Desolate Streets by JR Sanchez, is gritty cyberpunk with plausible cannabis products that I expect to see on sale soon. Not bad, but cyberpunk is getting old. 1984 was a long time ago. There’s still a market and audience for it--my novels still sell.

And most of the winners were women. No names were on the copies of the stories that I read. No bias there.

I congratulate the winners, including Writer of Promise Gerard Martinez, and to all those who entered. I salute you. To be a writer you first have to write (amazing how many people don’t get that far), submit you work for publication, and after the inevitable rejections, keep doing until you do get published, and keep doing that . . . well, forever.

It ain’t easy, but there’s something satisfying about getting published, and after a few decades having a career that.

I know, it’s the story of my life.

Ernest Hogan’s novels, High Aztech, Smoking Mirror Blues, and Cortez on Jupiter had a spike in Kindle sales during Halloween/Día de los Muertos/Dead Daze weekend.

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