Thursday, April 09, 2020

Chicanonautica: Monsters Here and Now

by Ernest Hogan

Monsters. Monstrosities. You can't get away from them in this season of the Coronavirus. One step outside and you're in the middle of the latest dystopia, leaning toward an apocalypse.

I'm reminded of the intro to KTTV's Chiller back in my Space Age childhood: “Come with us now to a land where unspeakable monsters roam and terror is the order of the day. You have sixty seconds to prepare yourself . . .” Then they'd cut to commercial before showing something like Caltiki, the Immortal Monster or The Hypnotic Eye.

Performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña has suggested,“Pretend we are all performing in a sci-fi movie.”

Not a bad strategy. It got me through all kinds of monstrousness since the Sixties.

Another thing is to throw myself into work, but then, my work is about monsters.

I've already Chicanonauticized about American Monsters Part 2, edited by Margrét Helgadóttir, part of the Fox Spirit Book of Monsters series, illustrated coffee table books of stories about monsters from different part of the world, by writers from the same places as the monsters.

Support your local monsters.

American Monsters Part 1 was about South America. Part 2 cover North America. I did a story about the monsters of Aztlán.

To show that it isn't all about me, let me tell you about the other stories.

The book should be of interest to the La Bloga audience because most of them fall into Aztlán/Latinx territory, as do a lot of their authors. It's a good survey of this continent's monsters.

Starting at the top of the map as Western Civilization draws it, Matthew Scaletta's story is about Sasquatch in Alaska. Of course, the 'Squatch is native. Kind of Latinoid.

There are also monsters from Quebec. Annie Michaud's look like ordinary people, and Krista Walsh gives us a Loup Garou--do I have explain that it's a werewolf? Also, since the term Latin America was coined by the French when they were dreaming of an American Empire with a French elite, they're kind of “Latin.”

Crossing the U.S. Border, Cory Doctorow monsterizes a kind of Disneyland, and Lewis Shiner finds reptilian descendants of the survivors of Atlantis under Los Angeles. Ah, SoCal and Hollywood, are they or Washington D.C. America's number one monster factory?

Sometimes monsters are immigrants. Carmelo Rafala brings an England/New England “rawhead” to the Midwest.

And there are more native monsters. Catherine Lundoff writes of a wendigo in Minnesota. And Charles Payseur presents the hodag of Wisconsin.

Entering Aztlán, Darcie Little Badger shows colonialism as a monster in Texas. Kelly Sandoval reveals some strange things about crows in Nevada. And remembering that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.A., Pedro Cabiya shows the Chupacabras in its place of origin.

Approaching that other border (monsters and
Latinoids have no respect for borders), Pepe Rojo's story is about vampires and abortion on the place where some people want to build a wall.

Crossing the border, Federico Schaffler involves an Aztec water spirit in Mexico's past and future, and causes trouble for the country's first female president.

There are also stories of Caribbean monsters that blend Latino with African. R.S.A. Garcia's tale is about a douen—a kind of forest spirit. Tobais S. Buckell's zombies are of the Caribbean tradition, and Tonya Liburd's vampiric creatures are not the usual Hollywood breed.

It's a good book to help get you through the social distancing, and may have you keeping your distance even after the crisis is over.

Ernest Hogan is “on-call at home” from his library job, working on his monstrous novel.

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