Thursday, June 27, 2024

Chicanonautica: Hanging with Alienígenas Americanos

by Ernest Hogan

It glowed on the library shelf. Another volume to help me practice my Spanish. And amuse me.

Alienígenas Americanos: La Historia Extraterrestre de Nuestro Continente by Juan Salfate and Francisco Ortega. Looked like it would be a fun way to practice my Spanish.

Also, I actually had what J. Allen Hynek called a close encounter of the first kind,  saw lights in the night sky, a UFO over the Superstition Mountains–emphasis on unidentified. I have no idea what that chingadera was. Local tribes say they are sorcerers. Flying sorcerers. Hmm . . .

Besides, I found in the past that UFO lit from the Hispanophonic world is a special kind of strange, full of things that are out of bounds to the puritanical Anglo-Saxon imagination.

I was not disappointed.

The authors–Ortega writes novels and graphic novels as well as “ufologicals,” and Salfate is a film critic\TV presenter–see the whole UFO/paranormal (how they have overlapped over the years!) subject as folklore, so it’s not a lot of paranoid conspiracy theory crap.

It turns out to be an excellent guide to reportage of the UFO phenomenon from mostly South America, though some of the material is from the North American continent up to the U.S./Mexico border, but then why should UFOs have a respect for the way we divide up this planet?

And to my delight and surprise, there were things I hadn’t run across in my lifetime of wallowing in the weird.

The stories go back to before Columbus brought those aliens over on his unidentified floating objects. They link to the local mythologies, and folklore, from the Virgin of Guadalupe to el Chupababra. They find pre-1990s precedents when I had thought that the Chupa was the result of Spanish language networks going intercontinental via satellites.

Made me rethink my preconceptions. Always a good thing.

There are also South American Roswells and encounters with military aircraft, with political implications, but the don’t get into QAnon territory.

The accounts are kept short, so there’s no obsessing over minutiae.

Of course, Erich Von Daniken and J.J. Benitez are cited, and there’s a detailed bibliography.

And there’s art, on the cover and inside, by Dadlov Maslov that keeps it fun.

There’s nothing worse than one of those books where the author is sure they’ve found the absolute truth and you’re doomed if you don’t believe it: “ THIS IS THE TRUUUUTH! YOU HAVE TO BELIEEEEVE IT!”

I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an English translation someday.

Meanwhile, keep watching the skies, cabrones!

Ernest Hogan, the Father of Chicano Science Fiction, will be teaching his “Gonzo Science Fiction, Chicano Style” class again at the 2024 Fall Somos en escrito Writing Workshop

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