Ernest Hogan

Ernest Hogan

Mondo Ernesto

Monday, October 12, 2015


(from Ernest Hogan's Mondo Ernesto blog)

Hang onto your nalgas, carnalito/as, my “Chicanonautica Manifesto” is in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Volume 40, Number 2, Fall 2015!

It's part of special section called “Dossier: Latino Speculative Literature, Film and Popular Culture.” They even used some of my drawings to illustrate the introduction.

Along with my manifesto is an essay: “From Code to Codex: Tricksterizing the Digital Divide in Ernest Hogan's Smoking Mirror Blues” by Daoine S. Bachman.

Also discussed are Chicanafuturism, Latino@futurism, Jamie Hernandez's comics, Afro-Latina and Mexican immigrant heroines, Chicana/o cyberpunk, Gloria Andzaldúa's sci-fi roots, speculative rasquashismo, and Chicano@futurist visual art!

Order yours now!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015


(from Mondo Ernesto)

The first encierro looked out of control. More like a riot than a staged event. Like the scenes in old monster movies where crowds are running through the streets, trying to escape a gigantic monster. Only wilder.

The encierros, or runs, during the the Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain are scored by Time (Duración), Corenados (Gorings), Tramatismos (Injuries) and Peligrosidad (Dangerousness). Oddly enough, Time isn't as important at the rest. Dangerousness is what makes a good, or great encierro.

This is not sport as practiced in Western Civilization. This ritual is more like religion. Like the pre-fiesta protests where PETA beauty contest winners wear plastic horns, take off their clothes, and smear themselves with fake blood. See Richard Wright's Pagan Spain: It is the conquering of fear, the making of religion of the conquering of fear.

Why not a Church of Tauromachy? Isn't America supposed to be all about freedom of religion?

In that first encierro, a woman, after making it to the corridor into the arena, stopped running, and covered her ears. She had reached a personal limit. I watch for people like her, who are facing their fears. Sometimes it reduces you to a pile of quivering jelly, but what you gain from it is the courage of self-knowledge. There is a heroism in it.

This is a truer thing than America's “horror” culture, where fake blood and gore are mass produced and celebrated. Sometimes you need to reach out of your artificial consumer environment and touch the gooey mess of reality. It will teach you about your place in the universe, and the food chain.

It does cause visions of alternate universes to dance in my head: What would Hemingway think of what San Fermín has become? How and when did bullfighting become illegal in Aztlán? What if the Spanish influence was stronger and bullfighting was part of the cowboy/beef culture? Where would the running of the bulls be held in America? Would MacDonald's and Burger King be sponsoring bulls?

There's a Burger King along the encierro route. And a space that is for rent . . .

I really need to find time to finish that science fiction bullfighting novel.

And even though I'm stuck barbecuing my brain in Phoenix, I can enjoy San Fermín at my computer thanks to, SanFerminTV Online, and San Fermin Encierro's YouTube Channel.

How I enjoyed the high-Dangerousness – it got an 80! – encierro on Saturday! At one point, a bull named Finito had three men pinned to a wall. Finito charged into the arena with blood on his horn. Later, he threw Iván Fandiño, who had been gored in 2013. With blood on his face and no jacket, Fandiño killed Finito.

On the last day's encierro, the bulls from Miura made history for being the fastest in history. It set a new record at two minutes and five seconds. It also rated a 60 for Dangerousness. The real action was at Dead Man's Curve.

The bulls were muy bravo, and pretty badass, this year. A speed record, 10 gorings (8 were Americans, we're number one!), and 27 injuries. One bull even refused to run.

But it's all over now. Back to the alternate universes that are America and Arizona. Comic-Con? Really? And there's all this political turmoil, racist rhetoric, violence, and fighting over flags. So civilized.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


(from Mondo Ernesto)

Riots in the streets. Conflicts spreading like viruses. And a presidential election looming. Looks like it's time to go searching for America again.

It's not that we lose America. It's more like we lose track of it. It's especially easy in this days of social media, when you can fine tune your input according to your tastes – then, oh, the shocks when your step out of your comfort zone onto . . . the road.

That's where you find the real America, on the road. Huckleberry Finn knew it. So did Jack Kerouac. And Hunter Thompson.

And so does John Waters.

His latest book, Carsick, is another fine example of the Great American Road Book. He tells of hitchhiking across America, and more.

Carsick is another work of American literature that straddles the borders between fiction and nonfiction. After an introduction, he presents two outrageous novellas: one presenting the best case scenario, the other the worst. Waters' own twisted utopian and dystopian visions. Magnificently outrageous. The kind of stuff that makes you fall in love with America as the fantastic place where anything is possible, the way it should be, if only so many Americans weren't afraid of everything.

This gets into speculative fiction territory, crashing through alternative universes and all. Maybe John deserves a Hugo award for this.

Then, he goes on to document his real trip. Celebrity hitchhiking in the time of interwebs. Real people that are strange in ways his imagination didn't expect. The amazing, mind-blowing thing is – and I'm fighting the urge to commit spoilers here – it leaves you feeling good, and hopeful about this country.

It's the sort of book we need right now. And it makes me once again think of John Waters as a Great American.

Read Ernest Hogan's Locus Poll Top Ten Novel Cortez On Jupiter - For Only $3.99

Friday, June 12, 2015


(from Mondo Ernesto)

Here's what they had to say:

Hogan's debut, first published in 1990, introduced the subgenre of Chicano SF to a startled, dazzled American audience. Now, 25 years later, the book's Spanglish prose and freeform plot still amuse. All Pablo Cortez cares about is creating art, whether it's humongous graffiti sprayed across Los Angeles or zero-gravity paint slinging in space. Uncool authorities and timid collaborators can't stop him. When he confronts the alien Sirens of Jupiter, who have zapped the minds of earlier explorers, he takes their overwhelming flood of bizarre images as subject matter for new masterpieces. Hogan keeps Pablo's obsessive rants from becoming too intense by working them into a collage of comments from friends and enemies, along with hefty chunks of Aztec mythology, as he builds a jangling, rambunctious picture of artistic genius. This is tons of fun for freethinking readers who appreciate heroes with cojones. (Mar.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

See and Hear Ernest Hogan On High Aztech!

As part of the celebration of the imminent re-release of Ernest Hogan's incredible Chicano science fiction tale, High Aztech, here's a video interview with Ernest himself, via LATINOPIA WORD!

Saturday, May 9, 2015


(from Mondo Ernesto)

As if there weren't enough turmoil sweeping across the planet, it looks like not even the art world is safe. After years of being seen only in obscure publications, the interwebs, and on those rare occasions when I show off my sketchbooks in person, some of my drawings are making it into an art gallery.

To be specific, Sector 2337, in Chicago, thanks toJosh Rios and Anthony Romero.

From the web page:

On view in the Project Space from May 09-Jun 13 2015
Josh Rios and Anthony Romero will present Part Two of Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!—a project space installation that features various arrangements of the artifacts from their inaugural performance alongside other works that deal with Chicano centered imagery and histories. In addition, a suite of drawings by Chicano sci-fi writer Ernest Hogan will be on display. The collection of works on paper represents the smallest of fragments culled from Hogan’s vast archive of sketchbooks, notes, and drafts, which Rios and Romero are working to curate for an exhibition in the Summer of 2016.
Did I mention that said drawings will also be for sale?

Just what is the world coming to?

Monday, April 27, 2015


(from Ernest Hogan's Mondo Ernesto)

They mock the secessionist petitioners in Texas and other states, celebrate the infestation of even the smallest American heartland towns by African, Asian and Aztec cultures . . .

The above is a quote from Vox Day, one of the puppies who has caused the current shitstorm over the Hugo awards. For those of you who have not seen the wide-ranging media coverage this story is getting, a bunch of guys who don't like the trend in diversity in speculative fiction hijacked the nominations of the Hugos, throwing the future of the awards into doubt. Personally, I haven't paid much attention to the Hugos (or the Nebulas) in decades, but this is starting to hit close to home.

Because, Aztecaphobia is alive and well!

They're afraid of Aztecs coming to their hometowns. The Wild West stereotype of the blood-thirsty, half-breed never died. In Arizona, we still hear people talking about rumors of cannibalism and human sacrifice in the barrio. Schoolchildren speaking Spanish can trigger panic attacks.

Or as a little old lady from Phoenix once said, “We don't want downtown smelling like tacos!”

I've always considered the smell of tacos to be a sign of an advanced civilization.

The idea of an Aztec future must be their worst nightmare. I wonder if they've read any of my books or stories?

Dell Harris' cover painting (he called it “Scorpio”) for the self-published High Aztech ebook must put stains in their underwear.

If you want to get that edition, with that cover, you should buy it now, because Digital Parchment Services is working on a new Strange Particle Press edition of High Aztech, that – among other things – will have a new cover, that and incorporated imagery by a famous Communist artist!

Don't listen to the puppies, folks! Dream the dreams you lust after. Create the futures you want, be they African, Asian, Aztec,Texan or Arizonan. We need more visions, not less. Everybody, let your imaginations go wild!

Don't worry if it scares anybody. They may pull dirty tricks and try to shut you down – it's been the story of my life – but it's worth the fight. If they can't face Aztec cultural warriors, they are doomed.

Besides, one persons dystopia is another's utopia. One culture, one civilization, isn't enough. Imagine more. It's what sci-fi is supposed to be all about.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


There's a new review of Cortez on Jupiter in theVol. 5 No.2, April 2015 issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone by Cynthia Ward. You can buy this issue or subscribe here. Meanwhile, here's some quotes:

. . . the novel undermines expectations on practically every front.

Really, Hogan's entire novel is subversive.

The author's most fundamental subversion is in the language itself. It's true that slangy, dense, not-immediately-accessible language, packed with eyeball-kicking neologisms and non-English words, is a cyberpunk specialty. However, loan-words from a First World power like Japan don't begin to pack the seditious punch of the language of America's own disenfranchised, and Hogan doesn't stop with Spanglish.

I could go on and on, trying to capture Cortez on Jupiter in a word. Revolutionary? Gonzo? Well-written? Nahuatlfuturist? Anarchic? Recombocultural? Satirical? Cutting-edge? All are accurate (yes, even "cutting-edge," though the book was first published 25 years ago).

Thursday, March 5, 2015


(from Ernest Hogan's Mondo Ernesto Blog)

Yup. Another Victor Theremin story, “Where Civilizations Go to Die,” has been unleashed on a shell-shocked world. And you can read it free online! In Bewildering Stories Issue 609.

For those of you don't know about Victor, he's a science fiction writer who has lost track of where the science fiction ends and his life begins, probably because some Singuarity-spawned artificial intelligences are using him to figure out humanity.

If you're curious, you can read another story in the series – also free online: “Hindenburg's Vimana Joyride” in DayBreak Magazine.

For some money that will go to the American Diabetes Association, you can buy James Palmer's Voices For the Cure anthology, and read “Human Sacrifice for Fun and Profit,” the very first Victor Theremin story.

For more money, Rick Novy's 2020 Visions, has Victor in “Radiation is Groovy, Kill the Pigs.”

If this wasn't all enough, I just started another story – that looks like it'll probably be more like a novella or (GASP!) a novel: Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin, that will take this madness as far as it will go.

Because things just haven't gotten crazy enough for me.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rave Review for Locus Award Finalist Ernest Hogan's Cortez On Jupiter From Performative Utterance

Check out this rave review for Ernest Hogan's wonderful Cortez on Jupiter - out now in a brand new author-authorized edition from Digital Parchment Services/Strange Particle Press - by Digital Parchment Services/Strange Particle Press

Ernest Hogan’s debut novel, published in 1990 as part of Ben Bova’s Discoveries series, is a remarkable piece of original SF that is radical in ways that perhaps haven’t really been acknowledged yet.

Cortez On Jupiter is the story of graffiti artist Pablo Cortez’ career progression from Basquiat-esque guerrilla muralist in 2020s LA via a staggered Bester-like plot to a weightless take on Jackson Pollock on in orbit above the Great Red Spot. Meanwhile a series of attempts to communicate with the alien Sirens of the Jovian atmosphere repeatedly have fatal consequences. Fascinated, Pablo volunteers.

Initially framed as a documentary on Pablo’s career, told in flashback and transcripts, Cortez on Jupiter steers a course that manages to include explicit satire and old-fashioned sensawunda SF tinged with cyberpunk simultaneously.

The Science Fiction Encyclopaedia talks about Hogan’s ‘pleasing gonzo energy’ which most obviously manifests in Pablo’s rapid-fire Spanglish-with-Nahuatl dialogues. Long, free-flowing sentences leap around worldbuilding impressionistically rather than through any attempted simulation of mimesis. Pablo drops Aztec deities into his rambling seemingly allocating new mythic status to everything.

Paint stick in hand like an Aztec priest wielding a flint knife, or that cop swinging his baton on that cool starless night years ago in L.A. that crushed the buckle from my gas mask into my skull, leaving a cute little scarito in my scalp that I wore my hair extra short for months to show off. Or like in that time before time when space wasn’t separate from time or anything was separate from anything else and all was the goddess Coatlicue, She of the Serpent Skirt, but then she was the Cipactli monster: alligatoroid, fished, but more a great, quivering mass swimming in an endless sea that was also a sky, a mass with mucho, mucho hungry mouths that devoured everything, the monster, the sea, the monster, the sea, so the sea was the monster and vice versa — everything all mixed up like Siren zapware feedback — ay! Makes me want to be like the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca — I wonder which I am, culture giver or trickster? Could I be both? Why not? I know how they felt when they decided, Hey, enough of this formless nadaness! Let’s tear this monster/paint blob apart! (p2-3)

It becomes clear later that Pablo is, as he suspected, both culture giver and trickster. In particular the loner Pablo continually voices the trickster’s absence of respect for society, whether in small groups, through the justice systems, or in the Space Culture Project. In the latter Pablo rails against the Director as “An icon-maker rather than an iconoclast. No wonder we didn’t get along.” (p83)

One of SF’s favourite toys is the neologism, from raygun to cyberspace SF has modified language to tell its story but I struggle to think of any writer who has made language so distinctly his own the way Hogan does. (He even creates the wonderful “nuevofangled cyberpsychoautonomoelectromagneticneuroextrasensorywhatchamacallit.” p210) The Spanglish vocabulary not only gives Pablo cultural depth but contributes in classic trickster fashion to subverting the otherwise standard First Contact story. In his hands the toy is a weapon, reflected by the Picasso quote Pablo has tattooed: “Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war for attack and defense against the enemy.” (p25)

Writing in SFEye Hogan said of himself:

Growing up as a Chicano, I often found it easier to identify with aliens, mutants and other sci-fi thingies than with the white people who were supposed to be destined to conquer the galaxy.(Greasy Kid Stuff From Outer Space, SFEye 11, December 1992)

That outsider feeling has translated in Pablo into the man who can communicate with the Sirens when they have mentally destroyed others because of the artistic perspective and because of that identification more with the alien than society. In Cortez on Jupiter Ernest Hogan challenges the Heinleinian vision of space conquest, the prevalent Manifest Destiny of Space Exploration that lingers on. The ‘heroic’ first man to lose his mind to the Sirens is Phil Hagen.

a typical nondescript astronaut — not even the fact that he was black and raised in Brazil made him much different from the sterilized whitebread spacemen of the mid-twentieth century. He was all hard-edge haircut and close shave all the way down to the convolutions of his brain. (p27)

That sounds like Starship Troopers‘ John Rico to me, and the last line of that paragraph reads: “I can’t even recall anything he ever said that interested me.”

Cortez On Jupiter takes a conventional mainstream SF idea or two as its plot, hence the SFE suggestion that Hogan isn’t doing anything radically original, but in warping language as Pablo does “I really don’t care what language they’re from — I just use ‘em when they fit.” (p9) Ernest Hogan satirizes swathes of SF that went before. 
Historically, Hernan Cortez defeated the Aztecs in part through his relationship with a woman who interpreted for him. Pablo is a very different Cortez, but his return from the Sirens is facilitated by fellow artist Willa translating his thoughts. Multi-faceted synaesthetic communications assimilate Pablo and the Sirens where the establishment protocols all failed. Hogan convincingly offers SF a new, post-Anglo paradigm. Pablo’s linguistic exuberance and artistic questing highlight and challenge the media obsessions and the cultural establishments of today both real and as more commonly portrayed in SF.

Cortez on Jupiter is a frequently very funny novel but one with a serious heart. His story may be closest to Alfred Bester, but his freewheeling hi-NRG word mashups and sharp wide-ranging satire owe as much to Ishmael Reed. Twenty years on I still know no writer in SF consistently doing what Hogan does with language to document, shape and comment on colliding cultures.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Free Read Chapter 1 Locus Award Finalist - Only a Wild Chicano Graffiti Artist And A Beautiful African Telepath Can Save the World - Not Your Grandparents' Science Fiction

Chapter 1. Intro 

Yeah, yeah, I know that that big chingada System-famous I.I. superstar reporter Ms. Anna Paik is due here a little while ago, but – ay, ay, ay, that blob of paint! It just hangs there in the very center of my splatterpaint studio like a miniature Jupiter gone todo loco – the big planet with tides and weather and gravitisimo snapped on the strain of the mindscrambling secret of its monstrous microscopic inhabitants so's its regular bands get all broken up into merrily swirling asymmetrical patterns of mingling paint of cyberexaggerated color – like the glorious, unholy mama of all cat's-eye marbles, it glares at me.

I try not to see that Zulu bitch.

I'm so glad there's no gravity here, no está aquí, no way, nada . . . but that floating glob has a pull just the same. I orbit in free-fall, make the cabrónes let me paint here in the center of Ithaca Base where the spinning doesn't suck you to the floor like the irresistible pull of Jupiter – so big, so bad, so goddamn awesome that as you fall into those convulsive, frenzied clouds, you feel like you're being sucked up, not pulled down – Jupiter is too big, too gigantic for you ever to be on top of it – and it's still pulling me.

And she still pulls me.

"I'm gonna make you a Pablo Cortez!" I growl, and attack. Paint stick in hand like an Aztec priest wielding a flint knife, or that cop swinging his baton on that cool starless night years ago in L.A. that crushed the buckle from my gas mask into my skull, leaving a cute scarito in my scalp that I wore my hair extra short for months to show off. Or like in that time before time when space wasn't separate from time or anything was separate from anything else and all was the goddess Coatlicue, She of the Serpent Skirt, but then she was the Cipactli monster: alligatoroid, fishoid, but more a great, quivering mass swimming in an endless sea that was also a sky, a mass with mucho, mucho hungry mouths that devoured everything, the monster, the sea, the monster, the sea, so the sea was the monster and vice versa – everything all mixed up like Siren zapware feedback – ay! Makes me want to be like the Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca – I wonder which which I am, culture-giver or trickster? Could I be both? Why not? I know how they felt when they decided, Hey, enough of this formless nadaness! Let's tear this monster/paint blob apart!

It explodes – like an amphetamine-choked blob, like the Cipactli monster, brutally torn in half by her moving mijos, screaming as her lower half rises to become the heavens and her upper half falls to become earth – forming the universe – but she manages to bite off Tezcatlipoca's foot in process, so he tears off her lower jaw. Mutilated and screaming, space and time set in motion as we move from Ometecuhtli's timelessness to Xiuhtecuhtli's fiery spinning clockwork around the North. What the Mayans call the Burden of Time is picked up, latches on. Amorphous micromonsters sail through the air, some colliding with me, sticking to my naked flesh and my chones. One seeks my eyes in order to blind me. Lucky I wear goggles like Tlaloc, the storm god, and a respirator – the paint just bounces off the Nostic-coated lenses.

This whole canvas-lined chamber explodes with color. Beautiful. Like her, Willa, the Zulu goddess that pollutes my Aztec pantheon.

Still, the polycrylic paint has this sickening tendency to settle into little giggling globes that just sit there like mini-Jupiters, mocking me. I refuse to allow entropy to happen in my presence, so like a samurai Jackson Pollock, I scream and thrash the disgusting buggeritos into tinier flying sky-serpents that gaily decorate the canvas on the walls.

The canvas is raw, unprimed, and the polycrylic is mixed with a base that gives it the consistency of water. Splatter marks don't just sit there looking pretty – they grow fur as the canvas absorbs it, thirstily. My work is always wild and woolly.

Soon the colorful swordplay is over and I am victorious. All the paint (except for a few stubborn, but insignificant BBs) is slapped into the canvas. I shed my goggles awhile and the furious splatters change into visions.

André Masson, eat your heart out!

Bizarre animated hieroglyphics materialize in the Jovian storm clouds: demonic cartoon characters exhaling balloons full of obscenity – endless 3-D labyrinths of orbital castles complete with living gargoyles and tapestries you can walk into – large, luxuriant cars encrusted in jewels and tailfins that race the crowded, tangled spaghetti of freeways with off ramps all over the galaxy – the vegetal love poetry that an intelligent network of vines sings to the jungle it intricately embraces – the ecstatic rush of falling into an ocean of warm mud that tastes delicious and makes you feel so good – pornographic geometries that can only be imagined on a scale more than intergalactic – the byzantine plots of surrealistic soap operas that take place outside of spacetime in Omeyocán, the highest heaven, domain of Ometecuhtli, the Dual Lord, supreme being outside of space and time: Sirenesque, because they never picked up the burden of time either, like before I hit the paint blob or the Cipactli monster got torn apart; see my problema? – the ballet of subatomic particles smaller than any yet discovered! – et cetera et cetera et cetera...

Letting the stick fly, I attack the canvas with paint-covered fingers – desperately trying to record the visions before they fade, but never finishing before they do, so I have to fill the many gaps with memory and imagination. I shift from warrior to artist; un poquito more Toltec than Aztec. Like that Nahuatl poem:

He knows colors, applies and shadows them.
Draws the feet, the faces,
Sketches the shadows, obtains a finish,
As if he were a Toltec artist
He paints the total colors of flowers.

Yeah, that's me-ish. My folks would be proud. I remember the poetry, the flowers and songs. It's important because the enemy destroyed so much of La Cultura. Sí, Papa. Sí, Mama. I remember.

Then I see her face again. Willa's face – that dazzling, living African sculpture that exists somewhere between the inside of my overloaded cabeza, the zapware fireworks of the Sirens, and the frontiers of the universe. It all starts turning into her after a while . . . then tears start growing in my eyes, get bigger and bigger, and finally break away and orbit my eyes like Earthish waterplanets.

The door seal pops. It's Anna Paik, come to interview me in my unnatural habitat.

I slip the goggles over my teary eyes, let myself drift so I face the door – I've lost track of where it is (again) but canvas starts to pucker, bulge like a zombie's grave, tearing loose from the gluespots, a large section breaks free, wraps around whoever it is that's trying to enter, then gets tossed where it hovers like a multicolor mutant jellyfish.

Then she enters. Anna Paik, the muchacha that the System loves to look at and listen to.

I can feel Willa getting jealous (they tell me it's my imagination).

Anna is awkward getting in. Even though she's been on an epic tour of the System, in and out of gravity wells for the last few years, she's still terminally grav-legged – even doing yoga facial exercises to fight facebloat, those lips, slicked the same shade of electric blond as her hair, stretch wide, clinching the light in a way that could cook my chorizo. She sees me seeing her and that cute overly-made-up-for-holo (kinda making her look like a pornette) Eurasian face popped into an instant professional smile with a flash blush and a hint of flirtation in those eyes that wore violet contacts for the occasion.

"Pablo, you started without us," she says, up close and personal, with a slight Russian accent that almost makes me forget she's wearing a bubble ziploc clear baggie suit over some skintight furry designer jumpsuit that's the same color as her contacts.

"I couldn't resist that paint. Hey, don't I rate those famous dark, mysterious eyes?"

Giggle giggle. "The contacts are part of the outfit, goes with the flocked toe and fingernails. We're contracted to sell it as a package. The demogs figure this'll go over big with the arty types."

"With or without the baggie?"

"Well, we couldn't let it get your paint all over it."

I get a toehold and prop myself upside down from her. "Hey, why not? It'd be a Pablo Cortez original. Real megabuck action there!"

She smiles again, really must have trained hard to get all her gravbound facial expressions to work in freefall. "We thought of that. Only the helmet is Nostic'd. We'll do a network time-lag-adjusted auction later."

"Interplanetary Infotainment thinks of everything . . . my agent know about it?"

"Of course, silly." Pause. She holds the smile while wondering if she should have called me silly. "You'll be getting a cut, I.I. wouldn't dare cheat you."

"Yeah, not even them."

She reaches up and puts a plastic-wrapped hand on my shoulder. "Look, we want us all to look good here, with the whole System plugging in and all." The pat is a poquito too hard, sends me back, but I'm braced, and she goes into an unplanned backflip. "Whoa! I don't think I'll ever get the hang of this. Anyway, speaking of looking good, we do have a makeup man standing by – he specializes in correcting for freefall facebloat ..."

I peel off the goggles and respirator, smear some paint on my face. "This is all the makeup I need."

"Okay . . . yeah . . . And are you sure that's what you want to wear?"

Her eyes are on my multilayer paint-spattered chones (and probably on what's inside them). "Ay! I put these on just for this interview! I usually paint in the nude. I figured I.I. wasn't ready to show me with my huevos hanging out." She cocks her head to the side where she wears a bulky earcuff, listens to it buzz. "Huevos? Eggs? I don't understand."

"Don't tell me your translator isn't programmed for slang . . ."

"Isn't Spanish Spanish?"

I laugh. "Yeah, like Russian is Russian and English is English all over the System. Words are words. I don't really care what language they're from – I just use 'em when they fit."

For a while her face goes inscrutable/Orientalish as if facebloat was setting in. Now something else comes through the door – the camera, mounted on a serpentine waldostalk and wrapped in Nostic'd plastic like the head of a mechanical dragon sealed in a cocoon. Anna vigorously stretches and clenches her face a few times, listens to her earcuff, and says, "They're ready to roll. You ready to begin?"

I nod. The red light on the camera clicks on. I flick my wrist and send the paint still clinging to my stick at her.



(Blobs of paint splatter on Anna's baggie.)

ANNA PAIK: Hi, everybody! This is Anna Paik, coming to you from a different place, a colorful place, a place where the activities of one man have become the focus of Systemwide attention in terms of both science and art. This is the studio of Pablo Cortez, in the central freefall module of Project Odysseus' Ithaca Base, orbiting just outside the magnetosphere of Jupiter.

(More paint splatters on Anna.)

As you can see, I'm not alone. Systemfolx, please allow me to introduce you to Pablo Cortez ...

(Camera quick-pans to a tight shot of Pablo, who is upside down and at a forty-five-degree angle to audience's viewpoint. He floats in semifetal posture, has the thin legs and thick, bloated chest of a spacer, and wears only undershorts and a respirator and goggles that are floating around his neck. He has an untrimmed beard and unruly black curly hair, all shot with gray.)

PABLO CORTEZ: Hi, everybody!

AP: Pablo, is this the way you usually dress while doing your splatterpainting?

PC: Naw, I usually wear less, but my mama taught me to dress when I get company.

AP: Would you like to say something to your mother?

PC: Sure would. Too bad it's impossible. She's dead. My father too. They fooled around with a lot of drugs in their time with one of those neo-Aztec cults. People keep saying that's why I survived my encounter with the Sirens.

AP: How interesting. Have drugs been an inspiration for your art?

PC: No! I don't believe it's necessary, especially with an imagination like mine.

AP: Do you use drugs recreationally?

PC: Not lately. Not after the Sirens. Sure, I fooled around with alk and canniboids – the usual kid stuff – when I was younger, but it was never more than a passing interest to me. Being drunk or stoned makes it hard to paint and draw – and that's the most important thing in my life!

(He starts looking at the paint-spattered canvas that lines the studio.)

AP: That puts you at odds with some of the leaders of the System's art community.

PC: That doesn't bother me. I've always been at odds with communities. And leaders. I've always lived between worlds, never quite at home anywhere – but able to travel anywhere.

AP: And you certainly have traveled. You were born in the eastern sector of Los Angeles, orbited in Hightown, and ended up in the Jovian System.

(His eyes are still fixed on part of the canvas.)

PC: Uh, yeah . . . I also bummed around the norteamericano continent back in my teens and early twenties – you know, cheap, obsolete vehicles-for-hire that were built back in the twentieth century that often left me and assorted campesinos and their pigs and chickens stranded way out in the middle of nadawhere. Still, I got to cross war zones, jungles, and deserts, see cities, murals, ruins, and museums, and find out how a big chunk of the human race still lives in this here new, improved twenty-first century. Quite an education, really.

AP: And yours has mostly been a do-it-yourself education. You don't have a high-school diploma and never went to college.

(He turns to look at her for a moment, then resumes contemplating the canvas.)

PC: I went to college – I just never bothered to register. I always figured the best way to approach schools was like a thief – or a Guerrilla Muralist – sneak in, ransack the place, satisfy a few curiosities and desires, then get the hell outta there before someone snaps the cuffs on you!

(He stretches his legs out to a wall, hunches himself to the patch of canvas he's been looking at, and starts working it with his fingers. The camera tries to follow.)

AP: Did you get this attitude from your parents?

PC: No. They were college-educated Chicano intellectuals. Both had degrees in anthropology. The problem was they identified more with the people being studied than with the anthropologists. Probably what made them go neo-Aztec. They were working on an Aztec myth cartoon project...

AP: Do you consider yourself anti-intellectual?

(He turns to her. The camera stays on the paint he is working.)

PC: No! I believe in the intellect, thinking, studying. I like intellectuals. It's institutions that I don't trust. Why is anybody who hasn't sold his brain to a bureaucracy and doesn't wait for official permits to think called anti-intellectual?

(He goes back to painting.)

AP: But since the arrest and disbanding of the Guerrilla Muralists of Los Angeles, you've had to deal with several institutions . . .

PC: Yeah, but I dealt with them my way. Not like the rest of GMLA. Except for my buddy, Buck Waldo, they're still back in their hometown, waiting for committees to vote on their ideas before starting work.

AP: Let's talk about the Guerrilla Muralists of Los Angeles. Most of the System knows about them because of you, yet strangely they are relatively unknown outside of the L.A. Sprawl.

PC: They stood regional. Thought small. Didn't go nowhere.

AP: But how did the group form? How did you get involved with a group of art students?


Uh-oh. Here goes. Looks like I gotta do a verbal autobio – at the same time all these images on the canvas are getting ripe and near the danger point where the Sirenflashes'll fade and Willa'll have done something for nothing.

And the camera is moving in close to catch my fingers fondling the paint. No bother – I'm an exhibitionist, I don't mind an audience – in fact, I love an audience! And now I've got the whole System (or at least those plugging into I.I.) looking over my shoulder. Yippie!

The part of my brain that handles talk is different from the part that does painting. I can do both modes at the same time. Just open up all the gates and let it all pour out!

I splat some more paint on Anna.

Let the show begin . . .

Monday, January 26, 2015


(from Ernest Hogan's Mondo Ernesto Blog)

Look out! Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom will be coming at you at the 38th Annual Writers Week at the University of California, Riverside. I'll be teaching a master writing class on Feb. 4. The knowledge I've picked up from decades of writing will be free for taking.

Or, to put it in proper sideshowese:

"Step right up, folks! We've got one of the weirdest mutations to come out of East L.A. here for your examination -- a Chicano with sci-fi growing in his brain! Don't be afraid! Come on, get a good, close look! We're pretty sure his rare condition isn't contagious . . ."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


(from Ernest Hogan's Mondo Ernesto site)

Sedona keeps calling us back. Emily and I were just there a few weeks ago. And we also, for some mysterious reason, honeymoon there. We never really thought about it the first time, or the second time. And this third time, it justs seemed right.

It was dark when we reached Sedona, and it was festooned with Christmas lights. Like before, Google Maps got us lost. We had to ask directions at a fast food joint with a flying saucer out front, and they didn't know anything. Eventually we found the Baby Quail Inn.