An ancient god. A new technology. The future will never be the same. New technologies resurrect an ancient Aztec wizard/ warrior god, who hijacks the body of the one who resurrected him, running wild through a futuristic Hollywood, adapting the brave new world and getting back to his old business of creating chaos and taking control....
|Title||:||Smoking Mirror Blues|
|Number of Pages||:||212 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Smoking Mirror Blues Reviews
A TOP SHELF review, originally published in the April 10, 2015 edition of The MonitorIn a near-future Los Angeles, the cultural barriers have come down between people in a process called recomboization, creating fascinating hybrids like Dead Daze, a three-day celebration blending Día de los Muertos, Halloween and Mardi Gras — a bacchanalian revel during which only corporate-sponsored street gangs dare patrol the crowded streets and the drug Fun is consumed openly.On the eve of Dead Daze, Beto Orozco, ladies’ man and game developer, decides to put to use the god-simulator program he has stolen from Xóchitl, an engineer from Mexico City. Unfortunately, he selects Tezcatlipoca as his test deity — the Aztec Lord of Chaos, trickster brother of Quetzalcoatl — and he does so without any safety measures. The simulation gains access to the Internet and attains sentience, reaching out to control Beto’s body first through hypnosis and then a cerebral implant.Plunging into the celebration, Tezcatlipoca — using the recombo name translation “Smokey Espejo” — takes control of a corporate gang and soon becomes the center of the festivities, his musical talents, suave presence and seeming omniscience attracting the attention of the media … and other groups.Ti Yong/Hoodoo Investigations sizes up the threat this AI god represents (to wit, he wants to use music to foment chaos across the globe, partying hard as he does so), and they decide, with the help of the simulation program’s creator and a handful of Beto’s original friends, to stop Tezcatlipoca and free Beto (whose mind has been imprisoned in his own brain).Their mission is complicated by the Earth Angels, a shadowy organization of monotheistic terrorists who believe the only way to stop Smokey Espejo is by creating a cybernetic version of their “one true God” using the same software.As these three groups head toward a collision, one thing is certain: the gods humanity has crafted will hold a dark and smoking mirror to our collective soul.Hogan’s style is both deftly self-assured and gleefully madcap, harkening to the very best of Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison and Samuel R. Delany. Shifting viewpoints are intercut with commentary from news reporters and the communications of different organizations. Steamy, explicit scenes are juxtaposed with philosophical conversations and political machinations, but the narrative flows smoothly, drawing a reader deep into this imagined world.And what a world! Most of the protagonists are Latinos (“latios”), but people of color in multiple variations appear (including a president who is African-American … sort of … it’s complicated). The shamanistic cyberpunk vibe of El Lay (Los Angeles) during this “trimili era” is unique while feeling familiar, as if Guillermo del Toro had collaborated with Terry Gilliam to craft a fictional universe.If you love great speculative fiction and/or Chicano literature, you owe it to yourself to give this a read. To use the hybrid future slang of the book, “It’s sumato!”
I've read a few writers of the cyber-punk genre (William Gibson, Lewis Shiner) and while the cyber aspects were apparent, I never really saw the punk aspect. In Ernest Hogan's Smoking Mirror Blues he puts the punk in cyber-punk. Hogan deconstructs the world we know and recreates a slightly askew near future that is recognizable as an extrapolated world based on our present. Hogan's El Lay is a cool world where melting pot has simmered over and new compounds have been created in the forge of sex, death, and a Rock `n` Roll culture taken to the extreme. Beto Orozco with the help of a stolen computer program to recreate and personify gods of ancient cultures, creates Tezcatlipoca, the trickster god of the Aztecs. In his computer and through integration with a fully compatible medias here Tezcatlipoca is soon sucking down information about the culture and deciding it's a culture a god like him can thrive in possesses Beto and is soon out in the world during a Dead Daze (day of the dead) celebration, that seems aided by steroids or FUN, the drug of choice for the celebrants of Dead Daze. As Beto's Tezcatlipoca becomes the star of Dead Daze and literally a rock star whose music threatens to enchant a society that is already doing a death dance on the edge of chaos. Realizing the danger, the Tezcatlipoca entity represents to society, a mélange of the recombozoid world are banded together through circumstance and personal reasons to try and stop Beto/Tezcatlipoca. Smoking Mirror Blues is a mashup of cultures, slang, Rock `n' Roll, sexuality, the internet, gods ancient and newer (media?); you name it Hogan has thrown it in to this fast moving and breathtaking trip through a decadently embracing El Lay.
Interesting genre. Probably the first that I have read around the realm.I applaud the author for writing and including an intriguing new world of mestizaje where borders are blurred, I couldn't ignore the awful stereotyping...The sexualization of women, race, and queer characters. In instances like these I have to be critical. Representation in novels, especially in those written by PoC, are VITAL. We must not only create worlds where Chican@ concepts collide/mix/intermingles, or create characters where gender/sex/ethnicity other than common are presented, we must also make SURE that we are not further perpetuating stereotypes and ideals that debilitate those groups. Our characters must be accurately represented, as human beings. Not caricatures of their identity. I cannot stress that enough.I remember I once read a comment of a reviewer that criticized a certain author about her lgbt characters in her series. She remarked on how this author created "gay characters" instead of "characters who are gay". And finishing this book and even hearing my classmate's echoing sentiments, I keep thinking that about this novel. These characters are nothing more than what their "role" implies. Long story short, cool world, cool concept. As far as the character? What my professor described perfectly, written with a "white man's gaze".
Someone recommended that Smoking Mirror Blues (SMB) should be read with some global fusion playing in the background and after blasting some of that medicinal herb. I don’t do herb and I read a good part of the novel inside a shopping mall. And I still found reading SMB to be like taking an amped up ride through an urbanized Dante’s Inferno or a jaunting through a clichéd Disneyland on drugs albeit with a corporatized street gang trailing at my heels. Reading SMB is like being on an extended True Blood ride highlighting Halloween in Cyperpunk World, laughs, bloody terror and sexy fun all the way. And then there is the mystery of the God-Force that has awakened in the pedestrian persona of chico suave Beto, incarnating not as the Mexica’s terrifyingly regal Lord of the Near and the Nigh but in His lesser known persona of capricious Trickster. Science fiction god from New York, Norman Spinrad, places SMB in the “magical realism” genre, a genre that originated with Latin American authors. Granted, SMB is not hard or soft science fiction but magical realism? No, despite what the renowned Spinrad and at least one other reviewer have stated, the consensus clearly places SMB well within a cyberpunk realm of science fiction but then again the work is something else other than another cyberpunk tale with all the obsessive technophilia that comes along with it. I’ll posit here without getting into details that in my humble opinion Smoking Mirror Blues is a highbrow science fiction novel fitting in a subgenre first seen in the lowbrow sci fi novels that were spawned by the pen and paper role playing games (RPG) of a previous era. The venerable Ben Bova described Ernest Hogan as “. . . the most original voice to hit science fiction since Harlan Ellison." I can’t speak for Ben Bova but my gut tells me he gave this praise to Ernest Hogan because Hogan's work was definitely cutting into new ground in the world of highbrow science fiction. Until SMB was published no highbrow sci fi had been written in this subgenre that I will dub “techno-shamanistic” science fiction. Competant shaman demonstrate some prescient ability. Similarly good science fiction about the near future has to have elements of prescience in it. First published in hardcopy by Wordcraft of Oregon in 2001 SMB meets this criterion. Hogan clearly foresaw the commercialized mainstreaming of rampant cultural diversity complete will all manner of cultural appropriation. He takes cultural appropriation to the next level in SMB with racial appearances being modified for stylistic purposes with the aid of cosmetic technology. In fact SMB commences with two manifestations of Hogenesque prescience—firstly, the U.S. President urging citizens to take precautions during the dangerous time of Dead Daze, a days long celebration that merges Mardi Gras and Halloween with Día de Los Muertos. No question, the Dead Daze depicted in SMB presages the 2013 dystopian movie, The Purge wherein a day is set aside for prolonged, legalized mayhem. And the POTUS? Yeah, he’s African American. Remember, SMB was first published in 2001.From that point on the story races forward into the sexual politics that separates the protagonist, mad computer hacker Beto from his hot femme, Phoebe. Our man Beto proceeds to conjure Tezcatlipoca with AI software and an amalgam of trance dancing, virtual reification, electronic musical ritualization—and ingestion of the drug of the day, a smoke called Fun. The complete manifestation of an eternal God-Force does not happen in a flash so a good part of the story has to do with the subsuming of Beto’s humanity into the emergent persona of the dark Trickster born anew in El Lay Partyland. The counterforce consists of a global evangelist cult that hunts down spiritual aberrations in the medisphere, Hogan’s term for the World Wide Web. Thus plot tension is generated—as the Tezcatlipoca force gains more power in the real world, the Earth Angels, the evangelist killer squad hunts down the source of the alien energy (from their Holier Than Thou perspective). Music is central to SMB. You can almost hear Tezcatlipoca’s hypnotic music as you follow the story, the song with which the God-Force plans to conquer humanity. Yes, the reference in the title is to blues as in the blues that has influenced almost all forms of modern popular music. I would think music buffs would find all manner of musical references embedded throughout the story. A reviewer elsewhere described SMB as “wacky with a little edge.” I would say SMB gushes quirk and humor all over. Another reviewer aptly described Hogan’s writing style as “literary shaky cam.” I turn away in a second flat from any movie that smacks of shaky camera work. It was one of the things that made reading SMB a little challenging at first. Another challenge to my reading of SMB throughout was my feeling and perception that by emphasizing Tezcatlipoca’s less known Trickster persona, frolicking through dens of porn chic no less, Hogan was trivializing the august nature of the Lord known as the Night Wind and that was at the top of the Mexica empire’s pantheon. But I don’t believe Ernest Hogan is trying to revive the ancient religion with his techno-shamanistic science fiction. He is seeking to entertain and Smoking Mirror Blues is good entertainment, even for a dour pilgrim like myself.