Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Short Story by Ernest Hogan
Teodoro Arango a.k.a. Paco Cohen and his band are travelling through the purple landscape of terraformed Mars to a big festival in New Las Vegas. There, a running background theme of corporate greed and cultural appropriation moves to the foreground and tries to ensnare Paco personally. He's too much of a rebel, so he insults the big Mars-owning corporation in song, then runs offstage and flees the city with his band.
This rebellious mocking of tourism and entertainment industries carries a side-plot related to Paco's daughter and her desire to sing with and rescue a mermaid, but the draw of the story isn't its frantic anti-corporate plot so much as the bizarre extrapolation of a purple Mars where people and animals are randomly transformed by nanohudu, purple canal mermaids may-or-may-not be mutation or tourist trap engineering, and AI corporate logos have a threatening sentience of their own. It's a crazy world and a fast moving plot, apparently a sequel to Hogan's April 2001 Analog story: "The Rise and Fall of Paco Cohen and the Mariachis of Mars." I haven't read the earlier story, but I'm not sure it would make the world any less delightfully crazy.
Paco's lyrics aren't that great, although I guess they fit within the Las Vegas mariachi framework. The story is like the lyrics: strange, exciting, danceable, rebellious, but ultimately empty cultural calories. Fun but forgettable.
3 dancing purple yetis out of 5.