SOBSFic Con Adds a Youth Track!

SOBSFic ConStudies have shown that, in the general population, Science Fiction and Fantasy has an impact on the teaching of values and critical literacy to young adults. Science Fiction challenges readers to first imagine and then to realize the future of not only the novel they are reading but, also the future of the world in which they live.

Looking at the most visible popular examples of Epic Fantasy – J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and bestselling authors J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan – a casual observer might assume that big, continent-spanning sagas with magic in them are always set in some imaginary variation on Medieval – and, sometimes, even modern – Britain. The stories include the common tropes – swords, talismans of power, wizards and the occasional dragon, all in a world where Black people rarely exist; and those who do appear are decidedly peripheral and usually work for the bad guys.

That same casual observer might therefore conclude that Epic Fantasy – one of today’s most popular genres of fiction – would hold little interest for Black readers and even less for Black writers. But that casual observer would be wrong.

SteamfunkChildren and young adults of African descent can – and do – relate to the experiences in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Indeed, they crave these experiences and read speculative fiction just as voraciously as young adults of other races. But the lack of self-images in this literature can have a negative effect on the psyche of young readers and can, indeed, contribute to negative behavior. We derive our perceptions of self by what we hear, see, and read and our perception directly affects our actions.

The Process of Action works as follows:

Perception (precedes Thought)

Thought (precedes Impulse)

Impulse (precedes Action)

Action

If the Perception of ourselves is a person who lacks courage, integrity and goodness – because we do not see ourselves possessing heroic qualities in most books – the Thought creeps into our minds that we lack those heroic qualities, so we are – by default – villains. The Thought grows into a strong Impulse to be the villain; and finally, the Action of villainy takes place.

However, if – through Fantasy and Science Fiction written with Black characters as the heroes – our youth begin to perceive themselves as heroic…as hard working…as good…they will begin to act in accord with how they perceive themselves.

With these facts in mind, the Founders of SOBSFic Con have added a Youth Track to the programming.

We have broken the programming down to offerings for Children and for Teens. Check them out:

Children (ages 6 – 11)

Afrikan Music and Movement

The children will learn traditional dances and traditional Afrikan drumming and the history behind these enriching traditions.

Create Your Own Comic Book

 Participants will learn how to make comic books, from beginning to end, story board to final page.

Hair Braiding

Learn how to braid hair in beautiful and traditional fashions from Afrika and throughout the Diaspora.

Story Time

Guest readers read their favorite Black speculative fiction picture book and children enjoy juice and cookies while listening.

Black Speculative Trivial Pursuit

Children compete against their peers for the title of champion of Black Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror trivia.

Magic Show

The children will be treated to an amazing magic show.

 

Teens (ages 12-17)

Books and Authors We Love

Teens talk about their favorite books and authors in this open discussion.

Reading and Q&A

Come hear short readings throughout the convention by YA authors, followed by an opportunity to ask questions about their writing, their experiences, and their careers.

Video Games We Love

Teens talk about their favorite video games in this open discussion. Video Games creators will be on hand to join the conversation.

Steamfunk Style

What makes a costume “steamfunk?” What props do you need to do it right? How do you create a steamfunk persona? Teens will receive the answers to these questions and more from our panel of Steamfunkateers.

Comics Creators Panel

Our panel of comics creators talk about their work and answer questions!

We Love Anime

Teens talk about their favorite anime and manga in this open discussion with anime and manga creators. Part of this discussion will highlight Black characters and creators in anime and manga.

Teens Talk to Authors

Authors talk about what they like to write and listen to what teens like to read.

Let’s Draw a Comic Strip

Work together with other teens to create a comic strip that tells a story without words. How are comics made? How does graphic storytelling work? Join in and find out!

Hair Braiding Workshop

Learn how to braid hair in beautiful and traditional fashions from Afrika and throughout the Diaspora. Brothers – this is not just for the sisters! Learning to braid your friends’ hair will make you very popular and maybe even a little cash on the side. Come try it out!

SOBSFic Con

HELL and STAGECOACH MARY: Excerpts from the Steamfunk novel, “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 and 2)”

EXCERPT 1: I am Harriet Tubman

Harriet crouched low in the thickets. She counted five – no, six – adults in the house.  Four men; two women. They were at the supper table, eating a grayish-brown mass from wooden bowls with their fingers.

A constant, dull thump emanated from the rear of the house.

“Must be the child,” Harriet whispered.  Harriet reasoned that the girl was bored and was pretending to skip rope, with the heavy chain she was tethered to.

Harriet crept towards the back of the house, but a familiar voice made her pause. She looked skyward. “I ain’t one to question yo’ Word, but is you sure, Lawd?” She nodded. “Thy will be done, then.”

Harriet stood and brushed the dirt from her dress. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.  The night air cooled the sweat on her forehead, and the flickering flame in her gut.  She opened her eyes and locked her gaze on the house.

In three strong bounds, Harriet was standing at the front door of the house. She pounded her tiny, brown fist on the rotting wood.

The thumping of the heavy chain ceased.

The door was flung open wide.

And the stench of sweat and spoiled milk assaulted her nostrils.

“What you want, gal?”

Harriet quickly peered into the house. Everyone, except for the wiry man standing before her, was still sitting at the table. But they were no longer eating and their eyes were fixed on the doorway.

The man in the doorway spat onto the porch, the bilious sputum just missing Harriet’s boots. “You hear me, nigger? I said…”

The web of flesh between Harriet’s thumb and forefinger struck the man’s throat. She glided past him as he fell to the floor, clutching his crushed windpipe and gasping for air.

The men at the table jumped to their feet and rushed toward her, as the two women ran toward the rear of the house.

Harriet exploded forward, pummeling the nearest man to her with a flurry of elbow strikes.

Blood erupted from the man’s nose and mouth as his face collapsed under the force of Harriet’s swift and powerful blows.

Massive arms wrapped around her waist, jerking her into the air.

Harriet threw her head back forcefully. A crunching sound followed and then a scream.

She felt something warm and wet soak the back of her bonnet.

The grip on Harriet’s waist loosened slightly. She took advantage of the opportunity, bending forward and grabbing the man-mountain’s leg with both hands. Holding on tightly, she rolled forward.

The momentum of the roll forced the giant to tumble over onto his back.

Harriet landed on her back, with the giant’s leg between hers. She thrust her hips forward forcefully, ramming her pelvis into the man’s knee, as she yanked his ankle back toward her shoulder.

The man-mountain’s leg made a loud, popping noise. Harriet tossed the badly twisted leg aside. The giant screamed as his leg flopped around on the floor, no longer under the goliath’s control.

Harriet sprang to her feet. 

She was met by a powerful punch toward her face as she stood. Harriet shifted slightly to her right and the punch torpedoed past her.

Harriet countered by slamming the heel of her right foot into the man’s solar plexus, which sent him careening through the air.  He came to rest on the supper table. Slivers of wood and chunks of gray-brown mush sprayed into the air.

The last man turned on his heels and ran toward the door. She kicked an overturned chair. The oak chair flipped through the air and struck the man in the back of the head. The man’s head split open like an over-ripe plum. Harriet turned from the dying man and walked to the rear of the house.

The back door was wide open.

The wind had extinguished the candles, but the moon bathed the room in a silver-blue incandescence.  The women were – wisely – long gone, but the girl was still in the room, crouched in a corner. An iron manacle was locked to her right ankle. The manacle was connected to a heavy, iron chain, which was screwed into the floor.

Harriet crouched before the little girl, and placed a gentle hand upon her shoulder. “You alright, baby?”

The little girl perused the room, as if to ensure they were alone, and then nodded.

“You Margaret, I reckon.”

The child nodded again.

Harriet rubbed her hand over the girl’s matted, light brown curls. “We gon’ get you outta here and get you cleaned up. Gotta have you presentable for yo’ daddy.”

The little girl’s eyes widened and the corners of her mouth turned up in the hint of a smile. Yet the act of smiling seemed to strain her, as if she had not smiled in quite some time. “My daddy? He sent you for me?”

Harriet pulled an L-shaped, sliver of metal from behind the ribbon in her bonnet; and slid it into the back of the manacle around Margaret’s ankle. “He sure did.” The manacle clicked and slid open.

Margaret caressed her bruised and swollen ankle. “Ma’am, if you don’t mind me asking…”

“Go ‘head, child.”

“Who are you?” Margaret asked.

Harriet stood, and helped the little girl to her feet. “Me? I’m Harriet. Harriet Tubman.”

EXCERPT 2: And Hell Followed

Harriet parted the dingy, white lace curtains and studied the villagers as they marched – with heads hung low – in a long queue toward the church.

They would bury Father Ramon today and – if the Lawd saw fit to let Harriet have her way – she would bury John Brown today also.

Harriet turned away from the window and resumed her search of Sinai’s cabin.

Argentine blades and bullets, used for killing lycanthropes, were in abundance; as were stakes of sharpened oak; and axes and swords of cold steel – common tools of the trade of one who hunts monsters.

Inside a silver box, tucked under Sinai’s bed, Harriet found what she was looking for – the Bello Mule – a .48 caliber revolver that possessed two barrels and a drum-like cylinder, with twenty chambers arranged in two rows – a monstrous weapon with which to fight monstrous foes.

Baas had given the Mule to Sinai for his birthday a decade ago. The old monster-hunter had put the weapon to use many times.

“Lawd, let me wield this half as good as old Sinai and I’ll be satisfied,” Harriet whispered, slipping the Bello Mule into its massive, leather holster, which she now wore strapped across her chest.

Harriet scooped several fistfuls of silver .48 caliber bullets from the box that housed the Mule and tossed them into leather pouches on the belt she had secured around her waist over her charcoal-gray, cotton blouse.

She stepped out of the hot shadows of the house into the cool breeze that blew across the oasis in the desert that was the village of Punta Blanca.

The warrior woman hopped into Sinai’s cart and inspected its contents to ensure she had not forgotten anything important during her hasty packing of the vehicle. “Two shotguns…crate of buckshot…bag of jerky…barrel of water…I don’t think we missed nothin’, Lawd, so I’ll be takin’ my leave now. I ‘magine you’ll be showin’ me **** *****’s whereabouts soon, Lawd and – as promised – I’ll be sendin’ him on down to perdition, where he belong.”

Harriet looked toward the horizon. A large dust cloud rolled toward the village. Harriet reached inside her overcoat and withdrew her goggles. She slipped them onto her face. The bronze and leather eyewear cooled her cocoa skin.

And then the world tumbled…tilted…fell…whirling around Harriet like a maelstrom, filled with ire and spite.

A giant human skeleton, with two snarling heads, burst from the spinning chaos and landed before Harriet.

The monstrous relic sported a cape fashioned from dirt and a sword forged from the putrid corpses of Mexican soldados – the plumed helmeted soldiers Harriet faced three days earlier, in Punta Blanca. The skeleton’s heads laughed and then the creature slashed toward Harriet’s neck with its corpse-sword.

The whirling of the world stopped.

Harriet rose from the floor of the cart and hopped into the drivers’ seat. “Yah,” she shouted, snapping the reins she clutched in her fists. The twin horses bolted toward the church.

“Your guns!” Harriet screamed. “Get your guns an’ get ready!”

The villagers turned toward Harriet with puzzled expressions.

“Get ready for what?” A nun asked.

Harriet pointed toward the cloud of dirt rolling toward them. “Hell.”

EXCERPT 2: Harriet meet “Stagecoach” / “Black” Mary Fields

The procession of vehicles came to a halt.

The smell of freshwater and the sound of gently breaking waves told Harriet that she was at the Mississippi River.

“Get the vehicles on board and feed the horses,” she heard Kleinhopper say. “Then, rest well, my children; we head upriver in the morning…oh, and dump Madame D’Oliva’s remains in the river, please. Goodnight.”

Harriet felt a slight bump, followed by the intermittent sound of wood pelting metal as the wagon, under which she hid, traversed the steel bridge.

A few moments later, the pelting sound gave way to the sound of the heavy, wooden wheels of the cart rolling across a wooden floor.

The cart shook as man-sized and toddler-sized  knolls exited the vehicle. Massive legs shambled past Harriet, shaking the deck with each step.

A few minutes later, all was quiet. Harriet lowered herself to the floor. She lay there for a moment, stretching her aching back and stiffened fingers, and then rolled from under the cart.

Harriet scanned the area. All was still.

Crouching low, she crept toward a spiral staircase that rose before her.

Harriet paused, taking a moment to study her surroundings. She was on a riverboat of incredible craftsmanship. The floor and walls were constructed from ebony. Etched into the hard, dark wood were symbols similar to those tattooed upon the face of an old Chinese assassin she once encountered. Harriet wondered if Professor Kleinhopper would be as difficult to kill as that assassin.

Harriet crawled up the stairs, her light steps further muffled by the plush Persian carpentry that ran up the center of each step.

At the top of the stairway, Harriet quietly dropped to her belly and perused her surroundings. The floor was covered in the same rich carpeting as the spiral staircase. The ebon walls were covered with paintings of – and, most likely, from – exotic Eastern lands, of which Harriet had dreamed of visiting since she first heard tales of such places from Baas Bello. Baas had visited nearly every country in the world. Harriet recognized – from Baas’ vivid descriptions – an armor-clad Japanese samurai striking a red-faced demon with his gleaming katana; a Maori queen, riding upon the back of a giant blue whale; a pair of boxers from Thailand, fighting from the back of an elephant…

An art aficionado, eh?

Harriet whirled around toward the voice.

No one stood before her.

She snapped her head upward.

Clinging to the high ceiling, like a spider, was Professor Amschel Kleinhopper. “Unfortunately, you will soon be dead, so you purchasing a piece is not an option.”

The Professor dropped from the ceiling. His billowing frock and Plague Doctor’s mask gave him the appearance of a bird of smoke and shadow.

Harriet leapt upward, grabbing Professor Kleinhopper’s neck in mid-air.

Upon their descent, Harriet snapped the Professor’s head toward the floor with a powerful jerk.

Just before The Professor’s skull met the hardwood floor, however, he vanished in a puff of black smoke.

A swishing sound came from behind Harriet. She rolled forward, barely evading the pulverizing strike from Professor Kleinhopper’s cane.

Harriet peered over her shoulder. Professor Kleinhopper knelt on one knee. A spider web-shaped crack in the floor extended from the tip of his cane.

“You have chosen to purloin from the wrong gentleman, Miss…”

“Tubman,” Harriet replied. “Harriet Tubman; and I ain’t come to steal; I came to settle a score for a dear friend.”

“Wait…you are the woman who accompanied Baas Bello,” Professor Kleinhopper said.

“That’s right,” Harriet replied.

“You are quite…talented,” Professor Kleinhopper said. “I have no quarrel with you. Baas Bello – and that fool son-in-law of his – were my intended targets.”

“Why? Why Talltrees? Why Baas?” Harriet asked.

SteamfunkBecause he is an envious child.”

“Baas Bello!” Professor Kleinhopper hissed, turning to face the old genius.

“Are you okay, Harriet?” Baas asked, pointing his Bello Rifle at Professor Kleinhopper’s throat.

“I’m fine, Baas,” Harriet replied. “I was just about to kill The Alchemist, is all. How you be?”

“No, Harriet, this one is mine,” Baas replied.

Two shots rang out from below them, followed by a ghastly scream.

“But, please,” Baas continued. “Mary can use your assistance downstairs. It would appear the knolls have awakened.”

“Mary?” Harriet said, shaking her head. “Black Mary Fields?”

“That would be her,” Baas replied. “Now, please, if you will…”

Harriet darted past Baas and scurried down the stairs.

Black Mary was busy dodging blows from the twin toddler-sized knolls, a pair of man-sized knolls and a giant knoll as she fired her twin revolvers.

A hammering backhand to her chest from the gargantuan knoll sent Mary sliding backward.

As she slid past Harriet, she nodded and smiled. “Evenin’, Harriet.”

“Hello, Mary,” Harriet replied dryly.

Mary’s back slammed into the wall behind her. She bounced off the wall and leapt forward, slamming her elbow into the clockwork that was the heart of a charging knoll. Gears, chain links and a haze of steam flew into the air. The knoll fell.

A squad of toddler-sized knolls charged toward Harriet.

“Catch,” Mary shouted, tossing one of her Colt Dragoons to her.

Harriet plucked the pistol out of the air and – with blinding speed – fanned the revolver’s hammer as she repeatedly squeezed the trigger.

Knoll after tiny knoll fell, screaming in agony as oil, dirt, gears and stone peppered the walls and floor.

Suddenly, a massive hand of grass and soil grabbed Mary and plucked her from the floor, hoisting her high into the air.

A loud, cracking noise came from within the gargantuan knoll’s fist.

“Mary!” Harriet screamed, fearing that the cracking noise was the sound of Black Mary’s bones being crushed to dust.

Oil dripped from the creature’s fist and it unleashed a wail that shook the entire riverboat. The giant knoll’s injured hand sprang open, revealing a smoking hole made by Black Mary’s Colt Dragoon.

Mary wrapped her muscular arms around the giant’s thumb and then forcefully arched backward as she raised her arms high above her head.

The giant knoll released what could only be described as a gasp of shock as it was turned upside down, its feet leaving a trail of dirt and grass across the ceiling as it careened through the air.

The creature landed on its back with a tremendous thud. A torrent of steam erupted from its mouth.

“Lawd,” Harriet gasped, impressed by Black Mary’s tremendous strength.

Mary landed on her feet next to the giant corpse’s head. She raised her fists to her chin. “Come on, y’all; I’m just warmin’ up!”

I hope you enjoyed reading these excerpts as much as I enjoyed writing the book.  If you desire to read more, the book is available through Amazon and my website.

The State of Black Science Fiction Presents: SOBSFic Con!

The State of Black Science Fiction, the popular collective of authors, artists, filmmakers, comic book creators and cosplayers who create works of science fiction, fantasy and horror by, for and about people of Afrikan descent, are bringing us the State of Black Science Fiction Convention – also known as SOBSFic Con – in 2016 on June 17-18.

This Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention by and about people of Afrikan descent, will take place in Atlanta and is expected to draw creators and fans from all over the globe.

Here is a glimpse at the programming thus far:

AFRORETROISM TRACK

The Afroretroism Track presents programs about current and classic alternate history writings, exploring trends and issues in Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Rococoa, Sword and Soul and other alternate-history genres expressed through a Black / African lens. Panels include discussions of race and ethnicity in alternate history; fabricating all the necessary accouterments for Steamfunkateers; Traditional African Arms, Armor and Martial Arts; Black Heroes in History and more!

Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa: The Remixing of Black Histories and Heroes

This panel discussion explores the literary genres of Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa, which feature Black heroes and heroines, and marries our history with science fiction, fantasy and Black cultural aesthetics.

Traditional Arms, Armor and Martial Arts of Africa

This panel discussion explores the traditional weapons, armor and fighting principles and techniques from throughout the continent of Africa.

Indigenous African Martial Arts Workshop

Expanding on knowledge gained in the Traditional Arms, Armor and Martial Arts of Africa panel, this interactive workshop teaches the use of indigenous African martial arts for self-defense, film fight choreography and as a reference for comic books, novels and graphic novels that want to feature authentic African combat techniques.

AFROFUTURISM TRACK

The Afrofuturism Track features programs about the cultural movement of the Diaspora that uses technology, science, and science fiction to explore the Black experience. Our panels discuss trends and themes in Afrofuturism and its subgenres of Cyberfunk and Spyfunk.

Afrofuturism and Literature

Our panelists discuss the emergence of Afrofuturistic literature; the differences and similarities between Afrofuturism and Black Speculative Fiction and recommend their favorite works.

We Want the Funk: Afrofuturism in Music

Afrofuturist musicians such as Sun Ra, Janelle Monet, Parliament-Funkadelic and Deltron 3030 tell stories of future worlds in their songs. Panelists play & discuss Afrofuturistic music and its impact on speculative fiction and society.

Emerging Subgenres in Afrofuturism

This panel explores the funky new genres of literature dubbed Cyberfunk and Spyfunk. With anthologies, novels and films in development, these subgenres are sure to take Afrofuturism to even greater heights.

BLACK HORROR TRACK

The Black Horror track spotlights Southern Gothic Literature, ghost stories, and vintage tales of terror by authors and filmmakers of African descent. In addition, the track features television shows in the genre, classic horror movies, and musical interpretations by and about Black people.

Horror on the Black Hand Side

This panel discussion, featuring horror authors of African descent, highlights horror fiction and dark fantasy genres, with a distinct Black point of view and cultural references.

Black Southern Folklore in Horror Literature

From the African Diaspora to Christian fundamentalism to Hoodoo, Southern literature has been haunted by powerful and mysterious religions, practices, and superstitions. Explore how writers use the folklore and belief systems of the Black American southern traditions to add to the disturbing dimensions of horror and Southern Gothic fiction.

Dark and Stormy: Black Horror Film Screening

This program spotlights some of the most exciting short and feature horror films created by Black filmmakers. After screenings, engage in a panel discussion with the creators.

BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION TRACK

This track explores why we love Science Fiction, Fantasy and comic books, the craft of writing speculative fiction and how to get our books, teleplays, comic books scripts and screenplays published and / or produced.

Reading Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks

If you’ve never read Octavia Butler or L.A. Banks, where should you start? Our panelists share their favorites and discuss the influence their work had on the genre and on social justice movements.

African-Centered Worldbuilding

Our panelists discuss techniques for worldbuilding utilizing African settings, cultures and folklore. Learn how great Sword and Soul stories are developed and told.

Black Craft and Consciousness in Comic Books

This panel focuses on the evolution of Black protagonists and cultural references in contemporary comic books and graphic novels. It also examines the emergence of Black consciousness in the comic book industry and the growing community of artists who use illustrations and comic books as tools to explore Black culture.

The Pinnacles and Pitfalls of Self Publishing

Self publishing is no longer the stigmatized concept that once evoked thoughts of vanity presses and unprofessional writing. Today it is a growing and exciting avenue for authors to take control of their works and careers. What are the pros and cons? How do you successfully take a book from concept to completion? What happens after your book is released? This panel will explore what it takes to publish, market, and build yourself as an indie author.

MEDIA TRACK

The Media Track showcases the best Black independent short and feature films, animation and web series from throughout the Diaspora, specializing in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres.

We will screen these works throughout the duration of SOBSFic Con.

 

SPECIAL EVENTS:

The Mahogany Masquerade

Come dressed as your favorite character from a Science Fiction or Fantasy book, movie or television show or, even better, create your own costume and persona and enjoy The Mahogany Masquerade: An evening of Sword and Soul, Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa!

No costume? It’s cool. Come anyway to meet, greet and party with your fellow Steamfunkateers, Trekkies, and other lovers of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror!

Ki-Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game Tournament

Join in the fun and play the hottest and most unique pen-and-paper role-playing game on the market! Build your character and compete against other players in the Fighting Pits of the magical and mysterious world of Ki-Khanga.

Interviews and Readings

Come out and meet Black Science Fiction and Fantasy authors as they discuss Black Speculative Fiction and read from their works.

The Pauline Hopkins Award for Achievement in Black Speculative Fiction

This award will be given to two creators of great Black Speculative works in fiction, film, animation or comic books.

The Big, Beautiful, Black Roundtable

Some of the most exciting speculative fiction on the market today is coming from Black viewpoints. Anyone following the latest debates in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror knows that diversity also has become a controversial topic. This centerpiece discussion circle brings together the most creators and fans of Black Speculative Fiction EVER in one discussion to tackle the issues of diversity in – and the emerging global view of – Black Speculative Fiction!

 

Helmed by authors and event planners, Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade, a call has gone out for volunteers and managers of the five Programming Tracks. Each Track will also feature special programming for the youth.

We will continue to update you as SOBSFic Con develops.

What would YOU like to see / experience at SOBSFic Con?

SOBSFic

STEAMFUNK IS…

STEAMFUNK IS…

life 9Life lived in a fabricated Age of Steam.

To fabricate means to “invent or create.”

Thus, Steamfunk, at its root, is the invention or creation of a story set in the “Age of Steam”. For the authors of Steamfunk, this Age is not limited to the Victorian Era (1837 – 1901). A Steamfunk story can take place in the past, present or future, as long as steam technology is the dominant technology in that story’s world.

life 7The novel, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, is set in late 19th Century North and South America. My story, The Hand of Sa-Seti is set in 12th Century Kamit (A nation akin to ancient Egypt), while Nandi, a short story that will appear in the upcoming Black Pulp II anthology, is set in 1973 California.

All are Steamfunk; all are very different from one another.

As far as the “blackness” in the stories within the Steamfunk anthology goes, co-editor and publisher, Milton Davis says “In some of the stories, the main character happened to be Black; but, in others, the main character had to be Black.”

One story in which the main character had to be Black is Benjamin’s Freedom Magic by Ronald Jones. Benjamin’s Freedom Magic is based on the amazing life of the very real Benjamin Montgomery, an enslaved genius who was also one of the greatest inventors in modern history.

life 1Born in Virginia in 1819, Benjamin was owned by Joseph E. Davis, older brother of future Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Benjamin was a mechanic who used his skill to invent a propeller that allowed steamboats to maneuver through shallow water with greater ease and safety. In the late 1850s, he attempted to get a patent for his invention. According to author, Ronald Jones “Not surprisingly, the U.S. Attorney General’s office refused to grant a patent to a slave. When the Davis brothers tried to patent Benjamin’s invention, they were denied as well, due to neither being the true inventor; how ironic that, when Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederacy, he enacted a law making it possible for slaves to patent their inventions.”

life 10Upon the end of the Civil War, Joseph Davis sold his plantation and other properties to Benjamin and Benjamin’s son, Isaiah. The sale was made based on a long-term loan in the amount of $300,000.00. Benjamin and Isaiah decided to pursue a dream of using the property to establish a community of freed slaves.

Like Benjamin Montgomery, Ronald Jones – one of the greatest Military Science Fiction writers in modern history – used his skill and genius to fabricate a story from a man’s amazing life that is even more amazing; one filled with intrigue, action and wondrous gadgets.

life 6Steamfunk is… Life lived in a fabricated Age of Steam.

And the heroes and heroines in every story in the Steamfunk anthology live those lives with great pain, weariness, vigor, ambition or zest.

Steamfunk is a life, or, for some of our more zealous Steamfunkateers, Steamfunk is life; however, it is somehow larger than life; more wondrous; more…funky.

And, for the record, the life that is Steamfunk is not “Black Steampunk”; no more than Steampunk is, well, White Steampunk. Steamfunk offers a look at Steampunk through a different set of goggles. Goggles with colorful lenses.

But, alas, I wax poetic. If you really want a great definition of Steamfunk, pick up the Steamfunk anthology, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective, or From Here to Timbuktu. They can provide a much clearer definition than I ever could…and you’ll have the time of your life reading them, too!

life 5

The Year of Rococoa is coming!

Rococoa2016 will be the year of Rococoa with the release of the first anthology from ROARING LIONS PRODUCTIONS!

Where Sword and Soul ends and before Steamfunk begins, there is the Age of Spring Technology and Clockwork.

RococoaThink Three Finger’d Jack; the pirate, Black Caesar; and the Haitian Revolution. Think the Black Count, Nat Turner, and the Stono Rebellion…that is Rococoa!

Time for those stories to be told, y’all! What say you authors? Are you in?

If so, Roaring Lions Productions is seeking completed stories between 2,000 and 10,000 words.

Writers will be paid $25.00 upon release of the anthology.

Each story will have an attached illustration, in addition to the stunning cover!

The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2015.

Release will be in e-book and paperback formats.

Here are the Submission Guidelines:

GUIDELINES

  1. Submissions must be set between the latter part of the Renaissance Period (1600s) and the end of the Age of Enlightenment (1780s).
  2. The story can be set anywhere in the world.
  3. Technology is a combination of mundane technology of the era and retrofuturistic sun, water, or spring powered gear device (i.e. “clock”) technology.
  4. Magic and mysticism are acceptable.
  5. The main character should be of African descent / Black.
  6. Submissions must be double-spaced, in 12-Point Times New Roman or Courier Font.
  7. Include a cover page, with your legal name, pen name, mailing address, phone number and email address.
  8. Send to chroniclesofharriet@gmail.com.

 

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BLACK PEOPLE II: The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth!

What exactly is a “nerd”?

A nerd is defined as a person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

Nerdiness exists on a continuum. Some people are a little nerdy, while others are very nerdy. The more nerdy you are, the more oblivious of yourself as a social object you tend to be, which leads you to behave in socially awkward ways, such as dressing badly, or failing to take subtle hints.

The onset of nerdiness tends to come early in life and people often grow out of being nerds; rarely, if ever, does someone become a nerd later in life.

Because nerds are awkward and un-smooth, they tend to be rejected and isolated by peers; because it is emotionally painful to experience such marginalization, nerds tend to push themselves to be excellent in aspects of life that do not require social skills.

If they are at all smart, they tend to go whole hog into some intellectual pursuit. Computer science is a favorite, but any non-social intellectual pursuit will do.

Nerds can become very good at their chosen fields because they have very little to keep them from devoting all of their energy to those fields.

These are not balanced people with rich social lives. Instead, these are people who spend holidays writing papers.

I am painfully aware of this because I used to be one of these people.

One Christmas holiday, while visiting my oldest sister, my brother-in-law and my nephews in sunny California (I was born and raised in Chicago), I spent seventy percent of my waking hours writing adventures for my Dungeons & Dragons campaign, twenty percent was spent writing raps (yep, I was an avid fan of hip-hop too), eight percent was spent eating and bathing and the remaining two percent was spent chatting with family and thinking about what I was going to write next.

By the time my “vacation” was over, I was dead tired because, as an extrovert, I am actually energized by social interaction.

Some people’s nerdiness is a function of a condition called Asperger’s Disorder which is a mild pervasive developmental disorder on the same spectrum as Autism.

Asperger’s Disorder involves language and communication deficits which have a basis in neurological deficits. The prototypical person with Asperger’s learns language reasonably well, but doesn’t seem to experience language the same way as a normal person. Some quality of emotional transmission is missing.

People with Asperger’s often talk in odd cadences and/or they may fail to understand social reciprocity such that they may manifest an eccentric and one-sided social approach to others (e.g., pursuing a conversational topic regardless of others’ reactions).

An alternative kind of nerd is someone who develops a condition known as Schizotypal Personality Disorder. To say someone has a personality disorder in general is to say that they have grown up with some important part of the normal human coping toolkit missing or undeveloped.

People with personality disorders are developmentally delayed in important social-emotional ways that cause them to be “one trick ponies” who can only react to the world in a narrow and rigid set of ways.

When such a person is in their element, all is fine (because they know how to cope with their element), but when they go out of their element, they lack the flexibility to know how to cope appropriately and experience significant problems as a result (or for some personality disorders, other people experience significant problems).

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships, as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior.

Recall the character of Kramer from the television show Seinfeld and you’ll have a good idea of what this looks like. People with Schizotypal PD are thought of as eccentric, weird, strange, or different. People tolerate them and may find them amusing but always tend to consider them an outsider.

Having a diagnosable disorder such as Asperger’s or Schizotypal PD might qualify a person as a nerd or a geek in some circles, but the reverse is not true. There are many nerds who don’t qualify for any diagnosable disorder. They may be the way they are for other reasons.

One primary reason that could push a person towards nerdiness is the presence of simple but profound social anxiety.

Social skills are learned through interaction with other children and adults during childhood and adolescence. If you are a very anxious child and avoid developmentally important social interactions, you will tend to remain delayed in your social-emotional skillfulness.

If, because of your social anxiety you cease to push yourself to interact and instead channel your energy into socially avoidant pursuits, the problem becomes compounded. Not being a member of intimate relationships means you are cut off from important feedback such as how to dress appropriately or when it is not good form to wear a backpack.

The true nerd will rationalize his or her odd social behavior, for defensive purposes. It is simply very painful to admit to yourself that you are essentially incompetent in this very important aspect of life.

Origin of the Nerd

And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo

And bring back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo

A Nerkle, a Nerd and a Seersucker, too! 

From If I Ran The Zoo, © 1950, Dr. Seuss

The first documented use of the word Nerd is in the 1950 Dr. Seuss story, If I Ran the Zoo, in which a boy named Gerald McGrew makes a several extravagant claims as to what he would do, if he were in charge at the zoo.

Among these was that he would bring a creature known as a Nerd from the land of Ka-Troo. The accompanying illustration showed a grumpy humanoid with unruly hair and sideburns, wearing a black T-shirt. A fitting image, these days, for a nerd.

The second documented occurrence of the word comes only a year after If I Ran The Zoo. The October 8, 1951 issue of Newsweek states on page 16:

In Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in a less severe case, a scurve.

On page 14 of the St. Joseph, Michigan, Herald-Press printed on 23 June 1952 it reads:

To ‘Clue Ya’ To Be ‘George’ And Not A ‘Nerd’ Or ‘Scurve’…If the patois throws you, you’re definitely not in the know, because anyone who is not a nerd (drip) knows that…

Once more, “nerd” is tied to “drip” and “scurve”; and from a city not far from Detroit, at that, just 8 months after the first sighting.

In the February 10, 1957, issue of the Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday Mail, the “ABC for Squares” column gave the definition as: Nerd – a square, any explanation needed?

The 1961-62 “Hamburg Show” featured a character named Millard Fillmore Nerd whose problem is that he is a square, having broken not a single rule.

All but the original Dr. Seuss give it the meaning of “a square” — a dull or boring person.

Geeks


Like nerd, the term geek was originally an insult.

It was the word used to describe a carnival sideshow “freak”, whose peculiarity was behavioral rather than physical.

The denizens of the “geek pit” would do things like bite the heads off of chickens. The folk who played these roles were often of a similar physical type – tall, gangling men with prominent Adam’s Apples, big mouths and noses, and bug-eyes. Thus the phrase “pencil-necked geek”.

Thus, as an insult, a geek was originally someone with unbecoming habits and few social graces, whereas the nerd was dull and boring – a square. Both were outcasts, but one was hopelessly conventional, the other bizarre and outlandish.

Not surprisingly, as the terms became more common, they meshed with each other. The square not merely wore thick rimmed glasses, but repaired them with adhesive tape. His dull hairstyle became a generation or two out of style and he was not merely non-athletic, but clumsy, and perhaps gangling or slovenly.

Blerds and Bleeks

When I was in high school and college, the last thing anybody wanted to be was a nerd. Today, due to strong media attention and the election of a Black President who – along with his wife – is a professed nerd, nerdy is the new sexy in the Black community.

Thankfully, gone are the days of Steve Urkel as the poster-boy for Black nerdism. When I first laid eyes upon Urkel – played by actor Jaleel White – back in 1989, I said “there goes the death of young, Black male intellectuals”.

Why?

Just watch an episode of  Family Matters and witness the over-the-top nerdy antics of Steve Urkel – who was never given the time of day by his long-time love interest, Laura Winslow, until he morphed into his “cool” alter-ego, Stefan Urquelle – and you can see why many Black boys in the inner city did not want to be smart.

And it appears that Steve Urkel’s influence is quite far-reaching.

Take these recent statistics, taken from a study released in 2010 by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, for example:

Only 47% of black males finished high school for the school year.

Out of that number, only 28% of black males in New York City finish on time.

I am confident, however, that this will rapidly change, as Blerds – or Black Nerds are being touted all over the web as the new cool. College-aged and older Blerds are coming forth and reveling in their nerdy Blacknificence. I imagine our teens and tweens will soon follow suit.

Blerds, by nature, are not typically as extreme as their non-Black counterparts. They embrace and celebrate both Urban and Geek cultures. A Blerd may collect comic books, engage in Steamfunk cosplay and have a collection of the latest hip-hop music, or maybe even rap themselves.

 When I – and author Milton Davis – announced the coming release of Ki-Khanga: the Sword & Soul Role-Playing Game, we did so without losing any “street cred” or facing social alienation from the popular crowd. In fact, a whole host of people I did not think even knew what a Role-Playing Games is came forward with enthusiastic support and eagerly await the game’s release.

Blerds in the Media

Actress/writer Issa Rae’s brilliant web series, The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl, about a nerdy Black girl and her many humorous escapades, has become an instant classic, popular with Black (and other) males and females, ages 13 and Older.

Another web series that is wildly popular with Blerds of all ages is Angela Tucker’s Black Folk Don’t, which explores the notion of stereotypes about Black people both without and within the African American community.

Theo – the black nerd at the center of Hans Gruber’s plot to steal $480m in bearer bonds in Die Hard – is both badass and master of technology.

Witty, empowered and shamelessly nerdy, Theo – played expertly by Clarence Gilyard, Jr. –  leapt from the screen and stole the show. “You didn’t bring me along for my charming personality,” he says, “…though you could have.”

Hip Hop producer/artist Pharrell of the Neptunes – an avid skateboarder, a professed lover of video games, a fan of Star Trek (he named his record label Star Trak) and a student of the works of astronomer Carl Sagan – named his quirky band N.E.R.D..

Andre Meadows, founder of http://www.blacknerdcomedy.com and known as The Black Nerd, blogs,vlogs and delivers a unique and very humorous perspective on racism, the workplace, entertainment, science-fiction, political correctness, and his own personal life.

The Black Nerds Network, hailing from the UK, is a collective formed to readdress the words, Black and Nerd. According to their website, they seek to connect with “fashion thinking, book reading, kite flying Nerds.

Blerd Warrior Syndrome

One’s strength can often be one’s weakness and many a Black Nerd has fantasies of being a superhero. While these fantasies are great stress relievers, Blerds must be careful of those fantasies, which are often nihilistic, becoming desires for martyrdom.

In a recent meeting with friends – all martial artists, athletes and intellectuals – one friend – a forty year old man of African descent – confessed that he wishes he was a real-life superhero in opposition to a powerful government or secret cabal; that he often prays for civilization to fall, so he can reinvent himself as a man who – armed with his wit, will and weapons – brings justice to a world of injustice and sculpts order out of chaos.

I confessed that, until I reached thirty-one years of age, I, too, had the same desire and, in fact, believed that I would die fairly young in an epic battle with an opponent of equal skill, intellect, experience and will. I was actually disappointed, at the time, to discover I was to walk a different path.

These escapist fantasies – often associated with being a “nerd” – are not unique to those classified, or identifying, as such.

These escapist fantasies are not unique to my small circle of friends and me – all of whom could be classified as “nerdy jocks” (Or jocky nerds? Sounds like a bunch of pocket protector wearing, taped-glasses sporting, little equestrians) – either.

In my research in the fields of psychology and sociology, I have found that a vast number of people of African descent – who do not identify as nerds, blerds or geeks – also long to escape into brave new – or old – worlds.

Related to this is the fact that, throughout the African Diaspora, fantasy and science fiction are rapidly growing in popularity.

Why?

In a world in which we have been marginalized, vilified, misrepresented and miseducated; in a near-dystopian world with a stranglehold on society, science fiction and fantasy books, games and movies create arenas for the “controlled decontrolling” of emotions.

It is not socially acceptable to hit your racist boss in the throat with a crushing elbow strike and destroying a wall of your duplex with a trebuchet when your landlord locks you out of your apartment for a late rent payment will land you in prison – and on some government watch list for owning a trebuchet in the first place.

So, escaping to worlds of magic, anachronistic technology and fantastic creatures allows us to do the things we wish we could do and to be what we wish we could be or – unstifled by an oppressive society – what we know we truly are.

Cosplay – “costume play”, the wearing of costumes that are the likenesses of characters from a certain era, film, television, comics, video games and novels – and role playing games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft and Ki-Khanga: The Sword & Soul Role-Playing Game are perfect avenues of escape from mundane and profane lives. “Blerd Heaven”, my daughters call it ( and yes, all seven of them – and my son – are Blerds).

Escaping to another dimension or reality is normal. In fact, most people spend about half of their time daydreaming and fantasizing.

Daydreams and fantasy play a vital role in everyday life – inspiring us, regulating our moods and helping us contemplate future possibilities.

This includes the possibility of violence and, indeed, even evil. 

Parents who rail against games like Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed do not understand that idolizing villains such as Darth Vader and Agent Smith can be liberating.

Play and fantasy gives our youth the opportunity to practice what they will be later in life – as well as what they will never be.

For decades, fantasies of physical conflict and danger have been called “violent” by people who don’t trust or understand them, but such fantasies are valuable tools for the hard work of growing up. Black people, who arguably suffer the greatest anxiety about taking risks and the greatest reservations about exploring their own strength and destructive potential, have the most urgent need for fantasy.

Adults also often turn to fantasy for stress relief. With Blacks suffering from the highest rates of hypertension, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes of any other ethnic group, fantasy and science fiction can literally save our lives.

For Black people, the most beneficial heroic narratives depict essential human struggles: betrayal, revenge and overcoming great odds.

In everyday living, we re-enact the classic conflicts and victories of the hero. We may not be real vampire hunters, but the monsters in our lives and psyche pose no less a threat.

So embrace that inner Blerd. Hell, give it wings and let it soar!

And take your place among the Blacknificent in The League of Extraordinary Black People!

Revenge of the Nerds? Steve Urkel demands your lunch money!

While I am a professed “Jocky Blerd” (“Blerd” = Black Nerd) – an athletic and fairly charismatic person who, nevertheless, is into things considered nerdy, like Dungeons and Dragons, video games, science, science fiction, fantasy literature and / or comic books – I have found nerd culture to be chock full of arrogant little racists and sexists who are quick to launch mean-spirited verbal assaults – because, God knows, they would not dare to launch a physical one – upon those they feel to be less intelligent, less nerdy, or who they think has screwed up their fandom by not engaging in or representing what they are into “just right”.

For example – the movie The Hunger Games had nerds up in arms because some of their favorite characters were Black – which they were in the books, too, but while a reader can change the look of a character in a book in their mind’s eye, that is not so easily achieved with the physical eye and, in The Hunger Games, the Blackness of the characters were in their zit-riddled faces and the scrawny little bastards went berserk, saying some of the craziest crap since 20th Century Fox took legal action against Warner Brothers over the rights to the Watchmen movie.

There is a misconception that all nerds are nice; that all nerds are victims of bullying and classism; that all nerds are super-intelligent, innocent, harmless and adorable and are fodder for bullies.

Think again.

Bullies in Taped-Up Glasses

A study tracking nearly 2,000 children reveals that bullies and their victims share similar personal histories and traits, such as aggressive behavior in early childhood, overly stern parents, and low socioeconomic status.

Both bullies and nerds have poor problem-solving skills within social situations, have negative attitudes toward others, feel badly about themselves, and most likely grew up in a home with conflict.

The only significant difference between bullies and the nerds they victimize is that bullies dislike school and tend to perform worse academically than their geeky counterparts.

Aggressive behavior in early childhood  is the strongest determinant of later victimhood, which means that poor little nerdy high school student getting pushed around in the school cafeteria was probably giving other children hell in Head-start.

To be fair, the aggression found in nerds is not the more cold-blooded aggression you find in bullies. Nerd aggression is more of a hostile hyper-reactivity, which has been linked, through other studies with unpopularity, a likely antecedent to being bullied.

An earlier study, from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education found that between 1974 and 2000, in 37 school shootings, 71 percent of the shooters had “felt bullied , threatened, attacked or persecuted.” These oppressed nerds went on vicious killing sprees. Why? Because the aggression was already there; already a part of the nerd’s personality.

Further proof of the similarity between the bully and victims of bullying is that the solution for both is the same.

As a master instructor of indigenous African martial arts and conflict resolution specialist, I have found that learning African martial arts, in particular (and other martial arts, too, I would imagine) is one of the most effective ways of bringing an end to bullying.

The major responsibility of the practitioners of African martial arts is to understand conflict, both internal and external.

Destructive conditioning of the brain and nervous system leads to an inappropriate reaction to conflict called the “fight-or-flight response.”

The student of African martial arts must learn to break this destructive conditioning. When we give in to the fight-or-flight response, the only options we have in the face of conflict are to fight or to run.

The first step in breaking the destructive conditioning we have been subjected to by our families, friends, teachers, clergy, the media and others, is to work on the major weakness in self: the internal enemy called “fear.”

There is an old Yoruba saying: “Those who conquer the enemy within, have nothing to fear from the enemy without.” The student of African martial arts learns that the path to self-mastery and mastery of the martial arts (or anything else, for that matter) is rooted in the process of overcoming fear.

Fear is overcome by courage. Every confrontation with fear must involve action in spite of that fear. The aforementioned proverb teaches us that once the inner fears are conquered, those frightening situations in the outside world become insignificant.

Another Yoruba proverb states that “Fear is the parent of premature death.” This proverb expresses how devastating fear can be to a person’s mental and physical health. Not living one’s life to its full term is considered by most African cultures to be a result of resistance to living in harmony with Nature. Such resistance is believed to be rooted in the fear of self-understanding, self-transformation and self-discovery. It is through training in African martial arts that a person gains the focus, self-confidence and courage to overcome fear.

When faced with conflict, the ori inu (inner self) of the African martial arts student says: “This is a threat, but I can handle it.” The ori inu of an untrained person says: “I have to run away” or, “I have to hurt this person.”

The student of indigenous African martial arts knows he has the ability to fight effectively, so he does not have to resort to flight and he is confident enough to use verbal, non-violent alternatives, because he knows that if those alternatives do not resolve the conflict, he can defend himself physically if necessary.

An untrained, socially inept person, however, will rely not only upon the fight-or-flight response, but also on what I call “small townism”.

Small Townism
Though not exclusive to nerds, “small townism” is a defensive device in which a person limits him or herself to one type of fellowship. It’s similar to small towns, wherein the lack of exposure to people who look differently, think differently and behave differently from you can cause you to have a narrow scope on tolerance.

Nerds who were – or are – outcasts find solace and comfort either to themselves or with other people who have been treated the way they have. They will hang out with people who “get them” or share their strange sense of humor. So out of a group of outcast, introverted people who dress similarly, act similarly and feel similarly, you are bound to get some opinions that do not vibe well with those outside of that community. Small townism, while making nerds feel comfortable, develops a tremendous level of ignorance and lack of empathy.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Curse of the Black Spider-Man

The death, origin and intricate conflicts of superheroes have long portrayed many truths about ourselves that we can only metaphorically grasp; just a cornball in a spandex suit? Not quite.

Comic books affect their readers on a visceral level. So, when Marvel Comics killed of Peter Parker and Miles Morales – a Black Hispanic boy – took up the mantle of Spider-Man, nerds across the globe snapped, spitting such vitriol as: 

“So, why now come out with homie the spider man? Wonder if he (President Obama) wasn’t elected Marvel would do this. But at least the comic book character will HELP better than the real life comic elected.”

“Peter Parker could not be whiter. A black boy under the mask just don’t look right. This opens up a whole new story line with a whole new set of problems. Who is going to believe a black man in a mask is out for the good of man kind?”

“Why not make him a dyslexic homosexual too, and cover all the politically correct bases, then we will really be “enlightened”

“Shame on Marvel Comics! This is not diversity; this is a disgrace! Spiderman was Peter Parker, and Peter Parker was white. Create a new character if you want to prove that Marvel Comics is ‘diverse’. Minorities are typically less than 18% of the population, but they seem to get nearly 100% of the history. Why should white children not have a comic book hero that they can identify with?”

“What will he say when he runs into a criminal? ‘Sup Foo? Dis is MY ‘hood!’”

“That’s just dangerous. With spider powers, just think how much stuff he could steal, if he was not so lazy.”

And those were all mild comments in relation to the others!

A similar uproar happened when it was announced that Idris Elba was going to play Heimdall in the movie Thor.

Nerds dislike change; when faced with it, out comes their inner bullies.

Irony & Intellect as excuses for racism. 
Often, nerds are racist, but are either clueless that they are behaving in a racist manner, or feigning cluelessness. To the typical nerd, racists are the loud, confederate flag waving nutjobs in the movies, lynching Black people and calling us niggers, shines and coons at every turn.

A nerd’s snarky remarks – filled with much irony and intellect – are meant to show their enlightened viewpoint and, since they are enlightened, they can’t possibly be racist.

 At least that’s what they think. 

Many white nerds bemoan being white and oppressed and attribute any kind of complaint by a Black person as having no basis or just cause.

While many nerds can be quite obvious in their racist and sexist insults, quite a few have learned to insult you in the nicest ways. Take heed – niceness is a strategy of social interaction; niceness does not equal goodness.

So, the next time a good friend or family member tells you there is this nice man or woman they would like you to meet, RUN!  

Just kidding (sort of).

Just as niceness does not equal goodness, nor does shyness equate to docility, or nerdy equate to intelligent, gentle and meek. Nerds ain’t Bambi; they’re Chuck Norris…with a chip on his shoulder.

‘Nuff said…Excelsior…Sweet Christmas…and other nerdy adages to drive my point home.

Hopefully, this won’t be my last post. Hopefully, a horde of enraged nerds, screaming ‘It’s clobberin’ time!’ won’t find me at Dragon*Con this weekend and pummel me with pocket protectors, leaving me in a quivering heap in the lobby of the Westin Hotel (which is where the Alternate History Track – my favorite  – is held).

If they do, then damn it, so be it!

Somebody has to stand up against nerd tyranny. Somebody has to stand up for the jocks, the cheerleaders and other popular kids with IQs of less than three digits, but SQs (Social Intelligence Quotients) above 185.

Somebody has to stand up!

Damn the peril!

Damn being labeled a traitor by my Blerd peers!

Should I meet my end at the frail hands of a nerd, know that I left here fighting the good fight!

Sincerely,

Milton J. Davis

Guest Blogger

 

This was all (mostly) in fun. I – Balogun Ojetade – wrote this article and posted it to my blog. Milton Davis (shown in the above photo with Wolverine) had nothing to do with the writing of it, so don’t go hunting him down!

 I, myself, am a Blerd – Black Nerd – and wear the title – and my taped up glasses and pocket protectors – proudly.

However, I am also a writer and writers – like all artists – render the truth as they see it. The aforementioned study that shows nerds and bullies sharing the same traits is true. Bullying is wrong and must be addressed, no matter who the perpetrator is. Racism and sexism are wrong and we must stand against these societal ills…unless, of course, you are the perpetrator.

P.S. No nerds were harmed during the writing of this blog post (although some might be harmed after).

DREAM-CASTING WRATH OF THE SIAFU!

NgoloA while ago, I did a dream-casting for the movie Ngolo, which is an award winning screenplay written by authors Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis.

Wrath of the SiafuIt was fun to envision who would star in the low budget and big budget versions of the film. Now, I’d like to continue the fun by dream-casting my latest novella, Wrath of the Siafu, part 2 to the superhero origin story that began in the popular novella, A Single Link.

What exactly is dream-casting, you ask?

Dream-casting is the act of imagining which big name stars would fill roles in a movie based on your favorite book or comic book; or based on a story, book or screenplay that you wrote.

As I stated above, I do a big budget casting and a low-budget casting. It should be noted, however, that honestly, most of the actors cast in the low-budget version would be cast in the big budget version if I had any say in the matter – they are just that good.

Logline

A wrongfully incarcerated mixed martial arts champion must fight for her freedom, life and the lives of her loved ones after she is injected by a DNA-altering virus by the corrupt prison system.

Blurb

The near future… 

A young genius is gunned down brutally by the police. 

Remi Swan – our hero from the hard-hitting Action-Adventure novella, A Single Link – fights to defend the little boy and her. 

She is arrested, imprisoned, forced to fight and infected with an experimental virus that turns women into raging monsters…or worse. 

Possessed with incredible – and frightening – new abilities, Remi sets off a war against a system that has long brutalized Black people. A war that, alone, she might not be able to fight, but now she is backed by an army…a powerful and deadly force of her own making. 

Now, that brutal system will suffer the… 

WRATH OF THE SIAFU!

Now that I have piqued your interest, let’s get on with the dream-casting:

Remi Swan: The first woman to fight against men in professional mixed martial arts, Remi is a celebrity who is loved and admired worldwide. She gladly accepts her role as a symbol for justice and empowerment for abused women and as a symbol for power for Black people, in general. She is a highly skilled fighter and teacher as well as a loving wife and mother to two young children.

Big Budget: Danai Gurira

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Iyalogun Ojetade (Iyalogun portrays Remi in the short film, A Single Link, that the book was developed from).

Wrath of the Siafu

Eboni Ahmed: A former martial arts student of Remi’s husband, Master Kundo Swan, Eboni was once a bitter rival of Remi’s. However, they have grown to be best friends. Eboni is the reigning women’s middleweight mixed martial arts champion. The only defeat she ever suffered was from Remi in a non-title match before Remi went on to fight in co-ed matches. Eboni is proud and a bit hot-headed, but has a good heart.

Big Budget: Sonequa Martin-Green

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Angela Hill

Wrath of the Siafu

Warden Anna Hess: A calculating, amoral bastion of the prison system. Warden Hess, a former geneticist and virologist, spearheaded the project that created the DNA-altering AMVO virus and its use on unwitting women prisoners.

Big Budget: Vera Farmiga

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Casey Cudmore

Wrath of the Siafu

Kundo Swan: Remi’s devoted husband. A lifelong indigenous Afrikan martial artist, MMA coach and pillar of the “conscious” Black community, Kundo is intelligent, caring and courageous. A wise and respected elder.

Big Budget: Brian White

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Balogun Ojetade (Balogun played Kundo in the short film, A Single Link)

Wrath of the Siafu

Peggy: The psychotherapist at Ames Medical Facility, where Remi and Eboni are imprisoned. Although Peggy is wheelchair bound, she is menacing and will do anything in the name of scientific discovery. She is brilliant, controlling and manipulative. Peggy has worked with Warden Hess on the AMVO project since its inception.

Big Budget: Melissa McBride

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Mellie Miller

Wrath of the Siafu

Daniel Wallace: Kundo’s best friend. Dan Wallace is a billionaire, who earned his wealth through his promotion of professional MMA fights through his company, WERKWorld Extreme Ring Kombat. He gave Remi her shot at professional co-ed fights, which, from PPV sales and merchandising, made him one of the richest men in the United States.

Big Budget: Idris Elba

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Akin Donaldson (Akin portrays Sekou / Dan Wallace in the short film, A Single Link)

Wrath of the Siafu

Dee: Remi and Kundo’s neighbor and close friend. Dee started off as a nosy, but witty neighbor with a passing interest in the martial arts, but has become Remi’s corner person and assistant trainer.

Big Budget: Cynthia Kaye McWilliams

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Dasie Thames

Wrath of the Siafu

Changa bin Wahad: Activist and Founder / Chairman of the revolutionary organization, Freedom Takes Power.  Changa is bold, outspoken and a skilled military strategist. He is politically and culturally astute, hard-working, ethical and a risk-taker. He joins Remi in her plan to topple the prison system.

Big Budget: Mekhi Phifer

Wrath of the Siafu

Low Budget: Kalonji Jama Changa (I actually based Changa bin Wahad on Kalonji Jama Changa and the inimitable activist and freedom fighter, Dhoruba bin Wahad).

Wrath of the Siafu

Janine: A thirteen year old girl altered by the AMVO virus. Janine is nearly seven feet tall, as big as a male power-lifter and as defined as a professional bodybuilder. Her immense strength, speed and endurance are matched by an immense rage. The AMVO virus and her treatment at Ames have driven Janine insane.

Wrath of the Siafu

Big Budget: CGI

Low Budget: CGI

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STEAMFUNK: Personality Types and Temperaments and Archetypes, oh my!

Speculative fiction in general – and Steampunk in particular – offers us something different: a sense that the world is larger and more filled with possibility than we might be able to imagine; a sense that increasing the opportunities of other people’s lives does not mean diminishing our own.

Steampunk is a reminder that our vision is bigger than our histories; that by looking back at yesterday and learning from it, a better tomorrow is still an option.

Most of us believe we discovered Steampunk at random. We loved the genre before it was called Steampunk and we kind of just stumbled into the Steampunk movement.

I beg to differ.

All actions follow a process – Perception à Thought à Impulse à Action – thus all actions are purposeful…and anything with a purpose, or direction, can be predicted.

How could we know we would gravitate toward Steampunk? That we would write it? Read it? Wear it?

By knowing and understanding our Personality Type.

The Influence of Personality on Reading Choice

People read fiction to enjoy a world that is not their own; to live tangentially and vicariously through someone else. People read fiction to be informed, to be entertained and to escape from everyday life.

Reading is an escapist hobby, but science fiction and fantasy reading are even more so, for readers of speculative fiction escape out of their own worlds into places and times that either no longer exist, do not exist just yet, or never will exist at all.

So, why do I read science fiction and fantasy? Why do I write Steampunk and Sword & Soul?

The answer may very well lie in my psychological makeup. Recent studies show that my temperament predisposes me to a love of science fiction.

Each of us has a temperament, that is, a part of our personality that may or may not be genetically based. A quick Myers-Briggs test has informed me that my Personality Type, as a whole is an Extroverted Intuitive Thinking Judge, or ENTJ. My Temperament is an NT – Intuitive Thinker – also known as a “Rational.”

According to the Keirsey Temperament website, “Rationals are very scarce, comprising as little as 5 to 7 percent of the population.” NTs are non-conformist critical thinkers. The NTs idolize the science fiction writer as the real architect of change. They can see the cleverness and competency in science fiction.

Rationals excel in any kind of logical investigation such as conceptualizing and theorizing – excellent tools for reading and writing Steampunk and other speculative fiction because Science fiction readers require a willing suspension of disbelief to enjoy the material, as well as the ability to conceive and extrapolate beyond what the writer has written.

Writers of Steampunk require the ability to conceive and extrapolate a retrofuturistic past and from it, create an entire world.

Speculative Fiction – often called the literature of ideas – is not just about fusion, automatons, dragon-slayers or airship pirates; it is rooted in the same ideas of love, anger and the human heart in conflict with itself that drive romance, drama, tragedies and contemporary fiction, but is presented more fantastically and thus, made new.

Even stories about humanoids battling non-humanoid alien races on a distant planet in the far future boil down to human feelings and human thoughts that we all can relate to.

Personality Types

Personality Type or Psychological Type are terms most commonly associated with the model of personality development created by Isabel Briggs Myers, the author of the world’s most widely used personality inventory – the MBTI or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, developed their model and inventory around the ideas and theories of psychologist Carl Jung, putting Jung’s concepts into a language that could be understood and used by the average person.

2 Kinds of Mental Processes
In her studies of people and extensive reading of Jung’s theories, Myers concluded there were four primary ways people differed from one another. She labeled these differences “preferences” – drawing a similarity to “hand preferences” to illustrate that although we all use both of our hands, most of us have a preference for one over the other and “it” takes the lead in many of the activities in which we use our hands.

The first set of mental preferences relates to how people Perceive or take in information. In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI Personality Type Code, this is the second letter.

Those who prefer Sensing Perception favor clear, tangible data and information that fits in well with their direct here-and-now experience. In contrast, those who prefer Intuition Perception are drawn to information that is more abstract, conceptual, big-picture, and represents imaginative possibilities for the future.

The second set of mental preferences identifies how people form Judgments or make decisions. In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI Personality Type Code, this is the third letter.

Those who prefer Thinking Judgment have a natural preference for making decisions in an objective, logical, and analytical manner with an emphasis on tasks and results to be accomplished. Those whose preference is for Feeling Judgment make their decisions in a somewhat global, visceral, harmony and value-oriented way, paying particular attention to the impact of decisions and actions on other people.

2 Kinds of Mental Orientations
There are two other mental preferences that are part of the MBTI Myers Briggs model: Energy Orientation – the dimension of personality known as Extraversion or Introversion – and Outer World Orientation – the style or orientation one uses in dealing with the external world: Judging or Perceiving.

Energy Orientation pertains to the two forms of Energy Consciousness each of us experiences on a daily basis. We occupy two mental worlds: one is inwardly turned, the other is outward. One of these worlds is our primary source of energy; the other secondary. In the Myers MBTI Personality Type Code, this is the first letter.

Those who prefer Introversion draw their primary energy from the inner world of information, thoughts, ideas, and other reflections. When circumstances require an excessive amount of attention spent in the “outside” world, those preferring Introversion find the need to retreat to a more private setting as if to recharge their drained batteries.

In contrast, those who prefer Extraversion are drawn to the outside world as their elemental source of energy. Rarely, if ever, do extraverted preference people feel their energy batteries are “drained” by excessive amounts of interaction with the outside world. They must engage the things, people, places and activities going on in the outside world for their life force.

Outer World Orientation relates to which mental preference one relies upon in dealing with – and relating to – the Outside World. When this leading function is one of the two Judging mental preferences, then this orientation is called Judging. When this leading function is one of the two Perceiving mental preferences, then this orientation is called Perceiving. In the Myers MBTI Personality Type Code, this is the fourth letter.

Those who prefer Judging rely upon either their Thinking or Feeling preference to manage their outer life. This typically leads to a style oriented towards closure, organization, planning, or in some fashion managing the things and or people found in the external environment. The drive is to order the outside world. While some people employ an assertive manner, others’ “ordering touch” – with respect to people – may be light.

Those who prefer Perceiving rely upon either their Sensate or iNtuitive preference to run their outer life. This typically results in an open, adaptable, flexible style of relating to the things and people found in the outside world. The drive is to experience the outside world rather than order it; in general lack of closure is easily tolerated.

From the Myers-Briggs Personality Types, you are then able to determine your temperament using the information below:

Temperaments

The roots of Keirsey Temperament Theory are based in many years of research and innovation by Dr. David Keirsey. At Pomona College and the Claremont Graduate School, Keirsey began his research and study of human behavior. As he researched historical literature in psychology, philosophy, and the sciences, he became intrigued by the patterns of four temperaments. These four distinct patterns of human behavior were woven throughout history, dating back to such figures as Hippocrates, Plato and Aristotle, who learned these patterns from even older Egyptian knowledge from the Egyptian Mystery Schools.

In the 1950’s, Dr. Keirsey began putting his theory into practice as an Educational Psychologist, where he developed techniques in training and coaching. For more than two decades, he served as a consultant to both educators and psychologists, with continued research and innovations in his theory of the four temperaments.

In the early 1970’s Keirsey introduced his theory as an educational curriculum at California State University, Fullerton, where he served on the faculty, and eventually chair, in the department of counseling for ten years. The impact of Keirsey Temperament Theory has been lasting and substantial. In the early years, his theory was first put to use by psychologists, educators, and faith based organizations.

The Four Temperaments are:

SJ – “The Guardians”

The SJ group’s primary objective is “Security Seeking”. Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can keep an eye on and take good care of; they are careful to obey the laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others. The SJ grouping includes the types:

ESTJ – “The Supervisors”

ISTJ – “The Inspectors”

ESFJ – “The Providers”

ISFJ – “The Protectors”

SP – “The Artisans”

The SP group’s primary objective is “Sensation Seeking”. Artisans speak mostly about what they see right in front of them, about what they can get their hands on; they will do whatever works; whatever gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the rules. The SP grouping includes the types:

ESTP – “The Promoters”

ISTP – “The Crafters”

ESFP – “The Performers”

ISFP – “The Composers”

NT – “The Rationals”

The NT group’s primary objective is “Knowledge Seeking”. Rationals speak mostly of what new problems intrigue them and what new solutions they envision; always pragmatic, they act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring arbitrary rules and conventions if need be. The NT grouping includes the types:

ENTJ – “The Fieldmarshals”

INTJ – “The Masterminds”

ENTP – “The Inventors”

INTP – “The Architects”

NF – “The Idealists”

The NF group’s primary objective is “Identity Seeking”. Idealists speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for people; they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics. The NF grouping includes the types:

ENFJ – “The Teachers”

INFJ – “The Counselors”

ENFP – “The Champions”

INFP – “The Healers”

Are there associations between professional writers’ personality types and the genres in which they write?

Surveys of professional writers have pointed to at least one significant association: Poets tend to identify with a perceiving style while fiction – and non-fiction – writers tend to identify with a judging style. Interviews support this notion, with an articulation that poets did seem to be set apart from other writers in some way.

Personality type may seem an abstract and unnecessary thing for writers to be concerned about. Yet, personality type is something writers should know, in order to construct novels that sell. How so?

1. You have a personality type whether you know it or not, and whether you care about it or not.

2. Your personality type is intrinsic to who you are and is expressed in your writing.

3. Your readers also have personality types. Their reading preferences are shaped by their personality types.

4. Your characters have personality types. Creating a personality type profile for your main characters can help you create characters that readers will love, hate and / or empathize with.

Readers, By Personality Type

Thinking: Thinking types enjoy logical, fact driven content; intellectual puzzles; and intellectual, mind-bending thrillers. Thinking types want pared down writing with no fluff.

Sensate: Sensates enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction about the real world, power, politics, action, sports. Sensates are your thriller, suspense and action market.

Feeling: The Feeling type is the women’s lit, chick lit and romance market.

Intuitive: Intuitives enjoy reading sacred texts, books about spiritual experience and spiritually-themed fiction, such as The Da Vinci Code. This is also your science fiction and fantasy market.

Steampunk Archetypes and related Personality Types

Air Pirate: One of the quintessential Steampunk characters.  Air pirates are bad, bold, and armed to the teeth. ISTP / ESTJ

Adventurer/Explorer: Their reason for being is to boldly go where no one has gone before; to experience new things; and to discover new places. ESTP

Aviator: Whether military, or a rogue; whether they’re flying a bi-plane, a zeppelin, or a space ship; they are tough, brave, and even a bit gallant, especially in contrast to Air Pirates. ISTP

Dandy/Femme Fatale: They use their wiles and charms to get what they want, sometimes at the expense of others. ESTP

Hunter/Fighter:  Monster hunters are all about firepower and skill in combat. They stay armed with stakes, silver bullets, and strange, arcane-looking weaponry. ISTP

Mad Scientist/Inventor: Another quintessential Steampunk character, they embody the steam in steampunk, discovering new things, solving problems, and occasionally blowing things up. ENTP / INTP

Mechanic/Tinkerer: A bit of a twist on the Scientist/Inventor.  Where the Inventor is creating things from scratch, the tinkerer is improving on things, often on the fly, or perhaps just trying to get things to work; making do with what they have. ISTP

Philosopher/Scholar: They like old, rare books and wax poetic about the classics; they talk too much about things no one cares about or prefer books to people. INTJ

Socialite/Lady/Gentleman: Often based on Victorian aristocracy, they can often embody the refinement and social norms we associate with the upper class of that era.  Many times they serve as patrons for the scholars, adventurers, and inventors. INFJ / ESFP

Street Sparrow/Scrappy Survivor: These are the street urchins, your pickpockets and beggars.  Hungry and dirty, they do what they need to do to survive. ENFP / ESFP

Reformer: They could be suffragettes or seeking to get rid of child labor or protesting imperialism, they are working to make the world a better place, often loudly and not always peacefully and without scandal. ENFJ

The personality types for the Steampunk Archetypes are not set in stone. They are merely guidelines to help in your writing and / or cosplay.

You can take your Myers-Briggs Test (or take it for your main characters) here: http://www.mypersonality.info/personality-types/.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…I am an ENTJ!

The Steamfunk Canon!

A while ago, I wrote The Dieselfunk Canon, providing a list of books considered the definitive works in Dieselfunk.

Since Dieselfunk is the literary sibling of Steamfunk – and since this is the year Steamfunk comes back at you like gangbusters with the release of three novels – I figured it is now time to provide you with the Steamfunk Canon.

Here, you will not find Steampunk books that simply have a Black protagonist. No, these are books written by authors who proudly identify their work as Steamfunk and who skillfully deliver Funktastic stories in the genre.

Alright, Steamfunkateers…here goes:

Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 and 2) by Balogun Ojetade

harriet tubman“I’m gon’ drive the evil out and send it back to Hell, where it belong!” – Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman: Freedom fighter. Psychic. Soldier. Spy. Something…more. Much more.

In MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Book 1: Kings * Book 2: Judges), the author masterfully transports you to a world of wonder…of horror…of amazing inventions, captivating locales and extraordinary people.

In this novel of dark fantasy, hailed as the very first Steamfunk novel, Harriet Tubman must match wits and power with the sardonic John Wilkes Booth and a team of hunters with powers beyond this world in order to save herself, her teenaged nephew, Ben and a little girl in her care – Margaret. But is anyone who, or what, they seem?

The Switch II: Clockwork by Valjeanne Jeffers

Steamfunk

York is a city of contradictions. Women are hard-pressed for lovers, because lovemaking can be dangerous. The upper city is powered by computers, the underground by steam. And the wealthy don’t work for a living, underdwellers do it for them. But certain underdwellers have a big problem with this arrangement. And so does the time keeper.

Welcome to the Revolution…

The Steamfunk! Anthology edited by Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade

SteamfunkA witch, more machine than human, judges the character of the wicked and hands out justice in a ravaged Chicago. John Henry wields his mighty hammers in a war against machines and the undead. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman rule a country of freed slaves that rivals – and often bests – England and France in power and technology.

You will find all this – and much more – between the pages of Steamfunk, an anthology of incredible stories by some of today’s greatest authors of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steamfunk.

Editors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade have put together a masterful work guaranteed to transport you to new worlds. Worlds of adventure; of terror; of war and wonder; of iron and steam.

Open these pages and traverse the lumineferous aether to the world of Steamfunk!

Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective: A Steamfunk Horror Novel by Valjeanne Jeffers

Steamfunk

A serial killer is snuffing out the lives of affluent people of color in Monterrey, North America. Hard-boiled, homicide detectives Curtis Dubois and Harold Lowe are assigned to the case. But when they realize that the killer may not be human, Mona Livelong, a young paranormal detective, is brought in to help solve the case. As Mona races to unravel the clues to save Monterrey, she finds herself caught up in a terrifying plot to change the very face of North America.

Look for Mona Livelong, Book II later this year!

From Here to Timbuktu by Milton Davis

Steamfunk

The year is 1870.

As the young country of Freedonia prepares to celebrate fifty years of existence, a young bounty hunter by the name of Zeke Culpepper is hired by a wealthy businessman to find a valuable book. In the kingdom of Mali on the continent of Africa, veteran warrior Famara Keita has been assigned to find that same book and bring it back to its rightful owner. And in the newly formed nation of Germany, an ambitious Prussian officer seeks the book as well for its secrets that could make Germany the most powerful nation in the world.

The result is an action adventure like no other!

Coming August, 2015! Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, Book 3: Freedonia by Balogun Ojetade

SteamfunkSet in the world of Freedonia – author Milton Davis’ world, brought to life in the Steamfunk anthology and fully realized in the Steamfunk novel, From Here to Timbuktu – Harriet Tubman and her friend and rival, “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, chase the vengeful Alchemist out of their world and into another, in which Frederick Douglass and another, quite different Harriet Tubman govern a country of former enslaved Africans that rivals – and often bests – the United States, England and France in power and technology.

Harriet is forced to work beside the likes of Zeke Culpepper and John Scobell to prevent a war with mighty New Haiti and the elite and fearsome Hwarang warriors of Joseon (“Korea”). But a wicked force from Harriet’s world has come to destroy Freedonia and all it stands for. Will Harriet and her allies be able to stand against it?

Be sure to read all the works listed here. They’re great stories and I know you’ll enjoy them. And please, do the authors a solid and write a review, even if it’s just a couple of sentences. Thanks!

More Steamfunk novels, a second Steamfunk anthology and a Steamfunk feature film are coming and we will continue to expand this list, so check back often for updates.