Steamfunk * Steampunk * Sword & Soul

Archive for February, 2012

BLACK CAESAR: The Stone Ship Rises

BLACK CAESAR: The Stone Ship Rises

“Yo ho, haul together; hoist the colors high.

Heave ho, thieves and beggars; never shall we die.”

Caesar’s ebon-hued hands worked deftly; swiftly. The barrel upon which a mankala game board sat shook, making the beans – used as playing pieces – dance erratically within their bowl-like spaces.

The young man who sat opposite Caesar slapped his olive-toned forehead. “You play mankala like a man possessed!”

“In my homeland, we call it wari,” Caesar said. “The game is very popular and to lose is to suffer teasing from one’s entire village.”

“So, you practice…err…wari as diligently as you practice that tricky African fencing of yours, eh?”

“Yes,” Caesar answered, staring at the gently rolling ocean.

“Wari? African fencing? Sounds…intriguingly savage!” A voice, with a thick Westminster accent, said from behind Caesar.

Caesar reset the beans in the mankala board and then closed it. The brass latch locked the two wooden halves of the board together to form the shape of a fish. “Leave us, Yuen. Tell Sifu Bo that my wife loves the tea.”

The young man leapt to his feet and bowed in respect to the ebon giant.

Caesar returned the bow.

Yuen sprinted off and Caesar placed the mankala game between his feet, never turning around to look at the man who stood behind him.

A middle-aged man – dressed in a ruffled, white shirt, tan trousers and a tan leather vest – sat down in Yuen’s place.

The man extended his well-manicured hand. “Hello, sir; Hawkins, at your service.”

Caesar shook Hawkins’ hand. It was smooth and soft. “So, Mr. Hawkins, are you buying…or selling?”

Neither. I am merely here to exchange stories with fellow adventurers.

And what tales might you have?” Caesar asked. “You don’t seem to be a man of the sea.”

“I have one very interesting tale with which to regale you,” Hawkins replied, placing a gold doubloon on top of the barrel. “It is a tale of mutiny…and death.”

“I’m listening,” Caesar said dryly.

Hawkins slid a silver flask from his vest pocket. He unscrewed the top and thrust it toward Caesar, who shook his head in refusal. Hawkins shrugged and took a sip, frowning as the contents of the container hit his throat. “This tale is about a mutinous dog with supernatural abilities that made him one of the most dangerous men alive. He was once a slave – as black as a million midnights – who toiled upon a ship called The Golliwog – a fitting name, for the majority of the crew was just as black and savage as the subject of our story.”

Hawkins studied Caesar’s dark brown face and strong, African features. “No offense, mate.”

“Please, continue,” Caesar responded.

“Well, the Captain of The Golliwog was a wealthy merchant and a man well-travelled,” Hawkins continued. “This Captain – Delaney was his name – had suffered great loss at the hands of pirates and turned to the dark arts to rectify the problem.”

Caesar locked his gaze on Hawkins’ angular face. The Brit seemed to be searching for something deep behind Caesar’s eyes.

“Interesting,” Caesar said.

“One night, Captain Delaney used his knowledge of the occult to summon and bind an elemental spirit of molten stone,” Hawkins said. “Delaney’s crew of Irish indentured servants and black slaves hammered and carved the creature until – months later – it was formed into the shape of a war-galley. The crew then set about adding wooden decks, masts and the like and within a year, the first seaworthy stone ship set sail.”

Hawkins took another swig from his flask and then continued his tale. “The ship was nigh impenetrable and no ship or sea-monster could defeat it. Captain Delaney, however, had not bound the elemental stone-spirit properly, however, and the ship began to infect the Captain and his crew, its sickness spreading faster than crabs in a brothel.”

“Infected?” Caesar inquired.

“Yes, and it changed them,” Hawkins replied. “All became monstrous creatures of earth, stone and sea…and their hearts grew as dark as the ocean depths. All, that is, except that mutinous black bastard of whom we speak.”

“And what of him?” Caesar asked.

“He changed too, but differently from the rest,” Hawkins answered. “The slave grew to be twice as strong as the strongest man on land or sea…and a hundred times smarter than the most sagacious royal advisor or architect. So smart, in fact, that he figured out a way to cripple The Golliwog and send it – and its crew – to Davey Jones’ Locker.”

“If the slave sank the ship, how – pray tell – did you come to hear the story?”

Hawkins slid the flask back into his vest pocket. “You see, that’s where the story really gets interesting! Captain Delaney had time to cast one last spell before The Golliwog went down. One last spell…and the captain and crew of that old, stone ship yet live. And that slave – none the wiser – went on to Captain his own ship, thinking his secret was buried a hundred leagues under the sea. That slave – Black Caesar was his name – thought he was safe…until now.”

Caesar leapt to his feet, driving his fingers into the top of the barrel that stood between him and Hawkins. With a swing of his powerful arms, he hurled the barrel off the dock.

The heavy oak container flew over the ocean toward the horizon until it was just a tiny dot in the sky.

“You were foolish to come alone,” Caesar said.

Hawkins stood, smiling. “I didn’t.”

Suddenly, six men peeked from behind the Brit. Their faces were perpetually grinning caricatures of Hawkins’ visage.

Caesar’s eyebrows rose. “Sink me!”

The squad of Hawkins doppelgangers exploded forward.

Caesar drew something from under the wide left sleeve of his overcoat that looked akin to a barbed riding crop.

As the first doppelganger closed on him, Caesar slashed downward with his weapon, ripping a gash in the creature’s forehead. The doppelganger froze in place.

Caesar pressed the tip of his index finger to the doppelganger’s chest and pushed the paralyzed monster onto its back. He then raised his weapon above his head. “Come on! Come taste Manta’s sting!”

Caesar carved figure-eights in the air with Manta – a short whip made from rhinoceros leather, with the barbed, venomous tail of a stingray sewn into its shaft.

Hawkins and his doppelgangers encircled Caesar slowly.

In unison, each doppelganger drew a flask – identical to Hawkins’ – from their vests. In the hands of the grinning creatures, the silver flasks began to pulse and to warp, becoming soft and then breaking down into a liquid that flowed around each doppelganger’s right hand.

The doppelgangers extended their right arms, brandishing the blades of flesh and silver that now protruded from their wrists and then – in unison – they charged forward.

Caesar leapt high into the air, avoiding the thrusts from the doppelgangers’ blades.

The ebon giant thrust his hand into his overcoat and quickly withdrew a bronze disc about the size of his palm. Around the circumference of the disc were triangular blades, which gave the weapon the appearance of a sun. Caesar hurled the disc toward the ground as he somersaulted backward, high above the doppelgangers’ heads.

The heavy weapon skipped off the ground with a dull thud and flew upward, its razor-sharp blades tearing into the arm of a doppelganger.

The creature collapsed. A scream erupted from its still grinning face as its severed arm bounced across the dock.

Caesar hurled another blade toward the ground just before he landed. The blade skittered along the dock three times before it found its mark – a doppelganger’s leg, just above the knee. The doppelganger fell onto its face as its lower leg was separated from its body.

Two more blades flew from Caesar’s deft hands. Two more doppelgangers fell as their legs were rent from beneath them.

A doppelganger slashed at Caesar’s neck. He ducked the blow and then exploded upward with a crushing head-butt to the doppelganger’s chin. The creature’s eyes rolled back in its skull as it was sent flying off the dock and into the ocean.

Caesar spotted movement off to his left side. He spun toward it, slashing with Manta. The whip struck the last standing doppelganger across the jaw, tearing open its grinning maw. The creature froze as the whip’s neurotoxin severed the connection between the creature’s brain and its muscles.

Caesar drove the heel of his boot into the doppelganger’s chest. The creature flew backward from the tremendous force, landing – with a loud splash – several yards from the dock.

Hawkins turned on his heels and ran, but Caesar was on him.

A quick slash across the back of Hawkins’ neck from Manta stopped the Brit cold.

Caesar walked around Hawkins to face him. “You are paralyzed, but you can still feel pain. The paralysis lasts about an hour. During that time, you will feel every cruelty I inflict upon you, but I promise you – I will make your death quick – and a lot less painful – if you tell me exactly where I can find Captain Delaney.”

A gurgling sound rumbled in Hawkins’ throat as he tried to scream, but no sound could escape his paralyzed vocal cords and his lifeless lips.

****

“The Devil’s Triangle is purported to wreck havoc with navigational systems and clockwork, sir.” The smell of copper filled Caesar’s cabin as a puff of steam escaped the bronze lips of the metal man that sat opposite Caesar. “We do not want to the entire crew to shut down on us.”

“I believe it’s Captain Delaney who is wrecking havoc in The Triangle, Kol,” Caesar replied.

“Only one way to find out.”

A beautiful woman, with smooth, cocoa skin, entered the cabin. On her back – strapped snugly and securely with a colorful blue and white cloth that matched the woman’s dress – was a plump, dark brown baby who possessed a head full of curly, black hair.

Caesar smiled warmly. “Fatou, is the crew well-fed?”

“Wood chips, iron shavings and hot water for all, my husband,” Fatou replied.

“And what about my Binta?” Caesar snickered. “Are you well-fed too?”

The little girl peeked under her mother’s arm and smiled. “Yes, Baaba. Baama’s milk was quite satisfactory.”

“So, when does The Anunaki set sail?” Fatou asked as she sat down beside Caesar. “My blunderbuss has not tasted battle in months!”

“You do love a good fight, don’t you ma’am?” Kol sighed as he tilted his head in order to tip the iron top-hat attached to it.

“That I do, Kol,” Fatou replied. “It’s in the blood; fourteen generations of warriors.”

Fifteen,” Binta said, raising a tiny hand.

“Apologies, love,” Fatou said. “Fifteen generations of warriors!”

‘We set sail for the Devil’s Triangle immediately,” Caesar said. “Captain Delaney won’t wait long before he sends more of his monsters to kill me. I want to take this fight to him!”

Kol rose from his seat. The hum of gears and the steady tick of a clock could be heard behind his thick, iron breastplate. “I will get the crew into gear, Captain.”

“Into gear?” Caesar chuckled. “That was a good one Kol.”

“I try, sir,” Kol said as he exited the cabin.

Caesar turned to Fatou and placed a gentle hand upon her cheek. “Eat and rest well, my love. We’ll have to be at our best when we come up against that monster – Delaney – and his hellish ship!”

****

The gentle breeze felt warm and pleasant against Caesar’s skin. He turned his gaze from the still, deep, azure ocean to his crew – thirty men of iron and bronze – standing shoulder-to-shoulder upon the main deck. Steam billowed from their top-hats as Kol and Fatou fed iron shavings into the flames that burned within their bellies.

“Don’t let the calm fool you, hearties,” Caesar shouted. “The stone ship will show and when she does, we will all step-to and give no quarter!”

A metallic cheer rose from the crew and echoed across the noonday sky.

In answer, a sound, like thunder, rolled across the still waters, kicking up waves as it grew louder and louder.

The Anunaki rocked from side-to-side as the waves became more violent.

“Prepare yourselves!” Caesar shouted over the terrible din of thunder.

Suddenly, the clouds above The Anunaki grew thicker and turned from pristine to a muddy brown.

Out of the clouds descended a massive war-galley of earth and stone.

“Sink me!” Caesar gasped. “That old bastard has given the ship the power to fly!”

Caesar turned to his wife, who stood a few feet away, nursing Binta to keep her calm. “Are you ready?”

“Of course,” Fatou answered, nodding her head, which was covered by a large oval hat that made it look like the bulbous cranium of an octopus.

“Cannons!” Caesar shouted.

“All hands…cannons!” Kol repeated as he pulled a cart full of cannonballs toward the crew.

The crew sprang into action, forming five columns of six steambots each. Kol busily snatched cannonballs from the cart, placing a pile of the ammunition at each steambot’s feet.  In unison, each metal man reached down, grabbed a cannonball and then stuffed the heavy, iron round into the muzzle of its top-hat.

“Fire!” Caesar shouted.

“Fire!” Kol echoed!

The steambots fired a pulverizing volley into the hull of The Golliwog. Pebbles of stone and gray dust fell upon The Anunaki’s quarterdeck.

The Golliwog answered The Anunaki’s attack with a storm of fist-sized, flaming stones.

Kol darted about the main deck, spraying jets of water from his mouth to extinguish the fires set by the stones as the crew fired another volley of cannonballs.

More flaming rain pummeled the main deck of The Anunaki.

The Golliwog descended lower. Ropes dropped from the sides of the hovering ship.

“They are about to try to board,” Caesar shouted. “Prepare to drop!”

The steambots maneuvered themselves into one row that ran the length of the ship. Each steambot locked arms with the one on either side of it. The metal men folded themselves over the cannonballs, forming a pipe-like structure. A whirring sound from beneath the floor of the main deck signaled the activation of the massive magnet that locked the crew into place.

“Let’s go,” Caesar shouted to his wife.

Fatou nodded and – with Binta cradled in her arms – sprinted through the door that led to the bowels of the ship.

Caesar followed closely behind them, taking a final look toward The Golliwog before darting into the doorway. Creatures with flesh of moist soil, descended the ropes with one hand. In their free hand, the dirt-creatures carried cutlasses forged from jagged stone. Yams and other tubers grew, in rows, down the center of each creature’s back like a fin.

The Anunaki began to sink into the ocean.

The force of the ship’s descent generated a column of air that snatched the boarding crew of The Golliwog from their ropes and the creatures went, screaming, into the deep.

The Anunaki disappeared from sight moments before The Golliwog belly-flopped into the water, kicking up a massive wave. And then…

Stillness. Silence.

The Anunaki shattered the silence, rising up through the surface of the water, less than two yards from The Golliwog’s starboard.

Caesar burst from his cabin.

Fatou – with a giggling Binta on her back – sprinted behind him.

“Kol, have all hands beat the barnacles of The Golliwog’s keel if we haven’t returned within the hour!”

Kol unfolded himself and craned his neck up toward the quarterdeck. “Boarding The Golliwog, sir?”

“Yes,” Caesar replied. “Fatou and I.”

“Ahem,” Binta coughed, placing her little fists on her plump hips.

“And Binta,” Caesar sighed.

“Very good, sir,” Kol said with a slight tilt of his head.

Caesar took a knee.

Fatou climbed onto his massive back, placing the brass barrel of her blunderbuss – which she gripped in both hands – across his barrel-like chest and wrapped her legs around his sinewy waist.

Caesar exploded upward, propelling himself – and his passengers – from the quarterdeck of The Anunaki to the main deck of The Golliwog.

Fatou climbed down from Caesar’s back and pointed the flared muzzle of her blunderbuss under her left arm.

Binta reached her hands into a slit in her mother’s  “octopus-head” hat and withdrew two fistfuls of small, white cowry shells.

Binta dropped the shells into the muzzle of the blunderbuss and then repeated the process.

“Ready yourselves,” Caesar shouted. “Here they come!”

A score of the dirt creatures charged toward Caesar and his family. Their stone cutlasses were at the ready as they sprinted from The Golliwog’s fore to its aft.

Caesar hurled two skipping blades toward the deck. The heavy, sun-shaped blades ricocheted off the deck and struck two of The Golliwog’s crew.

One creature collapsed onto its back as the blade sank deep into its earthen neck. Slick oil sprayed from the wound as the creature flopped violently on the deck.

The other creature staggered backward, clutching at its groin. It let loose a raspy scream as two turnips fell from the tear in its trousers.

“Kill these wretched abominations while I deal with Captain Delaney!” Caesar said, pointing up toward a hulking figure standing on the poop-deck.

Fatou nodded as she twisted a knob on the mahogany stock of her weapon. The hissing of steam rose from inside it.

Caesar leapt up to the poop-deck in two powerful bounds. Below, he heard the first thunderous shot from Fatou’s blunderbuss., followed, a second later, by the screams of those whose bodies were ripped to shreds by the blast of cowry shells.

“So, the prodigal son returns.”

Caesar locked eyes on Captain Delaney, who was even monstrous than his crew. His head and chest were still that same Captain Delaney that Caesar knew – and loathed – so well – tan, well-groomed and a bit of a fop. The rest of the Captain, however, was quite…different.

His mid-torso downward was, what looked to be, a massive squid tentacle. His lean arms were human, but his hands had been replaced by the gaping maws of Great White Sharks.

“If I am your son, demon, then I have only returned to commit patricide.”

Captain Delaney extended his arms. His shark-maw hands bore their razor-sharp teeth. “We have unfinished business, boy, so come, let me send you to Davey Jones’ Locker!”

Caesar drew Manta from a sheath on the leather gauntlet strapped to his left forearm.

Captain Delaney slithered toward Caesar, the suckers on his underside leaving a moist trail behind him.

Caesar swung Manta at Captain Delaney’s head.

The Captain parried the blow with his left shark hand. The teeth sank into Caesar’s right forearm, rending flesh and pulverizing bone.

The ebony giant screamed in agony as the shark hand maintained – and tightened – its grip on his arm.

Caesar somersaulted sideways, grabbing the shark hand with his left. At the apex of his somersault, Caesar twisted the shark hand forcefully, breaking its “neck”.

Captain Delaney released his hold on Caesar’s arm. The shark hand flopped lifelessly and a line of spittle fell from its mouth.

Caesar exploded forward, slamming his shoulder into Captain Delaney’s chest. A loud crack followed the blow and a mist of bilious, green ichor escaped the Captain’s quivering lips.

Caesar felt something spongy and slick encircle his right leg. He looked down – Captain Delaney’s “tail” had wound itself around his leg from ankle to thigh. Caesar screamed as the tentacle tightened its grip. White-hot pain burrowed through flesh and sinew as hundreds of needle like teeth – forming a circle around the inner edge of each sucker – bit into his leg.

Caesar slashed downward with Manta.

A chunk of Captain Delaney’s flesh flew across the deck.

The Captain flipped into a one-armed handstand, hoisting Caesar high into the air by his thigh.

The Captain slammed the giant onto his back, driving the air from Caesar’s lungs.

Captain Delaney collapsed onto his back next to Caesar. Delaney’s chest heaved violently and his muscles tensed.

Caesar could tell the Captain was trying to fight the paralytic effects of Manta’s neurotoxin – as he was struggling to shake off the effects of the neurotoxin searing his veins.

With tremendous effort, Caesar shoved his left hand into his vest.

Captain Delaney roared as he whipped his arm toward Caesar’s throat. The shark hand opened its maw wide and a hiss escaped its “throat”.

Caesar snatched his hand out of his vest and thrust his fist – and the bowl-like abject he held within it – into the shark-mouth.

Captain Delaney smiled as the shark hand slammed its powerful jaws shut.

Caesar screamed as his hand separated from his wrist.

The giant fought back the pain and rolled sideways, quickly distancing himself from Captain Delaney.

A moment later, the Captain erupted into a ball of fire and then burst into chunks of smoldering, black meat.

“Caesar?!” Fatou screamed.

Caesar crawled to the edge of the poop-deck. He peered over the side.

Fatou was nursing Binta as she stood amidst a sea of dirt and yams.

“That was the grenado,” Caesar replied. Captain Delaney is dead. I’m afraid I’ll soon follow.”

“Hush,” Fatou said, placing her index finger to her lips. “You’re supposed to be the smartest man in the world. You should know better. The Devil’s Triangle can’t claim Black Caesar!”

****

Caesar stepped onto the quarterdeck. Fatou, with Binta on her back, Kol and the steambot crew stood on the main deck, looking up toward their Captain.

Caesar raised his left arm and formed the mechanical, bronze hand at the end of it, into a fist.

The crew cheered.

“Brilliant work, sir!” Kol said.

Caesar studied his handiwork. The clockwork gears ticked, whirred and hummed as they brought life to the hand.

“Where to now, my love?” Fatou inquired.

“To the nearest port,” Caesar replied. “I have to figure out how to make The Anunaki fly!”




THE STATE OF BLACK SCIENCE FICTION 2012: The Grand Finale!

THE STATE OF BLACK SCIENCE FICTION 2012: The Grand Finale!

As this is the final post in what has been a blaxolutely Blacknificent blog tour, I would like to thank, first and foremost, all who took the time to read, like and / or comment on my blogs. Those who retweeted my tweets and those who now follow my blog and twitter or befriended me on Facebook. Your support means a lot to me!

Secondly, I would like to thank the other participants in the blog tour. I have learned much from all of you and have enjoyed your enlightening and entertaining posts. I pray to be worthy of working with you in the days and decades to come!

The winner of my Grand Prize is Milton Davis. Milton, I believe you have my books and have read the manuscripts of the books forthcoming (and are even the publisher of a couple of works… :) ), so I offer you an alternative: A free week of martial arts classes for you and your family.

Also, as part of the Grand Finale,I’d like to share my part of a collective story that was originally created for a performance several of us did at Georgia Tech on February 16, 2012. The link to the story and a video of the performance is here: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/soulless-cargo/

For the rest of the story –  and for the announcement of even more Blacktastic prizes – please check out the blogs of the other authors and artists on this tour:

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer– is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy.  Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him:  http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at:http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

Thaddeus Howze, Author– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him:  http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction.  Visit Carole:http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook –www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter –https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him:  http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd


STATE OF BLACK SCIFI 2012: My tribute to Science Fiction and Fantasy Icon, James Earl Jones!

The State of Black SciFi 2012: My Tribute to SF Icon James Earl Jones

 

In today’s blog for The State of Black Science Fiction 2012, I am paying tribute to science fiction and fantasy icon, James Earl Jones!

Most of you know of Mr. Jones’ acclaimed work as the iconic, menacing voice of Darth Vader in the mega-blockbuster Star Wars films (for which he was paid just $9000.00 for Star Wars Episode 4), however, you might not know that James Earl Jones began his nearly fifty-year film career in a Science Fiction movie and has acted in nearly forty science fiction and fantasy movies, television shows and video games.

I will talk about those in just a second, but I would like to first tell you about my meeting and “conversation” with this incredible actor and great person.

I was living in Chicago at the time. I had just left a downtown Thai restaurant and walking off the delicious Panang Tofu and Tom Yum Goon when I noticed that one of the streets was cut off and a film was being shot. Having worked on a few sets myself and aspiring to write and direct films, I decided to take a closer look.

It so happens that two of the guys working security were friends I played paintball wargames with every weekend. They let me in and told me that James Earl Jones – one of my favorite actors – was shooting a film called A Family Thing. I was excited, to say the least, and one of my friends walked me over to the director – Richard Pearce – during a break in shooting and told him that I was a fan of James Earl Jones, an aspiring screenwriter and director and that I had done executive protection for several celebrities on a few films.

Mr. Pearce took me by the wrist and said “Come with me.”

I complied.

He walked me over to James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall, another stellar actor, and introduced me, telling Mr. Jones I was an admirer of his work.

Mr. Jones signaled me to come over. He held out his hands and I took them in mine and he just smiled warmly, not saying a word. He looked toward Mr. Pearce, who leaned in close, almost pressing his ear to Mr. Jones’ lips and Mr. Jones whispered a few words.

Mr. Pearce turned to me and said “James wants you to know that he has been crippled by stuttering all his life, but he wants you to hold his hand and feel the love and appreciation he has for you.” And I did. I stood there, feeling the kindness of this brilliant, talented man I admired so much.

He looked to Richard Pearce again and whispered to him once more. Mr. Pearce paused for a second, swallowed hard and said: “Mr. Jones says that ‘one of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter’, but he hopes you really do feel what he is trying to say. With that tears began to flow down my cheeks. Mr. Pearce wiped the tears from his eyes and even Robert Duvall’s eyes welled with tears. With that, I choked out “Thank you. You just made my year.” And I hugged Mr. Jones. I then shook Robert Duvall’s and Robert Pearce’s hands and then departed, telling my friends that I sincerely owed them a HUGE favor for the hookup.

After that meeting, I was so inspired, I began to write screenplays again and I have told this story to nearly everyone I know. I thank James Earl Jones for that moment and will never forget it.

Why do I call James Earl Jones an icon of science fiction and fantasy (even horror)? Well, as I said at the beginning of this blog, his first film role was in the genre of science fiction. Ever heard of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb? He plays Lt. Lothar Zogg – a B-52 Bombardier – in the 1964 film.

Of course, the Star Wars movies added tremendously to his iconic status as did his portrayal of the villain Thulsa Doom in the 1982 film, Conan the Barbarian.

Mr. Jones has also donated his acting talents to the following science fiction, horror and fantasy works:

    • The UFO Incident (1975 TV-movie)
    • Swashbuckler (1976)
    • Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
    • The Bushido Blade (1981)
    • The Flight of Dragons (1982) (voice)
    • Faerie Tale Theatre “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” (1984)
    • Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)
    • Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987) (voice)
    • Terrorgram (1988) (voice)
    • Best of the Best (1989)
    • Grim Prairie Tales (1990)
    • Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)
    • The Meteor Man (1993)
    • The Lion King (1994) (voice)
    • Judge Dredd (1995)
    • Stargate SG-1 (1997) (voice)
    • Merlin (1998) (voice)
    • The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998 Direct-to-video) (voice)
    • Fantasia 2000 (1999)
    • Robots (2005) (voice)
    • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) (voice)
    • Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey (2009) (voice)
    • Jack and the Beanstalk (2010) (voice)

 

I love and appreciate you, Mr. James Earl Jones. If you ever read this, I pray you smile and feel what I am trying to say.

 

Next week will be the last day of our blog tour and I and my fellow bloggers are doing a HUGE giveaway for our grand finale. After the tour, please continue to follow my blog and encourage your friends to follow me as well, as I will be discussing exciting topics and giving you the scoop on racial issues, science fiction, fantasy, roleplaying games, films and novels from the African diaspora. Stay tuned!

You can also catch up on past blogs in this blog tour:

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-state-of-black-science-fiction-2012/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-why-i-love-steampunk/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-why-it-is-important-to-show-race-culture-and-ethnicity-in-our-writing/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-the-winnerthe-redeemerand-afrika/

http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-my-favorite-black-sci-fi-event-is-happily-natural-days-black-speculative-fiction-panel/

 

Finally, please check out my other fellow bloggers on this tour. They are Blaxsolutely Blacknificent!

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer– is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy.  Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him:  http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

 Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at:http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

 Thaddeus Howze, Author– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him:  http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction.  Visit Carole:http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook –www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter –https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html 

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him:  http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd


SOULLESS CARGO – A short story by Balogun

As part of  our Blacktastic State of Black Science Fiction presentation  at GA Tech, each of the participating authors was asked to write and read a short story with a powerful and mysterious bracelet as the recurring theme. Below is my contribution. Enjoy!

THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIET TUBMAN:

Soulless Cargo

“We done missed the train ‘cause o’ y’all!” Harriet hissed. “Now we gots to wait three days befo’ that train fly back ‘round to get us!”

“We sorry, Moses,” a man said, rising from amongst the frightened men, women and children huddled at the back of the barn. “But the new massa and his overseer kill us all if we even thank about runnin’!”

“There are twenty grown folk in here and y’all scared o’ two men?” Harriet asked, shaking her head and frowning in disgust.

“They ain’t no men,” an elderly woman replied. “Massa look like a skeleton with a blanket o’ cow-skin pulled over it; and that overseer? Lawd…he twice as big as a old bear on two legs. And got a arm made of a iron whip that spit white fire when it hit a slave’s back.”

Harriet shuddered. The barn suddenly seemed very cold. “The massa…what’s his name?”

“Bell,” the old woman said. “Massa Aleister Bell.”

“Damn,” Harriet whispered as she ran to a leather rucksack she had lain at the opposite end of the barn. She placed her lantern beside it and snatched the bag open.

“You right, Aleister Bell ain’t no man,” Harriet said. “He a Lich. A wizard, who dead, but ain’t dead – all ‘cause he eat the souls of the livin’. Y’all ever seen a bracelet o’ his? Gold…with strange markings carved into it?”

“I have,” A young woman replied. “I’s Flora Jean, Moses. I works in the house. I seen him put that bracelet behind a shelf in the library.”

“That bracelet is the mouth he feedin’ y’all souls to,” Harriet said, removing a fistful of large bullets from the bag and tossing them on the floor. It’s drainin’ y’all as we speak. Did the same on a plantation in Mississippi ‘bout five years ago. Left all the slaves like statues…standin’ in the cotton field ‘til they just wasted away. Been huntin’ him ever since.”

Harriet drew a large black steel revolver from her rucksack. The weapon possessed two barrels and a drum-like cylinder that contained twenty chambers, in two rows.

“And what about the overseer,” Flora Jean asked. “You ever seen him?”

“Her,” Harriet replied, loading the large rounds into the revolver. “The overseer is a her…I killed her mate back on that plantation in Mississippi.”

With that, Harriet flung open the doors to the barn and stepped into the shadows of the night and raised her face skyward. “Lawd, once again you done led me into battle with your enemies. I pray that I finds mo’ favor with you than with Old Scratch, Lawd, ‘cause I shol’ done sent mo’ souls his way than yo’s. Amen.”



DOWN HOME BLUES – A short story by Balogun

DOWN HOME BLUES

James’ Juke’ was on fire.
Beads of sweat and salty tears rolled down Black Powder’s leathery, midnight-black cheeks and fell upon the yellowed, ivory keys of the old, baby grand piano in time with his haunting melodies.

“Sunday is gloomy,
My hours are slumberless.
Dearest, the shadows I live with are numberless.
Little, white flowers will never awaken you.
Not where the black coach of sorrow has taken you…”

The crowd pressed close together and cried right along with the old blues man.

“Gloomy Sunday.”

Black Powder pounded the last note out of the old, worn baby grand, and then hunched over the piano; his creased forehead hovered a half-inch above the black piano keys. The blues master’s shoulders were motionless. His thin, crooked fingers pressed down upon the keys of the piano and did not move.

The hot, crowded blues club fell silent. Even the bartender dared not pop the top of a bottle of Heineken for fear of desecrating the sanctity of the silence.

Suddenly, Black Powder erupted into raucous laughter as he threw back his shiny, black head. The crowd answered his laughter with thunderous applause, whistles and stomping so hard it made the white candles on the circular lounge tables dance and shake.

Black Powder slowly rose from the piano and limped towards the front of the stage. James Dobbins, owner of the club and Master of Ceremonies, ran onto the stage and gingerly hugged the old man. James turned to the microphone, which rested upon a slightly tarnished chrome mic stand. “Give it up, y’all, for the legendary Witch Doctor of the blues. The Hoodoo Daddy of the Mississippi Delta…Black Powder!”

The club-goers clapped, whistled and stomped even louder. Black Powder blew the crowd a kiss and then slowly limped to the stairs on the left side of the stage. A young woman his wiry arm and helped him down the steps and into his seat at a reserved table, where ice-cold beer and a hot plate of catfish and hushpuppies awaited him.

“Alright, everybody,” James yelled into the microphone. “Next up, we have a young man, all the way from Skokie, Illinois, who’s gonna tear it up tonight.” James smiled widely. His pearly white teeth glowed lavender under the red and blue stage lights. “This boy and his band been shakin’ up the North Side of Chicago for the past nine months. Put your hands together – and let’s give a warm James’ Juke welcome to – the Professor of Bluesology…Howlin’ Maury Steinman!”

Howlin’ Maury darted up the steps and onto the stage. The Professor’s band sprinted closely behind him. Howlin’ Maury raised his thick, pinkish-yellow hands high and waved spastically. His black and red zebra-striped electric guitar bounced wildly on his rotund belly.

Maury looked up towards the ceiling and howled loudly, like a wolf howling at a full moon. “Ow-ow-owoooooh!”

The three, middle-aged black men who made up Howlin’ Maury’s band, responded to his call with a growl, a screech and a roar from an electric bass, a harmonica and a kick-drum.

Maury and his band jumped into an Impressive cover of “Mannish Boy”. The Professor of Bluesology did a great rendition of the classic, despite his nasal, Chicago ‘South-Side Caucasian’ accent.

“…’O’, child…
‘Y’…
That spells ‘mannish boy’…”

In the middle of his set, ‘Howlin’ Maury’s band brought the music down to a whisper. “Are you guys having a good time?” Maury asked.
The sweating crowd answered with claps and whistles.
“It’s time for the Professor to start class,” Maury chuckled.  The crowd’s claps grew louder.

“Let me give you a little blues history, so you leave here with a bit more knowledge about this art form that we love so much.” Howlin’ Maury glanced over his shoulder at his band and shouted “Stool!” The harmonica player pulled a tall, wooden stool from behind a speaker and then handed it to him. The Professor of Bluesology lowered the microphone on its stand and took a seat on the stool.

“Now, contrary to popular belief, the blues does NOT have African roots, as once widely believed.”
Black Powder’s head jerked up from his last piece of catfish. “What he say?”
“The blues was actually created from a synthesis of slave field songs and European music,” Howlin’ Maury proclaimed. “That’s right, European music!”

Howlin’ Maury paused briefly, for dramatic effect, then went on with the lesson. “And the first blues song ever written was ‘Dallas Blues’, a song by Hart Wand, who was a white violinist from Oklahoma.”  Howlin’ Maury snickered as he wiped his fat, sweaty neck with a handkerchief. “So, who says blues is Black music, huh?”

A voice exploded from the crowd. “I do!”

“Who said that?” Howlin’ Maury inquired as he peered into the audience.
Black Powder slowly rose from his chair. “I did.”

“Well, if it isn’t the legendary Black Powder,” Howlin’ Maury said, with a smile. “With all due respect, sir, history does not lie.”

Black Powder shook his shiny, black head. “Naw, it don’t, but you do.”

Muffled snickers rose from the crowd. “You pissin’ in the wind and yo’ leg’s gettin’ wet, boy.” Black Powder said.

The Professor of Bluesology rose from his stool. “I am sure your experiences on front porches and in taverns in the Delta far outweigh my P-H-D in music history,” Howlin’ Maury said. “So why don’t you tell us the true history of the blues?”

Howlin’ Maury tossed the cordless microphone to Black Powder, who plucked it out of the air with surprising speed and ease. He noticed that the old man was standing straighter and seemed, somehow, stronger. A chill slithered up his spine and curled around the crown of his head.

“Hart Wand was not the first person to write a blues song,” Black Powder began. “He was the first person to write a blues song down…on paper. Befo’ that, the blues was on oral tradition.” Black Powder approached the stage. “And wasn’t no blues born from no European music, either.”

Black Powder walked briskly up the stairs and onto the stage. The old man was standing perfectly straight now. “When I was a li’l boy, my gran’mama used to sang me an ol’ song she learned from my great gran’daddy, who was a Muhdinka from Africa. Gran’mama say the song old. As old as the Muhdinka peoples theyself.”

Howlin’ Maury chuckled and winked at the audience. “Looks like someone had a little too much catfish and now he’s burping out fish tales!”

Black Powder tilted his head to the side, closed his eyes and began to slowly rock back and forth.

Back.

And forth.

Until a song escaped his lips. A song in a voice that sounded unlike Black Powder, yet like him at the same time.

“Makay nabilaa
Makay ki ka nabilaa

Foro Bana
Foro Bana

Iye laidu mi tanye
Ki bi dem
Di ne ma
Ningye fro biye
Aiwa makeh ika fro bana

Foro Bana

Iko nyawn fro
Yaye nyawn fro
Iye kuli kro

Foro Bana

Iko malo fro
Soloye malo fro
Iye fon nonon

Foro Bana

Hali fini fro
Finik se
Bonye bele dugu

Foro Bana
Foro Bana

Foro Bina

Foro Bana

…And that’s the origin of the blues, boy!”

James’ Juke Shook from the audience’s seismic applause. Black Powder tossed the microphone to Howlin’ Maury. The Professor of Bluesology was still, like an old, fallen oak.

The microphone struck Howlin’ Maury’s flabby chest with a loud thud, which made the speakers pop. The microphone fell to the stage floor and then shattered into scores of pieces.

Black Powder turned away from Howlin’ Maury, who was still frozen in place, and then slowly limped to the stage steps. The old man’s frailty had returned. Once again, the young woman took the old blues man’s thin arm and helped him descend the stairs.

Without a word, Howlin’ Maury and his band began to pack up and Black Powder sat down to another hot plate of hushpuppies and catfish.


Whatchamacallit?

WHATCHAMACALLIT?

 

I am part of a group on Facebook called State of Black Science Fiction. Many stellar authors, artists, filmmakers and fans are part of this Blacknificent group and many contribute, making it one of the more intriguing and informative groups on the internet.

Recently, a question was posed by renowned novelist and writer for television, Steven Barnes – “How  do members of this group define ‘science fiction’? As opposed to mainstream fiction? As opposed to fantasy? “

Only two people even dealt with the question. I suppose it is because most writers and fans of science fiction find it difficult – if not impossible – to define it and among those who have attempted to define what the genre is, they rarely fully agree with each other.

Many authors – in an attempt to make sense of what they do and to explain themselves to friends, family and fans – lump fantasy, horror and science fiction together under umbrella terms. One such term is fantastika. Fantastika? Really? That may work for some, but as far as Black Speculative Fiction is concerned, that term is, honestly, just too corny.

Another term, The Fantastique,  is a French term for a literary and cinematic genre that overlaps with science fiction, horror and fantasy. While it sounds better than fantastika, the fantastique deals with  the intrusion of supernatural phenomena into an otherwise realist narrative. It evokes phenomena which are not only left unexplained but which are inexplicable from the reader’s point of view. While this would fit some works, it does not fit all.

Afrofuturism is defined as “a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of Black people, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past”. This term has not really taken off because futurism confuses people. When we read or hear futurism we think future, not really the present and certainly not the past. Personally, though, I like the term.

The most widely used term, by Black authors – not to be confused with readers, who are still confused by this term – is Black Speculative Fiction. Speculative Fiction is used as an umbrella term for the genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction, however, speculation is the stuff of science fiction, but generally not fantasy. To speculate is to ask “what if”. “What if faster than light space travel was possible?” “What if an alien race populated earth before humans and had now returned to reclaim the planet?” “What if people of African descent all possessed a gene that gave them extraordinary abilities and could be awakened by an enhancement of their melanin?” Rarely does the fantasy author ask “What if magic was real?” It is a given in most fantasy that magic is, indeed, real in that world. In fantasy and even horror, there may be instances of “what if”, but it is not the dominant question. Thus using the term speculative puts a great deal of importance on science fiction and sort of delegitimizes fantasy and horror.

Furthermore, we must ask why we would call our work Black speculative fiction. Is it for us to better understand what we do? Is it to make what we do more understandable by the “three F’s” (Friends; Family; Fans). If so, the term speculative fiction is no help because you still have to define that for them. So you might as well be specific about what you read and write, because you’re going have to explain it anyway. If you write and / or read Sword & Soul, dang it, call it Sword & Soul. If you write or read Science Fiction, call it Science Fiction! If you write or read it all, say so! If someone has asked you, they will give you the few seconds it takes to tell them what you read / write. In fact, it takes less time to say “I write fantasy, science fiction and horror” than to explain what speculative fiction is. Go ahead…try it.

See. Told ya!



STATE OF BLACK SCI-FI 2012: My favorite Black Sci-Fi event is Happily Natural Day’s Black Speculative Fiction Panel

The State of Black SciFi 2012: My Favorite Black SF event is Happily Natural Day’s Black Speculative Fiction Panel

In August, 2011, I was blessed to moderate a panel on Black Speculative Fiction. However, before I share my experiences at this Blacknificent event, let’s define just what “Black Speculative Fiction” is.

Speculative Fiction is now – erroneously – used as the umbrella term for Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy. I won’t deal with how much in error this term is right now, however, I will deal with it in the blog that follows this one. Suffice it to say that now, in writers’ circles, at least, Speculative Fiction is accepted as the umbrella term.

Black Speculative Fiction is Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy that features main characters that are of African descent and have authors that too are of African descent. “So, if a Caucasian author writes a science fiction novel that has a Black protagonist, it isn’t Black speculative fiction?” You ask. Nope.

Most Black people I have spoken too (children through adult) say they would read speculative fiction if there were main characters in them they could relate to.  Those of us that read speculative fiction would also like to see main characters of African descent. In fantasy, many of us are turned off by, or tired of, the medieval European setting. We seek settings that take place in Africa and other places other than some world that is obviously Anglo-Saxon.

Can a Caucasian write the aforementioned stories? Of course. Can they write them in a way that touches Black people on a deep level? No, because they can only go so deep in their understanding of the Black experience. This might sound harsh to some, but it is true and to see it otherwise can lead to disrespect of another’s culture. I can write a story about an Asian boy who discovers a sword that gives him the power of his ancestors. I can research Asian swords and Asian boys and Asian languages and Asian beliefs. And I still will be unable to relate to all these things as an Asian would. To say I could is to show disrespect to a people who live and breathe the culture; who are the very thing I am merely researching.

Thus, I had the pleasure of moderating the Black Speculative Fiction Panel for Happily Natural Day, a three-day festival held every August simultaneously in Atlanta, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia (for more on this incredible event, go to www.happilynaturalday.com). The panel took place at the Atlanta festival. On the panel were four Blacktastic authors: Dada Aum Ra; Nicole Kurtz; Alicia McCalla; and Milton Davis. The panel was lively and the questions were thought-provoking. The authors answered the questions from yours truly and from the audience brilliantly. They also shared excerpts from their works. The audience left wanting to learn more and eager to read what, before the panel, they didn’t even know existed – Black Speculative Fiction! The entire discussion can be found on videos here, on my blog, at http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/black-speculative-fiction/.

We have now taken this show on the road, further developing it into the State of Black Science Fiction presentation. The first presentation will be held at Georgia Tech on February 16, 2012 at 6:30pm. The presentation – and each one to follow – will include a reading of each author’s work, a panel discussion, a Q & A session and an exciting performance. For more information on this event, please check out: http://www.facebook.com/events/340113679342798/.

Check out the other authors and artists that are a part of this blog tour (many of whom are also part of the State of Black Science Fiction presentation):

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer– is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy.  Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him:  http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at:http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

Thaddeus Howze, Author– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in theirenvironment. Visit him:  http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction.  Visit Carole:http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook –www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter –https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him:  http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd



STATE OF BLACK SCI-FI 2012: The Winner…The Redeemer…and Afrika!

STATE OF BLACK SCI-FI 2012: The Winner…The Redeemer…and Afrika!

Today, it is my pleasure to announce the winner of the first big giveaway for the State of Black Sci-Fi 2012 Blog Tour!

And the winner is (djembe drum roll, please)…

Marsha Prescod!

I will contact you soon for a shipping address.

I would like to thank you all for your comments, adds, follows,  retweets and mentions on my blog, facebook and twitter.  Mo dupe! Mo dupe! Mo dupe-O (“I emphatically thank you!” x 3)! And remember, we will have another big giveaway for our last blog on February 27th and the rules are still the same. To review the rules, check out  http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-state-of-black-science-fiction-2012/.

This week is all about our most recent work. I am excited that I have a few things coming out soon. First, author Milton Davis, a team of Blacktastic artists and I are releasing the first ever African-based roleplaying game – Ki-Khanga: The Sword & Soul RPG. Ki-Khanga is in late stages of development and will be available soon, along with a companion short story anthology. Folks are really excited about this one…me included!

I also have two novels releasing this year: Redeemer (Mocha Memoirs Press) and Once Upon A Time In Afrika (MVmedia). Redeemer is what I call a sci-fi gangster epic. Think American Gangster meets The Time Machine. Here is an excerpt:

The assassin slid out of his vehicle and assessed his surroundings.  Satisfied that no one was watching, Ezekiel sprinted toward the largest warehouse, at the end of the cul-de-sac.

His movement was swift…silent.

He found himself thanking God again – this time, for Chagga Mutwa, patriarch of the Tokoloshe guild of assassins and expert in the arts of invisibility and quiescence.

Ezekiel had spent two years of harsh training, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, under the tutelage of the sapient old master.

In those two years, he had learned much.

Ezekiel tested the front door.  The steel entryway creaked open.  No surprise.  Engineers’ Row – or, ‘The Twilight Zone’, as the youth called it – was patrolled and protected by fearsome and efficient Nano-Drones.

Swarming an intruder by the thousands, these nearly microscopic, cybernetic organisms invaded a victim’s body through his orifices.  The minuscule drones would then connect to the victim’s nervous system and shut the intruder down, rendering him comatose until the arrival of the police.

Of course, when your boss is Danny Sweet – owner of the company that created the Drones – the little terrors presented no problem at all.

Ezekiel crept into the warehouse.  Through the dim light, he could see rows of crates, filled with wires, computer parts, electronic gadgets, rods, gears and motors of various sizes.  The hangar-sized warehouse reeked with the smell of copper and axle grease.

Suddenly, voices came – low and in a staccato rhythm.  Ezekiel crouched low and tilted his head toward the sound, as if to bring his right ear closer to it.  No, not voices, Ezekiel realized.  A voice.  A woman’s voice…rapping a tune from his early childhood.

His father would play the song and talk about the rapper performing it as if the man was a god.  “Biggie is a genius!”  His father would proclaim.  “The mad scientist of hip-hop!”

The name of the song came to Ezekiel – ‘Warning’.

The assassin moved across the warehouse in a quick, zigzagging shuffle.

The woman’s voice grew louder.

“…I got the Calico with the black talons loaded in the clip.”

The voice was coming from a small office at the rear of the warehouse.  Ezekiel rushed toward the office door, aimed his pistol and snatched the door wide open.

He rolled into the room, quickly popping up to a kneeling position, with his pistol at the ready.

The room, however, was empty, save a large plasma television in the corner of the room.  On top of the television sat what appeared to be a gold watch.

Suddenly, the door slammed shut.  Ezekiel whirled around to face it.

The low click that followed told him that the door had locked.

Ezekiel aimed his pistol at the doorknob.

The television came to life with a soft hum.  “I wouldn’t do that if I was you.”

 

Once Upon A Time In Afrika is Sword & Soul. Here is an excerpt:

Tayewo sailed through the air, thrashing like a mackerel on the floor of a fisherman’s boat.  He landed on a row of large, wooden bata drums – his buttocks, elbows and the back of his head pounding out a thunderous tune before he slid to the floor.  Tayewo grunted as his ebony-toned back smacked the cold marble.

Ṣeeke smiled.  It was the first time she had thrown someone with a wheel kick and she had executed it perfectly.  “Mistress Oyabakin would be proud,” she thought.

Ṣeeke’s smile faded as she found herself hoisted into the air by her brother, Kehinde, who had trapped her in a powerful bear-hug from behind.

Though identical in size and appearance to Tayewo, Kehinde was nearly twice as strong and knew how to use his strength to do damage.

Ṣeeke hooked her left foot around Kehinde’s left ankle and then reached behind her, pressing her palm into the middle of Kehinde’s back.

Try as he might, Kehinde could not throw his sister, who seemed to be stuck to him like palm oil to white cloth.

Suddenly, Ṣeeke bent forward, grabbing Kehinde’s right ankle with both hands.  She continued her forward momentum, rolling over into a seated position, which sent Kehinde careening over Ṣeeke and onto his back, beside his sister, with his right leg trapped between both of hers.

Ṣeeke held Kehinde’s foot tightly to her chest as she propelled herself backward, until she lay beside her brother.  She then thrust her pelvis upward, against Kehinde’s knee, as she arched her back and expanded her chest.

Kehinde screamed in agony as his knee hyper-extended and the ligaments stretched to their limits.

Release him Ṣeeke!  Now!

Ṣeeke immediately recognized the bellowing, baritone voice.  “Yes, Baba.”

Ṣeeke released her grip on her brother’s ankle.

Kehinde rolled onto his side, massaging his aching knee.

“Is Kehinde’s knee dislocated?”  The Alaafin asked.

“No, father,” Ṣeeke said, as she sprang to her feet.  “He should be fine in a day or two.”

“How does the knee feel?” The Alaafin asked Kehinde.

“It hurts when I do this, Baba,” Kehinde replied, extending and then bending his knee in a stiff, choppy rhythm.

“Then, don’t do that,” the Alaafin said.

 

Want to know more about either of these novels or about the Ki-Khanga role-playing game? Be sure to visit me here often for exciting updates, excerpts, artwork and even more giveaways! You can also find me on facebook http://www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts. I post tons of stuff on there as well.

Finally, if you do not have your copy of my steampunk novel Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Book 1: Kings), it is available on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Moses-Chronicles-Harriet-Tubman-ebook/dp/B006UOAZJG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328522114&sr=8-1 and on Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moses-balogun-balogun/1108162154?ean=2940013727045&itm=1&usri=moses+chronicles+of.

Please check out the other Blacktastic authors on tour with me:

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer– is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy.  Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him:  http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: www.mvmediaatl.com and www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

 

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at:http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

 

Thaddeus Howze, Author– is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him:  http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction.  Visit Carole:http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook –www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter –https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him:  http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

 

 

 

 

 



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