Steamfunk * Steampunk * Sword & Soul

Archive for October, 2012

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BLACK PEOPLE: Steamfunk in the ATL!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BLACK PEOPLE: Steamfunk in the ATL!

When asked in a recent study to describe their version of the “ideal” woman, black and white teens conjured up vastly different images.

The white teen ideal was a Barbie-like woman, 5’7”, between 100 and 110 pounds, with blue eyes and long flowing hair.

The black teens’ ideal American woman had nothing to do with physical characteristics. According to Sheila Parker, Ph.D., “They told us that the ideal Black woman has a personal sense of style, who ‘knows where she’s going’, has a nice personality, gets along well with other people, and has a good head on her shoulders.” Only if pushed did they name physical characteristics – fuller hips, ‘thick’ thighs, a ‘curvy butt’ and a small waist.

Nearly 90 percent of the white young women told the researchers they were dissatisfied with their weight, while 70 percent of the African-American young women were satisfied.

Cultural expectations, idealizations, and fixations mold the accepted definitions of beauty and the perceived ideal body-shape.

While this outlook among Black people is positive and much-needed, considering the lack of positive images of us in the media, it comes with risks. While I believe it is important for us to accept our curves and endowments – or lack thereof, it is of even greater importance that we realize when we are unhealthy and react properly to it. Obesity is an ever-growing epidemic among Black people in this country. Celebrating obesity can be a potential problem and can set a detrimental example as we improperly equate loving ourselves with accepting an unhealthy lifestyle.

Even though the African-American society promotes a curvier woman body-shape, more African-American girls are beginning to develop eating disorders as they become more exposed to traditional white ideals of beauty. Being too underweight also has serious health risks.

I have often contemplated – with such a healthy perception of body image – why so few of us cosplay, especially girls and women of African descent. Is it because we are not into science fiction or fantasy?

Nope. We are into speculative fiction, and in large numbers at that.

One reason why sisters shy away is the disdain for the fuller-figure that permeates fandom. Heavier people often feel too self-conscious to cosplay. Not only are there virtually no characters from anime, manga, film, science fiction, or fantasy who are already portrayed as fuller-figured, but fans can be very cruel to full-figured cosplayers who dare to cosplay “conventionally attractive” characters.

I have heard people laugh at the plus-sized Batgirls and Storms, or make rude comments about the guy with the beer-belly portraying a Spartan from 300.

On one forum, a full-figured girl asked who she could cosplay as at an upcoming convention. The only person who responded said, Princess Fiona, Shrek’s ogre wife.

On another forum, a curvaceous Black woman asked for suggestions for her television cosplay. Her answers? Sandra Clark – Jackee Harry’s character from the sitcom, 227 - or Mercedes Jones – the girl portrayed by actress Amber Riley on Glee. She was thinking she looked more like Lana Kane, the character from the animated series, Archer.

In an essay by journalist Kendra James called Race + Fandom: When Defaulting to White Isn’t an Option, James writes about facing ignorance when Black women cosplay. “when a non-white cosplayer colors outside the lines, there’s a risk of getting an awkward look because, instead of seeing the costume, no matter how perfect it might be, others see the color of your skin and you can see the confusion in their eyes: ‘Why is a black girl dressed as Zatanna?’ Worse are the ones who aren’t confused, but then think they’re being inoffensively clever. ‘You know there probably weren’t many Black USO Girls in the 1940s, right?’ Or, my personal favorite, ‘Wonder Woman? I thought you would’ve done Nubia.’ It’s an extension of the “default to white” privilege many fans still engage in on a regular basis.”

Ms. James goes on further to say “It often feels like a white cosplayer can not only dress as their favorite characters of color but also do so in the most offensive way  without comment.”

Yes, people are still that ignorant.

I will continue to fight such ignorance with education and inspiration.

On Friday, October 26, 2012, we came out in force – in all our myriad beauty – and brought the FUNK to Steampunk at The Mahogany Masquerade: A Night of Steamfunk and Film!

A video, with photos from this Blacknificent event, follows:


ALIEN ENCOUNTERS: Black Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Invade Atlanta!

ALIEN ENCOUNTERS: Black Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Invade Atlanta!

Alien Encounters is an annual convention for Black speculative and imaginative fiction, film and music that serves as a venue for both education and entertainment.

The Atlanta-based State of Black Science Fiction collective and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History have collaborated to offer exciting, informational and interactive discussions, film screenings, book signings and much more that are all free and open to the public.

“About four years ago, I went to the Decatur Book Festival, and found authors of color who wrote in these genres (i.e., science fiction, fantasy, horror),” the original event organizer, Sharon E. Robinson, says.

“We got together, talked, had several meetings, and finally came up with the idea of putting together this program (Alien Encounters).  A lot of the time, our literary audiences aren’t as familiar with these genre writers as they are with, say, urban romance (authors) and others. There are a lot of writers, in the Atlanta area and across the country, who write in these genres, and we hope to increase readers’ knowledge base about them and their works,” she explains. “Our ultimate goal is to broaden visitors’ literary knowledge and understanding about these particular genres.”

Join us, October 25-October 28, 2012 for our third year of four Blacktastic days of Black Speculative Fiction, Film and Steamfunk!

ALIEN ENCOUNTERS III

Black Speculative Fiction: What it is and why Black people should read it

Thursday, October 25

7:00pm-9:00pm

A dynamic discussion on Black Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror in literature, film and other media with authors of African descent. The authors will showcase their involvement in their respective genres and subgenres of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Panelists Include:
Ed Hall (moderator): Author and Editor
Milton Davis: Author and Publisher
Wendy Raven McNair: Author
James Eugene: Visual Artist
Balogun Ojetade: Author and Filmmaker

The Mahogany Masquerade Masquerade: A Night of Steamfunk & Film

Friday, October 26

6:30pm-9:00pm

Come out in your (Steam)funkiest gear and enjoy The Mahogany Masquerade: An evening of Steamfunk and Film!

Enjoy the four short films that will be screened; engage authors, filmmakers and artists in a panel discussion on the Steamfunk Movement; shop for books and movies in our bazaar and meet and greet your fellow Steamfunks, Steampunks, and lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Wear your Steampunk / Steamfunk Clothing, Costumes, Gadgets and Gear and receive a Blacknificent Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror novel free!

Finding Black Faces within the Pages

Saturday, October 27

2:00pm-4:00pm

Fantasy and science fiction young adult authors will read excerpts from their books and discuss ideas and techniques in writing Sci-Fi literature for young adults of color.

The Last Angel of History: Film Screening

Saturday, October 27

4:00pm-6:00pm

Directed by John Akomfrah, this film is an engaging and searing examination of the hitherto unexplored relationships between Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and rapidly progressing computer technology.

Devil’s Wake and My Soul to Take: Discussion and Book Signing with authors Tananarive Due & Steven Barnes

Sunday, October 28

3:00pm-5:00pm

The Auburn Avenue Research Library will host authors Steven Barnes and Spelman College Cosby Chair in the Humanities, Tananarive Due, who will discuss their latest publications, Devil’s Wake and My Soul to TakeDevil’s Wake is the tale of young people struggling to remain human-and humane-in a post-apocalyptic near future.  My Soul to Take is set in the year 2016 when governments are striving to keep terrorists at bay and plagues secret to reduce the threat of panic. 

There you have it. A fun-filled weekend of Blacktastic Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror you absolutely do NOT want to miss!

See you there!


PUTTING THE FUNK IN STEAMPUNK: For the Mahogany Masquerade and Beyond!

PUTTING THE FUNK IN STEAMPUNK: For the Mahogany Masquerade and Beyond!

Dressing Steamfunk can be fun, but it can also be frustrating without first having a concept of who the character you want to portray really is.

Steampunk characters can be broken down into a few basic archetypes. Choose your character’s archetype and then develop a persona based on that archetype and create your persona’s back-story. This will help you determine what he or she should wear and make picking a costume much easier and more enjoyable.

My persona is Ogunlana, a Hunter / Fighter. He is the Aare Ona Kakanfo (“War Chief of War Chiefs”) of the Oyo Empire, who brought down an invading British airship with his war-drum, which emits powerful and destructive sonic waves. Ogunlana wears the trappings of the crew of the downed airship with his traditional African clothing to warn others what will befall them if they dare invade his homeland.

Here are a few archetypes. I have included suggestions for what they can wear. Add to or take away from them as you will, but most of all, make them your own…and make them funky!

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

An Air Pirate can look scruffy, or he or she can be a dashing and daring swashbuckler-type.

Gear for an Air Pirate could include, but is not limited to, a tricorn hat, corsair boots, tailcoat, ruffled shirt, brushed cotton trousers, a telescope, eye-patch, cutlass, blunderbuss and neckerchief.

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.

Dressed for the wild and unknown, Adventurers / Explorers should wear utilitarian clothing, with sturdy footwear, equipment, such as a compass, map and wineskin, goggles and perhaps a safari vest and a pith helmet. Khaki is a great material for them and jodhpurs (horse riding tights) also work well. Accent your look with leather – add a leather belt, pouches, holster (and revolver) and other leather accessories.

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.

A pilot would wear goggles, a flight helmet, and sturdy boots, and would most likely have a military bearing, or the personality of a  rogue, depending on your preference.

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

Dandies / Femme Fatales wear very stylish, well tailored and flattering clothing. Suits, or a formal tuxedo or gown and well chosen accessories are the norm. Form-fitting and slightly revealing clothing in rich fabrics, rakishly worn hats, and bits of lace also work well.

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

The Hunter / Fighter will be a walking arsenal. The chosen weaponry would depend on its prey. Monster hunters would be armed with stakes, silver bullets and arcane-looking weaponry. They would wear leather or canvas clothing and accessories. The western look would fit this archetype well.

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

Goggles and other tools of the trade, such as work gloves, practical clothing (so pants would be appropriate for women), a lab coat, tool belts, tools and light weaponry should be worn and wondrous inventions carried.

 

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. 

Your dress is similar to the Mad Scientist / Inventor, above, however, eliminate the work gloves and replace the lab coat with a grease-stained, leather apron. Don’t forget to add a few smudges of grease and/or dirt to the face and hands.

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.

A philosopher or scholar would most likely wear a man’s or woman’s two-piece suit (the woman’s suit would replace trousers with an ankle-length skirt), a woman’s boater hat or a top-hat, a blouse or shirt, dress boots, a floppy tie and spectacles or a monacle.

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.

Socialites would dress in a more sophisticated manner, with rich colors and materials. They would be well accessorized with gloves, parasols, or a cane, and a nice hat. For women, corsets worn on the outside and short skirts are also appropriate.

 

Street Sparrow/Scrappy Survivor: These are the street urchins, your pickpockets and beggars. This archetype also includes runaway slaves.  Hungry and dirty, they do what they need to do to survive.

Wear soiled, tattered clothing and scuffed shoes. Add a bit of dirt to your face and wear your hair disheveled. If you rock an afro, braid it the night before you cosplay and then unbraid it when you are in costume for a wild, unkempt look. 

Reformer: They could be abolitionists, suffragettes or an activist seeking to get rid of child labor or protesting imperialism. Reformers work to make the world a better place, often loudly and not always peacefully or without scandal.

Women could wear a suit, a hat, granny boots and maybe carry a derringer, tucked away somewhere in her suit.

Suggested wear for men includes an overcoat, waistcoat, John Bull top-hat, brushed cotton trousers, an ascot, a dress shirt and boots.

On Friday, October 26, 2012, come out in your (Steam)funkiest gear and enjoy The Mahogany Masquerade: An evening of Steamfunk and Film!

Enjoy the four short films that will be screened; engage authors, filmmakers and artists in a panel discussion on the Steamfunk Movement; shop for books and movies in our bazaar and meet and greet your fellow Steamfunks, Steampunks, and lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Presented by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture & History and the State of Black Science Fiction as part of Alien Encounters III, the four-day convention on Black Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy!

6:30pm – 9:00pm.

This event is FREE and open to the public!

Wear your Steampunk / Steamfunk Clothing, Costumes, Gadgets and Gear and receive a Blacknificent Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror novel free!

 


ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRIKA

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRIKA

Recently, several reviews of my novel, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, have been released. I would like to share a couple here and I will share more (eventually all) in future posts.

Once Upon A Time In Afrika is written in the subgenre of Sword & Soul. For those unfamiliar with what Sword & Soul is, here are definitions from several authors who contributed to Griots, the critically acclaimed, first Sword & Soul anthology and from fans of the subgenre:

Diop Malvi“The expansion of a subject once locked into one room without a window but a funhouse mirror.”

Sean Howard Mcintosh: “Sword and Soul is edutainment. Sword and Soul provides the readers a source of a fun filled escape to brand new worlds, while opening up minds to wholly unexplored cultures with real world basis.”

Milton Davis: “Sword and Soul is a celebration of our past with positive implications for our present and future. It represents us in a heroic, positive light and builds a bridge between us and our precolonial past. When done at its best, it inspires, enlightens and encourage. Sword and Soul Forever!”

Keith Gaston: “Sword fighting against evil – clang, clang, clang; blasting magical bolts at malevolent wizards, whose evil lair falls apart after you defeat them.”

Hannibal Tabu: “Many forms of western literature have done a good job at trying to pretend we don’t exist in the future, the past, and sometimes the present. Sword and soul is a part of putting on corrective lenses, seeing even the fantasy world as it is, as it has to be. Or, in the words of KRS-ONE: ‘We will be here forever. Get what I’m saying to you. Forever. Forever and ever, and ever and ever. We will be here.’

Valjeanne Jeffers: “Dark sorcerers with silver tongues, Magical Sisters with swords at their sides, Black knights with preternatural powers, lots and lots of monsters and villains LOL!”

And, finally, a definition of Sword & Soul from the subgenre’s founder, Charles R. Saunders: “Sword-and-soul is the name I’ve given to the type of fiction I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years.  The best definition I can think of for the term is ‘African-inspired heroic fantasy’.  Its roots are in sword-and-sorcery, but its scope is likely to expand as time passes.”

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to give me feedback on the book and for those who have supported me by purchasing it. I look forward to hearing from you all.

So, here goes…

 

RECOMMENDED

“Every now and then, a novel comes along that simply must not be missed. Balogun Ojetade’s Once Upon a Time In Afrika, published by Milton Davis’s MV Media, is such a novel. Full disclosure: I wrote the book’s Introduction.

Balogun is deeply imbued in African history, culture, and folklore. He is also a martial-arts instructor – one of many hats he wears. This eclectic range of knowledge and expertise has enabled him to tell a tale that is richly textured — and also a rip-roaring adventure yarn. Sword and Soul doesn’t get any better than this.

Once Upon a Time in Afrika is set in Onile, a mythical alternate Africa along the lines of the Nyumbani of my Imaro novels and the Uhuru that is the background for Milton Davis’s Meji duology. However, Onile is fully distinguishable from Uhuru and Nyumbani, and so is the story Balogun tells.

And what an epic story it is. It is a story of sword-crossed lovers: a princess named Seeke (full name Esuseeke) and a warrior named Akin. Their perilous relationship unfolds within a context of events that threaten the future of their vast and variegated continent. The focal point of the plot is a grand fighting tournament in which the prize is not some Olympics-type medal, but the hand of Seeke in marriage. For only the greatest warrior of all is worthy to be her husband.

Akin enters the tournament under a false identity. As Akin progresses through its various – and potentially lethal – stages, Balogun reveals a variety of African martial-arts styles. The reader never knows which form will come up next.

The richness of cultural and mythic detail in Once Upon a lime is astounding. Here’s an example:

A sound, like distant thunder, joined the chanting of the young warriors. The ground shook and the scent of iron filled the air.

Master Gboyega leapt to his feet “Horses approach! The riders are armed! Form ranks!”

The warriors placed their training swords on the ground around the Warriors’ Circle and then quickly retrieved their iron swords from a row of racks nearby.

Akin kept the twin, ironwood swords he carried on his back. The wooden weapons were given to Akin by his maternal grandmother, Efunlade. The swords had been used by Efunlade’s father, Damilola, in slaying the last iron dragon, Garugu — a powerful and ancient malevolence that terrorized the citizens of Oyo for centuries. Garugu ate iron and breathed the digested metal as a cloud of molten shrapnel, thus Damilola wisely chose to forgo the use of an iron sword and shield in favor of two swords carved from incredibly hard ironwood. The blood of Garugu was said to be soaked into the wooden swords, giving them nigh indestructibility and the power to pierce and cut through iron as easily as a lion’s teeth pierces the flesh of a gazelle fawn.

Even as the tournament reaches its culmination, external events menace the kingdoms of Onile. The people of another continent are conspiring to conquer (Mile, exploit its riches, and enslave its inhabitants (sound familiar?). The outcome of the tournament will affect the larger course of Onile’s future.

Will the disguised Akin prevail in the tournament and win the hand of Seeke, who is a formidable fighter in her own right? Will Onile be able to overcome the forces arrayed against it? Will the continent’s gods and spirits intervene on the mortals’ behalf?

Hey, I don’t do “spoilers.” You’ve got to get hold of copy of the book and find out for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.” – Charles R. Saunders, Father of Sword & Soul and author of the Imaro series of novels, the Dossouye series and the pulp novel, Damballa

Balogun Ojetade’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRIKA

“‘Sword and Soul’ is a sub-genre I had yet to explore – had yet even to have heard of – before my good friend and fellow book freak EssJay mentioned it, and this book, to me. Ever ready to try something new, especially if it’s cheap, I decided to take a chance on Once Upon a Time in Afrika

I’m very glad I did.

Written like a fairy tale, densely plotted like the conventional epic fantasies it’s riffing on, Once Upon a Time in Afrika is a hell of a lot of fun to read. Set in an alternate pre-white-contact version of Africa in which the magic and the gods and demigods of folk tale and legend are real and part of everyday life, the story of badass Princess Esuseeke and her equally badass suitors is packed with action, combat, empowerment and intrigue. Ojetade is a student of African martial arts and it shows; his fight scenes are intricate, plausible, visceral and absolutely breathtaking, but he’s writer enough to keep the reader’s attention between battles.*

Refreshingly for this reader, Esuseeke is not rebelling when she takes up a sword or drops into an unarmed combat stance, but partaking fully of a culture that expects women to be able to defend themselves and boasts of a proud tradition of women warriors who often outshine the men. Her gender is important only because of her royalty; someone’s got to breed successors to the crown, and for that she needs, at some point, a husband.

But her husband can’t just be any old blue-blood type; he has to be her equal. And there aren’t many of those.

Enter the time-honored device of the tournament. The winner gets to marry Esuseeke — all nice and straightforward. But it isn’t; Esuseeke’s father, a politician rather than a warrior, doesn’t trust the mechanism to produce a satisfactory result. He has someone in mind for her that will probably win, but daddy wants to be sure, you see. In other words, daddy starts gaming the system even before the system is in place, just to make sure that his daughter marries the right guy.

Of course the right guy is kind a jerk. More than a jerk, actually, a terrifying warlord whose fixation on the Law brings him to commit acts of extreme cruelty towards those less fortunate than he, rather than bend the rules a little.

But wait, there’s more! Chiefly one Akin, the son of the unspeakably badass warrior woman who trained Esuseeke, but whom the princess somehow never met. He is the best student at his parents’ school but has yet to prove himself anywhere else, but oh is he ready. Packing a pair of wooden swords that once slew a dragon and sporting a bristling mohawk, he is every inch a hero-in-waiting, but the way he finds himself fighting for Esuseeke’s hand isn’t quite what he might expect.

There’s also a magician of intimidating power and wiliness, who just happens to be the sworn enemy of the Jerk. And a vast and skeletal monster only half of which, the left side, exists in our world. And a freaky witch that tricks her way into Akin’s stomach. And a giant, pasty warrior who rides an armored albino rhinoceros into battle. And much, much more.

I haven’t had this much sheer fun with a book since the first Crown of the Blood novel, if you couldn’t tell.

So if you love pulp fantasy but don’t love the racism, or the sexism, this may be your new favorite novel, or perhaps novella, for my one complaint about Once Upon a Time in Afrika, it’s that it’s just too short! But like they say, you want to leave ‘em hankering for more.

Mission accomplished, Mr. Ojetade.

*Although there is a bit of tedium in the middle as he sends the kingdom’s Prime Minister on a tour of the continent, recruiting warriors for the tournament. It’s only a bit tedious, though, because Ojetade’s considerable imagination gets free reign on the journey. And he does like a badass warrior-woman, does Ojetade. Oh, yes.” – Kate Sherrod, author of Suppertime Sonnets

Undercover Review: ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRIKA

Sword and Soul“Since the advent of Sword & Soul, a subgenre focusing primarily on African mythology, we’ve seen many wonderful anthologies and novels come along that are breathing new life and welcomed vigor into fantasy literature.  The two biggest proponents, creators if you will, of this new classification are authors Charles Saunders and Milton Davis.  Saunders is known for his lifelong achievements in authoring some of the finest black fantasy fiction ever put to paper to include his marvelous heroes, Imaro and Dossouye.  Whereas Davis, beside his own amazing fiction, has been the driving force behind MV media, LLC, a publishing brand devoted to Sword & Soul.
Now, from that house, we have ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRICA by Balgum Ojetade; a sprawling, colorful and fast moving adventure that defines the best of Sword & Soul.  It is a tale of whimsy, love, magic and war told with such comfortable ease as to pull the reader along effortlessly.  Now in all fairness, this reviewer was challenged to keep the many characters separate due to their exotic foreign names that twists one’s mental tongue in a variety of unique vowels and consonants.  Thankfully Ojetade does provide a glossary of names at the book’s conclusion which was most helpful.  Despite this minor annoyance, he does distinguish each figure in unique ways that did allow us to enjoy the action without getting overly concerned about proper pronunciations along the way.
Alaafin, the Emperor of the Empire of Oyo wishes to marry off his beautiful but mischievous daughter, Princess Esuseeke.  Seeke, as she is referred to, is very much a “tomboy” who prefers studying martial arts rather than learning sewing or poetry in the royal palace.  It is Alaafin’s prime minister, Temileke who suggest Alaafin sponsor a Grand Tournament to feature the best fighters in all the land brought together to battle for the hand of the princess.  The emperor approves of the idea and dispatches Temileke to the furthest corners of Oyo to recruit only the greatest warriors in the kingdom to participate.
Meanwhile, Seeke, frustrated by her role as the prize in such a contest, accidently encounters her father’s chief general, Aare Ona Kakanfo.  Or so she believes. In reality the person she meets wearing the general’s combat mask is actually Akinkugbe; a young warrior wishing to enter the contest disguised as the general.  When Akin manages to win Seeke’s heart, things start to get complicated.  All the while the real Kakanfo is commanding the forces of Oyo in the south against their enemies the Urabi, desert people whose singular goal is to conquer Oyo.
As the day of the tournament fast approaches, Akin is trapped having to maintain his disguise and somehow figure a way to defeat the other fighters to win the hand of the woman he loves.  While at the same time, the Urabi, unable to defeat Kakanfo’s troops, desperately recruit the services of a brutal demon and a deadly female assassin to help turn the tide of battle in their favor.
All these various plot elements converge dramatically at the book’s conclusion wherein Akin and Seeke not only must overcome overwhelming odds to be together but at the same time rally their people to withstand the calamitous assault of their fiendish enemies and save the empire.  ONCE UPON A TIME IN AFRIKA is a rousing, old fashion adventure tale that had me wishing Hollywood would pick it up and film it; it is that captivating an epic.  Ojetade is a writer worth taking note of, he delivers on all fronts and this reviewer has become an instant fan.” – Ron Fortier, Publisher, through his company, Airship 27 and Author of the comic books The Terminator and The Green Hornet.

Once Upon a Time In Afrika is available in both e-book and print form at http://www.mvmediaatl.com/ and on Amazon.


STEAMFUNK MUSIC!

STEAMFUNK MUSIC

 

Funk is a very distinct style of music based on R&B, soul and jazz which is characterized by a strong bassline – often in the percussive “slap bass” style of Larry Graham (originally of Sly & the Family Stone), complex rhythms and a simple song structure.

The name “Funk” originated in the 1950s, when “funk” and “funky” were used increasingly as adjectives in the context of soul music — the meaning being transformed from the original one of a strong, pungent odor to a strong, distinctive groove.

Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground. Funk songs are often based on an extended vamp on a single chord, distinguishing it from R&B and soul songs, which are centered on chord progressions.

Funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments such as electric guitarelectric bass, Hammond organ, and drums playing interlocking rhythms. Funk bands sometimes have a horn section of several saxophonestrumpets, and in some cases, a trombone, which plays rhythmic “hits”.

In early jam sessions, musicians would encourage one another to “get down” by telling one another, “Now, put some stank on it!” At least as early as 1907, jazz songs carried titles such as Funky Butt.

Characteristics of Funk

Rhythm

A great deal of funk is rhythmically based on a two-celled onbeat / offbeat structure, which originated in sub-Saharan African music traditions. New Orleans appropriated the bifurcated structure from the Afro-Cuban mambo and conga in the late 1940s, and made it its own. New Orleans funk, as it was called, gained international acclaim largely because James Brown’s rhythm section used it to great effect.

Funk creates an intense groove by using strong guitar riffs and bass lines, using bass lines as the centerpiece of songs. Slap bass’s mixture of thumb-slapped low notes and finger “popped” (or plucked) high notes allowed the bass to have a drum-like rhythmic role, which became a distinctive element of funk.

In funk bands, guitarists typically play in a percussive style, often using the wah-wah sound effect and muting the notes in their riffs to create a percussive sound. Guitarist Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers and Eddie Hazel of Funkadelic were notably influenced by Jimi Hendrix’s improvised solos. Eddie Hazel, who worked with George Clinton, is one of the most notable guitar soloists in funk. Ernie Isley was tutored at an early age by Jimi Hendrix himself, when he was a part of The Isley Brothers backing band and lived in the attic temporarily at the Isleys’ household. Jimmy Nolen and Phelps Collins are famous funk rhythm guitarists who both worked with James Brown. On Brown’s Give it Up or Turn it Loose (1969), Jimmy Nolen uses his guitar like an African drum, pounding out a rhythm that moves the soul.

Some of the best known and most skillful soloists in funk have jazz backgrounds. Trombonist Fred Wesley and saxophonist Maceo Parker are among the most notable musicians in the funk music genre – both of them working with funk maestros, James BrownGeorge Clinton and Prince.

History

The distinctive characteristics of African-American musical expression are rooted in sub-Saharan African music traditions, and find their earliest expression in spirituals, work chants/songs, praise shouts, gospel, blues, and “body rhythms” (hambonepatting juba, and ring shout clapping and stomping patterns).

Famed and flamboyant singer and musician, Little Richard led a saxophone-studded, R&B road band in the mid-1950s, which was credited by James Brown and others as being the first to put the funk in the rock-and-roll beat. Following his temporary exit from secular music to become an evangelist in 1957, some of Little Richard’s band members joined Brown and The Famous Flames, beginning a long string of hits for them in 1958.

By the mid-1960s, James Brown had developed his signature groove that emphasized the downbeat – with heavy emphasis on the first beat of every measure to etch his distinctive sound, rather than the backbeat that typified African American music. Brown often cued his band with the command “On the one”, changing the percussion emphasis / accent from the one-two-three-four backbeat of traditional soul music to the one-two-three-four downbeat – and featuring a hard-driving, repetitive, brassy swing. This one-three beat launched the shift in Brown’s signature music style, starting with his 1964 hit single, Out of Sight and his 1965 hit, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.

Brown’s innovations led to him and his band becoming the seminal funk act, pushing the funk music style further to the forefront with releases such as Cold Sweat (1967), Mother Popcorn (1969) and Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine (1970). Late 1960s – early 1970s

Also from the West Coast area, more specifically Oakland, California, came the band Tower of Power, which formed in 1968. Their debut album East Bay Grease, released in 1970, is considered by many as an important milestone in funk. Throughout the ‘70s, Tower of Power had many hits, and the band helped to make funk music a successful genre, with a broader audience.

In 1970, Sly & the Family Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) reached #1 on the charts, as did Family Affair in 1971, afforded the group and – and funk – crossover success and greater recognition.

George Clinton, with his bands, Parliament and Funkadelic, produced a new kind of funk sound heavily influenced by jazz and psychedelic rock. The two groups shared members and are often referred to collectively as “Parliament-Funkadelic”.

The breakout popularity of Parliament-Funkadelic gave rise to the term “P-Funk”, which referred to the music by George Clinton’s bands, and defined a new subgenre. Clinton played a principal role in several other bands, including Parlet, the Horny Horns, and the Brides of Funkenstein, all part of the P-Funk conglomerate.

Funk music was also exported to Africa, and it melded with African singing and rhythms to form Afrobeat. Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, who was heavily influenced by James Brown’s music, is credited with creating the style and terming it “Afrobeat”.

Rick James was the first funk musician of the 1980s to assume the funk mantle dominated by P-Funk in the 1970s. His 1981 album Street Songs with the singles Give It To Me Baby and Super Freak resulted in James becoming a star, and paved the way for the future direction of explicitness in funk.

Beginning in the late 1970s, the artist Prince used a stripped-down, yet dynamic, instrumentation similar to James, combining eroticism, technology, an increasing musical complexity, and an outrageous image and stage show to ultimately create music as ambitious and imaginative as P-Funk.

Similar to Prince, other bands emerged during the P-Funk era and began to incorporate synthesizers and other electronic technologies to continue to craft funk hits. These included CameoZapp, The Gap Band, The Bar-Kays, and The Dazz Band.

 Influenced by the Japanese band, Yellow Magic Orchestra and the German band, Kraftwerk, the African-American musician Afrika Bambaataa developed electro-funk – a minimalist, machine-driven style of funk – with his single Planet Rock in 1982. Also known simply as electro, this style of funk was driven by synthesizers and the electronic rhythm of the TR-808 drum machine. The hit single Renegades of Funk followed in 1983.

After 1983, Funk saw a decline, with hip-hop taking over the spotlight.

However, with the growing popularity of Steampunk among Blacks worldwide, Steamfunk music had to happen. And it has happened in a big way! Today, the popularity of funk is seeing resurgence as artists of African descent in hip-hop, rock and even club dance music are bringing the funk to Steampunk – artists such as T-Pain, Alex Cuba, Props! And Nikki Minaj.

Join us at the Mahogany Masquerade on Friday, October 26, 2012 as we explore the Steamfunk Movement in music, cosplay, films, literature and more!

Come out in your (Steam)funkiest gear and enjoy The Mahogany Masquerade: An evening of Steamfunk and Film!

Enjoy the four short films that will be screened; engage authors, filmmakers and artists in a panel discussion on the Steamfunk Movement; shop for books and movies in our bazaar and meet and greet your fellow Steamfunks, Steampunks, and lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Presented by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture & History and the State of Black Science Fiction as

 part of “Alien Encounters III”, the four-day convention on Black Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy!

Friday, October 26, 2012
6:30pm – 9:00pm.

This event is FREE and open to the public!

Wear your Steampunk / Steamfunk Clothing, Costumes, Gadgets and Gear and receive a Blacknificent Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror novel free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


DO BLACK PEOPLE REALLY DO THIS STUFF? Cosplay and the building of a Black World

DO BLACK PEOPLE REALLY DO THIS STUFF? Cosplay and the building of a Black World

Last semester at the school I teach – and where my son, Ade, attends – the younger male students – ranging in age from six to ten and all of African descent (i.e. Black) – decided to fashion their own costumes based on characters they created. The boys created elaborate back-stories for their personas, developed comic books and transformed from being “themselves” into their personas at every break, during lunch and – for Ade, at least – on the ride home from school.

My son and his schoolmates had discovered the joys of cosplay.

Cosplay, thought by most to be short for “Costume Play” is, more accurately, short for “Paracosmic Play”. Paracosms are the fantasy worlds that many imaginative children invent.

Young people who engage in cosplay are developing creative skills that pay off later in “real life.” The famed trio of Brontë Sisters – best known for the novels, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre – and their Brother, Branwell, are a prime example of those who began writing early through creating and building upon imaginary worlds. As children, they concocted paracosms so elaborate that they documented them with meticulous maps, drawings, and hundreds of pages of encyclopedic writing.

Yes, cosplay involves wearing costumes and acting in the role of a favorite character from a novel, television program, comic book, movie or one’s own imagination; however, any good cosplayer knows that to cosplay well requires a knowledge of the world that character comes from. Those who cosplay characters from their own imaginations – such as my son and his schoolmates – usually create their character’s back-story, which includes the supporting characters and the setting from which that character comes.

It now appears that, like the Brontës, children who engage in cosplay are more likely to be creative as adults. A 2002 study shows that geniuses are twice as likely as “normal” non-geniuses to cosplay. Some fields were proven to be particularly rife with cosplayers: Fully 46 percent of the recipients polled in the social sciences were cosplayers in their youth.

Fandom and cosplay is not for every child – some are just genuinely more interested in football than they are in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles (note that on the covers of the Kane Chronicles, the protagonist’s face is never shown; the protagonist is Black, however, on the cover of Riordan’s Percy Jackson series of novels, the white protagonist’s face is always shown) – but we need to see a change in the media; more Black writers need to tell our stories so that more young, Black fans are encouraged to reap the benefits of participatory fandom and cosplay.

These young, Black cosplayers will go on to make a better world for us.

Why?

 Because cosplay requires practical creativity. Fleshing out a universe demands, not just imagination, but an attention to detail, consistency, rule sets, and logic. You have to grapple with constraints – just as when you are problem-solving at work.

The future belongs to those who can imagine it.

 

On October 26, 2012, join us for a night of adult cosplay and exciting short films at The Mahogany Masquerade: An Evening of Steamfunk and Film.

Come out in your (Steam)funkiest gear and enjoy the four short films that will be screened; engage authors, filmmakers and artists in a panel discussion on the Steamfunk Movement; shop for books and movies in our bazaar and meet and greet your fellow Steamfunks, Steampunks, and lovers of Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Presented by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture & History and the State of Black Science Fiction as part of Alien Encounters III, the four-day convention on Black Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy!

Friday, October 26, 2012
6:30pm – 9:00pm.

This event is FREE and open to the public!

Wear your Steampunk / Steamfunk Clothing, Costumes, Gadgets and Gear and receive a Blacknificent Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror novel free!

 


WELCOME TO ATLANTA…

WELCOME TO ATLANTA

 

A salty-sweet smell smacked Keonna in her broad nose and awakened her.  “Mmm…never smelled anything like that in Brewton,” she whispered as she rubbed her eyes.

She peered out of the dusty window of the Greyhound Bus.  “Yang’s Lemon-Pepper Wings.  I’ve gotta try that!”

The Greyhound’s wheels squeaked as it came to an abrupt halt at the Atlanta bus depot.

Keonna slipped her backpack over her smooth shoulders and shuffled towards the front of the bus.  Her pristine, white leather Adidas made a dull thud as she leapt from the bus and onto the hot Atlanta pavement.

An emaciated man soft-shoed towards Keonna with his crooked fingers outstretched.  His shiny, black skin reminded her of old axle grease.  “Welcome to Atlanta, where the playas play,” the old man rapped.  “And we ride on them thangs like ev-ery day.”

Keonna slapped a dollar into the man’s hand as she joined in.  “Big beats, hit streets, see gangstas roamin’.  And parties don’t stop ‘til eight in the mo’nin’.”

The old man bowed.  Keonna curtsied and then skipped across the street to ‘Yang’s Lemmon-Pepper Wings’.

A soft “ding-dong” heralded her grand entrance into the crowded restaurant.  A tiny Asian woman, who stood behind the counter, waved her hand, gesturing Keonna to come near.  She read the menu on the wall as she approached the counter.

“Can I take your order, ma’am?”  The tiny woman asked.

“Umm…I’ll try your ten-piece lemon-pepper wings.”

“You want to make it a combo for one-seventy-five more?”

Keonna squinted at the woman and shook her head.  “A combo?”

“Yes.   It come with large fry and large drink.”

“Sure, make it a combo and make my drink a sweet-tea.”

“Okay,” the cashier replied, “That’ll be four-ninety.”

Keonna handed the cashier a crisp five-dollar bill.

The cashier placed a tarnished dime in the palm of Keonna’s hand.  “Have a seat.  I’ll bring it to you when it’s ready.”

“Thank you,” Keonna said, as she turned towards the booths.

Keonna slid into a booth and stared out the window.  Her hazel eyes narrowed against the rays of the sun, adding a touch of sultriness to her pretty face.

“May I sit down?”

Keonna snapped her head towards the husky, alto voice.  A woman towered over her.  The woman’s athletic body stretched the polyester, navy blue uniform she wore to its limit, which accentuated her musculature.

Sure, Officer…” Keonna searched the woman’s shirt for a name tag.  The woman pointed to the bronze plate that rested upon the swell of her right breast.  “Sergeant Caldwell,” the woman said, as she slid into the booth and sat across from Keonna.  “But you can call me Carla.”

Keonna extended her hand.  “Pleased to meet you, Carla.  I’m Keonna.”

“Keonna,” Carla began, as she shook Keonna’s hand.  “Can you do me a favor?”

“A favor?”

“Yes.” 

Carla drew a small knife from her belt, unfolded it and handed it to Keonna.  “Please, cut those tags off your backpack.  Muggers and pimps look for girls new to Atlanta to victimize.  I lost a sister to these damned streets.  Been looking out for naïve, young women like you ever since.”

“I’m not all that naïve,” Keonna said.  “But…thank you.”

She quickly cut off the Greyhound tags and tore them into tiny pieces.

“So, what brings you to the A-T-L?” Carla asked.

“Well, my grandma passed about six months ago and she left me with a nice sum of money.”  Keonna leaned toward Carla and began to whisper. “It’s over half a million.  I decided to leave Brewton, Alabama – that’s where I grew up – and move here to shop my demo.”

Carla’s eyes widened.  “A demo?  You sing or rap?”

“I sing,” Keonna replied.

“Do you sing, or do you sang?”

Keonna laughed.  “I sang!”

Carla reached into a small pouch on her belt and pulled out a larger than normal business card.  The phone number was printed in large, raised numbers.  “Well, call me when you get a deal.  I want to support by buying your CD.”

Keonna touched the large numbers on the card.  “Wow!  I’ve never seen a business card like this!”

“My husband owns a print shop,” Carla replied.  “He’s extremely near-sighted, so he came up with the ingenious idea to make business cards that people with poor vision can see and feel.  I had him make mine like that, so I can market his work.”

Keonna slipped the card into the pocket of her sweatpants.  “Thanks.  I’ll be sure to call.”

“Carla rose from the booth.  “Alright, Keonna.  Good luck and be safe.”

“Thank you,” Keonna replied.  “Take care.”

Keonna watched Carla as she sauntered out of the restaurant and out onto the sidewalk, where she resumed walking her beat.

The cashier brought the foam container of steaming, lemon-pepper wings to Keonna’s booth.  “Here you go.”

Keonna bent close to the container and inhaled deeply.  “Mmm.  Yeah, I think I’m gonna like it here!”

Welcome to Atlanta, where the playas play,

And we ride on them thangs like ev-ery day.

Big beats,

Hit streets,

See gangstas roamin’.

And parties don’t stop ‘til eight in the mo’nin’.

 

**TWO**

 

“Help!”  Someone Help me!  Please!”

Keonna tried, frantically, to free herself from the ropes that gnawed at her wrists and ankles.  She strained to open her eyes, but a bolt of pain stabbed her in the temples and radiated across her face.  “My eyes,” she screamed.  “What’s happened to my eyes?!”

She stopped struggling and tried to calm herself.  “Gotta think.  Where am I?  Think, Keonna!”

The last thing she remembered was checking in to the Super-8 Motel on Peachtree Street and lying down for a nap.  She had felt so sleepy after her meal at ‘Yang’s’.

“Is this still the Super-Eight,” she whispered.  “It can’t be.  The bed didn’t have anything to tie me to.  Wait?  Who…who tied me to this bed?  Oh, God.  Help me!”

Keonna took a deep breath to fight back the panic that was trying to claw its way back into her head and her heart.

Suddenly, a loud, creaking noise broke the silence in the room.

“Hello?  Is someone there?”  Keonna asked.

Silence.

She felt the bed sink.  Someone was sitting at the end of the bed.  Someone big. 

Tears welled up in Keonna’s eyes, but could not escape her eyelids, which were tightly shut and beyond her control.  “Why me,” she asked.  “Why are you doing this to me?”

Silence.

She was shocked to feel hands suddenly fumbling with the bonds around her wrists.  Perhaps someone had come to rescue her and were just keeping quiet so as not to disturb her kidnapper.  Once her hands were free, her savior began freeing her legs.  After she was completely free, she felt the bed rise, followed by a few quick steps on a wooden floor and then the closing of a door.

Keonna brought her quivering hands to her face and gingerly touched her eyelids.  “Oh, God,” she gasped.  “Help me, Lord Jesus.” 

Her eyelids had been stitched shut with something that felt like fishing line.

“Help!”

She rose out of the bed.  The hardwood floor was cold.  She felt her way around the room – which was bare, other than the bed – until she found the door, which was unlocked.

She opened the door, took a deep breath and ventured out of the room.  “Hello?  Is anyone here?”

She was, once again, answered with silence.

“He must be gone,” she whispered.  “He’ll probably come back to kill me soon.”

A wave of panic slammed into her chest and Keonna began to stumble around the large room.  Her thigh slammed into the corner of a table.  She reached out to catch herself and her hands touched…

“A phone!”  Keonna turned her stitched eyes skyward.  “Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you!”

She picked up the telephone and tried to dial 9-1-1, but there was no number one-button.  She quickly felt for the zero-button, but it was nonexistent also.  “No,” she screamed.  “This cannot be happening…I…wait a minute!”

She thrust her hand into her pocket and withdrew the large business card.  “Carla!”

Keonna slowly traced the numbers on the card with her fingers. “Six…seven…eight…four…five…four …five –four…two –three.”

She typed the numbers into the phone.

Keonna jumped as a telephone rang somewhere close behind her.  “What the hell?  How…?”

She shook her head in disbelief and dialed Carla’s number again.

Again, a telephone rang behind her.

Keonna hurled the phone across the room.  “No!”

Someone snickered in the darkness.

“It…it’s you.  Carla.”

Keonna sobbed as she sank into despair.

Strong arms wrapped around her and held her in a crushing bear-hug.

A husky, alto voice slithered up the back of Keonna’s neck and into her ear.  “Welcome to Atlanta.”

Welcome to Atlanta, where the playas play,

And we ride on them thangs like ev-ery day.

Big beats,

Hit streets,

See gangstas roamin’.

And parties don’t stop ‘til eight in the mo’nin’.


STEAMFUNK DANDIES: Black Men & Women of Distinction in the Age of Steam!

STEAMFUNK DANDIES: Black Men & Women of Distinction in the Age of Steam!

In an earlier post – THE MAHOGANY MASQUERADE: The Politics of Fashion in Steamfunk – we looked at the relationship between politics and fashion. Now, as part of our League of Extraordinary Black People series, we will examine the embodiment of this relationship – the Black Dandy.

Dandyism was initially imposed on black men in eighteenth-century England, as the Atlantic slave trade and an emerging culture of conspicuous consumption generated a vogue in dandified black servants.

“Luxury slaves” tweaked and reworked their uniforms, and were soon known for their sartorial novelty and sometimes flamboyant personalities.

One of the most famous dandies was Julius Soubise, a freed slave who often wore diamond-buckled, red-heeled shoes as he circulated through the social scene of eighteenth-century London.

The magic of dandyism resides in the interplay between the dandy’s temperament and his appearance. Yet it is not a question of simple harmony, for one dandy may combine severe dress with a jocular demeanor, while another meshes cold aloofness with colorful and audacious dress.

The qualities that comprise the anatomy of the dandy, ranked in order of importance, are:

1. Physical distinction

Dandyism can only be painted on a suitable canvas. It is impossible to cut a dandy figure without being tall, slender and handsome, or having at least one of those characteristics to a high degree while remaining at least average in the other two.

2. Elegance

Elegance, of course, as defined by the standards of a dandy’s particular era.

The dandy’s independence, assurance, originality, self-control and refinement should all be visible in the cut of his clothes. Dandies must love contemporary costume and their dress should be free from folly or affectation.

3. Self-mastery

Dandies must possess a staunch determination to remain unmoved and an immense calm. Should a dandy suffer pain, he should keep smiling.

4. Aplomb

While self-mastery is the internal practice of keeping emotions in check, aplomb is how it is expressed to the dandy’s audience. Dandyism introduces antique calm among our modern agitations.

5. Independence

Ideally, a dandy should be financially independent, but if the dandy is forced to work, a spirit of independence will be expressed through his work. Independence – often to the point of aloofness – will also characterize the dandy’s dealings with the world.

6. Wit

A dandy should possess a paradoxical way of talking lightly of the serious and seriously of the light.

7. A skeptical, world-weary, sophisticated, bored or blasé demeanor

8.  A self-mocking and ultimately endearing egotism

9. Dignity/Reserve

10. Discriminating taste

11. A renaissance man

A dandy ought to dress well, dance well, fence well, have a genius for love letters, and an agreeable voice for a chamber.

12. Unpredictable

Because dandies are an enigma and because dandyism makes its own rules, the final quality is the ability to negate all the other ones, for in the end, there is not a code of dandyism. If there were, anybody could be a dandy.

Dandyism can be seen as a political protestation against the rise of egalitarian principles, often including nostalgic adherence to feudal or pre-industrial values, such as the ideals of “the perfect gentleman” or “the autonomous aristocrat”.

The dandy was, by occupation, always in opposition. He could only exist by defiance. The dandy, therefore, was always compelled to astonish. Dandyism was considered to be an aesthetic form of nihilism.

Dandies – called Dudes in America – were not just men. The female counterpart of the dandy was the Quaintrelle, or Dandizette. The Quaintrelle represented the epitome of elegant speech and beauty, with favorable personality elements of grace and charm.

Black minstrels

In the 1840s, William Henry Lane and Thomas Dilward became the first African Americans to perform on the minstrel stage. All-black troupes followed as early as 1855. These companies emphasized that their ethnicity made them the only true delineators of black song and dance.

Racism made black minstrelsy a difficult profession. When playing Southern towns, performers had to stay in character even off stage, dressed in ragged “slave clothes” and perpetually smiling. Troupes left town quickly after each performance, and some had so much trouble securing lodging that they hired out whole trains or had cars custom built to sleep in, complete with hidden compartments in which to hide should things turn ugly. Even these were no haven, as whites sometimes used the cars for target practice. Unsurprisingly, most black troupes did not last long.

In minstrel shows, a common character, and counterpart to the slave, was the dandy. The dandy was portrayed as a northern urban Black man trying to live above his station by mimicking white, upper-class speech and dress – usually with disastrous results.

Dandy characters often went by the name Zip Coon, after the song popularized by George Washington Dixon, although others had pretentious names like Count Julius Caesar Mars and Napoleon Sinclair Brown. Their clothing was a ludicrous parody of upper-class dress: coats with tails and padded shoulders, white gloves, monocles, fake mustaches, and gaudy watch chains. They spent their time primping and preening, going to parties, dancing and strutting, and wooing women. Like other urban black characters, the dandies’ pretentiousness showed that they had no place in white society.

Dandyism was – and will always be a middle finger to the status quo. The Black Dandies can then be considered the originators of the Steamfunk Movement.

On October 26, 2012, we will further explore Dandyism and the other Steampunk / Steamfunk archetypes through cosplay – wearing costumes and / or taking on the persona of real, or invented, characters – a panel discussion and a screening of four short films at The Mahogany Masquerade: A Night of Steamfunk & Film. See you there!


BLACK DISPATCHES & MORE DURING STEAMPUNK WEEK AT TOR.COM!

BLACK DISPATCHES & MORE DURING STEAMPUNK WEEK AT TOR.COM!

I am happy to announce that I am featured in the October 4th installment of Tor.com’s Steampunk Week 2012!

I discuss Black Dispatches – the Black espionage agents who helped the Union win the American Civil War – and their relationship to the Steamfunk Movement.

Also, please check out the other fantastic posts, which are chock full o’ steamy goodness!

Those featured include both steampunk veterans and innovative newcomers, talking about exciting things:

Kevin J. Anderson about working with the band Rush on their steampunk book Clockwork Angels

Award-winning producer Yomi Ayeni on transmedia storytelling in the non-colonialist world of Clockwork Watch

Julie Brannon, marketing wizard behind Steampunk Holmes, on creating a successful Kickstarter for your steampunk project

Professor Calamity of Combustion Books reveals Victorians’ Secrets (the steamiest post for the Week, hands down)

Executive producer Trevor Crafts and head writer Matt James Daley give the lowdown on Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City

Chaphop artist and tea connoisseur Professor Elemental delivers the funniest one-liner about steampunk, ever

Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks draws a tribute to Fullmetal Alchemist                                                     

Dr. Lisa Hager, on why this genre-bender is also a gender-bender

Margaret “Magpie” Killjoy of Steampunk Magazine throws a political one-two punch about how steampunks can help save the world

Vaporiste Arthur Morgan introduces the Anglophone world to French steampunk

Tee Morris, author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, names the three things every steampunk filmmaker needs to know

James Ng’s artistic take on alchemy (and Chinese steampunk zombies)

Cat Rambo gives us the scoop on Nisi Shawl’s highly anticipated book set in the Belgian Congo

Composer Paul Shapera on penning a thrilling steampunk musical

Editor Ann Vandermeer offers an exclusive excerpt from the upcomingSteampunk Revolution anthology

Diana Vick, con chair of SteamCon, dishes about Victorian monsters

Plus tons of swag offered every day!


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