Steamfunk * Steampunk * Sword & Soul

Archive for February, 2013

AFROFUTURISM-PRESENTISM-PASTISM: Catching up with time in Black Science Fiction!

AFROFUTURISM-PRESENTISM-PASTISM: Catching up with time in Black Science Fiction!

time 1What if you could travel back into your past and alter something that would change you in the present? Would you do it?

Or what if you could travel forward into your future and alter your present? Would you?

Most Westerners speak of time travel in science fiction in terms of forward in time or backward in time. In the Western view, an event is a component of time – that time exists as an entity in itself, and it moves. The movement of time is forward, coming from behind us. As time moves, you must use it or lose it.  If you do not use it, it is gone.

In the traditional African view of time, one might say that time flows backwards.  It flows toward you from the future, and the more or faster the activity, the faster time flows.  Time is created, in a sense.

Time is not something in itself.  Life is made up of events, defined by relationships.  Time is a component of the event.

In the African view, your activity really determines the amount of time that passes.  Thus the faster you work, the more time you use.  Time is not actually passing; it is simply waiting for you to catch up.

In the traditional Asian view of time, it is believed that what we call the past, present and future are mere illusions – fabrics of space and time, in which all exist seamlessly together. In this view, the future and the past are not any different.

Recent research suggests that, in fact, the present can change the past and the future can change the present. This is known as retrocausality.

Retrocausality has powerful and interesting implications for your life. The opportunity to change something about your present life that was originally set in motion in your past – or, the ability to use the future, even though it hasn’t “happened” yet, from your time-frame, to change something in the present – is a powerful thing. In effect, the results of your choice can be seen before you’ve even made it.

Seeing time, however, from the perspective of retrocausality is helpful with many people in need of psychotherapy and with those who feel “stuck” and unable to change or grow.

If it is, indeed, true that what we label past, present and future are all one, an event in either the past or the future could alter the one we call “the present.” Suppose, then, that you could shift something that occurred in your past, which created your future – which is now the present. Similarly, if you saw your future, based upon what you’re doing right now, and altered that, could it also transform your present?

time 3These topics have been explored, in depth, in many movies, including the Back to the Future trilogy, the four Terminator films and in the hilarious Hot Tub Time Machine.

Time and time travel have also been explored in science fiction and fantasy.

In my latest novel, Redeemer, the hero, Ezekiel Cross is – as author D.K. Gaston described him – “literally a man running out of time”.

Sent nearly thirty years into the past as an unwilling subject in a time travel experiment, he must save his younger self from the deadly path that forged him into the ruthless killer he now is.

Described as an Urban Fantasy thriller, Redeemer is both gangster saga and science fiction epic.

Retrocausality…explored and experienced on the mean streets of the past, present and future.

Ezekiel uses retrocausality in attempt to change his condition in both the past and the future. Let’s hop into Ezekiel’s shoes for a bit and experience a bit of retrocausality ourselves.

How?

Here are some suggestions:

1.  Identify a meaningful turning point or event in your life in which you made a decision or were moved by circumstances to go in one direction vs. another, and that you know forged a path in your life that you wish it hadn’t. It might have concerned a feature of your personality that became reinforced through your behavior, associations, or personal values. Perhaps particular interests that grew or an educational choice you made. Or a relationship you began or committed to.

2.  Write down what you wish you had known then and how you would have liked to act differently, in that turning point. Then, envision inhabiting the person you were at that earlier time. Show your earlier self what he/she needs to know or do, right now, in order to shift direction or change in some way. Do this exercise during meditation or a period of quite reflection.

3.  Now, envision that you have actually become the person who could have emerged from that earlier shift. Imagine incorporating the emotions, state of mind and capacities that would have resulted.  Envision that you are that person you might have been. Reflect on how you can integrate the results of the past you have “changed” into your life in the present. What new intentions or emotions arise within you and what can you do with them? Remember, your experience of reality is constructed within your head, your consciousness. That experience can change by “changing” your past.

4.  Next flip this around: Teleport yourself into the future that you desire. Use your imagination to envision the person you would like to be in your future; the person who is already there.  From within that person, speak to who you are right now.  Tell your present self what you need to alter, change or develop from this immediate moment forward, in order to be pulled to that future version of yourself that you want to become.  Doing this reminds you of the vast power – and importance – of having an ideal: a positive vision of something that constantly beckons you and keeps pulling you along the path towards it, as it tells you that it’s already there – or could be.

Upon your return from this jaunt, studies have shown that, to avoid “time-lag”, you should pick up your copy of Redeemer and treat yourself to a great read!

Happy travelling!

time 2


BECAUSE IT’S TASTIER THAN BACON AND THICKER THAN THREE-DAY OLD GRITS!

BECAUSE IT’S TASTIER THAN BACON AND THICKER THAN THREE-DAY OLD GRITS!

bacon 2

That’s “Why should you read Steamfunk?” for a thousand dollars, Alex!

While some might argue that nothing is tastier than bacon – Steamfunk is certainly tastier than turkey bacon and, without a doubt, is thicker than three-day old grits.Steamfunk Release 3

See?

Now, I would argue that Steamfunk is much tastier than bacon. Whether you agree or not, however, you must agree that Steamfunk and bacon share some uncanny similarities.

Let’s explore the worldwide love affair with bacon and how it is indicative of the success of Steamfunk:

Why do we love bacon?

According to a recent scientific study, it is due to the Maillard Reaction, a form of nonenzymatic browning, which results from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar. This reaction produces a wide range of molecules that vary in flavor and smell and is what gives us the flavor of toasted bread, roasted coffee, chocolate, caramel and – of course – bacon.

Bacon is made of mostly protein, water and fat. The protein is made up of the building blocks we call amino acids. The fat contains reducing sugars. Get that bacon really hot and the Maillard Reaction starts. And the smell of that sizzling bacon is enough to tempt even the staunchest of vegetarians.

And somehow you know, dear vegetarians…there is something deeper going on inside that sizzling meat. There’s some complex chemistry going on.

Well, the funky goodness that is Steamfunk occurs just like that bacon.

Milt Bal SepiaScientists refer to the phenomenon as the Davis-Ojetade Reaction, a form of creativity and determination born out of a desire to see great Steampunk stories told from an African and African-American perspective (that includes both North and South America, by the way).

After a conversation with other authors online, in which we decided to tell our stories in this fascinating subgenre of science fiction and fantasy called Steampunk and to call such stories Steamfunk, Milton Davis decided to produce an anthology of Steamfunk stories. I came to Milton and offered my services as Co-Editor, extolling my knowledge of Steampunk, my Steamfunk / Steampunk blog and my Steamfunk book. After about five minutes of contemplation, Milton sighed “Okay, you can be Co-Editor.” And followed this with a barely whispered “Damn!”

I think that “Damn!” Was Milton’s way of saying “Oh, happy day,” or something to that effect.

We then posted a call for submissions and received a surprising twenty-one – we didn’t know so many people were interested in telling Steamfunk stories. While all of the stories were incredible, we picked the twelve most funktastic ones and Milton and this author added a story each to this Blacknificent mix.

Marcellus Shane Jackson created some hot artwork and voila…Steamfunk was born.

And somehow you know, dear reader…there is something deeper going on inside that sizzling cover. With such a diverse and talented group of authors, there is some complex chemistry going on.

And the funk created by this thrilling anthology is enough to tempt the staunchest Steampunk and the most reluctant of readers.

But taste for yourself. Pick up a paperback copy of Steamfunk, or grab one for your Kindle or Nook.

You can thank me for all that funky goodness later.

bacon 1

You can also thank some of the other authors – who have graciously joined the blog tour of the anthology – while you’re at it. They are:

Milton Davis – 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  andwww.wagadu.ning.com .

Ray Dean – Growing up in Hawaii, Ray Dean had the opportunity to enjoy nearly every culture under the sun. The Steamfunk Anthology was an inspiration she couldn’t pass up. Ray can be reached at http://www.raydean.net/.

Malon Edwards – Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Malon Edwards now lives in the Greater Toronto Area. Much of his speculative fiction features people of color and is set in his hometown. Malon can be reached at eastofmars.blogspot.com.

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

Rebecca M. Kyle – With a birthday on Friday 13, it’s only natural that the author is fascinated with myths, legends, and oddities of all kinds. Ms. Kyle lives with her husband, four cats, and more rocks and books than she cares to count between the Smokies and Cumberland mountains. Visit her at http://bexboox13.blogspot.com/.

Carole McDonnell – is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson; Jigsaw Nation; and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. Her novels are the Christian speculative fiction, Wind Follower, and The Constant Tower. Her Bible study is called: Seeds of Bible Study.   Her website is http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/.

Balogun Ojetade – Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steamfunk); “Once Upon A Time in Afrika” (Sword and Soul); “Redeemer” (Urban Fantasy) and the film, “A Single Link” and “Rite of Passage”. Finally, he is Co-Author of “Ki-Khanga: The Anthology” and Co-Editor of “Steamfunk!” Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.com/.

Hannibal Tabu – is a writer, a storyteller, and by god, a fan. He has written the novels, “The Crown: Ascenscion” and “Faraway” and the upcoming scifi political thriller “Rogue Nation.” He is currently the co-owner and editor-in-chief of Black geek website Komplicated at the Good Men Project, and uses his Operative Network website (www.operative.net) to publish his poetry, market what he’s doing, rant at the world and emit strangled cries for help.

Geoffrey Thorne – Geoffrey Thorne has written a lot of stuff in a lot of venues and will be writing more in more. It’s his distinct pleasure to take part in another of these groundbreaking anthologies. Thanks for letting me roll with you folks. For more (and God knows why you’d want more) check out http://www.geoffreythorne.com/.


The Scythe – A Two-Fisted Dieselfunk Tale!

The Scythe

A Two-Fisted Dieselfunk Tale!

Dr. Jackson, come quickly!

Dr. A.C. Jackson dashed into Examination Room Four. His assistant of three years, nurse Rita McCray, crouched by the window. Her face was a mask of fear and shock. “What is it, Rita? What’s wrong?”

“Those rubes have Reverend Mason surrounded in the street!” Nurse McCray cried.

“What?” Dr. Jackson gasped as he ran to the window.

He knelt beside Rita and peered over the window sill.

Four white men – their clothes and boots spotted with dirt and splashes of blood – surrounded a pudgy black man whom Dr. Jackson quickly recognized as Reverend Malcolm Mason, pastor of Third Baptist Church.

“I’m going out there,” Dr. Jackson said, leaping to his feet.

Rita grabbed his wrist and held his hand to her chest. “Dr. Jackson, don’t! You’ll just get yourself killed.”

“I have to do something,” Dr. Jackson said.

“Look out there,” Rita said, thrusting her finger toward the window. “The movie theater…my brother’s grocery store…the hospital…all on fire! Those devils have brought Hell to Greenwood. The best we can do now is lay low until this all blows over.”

An agonized scream tore across the blackened sky.

Dr. Jackson looked out the window in time to see Reverend Mason fall to the ground, blood pouring from a gaping wound in the side of his head.

Dr. Jackson slid down the wall and collapsed onto his haunches. “Damn, too late. Reverend Mason is…”

“I know,” Rita sobbed. “Reverend Mason was a good…”

A loud knock on the front door startled them.

Dr. Mason slowly rose to his feet. “Who?”

“Don’t go to the door,” Rita whispered.

“I have to,” Dr. Jackson replied. “Someone might need my help.”

He sauntered toward the door.

Another knock – this one stronger than the first – shook the mahogany door.

“Who is it?” Dr. Jackson called.

“My friend here is hurt and needs some medicine,” a nasal voice replied.

“You don’t sound like a negro,” Dr. Jackson said.

“You don’t either, boy,” the man on the other side of the door snickered.

“Please, go away,” Dr. Jackson shouted.

“Look, just give us some bandages and some medicine to stop pain and we’ll leave you and your place untouched,” the man replied. “We ain’t gonna hurt you, boy. Now open up!”

“Hold on,” Dr. Jackson said as he ran to a metal cabinet at the rear of the lobby of his practice. He yanked the cabinet door open and then withdrew two rolls of cloth bandages and a small jar filled with an amber cream.

Rita crept out of the examination room.

Dr. Jackson waved his hand toward the examination room as he shook his head. “Hide!”

Rita scurried back into Examination Room Four.

Dr. Jackson unlocked the front door and then opened it. He stepped outside and closed the door behind him.

Standing before the doctor were two men. One, he recognized from the Tulsa Star newspaper as Earl May, owner of May’s Masks, who was exonerated of the rape of a nine year old black girl. The other man, while dressed in soiled overalls and reeking of alcohol and sweat like his partner, seemed out of place. His brunette hair was immaculately groomed, his teeth were perfectly straight and there was not one blemish on his tan skin.

Neither man appeared to be injured at all.

Dr. Jackson extended the medical supplies toward Earl May. “Here you go. The salve is my own concoction; a mixture of arnica, camphor and brandy.”

“Now, that’s a shine for you,” the well-groomed man chuckled. “Smart and stupid all at the same time.”

“What? What do you mean?” Dr. Jackson asked.

Earl May leered at Dr. Jackson in a way that made the doctor feel like a rabbit that had just burrowed into a den of foxes.

“You should have stayed inside, boy,” Earl May said.

Dr. Jackson tossed the bandages and salve into Earl May’s face and then spun on his heels and darted toward the door.

A loud boom rent the air.

A searing pain clawed its way through the doctor’s calf.

Dr. Jackson collapsed onto one knee.

A second shot struck Dr. Jackson’s lower back. He collapsed onto his side.

The doctor rolled onto his back, desperately grasping at consciousness yet feeling it slip between his fingers.

Dr. Jackson scooted toward the door, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

The well-groomed man stomped the heel of his boot down into Dr. Jackson’s chest. “Do shines go to the same Hell as the white man? Why don’t you write me and let me know.”

Fire erupted from the muzzle of the well-groomed man’s revolver.

Waves of darkness and silence swept over the good doctor. His vision faded…his heart fluttered…and he was gone – taken by the waves to the land of Forever-Night.

 

Two

 

A.C. Jackson awakened in moist blackness and blistering heat. A small light, the size of the head of a pin, floated in the darkness, flitting about like a bee in a field of roses.

“Is this…Heaven?” Dr. Jackson whispered.

No, it is not.

The voice was soft, yet strong, like a brass dinner bell. It did not, however, ring in his ears, but in the depths of his mind.

Dr. Jackson swallowed hard. “Hell, then?”

A soothing chime rang in his head. The rhythm and tone of the chime gave Dr. Jackson the feeling that it was giggling.

“Not Hell, either,” the chiming voice sang. “You are at the crossroad between the realm of the quick and that of the dead.”

“And where are you?” Dr. Jackson said. “Please, show yourself.”

“Do you not see me?” The voice inquired. “Here, let me come a bit closer.”

The miniscule point of light flew toward Dr. Jackson until he could finally make out its shape.

“You’re a…a…”

“A scythe,” the voice chimed. “The scythe, actually. My name is Ikukulu.

The scythe?” Dr. Jackson asked.

“Of Death,” Ikukulu answered.

“And you talk?”

“If not, you’re insane; you are holding a conversation with me, after all,” Ikukulu replied.

“True,” Dr. Jackson said, nodding in agreement. “So, am I dead?”

“Very,” Ikukulu answered. “However, I brought you here to offer you a second chance at life.”

“How? Why?” Dr. Jackson asked.

“When I venture out with my master to gather the dead, I am always amazed – and somewhat puzzled, I must admit – by the struggle you mortals put up to stay alive,” Ikukulu replied. “Life and Death are merely phases of existence, yet you cling to Life as if it is the most precious thing in creation. I want to experience Life in the way you do in hopes that I might one day understand.”

“And just what do you need me for?”

“I want to become one with your Ori Inu – your subconscious mind,” Ikukulu replied. “Doing so will allow me to feel what you feel; do what you do; be who you are. In exchange, I will grant you life…and a portion of my power, so you can avenge your death and the deaths of all those people in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

“How?”

“Just agree and I will return you to the realm of the quick posthaste.”

“I…I agree,” Dr. Jackson whispered.

“Excellent!” Ikukulu sang.

The tiny scythe flew into the gaping gunshot wound in Dr. Jackson’s skull.

A cold, white light fell over Dr. Jackson like a blanket. He felt himself moving through something thick and gummy and dank.

A moment later, he was on his knees in the doorway of the torched remains of his practice.

Dr. Jackson pulled himself to his feet and perused his surroundings. Most of the shops, churches and schools were burned to the ground. The sky was black with smoke and great craters dotted the streets. Not one living soul – besides the doctor – was anywhere to be seen.

Dr. Jackson sprinted across the street toward where West’s Funeral Home used to sit. He stopped at a chocolate-colored hearse that was parked in the driveway and peeked through the driver’s window. The key was in the ignition, where old man West always left it.

Dr. Jackson opened the driver’s door. He caught a quick glimpse of his reflection in the lantern mounted on the side of the hearse. He snapped his head toward the lantern and stared – in shock – at his reflection. The bullet wound in his forehead was closed and not even a scar was evident. He appeared to be fifteen years younger than his forty-six years of age and his salt-and-pepper hair was now jet-black.

He rubbed his fingers across his smooth cheeks, shaking his head in disbelief. “A second chance at life, indeed.

Dr. Jackson slid into the driver’s seat of the hearse and turned the key. The car coughed and spat in protest and then came to life.

Dr. Jackson hit the accelerator and the hearse sped off, leaving behind his beloved ‘Negro Wall Street.’

 

***

 

Dr. Jackson brought the hearse to a stop across the street from May’s Masks.

The street was quiet. The smell of baked bread, engine oil and iron assaulted his nostrils.

He crept toward the dimly lit mask shop. When he was within a foot of the door, he felt a slight tug on his insides, as if his internal organs were being pulled by lines of fishing wire. He did not resist the pull as it grew stronger, the pull becoming a hard yank.

And then, he vanished in a cloud of dirt, which reeked of decay, mildew and muck.

A moment later, he reappeared inside of Earl May’s shop.

The corners of Dr. Jackson’s mouth curled upward into a smile. Thanks to Ikukulu – the Scythe – he now had power and he was eager to show Earl May just how much.

A low, clanking noise issued from the back room.

Dr. Jackson crept toward the sound until before him sat Earl May, pounding away at a Death’s-head mask formed of tin.

Lost in his work and with his back to Dr. Jackson, May took no notice as the doctor sauntered toward him.

“Nice work,” Dr. Jackson whispered.

May leapt to his feet and turned to face Dr. Jackson with his hammer raised high above his head. “Who the hell?”

May’s eyes widened in shock as he recognized the man standing before him, his suit caked in blood and reeking of death. “No…it can’t be! We killed you!”

Earl May brought the hammer down.

Doctor Jackson raised his arm to block the blow.

The hammer slammed into the doctor’s forearm with a loud crack.

The head of the hammer flew across the room as the hammer’s haft shattered.

To Dr. Jackson, the strike felt no more bothersome than a blow from a rolled up newspaper.

The doctor countered with a strike of his own, his fist flying into Earl May’s chest like a cannonball.

The mask maker slid backward, coming to an abrupt stop when his back collided with the wall behind him.

May collapsed onto his knees, clutching at his chest as he struggled to suck in quick, erratic breaths between his slack and drooling lips.

“Can’t breathe, eh?” Dr. Jackson said as he crept toward Earl May. “Your sternum is fractured. Tell me the name of the man who shot me in the head and I’ll fix you right up.”

May lowered his gaze. A line of spittle fell onto his lap.

Dr. Jackson drove his knee into May’s bicep.

May screamed in agony as the bones in his upper arm shattered from the pulverizing force of the blow.

“I will break every bone in your boorish body if you don’t tell me the man’s name right now.”

“Okay, okay!” May cried. “He’s my cousin…lives in Atlanta, Georgia…”

“His name!” Dr. Jackson hissed.

“Woodruff,” Earl May gasped. “Ernest Woodruff.”

 

Three

 


Now ain’t this a kick in the head?”

A beautiful woman, with cinnamon skin and a strut like a lioness on the hunt, stormed into A.C. Jackson’s office.

“What’s wrong, Marie?” The doctor asked.

“That Scythe cat hit another Coca-Cola truck, Dr. Cygnet,” she replied, calling him by the name he had worn since relocating to Atlanta a little over a year ago.

“Scythe?” the doctor inquired, feigning ignorance.

“That’s what all the newspapers are calling him,” Marie replied. “He keeps sabotaging Coca-Cola shipments, setting the trucks on fire…terrorizing the drivers. Deliveries to pharmacies are late as hell. I ordered a crate a week ago and still haven’t gotten it.”

Marie’s curly, brown hair danced upon her shoulders as she shook her head. “I can’t run a pharmacy without Coca-Cola! Applesauce!”

“Negroes need to get together and we make our own fountain drink,” Dr. ‘Cygnet’ said.

“Earl Woodruff would burn Auburn Avenue to the ground if we tried that,” Marie said. “There wouldn’t be a…applesauce! I am so sorry, Dr. Cygnet.

“It’s okay,” Dr. Cygnet replied.

“No, it’s not,” Marie sighed, lowering her gaze. “After all you went through in Tulsa…I should have been more sensitive to that.”

“If you didn’t speak your mind, you wouldn’t be you, Marie,” Dr. Cygnet said, gently raising her chin with the tips of his fingers. “Don’t change that; it’s one of the things everyone loves about you.”

The doctor kissed Marie on the forehead.

Marie’s cheeks reddened. “Well, ain’t you the bee’s knees?!”

And the cat’s meow,” Dr. Cygnet said, walking toward the door. “And for the hundredth time, call me Jerry…we’re partners.”

“Negro doctors don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Marie said. “So, I want the world to give you your due. Besides, one day, you’re gonna be my husband, so I wanna show you off.”

“Your husband?” Dr. Cygnet chuckled. “We haven’t even gone out to dinner yet.”

“I guess we’d better do something about that, then,” Marie said.

“How about this Friday? Dr. Cygnet asked. “At the Municipal Market?”

“It’s a date,” Marie replied.

Dr. Cygnet nodded, tossed his fedora onto his head and stepped a foot out of the door. “I have a house-call; if it runs long, I will see you in the morning.”

“Be safe, Doc’,” Marie said.

“Always,” Dr. Cygnet replied as he left the office. “Safer than Citizen’s Trust.”

 

***

 

The night air was muggy; warm. But the heart of the man sitting at the wheel of the chocolate-colored hearse was cold; as cold as the grave.

The tin Death’s-head mask he had taken from Earl May’s shop – now tarnished a dull grey – turned each exhalation from his nostrils into an eerie, metallic hiss.

The mask, his mahogany, leather vest, mahogany denim trousers, dark brown boots and worn leather gaiters gave him the appearance of a militant Papa Ghede – the Haitian Vodoun spirit of the grave. A fitting image for the Scythe of Death.

A flash of red and white whizzed by the hearse.

The Scythe whipped the hearse onto Peachtree Street and he took off behind the speeding truck.

He slammed the heel of his combat boot down onto the accelerator as his gloved hand shifted the hearse into high gear.

The vehicle flew down Peachtree Street like a bullet fired from a carbine, quickly closing on the Coca-Cola truck.

The Scythe cut the wheel hard as the hearse came upon the truck’s left flank.

The hearse slammed into the side of the truck.

The truck swerved to the right, squealing as its driver tried to right the vehicle.

The Scythe slammed the hearse into the truck’s flank once more.

The smell of burnt rubber filled the air as the truck’s brakes and wheels struggled against the hearse’s onslaught.

The truck came to a crashing halt, its right side bending around the thick trunk of an old oak tree.

The Scythe parked the hearse a few feet behind the truck and then hopped out onto the dark street.

He vanished in a putrid cloud of dirt and then appeared a moment later at the driver’s side door of the Coca-Cola truck. He dug his fingers into the door and then ripped it off its frame.

With a snap of his wiry arms, the door somersaulted through the air, crashing to the ground several yards away.

The Scythe reached into the truck, wrapping his fingers around the dazed driver’s neck.

“No, please,” the driver cried.

The Scythe yanked the driver out of the truck and tossed him onto the pavement.

He waved his hand across the driver’s face. A second later, the driver went pale and he began to thrust his palms before and above him, as if he was trying to escape from an invisible box.

“No! Let me out of here!” The driver shouted. “The walls…closing in…can’t…breathe…can’t…”

The Scythe of Death stepped around to the back of the truck. He studied the large padlock that secured the sliding door. With one stomp, the lock snapped and fell to the ground. He pushed the door upward and inspected its contents. Inside were forty wooden crates, all marked with the Coca-Cola logo.

The Scythe stacked three of the crates on top of each other and then carried them to the back of the hearse, where he loaded them in.

He then withdrew a stick of dynamite and a match from the hearse. He struck the match on the palm of his glove and used it to light the stick of dynamite.

He tossed the explosive into the back of the Coca-Cola truck and then leapt into the hearse and sped off.

He peered at his side mirror and watched the Coca-Cola truck erupt into a ball of fire.

A metallic laugh hissed from the mask as The Scythe sped away into the night.

 

Four

 

I want this Scythe palooka’s noodle!

Ernest Woodruff pounded his fist onto his redwood desk. “Find him; give him the Broderick and then bring his battered body to me so I can lay eyes on that hatchet man’s mug before I bash it in!”

“No disrespect, but that won’t be easy, boss,” the driver from the previous night’s attack by the Scythe of Death said.

“What?” Woodruff spat.

“Like I said, no disrespect meant, Mr. Woodruff,” the driver said, his blistered face leaking pus onto the collar of his uniform shirt. “But the Scythe…he ain’t no ordinary lug. The way he moves…the things he can do…it’s like he’s magic or somethin’.”

“Magic, huh?” Woodruff said. “Well, if he is magic, he will be brought down by the best magician money can buy.”

“Harry Houdini?” The driver asked.

“No, Houdini is an escape artist…a prestidigitator,” Woodruff replied. “I’m talking about real magic…and a real magician…Dai Vernon.”

 

***

 

Dr. Jerry Cygnet stepped into the lobby of his practice. Marie rushed to him, wrapped her arms around his neck and then planted a soft kiss on his cheek.

“Someone is in a good mood,” Dr. Cygnet said.

“When I got here, I found not one crate of Coca-Cola at our door, but three!” Marie said. “Ain’t that the bee’s knees?!”

“It certainly is,” Dr. Cygnet replied. “How did this minor miracle happen?”

“I don’t know,” Marie said. “I’m just grateful that…”

The door flew open, interrupting them. Two men entered – one, dressed in a tailored, navy-blue silk suit and a navy blue Hamburg hat. The other, dressed in a Coca-Cola uniform – and approached Marie and the doctor.

Doctor Cygnet recognized the man in uniform as the driver of the Coca-Cola truck he attacked the previous night.

“How can we help you, gentlemen?” Dr. Cygnet asked.

“The shine…umm…shoeshine man who works in the lobby of our place of employment told us the pharmacist here sells an over-the-counter salve that works wonders on burns and for pain,” the man in the suit replied. “As you can see, my friend here is in need.”

“Well, then, follow me,” Marie said, walking toward her section of the practice.

The men followed closely behind Marie, admiring her curvy body as she glided behind her glass display case.

Inside the case were several bottles of medicine, jars of salve and bottles of Coca-Cola.

“I see you work for Coca-Cola,” Marie said, nodding toward the driver’s shirt.

“Yes, I do,” the driver said. “We both do. My name’s Mr. Wallace and this here’s Mr. Wilson.

“Pleased to meet you both,” Marie said. “I’m Marie; Marie Lefleur. Thank Mr. Woodruff for me, won’t you?”

“Thank him for what?” Mr. Wilson asked.

“For the two extra crates of Coca-Cola that was shipped to me,” Marie answered. “I figure the company did it to make up for the late shipment. Nice touch.”

Mr. Wallace and Mr. Wilson exchanged glances.

“Well, here you go,” Marie said, placing a jar of white cream on top of the display case. “That’ll be two dollars.”

Mr. Wilson slid a five dollar note across the counter toward Marie and then picked up the jar of salve. “Keep the change.”

Marie plucked the note from the counter and slipped it into the pocket of her frock.

The men turned and headed toward the door.

“See you around,” Mr. Wallace said over his shoulder.

“You’d better hope not,” Dr. Cygnet said, stepping out of the shadows in the lobby.

“What’s that?” Mr. Wilson inquired, leering at Dr. Cygnet.

“If you see us again, that would mean you suffered some sort of trauma…some sort of calamity,” Dr. Cygnet replied.

“I suppose so,” Mr. Wilson said, opening the door. “Have a great day.”

“You, too,” Dr. Cygnet said.

The men left the office, allowing the door to slam behind them.

 

***

 

Marie removed her frock and tossed it onto the coat rack. She straightened her sequined, silver dress, running her hands along each smooth curve.

The door creaked open.

Marie snapped her head toward the door. “I’m sorry, we’re closed.”

Mr. Wilson – and two more equally well-dressed men – sauntered into the office.

“Doctor Lefleur, right?” Mr. Wilson said. “These are my colleagues – Mr. Pratt and Mr. Turner.

“It’s Miss Lefleur,” Marie said. “I have a Doctorate degree in Pharmacy, so technically, yes; however, I am not a medical doctor and – not to be rude – but as I said before, we’re closed for the evening, so if you’ll please follow me…”

“What’s the rush?” Wilson asked. “Got a hot date?”

“Actually, I do,” Marie replied. “Now, please, go.”

Mr. Pratt and Mr. Turner lurched forward and grabbed Marie’s arms.

“We’re going,” Mr. Wilson said. “And you’re coming with us.”

“Let me go, damn it!” Marie screamed.

“Shut your mouth, smoke,” Mr. Wilson spat. “Or I’ll skin your black…”

The lady said let her go.

Wilson whirled around toward the metallic, hissing voice.

The Scythe stood in the doorway, the setting sun forming an eerie, silver-crimson aura around him.

“And if we don’t?” Mr. Wilson asked.

“Then, I’ll do this…” the Scythe of Death whispered, vanishing in a cloud of dirt.

Half a heartbeat later, he appeared an inch from Mr. Pratt’s back.

The Scythe wrapped his arms around Mr. Pratt’s neck and then vanished with him. The air within the lobby was replaced with foul-smelling dirt, which left Marie, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Turner gagging and unable to see more than an inch in front of their faces.

Mr. Pratt’s tortured screams tore through the putrid cloud. Mr. Turner jumped at the blood-curdling din.

Marie snatched her arm from Mr. Turner’s grasp, dropped to her knees and – using her familiarity with the environment in lieu of her vision – crawled to her counter and took refuge behind it.

Mr. Wilson and Mr. Turner stumbled out of the office and onto Auburn Avenue, coughing the rank dirt out of their lungs and brushing it from their clothes.

The Scythe appeared before them.

“Where’s Pratt?” Mr. Turner spat as he thrust his thick fingers into his suit jacket.

The Scythe exploded forward, driving his elbow into Mr. Turner’s collarbone.

Mr. Turner screamed as his hand slid out of his jacket and fell to his side. His revolver hit the ground with a metallic thud as his arm bounced lifelessly against his thigh.

“That is a fractured clavicle,” Lazarus said, pointing at the bulge in Mr. Turner’s collar. “And this…”

The Scythe thrust the heel of his boot downward into Mr. Turner’s knee.

A sickening din – like the trunk of an old oak snapping under the force of a gale wind – followed.

Mr. Turner collapsed onto his back, screaming in agony.

“…is a torn lateral meniscus.”

“You crazy son-of-a-bitch!” Wilson drew his revolver and squeezed the trigger.

The Scythe vanished just before the bullet met its mark.

He appeared before Wilson, thrusting his arm forward. The tips of his fingers speared Wilson’s throat.

Wilson staggered backward, clutching at his crushed windpipe.

A burning sensation suddenly shot across the back of The Scythe’s upper arm. He stared at it. A trail of blood spiraled down his forearm out of a thin gash in the flesh of his triceps.

He perused the area for his attacker.

A black Rolls Royce Silver Ghost limousine sat in the middle of the street.

A cabin door of the limousine opened. A man, dressed in a black, tailcoat tuxedo, exited the vehicle. In one hand, he held his top-hat, which he slowly slid onto his head. In the other hand, he held a deck of cards, which were spread like a fan.

The man drew a card and – with a flick of his wrist – hurled it at The Scythe.

The Scythe lunged sideways.

The card zipped past him, striking the door of the doctor’s office. One corner of the card embedded itself deep into it.

He looked over his shoulder at the card – the tarot card of Death.

“Good evening, sir,” the man said, bowing with a dramatic tip of his top-hat. “Please, allow me to introduce myself. I am Dai Vernon…magician extraordinaire.”

The Scythe replied with a sweeping wave of his hand.

Mr. Wilson and Mr. Turner forgot their pain as they were ensnared in the crushing grip of fear.

Both men wailed in terror as they struggled to escape the stifling confines of some invisible grave.

Dai Vernon fell to his knees, his breathing shallow; his eyes wide with consternation.

The magician fumbled with his cards. With trembling fingers, he drew one from the deck. He licked the back of the card and then slapped it onto his forehead.

Lazarus peered at the card – an illustration of a broadsword with a golden crown hovering over it – the Ace of Swords.

The card seemed to shift; to liquefy. Its edges melted into Dai Vernon’s forehead, becoming one with the tanned flesh. The sword and the crown oozed into the shape of a closed, vertical eye. The eye blinked several times and then opened wide. Vernon no longer appeared to be afraid.

The magician stood and – with rapid flicks of his wrist – unleashed a volley of tarot cards.

The cards sped toward the Scythe of Death, whistling as they cut through the night air.

The Scythe disappeared in a cloud of dirt.

He reappeared before Dai Vernon and then lunged forward, driving the side of his head into the magician’s nose.

Dai Vernon staggered backward, a web of blood spreading across his face.

The Scythe exploded forward, whipping his left leg in a wide arc. His shin slammed into Vernon’s abdomen.

The magician flew backward, landing, with a thud, on the hood of the limousine. A trickle of blood fell from the corner of his mouth.

“That pain you feel is a ruptured liver,” The Scythe said, appearing over the magician. He raised his fists above his head. “The pain you are about to feel is your face being pulverized into dust.”

The Scythe brought his fists down with frightful force. His fists, however, met only the magician’s tuxedo and top-hat, which Dai Vernon was no longer in.

The hood of the limousine collapsed under the force of The Scythe’s blow. The front tires issued a loud popping sound and then hissed in protest as they fell flat.

He spun toward a rustling sound behind him.

Standing before him was Dai Vernon, now dressed in a white, double-breasted suit, white shoes and a white fedora. A red rose sat in hi lapel.

Vernon held up his fists. Between each finger protruded a tarot card. The cards were fused with the flesh, forming rectangular claws.

The magician smiled and then sprang forward, slashing furiously with his ‘tarot-claws’.

The Scythe parried and evaded the blows with feline grace.

One strike, however, met its mark, rending his glove and opening a deep gash in the back of his hand.

Another strike ripped open the flesh on his chest.

The Scythe grabbed Vernon’s wrist and pulled him forward and off his feet.

Dai Vernon stumbled forward.

The Scythe hammered his fist into the middle of Vernon’s forearm.

The magician’s arm made a loud, snapping noise as it bent upward at an odd angle.

Dai Vernon shrieked in agony.

He twisted Vernon’s wrist and forcefully pushed the magician’s fist toward his own chin. He swiped the magician’s claws across his own neck, slitting Dai Vernon’s throat.

Blood sprayed from the wound in a wide arc and then rained down on the magician’s suit, polka-dotting it with splotches of red.

The Scythe of Death vanished in a cloud of dirt as Dai Vernon fell, lifeless, onto the pavement.

He appeared in the lobby of the doctor’s office. “Ms. Lefleur?”

Marie rose from behind her counter, her fists raised below her chin. “Come on, then. Let’s dance!”

“I mean you no harm, Ms. Lefleur,” he said. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“Actually, I do,” Marie replied. “But thanks to you, my dress is all covered in stinky dirt now, so…”

“Go home and change,” The Scythe said. “I am sure he will still be waiting for you when you reach your destination.”

“He?” Marie’s eyes widened with shock. “How do you…”

“As dolled-up as you are…it has to be for a ‘he’,” The Scythe said. “Now, go; and don’t fret, these men won’t darken your door ever again.”

Marie went to the door and peeked outside. “Dang, I guess they won’t. Your handiwork?”

He nodded.

“Okay, then,” Marie said, stepping out the door.

She poked her head back into the lobby. “Thanks.”

“Go,” The Scythe whispered.

Marie’s head vanished from view. A moment later, the door slammed shut with a loud bang.

“I gotta get that fixed,” The Scythe said, shaking his head.

And then he vanished in a cloud of dirt.

The Scythe 1


SWING DOWN, SWEET CHARIOT, STOP AND LET ME RIDE: A Steamfunk sneak-peek!

SWING DOWN, SWEET CHARIOT, STOP AND LET ME RIDE: A Steamfunk sneak-peek!

peek 1

Greetings, Steamfunkateers! We are broadcasting live from the airship Sweet Chariot, which is now docked at AnachroCon, where great fun, good food, drink and entertainment and a whole lot of learning is taking place.

Many new recruits to the crew of Sweet Chariot have signed on, given their oath of allegiance to the Funk and have purchased their copy of the Steamfunkateers’ first guide to funktastic – Steamfunk!

Steamfunk is a huge book at 485 pages and every story is a powerful vision of Steamfunk from the perspective of fourteen of the best authors in Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Below, I offer a sampling of just four of those stories and will give more sneak peeks as we continue to tour this Blacknificent anthology.

Enjoy!

Benjamin’s Freedom Magic

By Ronald T. Jones

The Confederate stars and bars waved high above the mansion belonging to the Jensen family. Five airships descended upon the estate in V formation. The lead airship, larger than the others, landed softly on a patch of gray tarmac, its side-mounted turbines shifting horizontally to cushion its descent. Blasts of steam whooshed out of the craft’s side and top vents as its landing struts touched the surface with an impact lighter than a feather’s kiss.

 

Tough Night in Tommyville

By Melvin Carter

Thomasville had been founded one hundred and twenty-seven years back, and named after an eastern entrepreneur, Benjamin Thomas.  Mr. Thomas and his public relations departments, both in house and hired, had webbed a myth that portrayed him as frontier born, bear and buffalo wrestling hellion, who became both a guide and later a scout for General ‘Ham Fist’ Hammond and his elite Eleventh Lancers.  An all around American Hero, he was. The reality was that he had only been west of the Lanyard and into the North West Territories twice.

His only true adventure had been an upriver journey to get trading rights with the Chippewa-Sioux.  The second, was as an older and wealthier man, dedicating a statue, to “Corny” Cornelius Opopo, a real frontiersman among whose accomplishments were, he had prevented one who had grown so fed up with the whining of Mr. Thomas on the expedition, from splitting his fat skull.  Over the decades the bronze statue became that of the 5’6” potbellied businessman, rather than the 6’2” West-Man.     Thomasville had become an important trade hub by that time. Not even the tornado of ’67, the occupation by regional separatists in ’73, nor the subsequent pitched battle in the Regulars counteroffensive.

 

Once A Spider

By Rebecca M. Kyle

A woman’s terrified scream forced Nansi to move with her day-to-night transition incomplete. Off-balance, despite the many years of nightly changes from two legs to eight, she raced through the tangle of alleys along the river toward the sound. Somewhere in the city, a big cat stalked, claiming the lives of citizens nearly every night. Nansi’s goal was to stop the deaths.

Keep to the shadows, her eight-legged mind, bent on survival, tried to assert itself. Hurry, her still-human heart urged. So she sped along on her eight legs, using the smoke from stacks to camouflage her inky form.

If the night sky wasn’t so thick with fog, the moon would be eclipsed by beautifully colored pleasure balloons owned by the wealthiest who enjoyed soaring above the city and looking down upon the silver ribbons of rivers and snow-capped mountains. Dirigibles, both great and small, also flew in more clement weather. These more sturdy crafts served for long-distance travel and the city’s emergency services, including the police and fire brigades.

So far, none of the denizens of this fog-bound city where a wide river met the sea were aware of her dual identity, but that could change any time. The more the cat killed, the more in danger the other shadowy residents of the city were.

 

The Tunnel at the End of the Light

By Geoffrey Thorne

Ol’ Moby spun slowly in the airtides, creaking and groaning as the pressure pushed it this way and that, giving the false but persistent impression that it was alive.

The giant spokes, interlocking like spider webs, the great corroded drum squatting at the hub, even the enormous bolts protruding from the thing like huge dead eyes, somehow implied the presence of some great beast or skeeter.

Of course it was neither of these things. The nearest anybody had been able to tell was that Ol’ Moby, one of the bigger wrecks floating in the misty aether a few leagues from Breaktown, was that it had been home to some manner of elseworldly persons many, many turns ago.

Those persons were all gone to dust now, leaving no clue about themselves or how they’d found their way into the Other Country.

Nowatimes only the homesteaders and the damned Morikans had any real presence and, of the two, only the homesteaders had been of a mind to take the place for what it was and put down roots.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpts from these funktastic tales dear Steamfunkateers!

Be sure to pick up your copy of the Steamfunk anthology and enjoy all the funky goodness found therein!

Also, please check out the blogs of several authors who contributed stories to Steamfunk. We will give away sneak peeks – and maybe some funky prizes, too – over the next several days. The authors and their pages are:

Milton Davis – 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  andwww.wagadu.ning.com .

Ray Dean – Growing up in Hawaii, Ray Dean had the opportunity to enjoy nearly every culture under the sun. The Steamfunk Anthology was an inspiration she couldn’t pass up. Ray can be reached at http://www.raydean.net/.

Malon Edwards – Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Malon Edwards now lives in the Greater Toronto Area. Much of his speculative fiction features people of color and is set in his hometown. Malon can be reached at eastofmars.blogspot.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers – is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy / Steamfunk novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com  and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/ .

Rebecca M. Kyle – With a birthday on Friday 13, it’s only natural that the author is fascinated with myths, legends, and oddities of all kinds. Ms. Kyle lives with her husband, four cats, and more rocks and books than she cares to count between the Smokies and Cumberland mountains. Visit her at http://bexboox13.blogspot.com/.

Carole McDonnell – is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson; Jigsaw Nation; and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. Her novels are the Christian speculative fiction, Wind Follower, and The Constant Tower. Her Bible study is called: Seeds of Bible Study.   Her website is http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/.

Balogun Ojetade – Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steamfunk); “Once Upon A Time in Afrika” (Sword and Soul); “Redeemer” (Urban Fantasy) and the films, “A Single Link” and “Rite of Passage”. Finally, he is Co-Author of “Ki-Khanga: The Anthology” and Co-Editor of “Steamfunk!” Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.com/.

Hannibal Tabu – is a writer, a storyteller, and by god, a fan. He has written the novels, “The Crown: Ascenscion” and “Faraway” and the upcoming scifi political thriller “Rogue Nation”. He is currently the co-owner and editor-in-chief of Black geek website Komplicated at the Good Men Project, and uses his Operative Network website (www.operative.net) to publish his poetry, market what he’s doing, rant at the world and emit strangled cries for help.

Geoffrey Thorne – Geoffrey Thorne has written a lot of stuff in a lot of venues and will be writing more in more. It’s his distinct pleasure to take part in another of these groundbreaking anthologies. Thanks for letting me roll with you folks. For more (and God knows why you’d want more) check out http://www.geoffreythorne.com/.

 


THE MAKING OF A STEAMFUNK FEATURE FILM: The Big Budget Version!

THE MAKING OF A STEAMFUNK FEATURE FILM: The Big Budget Version

 feat 10

I am – at present – writing the final draft of Rite of Passage – a screenplay based on the Steamfunk series of tales, Rite of Passage, which are based on author Milton Davis’ story of the same title.

The movie will begin production in the fall.

feat 9Recently, I was asked if I had a budget of one hundred million dollars, who would play the characters in the film. Since my wife has one of the lead roles as Harriet Tubman, I of course said I would keep my wife in the role of Harriet Tubman – for one, I don’t feel like sleeping on the couch; secondly, I honestly feel she has the look, toughness and movie martial arts skills required to pull off the role better than anyone else I can think of.

Another role I would not change is that of Dorothy Wright, played by Dasie Thames. Dasie is an exceptional actor and singer with extensive experience on the stage and screen. During our fighting and stunt boot camp – wherein we teach actors to look like warriors, soldiers, assassins and professional fighters; and professional martial artists and fighters to modify their techniques so they look good on camera, or before a live audience – Dasie picked up fight choreography with ease and, within just two hours of the camp, she was convincing as a character who had received several years of hard training in the martial arts.

As for the other roles, after long contemplation, I came up with a list.

I give you my Rite of Passage Dream Team and a peak into the main and main supporting characters of the very first Steamfunk feature film. Enjoy!

Harriet Tubman

feat 8Spy, warrior and hunter of monsters and men who even monsters fear. Harriet Tubman is a conductor for the Underground Railroad, which, in the world of Rite of Passage, means she has powers, skills and access to technology far beyond the average person.

Harriet Tubman is iron-fisted mentor to the likes of John Henry and Sherlock Holmes and is self-appointed protector of the town of Nicodemus, Kansas – a western town established by African-Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the American Civil War.

ACTOR: Iyalogun Ojetade

Bass Reeves

feat 6Bass Reeves’s life story is a true saga of commitment and contribution. It is a real Wild West story that very few fiction writers could have ever imagined. Bass Reeves’s law enforcement career was a testimony to a life of truth, honesty, and justice.

A badass of the highest order, Bass Reeves became a Deputy U.S. Marshal in 1875 at the age of 38.  During his 32-year career as a Deputy Marshal, Reeves was responsible for the arrest of 3,000 violent felons and for killing 14 outlaws, without ever being shot.

Reeves possesses uncanny skills of detection and investigation, an acerbic wit and three firearms – a Sharp’s carbine and a pair of Colt revolvers – that enable him to kill the unkillable.

ACTOR: Jeffrey Wright

John Henry

feat 4Admit it; like me, you’ve always wanted to see the Steel Drivin’ Man kick more than just a steam-powered hammer’s ass. Many an author, comic book creator and Steampunk have re-imagined John Henry’s story and in every one, I bet mountains of opened cans of whoop-ass abound.

In Rite of Passage, John Henry has a dark past, a tortured present and an epic future.

He – and his hammers – thirsts for battle and as guardian of the town of Nicodemus – a seeming magnet for trouble and weird happenings – his cup runneth over.

ACTOR: Mehcad Brooks

Dorothy Wright

feat 5feat 7When we first see this character, she is Dottie, a teenage runaway slave.

A student of Harriet Tubman, who helped her escape through the Underground Railroad, Dottie trained diligently for years in the arts of combat, espionage, survival and escape. Dottie – now Dorothy – has become quite the soldier and freedom fighter in her own right and possessor of an ancient artifact that gives her some extraordinary abilities.

ACTOR: Dasie Thames (Dorothy); Sydney Park (Dottie)

Mr. Ross

feat 3Cold; calculating; sophisticated.

Mr. Ross – hired gun for ruthless businessman, P.T. Barnum – spent years as Allen Pinkerton’s executive assistant (i.e. corporate spy and fixer) before hiring himself out to the highest bidder. Skilled in investigation, assassination, provocation, interrogation and a host of other useful “ations”, Ross is one of the most valued – and feared – “fixers” in America.

A keeper of his clients’ secrets, Ross, ironically, must keep a secret of his own; a secret that – if told before its proper time – could destroy us all.

ACTOR: Nathan Fillion

Lana

Sharp as a sword, hard as steel and tough as nails, Lana is the perfect teacher for John Henry in the ways of battle.

Beautiful, brilliant and wise, Lana is a woman John Henry could fall for, if she didn’t scare the hell out of him.

Lana is like a drill sergeant on steroids, but to make a man as hard as steel, can you be anything less?

ACTOR: Regina King

Akingbe

feat 1Mysterious; unstoppable; powerful beyond measure. This description just scratches the surface of who – or what – this ebon-skinned giant is. Harriet Tubman’s teacher and friend and guardian of one of the oldest and most powerful artifacts on the planet, Akingbe has lived several lifetimes and fought countless wars.

Battle hardened and world weary, Akingbe seeks to pass his burden on to another poor soul.

ACTOR: Djimon Hounsou

With the making of Rite of Passage – the first Steamfunk feature film – and the release of the Steamfunk anthology, which debuts at AnachroCon, 2013 is most certainly the year of Steamfunk!


THE NEXT BIG THING: Steamfunk, Sword & Soul and The Haunting of Truth High

THE NEXT BIG THING: Steamfunk, Sword & Soul and The Haunting of Truth High

Haunt Cover 1I’m humbled, honored and hyped to have been tagged by Blacknificent authors Quinton Veal and John F. Allen as their choices for the Next Big Thing! Thanks, so much, Quinton and John!

The rules of this blog hop are simple and sweet: 1. Answer ten questions about your current Work In Progress on your blog; 2. Tag five writers / bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next.

So, here goes – enjoy!

What is the working title of your book?

The working title of my next novel is The Haunting of Truth High.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Even though I am known for writing Steamfunk, Sword and Soul and Urban Fantasy, I am a horror writer at heart. I have always wanted to write a horror novel. I am also the father of seven daughters and a son. Six of my eight children read Young Adult Fiction and have asked when I will write something in that genre. A marriage of horror and YA fiction happened in my head and voila…The Haunting of Truth High was born.

What genre does your book fall under?

The Haunting of Truth High is Young Adult Horror Fiction, however, I’ve made it deep enough that adults will enjoy it too.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Haunt 3The main character, Renay is a beautiful, intelligent and talented teen, who is very popular in and outside of school. Her life, however, is troubled and in turmoil. Renay discovers she is a warrior, born with the power to slay ghosts and other vengeful spirits. The role would require a young actress who possesses depth, but also can take on the demands of a very physical and gritty role. I think Keke Palmer would be the perfect Renay.

Haunt 4Her love interest, Shawn, who introduces Renay to the dark and frightening spectral world, hides a dark secret. Although he is young, he was raised by ghost hunters, so he has experienced things most of the world has only had nightmares about. This has made him wise beyond his years, fearless and a bit stoic; however, he is also charismatic, witty and the epitome of cool. Corbin Bleu would make a great Shawn.

Haunt 5Renay’s autistic half-brother, Ricky, has the ability to see ghosts. While he cannot speak, he can draw nearly perfect illustrations of people with uncanny speed. Such a role would require an actor who can show emotions and evoke feelings without saying a word. Kyle Massey is perfect for the role of Ricky.

Finally, the main antagonist, Mr. Newsome, while appearing to be a lovable but firm band instructor, is sinister, creepy and theHaunt 6 literally feeds off pain, sorrow and hatred. I would cast Phill Lewis in this frightening role.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A girl, whose life falls apart after the death of her father, discovers her true calling as a ghost hunter when her high school is overrun by vengeful spirits that feed on human emotions.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The Haunting of Truth High will be self-published through my new publishing company, Roaring Lions Productions.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I am still writing it. I should have the first draft complete by May.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

While there are other works of Young Adult Horror Fiction, I would say the closest comparison would be Devil’s Wake, by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. Devil’s Wake, while a YA novel is still scary as hell and is a great read for older folks as well. In those ways, The Haunting of Truth High is similar, even though the premises are quite different.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? 

I was inspired by my love for horror movies, television and fiction and for my desire for my children to have more books with heroes who look and think like them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

For those who read my Steamfunk, Urban Fantasy and Sword and Soul stories, you know my writing style. It is very visual, visceral, witty, and a bit frightening at times. Well, I am truly a horror writer at heart, so with The Haunting of Truth High, I went all out with the chills and thrills. Also, as a man with children who are voracious readers of YA fiction, I am intimately familiar with the YA genre and know what makes a YA book great. I also know and understand teens’ desires, goals and fears, which allows me to spin a tale that is scary, but at the same time, has heart.

Below are the links to the next chain of authors. Be sure to bookmark their sites and add their new releases to your calendars.

  1. Milton J. Davis: Sword & Soul; Steamfunk
  2. Talitha McEachin: Fantasy
  3. Malon Edwards: Steamfunk; Urban Fantasy
  4. Thaddeus Howze: Science Fiction; Fantasy
  5. D.K Gaston: Urban Fantasy; Mystery; Thriller

STEAMFUNK DEBUTS AT ANACHROCON 2013!

STEAMFUNK DEBUTS AT ANACHROCON 2013!

Steamfunk Fly

This is an exciting week for me. The greatest cosmological event of all time, in my humble opinion – my bEARTHday – is February 21. You are all invited to join me in celebration. In honor of that august day (can it be august in February?), complimentary drinks are on me!

Immediately following the celebration of my 25th solar return – that’s right, I said 25th (I am a Fantasy writer, after all) – is the long-awaited release of the Steamfunk anthology!

We will debut Steamfunk at AnachroCon on February 22, 2013. For those who don’t know, AnachroCon is, by their own definition, “the premier place in the Southern United States for people to celebrate Historical Reenacting, Alternate History, Steampunk, Sciences, Horror, Etiquette & Indulgence, Fashion, Fabrication, Literature & Media, Costuming and socialize with people of like minds.” Sounds like fun…and this year, AnachroCon gets fun-ky, as thousands of Steamfunkateers converge upon the convention to witness the unveiling of an anthology chock-full-o’ steamy and funky goodness!

To help us celebrate, the good folks at AnachroCon have given Steamfunk Co-Editor, Milton Davis, a table, where contributing authors to Steamfunk will sign books and hand out free hugs and handshakes. They have also made me a Guest and I will have the pleasure of speaking on a panel or two.

So, come on by and let’s funk up AnachroCon!

Following is a list of Funkateers and their Funktastic contributions to the Steamfunk Anthology:

Ronald T. Jones – Benjamin’s Freedom Magic

Malon Edwards – Mud Holes and Mississippi Mules

Hannibal Tabu – The Sharp Knife of a Short Life

P. Djeli Clark – Men in Black

Geoffrey Thorne – The Tunnel at the End of Light

Ray Dean – A Will of Steel

Kochava Greene – The Refuge

Carole McDonnell – Oh, Western Wind

Rebecca McFarland Kyle – Once a Spider

Josh Reynolds – The Lion Hunters

Melvin Carter – Tough Night in Tommyville

Valjeanne Jeffers – The Switch

Balogun Ojetade – Rite of Passage: Blood and Iron

Milton Davis – The Delivery

Steamfunk Cover

 

 

 


THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BLACK PEOPLE: The Dieselpunk Edition!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BLACK PEOPLE: The Dieselpunk Edition!

Diesel Sista 1

Marcus Garvey DieselpunkMob bosses. Nazis. Flappers. Jazz. Bootleggers. Marcus Garvey. The Tulsa Race Riots.

This is some of the stuff of the era of Dieselpunk – an often grittier sibling of Steampunk.

Dieselpunk is a sub-genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy that includes – but is not limited to, or bound by – the aesthetics, style and philosophies of film noir and pulp fiction and featuring retrofuturistic innovations, alternate history and elements of the occult. Think the movies Captain America: The First Avenger, Sin City, Hell Boy, the Indiana Jones films and The Mummy (1999 – 2008) trilogy.

Dieselpunk is set during the Diesel Era – a period of time that begins at the end of World War I and continues until the early 1950s.

Over the next few weeks, in our League of Extraordinary Black People Series, I will explore the amazing achievements of Blacks during this incredible era and will share some Dieselpunk fiction I write as well. For starters, check out my story, Lazarus Graves: The Scythe of Death. I am writing Part II to this tragic Dieselpunk tale at present and look forward to sharing that with you in the anthology Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond.

Some of the Dieselpunk Archetypes we will explore are:

AVENGER

Jigaboo DevilWhen the police don’t have the manpower to help; when the Hard-Boiled Detectives demand too much money or just don’t give a damn… there are those who will stand up for the weak, the oppressed and the victimized, fighting crime and evil in all its forms. The Avenger is a shadowy figure who strikes fear into the heart of the criminal community, hiding their true identity behind a mask, scarf, or wide brimmed hat pulled low to conceal their face. An Avenger’s motivation is rarely known. Many utilize strange inventions, chemical concoctions and / or psychic or occult powers to give themselves an advantage against their enemies.

AVIATOR

Diesel Sista 2During the Diesel Era, airplanes were still a fairly new concept. Most people had never actually seen one. Many adventurers raised some money, built a plane and put on shows to exhibit their skills. Some raced their planes, while others did stunt shows such as the famous Barnstormers of the 1920’s. Industrialist Howard Hughes made much of his fortune in the burgeoning aviation industry. These daring men, more at home in the wild blue yonder than on the ground, were always on the lookout for adventure and the opportunity to make a few bucks. Others served in the war and proved themselves the Aces of the sky – modern-day knights, racing over the battlefield, delivering a hail of hell in the form of hot lead on the troops far below.

DOCTOR OF MEDICINE

The Doctor can be a general practitioner, surgeon or other specialist, a psychiatrist, or an independent medical researcher. A doctor seeks to help patients, promote a more rational and health-conscious society and, of course, to acquire money and prestige. The Psychiatrist is a Doctor of Medicine who diagnoses mental disorders and administers treatment for the same. He or she can  also diagnose and treat medical conditions.

ENTERTAINER

This archetype includes dancers, singers, jugglers, stage magicians, athletes, musician, actors and anyone else who earns their living in front of an audience. It is applause, accolades, artistic expression, glory and / or money that drives them.

EXPLORER

The explorer braves the unknown, searching for long buried treasure, ancient and arcane knowledge or what lies beyond, beneath, or between.

Whether searching the wonders high in the Tibetan Mountains, at the center of the Earth, or in the depths of the sea, the Explorer will always venture where none others dare tread.

FEMME FATALE / PLAYBOY

Femme Fatale FlapperAn irresistibly attractive man (Playboy) or woman (Femme Fatale) who uses his or her many charms to convince others to provide some good, service or favor. They are the perfect foils for a trusting, heroic adventurer who is often unfamiliar with the wily ways of these men and women. They are dangerous and willing to use their beauty – or anything else – to attain their goals. While many use their powers of enchantment for evil, others use their charms to help others, or to bring about positive change. These are usually anti-heroes who operate on both sides of law and order.

GREASE MONKEY

Diesel Sistas 2Grease Monkeys are the rough, tough and oh so ready mechanics, electricians and handymen / women of the civilian and military worlds. Aces at repairing automotives, ships, aircrafts and appliances for the home or business, these men and women keep the world moving along.

HARD-BOILED DETECTIVE

HardboiledWith many police departments forced to cut back on manpower from dwindling revenue, many people have turned to the private investigators for justice. Although in most cities, the “private eye” is licensed by the police and must be privately bonded as well, these gumshoes often work in the morally gray area between law and crime.

The private eye usually acts in non-police situations – gathering information and evidence for private clients in impending civil cases, tracking down fleeing or cheating spouses or business partners, or acting as agents for private defense attorneys in criminal cases. A private eye has no problem separating his or her personal feelings from the job and will gladly work for the guilty and innocent alike, as long as his fee is paid. Of course, working on both sides of the fence is tough – the police see you as a civilian muscling in on their job, and civilians view you as a rent-a-cop without the badge. 

A more sophisticated cousin of the Hard-Boiled Detective is the Consulting Detective, who relies more on astute, logical reasoning and a powerful intellect than the two-fisted gumshoe.

HUNTER

HuntersWhether they are stalking a lion across the Plains of the Serengeti in a rite to prove their worth as a man amongst their people, tracking down elephants for their ivory, bringing a museum the corpse of a Yeti for display, or riding shotgun on an archaeological expedition, there will always be a need for the Hunter – explorers of unknown lands and seekers of the next big challenge.

INVENTOR

Brilliant masters of gadgets and gizmos, the Inventor is intrigued by the complexities of technology and finding new uses for metal, electricity and diesel power. The Inventor is an expert in advanced mechanics and electronics, which allows him or her to create devices well beyond the normal capacities of the Diesel Era.

JOURNALIST

Journalist 1These men and women seek to uncover and expose the troubles that plague the world and to make the general public aware of those troubles.

While some might believe that to be a good journalist, you just need a notebook and a nosy disposition, in reality, you must be willing to put yourself in the thick of things to get the scoop. You must be able to skillfully use words to report and comment upon current topics and events, writing as many words in a day as an author may in a week.

Journalists work for newspapers, magazines and radio, often taking on the role of detective to bring timely and accurate news to the public. They are the eyes and ears of the city.

Constantly on the hunt for the next big story, Journalists will uncover the secrets that others need – and have a right – to know. 

MAD SCIENTIST

The Mad Scientist blindly pursues knowledge and power. They gladly experiment on the living and dead alike, using brutal torture techniques to unlock the mysteries of the mind and brain and conducting breeding experiments in an effort to produce new species. These devotees of Charles Darwin and Doctor Moreau fill their island sanctuaries with animal / human hybrids, clones of themselves and loved ones and strange conglomerations of flesh and metal.

MYSTIC

MysticTrained in techniques from the indigenous people of Asia, Africa, or the Americas, the Mystic is an individual on a quest to discover the great secrets of the mind and body. Through meditation, study and training, they have tapped into their psychic potential. Most mystics also have extensive knowledge of the martial arts from the culture their masters hail from. This gives them a distinct advantage during the Diesel Era, as martial arts are nearly unknown in the West during this period.

OCCULTIST

Occultists may be the wealthy widow, seeking supernatural truths from her deceased husband, or a champion of science, seeking to debunk the paranormal. They may be the college professor, student, or librarian who uncovers the sinister nature of the occult. Whatever the vocation or preoccupation, the occultist dedicates him or herself to the study of the unexplained. Closely related to the Occultist is the Parapsychologist – a scientist, interested in the observation of, experimentation with and measuring the power of the supernatural. Unlike the occultist, these men and women tend to be scientists, who hold degrees in physics, psychology, or medicine.

PROFESSOR

ProfessorThe Professor holds a Ph.D. in one or more areas of expertise and has earned tenure at some college or university. He or she is qualified to teach and has a reputation of excellence – or incompetence – in one or more field of study. Professors often become involved in adventures as they search for such things as ancient civilizations, ancient artifacts, new technologies, or contact with extra-dimensional life.

SCOUNDREL

A scoundrel excels at making her way around the law. She knows how to be stealthy, break and enter, and cover her tracks. A scoundrel may be a street thug, con artist or even a daring and stylish cat burglar or a crime lord, who oversees a criminal empire.

SPY

Jesse and Ruth Owens sitting with an unknown group of people, ciMasters and Mistresses of manipulation, charm, deceit and infiltration, the Spy pursues a life of intrigue, politics and diplomacy throughout the world. Most spies can ease their way into any group and have connections across the globe. Similar to a Consulting Detective, his or her keen senses and insight into human motivations allow him or her to notice facts and behaviors that most others miss. The Spy’s weapon is information and thorough planning – they maintain numerous cover identities and always have a contingency plan and several escape routes, should a mission go to hell.

WARRIOR

Pulp 1The warrior is at the forefront of battle – whether on the side of justice and heroism or in the service of selfishness, wickedness or mad schemes to rule the world. Warriors are skilled in the use of most modern weaponry, as well as basic hand-to-hand fighting techniques, tactics and strategies; many possess an expertise in a wide variety of weapons and are truly terrifying on the battlefield. Warriors range from backwater pit fighters, to bold activists, to military sharpshooters and battle-scarred veterans of world war. They make a living at the only thing they are good at – fighting, killing and surviving.

 

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Dieselpunk. Be sure to hang out with us as we bring a little funk to the Jazz Age with The League of Extraordinary Black People: The Dieselpunk Edition!


STEAMFUNK FIGHTERS: Black Warriors in the Age of Steam!

STEAMFUNK FIGHTERS:  Black Warriors in the Age of Steam!

Hell Slayer

Steamfunk WarriorIn this installment of The League of Extraordinary Black People Series, we take an in-depth look at Steamfunk fighters – incomparable warriors, who fought for glory, freedom and honor upon blood-soaked battlefields and in sweat-stained rings.

While I have a ball sharing these extraordinary people with you, I have an affinity for this archetype, as I am a warrior myself, as is my Steamfunk persona – Ogunlana – a war chief of the Oyo Empire, who brought down an invading British dirigible with the sonic vibrations from his drum. Ogunlana wears the trappings of the invaders with his traditional clothing as a warning to all that anyone who invades Oyo will suffer the same fate.

So grab a cup o’ Joe, a glass of whiskey – or a coconut smoothie, for those health-conscious warriors – sit back and enjoy, as we open a can of Steamfunk whoop-ass.

 “Black” Mary Fields, aka Stagecoach Mary (1832 – 1914)

Stagecoach Mary Mary Fields was born enslaved in 1832 in Hickman County, Tennessee.

She was six feet tall and weighed two-hundred pounds of muscle. “Black Mary”, as she was called, was tough, short-tempered, two-fisted and powerful and packed a pair of six-shooters and a ten-gauge shotgun that she would not hesitate to use.

Mary had a driving ambition, and loved to fight, drink whiskey and smoke homemade cigars on a regular basis.

Time and again, however, her rough-and-tumble antics were outshone by a heart of gold.

To escape slavery, Black Mary fled west, eventually making her way to Cascade County Montana as a free woman in 1884. In search of improved sustenance and adventure, she took a job with the Ursuline nuns at St. Peter’s Mission in the city of Cascade.

The nuns’ simple frontier facility was well-funded and the nuns had a thriving business converting “heathen savages”, and other “disgusting customers”, to the true path of salvation.

Mary was hired to do ‘heavy work’ and to haul freight and supplies to keep the nuns’ operation functional and well-fed. She chopped wood, did stone work and rough carpentry, dug certain necessary holes, washed laundry, managed the kitchen, and grew and maintained the garden and grounds and when reserves were low, she did one of her customary supply runs to the train stop, in Great Falls, or the city of Helena.

On one such night run, Mary’s wagon was attacked by wolves. The terrified horses bolted uncontrollably and overturned the wagon, thereby unceremoniously dumping Mary and all her supplies onto the dark prairie. Mary kept the wolves at bay for the entire night with her revolvers and rifle and, when dawn broke, got the freight delivered.  Of course, the nuns docked Mary’s pay for the molasses that leaked from a keg which cracked on a rock in the overturn.

Since Mary did not pay particular attention to her fashion and otherwise failed to look and act the part of expected of a woman in the Victorian age, certain ruffian men would occasionally attempt to trample on her rights and hard won privileges. Woe to all of them.

Mary is reported by the newspaper, the Great Falls Examiner, to have broken more noses than any other person in central Montana.

Once, a hired hand at the mission, by the name of Yu Lum Duk, confronted Mary at a local saloon, where Black Mary was a regular customer, complaining that she earned two dollars a month more than he did – $9 vs. $7 – and demanded to know why she – a “colored woman” – thought that she was worth so much money anyway. He then followed that complaint up with a direct one to Filbus N.E. Berwanger, Bishop of the region, to no avail.

This infuriated Mary, who went looking for Yu Lum Duk to beat him to a pulp for the disrespect.

Fearing Black Mary’s size, strength and fighting skills, Duk drew his revolver and fired a volley of gunfire at her. Mary evaded the bullets, took cover and drew her twin revolvers.

Bullets flew in every direction until the trio of six-guns was empty, and Yu Lum Duk’s blood flowed profusely from a smoking hole in his left buttocks.

That was enough for Bishop Berwanger – he fired Mary…and gave the injured Yu Lum Duk a raise.

Out of work and needing money, Mary opened a restaurant in Cascade. Unfortunately, her cooking was horrible and the restaurant closed in short order.

In 1895, Mary landed a job carrying the United States Mail, becoming the second woman in history to have a U.S. postal route, delivering mail by stagecoach from the town of Cascade to the surrounding countryside.

Since she had always been so independent and determined, this work was perfect for her and she soon developed a reputation for delivering letters and parcels, no matter the weather, or how rugged the terrain.

Now known to all as ‘Stagecoach Mary’, she continued in this capacity until she reached well into her sixties.

Mary retired from the Postal service, but, still in need of an income at the age of seventy, she opened a laundry service, also in Cascade.

Mary didn’t do a lot of laundry, however, spending a considerable portion of her time in the local saloon, drinking whiskey and smoking her cheap cigars with the sundry assortment of men who were attracted to the place.

Mary remained a fighter in her old age. Once, a lout failed to pay his laundry bill; hearing him out in the street, she left the saloon and knocked the man flat with one blow. She was 72 years old at the time. After the man regained consciousness, she told him that the satisfaction she got from knocking him out was worth more than the bill he owed, so the score was settled.

In 1914, Mary died of liver failure. Neighbors buried her in the Hillside Cemetery in Cascade, marking the spot with a simple wooden cross which still exists today.

Manoel Henrique Pereira, aka Besouro Mangangá (1895 – 1924)

BesouroManoel Henrique Pereira was born in 1895, in Bahia, Brazil, to João Matos Pereira, nicknamed Joao Grosso (Big John) and Maria Haifa. When Manoel Henrique was still a young boy, he began training in a combative system of Capoeira under the tutelage Of Tio Alípio, a formerly enslaved African. These lessons took place in Trapiche de Baixo, the poorest neighborhood of Santo Amaro.

Since the practice of capoeira was forbidden by Portuguese law, this training had to be done in secret. As time went by, Manoel Henrique grew, in his skills as a Capoeirista (a practitioner of Capoeira), and was soon given the nickname “Besouro Mangangá” Besouro means “beetle”; Manganga means “Devil’s Horse” – an aggressive wasp native to Brazil. He was so nicknamed because, when adversities were heavy in his life, or when the advantage of a fight was with his opponent, Besouro would simply disappear; “flying away” without a trace. So skilled was Besouro at this disappearing act, the belief that he had supernatural powers began to grow.

By train, by horse or on foot, depending on the circumstances, Besouro traveled from Santo Amaro to Maracangalha or vice versa, working on plantations, farms or mills.

As a young man in his late teens, Besouro traveled to Colonia Mill – now called Santa Elizia – in Santa Amaro, to look for work. He was authorized and became an employee there. One week later, on payday, the boss told all of the employees that no one was going to get paid. Those who dared to challenge the boss were tied to a trunk of a tree, whipped and left there for twenty-four hours. With Besouro, however, things were quite different. When the boss told Besouro he would not pay him, Besouro grabbed him by the shirt and violently forced the man to pay the money he owed.

Besouro was also notorious for getting involved in confrontations with brutal and unjust police officers. On more than one occasion, he used physical force to disarm policemen.  Once armed with their guns, he would lock the policemen up in the jail cells meant for criminals.

Trouble with the police escalated until Capitan José Costa, the local police commander, assigned 10 men to catch Besouro dead or alive. While hanging out in a local bar one night, Besouro had a vision of the police coming for him. He left the bar and went to the main square. When the police arrived, he walked up to the Christian cross that was in the square, where he proceeded to spread his arms out as if he was crucified and shouted to the police that he would never surrender to them. The night air was torn asunder by the thunderous din of gunshots. A moment later, Besouro collapsed. Capitan Costa walked up to Besouro and probed him with his gun.

“Besouro is dead,” the commander bellowed.

 Besouro, however, was very much alive and to the great surprise of everyone, snatched the Capitan’s rifle from his fingers. He then ordered all the police officers to put down their guns and leave the square. Besouro sang a cheerful song as the cops left the square unarmed.

Capitan Costa grew even more determined to see Besouro dead and one morning, Besouro found himself surrounded by a group of about 40 police officers. The cops shot at him with a hail of gunfire. The Capoeirista was unscathed, however, dodging the bullets by moving his body to the rhythm of the guns.

A man soon arrived, whom history remembers as Eusebio de Quisaba. This mysterious man charged Besouro and brutally stabbed him with a knife made of ticum, a type of hardwood significant to practitioners of the Afro-Brazilian spiritual tradition of Candomblé. Candomblé folklore says that this wood is the only way to kill a man whose body and spirit are “closed”, or impervious, to death. Besouro was believed to be just such a man, in possession of a “corpo fechado” – which literally means: “closed body” – a body that, through special rituals, has become impenetrable by knives or bullets.

A day later, Besouro Mangangá died of his wounds. The year was 1924.

Today Besouro is a symbol of heroism and of Capoeira throughout all of Brazil. His bravery and loyalty and the support he gave to the persecuted and oppressed has not been forgotten.


Joe Gans (1874 – 1910)

Steamfunk FighterJoe Gans (25 November 1874 – 10 August 1910) was born Joseph Gant in Baltimore, Maryland.

Rated as the greatest lightweight boxer of all time, the “Old Master” – as he was called by friends, fans and foes, alike – fought professionally from 1891 to 1909.

Gans was the first African-American World Boxing Champion, reigning continuously as World Lightweight Champion from 1902 to 1908.

Gans’ first fight, however, was against poverty; a formidable opponent indeed. Gans eventually prevailed and with his earnings from the fight dubbed the ‘Greatest Fight of the Century’ – a brutal, grueling 42-round fight that remains the longest title fight in history and the longest fight ever caught on film –  he built the Goldfield Hotel in Baltimore. The Goldfield was home to the Goldfield Hotel Jazz Club, which was a precursor to the Cotton Club and the place where Gans gave musician Eubie Blake his first big opportunity. 

Gans was a master of defensive fighting, as well as a devastating puncher. He attacked the vital points on his opponents’ bodies with pinpoint accuracy and threw perfect combinations with bewildering speed. He was a master of counter-punching, of the art of feinting, and the art of body-punching. He was a complete fighter, with great speed, power, punching ability and a killer instinct.

Gans had a remarkable ability to stop his opponent’s punches and he is considered, by many, as perhaps the best fighter ever at blocking and evading blows.

John L. Sullivan, former heavyweight champion of the world, said, in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Sep. 2 1906, “I never liked a Negro as a fighting man…but Gans is the greatest lightweight the ring ever saw. He could lick them all on their best day. Gans is easily the fastest and cleverest man of his weight in the world. He can hit like a mule kicking with either hand.”

On December 8, 1903, Gans fought the great welterweight, Sam Langford, the most avoided fighter in boxing history.

The fight took place in Boston the day after Gans fought a no decision bout against Black welterweight Dave Holly in Philadelphia (Gans won the newspaper decision). This means that Gans had to travel by train up the eastern seaboard from Philly to Boston for a fight the very next day. Gans admitted that fighting two days in a row and making the trip had sapped his stamina. Nevertheless, he dominated Langford early in the fight before fading from lag in the later rounds and losing a close decision.

This fight is the only one Gans lost in a period of more than ten years. Considering it was his second fight within 24 hours in cities 300 miles apart and the quality of his opposition, Gans did very well indeed.

When Joe Gans got his shot at champion Frank Erne, on May 12, 1902, he wasted no time in gaining the title with a sensational first round knockout at 1:40 of the round.

After winning the lightweight title, Joe Gans successfully defended it 17 times.

The Joe Gans-Battling Nelson fight in Goldfield, Nev. on Sep. 3, 1906 rates as the greatest lightweight championship bout ever contested. For 42 hard-fought rounds – the longest gloved championship match recorded under The Marquis of Queensbury’s rules – the two lightweights engaged in a titanic struggle.

Joe Gans was forced to fight at unnaturally low weights for much of his career. Even though he was champion, he often had to succumb to the dictates of his white opponents. Gans had trouble making 133 pounds ringside several times. If he were fighting today he would be a natural 140-pound fighter, though since he would not have to make weight ringside, he could easily make the 135-pound limit. In the first Nelson fight he was forced to make 133 ringside in full gear, this combined with the dehydrating Nevada sun and the grueling 42 round fight may have contributed to Gans contracting tuberculosis – an infectious disease that attacks the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing, weakness, fatigue, chills, chest pain, and sometimes coughing blood – which was one of the leading causes of death in that day.

Gans was suffering the ravaging affects of tuberculosis when he lost the title, in a rematch, to Battling Nelson on July 4, 1908. The San Francisco Chronicle described Gans as “weakened and dull in the eyes” and said, “It was clear that it was a different Gans than the one who had fought at Goldfield.” Even more revealing was the report that “After the twelfth round Gans was suffering terribly. His skin turned a dull gray and he was shivering as though from ague (fever). It seemed as though his vitality had been stolen from him.”

Despite his devastating illness, the first five rounds were Gans’ by a wide margin. In the second round an uppercut staggered Nelson; and in the third, Gans drew blood. However, he was so weakened by the disease that was killing him that he began to fade. Despite being desperately sick, Gans fought on before succumbing, as he said “to exhaustion” in the 17th round.

Gans and Nelson fought again two months later. Gans made it 21 rounds this time – a feat of will and strength that defies logic and reason. He again dominated the early rounds with well-timed and accurate punches. For the first few rounds Gans looked like the master of old, using elusive ducking and sidestepping movements and cutting Nelson open with lightning quick jabs and devastating crosses. But eventually the Dane’s fierce body punching wore down Gans’ emaciated body.

In both fights, under modern 12-round rules, Gans would have gone the distance and probably even won.

Gans fought one more time against former British champion Jabez White. Even though his body was a mere shell of its former self, Gans still displayed some of his famous punching power and speed, dropping White several times and even knocking the Brit out twice in the match, but both times, the Bell saved him from a loss. The fight was officially named a no decision bout but Gans easily won the newspaper verdict.

The following year, Gans died in his mother’s arms. When he died, he only weighed 84 pounds.

Joe Gans is hailed by many fight experts as the greatest fighter of all time, regardless of weight and by the majority as the greatest lightweight in history.

 

These mighty warriors of the Age of Steam battled adversity, fought hardship and struggled against overwhelming odds to emerge as champions. These men and women of indomitable spirit are shining examples of The League of Extraordinary Black People!


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