BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION MONTH:  Celebrating Over 150 Years of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror By and About Black People

 

BSF Month 4Recently, the month of October was proclaimed Black Speculative Fiction Month!

In Atlanta, we are doing it big in October, with a full month of spectacular, educational and downright fun events, all leading up to the wildly popular, 4th Annual – and now national – Alien Encounters Black Speculative Fiction Conference.

In addition to Atlanta, Alien Encounters gatherings will take place throughout October in different major cities in the United States, including the DMV (D.C.; Maryland; Virginia), Philly and San Diego, just to name a few.

Join us for three exciting days of panels, presentations and parties as we illuminated and expand Black Speculative Fiction!

October 25, 2013, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm – The Mahogany Masquerade Film Festival and Cosplay Party: Come dressed in your best Steamfunk and Dieselfunk costumes as we enjoy Black Speculative Fiction short films and meet their creators.

9:00 pm until: Mahogany Masquerade After-Party

October 26, 2013
4:00 to 6:00 pm – Steamfunk to Dieselfunk: Historical Foundations of Fantastic Fiction.

6:00 to 8:00 pm – Horror on the Black Hand Side: Horror Fiction from a Black point of view.

8:00 pm until – Black Hand Side After-Party

October 27, 2013
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm – Ain’t No Such Thing As Superman: The conscious community of Black comic books and graphic novels.

BSF Month 1Very exciting times for creators and fans of Black Speculative Fiction and Film; however, the creation of such great and entertaining works are not new. In 1859, for example, Martin Delany published Blake, or The Huts of America, a novel about an alternate history in which a successful slave revolt in the Southern states leads to the founding of a Black country in Cuba.

Charles W. Chesnutt penned The Conjure Woman in 1899, which is the first known speculative fiction collection written by a person of color.

W.E.B. Dubois gave us The Comet in 1920, a post-apocalyptic story about a world where the only survivors of an apocalyptic event are a Black man and a white woman.

Also in 1920, South African author and entrepreneur Thomas Mofolo published his novel, Chaka, which presented a fantastical rendering of the famous – and infamous – Zulu king’s life.

Son of Ingagi is a Black Science Fiction / Horror film released in 1940. It is the story of Eleanor and Bob Lindsay, who inherit the house of Helen Jackson, a physician who has just returned from her trip to Africa possessing gold…and the monstrous, murderous, missing link-type creature named N’Gina.

Many great works of Black Speculative Fiction have followed through the years. Here is a sampling of more great speculative fiction and films by and about Black people:

The Jewels of Aptor, is a Science Fiction novel, written in 1962 by 19 year old genius, Samuel Delaney about a post-atomic future, when civilization has regressed to something near the Middle Ages, or even before, a young student and poet, Geo, takes a job as a sailor on a boat with a strange passenger, a priestess of the goddess Argo, who is heading toward a mysterious land of mutants and high radiation, called Aptor, presumably to recapture a young priestess of Argo, her daughter, who has been kidnapped by the forces of the dark god Hama.

This novel has since gone on to win countless prestigious awards including the coveted Nebula and Hugo awards.

Echo Tree, an amazing collection of short, speculative works by master writer, Henry Dumas, features such stories – all written in the mid-to-late 60s –  as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a fantasy story, with elements of horror, set in an underground jazz club.  The protagonist, Probe, tests a legendary instrument of immense power on a few unwelcome guests; and “Fon,” a story in which flaming arrows rain from the sky to dispatch a group of would-be lynchers.

Along with Charles Saunders, Henry Dumas is my favorite author and one of my greatest influences. After you read Echo Tree, I am sure he will be one of your favorites, too.

Space Is the Place is an 82-minute science fiction film made in 1972 and released in 1974. It was directed by John Coney, written by revered musician, Sun Ra and Joshua Smith, and featured Sun Ra and his Arkestra in starring roles.

The story revolves around Sun Ra, who has been reported lost since a European tour in June 1969. The musician lands on a new planet in outer space with his crew “The Arkestra” and decides to settle African Americans on this planet. Sun Ra’s medium of transportation throughout space and time is music. He travels back in time, arriving in a Chicago strip club where he used to play piano under the stage name Sonny Ray. There, he confronts The Overseer, a pimp-overlord, and they agree on a duel at cards for the fate of the Black race.

A Blacktacular pulp fiction novel – one of my favorites, by one of my favorite authors – is Damballa, an engaging tale of  a shadowy hero who fights evil in 1930s Harlem with unprecedented martial skills and a combination of African and Western science.

If you have not read any of Charles Saunders work, run, don’t walk, to your nearest computer and visit his website.

Pumzi is a Kenyan science-fiction short film written and directed by Wanuri Kahiu.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which water scarcity has extinguished life above ground, this brilliant short film follows one scientist’s quest to investigate the possibility of germinating seeds beyond the confines of her repressive subterranean Nairobi culture.

Winner of numerous awards including Best Short Film at BET Urban World Film Festival & a student film award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, Wake is a story steeped in the southern gothic tradition. Written, produced, directed & edited by filmmaker Bree Newsome, Wake is a masterpiece of horror, humor and dark fantasy. This is Southern Horror at its finest!

Next is a novel that helped launch a major movement in speculative fiction.

A long-time admirer of Harriet Tubman, in Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, Balogun Ojetade elevates this already heroic icon to super-heroic status, pitting her against the advanced technologies and enhanced abilities of the servants of a government that has turned its back on her and seeks to see her dead. Harriet, possessing extraordinary abilities of her own, enlists the aid of other heroes of history to make a stand against the powerful forces of evil.

Balogun transports you to Harriet Tubmans world: a world of wonder…of horror…of amazing inventions, captivating locales and extraordinary people. In this novel – the first ever book in the subgenre known as Steamfunk – Harriet Tubman must match wits and power with the sardonic John Wilkes Booth and a team of hunters with powers beyond this world in order to save herself, her teenaged nephew, Ben and a little girl in her care – Margaret. But is anyone who, or what, they seem?

With more authors and fans becoming interested in Steamfunk, many more works have begun to appear. The next bestselling work elevates the subgenre of Steamfunk and sends its popularity soaring into the stratosphere:

A witch, more machine than human, judges the character of the wicked and hands out justice in a ravaged Chicago. John Henry wields his mighty hammers in a war against machines and the undead. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman rule a country of freed slaves that rivals – and often bests – England and France in power and technology. You will find all this – and much more – between the pages of Steamfunk, an anthology of incredible stories by some of today’s greatest authors of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steamfunk – African and African American-inspired Steampunk.

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

This is the definitive work for what Steamfunk is and how much fun it can be.

 

Black AvengersThese are exciting times, indeed. October will be the culmination – and the beginning; the sharing and celebration of 150 years of stories that excite, inspire, frighten, educate, entertain and evoke change.

October is gonna be hotter than fish grease!

I’ll be celebrating all month.

Come party with me!

 

 

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link and Rite of Passage: Initiation. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at http://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of three novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; and the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika and contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. At present, Balogun is directing and fight choreographing the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk –a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at http://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of three novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the science fiction gangster saga, Redeemer; and the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika. He is also co-creator of the soon-to-be-released role-playing game, Ki-Khanga™: The Sword & Soul RPG. Balogun is Master Instructor of the Afrikan Martial Arts Institute and Technical Director of Martial Ministries of America, a non-profit organization that serves at-risk youth. He is also a traditional African priest, actor and conflict resolution specialist, who works and lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, his seven daughters and his son.

16 responses »

  1. Milton says:

    I believe this is a splendid idea. In my five years of writing and publishing the majority of people I meet have never heard of black speculative fiction writers or their books. Many black people I encounter don’t even consider reading speculative fiction because they are not aware of any people of color writing it or writing it about them. To have a month dedicated to highlighting black speculative fiction writers and books will go a long way in bringing attention to neglected participants of the genre. I’m eagerly looking forward to October, and I’m anxious to see what other programs emerge throughout the rest of the country.

    • Balogun says:

      I believe Black Speculative Fiction Month is the much needed spark that will ignite the Black Speculative Movement. The reason so many people still have never heard of Black Speculative Fiction is because people follow trends…they follow the “buzz”. The louder the buzz, the more we become interested and involved. For too long, we have worked as individuals. One bee does not buzz loud enough. One or two people might notice.
      A SWARM of buzzing bees gets noticed by many more. Imagine a swarm of bees in Atlanta, New York, Philly, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston – all buzzing at the same time. THAT becomes a worldwide, newsworthy event!
      In October, my brother, the bees across the nation will leave the hive. Exciting times, indeed!
      Thanks, so much, for your feedback, Milton! :)

  2. NinjaMani says:

    All of these sound very worthwhile, but ‘Damballa’ really caught my attention. I’ll have to check that out as soon as humanly possible. And as an Atlanta native, it’d be downright criminal not to check this conference out. Looking forward to October!

  3. fletchav says:

    As usual, thanks for the tons of information and new stuff to read. I just downloaded “Conjure Woman” and am planning to search through the family attic for an ancient and unread copy of “Jewels of Aptor”

  4. Sean Graham says:

    I think it would be a wonderful idea to provide Amazon or direct link to their sites for easy book purchasing!

  5. AEHellar says:

    Reblogged this on Hellar Reviews and commented:
    This sounds interesting. Definitely something to look forward to.

  6. […] other major masquerade is The Mahogany Masquerade: A Night of Steamfunk and Film, in which the many enthusiastic and creative participants come, dressed in their best Steamfunk, […]

  7. PeeJay says:

    Please, oh please, don’t leave Boston out of the loop. We may not be a Chocolate City, but our artists, writers, musicians and dancers are more than ready to be a part of buzzing, showing and proving.

    This info, these ideas… Thank you for getting it all started. I’ll do my part to spread the word.

    • Balogun says:

      We know some Blacknificent writers in Boston and will certainly keep you all in the loop. Thank YOU, for your feedback and for spreading the word!

  8. […] you will find discussions, photographs, fiction and articles on Steamfunk, Rococoa, great Black Authors, Black fandom, the craft of writing and Sword & […]

  9. […] Content should be in some speculative genre. […]

  10. […] THIS AINT I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: Rape in Black Speculative Fiction […]

  11. […] wildly successful and popular events, the founding of a movement (Steamfunk) and the founding of Black Speculative Fiction Month. However, he – and I – desires to see the scores of Black artists, authors, filmmakers, fan […]

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