Steamfunk * Steampunk * Sword & Soul

Afrofuturism

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR NOW BRINGS YOU AUTHOR KAI LEAKES!

Sin  Eaters

Kai LeakesFrom Iowa, but later relocating to Alton, IL and St. Louis, MO, Kai Leakes was a multifaceted Midwestern child, who gained an addiction to books at an early age. Sharing stories with her cousins as a teen, writing books didn’t seem like something she would pursue until one day in college. Storytelling continues to be a major part of her very DNA, with the goal of sharing tales that entertain and add color to a gray literary world.

In her spare time, she likes to cook, dabble in photography, and assists with an internet/social networking group online. Loving to feed her book addiction, romance, fantasy and fiction novels are her world. Reading those particular genres help guide her as she finds the time to write and study for school.

Kai is the author of Sineaters: Devotion book one and the soon-to-be-released Sin Eaters: Retribution: Devotion book two, coming in June.

You can find her at her website: kwhp5f.wix.com/kai-leakes.

“The Light Will Always Prevail, but when the Light and Dark are at war, sometimes the Grey can only be your salvation.”  ~ Kai Leakes

 

Sin Eaters: Devotion Book One Synopsis:

SIN EATERS PROMO.inddKhamun Cross was born to do one thing and that was to watch Sanna Steele, a woman so unique and special he would risk his all to have her. So what, that in his job of watching her, he happens to prowl the streets, hunting the very things that go bump in the night. Even monsters or everyday looking people that steal humans’ souls become Khamun’s victims, and he brings with him a power, a vampirism, that would send one straight to the dark.

Khamun craves the darkness in his victims as if it were his own personal dinner, but not as much as he craves the very woman he has been ordained to watch over as her Guardian Angel. Sanna Steele is just your average twenty-seven year old, with your everyday hopes, dreams and insecurities. She is clueless about the war that is secretly raging around her in the streets of St. Louis. A war she will soon become a part of. But what is so special about Sanna that the very things that go bump in the night, seeks to snatch her from her very existence in life?

Sin EatersSin Eaters 2: Retribution (Devotion Book Two) Synopsis:

Darkness is swallowing the streets of Chicago, and a key may have been found.  Khamun and Sanna’s epic journey together has led them to this, their mission to save Nephilim Society from themselves. Still trying to open the secrets of the first book, Khamun and Sanna’s fight has resulted in a travesty that may change their lives. Now with Khamun at the cusp of a life and death decision, it’s up to his team to close ranks and protect their Oracle.

Calvin Freeman is surrounded by death. Not only has his cousin fallen in battle, but he’s now being stalked by ghosts from his past lives and a familiar lethal foe, The Medusa. What is deathly has become alluring, and what is toxic has become bittersweet. His dreams are betraying him, and war is coming as society turns a blind eye. It’s up to him and his family to bring their retribution, and it’s up to him to find out why the woman known for bringing nightmares has suddenly knocked at his door.

Take a final walk in the chilling world of Kai Leakes in Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Devotion Book Two.

If you’re already #Teamsineaters, or if you are just looking for a great read, keep a look out for the action-packed continuation coming soon June 24, 2014.

Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Pre-order now on Amazon! http://goo.gl/YtqkOu
Or Pre-order SE2 at BN: http://goo.gl/MEKt6H

 

Sin Eaters: Devotion Excerpt: 

Today…

Metallic, sweet and mind intense flavor filled the air.  The quiet that floated around made the hairs on passerby’s in the night to stand up as if the already chill filled wind wasn’t enough to have them shivering.  Rich, black ebon swallowed the alleyway keeping the individuals who occupied it secured and sequestered away from all who dared peek down the tight tunnel.  Water idly sliding down the asphalted street, mixed with oil and idle trash skating against the cracked surface, cushioned midnight colored Timberland’s as the flash of twinkling light cascaded in a flash like a pulse near the booted body.

Inhaling even shallow breaths, the individual listened as all sound seemed to be absorbed away as if in a tornado.  This silence triggered the timed attack, which had the anticipation in the individual’s body expand with power, velocity, speed and well checked strength.

If one was to be one of the many idle flies which hovered in the nearby dumpster, they would be amazed at the sight of the super human individual running in an almost flying position and landing on the second hulking form in the alley.
The rise of a scent that had cats meowing and arched in defense on the railings of a window and under a parked car filled the air again as the crisp white flash of light slashed in the night air, landing against the second balked individual as the attacker hissed.

In a fraction of a blink, claws the size of an oversized lion slashed in the air as tentacles dipped out near the blind spot of the attacker, making the being jump in the air. Bringing down a flashing light of metal unto the second balked former human looking being but now entity of horrendous looks, the precise slash against the entities flesh caused the now familiar smell to fill the air once more.  

The attacker crouched low in a resting battle position, taking in shallow calm breaths as the thing turn to attack again, running full speed.  Its Italian leather wing tipped shoes creating a rhythm of tapping song on the alleyway floor, causing the attacker to hum, throwing the entity off its thoughts.
Light sheen of perspiration kissed the attacker’s forehead with each calm inhale.  The attacker lived for this, loved it and desired the hunt of creatures such as this.

Strategizing the next move, the attacker thought back to how this prey was hunted.  A quiet smile flashed across the attackers lips.  It wasn’t hard to get to the sick bastard, the attacker posed as the entities preferred targets, an angry teenager, who wanted nothing but to get away from their parent.  It made the attacker clutch the blade that nestled comfortably against his palm, in anger at the obscene and pornographic discussions that would occur with the demon.
It made it even easier to identify that this monster wasn’t the shrewd Italian entrepreneur he portrayed to be, but was in fact a succubae level soul polluter demon.  These breed of evil were the most degenerate of demons, they enjoyed feasting off the pain of the victims through lewd sexual means, physical decapitating torture and flesh eating.
Knowing this, it silently pleased the attacker to stalk and mentally threaten the demon’s territory by baiting it, since these demons were known for their territorial nature.

Allowing the demon to believe they were to meet up outside of a popular artist’s concert, the attacker led the demon to the alleyway through simple mind manipulation and the rest is history.  Shuddering with a lethal dose of pleasure and battle tactics, the attacker’s body tightened with the wait as the breeze in the alley lightly brushed against skin.
Side stepping within the low crouch, the attacker pivoted and flipped forward with the lithe agility of a panther producing a silver gun.  Suddenly as if time stopped, bullets exploded in the air as the glimmering and glowing objects penetrated the thrown back body of the beast, causing it to howl in pain.

The attacker ran full speed, watching the bullets hit each expertly calculated point on the beast’s body.  Landing a blow to the entities ribcage; the muscles in the attacker’s bicep tightening with the impact of breaking bones and tearing flesh.
Seething in anger, contempt, disbelief and hate, the monster attempted to slash at the attacker with its claws, its teeth dripping with a mixture of its own blood and a liquid miasma.  The beast successfully slammed the attacker into the side of a building, breaking bricks and creating a crater in the wall, rushing like a bull to launch another attack of teeth and claws.  Pivoting out of the way with a deep guttural grunt, the attacker let another round of bullets to release and absorb into the slashing and bleeding beast, watching him fall.

High pitched human screams burst from the beast as it lay on the cold glistening wet pavement, its twisted and contorted body writhing as the attacker casually walked over it kneeling down and grabbing it by its neck.
Watching slowly as the entity howled, hissing and fighting back, its eyes begged to be left alone as its tentacles and claws melted away into a very human hand.  As the once beastly thing revealed itself during its cries, a disheveled looking handsome muscular man, dressed in an Italian designed straight from the runway suit, coughed up spewing blood and wheezed in agony.  The clawing man, murmured in unintelligible sentences, his sun kissed olive skin, slowly fading into a murky grey.

Wrinkles of decay and diseases, emitting from his once handsome frame, seemed to slosh away with every scream of pain and anger.  Flowing oak colored hair, drifted away as if it was dust in the wind. The man reached out attempting to tear at the attacker’s throat as flashes of the demon’s past life of darkness flowed into his vision through the eyes and briefly flashed smile of the attacker’s photogenic face.

Hunching over in a swift movement that would rival and shame a snake, if a snake could be shamed, the attacker hissed, claw palmed the man in the chest clutching at his engorged heart to pull it to its surface, beating against rapidly thinning skin, as the man screamed in garbled terror.

“Ashes to ashes…”, was whispered in the air as the attacker pulled the heart from the man’s cavity and ferociously bit into the side of the screaming man’s neck tearing and cavernously biting until the attacker’s mouth seemed to fuse with the writhing man’s jugular, as rivers of blood fluidly glided everywhere.

-Sin Eaters by Kai Leakes ©copyright 2012-

 

 

Sin Eaters 2 – Retribution (Book Two) Excerpt:

Prelude

The past . . .

“Where are you going to go, boy? You’re surrounded!”

Like hell, woulda ever let ya take me down, boss, rushed into his mind as he ran. More like sprinted through the thick, grasping trees that surrounded him. Rigged branches reached out to him as if they had a mind of their own. Their thick almost-black rooted stems twisted in their uprooting from the bowels of the earth to make him trip, but he was smarter than the trees. He leaped and veered out of their menacing way and his arms jolted outward to part through bushes.

With all of the trees that surrounded him, he would not have believed that he was back in Harlem, had he known any better; but for those who don’t know it by that name, New York was where he was. The bustling city lights covered the sky like fireflies splashed across the sky’s black canvas. The noisy zipping of various buckets and hacks driving carelessly pass tourists and city folk gave him a sense of how close he exactly was to civilization. It also gave him a sense of purpose.

Twigs snapped suddenly and the rustling of leaves tussling against each other let him know they were still hot on his trail. His mind was racing as he looked for an out. All of this was too familiar to him. Beady red eyes flickered at him in the darkness of the wilderness—no, of the park. He was in Central Park. He should have realized that. Those piercing eyes stared at him in delight, ready to seize the opportunity to hogtie him so that he could be their little plaything but he would not give them that satisfaction. Not yet.

Beads of midnight dew kissed his face the moment he stepped through the thicket. His wingtip shoes abruptly skidded as they made contact with wet, slick grass. He jumped. Then he lifted in the air, almost floating for a mere second. Both of his large feet clacked against pebbled stone the moment they met the ground.

He could hear the enemy. He could feel them breathing against the back of his neck. Each hair on his body stood in salute, coming alive in electric awareness. In this life at least, he knew he could die on his terms and die giving them a fight. In seven minutes, his time would be up soon anyway, so what could he really do about not being bumped off?

Seven . . .

A whizzing sound sizzled past his ear and he felt the hot trickle of blood mixing with his sweat and the quick pop of the gun after the fact. They wanted to play dirty. They wanted to make him appear to be a patsy and a hood. He had to laugh; he was better than a hood. Sure, at one time, he had to fill that slot but now he was his own man, a bruno to a well-known trouble boy who protected the meek of Harlem. They worked together with his gang to find those who were kidnapped or were bumping gums to the wrong people. They worked to regain money lost in predatory loans and schemes and wrongful repositions. They worked to build up their people and to protect all who walked the streets of Harlem from the highbinders that made it their mission to tear down the community. But these men who were after him, the very scum and thugs themselves, were no normal men.

Corrupted monsters in the flesh of coppers more like it. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to go out between the gams of a looker for a change.

Six . . .

The menacing snarl of dogs in the distance made him grimly chuckle before closing his eyes with the feel of his body vibrating with his gift. His gift allowed him to use the sound waves around him to channel it into music. With a slight part of his lips, he let out a low hum. Whistling he changed the pitched and dropped into a low crouch. Both hands extended outward and he observed his skin lighting up in swirling patterns against its burnished surface. That was his clue to project that vibrating power out in waves toward the hunting dogs. A change in his vision instantly allowed him to see through their glittering eyes. He then knew where to run next. With a quick shift of the pitch of his song, he caused the dogs to halt their barks, whimper, and then stopped in their tracks to turn. Attack, was his simple mental command and he watched the dogs attack their owners before sprinting away in retreat.

His sweat dripped down his face like rain on the ground before him. His ragged breath came out in sharp bursts and he pushed up to start his run again. They wouldn’t get what he had been given a vision to find. That he was sure he had hidden well; he had taken something priceless, something rare, and something they wanted destroyed but couldn’t. Something they had to hide from his people because he had learned it could kill the leader of their kind.

Five . . .

Find out what the countdown is about when Sin Eaters 2: Retribution drops June 24th 2014!

 

Additional places to follow Kai Leakes:

            FB – https://www.facebook.com/kaileakesbooks

            Twitter – https://twitter.com/KaiLeakes

            Tumblr – http://kaileakes.tumblr.com/

 


THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR, AKA THE FRESH FEST OF AFROFUTURISM PRESENTS CAROLE MCDONNELL!

Wind Follower

The Butler / Banks Book Tour, aka the Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism, is now in its second week and still going strong!

Carole McDonnellToday’s featured author on the tour is none other than the renowned Carole McDonnell.

Carole is a book and film reviewer, whose reviews have appeared in some of the following: The Peekskill Herald, The Quarterly Black Review of Books, Christian Spotlight on the Movies, Christian Spotlight on Video Games, http://www.blogcritics.com, curledup.com, compulsivereader.com, and the fantastic stories website.

Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies, such as So Long Been Dreaming; Fantastical Visions III; Jigsaw Nation; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Griots: Sisters of the Spear and the Steamfunk! anthology. Her stories have placed in contests such as New Mass Media, Westchester Weekly and the Annual Contemporary Western Fiction Contest.

Wind Follower Her novels include The Constant Tower and Wind Follower. She is also author of the bestselling collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit.

Carole moved from Jamaica to the United States when she was eleven and lived in Brooklyn until she was seventeen, she then attended SUNY Purchase, graduating in 1981. She is married with two children.

 

Below is one of her short stories. Enjoy!

This is How You Make a World

To the left was a small planet, gray, apparently lifeless, about one eighth the size of the destroyed, forsaken earth. To the right, about three million kilometers from Searcher 871, was a large planet, green, blue and gold, reminiscent of the old earth — but eight time its size— populated by humans with various stages of civilization development.  The Searcher had stopped in between both planets, equidistant from both. Inside, its aging inhabitant debated the pros and cons of the terraforming the smaller planet or sending their children into the populated world.

Terraforming would take six months. Not long, considering the ship’s inhabitants had been in space for eight years, since the blighted earth had died.

But the artificially created air, food, light, was already taking its toll on the children. The damaged children, children born with limited mental and emotional and physical abilities because of the tainted foods, pharmas, and air of the old earth. Their parents too were fading, on their last legs — as the old earth maxim went.

But the other planet, the one that shone like a big aqua marble in the dark sky presented other problems. True, its inhabitants had their share of petty wars. But, as far as the aged navigators could tell, chances of atomic bombs and other damages wrought by science were not little. The planet was large, resources varied and many, and tribes — who were as varied as those in the craft— were scattered across the planet. The travelers of Searcher 871 could place their damaged children in a small wood — a natural Eden, if possible— and the children and their future descendants would not be found for hundreds of years to come.  But there were fears and questions, especially among the darker-skinned inhabitants of the craft, about conquest and racial discrimination. The humanoid inhabitants of the planet had features the earthers did not have, and vice versa.

Both planets were the first they had encountered that could take on human life, their shared sun life-giving and rare for human life.

“I choose to terraform the asteroid,” Lily, the African-American woman navigator said.

“Why put our children in a world that will challenge them? We have the skill to make the asteroid suitable for them and their needs.”

“A whole year?” Denny, the Irish Captain replied. “Can they survive? Can any of us survive that long? And if we terra-form, won’t we be using up our resources even more? Our ability to recycle the air, the food, will be taxed.”

There were eighteen adults of all races, of pleasant enough dispositions. They knew how to accommodate themselves to others and to the world. Before the earth died, most parents — those who were actually fertile— had children who were “damaged” and labeled as mentally “limited” or “developmentally slow.” Yet, these children were viewed as a blessing because children themselves were so rare. The year the earth died, ten thousand ships had departed the earth, each with about five hundred crew members. Over the years, most of the crew of 871 had died, or gone stir crazy and suicidal (another American earth phrase.)  It had been difficult to explain the deaths to the children — who were both young and “limited.” But the crew had managed, telling the children that the dead crew members had really gone to worlds along the way. The children — if they missed the dead at all— believed the crew’s protective lies. But now, as the remaining elders looked at each other’s wrinkled faces and at the faces of their children, they knew their limits. Death would come soon. Puberty would appear.

Lily often wondered if puberty would be natural. Would the children “know” what to do? Would “nature” take its course? Some of the children were astute enough to understand many things. They would share their knowledge no doubt. Others could barely feed themselves. But these are the last of Earth humanoids, Lily thought. Unless some others have survived,  we are all that’s left. And even if others have survived, aren’t their children as wounded and “limited” as ours?

As the old travelers looked on their children, they could only come to the decision that terraforming might take a year, but their children would not survive in a world that was not specifically meant for them. Terraforming it had to be. The year went by. No longer did they see the stars passing past them (or vice versa.) No longer did they use the great craft’s power to move forward. All its energies were used to create a perfect land for their children. During that year, five of the eighteen parents died. But their children lived and were taken care of by the others. And each day, the planet took on its form.

A great dome was built around the planet — the laser technology creating a new atmosphere. The ice at the poles farthest from the sun were melted and pushed toward the equator where lakes —not deeper than a man’s foot, not wider than a mile—were built. The seeds of non-genetically-modified non-poisonous plants, the frozen larvae of insects and embryos of animals that would bow to humans were planted in green forests, cold artic poles, and deserts.

At last, the day came when the parents landed their craft on the new world. Some eighty children exited the craft. Lame, halt, mute, mentally limited — a joyous kind new breed of humans, incapable of hatred or pettiness. It was not known if the damage to their bodies and minds was mutagenic. Nor was Lily sure how long she and the old ones would live in that world. The children sat on the grass in front of her — their minds not really focused on the sex video she was showing them. But how could they focus? They had never seen a lake before, or little bunny rabbits, or sheep or bees before.

But Lily stood there and pointed to the dolls, then at the sex video. “This,” she said, hoping some would understand and would teach the others, “This is how you make a world.”

THE END

You can find more of Carole’s work in the following spots:

Her Website: http://www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/

Her Author’s Page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carole-McDonnell/e/B0034Q3BWG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

At her publisher’s website: http://www.wildsidebooks.com/The-Constant-Tower-by-Carole-McDonnell-trade-pb_p_10772.html


THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR CONTINUES! The Humor-Infused Urban Fantasy of D.K. (Keith) Gaston

Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter

Who is D K Gaston?

Keith GastonI first met Darin, the author of more than a dozen books ranging from Speculative Fiction to Crime novels, on Facebook in the State of Black Science Fiction group. He was a quick-witted brother, always there with a funny joke. Liking his personality, I decided to purchase his book Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter – yes, authors, people will purchase your books if they like you, so stop with the diva act – and I loved it! The book was well written, had a great plot and was infused with Gaston’s humor.

I immediately searched for more of his work and found out some interesting information:  his first book was published in 2007. After serving five years in the military, he began college, earning a degree in Computer Science. Since earning his degree he’s gone on to earn two Masters degree in Technology Management and Business Administration. His experience in the military and computer sciences has shaped many of his stories and characters over the years. He also writes under the name Keith Gaston.

Taurus Moon: Magic and MayhemGaston’s most recent speculative fiction novel is Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem, which is the follow-up to Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter. Taurus makes his living by searching for supernatural artifacts for anyone willing to pay his price.

Gaston says “These two novels are among my favorite because they allow me to express my humor, as much as the fast-paced action, throughout the books.”

Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem is a fast-paced action and fantasy novel, sprinkled with humor. After saving the lives of a family about to be slaughtered by Lycans, Taurus and Gully are pulled into a realm where magic is supreme and technology is nonexistent. They must travel through harsh lands to find their way home.

The uneasy alliance between an evil sorceress queen, Morgana le Fay, and Grimes, a Lycan king, is threatened because of the relic hunter’s and mage’s presence. Taurus and Gully will have to use every trick they’ve every learned to survive the looming battle, but will it be enough?

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Gully’s lungs burned, and cold sweat dripped down his face, but he couldn’t stop running, because stopping meant death.

Shadowing them on all fours, their stalkers were urged on with an inhuman need to slaughter. The heavy pounding of their massive paws against the frozen landscape grew ever closer. He pictured his pursuers’ tongues lolling from their mouths, salivating with anticipation. Wails filled the night; their terrifying howls alerting others of their pack that the chase was nearly over.

Gully had hoped the thick trees would offer him and the people he’d rescued, places to conceal themselves, but it wasn’t to be. The predators’ night vision could penetrate the dark with ease and their sense of smell could detect the four of them wherever they may hide.

Desperation begged that he plunge deeper into the woods. More than once, he’d seen what the claws and teeth of the predators could do to human flesh—saw the terror frozen in the eyes of their dead victims. Gully saw that same fear in the eyes of the family he was trying to protect. A hard knot had gotten trapped in his throat when the small girl glanced in his direction. Her gaze became saucers and she mouthed a silent scream.

Gully forced himself to twist his neck around to glance over his shoulder toward whatever she saw. He spotted the blood red glow of their ominous eyes first, then saw three of the beasts leap out from the darkness, their maws snapping open and close with enthusiasm as they anticipated flesh being trapped between their razor-sharp teeth.

The girl finally gave voice to her scream. It was time to stop running. Gully turned on his heels and faced the rampaging creatures. Exhausted and out of breath, he struggled to control his panic. Every fiber of his being shouted for him to continue running, but deep inside he knew that running would only get them killed. Gully shoved his fear aside, not for himself, but for the small girl and her parents.

The werewolves hastened their charge.

***

I sliced a jagged line across Darla’s neck with the silver blade from my wrist-mount to let her father know, I was serious about killing her. A thin line of warm blood trickled down her throat to her naked body. Grimes snarled, but stopped his advance toward me. His long abnormal fingernails and fangs retracted. Red menacing eyes reverted back to lifeless gray ones. As the dark brown fur slowly withdrew back into his skin, he grew smaller by several feet as he returned to his natural six-four height.

Grimes, naked and fully human, did not bother to hide his manhood, and he stared at me as if I was the one wrongly dressed for the occasion. “You are bluffing, Moon. You would not kill my daughter in cold blood,” he said not sounding entirely convinced of his words.

 Under my grasp, Darla snarled like a wild animal and said, “He’s weak, father! Kill him now!”

“Take it easy, princess. No one has to be hurt here tonight,” I whispered. I spoke to her father in a louder voice with as much confidence as I could. “Make one move, Grimes, and I’ll take off her head. Trust me, I don’t bluff.”

“That’s not exactly true, sir. Since my association with you, you have, indeed, deceived your way out of five precarious situations,” Mosley said deadpan while in his holographic Idris Elba form.

Grimes, Darla and I slowly turned our gaze to the hologram. “You’re not supposed to let the bad guys know you might be bluffing, Mosley. Sort of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?” I scolded.

The hologram winced in apology then his image disappeared. Sometimes, I wondered if Mosley was with me or against me.

Grimes smiled, his teeth elongating once again. “My daughter and I shall have white wine as we dine on your flesh tonight, Moon.”

I gritted my teeth and narrowed my eyes at him. “Despite what my blabbermouth friend said, I will cut her throat!” Something in my expression or body language told him I spoke the truth, because his teeth became humanlike again.

“You dare call my daughter and me bad guys, when it was you and your conjurer friend that broke into my castle in a pitiful attempt to rob me!”

Can you believe this guy? “You’re just going to skate over the fact that, in the midst of our pitiful attempt at robbery, Gully and I saved the lives of a family you and your darling princess here, were about to make a meal of. Here’s a tidbit of information for you. Eating innocent folks definitely places you and Darla on the wrong side of righteousness.”

Darla squirmed in my grip perhaps to break my hold, but I wasn’t having that. I pressed the silver blade tighter against her neck, drawing more blood from her. “Play nice,” I whispered into her ear.

“We have to eat,” she said defensively, as if that justified everything. “How else do you expect us to live?”

I shook my head, bowled over by the question. “That’s why the world has frozen meat sections in supermarkets, princess. You and I both know it’s not a prerequisite for werewolves to feed on human flesh. Raw meat is all you need to survive.”

“We are predators. We hunt for our food,” Grimes huffed. “You have no right to be here–no right to take our prey!”

“You’re only half right, buddy,” I retorted. “I don’t have any legal right to invade your home, but I do have a noble one. I need something from you. Not to keep… only to borrow,” I said, trying to gain some sort of control over the situation. I needed to nullify them before things got worse.

Grimes stood ramrod straight and folded his arms together. “You are joking, correct? My daughter is your prisoner, and you expect me to let you borrow something from my castle?”

“Kill him, father,” Darla yelled, as she shifted slightly, readying herself to make a move.

I lifted the flat of the blade, scratched off a thin layer of skin from her neck, and then gave her a solid tap underneath the chin. “Will you shut the hell up? Grown folks are talking here.”

She didn’t like that at all.

Too late, I realized, I’d gone too far with my belittling of her.

In an instant, Darla went into full animal state, growing two feet in height with hair covering her entire body. Two inch fangs and long fingernails as sharp and strong as the finest steel knives were only seconds away from ripping into me. I stood at a crossroads in a split second of indecision—if I cut off her head, Grimes would be on top of me with a father’s fury like no other—if  I did nothing, Darla would eventually get the upper hand in her stronger animal state. I hesitated a moment too long with my conundrum.

In a flash, she batted my arm away from her neck and heaved her head rearward, slamming the back of her skull hard against my forehead. In pain, I reeled backwards several steps, my vision an explosion of colors. I swung my blade wide and wild to make sure they couldn’t get close while I tried to regain focus. I could have used Gully right then and there, but he was busy getting that family Grimes and Darla had planned to eat to safety.

By the time my vision cleared, I saw that they had moved away to a safe distance. Both father and daughter were now full werewolves, and they both drooled at me with hunger in their eyes. Standing side-by-side, they looked at each other, then spoke in a series of grunts and growls, apparently debating who would get the first chunk of my flesh.

Grimes took a step back, letting Darla take the lead, an indication that they’d made their choice. I glanced over my shoulder, weighing what my chances would be if I sprinted down the corridor. There were no doors or turns, at least not until I’d ran down the long stretch for about thirty yards.

I would never make it. If I turned away to run, Darla would be on top of me before I took three steps, biting and clawing into my back. My pistols were already emptied from an earlier encounter. Though I had spare magazines, I’d never have time to reload. Left with the choice to fight, I planted my feet into a defensive posture and readied myself. One thing was in my favor—they’d decided to come at me one at a time.

Darla let out what I guessed was a laugh as she advanced toward me. She leapt to her left. Her paws pounded heavily against the left wall, as she launched herself to the wall on the opposite side. She bounded back and forth across the walls in a zigzag fashion so fast that she was almost a blur, in what I assumed was an attempt to disorientate me. I didn’t focus on her movements; it would have been impossible to track her that way. Instead, I listened to the timing of her paws as they made contact on the hard surface.

In my head, I counted down, three-two-one. Quickly dropping to one knee, I sliced my blade across the air above me. A dark shadow passed overhead at the same time. A gush of warm air and the smell of foul breath brushed against my face. An incredible weight fell on top of me. Darla and I went barrel rolling down the corridor. Her body stopped its momentum before mine. I continued rolling another few feet and landed on my back. Dizzy and aching, I lifted my head and tried to gain my bearings.

Darla was sprawled on the floor, and blood and spit overflowed from the severed jaw she worked desperately to put back together. My strike wasn’t a killing blow, but I’d nearly sliced her head in two. Darla’s supernatural restoration ability would eventually heal the wound. For the meantime, she would be out of the fight. Scrambling to my feet, I noticed my tumble with the princess had shortened the distance to the end of the corridor.

An anguished howl came from her father, who charged down the hallway. Leaping over Darla, Grimes made a beeline for me.

Already in mid-turn, I ran. Unlike Darla, her father wouldn’t be nearly as easy to subdue. He had a thousand years of fighting in armies throughout history under his belt. He also wasn’t as headstrong as her and had a habit of never underestimating his enemies. Lucky for me, Grimes wasn’t as agile or fast as his daughter. Immortal or not, he still suffered from the slow downs of aging.

I made it to the end of the hall and took a sharp left. Antique tables, vases and artwork adorned the walls. I retracted my blade, and pushed over anything I could get my hands on to slow him down. It didn’t work out as I’d hoped. Rather than duck and weave through the mayhem, he barreled through it as if there were no obstructions.

I groped in my pocket for a magazine and inserted the clip into my pistol. All the rounds were laced with silver. Stopping my run, I whirled around and raised my weapon to shoot. There was nothing behind me but smashed furniture and artwork. Grimes had disappeared. Cursing under my breath, I muttered, “This is not good.” I knew he could attack from any direction. Grimes’ castle probably had a network of secret passages running from every room and corridor. No matter which way I proceeded, I was likely to run into an ambush.

The best maneuver would be to stay where I was and try to find a way out of his little mousetrap. “Mosley, I need you,” I whispered, though I might as well have spoke with a bullhorn, knowing Grimes’ enhanced hearing in his wolf state could detect a pin drop a mile away.

“Is that absolutely necessary, sir? I mean, can’t you do this alone?” Mosley answered.

“Do we really need to have this conversation, you crazy computer? Of course it’s necessary, otherwise I wouldn’t be calling out to you for help,” I said frantically as I watched for an attack.

He let out a synthesized exhaustive breath. “Very well, sir.” Mosley appeared beside me clutching a chimney poker like a baseball bat. “How may I be of service?”

“Give me an overlay of the castle’s interior and then point out any heat signatures other than my own.”

 Mosley’s form changed from Idris Elba to a three dimensional map. Red blips indicated Grimes and his daughter. Darla remained where I had left her, but her father was quickly circling around to get ahead of me if I continued down the hallway. I was about to turn in the opposite direction, heading back toward Darla when more red blips appeared on the first level of the castle.

I pointed to the new blips. “Are there any cameras on that level you can tap into for a visual?” I asked, knowing he’d already bypassed Grimes’ security systems. Before Gully and I entered the castle, I had Mosley program in a loop into all the cameras to mask our illegal entry.

“Wait one moment, sir.” The overlay faded for several seconds and then was replaced with a visual of the first floor.

My heart pounded like a drum in my chest. Things had just gone from bad to a hell of a lot worse. Entering the castle like they’d been invited to an-all-you-can-eat dinner were a dozen or so large werewolves. They headed up the front and rear stairways, and used all the elevators. That howl from Grimes earlier hadn’t been anguish over his injured daughter as I had thought. It had been a clever call for backup.

TM: Relic Hunter is available in the following formats:

Ebook, paperback, audio

TM: Magic & Mayhem is available in the following formats:

Ebooks, paperback

 


RETURN OF THE TWINJAS! Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa: Diversify Your Steampunk

DIeselfunk

Recently I was interviewed by Twinja Book Reviews, a website dedicated to the fight to bring multiculturalism to Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction novels.

Founded and helmed by twin sisters Libertad and Guinevere Tomas, Twinja Book Reviews is a great site to find YA books that go beyond the white male default protagonist. Check out their ‘Our Reviews’ section for a wonderful selection of multicultural YA.

Now, the Twinjas have returned with their brilliant Diversify Your Steampunk series. I’m a participant in the series, reppin’ Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa and there are others before me with some fantastic stuff, too, so after you read this post, hop on over to the Twinja’s website and indulge.

Thank me later.

I have reposted my contribution to the series below for your reading pleasure:

 

Diversify Your Steampunk Day 5: Welcome Back Balogun Ojetade

During our month of highlighting diversity back in December of 2013, we introduced our audience to Balogun Ojetade for the first time. Clearly with his followong he doesnt need to be introduced, but we couldnt think of a more deserving candidate to end our first week of Diversifying our Steampunk. 


1. You’ve been here before, so while we don’t require an introduction, our new followers do! What can you tell us about yourself the person, the author and the steampunk innovator?

Balogun OjetadeMy name is Balogun Ojetade. Although my name  is Yoruba, I am descended from the Ateke people of Gabon and the Seminole Nation of the Southeastern United States. I am a husband, father of eight children – seven girls and one boy – and I am also a grandfather twice over.

I am author of six novels, one non-fiction book, several articles and short stories I wrote are in anthologies and magazines and I am contributing co-editor of two anthologies. I am also a filmmaker and fight choreographer and I have created two short films and two feature films and choreographed three films, thus far.

As far as Steampunk innovation goes, I am one of the founders of the Steamfunk Movement. Steamfunk is Black / African-inspired Steampunk. We tell the stories that had previously gone untold – the stories about the Black heroes in the Age of Steam. We have done the same with Dieselpunk, which we call Dieselfunk and with Rococo, which we call Rococoa.

2. Since we’re asking everyone involved, we have to know. Why Steampunk? Was there something that drew you to this particular sub genre of science fiction? Have you always been a fan of steampunk? What draws you to steampunk? How do you define steampunk?

Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet TubmanStarting at the age of two, I was sat at the foot of my mother and encouraged to watch one of her favorite television shows – The Wild, Wild West. For those familiar with the show, you know that it was Steampunk before the word Steampunk existed. I fell in love with that show and its anachronisms and I vowed that one day I would write something in that genre, but with heroes who looked like me.

I have always been a fan of retrofuturism, however, when I wrote Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, which is recognized as the first Steamfunk novel, I had never heard of Steampunk. When my publisher wrote me and said I had written a great Steampunk story, I Googled it and discovered what Steampunk is. I turned to my wife and said “Finally, I have a name for what I have been writing all my life.”

It’s funny you called Steampunk ‘Science Fiction’ – and for many people, that is what it is, However, my expression of Steampunk would be closer to Science Fantasy. I include strong elements of magic, African spirituality and the supernatural in my works of Steamfunk. 

I define Steamfunk as retrofuturistic Science Fiction or Fantasy set in the Age of Steam. This age could be set in the Victorian Period of 1837 to 1901, or in Ancient Africa. It doesn’t matter when or where to me, as long as the dominant technology is steam power, or perhaps, the Lumineferous Aether.

3. Steampunk over the years has become so synonymous with the Victorian era, many will not wrap their heads around a non-European setting. You’re pretty much one of the innovators of a sub genre you crafted yourself. “SteamFunk.” What was the story behind Steamfunk? Why did you deem it necessary to the steampunk world?

Harriet TubmanThe Steamfunk Movement started as a conversation on a social media website in which several Black authors expressed their appreciation for Steampunk, but were disappointed in its lack of stories featuring Black heroes and its near-absence of Black people involved in Steampunk cosplay or any other aspects of the genre. I had already been writing Steampunk, as had another author Maurice Broaddus, who had written a short story entitled Pimp My Airship, but we all came to the conclusion that we would all begin to write Steampunk from a Black perspective. Maurice said “well I call the Steampunk that I write Steamfunk.” We all agreed that was the perfect name for our brand of Steampunk and that is how we came to call our work Steamfunk. 

As far as the Steamfunk Movement is concerned, I decided that we needed to bring Steamfunk to the forefront of speculative fiction and to make Steampunk known to the general Black population, who knew very little of the genre if anything at all, so I started my Chronicles of Harriet blog and began educating Black people about Steampunk and educating the world about Steamfunk.

Steamfunk is necessary because our stories deserve to be told; our voices need to be heard. And honestly, before Steamfunk, very few Black people had any interest in Steampunk. Most Black people thought it was a “whites only” thing, or that it was just corny. We showed them that you can get funky with it; that Steamfunk is exciting, fun and cool.

4. What music puts you in the mood to write for SteamFunk? If you had a soundtrack for “The Chronicles of Harriet” what would make the cut?

I have very eclectic tastes in music. I listen to everything from classical music to Zydeco to Jazz to Hip-Hop. When I write Steamfunk, however, I usually listen to the music of Ennio Morricone, who is famous for scoring spaghetti westerns such as The Good, the Bad and the UglyHigh Plains Drifter and A Fist Full of Dollars

If I had a Soundtrack for Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, it would include: Bound to Ride and Till My Last Shot by Gangstagrass; Snowden’s Jig, by Carolina Chocolate Drops; the Prison song Early in the Mornin’; Ennio Morricone’s L’Estasi Dell’oro (“The Ecstasy of Gold”) and Il Buono, Il Cattivo, Il Bruto (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”); and the Buck and the Preacher Theme, by Benny Carter.

5. What is the future of SteamFunk for you? Do you have other SteamFunk works in your head? Do you plan on making any other historically famous women of color leading ladies? 

The future of Steamfunk for me is in film and the final novel in the Chronicles of Harriet series. I will be releasing the Rococoa novel, Black Caesar: The Stone Ship Rises at the end of this year and I have already released the Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe this year. Stagecoach Mary Fields is already a co-star in the Chronicles of Harriet series and I have been contemplating writing a novel with her as the lead protagonist. We’ll see.

As far as film and Steamfunk, Rite of Passage, the first Steamfunk feature film, premieres May 8th in Los Angeles. I am also writing a Steamfunk film based on my short story Nandi that I hope to get major backing for.

6. You’ve made many appearances throughout the steampunk junket. Do you have any favorite conventions? Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve met through diversifying SteamPunk?

Balogun OjetadeOne of my favorite conventions is AnachroCon, which is an Atlanta-based Alternate History convention held every February. It is loads of fun and the people who put on the event – the Directors and their staff – have treated my family and me very well at the Con and have been very supportive of Steamfunk.

Some of the most interesting people I have met have become friends of mine – Diana Pho, aka Ay-Leen, the Peacemaker, an editor at Tor and founder of the brilliant Beyond Victoriana website; Mark Curtis, a genius Steampunk tinkerer and cosplayer, who cosplays Steampunk John Henry and Steampunk Lando Calrissian; Mark’s wife, Theresa Curtis, another genius, who is an expert fabricator and who cosplays a Steampunk vampire, just to name a few.

7. You also have a sub genre of fantasy known as “Sword&Soul.” What is that exactly? Any upcoming projects in that genre to come our way in the near future?

Once Upon A Time in AfrikaSword and Soul, which is African-inspired Epic and Heroic Fantasy, is actually a phrase coined by the subgenre’s founder and father, Charles R, Saunders. I wrote the novel Once Upon A Time In Afrika, which is published by another big name in Sword and Soul, Milton J. Davis, the owner and CEO of MVmedia, which publishes most of the Sword and Soul out there.

I am working on Once Upon A Time In Afrika, Book II, which I plan to release early next year.

8. It was awesome to have you back! We’re already following, but where can people just tuning in go to check up the latest updates on your work?

They can check out my website: Roaring Lions Productions , or my blog: Chronicles Of Harriet

You can reach me on Facebook ; and on Twitter @ Baba_Balogun

Oh, and please, please, PLEASE go to the Steampunk Chronicle website, register, if you haven’t already (it’s quick, easy and painless), scroll waaaay down to STEAMLIFE and then vote for me for Best Multicultural Steampunk and Best Politically Minded Steampunk, too!

Yep, it’s important. Thanks, y’all!

 


DAY 4 OF THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR! Author Milton Davis, the Sword and Soul Brother

Amber and the Hidden City

Days 1, 2 and 3 of the Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism…the Butler / Banks Book Tour were Blacknificent; Funktastic, even. Today, we get soulful.

Sword and Soul(ful).

Today, Milton J. Davis steps up to rock the mic.

Check him out, y’all!

Milton DavisMilton Davis is owner of MVmedia, LLC , a micro publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul. MVmedia’s mission is to provide speculative fiction books that represent people of color in a positive manner. Milton is the author of eight novels; his most recent The Woman of the Woods and Amber and the Hidden City. He is co-editor of four anthologies; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griot: Sisters of the Spear, with Charles R. Saunders; The Ki Khanga Anthology with Balogun Ojetade and the Steamfunk! Anthology, also with Balogun Ojetade.  MVmedia has also published Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade.

Milton resides in Metro Atlanta with his wife Vickie and his children Brandon and Alana. 

 

As publisher of MVmedia, Milton brings us a wide range of incredible works of Black Speculative Fiction. Today, he gives us a peek at his Blacktastic YA Urban Fantasy novel, Amber and the Hidden City!

Amber synopsis:

              Thirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years. Why? Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She’s been summoned home to use her special abilities to select the new king but she no longer has the gift, and her daughter was never trained for the task. That leaves only one person with the ability to save the city: Amber! But there are those who are determined that Amber never reaches Marai and they will do anything to stop her. Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that spans from the Atlanta suburbs to the grasslands of Mali. It’s a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.

 

Amber excerpt:

AmberAisha kicked the garbage can across the alley and screamed. She struck out with her fists, imagining Bissau’s face as the target for her frustration. A sound distracted her; she turned to see a group of people staring at her. She grinned maliciously then before the eyes of her unwanted spectators she transformed into a huge grey hyena. Her maniacal laugh sent them all scurrying away; Aisha transformed back to her true self before exiting the other end of the alley.

              She underestimated Amber. Whatever powers she possessed manifested the moment they landed in the motherland. She had been overconfident when she knew better and now the girl and her mother were lost in Dakar. A quick sweep of the local hotels revealed they were not checked in. They were clever; they knew it would be the first place she searched. They weren’t familiar with the city, so they wouldn’t take a chance in seeking a stranger for help. Aisha was dumbfounded. Where would a person begin to look for another in this world? She would have to start with her own knowledge then go from there. In Marai each folk claimed its own section of the city. She would look for the American section of the city, if one existed. That would be where they would most likely go if they didn’t choose a hotel. Aisha spotted a man dressed in a large purple shirt and loose pants striding down the street towards her. There was a smile on his face; Amber smiled backed then approached him.

              “Excuse me sir,” she said in her sweetest tone. “Where would I find the American compound?”

              The man looked puzzled. “American compound? There is no…oh, you must mean the American Embassy.”

              “Yes, that is what I mean.”

              The man scratched his chin. “It’s a long way from here. Come, I’m walking to my car. I’ll take you there.”

              “Merci, sir! Merci!”

              Aisha followed the man to a dusty vehicle. She was used to automobiles now, so she climbed into the passenger side. They pulled away quickly.

              “What’s your name?” the man asked.

              “Aisha.”

              “Well, Aisha, your Momma should have taught you never to get in a car with a stranger.”

              The man’s sinister grin was barely on his face when Aisha snatched her wicked dagger  from her clothes and pressed the tip into his neck. It was her turn to grin.

              “No, sir. You should be old enough to know not to try to take advantage of pretty young girls. Now take me to this American embassy.”

              The man’s fearful eyes drifted down to the blade. “You won’t do it. I’m driving!”

              Aisha pressed the knife into his neck just enough to draw blood. The man whimpered.

              “The embassy, fool!” she spat.

              The man drove to a building that flew a red, white and blue flag decorated with stars. Aisha leaned closed to her reluctant chauffeur then kissed him on the cheek.

              “Thank you for the ride,” she whispered.

              She nicked his neck with her knife as she exited the car. The man yelled at her and shook his fist. Aisha had already forgotten him.

              The military man at the door greeted her with a smile before looking over her shoulder at the irate man.

              “Is there a problem, ma’am?” he asked.

              “No sir, but you are very kind to ask.”

              Aisha glanced over her shoulder as her involuntary ride sped away.

              “I hope you can help me, monsieur,” she said. “My friends from America came to visit me today but it seems I lost them at the airport. I think they would come to the embassy if they were lost.”

              The guard looked at her skeptically. “There were two Americans that came to the embassy earlier today. You say they are your friends?”

              “Yes, monsieur.”

              “Yet you miss them at the airport and then come here seeking them?”

              “I must make a confession,” she said. “My friends would not know me if they saw me. I was to meet them at the airport to assist them in their travels. They apparently grew impatient.”

              “They’ve made other arrangements,” the guard said gruffly. “Have a nice day, ma’am.”

              “Please, monsier, I must find them,” Aisha pleaded.

              The guard studied her a few moments before answering.

              “You can talk with the receptionist,” he said.

              “Merci, monsieur. Merci.”

              Aisha went to the receptionist. The woman confirmed that Amber and Alake had indeed come to the embassy, but she wasn’t at liberty to say where they were staying.

              Aisha thanked her then left  the embassy. So the duo had taken refuge in a local home. It would seem to be a good move, but there were few homes in Dakar that could provide two lodgers the comfort of a hotel. Her search would not be as difficult as Amber had surmised. She had no doubt she would see them very soon. She found another alley, ran then leaped into the air, her arms spread wide. She transformed into a falcon, a cry of joy escaping her mouth. Of all the creatures she could be, the birds of prey were her favorite. Their powerful bodies’ combines with their keen sight and ultimate mobility fascinated her. If there was any creature she could remain for the rest of her life, it would be such a beast.

              She beat her wings, climbing higher over Dakar. It did not take her long to find the city section she sought. A line of mansions rimmed the ocean side, houses resembling the lineage of Marai. She circled, seeking obvious sign of where Amber and the others would be but there was none. They were smarter than that, but still even the most intelligent person can make mistakes, as Bissau proved in Paris. She descended and found a perch on a nearby office building. The midday heat did not bother her; she was a child of the desert and the falcon she chose to be was well adapted to the high heat. Now was time for patience. She felt sure she was in the right place. She would soon have what she wanted.

              It was dusk when she saw it. A mystical flash rose from a sector of town south of her. She jumped from her perch, flying as fast as she could to the source before it waned. Someone used nganga nearby and she was sure she knew who. Despite her speed by the time she reached the source of the flash it had dissipated. Two homes filled her view, both splendid compared to the other homes in Dakar. There was only one way she could find which house was which. She transformed into her human female form, this time wearing the clothes of a local. She waited until darkness settled on the city before walking to the door of the first home. She knocked for a long while before giving up and proceeding to the next house. Aisha knocked then took on a sad expression. The door swung wide and was filled by a large man with a disapproving face.

              “What do you want?” he barked.

              “Something to eat,” she replied.

              “No beggars here,” he said. “Now go before I call the police.”

              “Just a little something,” she persisted.

              The man grabbed her shirt. “Didn’t you hear me? Be gone. You’ll disturb Miss Josephine and her guests!”

              Aisha’s eyes narrowed and she smiled. “Of course I will.”

              Aisha’s foot sank into the man’s stomach. He dropped her and she landed on her feet. She stepped over the groaning man into the house.

              “Bundu, who is it at such a late hour?”

              Aisha saw a light appear on her left. Another light appeared on her right. She looked right and a saw a woman she did not recognize walking toward her as she tied her house robe belt.

              “Who are you, child?” The woman demanded. “What is the meaning of…Bundu!”

              The second door opened. A woman stepped out, a woman whose face was very familiar. The woman saw Aisha and her hands flew to her mouth.

              A third door flew open at the top of the stairs. Bissau rushed out, his face twisted in anger. He jumped from the top of the stairs. Aisha grinned.

              She waited until Bissau was almost on the floor when she transformed back into the falcon and flew by him to the room. When she transformed she stood before Amber.

              “You’re journey is over,” Aisha announced.

              Amber stumbled back. The necklace about her neck glowed with a strange light.

              “That necklace will be mine once I’m done with you!”

              She struck at Amber’s neck and was shocked when the girl blocked her blow. Her foot flashed out and Amber blocked it as well. She almost laughed when Amber punched at her face until she realized the punch was a feint. She barely avoided the swinging elbow meant for her jaw.

              “You have some wrestling skills,” Aisha said. “Your Grandma taught you well.”

              Aisha glanced behind her; Bissau and Aisha’s grandmother were running up the stairs.

              “Time to end this!”

              Aisha reached for her pouch. Amber kicked her elbow and her arm fell limp.

              “Damn you, girl. I’ll…”

              Bright light filled her vision as Amber’s elbow crashed against her head then everything went dark. When she opened her eyes the back of her head throbbed and Bissau, Amber and her grandmother were entering the mirror inside the room.

              “No you don’t!” Aisha yelled.

              She jumped at the mirror. Bissau reemerged and slammed into her, knocking her to the floor. She tried to stand but Bissau pulled her back down.

              “We have unfinished business, shape shifter!” he snarled.

              “Then it will remain unfinished!” Aisha reached for her pouch again. Bissau dodged her and ran toward the mirror. Aisha smiled; as soon as he opened his portal she would follow him. He did no such thing. Instead he picked up a nearby chair and smashed the mirror. Aisha screamed then fell onto Bissau, pummeling him with hands, feet, elbows and knees.

              “Up the stairs!” she heard a female voice yell. “They’re up the stairs!”

              Aisha halted her assault on Bissau. He lay unconscious at her feet, his beautiful face beginning to swell. She ran to the edge of the stairs and saw four uniformed men climbing up to her followed by the woman and her butler. She hissed in anger; she was back to where she started. But at least this time she had a lead. She hurried over to Bissau, grasping his arms with her hands. What she was about to do would weaken her, but she needed him, at least until she could locate Amber and her grandmother again. The transformation took longer than normal; once she was done she was a falcon again and Bissau was a mouse in her talons. She flew upward as the uniformed men reached the top of the stairs then glided out of the door into the humid night.

 

Milton’s links:

http://www.mvmediaatl.com/amber-and-the-hidden-city.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Hidden-City-Milton-Davis/dp/098008427X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1397637761&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/amber-and-the-hidden-city-davis-john-milton/1117794226?ean=9780980084276

 

 


DAY 3 OF THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR! Balogun Ojetade Transports Readers to the Roaring 20s in the Two-Fisted Dieselfunk novel, “The Scythe”

The Scythe

Balogun OjetadeBalogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single LinkRite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster.

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 six novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, two Fight Fiction, Action-Adventure novellas – A Single Link and Fist of Africa and the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk.

Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis.

You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

 

The Scythe

The ScytheHe has been given a second chance at life. A second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead. He is…THE SCYTHE!

Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!

Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.

Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.

Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

 

Excerpt from The Scythe

“He who sleeps with an itching anus wakes up with smelly fingers.”

Ikukulu opened his eyes. Anesusu stood over him smiling. A horde of Agu stood behind him.

“Only a madman would go to sleep with his roof on fire,” Ikukulu replied, hopping to his feet.

“This is the sigil, then?” Anesusu inquired, pointing at the carving on the kuka tree.

Ikukulu nodded. “It is. It will require all of our blood to activate it.”

“Let’s get to it, then,” Anesusu said, drawing his knife.

Anesusu held his obsidian blade high above his head.

Hundreds of similar obsidian knives, with gazelle antler handles, were thrust into the air.

Ikukulu drew his coral knife. He slid the blade across his palm, rending his flesh and then pressed the leaking gash to the sigil for a few moments.

Anesusu followed him and then each warrior from amongst the Agu did the same until the sigil was covered in gore.

“The sigil is now activated and well-fed,” Anesusu said to his brethren. “The Jugu will be upon us in a few hours and we will send them to their doom. So drink; make love – preferably not with your own wife or husband, for you married warriors – and rest up…for at midday, we usher in a new era…a new world!”

A cheer erupted from the army of Agu.

Ikukulu turned away and sauntered toward the river. The ways of the Agu disgusted him, but the refusal of his own brothers and sisters to work with the Agu had forced him to ally with them alone – a dangerous undertaking, indeed, but one most necessary. He prayed that his punishment would not be too harsh and that the Abo would one day come to realize his level of sacrifice.

###

Ikukulu and Anesusu stood at the edge of the Ogun River with three hundred armored Agu behind them.

The dawn air was cool; crisp; and carried the scent of sulfur and putrid flesh.

“The Jugu are close,” Ikukulu shouted, drawing his knife.

“Swords!” Anesusu commanded.

The Agu drew their knives and pointed them skyward. A white energy, like a bolt of lightning, coursed through the obsidian blades, from base to point. A moment later, the knives expanded into broadswords.

Ikukulu knelt, slamming the pommel of his knife into the soft earth. The knife twisted; shifted; stretched. Ikukulu stood, a razor sharp, coral scythe now gripped tightly between his fists.

A muddy, marsh- green mass thundered toward them.

Ikukulu charged toward the mass, his scythe, held low, cutting a swath in the red dirt behind him.

“Forward!” Anesusu ordered, pointing his sword toward the fast approaching mass.

The army of Agu followed their leader, keeping pace with his loping gait.

As Ikukulu came closer to the mass, the monstrous forms of the Jugu became clear. Their brawny, grey-green bodies stood upon seven foot tall frames and their thick skin was scaled and ridged like that of a crocodile. Their facial features were human, but their mouths were extended, tapering into a ‘v’, like the maw of a crocodile.

The creatures roared in unison, exposing their dagger-like teeth. They raised their arms shoulder-high, baring their razor-sharp claws.

The Jugu had no one leading them, for their Mistress, Kielgek, commanded her warriors – with whom she was psychically linked – from the Abysmal Plane.

Ikukulu leapt into the fray, his scythe slashing furiously. The coral blade met scale-armored flesh and Jugu fell.

With each death of a Jugu, Kielgek cried out in agony upon her dark throne.

However, with each death of an Agu, of which there were many, she roared in ecstasy. Her warriors fighting on the Terrestrial Plane roared with her.

“Fall back!” Anesusu bellowed, turning on his heels.

The army of Agu about-faced and retreated from the battle, sprinting along the edge of the Ogun River.

Ikukulu whirled about and took off, running closely behind Anesusu.

Ikukulu could hear the Jugu galloping behind him, hot on his heels. He felt their foul breath on the back of his neck.

The Agu ran a few yards past the tree bearing the sigil and then turned to face their enemy.

Ikukulu dived forward, rolling past the tree.

The Jugu stampeded toward Ikukulu and the Agu.

Suddenly, as if the air had devoured them, the Jugu vanished.

Ikukulu turned toward the Agu. “The Jugu have been sucked back into their abhorrent world. You have done well, warriors! Now, quickly, we must fell the tree to seal the portal forever. Anesusu and I will beat back any Jugu who try to pass through until you bring the tree down.”

“Work swiftly, my brothers and sisters!” Anesusu ordered.

Ikukulu stood a few feet in front of the tree. Anesusu stood beside him.

A vertical sliver of darkness rent the air. A scaly, grey-green head emerged from it, roaring.

Ikukulu severed the Jugu’s head with an upward slash of his scythe.

Something slammed into Ikukulu’s back with the force of a battering ram. He stumbled forward, his left arm, which held his scythe, disappearing into the black sliver. Something on the other side of the sliver grabbed a hold of him, piercing the skin of his forearm in several places.

“They have my arm,” Ikukulu gasped. Cut it off, Anesusu!”

“I promised you that no harm would come to the Abo from the Agu, my friend,” Anesusu said. “I must honor the truce.”

“If you don’t sever my arm, the Jugu will pull me into their world!” Ikukulu shouted.

“I keep my promises, Ikukulu,” Anesusu replied. “I will not do you any harm.”

A strong yank pulled Ikukulu’s shoulder and half of his face into the darkness.

“You have betrayed me!” Ikukulu spat.

“To betray, you must first belong,” Anesusu snickered. “You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Goodbye, Ikukulu.”

Ikukulu vanished from the Terrestrial World and the foul world of the Jugu welcomed him.

 

You can purchase The Scythe and other works by Balogun Ojetade at https://www.roaringlionsproductions.com/. All of his works are also available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Scythe-Balogun-Ojetade/dp/099140730X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0.

 

 


THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR CONTINUES! Author Alan D. Jones Wrestles with Sacrifices in Science Fiction

Sacrifices

Sacrifices

It is Day 2 of the Butler / Banks Book Tour!

Day 1 was amazing and today, we continue the Blacknificence with our next author, Alan D. Jones!

Alan JonesAlan is a former columnist for the Atlanta Tribune, who has worked most of his adult life as a Business/IT consultant, working all across America from Los Angeles to Wall Street. Born in Atlanta, Alan attended GA-Tech and GA State, obtaining his MBA from Georgia State University’s Robinson School of Business. In addition, Alan was a feature writer for the student newspapers at both schools. Alan also served on the board of the Atlanta chapter of the National Black MBA association.

Alan, is the author of the Science Fiction novels, To Wrestle with Darkness and its prequel, Sacrifices.

 

In Sacrifices, a prequel to Alan’s first book, To Wrestle with Darkness, we meet Cil, Deborah, Ruth and Sarah. They are four sisters descended from the coupling of angels and humans. And as such they’ve been embodied with fantastical abilities which they use to defend the world from those who would harm it, be they flesh or spirit. In Sacrifices, they find themselves tested, as they must contest the forces of darkness that are intent on ending all of creation. If they are to prevail, there will certainly be sacrifices.

Check out this exciting excerpt:

One by one, four black horses, exploded out of nothingness into the white pristine snowfall of a Scandinavian winter night. Each horse ran hard through the woods of fresh powder. Atop each horse, rode a daughter of Hosea draped in black. Each rider rode with such purpose that no words were needed. Each knew her destination. On the way, they encountered a time walker dressed in white by the name of Akina. Cil pulled on the reins of her steed and her sisters followed suit. “Akina, all is as expected?” she asked.

Akina pulled back her fur lined hood to reply, “Yes, Auntie, all is as expected. But, you know that. Don’t you?”

SacrificesCil said nothing but smiled before she kicked her heels into her horse and rode off into the darkness. One by one, each of her sisters proceeded past Akina. First was Deborah, who had, as Akina would later describe, a wide-eyed, overly-excited look on her face. It was almost a bloodlust. Next came Ruth Ann, with a thousand miles away stare on her face. Bringing up the rear was Sarah, with her ever-present sunglasses firmly in place. She rode past Akina flashing her trademark irrepressible smile. Sarah’s opponents hated that smile and longed to wipe it off her face. The sisters followed Cil through the woods and towards the castle on the northern bay. They rode hard and fast through the woods as a winter’s full moon illuminated their path. 

As the sisters broke through the tree line, a castle and the wall that surrounded it were plainly in sight. They rode toward the guard tower along the outer wall. Nordic soldiers lined the top of the wall in a heightened state of readiness. As the sisters approached, a gate in the wall swung open and they passed through on their shiny black horses. Aunt Cil led them up the central corridor toward the castle beyond. Residents in the courtyard gasped as the four hooded riders proceeded, escorted by several guards on horseback. 
The ladies quickly dismounted in front of the castle and walked briskly towards the large wooden front doors. One of the guards barked out a command and once again a set of doors swung open before the women this time opening into a grand hall. The king and his court were sitting in their assigned places at the other end of the hall. It was clear that the Aunties were expected. 
The members of the court were adorned in their finest coats and pelts. A feast for four was laid out on the great dining table, but the sisters paid it no mind. It was an offering of sorts, but Cil and her sisters had no time for such things. 
They stood before the court and removed their hoods. This action froze the crowd more than the weather outside ever could. The sight of the four black women standing shoulder to shoulder left their mouths agape. 

Deborah leaned over to Ruth and whispered, “They’re looking at our hair.” 

Ruth rolled her eyes.

Cil motioned for Deborah to step forward. Deborah did so and began to speak to the king and his court in their native tongue. Deborah had the gift of speaking in the tongue of many languages. She could even speak languages that she’d never heard before. So, she translated between the parties. 

“King Helwig, Queen Helwig, and members of the royal court as our herald undoubtedly communicated to you, we are here to rid your realm of the terror currently approaching your gates.”

King Helwig stood up, “We saw what your herald can do but what can you do that would warrant us putting our faith in you to resolve this matter?” He pointed at the Aunties as he made this last point.

Cil nodded to Sarah. She removed her shades which immediately revealed her glowing eyes. Then, she gazed upon a large urn of water and unleashed a red hot beam from those eyes that split the urn in half spilling the water it contained onto the stone floor.

Next, Ruth Ann stepped forward. She raised her hands, and in a single scooping motion projected a blue shell which scooped the remains of the broken and still smoldering urn into the air. The sphere hovered in the air spinning slightly before launching upwards bursting through the ceiling and into the night sky. The entire court could see the blue ball accelerate towards the great beyond and out of sight.

Then, when all eyes landed on Deborah, she simply vanished. From the spot on the floor where she had stood, a spring sprung up spouting water thirty feet into the air. The geyser began to rage and quickly filled the hall with water. Suddenly, water began to flow into the hall from everywhere. Water flowed from every opening including the windows, the cracks in the walls, and the new hole in the ceiling. Members of the court scurried up the king’s landing and to the throne to escape the rising waters. Just as her audience began to panic, the water disappeared and Deborah reappeared right where she had been when the phenomena began as though nothing happened.

Finally, Cil raised her staff but before she could demonstrate anything, the king motioned towards her vigorously shaking his head. There was little need for Deborah to translate.

Deborah glanced towards Cil and then said to the king, “About our fee…”

 

To purchase Sacrifices on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sacrifices-Wrestle-Darkness-Book-Jones-ebook/dp/B00G1R1C1W/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1397533249

Or if you prefer, the TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/kydzcee

Website for Sacrifices: http://alandjones.com/sacrifices/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Sacrifices/130230720341543

Twitter: https://twitter.com/poppa1050

Instagram: http://instagram.com/poppa1050


THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR BEGINS: Author Colby R. Rice brings us the Ghosts of Koa!

Ghosts of Koa

Ghosts of Koa

Today, the Butler / Banks Book Tour – aka The Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism – begins with a bang!

Our first featured author is the beautiful, brilliant and Blacktastic Colby R. Rice, who brings us a great work of Black Speculative Fiction with Ghosts of Koa!

Let me introduce you to Colby – although, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know her and her work.

 

Here she is, in a nutshell:

Colby R. RiceSci-fi, Fantasy, & Thriller Novelist. Screenwriter. Film Producer. Globetrotter. Action Junkie. Rebel Ragdoll.

A shameless nerd and bookworm since the age of five, Colby R Rice is the author of Ghosts of Koa, the first novel in The Books of Ezekiel, a dystopian-urban fantasy decalogy. She was an Air Force BRAT born in Bitburg Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany and came to the States at the age of one.

Colby bounced around a lot, but finally settled in Los Angeles, where she could at last deal with her addictions to creative entrepreneurship, motorcycles, and traveling.

Now, armed with a mound of animal crackers and gallons of Coca-Cola, Colby takes on fiction writing in a fight to the death!

Current projects include: the second novel in The Books of Ezekiel series, the first novel in a middle grade SFF detective series, the first novel in an adult sci-fi thriller series, development of her first sci-fi thriller film, and the growth of her production house, Rebel Ragdoll. Stay tuned at her website and blog at Colby’s Cove!

 

Koa 2For over one hundred years the Civic Order and the Alchemic Order have held a shaky truce, peppered by violence and mistrust. But when Koa, a Civilian-born insurgency, bombs an Alchemist summit, the truce is shattered. Now, Koa is rising. War is coming. And all sixteen-year-old Zeika Anon can do is keep moving as she watches the lords of alchemy slowly overtake her home.

But when clashes between Koa and the Alchemic Order put a final, deadly squeeze on the remaining Civilian territories, Zeika finds herself in the crosshairs of fate. She must walk the line between survival and rebellion against the Alchemists. On one side of the line awaits death. On the other, the betrayal of her civilization, her loyalties, and herself.

GHOSTS OF KOA is a fast-paced, post-apocalyptic survival tale, set in the streets of a dying city that has been crushed by alchemic law. Layered with the elements of gritty crime drama, dark urban fantasy, hard sci-fi, and horror, GHOSTS OF KOA is a wild ride to the end of a young girl’s sanity as she struggles with an impossible choice: to keep one step ahead of a war… or to be consumed by it.
CONTENT WARNING – Contains coarse language, intense violence, adult / suggestive themes, and aberrant behavior. Reader discretion is advised.

 

Read the excerpt below!

Excerpt from Ghosts of Koa

            Shadows flittered in the night, and Xakiah jerked his head up, his eyes automatically tracking the movements. The light was sparse, but even from the passenger seat of the truck, his eyes could outline the three distant figures in the dark. About thirty yards away, the shadows of the hunted jerked and twitched with a contained haste as they assembled themselves in their sedan. It was time. The driver would be first.

            He lifted the rifle and anchored the butt in the soft of his shoulder. He lowered his eye into the scope, positioning the crosshairs over the figure settling into the driver’s seat. As he began to depress the trigger, he wondered how exactly the man’s head would splatter— when the tires of the sedan screeched against the asphalt, and it shot off into the dark.

            “Shit,” Xakiah hissed, letting the scope drop. “Gun it, Joseph!”

            His body felt slick with a cold sweat as their truck roared to life and lurched forward. Joseph jammed his foot down onto the gas pedal, pushing nearly one hundred as the truck’s tires kicked up the slag of the country road.

            My mission. Mine.

            His jaw ached beneath the grind of his teeth. Their hubris was surprising, that they fancied even for a moment he’d let them get away after what they’d done.

            A sharp clack of a round being chambered ricocheted through the truck as Bly, a teammate sitting behind Joseph, prepared to shoot. The only man in the van who didn’t move was the one sitting directly behind Xakiah, silent beneath his hood and cloak. He looked out of his window, even, his chin on his knuckles, as though enjoying a slow Sunday drive.

            The fleeing sedan far in front of them turned and reeled off the dark path, clunking across the vast stretch of green that separated the road from the main highway.

            “Don’t lose them, Joseph.” Xakiah said, his voice low in the dark.

            “Y-yes, sir!” Joseph said, a whimper choking his voice. He veered off the road, leaves and branches snapping in dry whispers as he leaned in harder on the gas, following the hunted across the soft, mushy green. Both cars’ headlights made yellow eyes in the growing dark, like one nighttime monster chasing another.

            Xakiah grinned, joy swelling under his frustration. They were going catch them. He was going to win— and he felt himself nearly thrown into the driver’s seat as Joseph yanked the steering wheel, sending the truck into a hard lean.

            The truck’s tires lifted a couple inches from the ground, and the far right side of the windshield exploded open, fragments of glass flying inward as hot metal grazed the SUV in a messy swarm. A rogue in the scattered cloud clipped Xakiah across the high crest of his cheek, kicking up a curl of flesh, a splash of blood. As his mind made sense of the pain, his joy eroded. Bullets. The thieving bastards had the audacity to shoot

            He focused his thoughts on the wound, and his flesh began to heal itself. “Vassal—?”

            “I’m fine, Proficient,” the man behind him cooed.

            Joseph jerked the truck to the side again as more bullets whined in the night. They were already just a couple minutes off the freeway, which budded with shining cars and vans.

            “Christ, Joseph! My granny burns rubber better’n you!” Bly shouted from the backseat.

            “What the hell are you waiting for, then?!” Joseph cried. “Shoot back!”

            Bly leaned out his window and sprayed, aiming for the tires of the fleeing sedan.

            The truck lurched from side to side as Joseph avoided the returning gunfire. “We’re losing ground!” He yelled.

            Xakiah leaned forward, realizing that he was right. The rebel’s muscle car skirted the mud with ease, whereas their truck was in danger of toppling over if Joseph made another turn like that…

            “That Page is the heart of the Order, Proficient.”

            The simplicity of his Vassal’s statement threaded calm through the dark belly of the car, but the threat in his voice was unmistakable.

            Xakiah locked his jaw, nodding as much from obedience as from the tightness in his throat that had stolen his voice. If they didn’t get the Page back, he’d be punished. But far worse than that, his Vassal would be disappointed. He wouldn’t fail. He couldn’t

            “Take them out,” his Vassal murmured. “I know you can.”

            Xakiah swallowed and nodded at him, fear and pride swelling in his chest. He rolled down the window, and wind blasted into the truck. With a smooth slide, he navigated his body through, positioning himself on the ledge.

            White bursts of fire lit the night as Bly’s shots knocked out one of the sedan’s tires, slowing it down. Thirty seconds until they hit the freeway.

            “Steady, Joseph,” Xakiah said, lifting the rifle scope to his eye. He focused his thoughts on the driver’s head, searching for it in the long dark stretch in front of him. He had homed in on the driver right before they sped off, and he could do it again. He just had to feel it.

            He stared down the scope, letting it drift across the swerving sedan, and something aligned, linking his slamming heart, the rifle, his eye, and the bobbing head of the driver in far front of them. He pulled the trigger—

            Shp! —and the driver’s head snapped forward, slamming into the steering wheel. Metal squealed high, and rubber peeled from the rims of the sedan as it veered off its path. It crashed into the bordering thickets of the highway, the hood folding in on itself like an accordion, crushed.

            Bly roared with triumph, slamming his fist into Joseph’s headrest. “Xakiah, man, you’re an animal!”

            Xakiah frowned as he looked back at him.

            “Uh, I mean—” Bly stuttered. “Nice job, Captain.”

            “Badges,” Xakiah commanded.

            “Yeah. Right.”

            Joseph maneuvered the truck a few feet away from the crash. They had barely rolled to a stop before Bly popped open his door, jumped out, and ran over to the wreck. Joseph hurried after him, his gun up.

            Xakiah followed, holding up his rifle, aiming at the overturned car. The fools. The hunted could have any number of traps prepared, and the young rookies were ambling over, hooting in celebration. He, on the other hand, kept his distance, and his eyes remained ready for even the slightest movement. Joseph and Bly were good cops, for what flatfeet were worth, but neither of them understood the true magnitude of this mission.

            Behind him, Vassal Moss seemed to glide out of the truck, never once making a noise in the night. The leaves didn’t even crunch beneath his feet as he followed them to the crash.

            Bly and Joseph had already made their ways over to the steaming wreckage and were fumbling with something in the front seat. There was scuffling, and a scared whine wound its way out of the twisted metal as the two agents dragged something out of the front passenger seat. One of the hunted was still alive.

            Bly threw the rebel to the ground and spat on its shadow. “Lay down, scum!” he snarled.

            Xakiah tightened his grip on his rifle. Bly, like a jackal, was stealing his kill. 

            “Calm, Proficient,” Vassal murmured from behind him.

            Xakiah nodded tightly at the warning. His Vassal knew him well, too well, but he was right. Closing out this mission was more important than a few seconds of glory. Resigned, Xakiah slung his rifle on his shoulder as he approached the two agents.

            “Only one survivor, Captain,” Joseph announced. “The driver’s head is dog meat, and the one in the back died in the crash.”

            Joseph tossed him something, and Xakiah caught it, already knowing what it was. A porcelain mask, just the bottom-half of it, hard and smooth. A tell-tale trademark of the Knights of Almaut— Koa— terrorist dogs who fancied themselves men.

            Xakiah cradled the mask in his hand, feeling the ridges of the molded nose, cheeks, and mouth, all of them together barely the size of his own palm. It was the captive’s. He looked up at the squirming rebel, finally noticing the long red hair that spilled out onto the grass—

            A woman.

            He smiled, somehow feeling impressed amidst his annoyance. Her face was speckled with a constellation of freckles, acne even. She couldn’t have been any older than 16.

            “Show her to me.” The soft command had come from the shadowed man at Xakiah’s heels, the Vassal.

            Joseph and Bly hoisted the rebel to her knees and lowered their heads in the Vassal’s direction. Xakiah cast down his eyes and stepped to the side, allowing his Vassal to pass before he lifted his gaze again.

            The Vassal stood before the captive, staring at her with soft eyes. Finally he spoke: “How young. I might have known Koa would send pups to do a dog’s work. What should I do with you, I wonder? What purpose will you serve?”

            “No purpose, sir,” Bly said. “I say kill the Koan scum.”

            “No. We’ll do no such thing. We are to honor the Articles39,” the Vassal replied. He turned to Xakiah. “The car.”

            Xakiah nodded and went to work. He tossed the sedan, cast the corpses aside, ripped up carpet, gutted the trunk, seats, and glove compartment, or what was left of it. Nothing. There weren’t even any signs of it. No traces of energy, not even a ripple in the air where it might have passed through. Nothing betrayed its location.

            He frowned, turning to his superior. “Vassal. This faction must have been a decoy so that the real transport could get away.” Bitterness coated his tongue, almost forcing the words back. “They’ve hidden it somewhere else.”

            His Vassal’s cold gaze flickered, and Xakiah tensed, expecting words of admonishment or worse, disappointment… but to his surprise, the Vassal said nothing. Instead, he turned to the rebel.

            “Lift her up,” he ordered.

            Joseph and Bly hoisted the woman to her feet so that her gaze was level with his.

            “You Azure bastards can go to Hell,” she said, the pubescent snarl clear. “You can’t kill me. Even your own code won’t allow it.”

            “Oh no, we aren’t going to kill you at all,” Vassal agreed. “That’s barbaric.”

            The man balled up his hand, and— schhhleck— the girl’s face fell from her cheekbones and cartilage, slapping wetly against the grass. She howled, a long wailing sound that whistled from the milky shine of her jaw. As she screamed, the large white balls in her eye sockets rolled, like slippery hardboiled eggs, and her teeth, exposed to the gums, clacked together with frenetic snaps.

            “Xakiah, if you please,” the Vassal said.

            Bly and Joseph’s faces paled with terror, but without so much as a flicker of disgust, Xakiah scooped the dripping wrinkles of skin from the ground, gripping it in a fist.

            “Display, please.”

            Xakiah held the sagging flesh in front of the woman’s eyes. The cheeks and lips of it drooped, as though lamenting the girl’s disfigurement.

            “Three cc’s of morphine, please, Joseph.”

            Trembling, Joseph pulled the kit from his side pack and began to prepare the anesthetic. Bly held her, still turning his eyes away as Joseph slid the needle into the base of her neck and emptied its contents. Then the Vassal stepped forward, bringing his nose close to her face.

            “I can imagine that you are in incredible pain,” he said. “The morphine is to numb that for you so we can talk.”

            “Ooou astards!” She screamed, but without lips, the curses just sounded like angry jibberish. She began to sob.

            “Not to worry, my dear. You are going to get your face back. How much of it is returned, however, is up to you. Now. I am going to ask you some questions. For every answer I think is a lie, my Proficient is going to slice away an inch of your face and burn it.” The Vassal motioned to Xakiah, who still held the sagging flesh in the moonlight.

            “Lllease… llease don’t…” Her sobs crescendoed, forming echos in the night, and her body heaved with each cry.

            “And we’ll begin,” And with almost a lover’s touch, he took her chin in his thumb and forefinger. “Now. You tell me. Where is the Final Page?”

 

Ghosts of Koa: The First Book of Ezekiel

Get it now in ebook or paperback (and audiobook coming in June)!

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

Kobo Books

And coming soon on IBookstore & Google Play!

 

 


THE FRESH FEST OF AFROFUTURISM IS COMING TO YOUR TOWN! Just 8 Days until the Launch of the Butler / Banks Book Tour!

Black Science Fiction

In just eight days, the Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism – also known as the Butler / Banks Book Tour – begins!

The lineup of authors is a stellar one, with some of the leading names in Black Speculative Fiction rocking the literary mic!

We are calling on every Steamfunkateer, every Dieselfunkateer, every fan of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction to join us on this tour and to spread the word.

When articles are still being written that lament the lack of Black Speculative Fiction available…when just three days ago, I see a video with some “Brother” screaming that there is no Black Science Fiction or Fantasy on the market, except his wack animation…when, in response to that same video, another “Brother” claims that, while there is a bit of Speculative Fiction written by Blacks from America, there is none from Africa because “Africans do not dream or imagine due to a lack of mental capacity to do so…” then, it is clear that a Black Speculative Fiction book tour is right on time and most necessary.

So, here is the lineup. There are, of course, many more great Black authors of Speculative Fiction out there; many authors who, for one reason or another, could not make it on this leg of the tour, but promise to join the tour on the next go-round.

And there will be a next go-round…very soon.

Join us in eight days, but shout it out now…the Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism is coming to your town!

Alan D. Jones: Former columnist for the Atlanta Tribune, Alan Jones has worked most of his adult life as a Business/IT consultant, working all across America from Los Angeles to Wall Street. Born in Atlanta, Alan attended GA-Tech and GA State, obtaining his MBA from Georgia State University’s Robinson School of Business. In addition, Alan was a feature writer for the student newspapers at both schools. Alan also served on the board of the Atlanta chapter of the National Black MBA association.

Alan, is the author of the Science Fiction novels, To Wrestle with Darkness and its prequel, Sacrifices.

Alan Jones

Balogun Ojetade: Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the short 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 six novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, two Fight Fiction, New Pulp novellas – A Single Link and Fist of Afrika and the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk.

Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis.

You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

Balogun Ojetade

Carole McDonnell:Carole McDonnell holds a BA degree in Literature from SUNY Purchase and has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appear in various anthologies including So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction; the anthology, Fantastic Visions III; Jigsaw Nation; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination; and the Steamfunk! anthology.

She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her novels – The Constant Tower and Wind Follower, were published by Wildside Books. Her other works include My Life as an Onion and The Boy Next Door From Far Away , Seeds of Bible Study: How NOT to Study the Bible. Her collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction, is available on kindle.

Check her out at http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/.

Carole McDonnell

Colby R. Rice:Sci-fi, Fantasy, & Thriller Novelist. Screenwriter. Film Producer. Globetrotter. Action Junkie. Rebel Ragdoll.

A shameless nerd and bookworm since the age of five, Colby R Rice is the author of Ghosts of Koa, the first novel in The Books of Ezekiel, a dystopian-urban fantasy decalogy. She was an Air Force BRAT born in Bitburg Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany and came to the States at the age of one. Colby bounced around a lot, but finally settled in Los Angeles, where she could at last deal with her addictions to creative entrepreneurship, motorcycles, and traveling.

Now, armed with a mound of animal crackers and gallons of Coca-Cola, Colby takes on fiction writing in a fight to the death!

Current projects include: the second novel in The Books of Ezekiel series, the first novel in a middle grade SFF detective series, the first novel in an adult sci-fi thriller series, development of her first sci-fi thriller film, and the growth of her production house, Rebel Ragdoll. Stay tuned at www.colbyrrice.com! ;-)

Colby R. Rice

Crystal Connor: Crystal grew up telling spooky little campfire-style stories at slumber parties. Living on a steady literary diet of Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean R. Koontz and healthy doses of cinema masterpieces such as The Birds, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone; along with writing short stories specializing in the Science Fiction & Horror genres since before Jr. high School, it surprised no one that she ended up writing horror novels! 

She now lives in Seattle, WA, where she is a member of the Dark Fiction Guild, and belongs to both the Authors Anonymous and The Seattle Women’s writing groups and she is also an active member of The Critters Workshop. 

The Darkness, is her first full-length novel, followed by And They All Lived Happily Ever After and Artificial Light, the sequel to The Darkness.

Check her out at http://www.wordsmithcrystalconnor.blogspot.com/.

Crystal Connor

DaVaun Sanders: If imagination was a mutant power, DaVaun Sanders could have enrolled at 1407 Graymalkin Lane. Instead, he went the safe route and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2002. After two fulfilling service terms with AmeriCorps in Phoenix, he eventually acquiesced to the student loan gods and returned to architecture. Yet his passion for the field faded as he spent more free time writing and performing spoken word poetry. 

The Seedbearing Prince began as a dream vivid enough to play like a movie trailer. Deciding to write his debut novel took some time, as it wasn’t part of “The Plan,” but the housing market collapse forced DaVaun’s small design firm under in 2008. He decided to plunge into writing full-time, and is loving every minute of it. When the keyboard cramps his fingers, DaVaun gets lost in the great outdoors of Arizona or attends open mic spots in the Valley. DaVaun is currently hard at work editing The Course of Blades, the third book in his World Breach series. Follow him on Twitter @davaunwrites and like on Facebook (facebook.com/davaunsanders) for updates and giveaways!

DaVaun Sanders

Jeff Carroll: The award winning Golddigger Killer was Jeff Carroll’s second film, which screened in over 10 film festivals and film series. Jeff Carroll’s first film, Holla If I Kill You, is the second rated all time best seller on B-Movie.com, the number one site for cult movies.

Jeff coined the term “Hip Hop Horror” and is pioneering this hybrid genre.

As well as being a writer and a filmmaker he is owner of Red, Black and Green Promotions, a college entertainment company where he works as an entertainment agent. Jeff Carroll is a leading voice of Hip Hop male/female relations reform and tours colleges and universities coaching students on dating.

He published his latest novel Thug Angel: Rebirth of a Gargoyle, through his own company, Hip Hop Comix N Flix

Jeff  lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife and son. Check out other great works by Jeff at http://hhcnf.blogspot.com/.

Jeff Carroll

K. Ceres Wright: Daughter to a U.S. Army father, K. Ceres Wright has lived in Asia and Europe, where her mother dragged her to visit every castle she came across. She attended undergraduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park, with a double major in economics and finance.  She then worked for 10 years as a credit and treasury analyst before deciding to change careers, entering the writing and editing field.

Wright received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and Cog was her thesis novel, which was later published by Dog Star Books. Wright’s poem, “Doomed,” was a nominee for the Rhysling Award, the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s highest honor. Her work has appeared in Hazard Yet ForwardGenesis: An Anthology of Black Science FictionMany Genres, One CraftThe 2008 Rhysling Anthology, and the upcoming Far Worlds anthology.

She works as an editor and writer and lives in Maryland with her two children. Visit her website at http://www.kcereswright.com and find her on Twitter @KCeresWright.

K Ceres Wright

Kai Leakes:From Iowa, but later relocating to Alton, IL and St. Louis, MO, Kai Leakes was a multifaceted Midwestern child, who gained an addiction to books at an early age. Sharing stories with her cousins as a teen, writing books didn’t seem like something she would pursue until one day in college. Storytelling continues to be a major part of her very DNA, with the goal of sharing tales that entertain and add color to a gray literary world.

In her spare time she likes to cook, dabble in photography, and assists with an internet/social networking group online. Loving to feed her book addiction, romance, fantasy and fiction novels are her world. Reading those particular genres help guide her as she finds the time to write and study for school.

Kai is the author of Sineaters: Devotion book one and the soon-to-be-released Sin Eaters: Retribution: Devotion book two, coming in June.

You can find her at: kwhp5f.wix.com/kai-leakes.

Kai Leakes

Keith Gaston: Also writing as D.K. Gaston,Keith was born in Detroit, Michigan. After serving in the military as an Infantry soldier, he earned his Bachelors degree in Computer Science, a Masters in Technology Management and a Masters in Business Administration.

Keith is the author of mysteries, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy, including the wildly popular Urban Fantasy novels, Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter and its sequel, Taurus Moon: Magic and Mayhem.

Keith is a devoted husband and father and when not enjoying time with his family, he is always working on his next novel.

Check Keith out at: http://www.dkgaston.com/.

Keith Gaston

Milton Davis: Milton Davis is owner of MVmedia, LLC , a micro publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul. MVmedia’s mission is to provide speculative fiction books that represent people of color in a positive manner.

Milton is the author of eight novels; his most recent, Woman of the Woods and Amber and the Hidden City. He is co-editor of four anthologies: Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griots: Sisters of the Spear, with Charles R. Saunders; The Ki Khanga Anthology with Balogun Ojetade and the Steamfunk! Anthology, also with Balogun Ojetade.  MVmedia has also published Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade.

Milton resides in Metro Atlanta with his wife Vickie and his children Brandon and Alana.

Milton Davis

Valjeanne Jeffers: Valjeanne is the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, and the steampunk novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch II: Clockwork (includes books 1 and 2).

Her writing has appeared in: The Obamas: Portrait of America’s New First Family, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Drumvoices Revue 20th Anniversary, and Liberated Muse: How I Freed My Soul Vol. I. She was also semi-finalist for the 2007 Rita Dove Poetry Award and she was interveiwed in 60 Years of Black Women in Horror Fiction.

 

Valjeanne’s fiction has appeared in Steamfunk!, Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Possibilities, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, and Griots II: Sisters of the Spear. She is co-owner of Q & V Affordable editing. Her two latest novels: Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective and Colony: Ascension will be released later this year.

Preview or purchase her novels at: http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers

Zig Zag Claybourne: Sometimes he is Zig Zag Claybourne, sometimes he is C.E. Young. Whatever the name, he is always respectful of the magic between him and his readers. He wouldn’t forgive himself if he wasted your mind, so it is his goal that every book you experience be a gift a thousand-fold.

Zig Zag is the author of the books Neon Lights, Historical Inaccuracies and (as C.E. Young) By All Our Violent Guides.

His blog is  http://thingsididatworktoday.blogspot.com/.

Zig Zag Claybourne


CHRIS CRAZYHOUSE: Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Sword and Soul Artist

Ki Khanga

Chris Crazyhouse 1

As an author, I have been privileged to meet and work with some amazing artists.

The ScytheRecently, I worked with artist, Christopher Miller, also known as Chris Crazyhouse, on my Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe. While my cover art was created by Stanley J. Weaver, Jr, I needed interior art and I knew that Chris would give me that 1920s Dieselfunk look I wanted. From working with Chris before on art for Ki-Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game, I also knew he is a master of creating creatures and I needed a vampire and a monstrous race of fowls called the Lougarou illustrated.

Chris – who is as professional as he is talented – went to work and had three beautiful illustrations back to me in less than two weeks.

Cast Iron by Chris Miller.

Cast Iron by Chris Miller.

Today, while watching Chris’ Sketch Blog – a weekly blog he does on Youtube, which I follow faithfully – I realized that, besides Stan Weaver, Chris is the only other artist who has created artwork in the Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Sword and Soul subgenres. In fact, Chris created his own Steamfunk superhero, Cast Iron after receiving inspiration from the Steamfunk anthology. I hope that Chris will one day allow a certain Steamfunk author to write the script for the Cast Iron graphic novel, which he illustrates (hint).

Chris is also co-creator and illustrator of the Sword and Soul comic book series and graphic novel, Chronicles of Piye.

I am commissioning Chris for the Choose Your Own Adventure book I plan to release during the latter part of this year.

So, here’s some of Chris’ work. Much more can be found on his website and on his DeviantArt page:

Ki Khanga

Ki Khanga Ki Khanga Ki Khanga Ki Khanga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


WHAT’S MY WRITING PROCESS? Tagged in a Special Blog Hop by Author Alan D. Jones

The Keys

Balogun  Ojetade

I’m participating in a special year-long blog hop to explain my writing process. I’ve been tagged by the Blacktastic Science Fiction author Alan D. Jones, author of To Wrestle with Darkness and its sequel, Sacrifices. Here are my responses:

The KeysWhat am I working on? I am working on an Urban Fantasy graphic novel script, The Keys. I am also writing the same story as a YA novel. I am very excited about The Keys and having a ball writing it. The story is about two teens, who are really Aztec and Yoruba gods, who must awaken the power of the pyramids around the world as they are hunted by the immortal Henry, the Navigator, who is obsessed with finding the legendary Christian Kingdom of Prester John.

How does my work differ from others in my genre? My books differ from most Science Fiction and Fantasy writers in that I love to mash up genres and I write cinematic fight scenes. I also include indigenous Afrikan martial arts in all that I write. As a practitioner of indigenous West Afrikan martial arts for over 40 years, I include fighting techniques and applications of techniques never before found in prose.

Why do I write what I do? I write what I do because I love it. I write Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Sword and Soul and Urban Fantasy because I love reading these genres; I love playing role-playing games in these genre settings; and I love researching the people, technology and settings during different eras in history.

How does my writing process work? My writing process begins with the germ of an idea. Ideas come to me daily. Those that I feel are original and fun are jotted down in a notebook. I begin to take notes as I flesh out the idea into a plot. I create and develop the hero and the main villain, coming up with goals they seek to achieve and what obstacles to those goals exist.

Next, I outline the story and then complete the 1st draft with the outline as a guide.

I then step away from the story for a couple of days and return to it to write the second and third draft. Then, it is ready for an editor.

I know…many of you cringe at writing from an outline. “I’m a stream of consciousness writer,” you say.

While a few writers can successfully write without knowing where their story is going, most cannot…well, at least I cannot, but hey, I enjoy writing outlines.

Well, that’s it. I hope you learned a little bit. If not, keep stopping by, you’ll learn something eventually…or at least have a good laugh.

Next Up: Valjeanne Jeffers and DaVaun Sanders.

 


THE BLACK SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY YOUTH SYMPOSIUM: Inspiring Black Children to Imagine and Create Better Worlds and Brighter Futures

Black Science Fiction Youth Symposium

Black Science FictionRecently, I put out the call for Black creators of Speculative works to join me in putting on the 2nd Annual Black Science Fiction and Fantasy Youth Symposium. Authors and artists from around the country responded. Of course, since the event takes place in Atlanta, GA, I did not expect anyone from outside of Georgia to actually become involved, however, the enthusiasm and support is much appreciated and I hope that one day soon, such Symposiums will take place all over the U.S.

However, one comic book author – recommended by Sue Gilman, the Director of our partner in the symposium, the Wren’s Nest – the brilliant writer and creator of the (H)afrocentric comic book series, Juliana “Jewels” Smith, is joining us all the way from the Bay Area.

Jewels, a former professor in Oakland, California, was inspired to create (H)afrocentric after trying to find a way to teach her students about the United States’ prison industrial complex. Smith was amazed by how receptive her students were to a comic book she gave them called Real Costs of Prisons Comix and realized the power of the comic book medium to convey thoughts, ideas and principles.

Black Science FictionIn Jewels’ world of (H)afrocentic,  characters envision a neighborhood that is reminiscent of Ancient Egypt, with pyramids replacing houses; the legendary ancestral home of the Aztecs, Aztlán, called “Atzlan” in Jewels’ world, is the Southwestern United States, which is given back to indigenous peoples and political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal are released from prison. All the while, the characters – particularly the comic book’s hero, Naima Pepper – battle against the evil forces of gentrification.

Another comic book creator, Atlanta-based James “Mase” Mason, has also joined us. Mase, a member of the State of Black Science Fiction authors and artists collective, is writer and artist of the popular Urban Shogun: The Evolution of Combat comic book series.

Black Science FictionUrban Shogun: The Evolution of Combat follows the exciting adventures of students of an inner-city martial arts school and their Kung Fu Style war on the streets of Atlanta. Specializing in updated forms of Five Animal Kung Fu, Tiger, Crane, Phoenix, Mantis and Cheetah protect the streets from criminals and their dangerous martial arts rivals – the Venom Clan!

Renowned author and publisher, Milton Davis – who also serves as co-curator of the Alien Encounters Black Speculative Fiction and Film Conference and co-founder and co- curator of the Black Science Fiction Film Festival, both in partnership with Yours Truly – brings his experience as an author and publisher of the best in Black Speculative Fiction to the symposium.

Black Science FictionMilton is CEO of MVmedia Publishing and Beyond and has created and / or published great Sword and Soul, Steamfunk and Urban Fantasy for people of all ages, such as Meji, Books I and II; the Steamfunk anthology; Changa’s Safari, Volumes I and II; Woman of the Woods; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Griots: Sisters of the Spear; and Amber and the Lost City.

The ScytheCompleting the list of teachers is author, filmmaker and event producer, Balogun Ojetade (yep, me).  Through his multimedia company, Roaring Lions Productions, Balogun creates and publishes books and films made by, for and about Black people of all ages. In addition to his self-published works, Balogun is also traditionally published by various small press, as well as Major, companies.

Balogun’s works include the first Steamfunk novel, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 and 2); the popular Sword and Soul novel, Once Upon A Time in Afrika; the Urban Fantasy novel, Redeemer, the Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe and two pulp Fight Fiction / Action-Adventure novels, A Single Link and Fist of Africa. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of the bestselling anthologies, Steamfunk and Ki-Khanga: The Anthology

With such diverse talent and personalities and with such an awesome schedule, the students are in for much fun, much learning and much development towards becoming the creators and developers of a brighter future.

Here is the schedule of events:

10:00am – 10:15am: Registration
10:15am – 10:30am: Welcome: Sue Gilman, Wren’s Nest
10:30am – 10:45am: Opening Ceremony (Youth African Drumming; Storytelling by Teachers)
10:45am – 11:00am: Introductions (of Instructors, then Students) and Overview
11:00am – 11:30am: What Is Science Fiction and Fantasy and Why Should We Read and Write It? (A discussion and Q&A between students and teachers)
11:30am – 12:15pm: Lunch
12:15pm – 12:30pm: The Fold and Pass Writing Game
12:30pm – 12:40pm: Divide students into the Young Authors Group and Young Comic Book Creators Group
12:40pm – 12:55pm: The Premise (we give the students the basic premise that their stories and comic books will be based on; they will all work from the same premise, however, how they tell their stories – and in which genre or subgenre of Science Fiction and Fantasy – will be up to them)
12:55pm – 2:15pm: The Young Comic Book Creators will sit with comic book writer, Jewels Smith and comic book artist, James Mason, who will guide them in writing their story as a comic book script. Any young comic book artists may also begin sketching their comic book if time permits.
12:55pm – 2:15pm: The Young Authors will sit with authors Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis, who will guide them in writing their story as a short story.
2:15pm – 2:45pm: After the Work is Done (Groups come together; Teachers speak on getting published and self-publishing)
2:45 – 3:00pm: Students prepare to read their work
3:00pm – 4:00pm: Student Presentation of Work (students read their work to the audience of parents, volunteers and fellow students)
4:00pm – 5:00pm: Artist / Author Meet-and-Greet (parents and students can chat more with us and browse / discuss our works)

This event is free and open to the public. However, due to overwhelming response, we are limiting availability to 45 spaces. Register to reserve your – or your child’s – spot.

Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014

Time: 10:00am – 5:00pm

Cost: Free and open to the public

Age Suitability : 8 – 14


THE FRESH FEST OF AFROFUTURISM! 13 Authors Rock the Mic in Honor of Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks!

Butler Banks Book Tour

THE FRESH FEST OF AFROFUTURISM!

13 Authors Rock the Mic in Honor of Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks!

 

Book TourThe State of Black Science Fiction Authors and Artists Collective decided it is time to do a tour to let the world know that we’re here; that great Black books, written by, for and about Black people do exist (yes, there are many who still don’t know).

Hmm. Which would be best to do – a virtual book tour, or a blog tour?

A virtual book tour is much like a traditional book tour but instead of the author flying from city to city, they are featured on a wide variety of blogs and websites as a guest blogger or author.

A blog tour is a group of writers – not necessarily authors – who get together and, on specific dates, they all blog on similar themes. For example, on May 3rd, 2014, this group of writers might blog on why they love a specific genre of speculative fiction. John Q. might blog on why he loves Paranormal Fantasy; Suzy Q. might blog on why she loves Steamfunk and so on.

We wanted to do something different from a typical virtual book tour and from a traditional blog tour. I decided to let the idea present itself when it was ready. I sat down to do my daily writing, turned on my YA Writing Playlist on Spotify – I am working on a YA Novel / Graphic Novel entitled The Keys – and the first song to play was Run-D.M.C.’s Rockbox.

Book TourYeah, I know, Rockbox isn’t exactly jumping out of teens’ Ipods nowadays – damn, they’re missing out – but back in my teen days, it was always found screeching out of my Walkman…and no, not the digital one launched in 2007; I’m talking the 1982 Sony Walkman cassette player, baby…with Dolby C noise reduction and everythang!

And that’s when it hit me…

“We’ll do this like Fresh Fest!” I shouted with glee.

“What is Fresh Fest?” My son, Oluade, who is eleven years old, inquired from the balcony of my office (well, it was actually the breakfast nook he shouted from, but it is above my office and all my children watch me work from there – whether I want them to, or not – so it feels like a balcony, to me).

Now, while many of you probably know what the Fresh Fest is, most of you probably have no clue, so let me break it down for you:

Book TourThe Fresh Fest concert tour, which began in 1984, was headlined by Run-D.M.C., and featured Kurtis Blow, Whodini, the Fat Boys, and Newcleus. It was hip-hop’s first big moneymaking tour (3.5 million on 27 dates).

It was followed by Fresh Fest II, which included the same acts, with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five replacing Newcleus.

This was hip-hop at its best. A stage of superstars – brought this revolutionary, still fairly new form of music, to the world.

One after another, these stars left their blood, sweat and a portion of their spirit on stage. And we – the fans – gave spirit back. Hell, in Chicago, at Fresh Fest II, they even had a linoleum floor set up for any b-boys and b-girls who felt the urge to breakdance or pop-lock (which thousands did, without one incidence of violence; I miss those days).

So, the tour formed in my mind – each day, a “superstar” (author), would take the stage and step to the mic. They would write a blog about their book, or books and the rest of the superstars on the tour would post that blog as a guest blog and shout that blog out all over social media. We would bring the best in Black Speculative Fiction to the world. Yep. That’s what we were going to do.

And we would name – and do – this tour in honor of two of the biggest superstars in literature. Two superstars whose names are synonymous with Black Speculative Fiction and whose works have inspired most of the Black authors who write Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror: Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks.

Octavia ButlerOctavia Estelle Butler, who shared a birthday with my father (June 22), was an internationally acclaimed science fiction writer. A recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards (two of each, actually), her evocative novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power and, ultimately, what it means to be human. Butler was one of the best-known women and Black authors in the field. In 1995, she became the first Science Fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship.

Set in time periods ranging from the historical past to the distant future, Ms. Butler’s books are known for their controlled economy of language and for their strong, believable protagonists, many of them Black women. She wrote a dozen novels, including Kindred, Parable of the Sower; Parable of the Talents; and, Fledgling.

LA BanksLeslie Esdaile Banks – who wrote under the pennames of Leslie Esdaile, Leslie E. Banks, Leslie Banks, Leslie Esdaile Banks and L. A. Banks – wrote in various genres, including African-American Literature, Romance, Women’s Fiction, Crime, Suspense, Dark Fantasy, Horror and Non-Fiction for five publishing companies.

Best known for The Vampire Huntress Legend Series, Ms. Banks won several literary awards, including the 2008 Essence Literary Awards Storyteller of the Year.

On April 14, the Butler / Banks Book Tour begins. Thirteen authors of Black Speculative Fiction are ready to rock the mic.

So, readers around the world, get ready. The literary Fresh Fest is coming!

Book Tour Promo 1


BEYOND SWORD & SOUL: Charles Saunders, the Father of Dieselfunk!

Fist of Africa

BEYOND SWORD & SOUL: Charles Saunders, the Father of Dieselfunk!

Steamfunk Cover ArtFor this year’s Black History Month, I – along with author Milton Davis – was asked to teach a class on Steamfunk at GA-Tech.

For the class, the students read my story from the Steamfunk anthology, Rite of Passage: Blood and Iron and Milton’s story, The Delivery.

Milton read an excerpt from his upcoming, long-awaited Steamfunk novel, From Here to Timbuktu.

I decided to introduce the students to some Dieselfunk, so I read them an excerpt from my novel, The Scythe.

A few days later, I received an email from a student from Howard University – news travel fast in this Age of the ‘Net – who congratulated me on “another first.” In addition to my “stellar accomplishment” in authoring the first Steamfunk novel, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, according to the student, I was also the first to author a Dieselfunk novel, as well.

While I appreciated the compliments, I had to correct the student. I told her that the first Dieselfunk novel was actually written by one of my idols, who I’m sure didn’t even know he was writing Dieselfunk at the time, as I didn’t know I was writing Steamfunk when I wrote Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman. I was just writing alternate history with some cool gadgets, enhanced abilities, the supernatural and a bit of magic.

“If not The Scythe,” she asked. “Then what is the first Dieselfunk novel?”

Damballa,” I replied. “Damballa, by Charles R. Saunders.”

“What is Damballa?” She emailed me back.

I replied thusly:

DamballaDamballa is Jazz. African science. Western science. A hooded, Black hero. Two-fisted pulp action.

Such is the stuff that makes Damballa the unique and awesome Dieselfunk read that it is.

A classic costumed pulp hero, the black-hooded Damballa steps out of the forests of Africa and onto the streets of 1930s Harlem to battle Nazi’s bent on proving the superiority of the Aryan race.

Damballa (2011) is an incredible pulp adventure written by author Charles R. Saunders, the founder of the subgenre of Fantasy fiction called Sword and Soul and creator of the Fantasy icon Imaro.

The action does not stop as the titular hero uses his vast knowledge of Western science, African science and martial arts to expose and neutralize the Nazi threat.

Set in Harlem in 1938, the world is on the cusp of World War II and the Nazis are bent on proving their racial superiority.

The world heavyweight boxing champion, an African-American named Jackhammer Jackson, is challenged to a title match by the Nazis. Their representative is Wolfgang Krieger, a freakishly strong and massive man known as the “Aryan Adonis”.  Krieger possesses inhuman power, which the mysterious Damballa believes has been bestowed upon him by Nazi scientists in an attempt to prove their racial superiority.

Aided by African-American NYC detective Bynoe and the brilliant Congolese elder woman Mamadou, Damballa hatches a plan to neutralize the Nazis’ fiendish plot.

Saunders layers this intriguing plot with historical details that recreates post-Renaissance Harlem to perfection.

Damballa is a shining example of what Dieselfunk is and what Pulp is when it is at its very best: thrilling, visceral, tightly-plotted, well-written, fast-paced fun and the hero, Damballa, is a shining example of what a pulp hero in the hands of a master can be: a hero the reader can actually stand up and cheer for; a hero with qualities and with a story other authors do their damndest to echo in their own creative and original ways.

Saunders delivers a masterful blend of storytelling, film noir, and boxing, with an eye-popping cover by Charles Fetherolf and interior illustrations by Clayton Hinkle that combine to make Damballa an instant pulp classic you do not want to miss!

“I must read The Scythe and Damballa now,” the student said. “But are they Dieselfunk or are they Pulp?”

“Both,” I replied. “Dieselfunk is a subgenre; Pulp is a style. Science Fiction, Sports Fiction, Crime Fiction, even Romance can all be written in the Pulp style, however, they are all quite different subgenres.”

She asked me to share excerpts from my work that were of different genres but shared the Pulp style. I now share with you what I shared with her:

The Scythe

Dieselfunk

The ScytheThe Scythe stormed into Ernest Woodruff’s office suite.

La Vipère Noire burst into the room behind him. She was dressed in a matte black cat-suit, studded with tiny black beads. Her boots, gloves and even her derby were all similar studded in a reptile scale pattern.  A black bandana concealed her face from her cheeks to her chin. Her derby was pulled low over her forehead and tilted slightly to the left.

The two vampires sitting on post leapt from their seats.

“Viper, take the one on the left,” the Scythe said.

“Got him,” the Black Viper said sauntering toward the vampire.

She extended her right arm, revealing a small, tubular, metallic flashlight in her fist. She pressed a button on the flashlight and bright, white light washed over the vampire’s face.

The creature laughed heartily. “Sunlight hurts vampires, dinge; not tungsten filament-light!”

The Black Viper whipped her left leg toward the vampire’s head in a wide arc. As her leg passed through the light, the studs on her leg seemed to swallow it for a moment and then spit the light out with the intensity of two suns.

The vampire screamed in agony as his flesh blistered and charred.

Viper’s shin slammed into the vampire’s neck, separating his head from his shoulders.

The vampire’s body collapsed as his head bounced across his partner’s feet.

“Damn,” the Scythe said as the head rolled past him.

The surviving vampire leapt to the ceiling and then clung to it like a spider. He scurried toward the exit.

The Scythe vanished.

He reappeared right below the vampire and then thrust his right hand into the vampire’s back.

The vampire wailed.

“That’s your spine I’m holding,” the Scythe hissed. “The first vertebrae of your lumbar spine, to be exact.”

The Scythe slammed the vampire onto his face.

Brown blood sprayed across the black and white checkered floor tiles.

The Scythe yanked upward, ripping the vertebrae from the creature’s back.

The vampire gasped and then released a weak moan.

“He’s all yours, Viper,” The Scythe said.

The Viper held her left forearm in front of her flashlight. She turned the flashlight on and the black studs intensified the light to a blinding brightness. The intensified light struck the vampire, setting it ablaze.

The vampire cried weakly as it convulsed.

A moment later all that remained of the creature was ashes.

Fist of Afrika

Fight Fiction

Fist of AfricaThunderous applause rose from the dense crowd before Nick. The people parted, revealing a hulking figure sitting upon an iron throne, carved in the shape of a leopard resting on its haunches.

Agbu Tochi rose from the throne, looming above the crowd like a statue carved from onyx stone. His forearms were as thick as an average man’s thigh and appeared to be as hard as the throne he had just risen from. He slammed his cantaloupe-sized fist into his chest and the crowd roared. Tochi sprinted into the ring, charging directly toward Nick.

Nick swallowed his fear and stood his ground as the human locomotive called Agbu Tochi sped toward him.

The colossus stopped just inches in front of Nick, his massive chest almost touching Nick’s nose.

The giant stood still and in silence.

“Are you ready, Nick Steed?” Chizo asked.

Nick nodded.

“Are you ready, Agbu Tochi?”

Agbu Tochi tapped his chest twice with his fist.

Chizo slid her arm between the fighters. “Then, fighters take your places.”

Nick shuffled backward to his place at the edge of the ring. Agbu Tochi shambled backward to his place, his unblinking gaze locked on Nick’s throat.

“And now …” Chizo raised her hand high above her head, her fingers pointing toward the clear noonday sky. After a long pause, she brought her arm down sharply, slicing the air with her well-manicure fingers. “Fight!”

Agbu Tochi lurched forward. Nick charged forward to meet him.

Nick hammered into Agbu Tochi’s ribs with a volley of heavy right and left hooks. Agbu Tochi staggered backward.

Nick shuffled forward with a lead-hand hook toward Agbu Tochi’s chin.

The giant leaned back. The punch shot past his face. He then countered with a fierce cross, catching Nick square on the jaw.

Nick collapsed to his knees. He shook off the pain and exploded back to his feet, careful not to let his hands touch the ground. Both knees and a hand on the ground at the same time would be a loss by traditional rules.

Nick’s feet had barely touched the earth when he was lifted high into the air by the giant, who had grabbed him from behind in a tight bear-hug.

Nick thrust his leg to the outside of Agbu Tochi’s thigh, hooking his foot behind the giant’s knee. With the throw now blocked, Nick bent at the waist as he threw his palms toward the ground, breaking free of Agbu Tochi’s grip.

Nick thrust back and upward with his left foot, driving his heel into Agbu Tochi’s solar plexus. Agbu Tochi doubled over in pain.

Nick whirled toward Agbu Tochi, slamming a crushing shin kick into the outside of his thigh. Agbu Tochi’s leg buckled.

Nick followed with a second shin kick to the inner thigh of the same leg. Agbu Tochi’s leg quivered and he switched feet, bringing his left leg forward to protect his right leg from further onslaught.

Nick burst forward, wrapping his arms around Agbu Tochi’s waist and pulling him close. The giant thrust his massive right arm between his hips and Nick’s to partially break his grip.

The men mirrored each other, both holding the others left triceps with their right hand and waist with their left hand. They then fought for superior position, snaking their arms over and under each other in an attempt to grasp the other around the waist with both hands.

Nick proved to be a bit faster, lithely coiling his arms deep under Agbu Tochi’s armpits and then digging his fingers into the colossus’ sinewy shoulders.

Agbu Tochi shook furiously, but could not free himself from Nick’s boa constrictor-like control of his upper torso.

Nick thrust his hips forward as he punched his arms skyward under Agbu Tochi’s armpits, launching the massive wrestler high into the air. Agbu Tochi’s eyes widened. A hush fell over the crowd.

Nick torqued his hips as he arched backward, increasing the momentum of the throw. Both men struck the ground with a thunderous din. A cloud of sand billowed up from the ring.

So, there you have it – Dieselfunk and Fight Fiction, two different genres; both, very much Pulp Fiction; both inspired by my idol, Charles Saunders, the father and founder of Sword and Soul and Dieselfunk.

 


Punks Want the Funk! A Guest Blog by Jack Philpott

Dieselfunk

Greetings and salutations good people of Planet Earth. I am – once again – on board the Good Ship Sweet Chariot, traversing the aether in search of new Steamfunkateers to accompany me on a funktastic journey across the cosmos. So, this time around, I offer – without comment – a guest blog from world renowned Dieselpunk afficianado, Jack Philpott. He and a few other Dieselpunks have something to say about Dieselfunk and Steamfunk, so please, check it out.

And while I post this guest blog without comment, I ask that you, dear readers, comment away!

Punks Want the Funk!

A Guest Blog by Jack Philpott

Renowned Dieselpunk, Jack Philpott.

Renowned Dieselpunk, Jack Philpott.

The ScytheOn Valentine’s Day weekend 2014 Dieselfunk was brought officially to the world amid much fanfare, bringing a new element to the Retrofuturist spectrum, much as Steamfunk had before.

Yet this unveiling was not without controversy, as anyone who reads this blog is well aware. Accusations of “racism” were made by a couple of prominent names in the Dieselpunk community, and arguments began on what *funk’s role was within the Retrofuturist movement and culture. Looking on the surface one might be led to believe that *punk and *funk were opposed, mutually antagonistic communities.  But is this true?

To answer this, let us look at the Dieselpunk community itself, who we are, and what the Dieselpunks (and Steampunks) think of their Afrofuturist brothers and sisters.

First, who are the Dieselpunks?  Just a bunch of suburban white guys dressing up like Nazis?

Punks 2Au contraire, mon ami. Dieselpunk is a diverse, international community. The global Dieselpunk community has members on every continent save Antarctica (and who knows if one of the polar scientists living there isn’t sporting a fedora between studies?) with major centers of Dieselpunk activity in Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States, to name a few. The Dieselpunks themselves are ethnically, racially, culturally, religiously, gender, and politically diverse and we pride ourselves on our devotion to diversity and equality. We don’t shy away from the wrongs of the Diesel Era or try to whitewash them. To the contrary, the “Punk” side of it is very much grounded in its original meaning of the outsider, the outcast, the voice not heard under the meta-narrative. In this way Dieselfunk is a natural extension of that Punk attitude and commitment.

So what do the Punks think of the Funkateers? Obviously some have spoken out in the negative, but fish below the surface and you find a very receptive community.

A poll asking the (weighted and leading) question of if a subgenre devoted to “empowering a specific race” should be considered “racist” was running continuously towards “no” with at least a plurality up to a supermajority at times, until its premature demise due to vote hacking. The associated comments to that poll were overwhelmingly positive towards and open to the Funk.

Let’s take a comment from Sky Marshal Jonny B. Goode, a prominent member, promoter, and leader within the Southern California Steampunk and Dieselpunk culture and a high ranking member of the Army of Toy Soldiers. A man whose word carries a lot of weight in the Diesel- and Steampunk cultures:

Punks 1“I actually like the fresh air that steamfunk brings into steampunk. I think it’s cool to see 1890s and 1970s all mixed up. Very creative. And I’ve always been a fan of funk music. Also, keep in mind that in the real Victorian age, minorities were very poorly treated. If we’re going to rewrite that era in our own style, let’s have a better showing for the minorities this time around.”

Another telling comment came from Steam- and Dieselpunk Thomas E. Delfi, who said:

“Most Steamfunk and Dieselfunk I’ve read and seen isn’t about empowerment, it’s about presence. Steampunk and Dieselpunk has been accused of being an exclusive because of the perceived lack of minorities at events and in literature that suffered during the Victorian Period, which isn’t a fair assumption. That’s me speaking as the Puerto Rican with a Dieselpunk Rough Rider Costume.

“So, someone coins the term Steamfunk to highlight something different, a new perspective, not to specifically empower or segregate. To me, the term Steamfunk has been adopted because there’s so much written material by Steampunks that stories featuring black or Latino leads can be lost and the assumption that we are an exclusive, Anglo-philic genre will continue. If anything, Steamfunk and Dieselfunk is trying to prove Steampunk is an inclusive culture.”

He later added specifically for this blog entry: “I didn’t come into the Steampunk community to make points or represent beliefs. I came here for the same reason many people do; I wanted to have fun. I wanted to enjoy myself in the company of the eccentric, the creative, and the wide eyed maniacs that make up this wonderful community. So to me it’s not about under representation or making a stance. To me, anything that is Steampunk derived, be that Dieselpunk, Dieselfunk, or Steamfunk, must be conducive to fun and enjoyment. If we entertain a new perspective or outlook along the way, all the better. But I and many others didn’t come to this community and this fantasy to divide it. So in short, let’s just have fun.”

These voices were far from alone, as prominent Dieselpunks came out in loud support of Dieselfunk. In Episode 38 of the Diesel Powered Podcast, the premier radio outlet of the Dieselpunk community, hosts Johnny “Big Daddy Cool” Dellaroca, Larry Aymett, Ava Dahl, and John Wofford defended Dieselfunk and Steamfunk, rejecting any claims of “racism” in *Funk as misguided and ignorant, and openly welcoming *Funk into the Retrofuture community [http://bigdaddycoolshows.podomatic.com/entry/2014-02-10T12_02_24-08_00].

And Larry Aymett, a man so central to the Dieselpunk culture, its promotion, and its philosophical foundations that he was declared the “Dieselpope”, went even further in a special message for this blog entry:

“Dieselpunk needs dieselfunk because of the way it explores the African-American experience during the 1920s – 40s. This exploration is vital for the –punk suffix in dieselpunk always points to the outsider. The ‘punk’ is the one marginalized by society. I’m grateful for the existence of dieselfunk and the way it uses Afrofuturism to explore the issues of race and class.”

In short, it is obvious: Punks want the Funk!

We see what you’re doing here and we love it. We want more of it. Our punk roots demand that the unheard voices be heard and that the oppressed be given the chance to stand up for themselves. Steamfunk and Dieselfunk are the epitome of that Punk attitude. Nothing could be less punk in my mind than to think otherwise.

Cosplayers / Makers / Designers, Mark & Theresa Curtis.

Cosplayers / Makers / Designers, Mark & Theresa Curtis.

African American contributions in the Diesel era aren’t just “worth including”, they’re central to the Dieselpunk narrative: the Harlem Renaissance, the birth and spread of Jazz and Blues, the struggles of right-thinking folk against the growing, hateful tyranny of Jim Crow, the KKK, or the NSDAP. What is the Diesel Era without Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, Zora Neale Hurston, Cab Calloway, Langston Hughes, Jack Johnson, Eugene Bullard, or Bessie Coleman (to name but a fraction)? These are more than “just” the African American voices of the era, they are some of the essential voices of the era. Without the African voice…or the Asian voice, the Latin voice, the woman’s voice, the homosexual voice…there is no Diesel era. What is the era without the struggles of the Nisei or the Mexican American “zoot suiter” punks in California, or without the belle epoch of Rio de Jainero, or without the “we can do it” attitude of Rosie the Riveter or the artistic achievements of Cole Porter? That such voices are not always obviously present in Dieselpunk is more than just an omission, it is a heartfelt loss.

So to deny a place for Dieselfunk is to deny a critical part of what made the Diesel Era the time we Dieselpunks love, and is to deny a critical, essential part of what Dieselpunk is.

So please allow me the honor of being the Dieselpunk to formally welcome you, the Funkateers, into the Retrofuturist society.

Respectfully,

Jack “Cap’n Tony” Philpott…

Jack Philpott is a born writer and artist who somehow ended up as an Electrical Engineer. Whether he’s enjoying a chilled Vermouth on the streets of Geneva, being catapault-launched off of a perfectly good aircraft carrier, or digging in the sand box with his son, Jack tries to appreciate the sublime nature of the moment.

 


Steampunk, Dieselpunk and Stereotype Threats at Anachrocon!

Anachrocon

Steampunk, Dieselpunk and Stereotype Threats at Anachrocon!

Anachrocon 2014My wife; my seventeen year-old daughter, Yetunde; my eleven year-old, son, Oluade; and my five year-old daughter, Oriyemi, recently participated in Anachrocon 2014.

Yetunde put tremendous thought into her cosplay. She is a stickler for historical accuracy, so she insisted everything from her shoes, to her hairstyle to her fingernails be done as they would have been during the 1940s; to achieve said accuracy, Yetunde devoted weeks of research to the aesthetics of the 1940s. She did this while maintaining the 4.0 grade-point average she has achieved for her entire academic career.

AnachroconOluade gave a lot of thought to his cosplay as well. Since this year’s theme for Anachrocon was Dieselpunk, which is set in the Diesel Era of the 1920s through the end of WWII, and he knew, through reading my blogs and my latest novel, The Scythe, that Pulp magazines were popular during most of that era, Oluade decided he wanted to be a two-fisted masked pulp hero. Thus, the Auburn Avenger was born!

His concept of the character is so well-developed and so cool, I have promised Oluade that the Auburn Avenger will feature in a few of my short stories and perhaps even a Middle Grade novella.

AnachroconOriyemi was happy to just cosplay a vampire princess and to joyously – and accurately – point out which costumes at Anachrocon were Steampunk and Dieselpunk.

My children were completely comfortable at Anachrocon; much more than I have ever been at any convention.

Why?

Because they do not suffer from stereotype threat.

“What is stereotype threat,” you ask?

It is the fear or anxiety of confirming some negative stereotype about your social group; it is the idea that we hold within us that we might accidentally act in ways that confirm stereotypes about ourselves.

These fears are often self-fulfilling, pulling us, like magnets, toward the very stereotypical actions we hope to avoid.

In the Yoruba culture, we call this phenomenon Elenini – the personification of negativity. In western societies the statement “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he,” applies.

I have blogged about how the media often portrays Black people and other People of Color, negatively. One of the implications of these negative images is the notion of stereotype threat. A person who is constantly bombarded with negative images of his or her racial or ethnic group, begins to internalize the same social and personal characteristics of these images.

Numerous psychological studies have examined effects of stereotype threat in areas such as standardized tests, and athletic performance. 

For example, the commonly held assumption that women are less skilled in mathematics than men has been shown to affect the performance of women on standardized math tests.  When women were primed beforehand of this negative stereotype, scores were significantly lower than if the women were led to believe the tests did not reflect these stereotypes.

Channels such as BET and MTV offer blatantly stereotypical images of Black people and of women of all races that greatly affect young viewers who take these images to heart.

The term stereotype threat was first used by psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson, who, in 1995, conducted several experiments that proved Black college freshmen and sophomores performed more poorly on standardized tests than White students when their race was emphasized. When race was not emphasized, however, Black students performed better and equivalently with White students. 

The results showed that performance in academic contexts can be harmed by the awareness that one’s behavior might be viewed through the lens of racial stereotypes. 

Long-term effects of stereotype threat are shown to contribute to educational and social inequality and affect stereotyped individuals’ performance in a number of domains beyond academics.

Research shows that stereotype threat can harm the academic performance of any individual for whom the situation invokes a stereotype-based expectation of poor performance. For example, stereotype threat has been shown to harm the academic performance of Hispanics, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, girls and women in math, and even white males when faced with the stereotype of Asian superiority in math.

Stereotype threat produces numerous consequences, most of which are negative in nature, such as:

1.     Decreased performance

Perhaps the most widely known consequence of stereotype threat is reduced achievement on tests in situations in which the stereotype is relevant. In addition to affecting test performance, stereotype threat has been shown to decrease performance on other kinds of tasks, as varied as white people and women of all races in athletics ; women in negotiation; the elderly in memory performance and women in driving. Stereotype threat, it appears, can harm performance on any task where a stereotype is invoked suggesting that members of some groups will perform more poorly than others.

 2.     Internal Attributions for Failure

We often try to identify what factors are responsible when we fail to achieve a desired outcome. More often than not, we blame this failure on internal factors; on ourselves. This is especially true for those under stereotype threat. A test in 2008 showed that women under stereotype threat were more likely than men to attribute their failure on a computer task to their internal characteristics. When failure is internalized, stereotypes are reinforced.

   3.     Self-handicapping

Self-handicapping is a defensive strategy in which individuals erect barriers to their own performance to provide something to blame for their failure. They can point fingers at the barriers rather than at any deficiencies in their ability or effort. A test in 2002 showed that girls who performed poorly on a math test under stereotype threat were more likely to blame that performance on stress they experienced before taking the test.

 4.     Discounting the task

People under stereotype threat often question the validity of a task or the importance of the trait being tested. You might view a task as biased or as being ill-equipped to test your abilities if you expect to struggle with the task or have struggled with it in the past.

I believe this is one of the main reasons many Black people do not cosplay or read speculative fiction, whether it is written by a Black person or not. We are stereotyped as not being into Science Fiction and Fantasy; not possessing the capacity to create, or even understand it. Thus, we say such stuff is for white folks, or that Black people are too busy dealing with reality to deal with escapist hobbies such as reading Science Fiction or engaging in cosplay.

 5.     Distancing yourself from the stereotyped group

Stereotype threat can also affect the degree that we allow ourselves to enjoy and identify with activities associated with our social group. Steele and Aronson discovered that Black people who experienced stereotype threat expressed weaker preferences for – and performed less well than their White counterparts in – stereotypically “Black” activities such as jazz, hip-hop, and basketball. This identity distancing reflects a desire not to be seen through the lens of a racial stereotype.

To preserve their identity as a competent person in certain circles, stereotyped individuals sometimes distance themselves from an aspect of their social identity, or from people that bear the burden of the negative stereotype. When I first began to push Steamfunk, some Black Steampunks distanced themselves from me for fear that I was going to be the stereotypical angry Black man who happened to infiltrate Steampunk.

The effects of stereotype threat can be reduced or eliminated by several means.  

1.     Reframing the task

To reduce stereotype threat, you can “reframe” the task – use a different language to describe it. Simply informing Black people that it is cool to cosplay and showing examples of it can alleviate stereotype threat in fandom.

 2.     Deemphasizing threatened social identities

Interventions that encourage individuals to consider themselves as complex and multi-faceted can reduce vulnerability to stereotype threat. 

It is important for Black people to know that we are not monolithic and thus are not confined to some unimaginative, non-creative, non-expressive “Black box.”

 3.     Encouraging self-affirmation

Affirming your self-worth is an effective means for protecting yourself from stereotype threat and the resulting failure.

Encourage people to think about their important characteristics, skills, values and roles. Black people who are given the opportunity to affirm their commitment to being Steamfunkateers are less likely to respond in a stereotypical fashion and bring great originality, creativity and coolness to Steampunk.

 4.     Providing role models

Providing role models who demonstrate proficiency in a field can reduce or even eliminate stereotype threat effects.

A Black historian sat in on the Diversity in Steampunk and Alternate History panel that I and the Co-Editor of the Steamfunk anthology, Milton Davis, were panelists on. He said that his interest in Steampunk came through his introduction to it through my blogs about Steamfunk and later, through reading the anthology. He further stated that he would have never participated in Anachrocon, or any other fandom convention, for that matter, if not for my – and Milton Davis’ – work.

In my efforts to help make all eight of my children proud of their Blackness; their intelligence; their wit and their creativity, I have, fortunately, helped to alleviate and maybe even eliminate any stereotype threat they may have been under had I done otherwise.

They have always seen my pride; they have seen me live as an African traditionalist in non-traditional America; they have always seen me embrace my creativity; to admire and model the brilliant and the ingenious; to push myself just as much as I push them and to succeed because of it.

Oriyemi engaging in her first National Tea Duel.

Oriyemi engaging in her first National Tea Duel.

So Yetunde, Oluade and Oriyemi approached Anachrocon with no fears, no worry that they would fall into some stereotype and embarrass themselves, me, or Black people. They weren’t thinking of being Black; they simply were Black, thus at Anachrocon, like everywhere else, they shined.

I pray to be like them one day when I grow up.  


ARE STEAMFUNK, DIESELFUNK and SWORD & SOUL NECESSARY? Countering Negative Images of Black People in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Countering Negative Images

ARE STEAMFUNK, DIESELFUNK and SWORD & SOUL NECESSARY?

Countering Negative Images of Black People in Science Fiction and Fantasy

 

RacismImages and words combined are very powerful, and have been used, quite effectively, to convey this whole idea of Black people being “less than”; “not as good as”: the myth of Black inferiority.

We have become so insensitive or desensitized to our own negative typecasting and even dehumanization that we are no longer conscious of what we see, hear and what is going into our minds. We have become a party to our own brainwashing. We have joined in and become our own victimizers.

In the old days, white comedians put on black cork and made a living humiliating and ridiculing Black people. A few years later, their senses dulled by this illusion called “progress”, Black comedians said to the white comedians “Hey, you don’t have to ridicule and humiliate us, we’ll do it. We’ll take it from here, boss.”

And they took it from there…and carried it straight to Hell.

Let’s take the use of the word “nigger”, for example; so talked about now because of its use 110 times in the movie Django Unchained. Black comedians took this wicked, destructive word and took ownership of it as if to call ourselves a nigger was empowering, as if it was a term of endearment and still vehemently defend its use to this very day. And no, saying “the N-word” is no better. It is just foolish and strangely, makes us even less human than our use of nigger does.

“Man, you my N-Word!”

Or Kanye West and Jay-Z’s popular Niggas In Paris, now the politically correct N-Words In Paris:

“What’s Gucci my N-Word?
What’s Louis my killa?
What’s drugs my deala?
What’s that jacket, Margiela?
Doctors say I’m the illest
Cause I’m suffering from realness
Got my N-Words in Paris
And they goin’ gorillas, heh?”

Yeah…that shit cray.

The historian Carter G. Woodson said that Black people have been conditioned to go around to the back door, and if there is no back door, we will insist on one.

RacismIf you can get a Black comedian to show up on a late-night talk show and act the clown, it’s comforting to those people who say, “See they are a happy people. They aren’t angry with us for five hundred years of slavery and oppression.” It is like approaching a dog you have abused, neglected and chained up in your kitchen for a week, thinking “Boy, I sure hope it doesn’t bite.” And if, instead of tearing out your throat, the dog starts wagging its tail, you breathe a sigh of relief and say “Whew, good dog.”

We have been conditioned to expect little of ourselves and of each other.

Many Black authors lament that they create great content, but Black people pass by their table at geek conventions and head straight to Jim Butcher’s table to purchase his Dresden Files novels, or to the Marvel Comics booth to pick up the latest X-Man graphic novel.

Don’t lament, Black author. Remember, we have been conditioned to expect little of ourselves and of each other, so most Black people will assume, without any evidence, that your work is wack. You have to reach out and educate them; show them that your work is just as good as – or better than, what they are used to. Most will still flock to the Marvel booth. They love – and have faith in – good ol’ Stan Lee. To chastise them for that will gain you enemies, not friends and certainly not fans.

Now, outside the Black geek community is where I have found my greatest support. There is a hunger among “regular” Black people – those who do not identify as geeks, nerds, or science fiction fans – for speculative fiction written by and about Black people.

Black People ReadAt the Westview Festival last year – a neighborhood festival in the predominantly Black, lower-to-middle-class area near Atlanta’s West End – I sold out all of my books in less than a half hour. Mind you, my table was next to a table that sold – at less than half price – mainstream fiction and science fiction and fantasy by authors such as Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert and George R.R. Martin.

At the recent 3rd Annual Ujamaafest – a festival celebrating Kwanzaa’s principle of Collective Economics – Milton Davis and I shared a table. Once again, Black Speculative Fiction sold like hotcakes. At this festival, the participants were mainly culturally conscious Black people from all walks of life.

At both festivals, most of the people who purchased books said that if Black authors were writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, with Black heroes, when they were young, they would have been into it, but they were eager to get their children and grandchildren into Black Speculative Fiction.

Are Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Sword & Soul and other Black Speculative Fiction necessary? Damn right, they are.

While many of us want to see ourselves as the heroes and sheroes and recognize the need for Black Speculative Fiction, many of us cannot fathom ourselves as star-spanning, evil-crushing, saving-the-world heroes. The horse wrangler for the Steamfunk feature film Rite of Passage told me he never imagined we could be the heroes in a Fantasy or Science Fiction story, or that such a movie would ever be created.

The media is directly responsible for this. The perpetuation of stereotypes is always done through print, television, film, radio, music and, now, the internet.

Flip the channel or turn the page and there are the “baby mamas” and “baby daddies” so ubiquitous in common American culture that they become plot points or titles for mainstream comedies and movies.

The syndicated television program Maury, hosted by Maury Povich, is known for its “Who’s Your Daddy?” segments. Much of the content is based on issuing paternity tests to teens and young adults in hopes of determining fatherhood.

Many of Maury’s guests are Black, and the sheer number of these cases is damning. Shows like these, along with court television shows that promote the same dysfunction, are very popular.

Even Black millionaire housewives, doctors and business moguls are portrayed as argumentative, catty, incapable of being unified and downright ig’nant.

Millions of viewers are indoctrinated by these images of Black family chaos. And we watch these programs like a gory highway car wreck because they involve so many people who look like us.

And we accept and share these perceptions without question, qualm or quarrel.

At a very young age, Black men and women are inundated with messages that they cannot trust or depend upon one other. Children see images of – and hear comments and jokes about – lazy, greedy, irresponsible, or otherwise flawed Black adults.

Black characters have appeared in American films since the beginning of the industry in 1888, but Black actors were not even hired to portray Black people in early works. Instead, white actors and actresses were hired to portray the characters while in “blackface.”

In addition, Black people have, for nearly a hundred years, been purposely portrayed in films with negative stereotypes that reinforce white supremacy over us. Since motion pictures have had more of an impact on the public mind than any other entertainment medium in the last ninety years, this has had a tremendous effect on society’s view of Black people.

RacismThe media sets the tone for the morals, values, and images of our culture. Many people in this country believe that the degrading stereotypes of Black people are based on reality and not fiction. Everything they believe about us is determined by what they see on television. After over a century of movie making, these horrible stereotypes continue to plague us today, and until negative images of Black people are extinguished from the media, we will be regarded as second-class citizens and will regard ourselves as such.

We have not come that far since 1914, when Sam Lucas was the first black actor to have a lead role in a movie for his performance in Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1915 is a significant date in motion picture history because D.W. Griffith released The Birth of a Nation, which supported the Ku Klux Klan and is possibly the most anti-Black film ever made.

The Birth of a Nation – with its vicious portrayal of Black people as subhuman compared to the glorified Ku Klux Klan – was important because it led to the creation of a new industry that produced “race films” for Black People. These films portrayed us in a positive light and addressed many social concerns of the community.

Before “race films,” Black people in films were nothing more than shuffling, shiny-faced, head-scratching simpletons with bugged out eyes who leaned on brooms and spoke bad English, but after the introduction of “race films,” we were depicted with more dignity and respect.

In order for Black people to ensure that they would have positive roles and stop reinforcing negative stereotypes through film, we had to make our own movies. The same holds true today.

I am asked, quite often, if there is such a thing as a Black Science Fiction movie. Supposing by “Black Science Fiction movie”, they mean a science fiction or fantasy movie that features a Black protagonist and majority Black cast and deals with issues that strongly impact Black people, I tell them that Black Science Fiction movies began in 1939, with the release of Son of Ingagi and that filmmakers continue to make quality Black Science Fiction movies today.

Countering Negative ImagesWe learn a great deal about human nature by comparing ourselves to others; and by comparing ourselves to fictional heroes…and villains. 

Contemplating fictional characters helps us examine the nature of heroism and villainy. Through fiction, film and television, we develop our view of the ideal person; we learn what to expect from good guys and bad guys, even in real life.

What distinguishes a superhero from a supervillain? How do their basic personalities differ — and how has the media affected our perception of ourselves and heroism?

Most people see themselves as being close in personality to their favorite superheroes and mimic their heroes’ characteristics in an effort to live up to that perception.

However, if the fiction you read or see consistently portrays those who look like you as less than heroic; as savage – whether noble, or not – as the eternal sidekick; as the first to die; as the one to sacrifice him or herself so that the real heroes can save the world; as the thug; the pimp; the whore, then how do you see yourself?

In Blueprint for Negro Literature, Richard Wright discussed the problem of Black literature:

“They [Black authors] entered the Court of American Public Opinion dressed in the knee-pants of servility, curtsying to show that the Negro was not inferior, that he was human, and that he had a life comparable to that of other people. These were received as poodle dogs, who have learned clever tricks. … In short, Negro writing on the whole has been the voice of the educated Negro pleading with white America.”

Wright went on to say that every story Black people write “should carry within its lines, implied or explicit, a sense of the oppression of the Negro people, the danger of war, of fascism, of the threatened destruction of culture and civilization; and, too, the faith and necessity to build a new world.”

While such pleading – such curtsying to show that we are not inferior” – may have been the goal of Black writers during Wright’s time, it is certainly not my goal or the goal of my colleagues.

On the contrary, I seek to show Black people, in general – teens and tweens, in particular – that we are not inferior; that we are heroic; that we are beautiful, courageous, brilliant and strong.

Furthermore, while I appreciate a good story that deals with the ills of racism, sexism, classism and the destruction and rebuilding of Black civilization, I do not feel that every story must, or even should, deal with such issues.

The ScytheWhat I do feel Black Speculative Fiction should do is tell our stories, because they have gone untold in Speculative fiction for so damned long. And I feel those stories should feature Black heroes and an occasional Black villain, too…a criminal mastermind, that is; not a damned street thug, or other walking stereotype.

And please, no more Black heroes who begin as gangsters, prostitutes, drug dealers, or dope fiends. Thanks.

If you are seeking a list of works of great Black Speculative Fiction, check it out here. For a list of great Black authors of Speculative Fiction, you can find that here. For a list of Black Speculative events in Atlanta in celebration of Black History Month, look here.

So, do you feel Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Sword & Soul are necessary? Is there a type of Black Speculative Fiction you’d like to see created or more of? Horror? Dystopian? Young Adult glittery vampires?

Comment and let your opinion be known!


TOP 20 STEAMFUNK, DIESELFUNK, SWORD & SOUL AND URBAN FANTASY BOOKS FOR BLACK YOUTH!

Black Speculative Fiction

TOP 20 STEAMFUNK, DIESELFUNK, SWORD & SOUL AND URBAN FANTASY BOOKS FOR BLACK YOUTH!

 

Recently, I wrote about why Black children should read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also wrote about it here. Now I would like to provide you with a list of books for young adults, teens and tweens. A list of books for children aged 2-9 will follow in a later blog. 

Sword and Soul

Young Adult (“YA”) Fiction is fiction marketed to adolescents and young adults, ranging roughly between the ages of 14 to 21. The majority of YA stories portray an adolescent as the protagonist, rather than an adult or a child. The subject matter and story lines are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character and the stories span the entire spectrum of fiction genres.

Middle Grade (“MG”) Fiction is intended for readers between the ages of 8 to 12, with the protagonist at the higher end of the age range.

MG readers are learning about who they are, what they think, and where they fit in. Their focus is inward and the conflicts in MG books usually reflect this. The themes range from school situations, friendships, relationships with peers and siblings, and daily difficulties that may seem ordinary to the rest of us. The protagonist’s parents are usually seen and have some sort of an influence. Stories are usually fast paced and chapters are short.

In contrast, Young Adult novels deal with underlying themes and more complicated plots. They allow teen readers to examine deeper issues, their roles in life, the importance of relationships, how to cope with adversity and even tragedy and how their actions can impact the world. 

YA protagonists are usually searching for their identity, figuring out who they are as an individual and where they fit in. YA books are generally much more gritty and realistic than MG books. Parents have less influence in YA stories and are often not seen at all.

Below is a list of twenty of the most Blacktastic books that are sure to entertain, educate and even empower readers, young and old.

The books are grouped into three categories, by age appropriateness, for your convenience.

While there are many more great books written by and about Black people, this is a good start and more books will be shared in future posts.

YOUNG ADULT (Ages 15+)

A Single Link, by Balogun Ojetade

A Single Link“A Single Link NEVER Breaks!” 

After suffering a brutal rape at the hands of a martial arts champion, Remi “Ray” Swan decides that, to gain closure and empowerment, she must face her attacker in the first professional fight between a man and a woman.

Join Ray in this powerful, two-fisted adventure as she fights, not just for herself, but for all who have suffered at the cruel hands of those who would wreak pain, oppression, injustice and death!

Step into the cage, where action, adventure, bone shattering fights, and a touch of romance await you!

Damballa, by Charles R. Saunders

The first ever African American 1930s avenger sets out to stop a Nazi plot to subvert a championship fight.

From deepest Africa to the streets of 1930s Harlem, the action is none stop.

Written by famed novelist Charles Saunders, with interior illustrations by Clayton Hinkle and a cover by Charles Fetherolf, this is a history making pulp adventure fans do not want to miss.

Devil’s Wake, by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Devil's WakeWhat happens when an unprecedented infection sweeps the world, leaving the earth on the brink of the Apocalypse? 

But this infection goes far beyond disease. Beyond even the nightmare images of walking dead or flesh-eating ghouls. The infected are turning into creatures unlike anything ever dreamed of . . . more complex, more mysterious, and more deadly.

Trapped in the northwestern United States as winter begins to fall, Terry and Kendra have only one choice: they and their friends must cross a thousand miles of no-man’s-land in a rickety school bus, battling ravenous hordes, human raiders, and their own fears.

In the midst of apocalypse, they find something no one could have anticipated . . . love.

Dillon and the Voice of Odin, by Derrick Ferguson

He’s a soldier of fortune gifted with an astonishing range of remarkable talents and skills that make him respected and feared in the secret world of mercenaries, spies and adventurers. A world inhabited by amazing men and women of fabulous abilities that most of us are unaware even exists.

Fueled by a taste for excitement, driven by an overpowering desire to protect the innocent, see that wrongs are righted and assisted by a worldwide network of extraordinary men and women, all experts in their fields, Dillon spans the globe in a never-ending quest for the wildest and most breathtaking adventures of all!

Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Edited by Milton J. Davis and Charles R. Saunders

GriotsMagic. Myth. Warfare. Wonder. Beauty. Bravery. Glamour. Gore. Sorcery. Sensuality. These and many more elements of fantasy await you in the pages of Griots, which brings you the latest stories of the new genre called Sword and Soul.

The tales told in Griots are the annals of the Africa that was, as well as Africas that never were, may have been, or should have been. They are the legends of a continent and people emerging from shadows thrust upon them in the past. They are the sagas sung by the modern heirs of the African story-tellers known by many names – including griots.

Here, you will meet mighty warriors, seductive sorceresses, ambitious monarchs, and cunning courtesans. Here, you will journey through the vast variety of settings Africa offers, and inspires. Here, you will savor what the writings of the modern-day griots have to offer: journeys through limitless vistas of the imagination, with a touch of color and a taste of soul.

Griots: Sisters of the Spear, Edited by Milton J. Davis and Charles R. Saunders

Griots: Sisters of the Spear picks up where the ground breaking Griots Anthology leaves off.

Charles R. Saunders and Milton J. Davis present seventeen original and exciting Sword and Soul tales focusing on black women.

Just as the Griots Anthology broke ground as the first Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots: Sisters of the Spear pays homage to the spirit, bravery and compassion of women of color.

The griots have returned to sing new songs, and what wonderful songs they are!

Ki Khanga: The Anthology, Edited by Milton J. Davis and Balogun Ojetade

What is Ki Khanga?

The answer lies in the pages of this amazing anthology.

Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis define this fascinating world which forms the foundation of the Ki Khanga Sword and Soul Role Playing Game.

Prepare yourself for stories of bravery, tragedy, love and adventure.

Prepare yourself for Ki Khanga.

Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, by Balogun Ojetade

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

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

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

In what is hailed as the world’s first Steamfunk novel, Harriet Tubman must match wits and power with the sardonic John Wilkes Booth and a team of hunters with powers beyond this world in order to save herself, her teenaged nephew, Ben and a little girl in her care – Margaret.

But is anyone who, or what, they seem?

Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

Steamfunk, Edited by Balogun Ojetade and Milton J. Davis

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

You will find all this – and much more – between the pages of Steamfunk, an anthology of incredible stories by some of today’s greatest authors of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steamfunk – 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. Open these pages and traverse the lumineferous aether to the world of Steamfunk!

Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter, by Keith Gaston

Taurus Moon is a relic hunter, but the artifacts he searches for aren’t found in the jungles of the Yucatan or the deserts of Egypt. His quests often take him through the grittier parts of urbanized cities where even the toughest of thugs fear to tread. Forgotten relics once thought of as only myths and legends can be found, if you know where to look, and have the guts to go searching into dark and deadly places. 

Taurus Moon is hired by a vampire crime lord to locate an ancient artifact that would make the criminal a God. Even though Taurus is no fan of vampires, especially one aspiring to become a Deity, he does love money and despite his misgivings, he begins the treacherous hunt for the artifact. Things become more complicated when a rival crime lord hires a ruthless relic hunter who has no qualms about killing the competition.

 YOUNG ADULT (Ages 13+)

Changa’s Safari, by Milton J. Davis

In the 15th century on the African Continent a young prince flees his homeland of Kongo, vowing to seek revenge for the murder of his father and the enslavement of his family and his people.

He triumphs over the slavery and the fighting pits of Mogadishu to become a legendary fighter and respected merchant.

From the Swahili cities of the East African Coast to the magnificent Middle Kingdom of Asia, Changa and his crew experience adventures beyond the imagination.

Changa will not rest until he has fulfilled his promise to his family and his people. The anchors are raised and the sails unfurled.

Let the safari begin!

Fist of Africa, by Balogun Ojetade

Balogun CoverNigeria 2004 … Nicholas ‘New Breed’ Steed, a tough teen from the mean streets of Chicago, is sent to his mother’s homeland – a tiny village in Nigeria – to avoid trouble with the law. Unknown to Nick, the tiny village is actually a compound where some of the best fighters in the world are trained. Nick is teased, bullied and subjected to torturous training in a culture so very different from the world where he grew up. 

Atlanta 2014 … After a decade of training in Nigeria, a tragedy brings Nick back to America. Believing the disaffected youth in his home town sorely need the same self-discipline and strength of character training in the African martial arts gave him, Nick opens an Academy. While the kids are disinterested in the fighting style of the cultural heritage Nick offers, they are enamored with mixed martial arts. Nick decides to enter the world of mixed martial arts to make the world aware of the effectiveness and efficiency of the martial arts of Africa.

Pursing a professional career in MMA, Nick moves to Atlanta, Georgia, where he runs into his old nemesis – Rico Stokes, the organized crime boss who once employed Nick’s father, wants Nick to replace his father in the Stokes’ protection racket. Will New Breed Steed claim the Light Heavyweight title … Or will the streets of Atlanta claim him?

Once Upon A Time In Afrika, by Balogun Ojetade

An exciting Sword and Soul tale by Balogun Ojetade, Once Upon a Time in Afrika Tells the story of a beautiful princess and her eager suitors.

Desperate to marry off his beautiful but “tomboyish” duaghter, Esuseeke, the Emperor of Oyo, consults the Oracle. The Oracle tells the Emperor Esuseeke must marry the greatest warrior in all Onile (Afrika). To determine who is the greatest warrior, the Emperor hosts a grand martial arts tournament inviting warrior from all over the continent.

Unknown to the warriors and spectators of the tournament a powerful evil is headed their way.

Will the warriors band together against this evil?

The Scythe, by Balogun Ojetade

The ScytheHe has been given a second chance at life. A second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead. He is…THE SCYTHE! 

Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!
Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.

Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.

Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

The Seedbearing Prince, by DaVaun Sanders

Dayn Ro’Halan is a farmer’s son sworn to a life of plowing on his homeworld, Shard. After finding a lost artifact called a Seed, he’s thrust into an ancient conflict between voidwalkers of the hated world Thar’Kur, and Defenders from a floating fortress called the Ring.

Dayn must become a Seedbearer and learn to use the Seed’s power to shape worlds before the entire World Belt is lost.

Woman of the Woods, by Milton J. Davis

Sword and SoulThe latest Sword and Soul novel by Milton Davis returns to the land of Meji, the amazing world of Uhuru. It tells the story of Sadatina, a girl on the brink of becoming a woman living with her family in Adamusola, the land beyond the Old Men Mountains. But tragic events transpire that change her life forever, revealing a hidden past that leads her into the midst of a war between her people and those that would see them destroyed, the Mosele.

Armed with a spiritual weapon and her feline ‘sisters,’ Sadatina becomes a Shosa, a warrior trained to fight the terrible nyokas, demon-like creatures that aid the Mosele in their war against her people. 

Woman of the Woods is an action filled, emotionally charged adventure that expands the scope of the world of Uhuru and introduces another unforgettable character to its heroic legends.

MIDDLE GRADE (Ages 10+)

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer.

There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality.

But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

Amber and the Hidden City, by Milton J. Davis

Amber and the Hidden CityThirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years. 

Why?

Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She’s been summoned home to use her special abilities to select the new king but she no longer has the gift, and her daughter was never trained for the task. That leaves only one person with the ability to save the city: Amber! But there are those who are determined that Amber never reaches Marai and they will do anything to stop her. 

Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that spans from the Atlanta suburbs to the grasslands of Mali.

It’s a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.

Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, by L.M. Davis

Make sure to clean up your messes. 

Keep the cat in the house.

Fraternal twins Nate and Larissa Pantera know all about strange rules. They’ve grown up with plenty of them, and they have always obeyed those rules without question

However, disturbing things are starting to happen–both at home and at school. And when their parents go missing and a strange messenger appears, they discover that the only way to save them is by breaking all the rules.

Interlopers: A Shifters Novel is the thrilling fantasy adventure. Fans of YA fantasy, such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, love this new series about the Pantera twins, who discover that everything they thought they knew is only the beginning of the truth.

I am sure this list will get you well on your way on your Blacknificent journey through the world of Black Speculative Fiction. We end this with a few book trailers to take along as companions on this journey. Enjoy!


BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION DURING THESE 28 DAYS OF BLACK HISTORY

Ki Khanga

BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION DURING THESE 28 DAYS OF BLACK HISTORY

Every year around this time, things get very busy for me and for most of my other Black friends who create speculative works. This year is no different and many fun and exciting things are happening during Black History Month that I am proud to be involved in and that I know you will enjoy.

I’d like to share them with you and I would like for you to commit to attending at least one, if you are able to, or to shout them out all over social media if you are not; if you are attending one or more of these Blacknificent events, then please, shout ‘em out anyway.

Anachrocon

The ScytheBalogun CoverAs you probably know, my books, The Scythe and Fist of Africa dropped this month and are now available. However, the official debut of The Scythe is at Anachrocon. This is fitting because Anachrocon’s theme this year is Dieselpunk and The Scythe is a Dieselfunk Pulp novel.

My publishing / film production company, Roaring Lions Productions, will have a table there, with all of our books. Please, come by, purchase some great Steamfunk, Urban Fantasy or Dieselfunk, get a book signed, or just chat it up. No debating if Steamfunk or Dieselfunk is racist or separatist, though. Save that for the panel discussions I am participating in…or go to author Milton Davis with it; his table will be right beside mine. Just kidding, Milton!

Anachrocon happens February 14-16.

WREK Sci Fi Lab

On Thursday, February 20, from 7:00pm-8:00pm, Milton Davis and I will be guests on the WREK Sci Fi Lab Radio Show.

During the show, we will discuss Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and the soon-to-be-released Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage.

Listen in on the radio or on the internet; call in and ask questions, or harass us. We look forward to hearing from you – and responding in kind – either way.

The State of Black Science Fiction & Challenges Games and Comics Present: Black Authors and Artists of Science Fiction and Fantasy

James Earl Jones JediThis amazing event takes place Saturday, February 22, from 12:00pm – 5:00pm at the North Dekalb Mall in Decatur, Georgia (2050 Lawrenceville Hwy.; Suite 1018).

Come on out and meet Science Fiction, Fantasy and comic book authors Alan JonesAlicia McCallaBalogun OjetadeJames Mason and Milton Davis as we discuss Black Speculative Fiction and do some dynamic readings of our works.

Purchase books and have them signed by the writers.

As an added bonus, James Mason will provide caricatures for anyone who purchases books and comic books totaling $20.00 or more!

This is a great event for people of all ages!

Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis teach Steamfunk at GA-Tech

Balogun Ojetade and Milton DavisThis one isn’t open to everyone – apologies, y’all – but I wanted to share what was happening and we are going to film this and post it at a later date.

Milton Davis and Yours Truly are crashing and taking over the Science Fiction class at GA-Tech February 26 and teaching a class on Steamfunk, its relationship to Steampunk and why it is a necessary and fast-growing movement.

The students have been reading the Steamfunk anthology as part of their syllabus and now I get to play professor again; fun stuff!

Steamfunk in academia…who’da thunk it?

So, that’s my schedule, thus far. If any of you would like to bring Black Speculative Fiction to your school, presentation, convention, asylum for the violently insane, spice planet, or galaxy far-far-away, let me know…we’d be happy to work with you (well, maybe not the asylum).

Enjoy this Black History Month!


THE SCYTHE HAS RISEN! Dieselfunk has emerged and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

The Scythe

THE SCYTHE HAS RISEN!

Dieselfunk has emerged and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

 

The ScytheThe very first Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe, is now available in both paperback and e-book formats!

Here’s a peek at what it’s about:

 

Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!

Dr. A. C. Jackson has been given a second chance at life. A second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead.

He is…THE SCYTHE!

LA_VIPERE_NOIRE_HQInspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.

Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.

Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

 

*This novel also contains the illustrated short story, La Vipère Noire and the Initiation at Pic la Selle (illustrated by the Blacktastic artist Chris Miller) and other goodies!

**Cover art by Stanley “Standingo” Weaver, Jr.!


I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I? Steamfunk and Dieselfunk are Racist!

Dieselfunk

I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I?

Steamfunk and Dieselfunk is Racist!

LEROY_LOTUS_HQTwo days ago, I posted an article about my Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe, premiering at AnachroCon in February. I also mentioned that this year, AnachroCon’s theme is Dieselpunk.

Yesterday, this was all brought up by author and Dieselpunk, Jack Philpott, who inquired if the founder of Dieselpunks.org – the premier Dieselpunk social website – knew of AnachroCon’s Dieselpunk theme.

Here is the inquiry:

Tome, Larry, Johnny, 

I just heard that Anachrocon in Atlanta 14-16 Feb (http://www.anachrocon.org/) is having a Dieselpunk theme this year. Balogun Ojetade (CC) is even releasing a Dieselfunk book there.  Had any of you heard of that? Anyone have plans to be there (aside from Balogun)?

Jack…

Racist 3Here is the answer from the Creator / Editor of Dieselpunks.org, Tome Wilson (the bold emphasis is mine; the words, however, are all Tome’s):

Hi Jack, This is the first I’m hearing of it. Granted, I don’t pay much attention to “dieselfunk,” because it’s racist, but I didn’t even see the event across the wire. Things are bad at work in February due to the Olympics and SuperBowl, so I won’t be able to make it to Atlanta. All of the projects that have been put on hold will be lava hot emergencies once the big events are over. I probably won’t see daylight again until March. –Tome

Hell, I didn’t know Dieselfunk was racist, but if Tome Wilson, the Creator and Editor of Dieselpunks, says so, it – and by default, I – must be, right?

But wait…there is more proof that Dieselfunk – and Steamfunk, by the way – is racist. This time, Dieselfunk and Steamfunk are exposed by – horror of horrors – Lt. Condor of Dragonfly Armory. Check it out. Oh…and once again, the bold emphasis is mine, but not the words:

Dragonfly Armory from JC Barger Photography.

Dragonfly Armory
from JC Barger Photography.

It is kinda crappy that the rest of the world is not represented in most Dieselpunk media. I haven’t seen many of the films or TV shows but I get the point just from looking at the previews and posters. There should be more representation for the other nations that participated in these wars and all of the people who fought.

On the same page though, you have to factor another point in. What if there is just a lack of interest among minorities? The Dragonfly Armory is a private organized group that is nothing but white people, but that isn’t because we’re excluding someone who’s asian, latino, black, or middle eastern. In fact I’m sure we would welcome that diversity. We, as far as I know, have never had anyone show interest before. I don’t think it’s too much of an assumption either to say that it’s not that the writers/directors are making these films such that minorities can’t be in them. Rather it is more that there isn’t an interest among prominent actors, who are minorities, to have a part in these films.

I could be completely off base in this assumption, there may be many actors who wish they could be a part of something like this. I feel that if that were the case though, there would be a larger presence of minorities in both the culture, and the con scene.

What upsets me the most about this though is the emergence of Steamfunk and Dieselfunk. To me this goes back to so many other aspects of society and culture that I won’t even begin to reference… The point is your right hand is saying that you want to be included, and treated equal. While your left hand is creating a situation where you are being exclusive and segregating every other race out.

Dieselpunk is in no way racist, exclusive, or prejudiced against any group of people. Except perhaps those who support Nazis…we don’t really want to have anything to do with them.

Dieselfunk though…by the very name of it you’re basically saying this can only be black people. Why would you create something that excludes you from the rest of society? Why make a subset of a culture exclusive to your own race instead of just joining into what’s already established? No one is excluding you, you clearly just don’t want to be involved.

This is why I can’t stand it when people say: “I don’t support this because its racist.” “We want to be treated the same.” etc… And then you go out and support something that is racist, just racist in your favor, that excludes you from being treated as the same since you are separating yourself from the rest of the races in the world.

Racism and segregation will continue to persist in this world as long as there are people who buy into the idea that the exclusion of the majority and other minorities is okay as long as you accept your own minority.

All that said I really did enjoy the rest of the article. It was very well written and included a TON of links to other blogs and sources. I think it is definitely worth the read.

- Lt. Condor

Come on, Tome; come on, Lt. Condor…you can’t just call a subgenre and a movement racist all willy-nilly.

Only racists do that.

DIeselpunkFirst, let’s define racism. I mean the accepted sociological definition, not the willy-nilly one.

The proper definition of racism, which is commonly used in academic research, and has been the accepted definition by sociologists and social psychologists for more than a decade is: “racism is prejudice plus power”.

Anyone can carry positive or negative stereotypes of others based on racial or cultural characteristics. Anyone can be prejudiced – can judge others based on preconceived notions about their ethnicity or race.

People of any race can commit acts of violence, mistreatment or ostracizing based on these stereotypes. A Chinese boy might beat up a Black boy because he doesn’t like Black boys. A Black person might refuse to associate with Latinos.

These two scenarios might be negative; they might be terrible…however, to be racist – rather than simply prejudiced – requires having institutional power. In North America, white people have the institutional power.

“White” is presented as the norm; the default, because white people have institutional power.

Notice how Tome and Lt. Condor can just label Steamfunk and Dieselfunk – and, by default, Milton Davis, Valjeanne Jeffers, Maurice Broaddus, Yours Truly and all the other Steamfunkateers – racist with no explanation; no evidence; without study or experience.

Just…willy-nilly.

Because racism is systematic, they get to label things willy-nilly. They get to have no real argument for their anger. They get to feel justified without justification. They get to say dumb shit without being regarded as dumb.

They are really just acting out because they can…and because they feel threatened.

They feel threatened because we aren’t just getting along to get along. We are challenging the racism, classism and sexism found in Dieselpunk and Steampunk; we are telling the stories that, until we came along, went untold.

They feel threatened because, contrary to the lie that our “right hand is saying that we want to be included, and treated equal”, we are practicing Dieselpunk and Steampunk on our own terms. We are not seeking inclusion in any Airships or Armories not of our own making. We are not saying we want to be treated equal; we are equal, damn how you treat us. Our work is proof of that.

If you do not feel threatened, why utilize the classic – and oh, so obvious – defense mechanism of projection? We only defend ourselves when we feel threatened.

What is projection, you ask?

ProjectionProjection is the psychological phenomenon where someone denies some aspect of their behavior or attitudes and assumes instead that someone else is acting out this behavior or attitude. Projection also extends to philosophies and knowledge.

I am sure you have heard the old adage, “When you point one finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

We see in other people the very things we do not want to see in ourselves.

Thanks to the power of our unconscious minds, we can manipulate our picture of reality and see it as we wish to see it – usually in a way that initially makes us feel more comfortable.

By means of projection, we get rid of unwanted feelings and relocate them in someone else.

Sounds pretty cool, huh?  Like some old Matrix-meets-Inception-meets Cloud Atlas-type s**t.

But, by their very nature, the projections we put out want to come back to us.  They want to come home where they belong.  And I’m packing their bags and sending their racist asses back to Tome and Lt. Condor and to all the other Dieselpunks and Steampunks who, instead of dealing with the racism in fandom, want to project it on to those who are actually working hard to make a difference; to those who have introduced Steampunk and Dieselpunk to People of Color all over the world as Steamfunk and Dieselfunk and have inspired them to take part in the cosplay and the cons; to purchase not only our books, but yours as well.

Steampunk and Dieselpunk have benefitted from our work and will continue to and we have done so without discriminating against anyone and certainly without being racist.

The fact is projection is one of the most destructive ways of handling our difficulties.  We fare better in life when we take responsibility for ourselves – when we own the good, the bad, and the ugly that belongs to us.

Generally speaking, projection alienates others and says far more about our own insecurities than any real truths about other people.

People of Color – and many white people – in Steampunk and Dieselpunk have cried out for, and even demanded, a re-imagining of the XYZ-Punk genres and subgenres that highlights lesser known struggles and gives voice to underrepresented groups in Steam – and Diesel – punk. And we Steamfunkateers are delivering…in a big way.

Why So Serious“It’s all just fun,” you say. “Why so serious?”

Shut up, Joker (the Heath Ledger version)!

Dieselpunk and Steampunk have great social, intellectual, artistic and political value, so, while cosplaying, reading your favorite XYZ-Punk novel, or engaging in a Bartitsu sparring match might, indeed, be fun, we won’t dismiss, or shy away from, any controversy, we will engage in intelligent discourse and action that raises awareness and appreciation of Steamfunk and Dieselfunk and we will continue to tell the stories that must be told.

If that makes you uncomfortable; if it causes you to project onto Dieselfunk and Steamfunk exactly what Dieselpunk and Steampunk still struggle with, so be it.

You’ll just give me more to blog about.


DIESELFUNK DEBUTS DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH & AT ANACHROCON!

Dieselfunk

DIESELFUNK DEBUTS DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH & AT ANACHROCON!

Steamfunk CoverLast year, in celebration of Black History Month, author and publisher Milton Davis and Yours Truly released the history-making, ground breaking and earth shaking anthology Steamfunk, through Milton’s publishing company, MVmedia.

We unveiled Steamfunk at AnachroCon - the premier Historical Reenactment, Alternate History and Steampunk convention in the South – and the reception was amazing. Steamfunk has since gone on to be a bestseller for MVmedia and is even studied in colleges and universities throughout America.

This year, AnachroCon’s theme is Dieselpunk – 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.

Dieselpunk features retrofuturistic innovations, alternate history and elements of the occult.

Think the movies Captain America: The First AvengerSin CityHell Boy; the Indiana Jones films and The Mummy (1999 – 2008) trilogy.

Diesel Sista 2Often referred to as Steampunk’s grittier sibling, 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.

When the Dieselpunk theme for 2014 was announced at AnachroCon’s closing ceremonies last year, I was tickled because I had already planned to release the first Dieselfunk novel in history in early 2014. Thus, The Scythe will debut at this year’s AnachroCon!

What, exactly, is Dieselfunk, you ask?

Dieselfunk is fiction, film and fashion that combines the style and mood Dieselpunk with Afrofuturistic inspiration.

Dieselfunk tells the exciting untold stories of people of African descent during the Jazz Age.

Think the Harlem Renaissance meets Science Fiction…think Chalky White (from Boardwalk Empire) doing battle with robots run amok in his territory… think Mob bosses; Nazis; flappers. Jazz; bootleggers; Bessie Coleman; Marcus Garvey; the Tulsa Race Riots…that is Dieselfunk!

Since Dieselfunk is so wrapped up in Black History, it is the perfect type of writing to release during Black History Month.

For those who just can’t wait until February 14 to get your copy of The Scythe and you just gotta know what it is about, here is a sneak peek at the blurb on the books back cover:

Dieselfunk“He has been given a second chance at life; a second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead. He is…THE SCYTHE!

Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!

Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.

Enter a world in which gangsters, flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.

Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!”

AnachroCon

And The Scythe is just the beginning for Dieselfunk. Milton Davis and I have discussed publishing the Dieselfunk anthology as a follow up to the popular Steamfunk anthology and The Scythe II will release at the end of this year.

Join me at AnachroCon February 14-16 and I will be happy to autograph your copy of The Scythe for you. If you can’t make it to AnachroCon this year, buy the book anyway and treat yourself to a great read.

Of course, I’ll still sign it for you whenever I see you, ‘cause we cool like that.

.


BUILDING BLACK YOUTH THROUGH SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

Black People Read

BUILDING BLACK YOUTH THROUGH SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

Black People Read

Renowned Author, Neil Gaiman (the novel, American Gods; The Sandman comic book series) shared a fascinating fact. While appearing as  Guest of Honor at China’s largest state approved Science Fiction convention, Neil decided to inquire why Science Fiction, once frowned upon by the Chinese government, was now not only approved of, but encouraged, with China now the world’s largest market for Science Fiction, with the highest circulation of Science Fiction magazines and the largest Science Fiction conventions.

The answer Neil was given is very interesting.

China is the world’s manufacturing powerhouse. But it doesn’t invent or design most of the things it manufactures. China wants to capture the creativity and imagination of the culture that has produced companies like Google and Apple. So Chinese researchers talked to people involved with those and other Fortune 100 companies to see what factors they had in common. The answer?

All of their CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents read science fiction.

Black People Read

Artwork by James Ng

The Chinese acted upon this research and today, throughout China, Science Fiction is a thriving and respected genre, read widely; which is very different from the early eighties, when Science Fiction was declared to be “spiritual pollution” and banned by the government. Back then, Science Fiction in China all but disappeared. But it has come back stronger than ever, appealing to a new generation of Chinese who see themselves as part of a world-wide cultural phenomenon, which includes Hip Hop, Fashion, Movies and Science Fiction.

In the past decade, Science Fiction has overtaken fantasy as the popular literary form, even though fantastic fiction is an integral part of the history of Chinese literature.

Science Fiction studies continue at Beijing Normal University, the largest research and editing center of science-fiction theory and criticism in the world. Western authors and scholars visit there often and in the future, this center is expected to be the center of international Science Fiction research.

Science Fiction is an essential influence in the development of top level creative thinkers, especially those dealing with technology. We live in an age of unparalleled technological development, which is creating change throughout society of an unprecedented magnitude. Science Fiction, in all its forms, is a valuable tool for helping train people to creatively work with that change.

Science Fiction does not just show us possible futures, it trains us to anticipate new technology, model how it will impact our lives and exploit that insight.

Black People ReadAside from Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker and the Shadow Speaker; Wendy Raven McNair’s novels, Asleep and Awake; Alicia McCalla’s Breaking Free, Tananarive Due’s and Steven Barnes’ Devil’s Wake and Domino Falls and this writer’s own Once Upon A Time In Afrika and Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, it is difficult to find Speculative fiction (Science Fiction and Fantasy) with Black protagonists, or even secondary characters, written for young adults by Black authors.

Middle Grade novels are even harder to find, with L.M. Davis’ Interlopers and Milton Davis’ Amber at the fore.

In their 2003 study of middle school genre fiction, Agosto, Hughes-Hassell, and Gilmore-Clough found that of 976 reviews of youth Fantasy novels, only 6 percent featured protagonists or secondary characters of color, and that of the 387 reviews of youth science fiction, only 5 percent featured protagonists or secondary characters of color.

Yet, as more Black authors of adult Science Fiction and Fantasy – like Charles Saunders, Walter Mosley, Keith Gaston, Valjeanne Jeffers, Milton Davis, Cerece Rennie Murphy and Balogun Ojetade (smile) – grow in popularity and fill a much needed void, more Black writers are getting the opportunity to fill that void in youth literature as well.

As the Chinese have come to realize, filling that void is important for several reasons and is a must for people of color, particularly those of African descent.

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

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

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

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

The Process of Action works as follows:

  1. Perception (precedes Thought)
  2. Thought (precedes Impulse)
  3. Impulse (precedes Action)
  4. Action

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

Youth 1However, if – through Fantasy and Science Fiction written with Black characters as the heroes – our youth begin to perceive themselves as heroic…as hard working…as good…they will begin to act in accord with how they perceive themselves.

Above, we mentioned authors who have published books of Science Fiction and Fantasy featuring Black youth as protagonists. An analysis of these books reveals plots that are fun and adventurous; Black protagonists who are gifted, insightful youth surrounded by functional, supportive family units; and themes common to the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, like courage, integrity, and good versus evil. While race and ethnicity are not ignored in these books, the race or ethnicity of a character does not drive the plot.

Our youth need stories that do not deny race or the historical implications of race, while remaining unhindered by the racism that may be present.

Youth 3On May 5, 2012, in Atlanta, a group of Black authors of speculative fiction – in conjunction with the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History – came together to host The State of Black Science Fiction 2012 Youth Symposium, an amazing and day-long symposium that spotlighted Science Fiction and Fantasy as a signature intersection of science, history, technology, and humanistic studies. Fun was had by all and the students who participated, who ranged in age from 5-15, all eagerly purchased books to read during their lunch break.

The symposium featured panel discussions, workshops and games that inspired the imagination and challenged minds.

The authors involved were Balogun Ojetade, Milton Davis, Alicia McCalla, L.M. Davis, Wendy Raven McNair and Ed Hall. A performance of an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure story, written by the students was featured and famed author Tananarive Due – the world’s first and most popular Black author of horror and suspense – honored us with an inspiring key-note address.

I mention the symposium because I would like to host another such conference in April or May of this year (2014). I invite my fellow authors – and anyone else who would like to become involved – to join me in creating a special event for our youth; our future.

I invite all African-centered, private and public schools who serve and care about Black youth to participate. Bring your students. Have them write works beforehand to share during the performance portion. Make it a weekend field trip. Let’s give them a day of fun, learning and transformation. Let’s give them all that speculative fiction has given us, or what it would have given us if we saw ourselves in it.

So, there it is: a full day of Black speculative fiction workshops, performances, art, games, contests and vending – all for our youth.

Are you down?

 

 UPDATE!

The Black Science Fiction and Fantasy Youth Symposium is set for Saturday, April 26, 2014; from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.!

Black Science Fiction


A GREAT Year for Steamfunk, Sword & Soul and Black Speculative Fiction! 2013 in review

Steamfunk

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 94,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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