Steamfunk * Steampunk * Sword & Soul

Speculative Fiction

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 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.

 


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!


FIST OF AFRICA: Pulp Fiction meets the African Martial Arts!

Fist of Africa

FIST OF AFRICA

Pulp meets the African Martial Arts!

Fist of Africa

Yep, that's me. :)

Yep, that’s me. :)

For those new to this page, I am a writer.

For those not new to this page, I am a writer.

I write speculative fiction – mainly Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Sword & Soul.

Recently, I have expanded my writing into the Pulp genre of Fight Fiction, which was pretty much inevitable because my novels contain lots of exciting action and fight scenes.

What is Fight Fiction. You ask?

Fight Fiction is comprised of tales in which the fighting – whether it happens in a temple in Thailand, a boxing ring in Las Vegas, a cage in Atlanta, or in a bar in New York City – is not merely in the story to make it more exciting; or to add a different spin to it. The fighting must be an integral part of both the story and its resolution. Take the fighting out and you no longer have a story. Think Fight Club; Rocky; Blood and Bone; Kung-Fu Hustle; Million Dollar Baby; and Tai Chi Zero.

Writing fight scenes has always been something I enjoy and that I believe I do fairly well. This is probably due to the fact that I have been a student of indigenous African martial arts for over forty years and I have been an instructor of those same martial arts for nearly thirty years. I am also a lifelong fan of martial arts, boxing and Luchador films.

Recently, I joined a team of stellar authors, who all write under the pen name Jack Tunney (for e-book versions only; paperback versions are in the authors’ names), as part of the Fight Card Project.

The books in the Fight Card series are monthly 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings, and are inspired by the fight pulps of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Fight Stories Magazine and Robert E. Howard’s two-fisted boxing tales featuring Sailor Steve Costigan.

Balogun CoverIn 2013, the Fight Card series published twenty-four incredible tales of pugilistic pandemonium from some of the best New Pulp authors in the business. I am writing under the Fight Card MMA brand and my book, Fist of Africa debuts today.

“What is Fist of Africa about?” You ask?

Here’s a brief synopsis: 

Nigeria 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?
Tunney CoverWhen I spoke to Paul Bishop – who, along with author Mel Odom created the Fight Card concept – he expressed an interest in my protagonist, Nick ‘New Breed’ Steed and the story of his coming of age as a fighter in the Adewale Wrestling Compound in Oṣogbo, Oṣun State, Nigeria. I was happy because I have always wanted to share with the world the fierceness, efficiency and effectiveness of the indigenous African martial arts for self-defense, as well as their transformative powers in the building of men and women with self-discipline, courage and good character. Fight Card MMA was a perfect outlet for my unique brand of Fight Fiction, which I am sure you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.

In Fist of Africa, readers will experience jaw-dropping action on the mean streets of Chicago, in the sand pits of Nigeria and in cages in the “Dirty South” (Atlanta).

2014 also offers a full slate of monthly Fight Card titles along with further Fight Card MMA, Fight Card Romance, and Fight Card Now titles, as well as the debut of the Fight Card Luchadores brand, set in the world of Mexican Masked wrestling.

My first Fight Fiction novella, A Single Link, while very different from Fist of Africa, is set in the same universe, thirty years in the future and some of the characters from Fist of Africa make appearances in it. I will be publishing several other books in this universe, as well and I am even working on a Luchadores Fight Fiction / Science Fiction / Horror mash-up (my homage to Luchador and Nollywood films) set in Mexico, Egypt and Nigeria.

But, for now, enjoy Fist of Africa and please, drop me a line to let me know what you think of it and, if you like it – and you will – help a brother out and give him a review. 


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.!


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.


NO QUEENS IN AFRIKA: Women Rulers in Sword & Soul and other African-Inspired Fantasy

Sword and Soul

NO QUEENS IN AFRIKA: Women Rulers in Sword & Soul and other African-Inspired Fantasy

Oya

Sword and SoulRecently, an article about the history of Nzinga, woman ruler of Angola, has surfaced and is circulating around Facebook.

Now, while I am happy to see Nzinga recognized, every time I see it I cringe.

Why?

Because, the posters of that article scream “The mighty Queen Nzinga!” or “Warrior-Queen Nzinga!” or “Another great African Queen: Nzinga!” or, simply “Queen Nzinga!”

Sigh.

Nzinga was never a queen people!

No African woman ever was.

That’s right. I said it. Now, read on!

I should say that no traditional, pre-colonial, woman – or woman who opposed colonization / slavery ever was – because later, you did have some Europeanized African rulers who, in their attempts to reduce the power of women, reduced them to queens – and many women accepted their lot.

Nzinga was an Ngola – a ruler of a nation; a “king”, if you must.

Sword and SoulSome say she was given the title after the passing of her father, who was an Ngola. Some say Nzinga was given the title after murdering her own brother and becoming her father’s next heir to the throne. However she became Ngola, she was Ngola…not queen.

Traditional rulers throughout Africa were not always given the title and responsibilities of rule by birth or by blood. More often than not, the people chose their ruler and if the ruler did not serve and / or represent the people well, the ruler could be removed from his or her throne.

It was the people who governed and, to the people, gender was rarely a factor in who they chose to lead them.

Among the Yoruba, anyone born under the Odu – the 256 patterns of life / containers of destiny in which all creation exists – Irete Ogbe (aka Irentegbe, or Ategbe) is destined to be an Ǫba, or “king”; gender be damned.

The term “queen” is a product of recent history and the English language. In Ancient African, Asian and Pacific cultures, and even some European countries, women rulers were given the title king or its equivalent, such as pharaoh.

The Byzantine Empress Irene was called basileus – “emperor” – not basilissa, or “empress”. Jadwiga of Poland was crowned Rex Poloniae, King of Poland.

In China, Wu Zetian became the emperor and established the Zhou Dynasty after dismissing her sons. It should be noted that Emperor Wu is described throughout history as huangdi – “emperor”, as opposed to huanghou – “empress”. Similarly, in Korea, the rulers Sindeok and Jindeok were called yeowang – “female king” not hwanghu – “queen”, which refers to the wife of a king or emperor.

“Then what the hell is a queen?” You ask?

Well, let’s examine the term.

A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a European female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen regent, also known as a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king.

An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire.

A queen regnant possesses and exercises sovereign powers. The husband of a queen regnant does not usually share his wife’s rank, title or sovereignty.

A queen consort, on the other hand, shares her husband’s rank and titles, but does not share his sovereignty.

A queen dowager is the widow of a king. A queen mother is a queen dowager who is also the mother of a reigning sovereign.

Among the Davidic Monarchs of the Kingdom of Judah, there is mentioned a single queen regnant, Athaliah, though the Hebrew Bible regards her negatively as a usurper. The much later Hasmonean, Queen Salome Alexandra (Shlom Tzion), was highly popular.

Accession of a regnant occurs as a nation’s order of succession permits. Methods of succession to queendoms, kingdoms and tribal chieftancies, include nomination when the sitting monarch or a council names an heir, known as primogeniture when the children are chosen in order of birth from eldest to youngest; or ultimogeniture when the children are chosen from youngest to eldest.

Historically, many European realms forbade succession by women or through a female line in obedience to the Salic law, and some still do. No queen regnant ever ruled France, for example. Only one woman, Maria Theresa, ruled Austria.

In Japan, the Chrysanthemum Throne – currently barred to women – did not always have such a restriction. There have been eight empresses regnant. The Japanese language calls such women rulers josei tennō – “female imperial ruler” – with kōgō being the term reserved for an empress consort.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of the differences between European and African women who rule and how referring to such African women as “Queen” in your fiction is not correct and could even be considered insulting to many, let’s look at a few African women rulers for information and inspiration in your research and writings.

Amina – or Aminatu – of Zazzau (Zaria)

Sword and SoulAmina was the eldest daughter of Bakwa Turunku – also a woman – the founder of the Zazzau Kingdom in 1536. After the death of her mother in 1549, Amina ascended the throne. This medieval African kingdom was located in the region now known as the Kaduna State in the north-central region of Nigeria, capital at the modern city of Zaria, named after Amina’s younger sister, Zariya.

The earliest commentator to mention Amina is Muhammed Bello’s history text, Ifaq al-Maysur, composed around 1836.

Amina is also mentioned in the Kano Chronicle, a well-regarded and detailed history of the city of Kano and the surrounding Hausa people.

Known as a great military strategist, the cavalry-trained Amina fought many wars that expanded the southernmost Hausa kingdom.

Queen Amina is a legend among the Hausa people for her military exploits. She controlled the trade routes in the region, erecting a network of commerce within the great earthen walls that surrounded Hausa cities within her dominion. According to the Kano Chronicle, she conquered as far as Nupe and Kwarafa, ruling for 34 years.

Moremi Ajasoro, Olori of Ile Ife

Sword and SoulMoremi Ajasoro was a figure of high significance in the history of the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria, Benin and Togo. She was a member, by marriage of the of the royal family of Emperor Oduduwa, the progenitor of the Yoruba people (whom some scholars believe was a woman).

Moremi was an Olori – a title held only by certain Chiefs – hailing from Ile Ife, a kingdom at war with the neighboring Ìgbò nation.

Scores of Ife – or citizens of the Kingdom of Ile Ife – were enslaved by the Ìgbò. Because of this, the Ìgbò were generally regarded with disdain by the Yoruba city-states.

Moremi – a very brave and beautiful woman – was taken and enslaved by the Ìgbò and, due to her beauty, was wed to their ruler.

After familiarizing herself with the secrets of her new husband’s army, Moremi escaped to Ile Ife and revealed these secrets to the Yoruba, who were able to subsequently defeat the Ìgbò in battle.

Following the war, Moremi returned to her first husband, King Oranmiyan of Ile Ife.

Oranmiyan immediately had Moremi re-instated as his wife and as a Chief.

In contemporary Nigeria, a number of public places are named after Moremi, such as the women’s residence halls at the University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University.

Hatshepsut

Sword and SoulHatshepsut – meaning “Foremost of Noble Ladies” – was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. She is also known to scholars as “the first great woman in history of whom we are informed.”

Although it was uncommon for Egypt to be ruled by a woman, the situation was not unprecedented. Hatshepsut was preceded by Merneith, of the first dynasty; Nimaethap, of the third dynasty; Nitocris, the last pharaoh of the sixth dynasty; Sobekneferu, of the twelfth dynasty; and the warrior, Ahotep I.

In comparison with other women pharaohs, Hatshepsut’s reign was much longer and much more prosperous. She was successful in warfare early in her reign, but generally is considered to be a pharaoh who inaugurated a long peaceful era. Hatshepsut reestablished international trading relationships, once lost during a foreign occupation, and brought great wealth to Egypt – wealth that enabled her to initiate building projects that raised the caliber of Ancient Egyptian architecture to a standard that would not be rivaled by any other culture for a thousand years. Hatshepsut ruled for twenty-two years.

Ngola Nzinga Mbandi

Sword and SoulNzinga Mbandi was a ruthless and powerful ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba Kingdoms, which is now the nation of Angola.

Nzinga fearlessly and cleverly fought for the freedom and stature of her kingdoms against the Portuguese, who were colonizing the area at the time.

Around the turn of the 17th century, the independent kingdoms and states of the Central African coast were threatened by Portuguese attempts to colonize Luanda, today the capital of Angola.

Portugal sought to colonize the region in order to control the trade in African slaves, and attacked many of their old trading partners to further this goal.

Unlike many other rulers at the time, Nzinga was able to adapt to these changing circumstances and fluctuations in power around her. By her own determination and refusal to give in to the Portuguese without a fight, she transformed her kingdom into a formidable commercial state on equal footing with the Portuguese colonies.

In 1617 the new Portuguese governor of Luanda began an aggressive campaign against the kingdom of Ndongo. His troops invaded the capital and forced Ngola Mbandi – Nzinga’s brother, who inherited the throne from their father – to flee from the area. Thousands of Ndongo people were taken prisoner.

The Ngola sent his sister Nzinga Mbandi to negotiate a peace treaty in 1621, which she did successfully. But Portugal didn’t honor the terms of the treaty.

Ngola Mbandi, feeling he had failed his people, committed suicide, leaving the kingdom to his sister, Nzinga.

Sword and SoulAs the new sovereign of Ndongo, Nzinga re-entered negotiations with the Portuguese. At the time, Ndongo was under attack from both the Portuguese and neighboring African aggressors. Nzinga realized that in order to achieve peace and for her kingdom to remain viable, she needed to become an intermediary. She allied Ndongo with Portugal, and was baptized as Ana de Sousa Nzinga Mbande, with the Portuguese colonial governor serving as her godfather. By doing this she acquired a partner in her fight against her African enemies, and ending Portuguese slave raiding in the kingdom.

The new alliance didn’t last very long, however. Portugal betrayed Ndongo in 1626, and Nzinga was forced to flee when war broke out. Nzinga took over as ruler of the nearby kingdom of Matamba, capturing Matamba’s ruler – a woman by the name of Mwongo Matamba – and routing her army. Nzinga then made Matamba her capital, joining it to the Kingdom of Ndongo.

To build up her kingdom’s martial power, Nzinga offered sanctuary to runaway slaves and Portuguese-trained African soldiers and stirred up rebellion among the people still left in Ndongo, now ruled by the Portuguese.

Nzinga also reached out to the Dutch and invited them to join troops with her. She told the Dutch she would be happy to ally with them because of their justice and politeness, whereas the Portuguese were proud and haughty.

Even their combined forces were not enough to drive the Portuguese out, however, and after retreating to Matamba again, Nzinga started to focus on developing Matamba as a trading power and the gateway to the Central African interior.

By the time of Nzinga’s death in 1661 at the age of 81, Matamba was on equal footing with the Portuguese colony. The Portuguese came to respect Ngola Nzinga for her shrewdness and tenacity.

Now, please, no more excuses. If you are writing Sword and Soul, building an African setting for your Fantasy Role-Playing Game, or hell, writing an essay on an African ruler who happens to be a woman, please, do your research. Get it right.

And for all you players and smooth-talkers, the next time you open your mouth to call a sister a “beautiful African Queen”…don’t.

Beautiful African King, maybe. But if that doesn’t sound right to you, although it’s much more accurate, hell, just go with Goddess. Yeah, that’s it.

Goddess.

Sword and Soul


MORE TROLLS THAN A MID-LEVEL DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS CAMPAIGN

troll 3

MORE TROLLS THAN A MID-LEVEL DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS CAMPAIGN

troll 2I have been the victim of trolling.

Recently, a person tried to bait me into an argument, or get a rise out of me by insulting my latest book release, A Single Link, without reading it. When that didn’t work, they said they were purchasing another book that released the same day as A Single Link.

Fine by me; my short story, Brood is in that book, too.

Silly rabbit.

No, not rabbit…troll.

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a group forum, chat room, or blog.

While trolling – the term for the discordant actions of a troll – can be accidental, it is usually done with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment and bullying. For example, mass media has used troll to describe “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.”

troll 5The advice “Please don’t feed the troll,” is often given, which means to ignore trolls and their actions.

Of course, trolls are not limited to English-speaking countries. Every nation on Earth is plagued by the trollpocalypse.

In Taiwanese Mandarin, trolling is referred to as bái mù – literally, “white eye” – or, “eyes without pupils”. The pupil of the eye is used for vision; the white part of the eye cannot see. In regard to trolls, this means that trolling involves blindly talking nonsense over the internet, with no regard for others. The alternative term is bái làn – literally “white rot” – which describes an internet post that is completely nonsensical and full of folly made to upset others. It derives from a Taiwanese slang term for pale, white, male genitalia, considered to be the genitalia of someone who is young and foolish.

In Japanese, tsuri means “fishing” and refers to posts with the sole purpose of getting readers to react.

In Icelandic, þurs refers to trolls. The verbs þursa (to troll) or þursast (to be trolling, to troll about) are also used.

In Korean, nak-si means “fishing”, and is used to refer to Internet trolling, as well as to purposefully misleading post titles.

troll 6In Thai, the word krean – the name of a closely cropped hairstyle worn by school boys in Thailand – is used to address Internet trolls, thus equating them with school boys. The phrase tob krean, or “slapping a cropped head”, refers to the act of posting intellectual replies to refute and the messages of Internet trolls and cause them to be perceived as unintelligent.

Psychologists have discovered that trolling is a form of symbolic violence. Trolls desire to promote antipathetic emotions of disgust and outrage, which gives them a morbid sense of pleasure.

The troll is a predator who attempts to pass as a legitimate participant in a group, sharing the group’s common interests and concerns. A group’s success at detecting a troll depends on how well they – and the troll – understand identity cues.

And trolls must be identified and, upon identification, immediately banned from the group or unfriended because trolls can be costly in several ways:

A troll can disrupt a discussion, disseminate bad advice and damage the feeling of trust in the group or community. Furthermore, in a group that has become sensitized to trolling – where the rate of deception is high – many honestly naïve questions may be perceived as trolling and the questioner branded a troll.

“Why would someone in their right mind troll?” You ask?

troll 4Because they are not in their right mind. Predators – unless they are lions, tigers, or hawks or something – rarely are.

Most are bullies. Punk-ass bullies, at that.

These e-gangsters and keyboard killers are more aggressive, rude and forthright online because they are anonymous and can act as unpleasantly as they like without immediate consequence.

In real life, though, these chumps wouldn’t clap at a concert, because pulling the same shit would, at best, incur social sanctions and at worst, incur an ass whoopin’.

“Other than moderation and censorship, what can we do to stop these damned trolls?” You ask?

Well, let’s go to the experts on trolls – Dungeons and Dragons – and see what they have to say (the emphasis, in bold, is mine).

“With its 5 hit points of regeneration per round, a troll can stand up to a lot of punishment. Moreover, it has 10 feet of reach that allows it get the drop on Player Characters with attacks of opportunity, as well as two claws and a bite attack for significant Strength-enhanced damage.

troll 1Trolls are horrid carnivores found in all climes, from arctic wastelands to tropical jungles. Most creatures avoid these beasts, which know no fear and attack unceasingly when hungry.

Trolls have ravenous appetites, devouring everything from grubs to bears and humanoids. They often lair near settlements and hunt the inhabitants until they devour every last one…trolls can appear thin and frail but possess surprising strength

They launch themselves into combat without hesitation, flailing wildly at the closest opponent.

Trolls are infamous for their regenerative abilities, able to recover from the most grievous of wounds or regenerate entire limbs given time. Severing a troll’s head results merely in temporary incapacitation, rather than death. After cutting off a troll’s head or other limbs, one must seal the wounds with fire or acid to prevent regeneration. Because of this, most adventurers will typically carry some sort of implement capable of creating fire.”

“…After cutting off a troll’s head or other limbs, one must seal the wounds with fire or acid to prevent regeneration.” As I stated earlier, you must identify the troll, cut them off from communication with the group, or yourself, and then permanently ban them and warn others against the troll, thus “cauterizing” the wound caused by their actions.

So, hunt down those trolls, draw your +3 keen Vorpal Sword and decapitate those predatory little bastards.

Be sure you have a torch or a vial of acid handy, though.

Can’t have that troll growing a new head and coming back.

*DISCLAIMER: I do not condone the literal decapitation of  anyone, not even trolls…unless, of course, it is in self-defense, or it is an actual out-from-under-the-bridge troll.


AFRICAN PULP: The Spear in Racist Pulp Fiction’s Heart!

Lance Spearman

AFRICAN PULP: The Spear in Racist Pulp Fiction’s Heart!

comix 13Throughout Africa, storytelling has always been an intrinsic part of society, used to recall historical events, impart wisdom, debate and communicate messages from the divine.

Storytellers – called Djele, Sanusi, Babalawo, Iyanifa, Okomfo and other titles, depending on where, on the continent you go – are revered and are usually also skilled in spiritual and healing practices as well.

Tales of powerful heroes, megalomaniacal villains, sorcerers, witches and fearsome creatures abound in African folklore, thus I was not surprised at my recent discovery – thanks to Paul Bishop, author and mastermind behind the Fight Card brand of Fight Fiction books – that Pulp magazines, created by, and about, African heroes were highly popular across the continent in the 1960s through the 1980s.

Sold under the brand names African Film and Boom, these magazines – called photo comics, or “look books” – were illustrated with stunning photographs instead of drawings, giving them the uniqueness, creative flair and do-it-yourself spirit common throughout Africa.

With heroes like the Tarzanesque Fearless Fang (Boom) and the “African Superman”, Son of Samson, children and adults alike waited eagerly every month for latest edition to hit the newsstands.

Lance SpearmanThe most popular photo comic magazine was The Spear (African Film), which featured Lance Spearman, the super-spy / detective whose coolness James Bond and Derek Flint would envy. The Spear drove a Corvette stingray, sported a panama hat and well-tailored suits with a bow tie and smoked expensive cigars. And in true Pulp fashion, he had a bevy of beautiful women at his beck-and-call.

Lance Spearman pursued the bad guys with zeal, outwitting their conspiracies, kicking much ass with his African martial arts and saving the day…all in one issue!

These popular Pulps – a portfolio of black and white photos, complete with speech balloons, narration boxes and all the “bam-pow” sound effects that a kick and a quick upper cut to the jaw makes in any comic book.

Unlike the popular Pulps of the Western world, however, which were rife with racist tropes of uncivilized, uneducated, spear-chucking cannibals, or damn-near naked noble savages, with objectified, ample body parts, Lance Spearman was sharp, stylish and sophisticated.

Even the jungle stalking Fearless Fang was intelligent, witty, brave and well, cool.

Combining Western references with a distinctly African cultural identity, these amazing African Pulps presented a critique of colonialism and a significant variation in how the genre classically figured normality and otherness.

And they were entertaining as hell!

Published first by publisher Drum Publications in Nigeria in the early 1960s and later also published in Kenya and Ghana the photo comic had a powerful and lasting influence in fostering postcolonial pride and identity.

Its combination of extreme violence, melodrama, romance and glimpses of the glamorous life preceded and influenced the Blaxploitation craze in American cinema in the 1970s and its use of inventive DIY tactics to overcome budget constraints influenced the booming Nollywood film industry.

African PulpOther popular titles included The Stranger, about a two-gun toting, Black Lone Ranger-type hero; the romantic Sadness and Joy; and the serpentine shero, Cobra.

“Ok, you’ve told us about the photo comics, but how, and why, were they created?” You ask? “

 Well, Drum Publications of Nairobi, Kenya – tired of the clichéd racist images of Black people in contrast to the heroic images of white soldiers and superheroes in Western comics – decided to create comic books that would appeal to Black men. They began photographing black men in adventures that were designed to appeal to the Black African population.

Drum would buy stories and then send the scripts to Swaziland, where a photographer would takes pictures of a cast of Black actors. They would then send the photographed strips to London, England, where the magazines were printed. Finally, the photo comic magazines would be distributed in West, East and South Africa.

comix 12The Lance Spearman title was the most popular publication, with circulation figures estimated at 100, 000 in West Africa, 45,000 in East Africa and 20,000 in South Africa. In fact, Lance Spearman had a greater circulation in Kenya than any of the local daily newspapers at that time.

The writers of these look-books were Black Africans, who were paid $65 – equivalent to approximately $508.00 today – for every script they produced.

Expected in the scripts were lots of fistfights and the bad guys always losing in the end.

The readership of these photo comics included men, women, boys and girls from small rural towns to sprawling urban cities; from the barely literate to highly educated professionals.

The man, who played the character of Lance Spearman, was Jore Mkwanazi, originally employed as a “houseboy” in Durban, South Africa, scrubbing the floors of an apartment for $35 a month and as a musician, playing the piano in a nightclub for $1.50 a night, when photographer Stanley N. Bunn discovered him and decided he had the tough, cynical, sophisticated face that was needed for The Spear. In the role of the super-spy, Mkwanazi earned $215 a month.

Here is the original Drum Publications information, found in every issue of their photo comic magazines:

 
Drum Publications (E.A.) Ltd
P.O Box 43372
Nairobi
Kenya

Editor: J. Singh

Printed by 
Printing and Packaging Corporation Ltd
P.O Box 30157, 
Nairobi

But the story of photo comic magazines does not stop here.

In fact, it is just beginning.

In the summer of 2014, I will publish my first photo comic book, The Siafu: Revolution.

The Siafu is about escaped prisoner, Jamil Brown, who suffers a virus-induced myostatin deficiency that gives him enhanced strength, speed and endurance. Jamil is hunted by his makers, while gathering others like him to help fight against the corrupt system that made him.

For those of you who don’t know, siafu are army ants that, while small, are powerful and – in large enough numbers – can bring down an elephant.

So, be on the lookout for this amazing new graphic Pulp science fiction novel in a few months.

Get ready for The Siafu.

Get ready for Revolution.

 

 


THIS AINT I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: Rape in Black Speculative Fiction!

rape 3

THIS AINT I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: Rape in Black Speculative Fiction

rape 1As I write this, I think of the sad fact that three of my seven daughters – I have eight children; two grandchildren – have been raped. I, too, was raped as a little boy, by a woman.

For years, I worked as an expert witness on violent crime in Illinois and I am the founder of the NZINGA: Mother / Daughter Self-Defense Program, in which I taught rape awareness as part of the course. I say taught, because I have since given responsibilities of that program over to my wife and to the women who are Assistant Instructors under my tutelage.

Among African Americans, there is a reluctance to report rape and incest. A reluctance born of wariness of authority, especially white authority, which is learned from the experience of white lynch mobs; the death of four little girls killed during the bombing of a church in Birmingham and the battered body of young Emmett Till. There is reluctance, because we remember the destruction of entire cities – such as Tulsa, Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida – at the hands of white mobs after a Black man was wrongfully accused of raping a white woman.

Historically, we have learned that the system is not to be trusted.

Rape is one of the most underreported violent crimes, according to the Department of Justice, regardless of the victim’s sex, age, race, ethnicity, religion or class, but as a group, African American women are the least likely to break the silence.

This phenomenon, first documented in 1981 by Gail Wyatt, a sexual behavior researcher at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, is now being addressed in self-help books and at rape crisis centers created specifically to serve People of Color, such as the Rosa Parks Sexual Assault Crisis Center in South Los Angeles.

I believe what I suffered, which I kept to myself for thirty years, led me to being sexually promiscuous at a very young age; to high blood pressure, which led to several strokes in 2012 and a bout with alcoholism. What I, three of my children and countless women I know, suffered also led to my portraying rapists, or potential rapists, as the vilest of villains in some of my writing.

It’s no secret that rape is common in fiction. Sometimes it’s relevant to the plot, often used as the catalyst in a revenge story. Other times rape is used to remind us that we live in a cruel world, filled with even crueler people. And other times, it is used to shock, or even titillate.

A Single LinkI don’t write much about rape. Only my latest book, A Single Link, actually has such a horrific event take place and in one of my screenplays, I hint that one of the villains is a rapist.

When I wrote A Single Link, which I first wrote, directed and produced as a film, I conferred with nearly fifty women of various ages. I asked if I had handled the rape intelligently, if it came off as a gimmick, or if it was predictable. They invariably answered “no,” and told me A Single Link was a story that needed to be told.

Many of the women – including my wife – gave suggestions on how I could make the story more believable; more like something they would want to see. I am glad I listened and made much needed changes based on their suggestions. The story went through fifteen drafts – more than I have ever done for any of my writing – before I was comfortable enough with the script to shoot it.

I am happy I did.

Many lazy writers use rape as a plot device in their stories because it is easy to use as a motivator for the shero to begin her quest. Well, for those who have known me for even a short while, you know I am far from lazy, so you know that was not my motivation (as one reader and part-time troll implied). She assumed my use of the rape is predictable…which is a predictable – and lazy – response, by the way (do your research – or at least read the book – before passing judgment, y’all).

However, to be fair, rape is often overused or misused in fiction; particularly in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

A Single Link Rape should not be used unless its occurrence is integral to the development of the story or a character.

In fact, no violent act – assault; battery; terroristic threats; murder — should take place in a story unless it is integral to the plot or to develop characters. Any violence, for the sake of violence, is wrong and makes for poor writing.

A common statement that has been made is “Let’s see men get raped in fiction as well.” Once again, if it is handled intelligently and with empathy, why not? However, if such a story is told on some old ‘quid pro quo’ bull, then it is just as gimmicky; just as lazy; just as wrong.

Rape of men has happened in popular fiction a few times; most famously in Pulp Fiction, Deliverance and Antwone Fisher. Sadly, these rapes have been made jokes of by men and women, as if a man suffering a rape – especially if committed by a woman – has no lasting effect on men. This should be rectified, so I would welcome someone writing a story that deals with this issue seriously.

America has been described as a “rape culture” – an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence – and I would agree with that description.

A Single Link is my contribution to the fight against such a twisted, cruel culture that leaves my mother, my sisters, my daughters, and even my son, unsafe.

I pray I got it right.

Read the book and let me know.


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