Get Out and why Black Horror is HOT in the Trump Era

Why do we enjoy having the most negative of negative emotions… fear?

Why do we seek out entertainment in fear, disgust, or anger?

Why is the mega-popular, blockbuster Get Out so mega-popular and a blockbuster, or my novel A Haunting in the SWATS: The Savannah Swan Files, seeing more initial success than any of my other works of fiction?

Does this Era of Trump – one of burgeoning fascism, genderism, sexism and racism – have something to do with it?

It seems to me the crucial thing is that we have no need to act in response to what we fearing in Get Out. Had we been peeping through a window at Chris being hypnotized by Missy, then having his consciousness sent to “the sunken place,” we would hardly have enjoyed the experience. We would have felt we should do something – beat on the window; call 911; whoop Missy’s ass.

In A Haunting in the SWATS, we do not have to save Savannah and her son when they are attacked by a horde of African mole rats, or help her daughter when she is infected with wicked spirits posing as her ancestors.

Not having to act in response to an emotional stimulus leads to pleasure. Having to decide whether to act in response to an emotional stimulus leads to planning, not pleasure.

With Get Out and A Haunting in the SWATS and other instances of negative emotions in literature, experiencing that relaxation, knowing that we won’t have to do anything about these frightening situations, is, in and of itself, pleasurable.

Why?

Because we turn to literature, stories, poems, plays, and movies to have our emotions stimulated, even in unpleasurable ways. We do so because we experience a continuing release of psychic energy from knowing, at a cognitive level, that we do not have to act in response to those emotional signals. We know before we enter the movie theater that we will feel unpleasurable fear during the movie or the story, but we also know that we will feel pleasure, even during that fear, because we know we won’t have to do anything about it.

In this Era of Trump, we are living a horror show and our gut tells us we will have to do something about it. We might, in just a few days, be forced to join others in resisting oppression, in freeing ourselves from beneath the boot-heel of a fascist state. This is truly frightening and very unpleasurable. So, little wonder that horror is hot again with people of African descent.

Horror stories – and the understanding of why stories that scare us are attractive to us – is nothing new.

For Black folks with close familial ties to Africa, the Caribbean, and/or the Dirty South – which is damn near ALL of us – stories, beliefs and lore about death, the afterlife, ancestors, ghosts, witches, haunted places and a host of other supernatural entities and events tend to become an everyday thing.

Growing up on the West Side of Chicago had a great impact on me as I witnessed, first-hand, the horrors of murder, drug addiction, gang violence and police brutality. It is something that continues to influence my writing till date, which is why you will find elements of horror in all of my works of fiction.

In the Era of Trump, Get Out and A Haunting in the SWATS, which both deal with possession of the mind, are fitting. To be enslaved, to be oppressed, to be displaced, is to be POSSESSED – to have another have power and control over your thoughts, words and deeds.

Now, more than ever, we authors of Black Speculative Fiction should write more great horror stories; should do our part to help others experience pleasure… before the unpleasurable work of freeing ourselves is at hand.

10 Black Speculative Fiction Anthologies You Should Read

If novels are the meat and bones of Black Speculative Fiction – science fiction, fantasy and horror written by and about people of African descent – then short stories are the lifeblood.

Anthologies are great because the short fiction found within them allows readers to expand their reading horizons in a relatively short amount of time through diverse stories written in a variety of writing styles.

Here are 10 Black Speculative Fiction anthologies that will show you just how Blacktastic science fiction, fantasy and horror storytelling can get.

 

Black Power: The Superhero Anthology

This groundbreaking anthology brings together twenty authors to craft original short superhero stories.

BLACK POWER: THE SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY offers BANG-POW-THOOM action, searing satire, and thoughtful social commentary from a people too often overlooked in mainstream comic books and heroic cinema and television.

The superheroes in BLACK POWER: THE SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY come from all walks of life. Some have superpowers that make them something more, or less, than human, but others face a dangerous world with only their wits and willpower to aid them. Some of the heroes fight against racism, sexism, gang violence and police brutality. Others combat evil on a cosmic scale. ALL of the stories are entertaining and enlightening.

Black Heroes Matter. Read BLACK POWER: THE SUPERHERO ANTHOLOGY and find out just how much!

 

Steamfunk!

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

 

Rococoa

Where Sword and Soul ends and before Steamfunk begins, there is the Age of Spring Technology and Clockwork.

Imagine an alternate universe where chronomancer Benjamin Banneker crafts a world of automatons, clockwork airships and other marvels; where Nat Turner leads a rebellion, killing hordes of vampire slave owners; where the pirate queen, Black Pitch Pauline joins Jean-Jacques Dessalines in defeating Napoleon during the Haitian Revolution. Think Three Finger’d Jack; the pirate, Black Caesar; the Black Count, Nat Turner, and the Stono Rebellion…THAT is Rococoa!

Fourteen masters of speculative fiction have taken a new genre, embraced its established themes and refashioned them in surprising ways and settings. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it.

 

Dieselfunk!

Take an amazing ride with eight authors as they add a funky twist to the Dieselpunk genre!

The Dieselfunk! anthology fills a void common in most speculative fiction genres, providing a much needed voice from an African/African Diaspora perspective.

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; the Tuskegee Airmen; bootleggers; Bessie Coleman; Marcus Garvey; the 761st Tank Battalion; the Tulsa Race Riots… that is Dieselfunk!

 

The City: A Cyberfunk Anthology

The City anthology is a unique creation – a collection of stories where eighteen different authors share their vision of a single idea. It is Cyberfunk – cyberpunk stories that play with future concepts from an African/Black perspective. Most of all it is engaging, exciting, thought provoking and fun.

Like the inhabitants, the City is perceived in various ways by the various writers. Some stories intersect, some diverge, but they all entertain. The result is a journey into a unique world described by unique and engaging voices.

 

Dark Universe

The Dark Universe anthology tells the origin story of the Cassad Empire, from its ambitious beginning to its evolution to the first great human Galactic Empire and its eventual fall.

Dark Universe is space opera like you’ve never seen.

The time has come; Dark Universe is here!

 

Griots: Sisters of the Spear

Griots: Sisters of the Spear picks up where the groundbreaking Griots: A Sword and Soul 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 African women.

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

 

Forever Vacancy: A Colors in Darkness Anthology

Colors in Darkness, the premiere online site for dark fiction authors of color presents its first anthology and boy did they bring the thrills and chills!

Amid the upheaval of the 1960s, the Kretcher Motel opened in a poor, desolate part of Atlanta. It still serves its original purpose: to lure those souls who are lost, who are troubled, who are evil… to itself.

Check in to view these thirteen dark tales of horror, betrayal, fear, and wickedness, all featuring characters of color. You may never want to leave.

 

 

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora

Dark Matter was the first series to bring together the works of Black Science Fiction and Fantasy writers and introduce them to generations of readers who never had the chance to explore the scope and diversity of Black writers or Black Speculative Fiction.

 

Sycorax’s Daughters

Thought-provoking, powerful, and revealing, this anthology is composed of 28 dark stories and 14 poems written by Black women writers. The works delve into demons and shape-shifters to far future offerings. These pieces cover vampires, ghosts, and mermaids, as well as the unexpected price paid by women struggling for freedom and validation in the past.

The NubiaOne Fest Schedule!

Join us June 16 and 17 for a funky, Blacktastic time in Atlanta!

Fans and creators of Black Speculative Fiction and Cosplay are taking over the Auburn Avenue Research Library for the weekend for NubiaOne Fest!

NubiaOne Fest is the brainchild of authors and SOBSFCon/Blacktasticon Co-Chairs Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis. This Festival is the FREE, fun, funky sister event to Blacktasticon, held during odd years.

Here is the schedule you do NOT want to miss!

 

Friday, June 16, 2017

7:00pm-9:00pm

The Mahogany Masquerade

Put on your funkiest cosplay, costume, or masquerade and come party and maybe even enter the cosplay contest and win great prizes!

Kick off NubiaOne Fest with old school music; drink; drank; hors d’oeuvres; and Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Cyberfunk and Black Superhero cosplay!

 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

1:00pm

Marketplace Opens.

 

1:00pm-2:30pm

Black Heroes Matter: Black Craft and Consciousness in Comic Books

Join Black comic book creators, publishers, store owners and collectors as they discuss the existence, importance and power of Black imagery in comic books and graphic novels.

 

2:45pm-4:15pm

Black Women In Speculative Fiction

Black women have long played a significant role in Speculative Fiction – an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.

Join our sisters as they discuss the challenges and triumphs of Black women in today’s genre fiction market.

 

4:30pm-6:00pm

Afrofuturism and Afroretroism: Sword & Soul, Rococoa, Steamfunk, Dieselfunk, Cyberfunk and the Dark Universe

The untold stories of people of Afrikan descent has become a hot topic in the XYZ-punk, science fiction AND alternate history communities. How does this impact creators and their work in Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Science Fiction, Science Fantasy and Alternate History? What issues arise in moving toward a more diverse Afrofuturistic and retrofuturistic community?

 

6:15pm-7:45pm

Journey to Ki Khanga: A Sword and Soul Performance & Q&A

Authors Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade and the Afrikan Martial Arts Institute bring you an exciting and original mashup of Afrikan heroic Fantasy, traditional Afrikan Martial Arts and traditional Afrikan Dance in this Sword and Soul stage performance, set in Davis’ and Ojetade’s created world of Ki Khanga!

 

7:45pm-8:30pm

Mingle in the Marketplace

Continue to meet and greet the guests, vendors and other participants in NubiaOne Fest.

 

8:30pm

Marketplace Closes.

 

8:30pm-9:00pm

Closing Remarks / Networking.

The Degentrification of Urban Fantasy

Originally posted by the author on Facebook.

The cosmic. The weird. The fantastic. The spiritual.
Whatever we call it, we all have a profound need to glimpse, experience, or at least believe in, some greater reality beyond our mundane existence.
That is why Urban Fantasy has become one of the most successful genres in modern publishing.
Urban Fantasy is unique in its willingness to see the stuff of horror – the familiar cast of vampires, were-creatures, zombies, demons and other monstrous entities – not simply as horrific and repellent, but also as darkly fascinating and appealing.
Vampires have always embodied the darker aspects of human sexuality, but in urban fantasy, those aspects are allowed full rein to express themselves. However, there is far more to Urban Fantasy than steamy encounters with glittery bloodsuckers.
Authors of African descent are taking Urban Fantasy by storm and, as author Daniel José Older proclaimed in 2015, “the degentrification of Urban Fantasy has begun.”
Here are a few great Urban Fantasy books with Black Protagonists:
A Haunting in the SWATS: The Savannah Swan Files (Book 1), by Balogun Ojetade
Hoodoo. Ritual Murders. Ancient Secrets. Welcome to the SWATS!
Savannah Swan is the Root Woman, charged with enforcing the Road Law in Atlanta. Walk the wrong road and Savannah’s justice will be swift… and deadly.
Beneath the southern hospitality of Atlanta rests a dangerous world where shifters, demons, witches and gods, old and new, all vie for power.
And Southwest Atlanta – known as the SWATS – is the most dangerous area.
For generations, the Root Woman – given great power, both mundane and arcane, by the mayor – has protected the SWATS, but now a wave of ritual child murders has struck the city and corpses are appearing with strange occult symbols etched into their flesh. Something ancient, powerful and malevolent is behind it all, threatening to destroy the city and Savannah’s family; a family that might just break the Road Law to save themselves, Savannah and the SWATS.
A HAUNTING IN THE SWATS is the first novel in the Dark Urban Fantasy SAVANNAH SWAN FILES series.
If you like action packed supernatural thrillers brimming with magic, spine-chilling southern horror and otherworldly monsters, then you will love this book!
Amber and the Hidden City, by Milton Davis
Thirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years.
Why? Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She has 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 is a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.
Legend of the Orange Scepter (Age of Redd) (Volume 1), by Marcus Haynes
What would YOU do if you had the power to control the elements?
Teenagers De, M, Rod, and Mo already have an answer to that question: save the world.
When the evil android A.G. begins her takeover of the planet Colorius De, M, Rod, and Mo, along with the engineering prodigy Don, take it upon themselves to bring down A.G. and her army of androids before it is too late. Their journey takes them all over their home of Redd Continent, pitting them against several different foes as well as each other, but only by banding together can they truly earn the title of Elemental heroes.
Can they do it? Or will the Age of Redd end with them?
Brookwater’s Curse, by Steven Van Patten
Christian Brookwater is a former Georgia plantation slave who became a vampire during the 1860s. His long, tumultuous life takes a complicated turn when he is forced to travel to modern-day Senegal to rescue a child from a vengeful werewolf prince. It is here that Christian uncovers a plot that would throw the entire vampire nation into a civil war. To stop this, Christian must betray his best friend and mentor, an influential Italian vampire who nurtured him during his vampiric infancy.
Christian also suffers from a rare condition that makes intercourse with human females especially dangerous.
In the 2nd novel in the series, the civil war Christian Brookwater sought to prevent has become a harsh reality.
In the 3rd novel, Christian Brookwater has spent the last four years helping to cure the werewolves of their insatiable bloodlust. The only problem is that his funding is coming from vampire taxes. Christian is about to be called on the mat for it and must defend himself on national vampire television!
Personal drama also unfolds as Christian and his second in command, Helen, each find themselves embroiled in separate but equally volatile love triangles. Secret alliances will be revealed, deals will be brokered, villains will emerge and heroes will rise. Most shocking of all, Christian Brookwater will come to learn that he is, and always has been, more than just a vampire!
A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu (the WERK series), by Balogun Ojetade
“A Single Link NEVER Breaks!”
In the first book, after suffering a brutal assault 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 near-future 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 and bone shattering fights await you!
The two-fisted adventures of Remi continue in Wrath of the Siafu:
The near future…
A young genius is gunned down brutally by the police. Remi Swan – our hero from the hard-hitting Action-Adventure, Urban Fantasy novella, A SINGLE LINK – fights to defend the little boy and herself. She is arrested, imprisoned, forced to fight and infected with an experimental virus that turns women into raging monsters… or worse.
Possessed with incredible – and scary – new abilities, Remi sets off a war against a system that has long brutalized Black people. A war that, alone, she might not be able to fight, but now she is backed by an army… a powerful and deadly force of her own making.
Now, that brutal system will suffer the WRATH OF THE SIAFU!
Take this amazing journey with Remi from Victim to Hero to Superhero!
Immortal, by Valjeanne Jeffers
In the first book in this Urban Fantasy series, we meet Karla and Joseph, lovers who have been separated by time and space. Karla and Joseph are werewolves empowered to protect their world from a powerful evil that has been unleashed.
The first novel builds the groundwork for the communes of supernatural beings, good and evil, that make their appearance throughout the series.
In the second book, we meet Karla and Joseph’s kindred, who are also the saviors of the world.
In the third book, another key player emerges: Annabelle, a vampire with her own agenda and her own stake in the planet’s survival.
In the fourth book, the characters find themselves in a sinister Steampunk realm without their memories.
Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson
Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring is set in 21st century Toronto, which has been barricaded behind roadblocks, abandoned by its rich, predominantly white, residents and left to crumble.
The inner city has to rediscover the old ways – farming, barter, herb lore. But now the wealthy need a harvest of bodies, so they prey upon the helpless of the streets.
With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.
She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.
Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter, by D.K. Gaston (Keith Gaston)
Taurus Moon is a relic hunter, who will work for pretty much anyone if they can afford him.
He is financially strapped most of the time, lives in a run-down apartment in Detroit and always seems to be in trouble.
The artifacts he searches for are not found in the jungles of the Yucatan or the deserts of Egypt. He searches for lost supernatural artifacts that may or may not be located on Earth, with his quests often taking 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 has such guts and knows exactly where to look.
The Taurus Moon novels blend action, fantasy, science fiction and humor. Fairy tales, mythologies, and legends are not stories to Taurus Moon, but his reality.
The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan, by Zig Zag Claybourne (Clarence Young)
ADVENTURE… just got 35% cooler!
Milo Jetstream. Ramses Jetstream. Coming to save the world one last damn time against the False Prophet Buford in the battle to save the Earth, preserve the soul, and make sure folks get home in one piece…
Secret cabals; Fae folk in Walmart; and a psychic whale that was poured into the oceans when the world first cooled from creation.
This is the stuff of the amazing, the life transforming Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan!
Adventure doesn’t need a new name. It needs a vacation!
Redeemer: The Cross Chronicles, by Balogun Ojetade
Ezekiel Cross is handsome, strong, intelligent and a cold blooded killer.
For most of his life, Ezekiel has been a killer, trained to enforce the whims of his boss. But Ezekiel is tired – tired of the lies to his wife, Mali; tired of not having the normal life he craves. He longs for the day that he can hang up his guns and live a normal life with his wife Mali. So he decides to end his career as a professional assassin; to hang up his guns and raise a family.
But the life of a killer is never his own. Ezekiel is called to do one last hit, but instead of closing the deal he finds himself a target. He’s sent back in time in what is meant as an experiment as well as punishment.
Initially distraught, he decides to change his fate by saving himself and his family from the events that led him to a lifetime of crime. Along the way, he meets some of the coolest, sexiest, deadliest and craziest characters to ever grace the pages of a book and ultimately finds himself in a situation that could change his life forever…or end it.
Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one’s place in the world.
Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born in the United States.
Her features are African, but she is albino. She is a terrific athlete, but cannot go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in.
And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Soon she is 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?
Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world.
Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.
With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one – and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.
Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and masterful writing, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice in Urban Fantasy.
It Happened on Negro Mountain, by Jeff Carroll
Matthew Abraham is a drug dealer being forced out of his empire in Baltimore. Rather than submit to the pressures of the younger dealers, he decides to destroy his empire and leave his neighborhood turf. He takes his seven year old daughter Destiny and her mother with him – leaving behind a gang war – and takes up residence in Negro Mountain, located along the Mason-Dixon Line.
Destiny, disturbed and frightened by her parents’ gang-banging lifestyle, turns to the spirits of her departed grandmother, and the spirits of Negro Mountain, that speak to Destiny through the dolls she plays with, and bestow upon her powers to manipulate nature through her prayers.
The saying goes, “Negro Mountain is a place where bad things happen to bad people,” so when negative energy meets with the energy resting in Negro Mountain, the outcome is always the same…
The Mountain wins… as does the reader of this Blacktastic book!

 

Dark Urban Fantasy novel “A Haunting in the SWATS” available NOW!

Hoodoo. Ritual Murders. Ancient Secrets. Welcome to the SWATS!

Savannah Swan is the Root Woman, charged with enforcing the Road Law in Atlanta. Walk the wrong road and Savannah’s justice will be swift… and deadly.

Beneath the southern hospitality of Atlanta rests a dangerous world where shifters, demons, witches and gods, old and new, all vie for power.

And Southwest Atlanta – known as the SWATS – is the most dangerous area of all.

For generations, the Root Woman – given great power, both mundane and arcane, by Atlanta’s mayor, Jedediah Green – has protected the SWATS, but now a wave of ritual child murders has struck the city and corpses are appearing with strange occult symbols etched into their flesh. Something ancient, powerful and malevolent is behind it all, threatening to destroy the city and Savannah’s family; a family that might just break the Road Law to save themselves, Savannah and the SWATS.

A HAUNTING IN THE SWATS is the first novel in the Dark Urban Fantasy SAVANNAH SWAN FILES series.

If you like action packed supernatural thrillers brimming with magic, spine-chilling southern horror and otherworldly monsters, then you will love this book!

Available now in paperback AND e-book formats!

Be the Change. #WeNeedBlackBooks

Recently, in the popular State of Black Science Fiction Facebook group, which has well over 12,000 members, a new member commented “Along with a bunch of other readers, I’m starving for paranormal and sf books with more diverse characters. Skin color, background, ages, classes.”

I told her “Then, you’re in the right place, sister. Plenty of that here. Welcome home!”

Since the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started with a simple Twitter exchange between authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo about the lack of diversity in children’s literature on April 17, 2014, we have seen tremendous support for more diversity in fiction on social media.

However, there is still a LOT more work to be done to make #WeNeedBLACKBooks, specifically, a reality.

Why?

There are several reasons, however, let’s begin by pointing out a couple of things when it comes to publishing’s relationship to diversity:

  1. The publishing industry is whiter than Trump, eating a mayo sandwich, at a Klan rally in Omaha.

From fictional characters, to their creators, to their editors, the publishing industry is staggeringly white, male and middle-class.

Employment-wise, the publishing industry, as a whole, is not much better than the fiction it produces, with indications things are actually getting WORSE as publishers poach executive talent from the notoriously white and male tech sector.

And…

  1. People are the stories they tell

Fiction informs – and forms – the way we see ourselves and the world around us. If you only read about yourself as the savage, the thug, the whore, the single parent, or, if you are a hero at all, you are the sidekick, or the “Hattie McDaniel-type,” who is only there to make the REAL hero feel better about himself (yes, HIMself, because women are rarely heroes either).

Non-inclusion, or poor inclusion is what most books offer us. So, then, what do we become? What do we aspire to? Perception ALWAYS precedes action. You want to improve how a person acts, improve how they see themselves – THIS is why works of Black Speculative fiction and Black images on the cover of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror books are important and essential.

Oh, and by the way, if you truly desire to see a change in our representation in speculative – and all other – fiction, then buying Black Speculative Fiction is not enough; you have to READ the books; TALK ABOUT the books with honest enthusiasm; REVIEW them. Yep… review them.

Tweeting out that automatic Amazon link that tells the world you bought a book might get someone to go and look at it, but unless you talk about it, why should anyone be persuaded to give it a try? Buying books is about putting money in authors’ pockets, which is important – that way we can keep writing – but that is not reader enthusiasm, it is reader subsidy. Actually discussing a book, whether you bought it or got it from the library or borrowed it from a friend, is more likely to lead to new readers than just buying it.

So, readers and authors, let’s work TOGETHER to make the much needed change in our representation.

Authors, let’s write great works of speculative fiction in which BLACK  people (people of African descent) see ourselves as the heroes and sheroes; in which there are Black couples and Black families and Black people doing ordinary AND extraordinary things. It is okay. Trust me. If your story is well written, well-plotted and interesting, other people will read it, too.

Readers, once again, please discuss what you read – whether you liked the book or hated it; discuss it. Tell people what you liked; what you hated; and why. Write a review. Reviews really help authors get more readers and, in turn, write more books. A review does not have to be elaborate. You don’t have to be the Siskel and Ebert of Black Speculative Fiction. A short paragraph or two and a rating – FIVE stars for MY books, of course (just kidding; sort of) – is all that’s required.

If you don’t know where to start, I provided a list of great Black authors of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I WILL be expanding this list in the coming weeks, so check back often.

Also, join the State of Black Science Fiction group if you are a creator, fan, or supporter of Black Speculative Fiction.

#BlackHeroesMatter. #WeNeedBlackBooks.

Be the change.

 

The Black Power Interviews: Regency

Who are you? How long have you been a superhero?

I’m called Regency. I protect the city of Denbrook… and wherever else I’m needed.

Regency? Isn’t Regency a fictional character; the hero of The Laughing Devil: A Regency Adventure by New Pulp fiction author, Lowell O’Neal?

Well…yes and no. my adventures are told in a series of novels – and recently in Black Power: The Superhero Anthology. You ever read any of them?”

I have read Black Power: The Superhero Anthology, of course, but I have yet to read the Regency books.

There are five books in the series so far… and except for some of the names being changed and dates and locations, they’re mostly true.

How does Lowell O’Neal know so much about you?

You may have heard of Lowell’s parents. Preston O’Neal sat on the bench of the state Supreme Court and Sandra O’Neal was at one time the most sought after defense lawyers in the city. Lowell went to Harvard and graduated at the top of his class but instead of joining the family firm, he was approached by the government and opted for another kind of life.”

He  became a Postal Worker?

Funny. Lowell was not only tops in law, but he was quite an exceptional athlete. That, combined with his aptitude in several other areas made him a prime candidate to be recruited into a special team.

Black Ops?

Blacker than a million midnights; an outfit codenamed Omega Elite.

After he left Omega Elite, Lowell settled in Brooklyn and wanted to fulfill a childhood dream of being a writer. Problem was the poor guy couldn’t give his stories and novels away. He collected a stack of rejection letters six feet high and was about to go back to law when he hit on an idea. He’d always been told in his writing courses that a writer should write what he knows, so he created an alter ego…

So… you’re telling us you’re Lowell O’Neal?

I said no such thing.

Then, O’Neal’s just pretending to be you?”

I never said that either.

Well, what are you… hold up… isn’t Derrick Ferguson the chronicler of your story in Black Power: The Superhero Anthology?

Yes.

Why didn’t O’Neal write it?

He gave the job to Ferguson.

Why?… Wait a minute… are Lowell O’Neal, Regency and Derrick Ferguson all one and the same person?

Are we? I never said we were. I never said we weren’t.

*Sigh* So, tell me about Derrick Ferguson, then.

Derrick Ferguson is a native of Brooklyn, New York. He’s lived there most of his still young life. He has been married for 30 years to the wonderful Patricia Cabbagestalk-Ferguson who lets him get away with far more than is good for him.

His interests include radio/audio drama, Classic Pulp from the 30’s/40’s/50’s and New Pulp being written today, Marvel and DC superheroes, Star Trek in particular and all Science Fiction in general, animation, television, movies, cooking, LONG road trips and casual gaming on the Xbox 360.

Ferguson is a native of Brooklyn. O’Neal settled in Brooklyn. Coincidence?

I, like God, do NOT believe in coincidences.

Ah-hah! So they ARE one and the same.

I never said that. I said I do not believe in coincidences; nor does God. I never said coincidences do not exist.

Moving on… so, who were some of your favorite superheroes growing up?

I’m a huge fan of the Pulp and New Pulp Heroes – Doc Savage; Fortune McCall; Lance Spearman; Dillon. As well as the superheroes of DC and Marvel.

Like Derrick Ferguson.

Ferguson has good taste; that’s all.

What do you think of Derrick Ferguson’s story, In Need of a Friend, in BLACK POWER: The Superhero Anthology?

It was brilliantly written. Action-packed and filled with intrigue and over-the-top characters. All the makings of a New Pulp masterpiece.

Well, thank you, Mr. Ferguson, for a great interview!

Nice try.

Umm… apologies, Mr. O’Neal.

Nice try again.

*Sigh* Goodbye Regency. And see you soon, dear reader. Check back later for more Black Power Interviews!

Black Power

Brotherman Creator Speaks on Black Power: The Superhero Anthology

Black PowerTwo words thrown around in popular culture with little regard for substantive reasoning: Divas and Heroes.  Merely reaching a high note doesn’t make one a diva nor does reaching supersonic speed or altering time and space make one a hero. Just as we should understand there is so much more to diva-osity, there is a social complexity to what makes and who is deemed…a hero.  Layered nuances of heroism are explored in this literary collection; layers of heroic definitions, heroic apprehensions, and consequences of heroic proportions. Complementing and complicating the layers is the infusion of soul; the clash of heroic sensibilities interwoven with perspectives from the oft-overlooked lens of the Black diaspora.

An inquiry of the word Hero in online search engines produces the typical representations promoted by mass media. Black PowerTo find an image that remotely resembled the heroic dreams and values of a people who, throughout their history, could have used someone to swoop down, puff a barreled chest, and allay fears of injustice and oppression.  The image of that hero was sparse, if not absent altogether.

Black PowerOur heroes were real. They shed blood, stood alone, and in most cases, suffered the ultimate sacrifice for the right and the righteous.  We were fortunate to have them because the heroes of our creation, the ones whose lives, philosophies, actions, and interactions from the surreal to the outlandish, rarely saw the light of day; not in print, on shelves, and definitely not in the collective cultural consciousness.

Black PowerToday is a different day! Today is a better day.  A day of greater access, control, production, and distribution. We bring to a world stage the heroes who are the hopeful manifestations of our values and beliefs.  Heroes defined by our perspectives and experiences. A heroic amalgamation of strengths, foibles, sinisterness, and folly without apologies, explanation, or need for outer-cultural approval. To date, many of the heroes given to us have existed as orphans in the world.  Nomads who appeared to serve as extensions or add-on features in an alien world that looks like ours…but today is a different day.

As you experience this anthology, page by page, you will enter spaces of the creative, inventive, and intellectual.  Within the words, the cool, hip, and ‘round the way elements adds flavor to the familiar bam, pow, and whap.  In your mind’s eye, you will hear dialects that conjure images…images without the need to be darkened by colored pencils just to make them palatable. Whether the action takes place on a different plane of existence, on one square city block, or in the infinite of space, you will know that you are there because the heroes we create…be us.

 

Guy A. Sims, Ed.D.

Revelation, the Brotherman Graphic Novel

Living Just A Little: A Novel

The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim series

Black Power

The Black Power Interviews: Tally Marks

Who are you? How long have you been a superhero?

Just call me G-Money. I ain’t no superhero, or none of that corny shit. I just put in work and get done what needs to get done.

So you’re a vigilante?

Do I look like Brotherman, nigga? You must be out your rabbit-ass mind. Vigilantes work outside the law. I enforce the law, dog. Shit, I AM the law. Like Judge Dreadz, or some shit!

Dred.

What?

You said Judge Dreadz. It’s Dred.

I know. I know, saddity-ass nigga. It’s your job to ASK questions, not answer ‘em, fool.

So, how did you come to acquire your armor and your weapons?

That’s classified, dog. Just suffice it to say, the Vice Lords, the Detroit branch of the Italian Mafia and a whole lot of other niggas wish I didn’t.

So, you murder gangbangers and other criminals?

See… you about to get yourself in trouble. You’d best think five times before you speak, dog. I ain’t no goddamn murderer. I’m a killer.

What’s the difference?

Murderers kill the innocent. Ain’t shit innocent about no gangbanger, no ho’, or no snitch. And the ‘hood got plenty of all of that. But not after I’m done.

What about crime in the white ‘hoods’? Do you deal with that, too?

Naw. I want to, but…the suit don’t see the need. Unless some white boy is an immediate danger to me.

So, the suit controls your actions?

Huh?

You said the suit doesn’t see a need to eliminate Caucasian criminals…

 No, I didn’t.

Yes, you did. You said…

Next question!

Oh… okay. So, do you read comic books?

Nope.

Do you read?

Oh, you funny. I’m gon’ read yo’ punk ass you’ rights, you keep talkin’.

Sorry. So, have you read Black Power: The Superhero Anthology? The story about you – Tally Marks – is in it.

Yeah, I read it. The writer, Chris Wiltz, must be a fed, ‘cause he knows a whole lot about me and I ain’t never told him shit. He’d best be careful with that snitchin’ though, ‘cause I know a lot about him, too.

What do you know about him?

A lot. I ain’t no snitch, though, so all I’ll share is the nigga’s bio. Hold up… let me check my database… here we go:

Chris Wiltz is a screenwriter, science fiction and horror writer, and journalist. He is the creator of the acclaimed web series Semi-Dead and the writer of the hit fan film Batman: Puppet Master. His award winning science and technology journalism appears on DesignNews.com.  He has also written for animation, comics, and is currently working on upcoming video game projects.

His latest work is the short story, Tally Marks, in Black Power: The Superhero Anthology.

He lives in Los Angeles, where he spends most of his time thinking up stories to keep you up at night.

Thanks, for sharing that! So, when you beat down a…

What the… Damn! They’re here! Gotta run, dog.

Wait… what’s wrong? G-Money? Wait!

*Sighs* Well… umm… Goodbye, dear reader. Check back later for more Black Power Interviews!

Black Power

The Black Power Interviews: Nikia, the Pandora

Who are you? How long have you been a superhero?

My name is Nikia Lynott. I am an Eve, an Anesidora. Americans called me Pandora, from the Greek mythos. I – and my sisters – are descendants of Lilith, Lucy, Mawu.

I am a mystical being, bestowed with magical powers of life and death, good and evil.

So you aren’t human, then?

As a descendant of Lucy, the oldest human on record – an African woman, whose bones were discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 – I am human… but much more.

What makes you much more?

Lilith… Mawu. Have you been listening?

*Clears throat* Apologies.

Accepted. I have been a “superhero all my life. It is the destiny of the Anesidora to protect the world until another takes her place.

And what do you do, then?

We live. We open businesses; we travel the world, clubbing, gambling and drinking ourselves silly; we get married and have children; we save the whales. However we choose to live and enjoy our lives.

So, who were some of your favorite superheroes growing up?

I assume you mean in comic books and other media.

Yes.

Well, as an avid reader of comic books, as well as a fan of superhero cinema and television, I have many, but I really love the independent stuff – there’s more creativity there. Of course, I love the classics, like Brotherman, Urban Shogun and Bayou but I also love the brilliant new works like Ngolo, Jagunjagun Lewa, T.A.S.K. and Dasu.

Wow! You really DO know comic books.

 An Anesidora is not all about saving the world and fighting supervillains.

Speaking of Supervillains… do you have a particular villain who is your nemesis?

Yes! He is called the Black Russian. I despise him. Not because he denies his blackness while claiming Black Pride; not even because he belittles and hate on Black women to justify only dating Caucasian women – he is a hot mess of conflict and contradictions. I REALLY despise Black Russian because he is always trying to kill ME.

Is Black Russian as powerful as you?

Please. I’m Nikia, the Pandora. You’d better ask somebody. Better yet… read about me yourself in Black Power: The Superhero Anthology.

Oh, I already have and your story is amazing. Tell us a bit about the chronicler of your adventures in BLACK POWER: The Superhero Anthology.

Lance Oliver Keeble, resides in Los Angeles, California, where his blue collar experience and diverse exposure helped shape his current style.

In his youth, he dabbled in the arts: stage, music, photography, poetry, scripting, and many other passions.

His current work is Nikia, the Pandora, my story in Black Power: The Superhero Anthology and Globes Disease, the Best Book Awards Finalist in Horror/Fiction.

Thank you, for a great interview, Nikia!

Thank you, for the opportunity. Now, I’m off to save the world again…hopefully, for the last time.

Black Power