State of Black Sci-Fi 2012: Why I love Steampunk!

Airships…steam-trains…top-hats…goggles, gears, clockwork and floating, mechanical castles. These – and much more – are the stuff of Steampunk!

Still stumped as to just what Steampunk is? Well, you could just pick up a copy of my book – Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2) (http://www.amazon.com/Moses-Chronicles-Harriet-Tubman-Books/dp/1477422889/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1342614088&sr=8-2&keywords=moses+chronicles+of+harriet) – and enjoy a pretty cool Steampunk novel, if I may say so, myself – or read on and I will define Steampunk for you (feel free to still get the book, though – I won’t be mad at ya’).

Steampunk is a literary genre – a marriage of science fiction and fantasy that features the technological and social aspects of an Age of Steam. In the world of Steampunk, steam is the “nuclear power” of an industrial era – whether that era takes place during the Victorian Period of the 1800s, in ancient Egypt, or in a future in which electricity and steam takes the place of fusion power.

The funny thing is – I was writing and enjoying Steampunk long before ever hearing of the genre. I – and many of you, I am sure – was a fan of Steampunk for decades before the term “Steampunk” existed. From 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; From A Series of Unfortunate Events(Lemony Snicket) to The Golden Compass; from the old Wild, Wild, West television show to Warehouse 13 – all of these are Steampunk. Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes and even Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein – all Steampunk!

I have always loved Steampunk because it is so damned cool! I mean, in what other genre can you find a team of superheroes with a roster that includes Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo and Tom Sawyer?
In what other genre can you find Harriet Tubman in a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse with John Wilkes Booth?
In what other genre can you find a brother as cool as Catcher Freeman(or as frightening as his alter-ego – Catch – a – Freeman)?

I love Steampunk…for the most part.
What I do not love is the lack of main characters of African descent (hell, the lack of main characters of any descent, other than European). The literary genre, as well as the design aesthetic, is wrought with racism and sexism (as is the fantasy genre, in general). A few authors of African-descent are changing this; and, as we discover how much fun it is to write in this genre, many more of us will join in.

I already mentioned my book, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman – available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or directly through http://www.mochamemoirspress.com – and there are a couple of other Blacktastic Steampunk tales that I know you will love as much as I do:

The Switch, by Valjeanne Jeffers: http://mochamemoirspress.com/the-switch/
The Delivery, by Milton J. Davis: http://www.scribd.com/doc/76098823/The-Delivery

For a short story I wrote that combines Steampunk with the Sword & Soul fantasy subgenre, check out The Hand of Sa-Seti: http://www.scribd.com/AuthorBalogun/d/78886474-THE-HAND-OF-SA-SETI-A-Ki-Khanga-Tale

Oh, and for those few of you who do not know where to find the aforementioned cool-cat, Catcher Freeman – a character who made his first appearance on The Boondocks animated series – check out this video homage I made in his honor a while back: http://blackcommunityentertainment.com/videos/36/catcher-freeman

For more authors and the genres of fiction theylove, check out:

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer–is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled – Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com/ or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com/

L.M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website http://www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

Milton Davis, Author –Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him: http://www.mvmediaatl.com and http://www.wagadu.ning.com.

Margaret Fieland, Author–lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry/ is available from Amazon.com Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author —is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at:http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

Thaddeus Howze, Author–is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

Alicia McCalla, Author—writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at: http://www.aliciamccalla.com

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole:http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/ or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com/

Rasheedah Phillips, Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her: http://nicolesconiers.com/index.html

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com & BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite 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 https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight 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; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. 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 and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. 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.

32 responses »

  1. Balogun, excellent post! I so love steampunk, too. I would really like to do a steampunk novel. Can you do a workshop on fight scenes? The fight scenes in your novel are awesome!

  2. Milton Davis says:

    I’d just taken a seat on my airship flight to New York when I came across your gripping blog. I don’t see what the big fuss about steampunk is. I..excuse me while I tip my top-hat to the lovely young lady entering my cabin…don’t see what so special.

    Great blog. Got your book and I plan to read it soon. 🙂

  3. Thank you for this wonderful intro to steampunk. It’s interesting to note that works I was already familiar with, such as Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and The Golden Compass could be classified as such.

    Welcome to the blog hop, Balogun! Looking forward to reading your work.

  4. I love steampunk just because of the name. Seriously! Steampunk! You kind of sound badass just saying it. It took me a while to connect the examples that I knew, many of which you named, to the current moniker, but I like this stuff too. I have seen a lot of “steampunk” movies, but I haven’t read a whole lot of books–H. G. Wells “The Time Machine” comes to mind. I will have to add a few more to my ever-increasing pile of books.

    • Balogun says:

      Thanks, L.M.! Yeah, “Steampunk” does have a cool ring to it!
      Steampunk is an enjoyable read…I have a lot of fun writing it too, as I enjoy the challenge of creating gadgets and weapons that use steam technology.

  5. Wonderful post Brother Balogun! You’re absolutely right: steampunk has been around for awhile. For those of you who haven’t checked it out, pick up a copy of The Chronicles of Harriet. The Chronicles. . . is truly steampunk at it’s finest :)!

  6. Yes, This is true, I forgot about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a part of this.
    Love all the other characters, that you mentioned as well.

  7. Rasheedah says:

    haha, i agree with L.M., I always thought the name steampunk was badass as well. I am mostly attracted to the aesthetic aspects of the genre, the look of the characters. I havent so much delved into the construction of a steampunk narrative, so I appreciate your definition. I’ve seen steampunk movies, of course, but it will be interesting to see how it translates into literature. Very much looking forward to reading your work. I drooled all over the photos on BSFS:)

  8. mark knox says:

    the state of black sci-fi is up in the air. i really don’t see any movies pertaining to it. financing plays a major role, distibution comes into play. using the word “black” might kill any real chances of a film with people of color riding spaceships. there is still a chance for black sci-fi … it’s just a question of what do we do to preserve and inhance what little there is?.

  9. Jaymee Goh says:

    There are cool black steampunks too! On the East Coast, there’s Phil Powell, steampunk dandy (I’ve got an interview with him coming up on my blog next month), Tony Ballard of Airship Archon in the mid-West, Mr. Saturday down in Texas, and on the West Coast, Tony Hicks of Tinplate Studios and Miss Aetherley (whose dieselpunk fashions are unmistakable).

    In short fiction, you got NK Jemisin’s Effluent Engine, Maurice Broaddus’ Pimp My Airship, and Malon Edwards’ Bijou Lavoix and the Coal-Dust Fairy. Nisi Shawl is working on a novel set in Africa during King Leopold’s reign. There are cool things happening in steampunk featuring POC that I don’t see happening in other subgenres.

    • Balogun says:

      Thanks for this helpful information, Jaymee! I agree – there are most certainly cool things happening in steampunk featuring POC that other subgenres lack, which is why it has become such a popular subgenre with us.

  10. I would not even know what steampunk was if no for Valjeanne, Milton and Balogun.
    They opened my eyes to themes that were in site but I didn’t know what to call it. Thanks for the education. This genre is yet another genre that is ripe for picking.
    I’m looking forward to more work from you all.

    • Balogun says:

      Thank YOU for Black Science Fiction Society! It has been a place where I have met and am working with people of great talent who are even greater people.

  11. johnlmalone says:

    thank you for subscribing to my blog. I am honoured. Although I am not a follower of steampunk that short story you posted roughly the same time I posted mine — ‘The Eye’ —- made me realise straight away I was in the presence of an accomplished author. I hope my blogs do not disappoint

  12. […] First of all, this month in the US is African/African-American History Month. Beyond Victoriana has done features relating to this event in the past (check out our stuff on Black Victoriana in 2010 and African/African-American Heritage series in 2011) and this year I want to spotlight a venture by Alicia McCalla: The State of Black Sci-Fi 2012 blog carnival. She along with several other writers talk about where they see black sci-fi right now and where it is going. There’s a lot of food for thought on all of the contributors sites; so please check them out at the link. Plus, a shout-out to Valjeanne Jeffers’ post on why she loves steampunk and Balogun, the author of the steampunk/alt- hist book Moses: the Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, wrote about why he hearts steam too. […]

  13. Reblogged this on theseventhbeingawakening and commented:
    Tightwork! I love this!

  14. Doug says:

    BLACKTASTIC!
    Just wanted to say great article. Your book about Harriet Tubman sounds very cool. Is it available for the kindle?
    There’s a whole multi-cultural aspect to steampunk, you just have to Google it. The idea being at least in fantasy we can “write” the wrongs…
    As a side note unrelated my wifeand I just got to meet some of the men who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen. It was very cool.

    • Balogun says:

      Thank you for your comment!
      Yes, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman is available for Kindle AND Nook.
      “Write the wrongs”…I LIKE that!
      I am sure meeting those gentlemen was a great experience and I am sure they had great stories to tell.

  15. zinzi says:

    can i purchase the ebook, i don’t live in the states but would love to have the book

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