The State of Black SciFi 2012: My Favorite Black SF event is Happily Natural Day’s Black Speculative Fiction Panel

In August, 2011, I was blessed to moderate a panel on Black Speculative Fiction. However, before I share my experiences at this Blacknificent event, let’s define just what “Black Speculative Fiction” is.

Speculative Fiction is now – erroneously – used as the umbrella term for Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy. I won’t deal with how much in error this term is right now, however, I will deal with it in the blog that follows this one. Suffice it to say that now, in writers’ circles, at least, Speculative Fiction is accepted as the umbrella term.

Black Speculative Fiction is Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy that features main characters that are of African descent and have authors that too are of African descent. “So, if a Caucasian author writes a science fiction novel that has a Black protagonist, it isn’t Black speculative fiction?” You ask. Nope.

Most Black people I have spoken too (children through adult) say they would read speculative fiction if there were main characters in them they could relate to.  Those of us that read speculative fiction would also like to see main characters of African descent. In fantasy, many of us are turned off by, or tired of, the medieval European setting. We seek settings that take place in Africa and other places other than some world that is obviously Anglo-Saxon.

Can a Caucasian write the aforementioned stories? Of course. Can they write them in a way that touches Black people on a deep level? No, because they can only go so deep in their understanding of the Black experience. This might sound harsh to some, but it is true and to see it otherwise can lead to disrespect of another’s culture. I can write a story about an Asian boy who discovers a sword that gives him the power of his ancestors. I can research Asian swords and Asian boys and Asian languages and Asian beliefs. And I still will be unable to relate to all these things as an Asian would. To say I could is to show disrespect to a people who live and breathe the culture; who are the very thing I am merely researching.

Thus, I had the pleasure of moderating the Black Speculative Fiction Panel for Happily Natural Day, a three-day festival held every August simultaneously in Atlanta, Georgia and Richmond, Virginia (for more on this incredible event, go to www.happilynaturalday.com). The panel took place at the Atlanta festival. On the panel were four Blacktastic authors: Dada Aum Ra; Nicole Kurtz; Alicia McCalla; and Milton Davis. The panel was lively and the questions were thought-provoking. The authors answered the questions from yours truly and from the audience brilliantly. They also shared excerpts from their works. The audience left wanting to learn more and eager to read what, before the panel, they didn’t even know existed – Black Speculative Fiction! The entire discussion can be found on videos here, on my blog, at https://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/black-speculative-fiction/.

We have now taken this show on the road, further developing it into the State of Black Science Fiction presentation. The first presentation will be held at Georgia Tech on February 16, 2012 at 6:30pm. The presentation – and each one to follow – will include a reading of each author’s work, a panel discussion, a Q & A session and an exciting performance. For more information on this event, please check out: http://www.facebook.com/events/340113679342798/.

Check out the other authors and artists that are a part of this blog tour (many of whom are also part of the State of Black Science Fiction presentation):

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 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: www.mvmediaatl.com and 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 theirenvironment. 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: 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/

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com  or on Facebook –www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter –https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

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.

9 responses »

  1. Balogun, great blog post. I really enjoyed the discussion, too. I loved the artwork in the Omenala Center. It was a great experience with the vendors, musicians, etc. I’m hoping that our Georgia Tech Presentation will be just as successful. I can’t wait.

    • Balogun says:

      Thanks, Alicia!
      Happily Natural Day is returning to its original location, which attracts a much larger, even livelier crowd. The Founder / Program Director has already agreed to having The State of Black Science Fiction presentation at the 2012 festival, so if everyone agrees to do it, we’re in!

  2. Milton Davis says:

    I had a great time at Happily Natural, too. Next time I’ll stay long enough to enjoy the food! 🙂

    • Balogun says:

      Yeah, the food was Blaxcellent! Happily Natural Day is returning to its original venue, so, this year will probably have five times the number of people. Every other year, the place is packed and all the vendors make HUGE sales.

  3. Rasheedah says:

    What an awesome post! Really informative, and I love the comparison you made on having lived certain experiences vs. researching them, the sense of cultural authenticity. All very true. All of you are doing such awesome work in the community. I am aspiring to these levels!

  4. […] science fiction and provided access to said works. For more on this panel discussion, please read: https://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-my-favorite-black-sci… and to view the video recording of the panel discussion in its entirety, please visit: […]

  5. […] science fiction and provided access to said works. For more on this panel discussion, please read: https://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/state-of-black-sci-fi-2012-my-favorite-black-sci… and to view the video recording of the panel discussion in its entirety, please visit: […]

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