To fabricate means to “invent or create.”
Thus, Steamfunk, at its root, is the invention or creation of a story set in the “Age of Steam”. For the authors of Steamfunk, this Age is not limited to the Victorian Era (1837 – 1901). A Steamfunk story can take place in the past, present or future, as long as steam technology is the dominant technology in that story’s world.
The novel, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, is set in late 19th Century North and South America. My story, The Hand of Sa-Seti is set in 12th Century Kamit (A nation akin to ancient Egypt), while Nandi, a short story that will appear in the upcoming Black Pulp II anthology, is set in 1973 California.
All are Steamfunk; all are very different from one another.
As far as the “blackness” in the stories within the Steamfunk anthology goes, co-editor and publisher, Milton Davis says “In some of the stories, the main character happened to be Black; but, in others, the main character had to be Black.”
One story in which the main character had to be Black is Benjamin’s Freedom Magic by Ronald Jones. Benjamin’s Freedom Magic is based on the amazing life of the very real Benjamin Montgomery, an enslaved genius who was also one of the greatest inventors in modern history.
Born in Virginia in 1819, Benjamin was owned by Joseph E. Davis, older brother of future Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Benjamin was a mechanic who used his skill to invent a propeller that allowed steamboats to maneuver through shallow water with greater ease and safety. In the late 1850s, he attempted to get a patent for his invention. According to author, Ronald Jones “Not surprisingly, the U.S. Attorney General’s office refused to grant a patent to a slave. When the Davis brothers tried to patent Benjamin’s invention, they were denied as well, due to neither being the true inventor; how ironic that, when Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederacy, he enacted a law making it possible for slaves to patent their inventions.”
Upon the end of the Civil War, Joseph Davis sold his plantation and other properties to Benjamin and Benjamin’s son, Isaiah. The sale was made based on a long-term loan in the amount of $300,000.00. Benjamin and Isaiah decided to pursue a dream of using the property to establish a community of freed slaves.
Like Benjamin Montgomery, Ronald Jones – one of the greatest Military Science Fiction writers in modern history – used his skill and genius to fabricate a story from a man’s amazing life that is even more amazing; one filled with intrigue, action and wondrous gadgets.
And the heroes and heroines in every story in the Steamfunk anthology live those lives with great pain, weariness, vigor, ambition or zest.
Steamfunk is a life, or, for some of our more zealous Steamfunkateers, Steamfunk is life; however, it is somehow larger than life; more wondrous; more…funky.
And, for the record, the life that is Steamfunk is not “Black Steampunk”; no more than Steampunk is, well, White Steampunk. Steamfunk offers a look at Steampunk through a different set of goggles. Goggles with Kente-colored lenses.
But, alas, I wax poetic. If you really want a great definition of Steamfunk, pick up the Steamfunk anthology, Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective, or From Here to Timbuktu. They can provide a much clearer definition than I ever could…and you’ll have the time of your life reading them, too!