Thursday, February 28, 2013

I AM A STEAMFUNKATEER!: Why – and how – I write Steamfunk

At first, I had no great love for steampunk. It seemed stuck in Victorian England, and as another writer has written, "It's a genre based around fashion." I generally don't hang around where i'm not wanted.

Of course that is a bit of an exaggeration. But you know what I mean. Not to mention the whole business about lords and ladies, corsets, women of easy virtue and highwaymen.  Sure, there are all these pocket watches, corsets, waistcoats, top hats and laced boots. But there was also steam. The genre's one saving grace -- or the central core of the genre. 

You can do a lot with steam without having to ponder the whole Victorian wink-wink upperclass issues of pervy shopgirls etc, eugenic Darwinism (as in Time Machine), and the British Empire.  And really, if the basic definition of steampunk is a world where technology is driven by steam and pipes, I can explore and understand it. 

It's the nature of Black folks to create so African-Americans have spent much of our creativity learning to adapt the art styles of the larger cultures we find ourselves in.  

I DO like some steampunk. Philip Reeve's world for instance. But I still want to see more Black, Latino, Native American and Asian folks in steampunk. I am generally not Afro-centric in my writing. I tend to be very multiculti, loving Asian and other cultures as well as the many cultures of the African Diaspora. Isn't a Korean sajeuk or a Japanese samurai period piece another form of Sword and Sorcery?  I also love certain genres and often wish to write in those other genres as well. I like the purity of fairytales. I especially love pure romance. But one rarely sees a Steampunk novel that is multicultural and romantic AND a fairytale....which speak to modern Black or non-white readers. 

So -- for the steamfunk anthology edited by Milton Davis and Balogun Ojatede, I figured, why not extend steamfunk to Korean Joseon times? So I did. What would life be like if a Black princess and a Korean prince were forced to get married back in the day? If we are to be honest about racial issues, and add an acknowledgment of racism to romantic fairytales...and if we are to add fantasy to the mix....well.... anything's possible. My story is in the Steamfunk Anthology. 

For the next Steamfunk anthology, I'll stick closer to home and I might not use the fairytale genre. However I'll keep to the multicultural pattern. A love story about an escaped Black female slave and a Native American youth who helps her escape her owners and the slave bounty hunters. Steamfunk evolves!!!!!!




Please visit the sites of other steamfunk writers:

Milton Davis – 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  andwww.wagadu.ning.com .

Ray Dean – Growing up in Hawaii, Ray Dean had the opportunity to enjoy nearly every culture under the sun. The Steamfunk Anthology was an inspiration she couldn't pass up. Ray can be reached at http://www.raydean.net/.

Malon Edwards – Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Malon Edwards now lives in the Greater Toronto Area. Much of his speculative fiction features people of color and is set in his hometown. Malon can be reached at eastofmars.blogspot.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers – 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/ .

Rebecca M. Kyle – With a birthday on Friday 13, it's only natural that the author is fascinated with myths, legends, and oddities of all kinds. Ms. Kyle lives with her husband, four cats, and more rocks and books than she cares to count between the Smokies and Cumberland mountains. Visit her at http://bexboox13.blogspot.com/.

Carole McDonnell – is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson; Jigsaw Nation; and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. Her novels are the Christian speculative fiction, Wind Follower, and The Constant Tower. Her Bible study is called: Seeds of Bible Study.   Her website is http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/.

Balogun Ojetade – Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steamfunk); “Once Upon A Time in Afrika” (Sword and Soul); “Redeemer” (Urban Fantasy) and the film, “A Single Link” and “Rite of Passage”. Finally, he is Co-Author of “Ki-Khanga: The Anthology” and Co-Editor of “Steamfunk!” Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.com/.

Hannibal Tabu – is a writer, a storyteller, and by god, a fan. He has written the novels, “The Crown: Ascenscion” and “Faraway” and the upcoming scifi political thriller “Rogue Nation”. He is currently the co-owner and editor-in-chief of Black geek website Komplicated at the Good Men Project, and uses his Operative Network website (www.operative.net) to publish his poetry, market what he's doing, rant at the world and emit strangled cries for help.

Geoffrey Thorne – Geoffrey Thorne has written a lot of stuff in a lot of venues and will be writing more in more. It's his distinct pleasure to take part in another of these groundbreaking anthologies. Thanks for letting me roll with you folks. For more (and God knows why you'd want more) check out http://www.geoffreythorne.com/.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Post modern versus premodern

I recently saw a quote by the author of In God's Good Company, a book about the communion of saints.

The quote was something like. "Post-modern exists only in college. I've found that most people are pre-modern."

I love that quote. Cause it's so true.

Let's see: there was the experiment with kids where kindergarten kids were told that an invisible fairy was sitting in a chair watching them and they would have to be good. The kids who had been told about the invisible fairy were well-behaved while the ones who weren't aware of said invisible fairy  were badly-behaved.

Now, some folks might say that kids believe in fantasies but it turns out that humans also believe in the invisible.

Another bit of research:
When people are told that a certain item belonged to a rich or renowned person, the typical human wants to see it, to touch it. But in the same research, when people are told that a certain item -- in that case a cardigan supposedly belonging to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer-- they balked at touching it or wearing it. There is the idea of a kind of spiritual contagion or a spiritual blessing.

In fact the world also seems to be pre-modern in its subtle honoring of hierarchy as opposed to pure democracy. Consider how much interest is shown in the lives of so-called important people when it comes to gossip tabloids, autographed items on ebay and what-not. We seek to see the people who are winners, and above us. Even if they did nothing to really deserve their "ranking." Not only do humans have this tendency to honor the big guys or the important members of society but when primates such as chimps and monkeys are shown pictures of their community group, the primates generally pause to look and gaze and stare at the pictures of the alpha males etc in their groups.

No matter how much modern philosophy and rationalizing we modern humans hear about certain life situations, our hearts leap with joy when our dead mother comes to us in a dream because we feel that perhaps she has indeed visited us. And we all get a bit weirded out when passing a cemetery late at night. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Travelling Fantasy Blog Tour: Technology in Fantasy

There are two fallacies often found in fantasies where technology is concerned.

The first is that magic is purely fantastical. Of course, some magic is. Demons, faes, and gods abound in much fantasy. But for the most part, magic is a kind of technology in its own right, an art and lore that can be learned from wizened teachers or from ancient books. For instance, in Shakespeare's Tempest, Prospero has his wonderfully researched and studied Book.

The second fallacy is that some fantasies show the same pattern of civilization as Earth's. The Bronze Age, then the Age of Steel, animal technology, the Industrial Revolution/Steam Age, the age of electricity/radio/telegraph, the computer age/DNA technology/laser technology, and the space age, etc. But this particular sequence seems wrong to me. One culture might be more knowledgable about one type of technology than other. Or, one culture might have a technology that is considered magical or superstitious or "impossible" or "godly" in another culture. Also, some aspects of a certain technology might be explored in one culture but not explored in another. In addition, certain technologies are lauded, then forgotten, then rediscovered.

For instance, the Chinese had "gun" powder for many years but the Europeans invented the gun before the Chinese did. Some western cultures used "leeches" medically in the past and have begun using them again. Some so-called "primitive" cultures understood the nature of homeopathy (like curing like) before the sophisticated Europeans discovered the cowpox/smallpox connection. Other so-called "tribal" cultures understood how to use flies and centipede for crime detection before European civilization got the idea. (Flies are often used by some African tribes to determine whose murderous-but-newly-washed dagger still retained the victim's blood and centipedes were used in ancient Korea to check if the blood on a dagger was human or animal.)

Thus it is possible for the technology of a particular world to NOT fall into the western model.

In my novel, The Constant Tower, the characters are warriors. Some would say the setting is "Bronze Age/medieval." But one tribe has solar panels because they understand the nature of light, and the studiers of this world understand music and the effect of "unheard sounds" in ways that would be considered miraculous by some of Earth's less "civilized tribes" or might seem merely fantastical to those with a western mindset.




The bio for the host for this month's tour:
Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  For other blog posts on this topic, see:
Andrea K Host's blog post at www.andreakhost.com



The members of the travelling blog tour are:


Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at http://theresacrater.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.
http://warrenrochelle.com


Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.
 http://deborahjross.blogspot.com/

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/   at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

 Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.   http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

THE STEAMFUNK ANTHOLOGY: What – and why – it is

Steampunk is a special kind of alternate reality fantasy. The world all steampunk shares is a world where steam technology never ended and advanced in its own way. But even then, steampunk was too Euro-centric. 

Black and African-American speculative fiction writers had to change that. There were African-American and Black concerns that could not be honored in steampunk. The Steamfunk anthology is a collection of steampunk stories from the experience of the African diasopora. Call it multi-culti steampunk or steampunk with minority sensibilities. 



Authors included in the steamfunk! anthology are:


Milton Davis – 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  andwww.wagadu.ning.com .

Ray Dean – Growing up in Hawaii, Ray Dean had the opportunity to enjoy nearly every culture under the sun. The Steamfunk Anthology was an inspiration she couldn't pass up. Ray can be reached at http://www.raydean.net/.

Malon Edwards – Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Malon Edwards now lives in the Greater Toronto Area. Much of his speculative fiction features people of color and is set in his hometown. Malon can be reached at eastofmars.blogspot.com.

Valjeanne Jeffers – 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/ .

Rebecca M. Kyle – With a birthday on Friday 13, it's only natural that the author is fascinated with myths, legends, and oddities of all kinds. Ms. Kyle lives with her husband, four cats, and more rocks and books than she cares to count between the Smokies and Cumberland mountains. Visit her at http://bexboox13.blogspot.com/.

Carole McDonnell – is a writer of Christian, supernatural, and ethnic stories. Her writings appear in various anthologies, including So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonialism in Science Fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson; Jigsaw Nation; and Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: Writings by Mature Women of Color among others. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. Her novels are the Christian speculative fiction, Wind Follower, and The Constant Tower. Her Bible study is called: Seeds of Bible Study.   Her website is http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/.

Balogun Ojetade – Author of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steamfunk); “Once Upon A Time in Afrika” (Sword and Soul); “Redeemer” (Urban Fantasy) and the film, “A Single Link” and “Rite of Passage”. Finally, he is Co-Author of “Ki-Khanga: The Anthology” and Co-Editor of “Steamfunk!” Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.com/.

Hannibal Tabu – is a writer, a storyteller, and by god, a fan. He has written the novels, “The Crown: Ascenscion” and “Faraway” and the upcoming scifi political thriller “Rogue Nation”. He is currently the co-owner and editor-in-chief of Black geek website Komplicated at the Good Men Project, and uses his Operative Network website (www.operative.net) to publish his poetry, market what he's doing, rant at the world and emit strangled cries for help.

Geoffrey Thorne – Geoffrey Thorne has written a lot of stuff in a lot of venues and will be writing more in more. It's his distinct pleasure to take part in another of these groundbreaking anthologies. Thanks for letting me roll with you folks. For more (and God knows why you'd want more) check out http://www.geoffreythorne.com/.


The book is on sale at: www.mvmediaatl.com 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Self-silencing and Letting go


After one of my Christian friends objected to me saying the world is a magical world, I stopped really writing about myself and religion on my blog. So my blog has been mostly empty. But now...yeah, more stuff that makes me feel the need to go silent. So yeah, time to just rest.

Am in a weird self-silencing and letting go mode. A real tiredness now, because i've spent the past 53 years of my life fearing illness to an obsessive degree, fearing about what folks think about me to the point of being terrified, worried about not having money. And really, what has all that worry done? I've been super careful, super prepared, super-alert to the point of hypervigilance and tiredness. And really, nothing has happened. I want to just chill now. And take whatever comes WHEN it comes, without anticipating. I also find that writing non-fiction and sharing my thoughts leads to sorrow for me, although at times what I say might be healing to others. But in writing fiction, one can tell all one's soul and still be somewhat protected. So am thinking from now on, I will share little of myself directly.

Am thinking this will be one of the last really personal posts on my blogs...then after this...nothing religious, nothing social, nothing societal...only writing related.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Red Flags

My big wish this year is to hear clearly...to hear myself clearly. When I write, when I have conversations with folks, when I meet strangers, when I walk alone...to "hear" clearly what is going on in the back of my mind.

Because I don't.

The Bible says "God's sheep hear His voice." I believe this. I believe our intuition, inner mind, better self, speaks to us and that the still small voice and the stuff we hear at the bottom of my mind, in the back of our brain, are guidance from God and our spirit. After all, the Bible says "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord."

So, why, then, do we disregard red flags when we deal with people?

As Christians, as people living in a Judeo-Christianity-affected culture, we are brainwashed to always see the other person's side or to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. We don't want to wrong others and often we are taught that we should give up our own agenda, our own intuition, etc.. so that we won't hurt the feelings of another.

But dang! That kinda thinking leads to folks getting themselves killed. IF you're going into an elevator and some guy is on it and red flags from the back of your mind kick in, should you enter the elevator alone just because you don't want to hurt some guy's feeling?

I keep thinking of the homeless guy we took care of at church, who confessed to us that he was a murderer, who turned out to be sleeping with a drug-addled homeless woman in the attic of the church (because we were stupid and gave him the keys), who turned out to be ordering pizza from our church after we had closed it (cause he had a credit card that he hopened the door with...cause we entrusted him to put in the new locks.)

Seriously???? WHAT were we thinking??????

And I and the pastor had stayed alone in that church with this guy -- alone or separately-- so often. And if the pastor or I had gotten raped or murdered, the first thing folks would've said was: "Why didn't God protect her? She was such a sweet person!" As if God hadn't warned us and been warning us all along.

I gotta get my self-protection meter in tune again and not squelch it as I've been doing. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

The parable of the impoverished palace

So... I was lying in bed and suddenly the Lord told me this parable. I saw the events pass before my eyes and heard the words in my heart. I've never had The Holy Spirit tell me a parable before.

So here it is:

There was a certain kingdom which was rumored to be quite rich and the fame of it was so great that kings came upon it and beseiged it. Because, they thought, the riches within this city and this palace are greater than the riches in all our kingdoms combined. In attacking this city, these invading kings lost their wealth and many soldiers but they thought little of the loss because the promise of the wealth inside was so great, their loss would be nothing compared to the gold and riches they would gain when they breached the palace. At last they came to the city where the king lived but the king would not give them the city. The invading kings beseiged this city and would not let anyone in or out. Starvation and death occurred in the capitol city but the king would not relent and give up neither his city nor his palace. Most of the city died and only the king was left alive in his palace. At last the invaders managed to destroy the palace walls and entered. When they entered the palace, they were surprised to see nothing within it: not old, not silver, not precious gems. Indeed, the palace had been empty since the siege began.
The question then is: Who is more foolish? The king of the beseiged city who allowed his kingdom to be destroyed because he was too ashamed to show his emptiness? Or the invaders who lost all in order to gain what turned out to be nothing? Indeed, the captive king might have opened his palace to his would-be captors if he had had gold and silver. And the would be captors would have returned to their own lands early if the king had shown them his emptiness.



Hubby says it's about losing all the world. The people who have riches (religion or whatever) feel someone has so much more riches. So they lose their riches in pursue of riches (other religion) that aren't there. 

Jessica says, both the king and his invaders are equally foolish. Envy, covetousness, assuming.

I'm thinking it's about fear of showing one's emptiness. And what is emptiness? Would someone because of pride allow himself to be destroyed so that others will not see his own emptiness? Or is there some kind of satisfaction in his heart now? He had nothing. The others have now lost everything to get what they thought he had but now they are just like him because they lost what they had?

I don't think I can make a story out of this...cause...well, it's a parable. And stories require characterizations etc. 

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