Why is it important to show ethnicity in Speculative Fiction?

We live in a diverse world, a world of different landscapes, climates and cultures. Although the internet and our various modes of transportation has made this world ‘smaller’ to us than to our ancestors, there is still an abundance of diversity among us. What I consider a daily routine may serve as a fascinating representation of my values, concerns and expectations in my life.

Drifting throughout this diversity are images in fiction and non-fiction that rightly or wrongly influence our perception of others and ourselves. These images suggest to us overtly or covertly what we may or may not be capable of or what we can or cannot be.  I’ll give a couple of real life examples. I grew up with two male cousins, cousins I consider brothers. Both were talented artists; they would spend hours drawing pictures from comic books and other sources. As we grew older one of my cousins abandoned his artistic ambitions while the other continued. One day, as young men, he showed me his latest images and a question popped in my head. I looked at him and asked him: Why aren’t your superheroes black?

I’ve seen this same condition among other artists and creators of color. The answer is simple; we duplicate what we see. We also tend to accept what we see. Although I’ve heard many artists, especially musicians, argue against it, what we create influences what people think of others and themselves. This is why I believe it is important to show ethnicity in Speculative Fiction. While it’s easy for some to see astronauts and imagine themselves as one, for others the connection can’t be made unless they see themselves in that position. It is also important that readers see others in all walks of life, not just stereotypes. Giving readers a well rounded view of society opens the mind and lowers the barriers that stereotypes raise.

I could go on at length on this subject but I must give room for  my fellow bloggers to share their view as well.  Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event: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 bloghttp://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 andwww.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.comValjeanne 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.comAlicia 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.comCarole 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/Balogun Ojetade, Author—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.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

Brothers in Arms Come Hell and High Water A review of A Debt to Pay: A Savaad Adventure by Milton J. Davis by Gregg Chamberlain

Saddle up and get ready to ride with the Savaad brothers on a tour of America as it might have looked in a crazed reflection from the twin funhouse mirrors of magic and alternate history.

Fantastic America, as I like to call it, is an as-yet undeclared sub-genre of fantasy, “pioneered” (pun intended) by the efforts of Orson Scott Card through his Alvin Maker stories. Milton J.Davis adds a little more “soul” to the genre (yes, intentional again) with his latest literary effort, the first book in what promises to be a trilogy concerning the adventures of the Savaad brothers, the scholarly Samoht, the roguish Vel, and their stolid, stoic senior sibling Naheem, as they deal with present problems and perils from the past that threaten their future and that of their loved ones and clan in a mythical magical version of the great western continent that has very little in common, including the faces and traces of the races that dwell there, with the United States of America of our world and its northern and southern neighbours.

The thumbnail synopsis is that Samoht and Vel are forced to go on a journey of discovery to The Motherland, this world’s African continent where their people originated. The reasons for their expedition-under-duress are both political but in different ways. Samoht did a little tomb-raiding, seeking a valuable artifact in the sacred ruins of an enemy nation while Vel made the mistake of killing the husband of the woman he had been seducing and now the family of the deceased want his head and/or other body parts as part of their blood-price.

Elder brother Naheem, as head of the clan, has to deal with both these situations and figures the best way to achieve a more-or-less peaceful resolution, is to pack off his brothers out of the country while he deals with the messes they’ve made. What none of the brothers suspect is that what first seems to be a simple solution to keep a simmering political pot from boiling over has grave consequences for their clan’s view of their own cultural history and their view of the world as the Savaads learn of the “debt” their clan owes for its place and power in the western world.

Davis, the author of several other novels available at the Wagadu website (http://wagadu.ning.com/), “the home of soul-and-sorcery” as the site’s creators and administrators proclaim with pride, presents his tale of Fantastic America in a simple, spare storytelling style reminiscent of Hemingway. It may seem like a quick and easy read, but there is much to think about in these pages and it is time well spent in the discovery.

You can find  A Debt to Pay here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006M7MLPM/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_g351_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-4&pf_rd_r=0ZCZHGYKZS0E7B8E0A7E&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470939031&pf_rd_i=507846

Why I Love Sword and Soul(Sorcery)

This is the second week of our Black Speculative Fiction discussion and this topic is more general. The question of the week is, “Why I love _____.” As you can see, I took a little creative license in my response. I write Sword and Soul, which is essentially heroic fantasy based on African culture, mythology, and traditions. But my love of Sword and Soul emerged from Sword and Sorcery and my love of history.

I discovered sword and sorcery through comics. I wasn’t a big comic book fan. The only book I followed regularly was Thor. It wasn’t a storyline reason; I just liked seeing Thor hit his enemies with Mjolnir, his powerful hammer. My cousin, the real comic book fan, introduced me the Marvel’s Conan series. I was immediately hooked. Here was a book that seemed to incorporate ancient history into an exciting fictional setting. At the time I had no idea Robert E. Howard wrote short stories. I actually discovered Michael Moorcock’s Elric first, then read John Norman’s Tarl Cabot adventures. Unlike many of my friends I suffered no ostracism for my ‘nerdiness.’ Most of my friends loved comics and books as much as I did.

For a time I drifted away from fiction. There was nothing fresh going on and I tired of the same old Eurocentric tales. I returned to my history reading, but this time it was African history. It was time I knew just as much about Africa as I knew I about Europe. It was during this enlightenment that I rediscovered fiction. I found a book titled Segu in the African history section. To my pleasant surprise it turned out to be a historical fiction novel about the Bambara city of Segu. It proved to me that a fictional story could be written based on African history and culture and set me on the path to Sword and Soul.

Sword and Soul allows me to combine my two great loves, history and fiction. With it I can use the foundation of African culture to create new worlds, people and creatures, just as Robert E. Howard used European history to create the wolds of Conan, King Kull, Brak Mak Morn and Solomon Kane. While I do write other forms of speculative fiction, Sword and Soul is my first and best love. Like most speculative fiction genres black people have been poorly represented. Recent trends in mainstream publishing has seen a significant change, but I think Sword and Soul has taken our history and culture and lifted it to the level it deserves. And it will continue to rise if I have anything to do with it.

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event: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 bloghttp://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.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.comValjeanne 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.comAlicia 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.comCarole 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/Balogun Ojetade, Author—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.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

Warriors of the Four Worlds by Ronald T. Jones

Warriors of the Four Worlds by Ronald T. Jones

During the ’80s I devoured science fiction and fantasy in all its forms. I read the classics and contemporaries of the times, reveling in new worlds and thoughtful prose. One type of science fiction I touched on briefly was military science fiction. Though I didn’t read a lot of it, what I did read stands out in my mind. The Bolos, the huge sentient tanks of Keith Laumer’s imagination captured my cousin’s attention and eventually mine. They were good books as I remember them, but my only serious foray into military science fiction.

Four years ago I met Ronald T. Jones on the Black Science Fiction Society website. He told me about his book Chronicles of the Liberator so I picked it up. There I was, once again immersed in military science fiction. But Ronald’s book was much more exciting than I remember the genre being and then there was the added bonus that the main character looked like me.

So I was excited when Ronald told me that his latest book Warriors of the Four Worlds was being released by Mocha Memories Press (http://mochamemoirspress.com/). I bought it immediately and wasn’t disappointed. The warriors in this fantastic novel are humans that fight for a peaceful and superintelligent race known as the Vingin. Humans aren’t the only protectors of the Vingin. The Zirans, a race that have served the Vingins much longer than humans, make up the final part of this galactic triad. After defeating another species bent on conquering the three, the humans prepare themselves for a long period of peace…or so they thought.

Ronald mixes exciting battles and an amazing detail in non-existent weaponry with deep characterization and a compelling and surprising story. Lev Gorlin, the human protagonist of this story, is a man as compassionate to his friends and family as he is ruthless with his enemies.  He fights to save his species and he does a damn good job despite the odds.

If you like military science fiction or action adventure, do yourself a favor and check out Warriors of the Four Worlds.  You can purchase the paperback on Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/warriors-of-the-four-worlds/16123348?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1) or the e-book on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Warriors-Four-Worlds-ebook/dp/B00585GGLY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327021301&sr=1-1). Either way you won’t be disappointed.

What is the state of Black Science Fiction?

For the next month I’m participating in a discussion with my fellow writers on the state of black speculative fiction. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart since I’m such a writer. At the end of my blog will be a list of  participating writers. Be sure you click on the links to view their opinions as well. There will be giveaways at the end of the discussion. My contribution with be a signed copy of each of my books. I hope you follow this interesting and possibly enlightening discussion.

So what is the state of black science fiction? In my humble opinion it’s encouraging. I’m an old school science fiction and fantasy fan. I cut my teeth on authors such as Herbert, Asimov, Clarke, Henlien, and Bradbury. On the fantasy end I read Howard, Moorcock, Farmer, and Norton. I was so fascinated by these stories that the lack of black faces didn’t register. I also grew up in a time when we were barely present in contemporary literature unless it involved racism, so the absence of of us in science fiction was something I accepted, for better or for worse. The point of change came when I read the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories. You see, I was introduced to Conan through the Marvel comic series. The racial inequalities obvious in Howard’s prose were not present in the comics. The more I read the original prose the more uncomfortable I became. At that point I began to seek out science fiction and fantasy by black writers. My search turned up very few. I first discovered Samuel Delany, which I realized I’d read earlier but didn’t know he was black. I discovered Steve Barnes next and then Octavia Butler. By this time I was attempting to write my own science fiction and fantasy.

But that’s enough history. What about today? Nnedi Okorafor won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. N.K. Jemisin’s The 100,000 Kingdoms is considered one of the best fantasy releases in 2011. And David Anthony Durham’s Acacia won the John C. Campbell Award.  So we’ve made significant progress. But what really makes me excited about the state of black science fiction is the independent publishing movement. While I admire the progress being made by my mainstream publishing friends, the most interesting books I’ve read in the past few years have been in the independent publishing realm. Free of the restrictions imposed by editors and publishers trying to appeal to a mass market, these writers are producing books that reflect the Black experience and presents us in a more positive light. Many people complain about the lack of black readers of science fiction and fantasy. Some of that is due to the lack of books that appeal directly to us. You can give all kinds of explanations for this but the simple reason is that we like to see us in books.  Independent writers are filling the niche and they are doing it quite well.

So that’s my take. What’s yours? Feel free to chime in. That’s what this is all about. Once we’re done we hope you’ll be just excited as we are about black speculative fiction. Be sure to check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event:

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.
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, Lifelineshttp://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 andhttp://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.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 songcreated 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

Happy New Year!

2012 is here. Another year has passed and I can say it was a good year for Sword and Soul. In August I released Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology to good attention and great reviews. It’s been my best selling book in since released, a positive sign that Sword and Soul is making its mark. With the great stories by all the writers, excellent interior artwork by the various artists and the outstanding cover art by Natiq Jalil, Griots stands as a significant addition to the Sword and Sorcery genre in general and Sword and Soul in particular. If I sound proud it’s because I am. I’m proud of everyone that contributed from every aspect.

But what about the rest of the year? Well, I released three books last year; Changa’s Safari I, Griots and A Debt to Pay, bringing my total to five published novels. I also began selling e-books, which have fast become a significant part of my book sales. Although I’m happy for the sales, I’m also concerned. Selling e-books means lower profits, so volume is very important. Because what I write is a genre within a genre, getting high volume sales is a challenge. But a challenge it is and intend to solve it.

So what’s up for next year? I have four major projects in line. I hope I’m able to accomplish them. If so I’ll reach my ten books in five years a year early. If not I’ll have room to spare. This year will be the first time I publish books by other authors; who and when I’ll talk about later. And I promise to be more consistent with my blogs…and my book reviews…and my artist shoutouts…a whole lot of stuff. Sword and Soul is coming on strong in 2012. I hope you stay with us for the ride.