In the past several days various authors have written about their individual involvements in the creation of The City anthology. What I like to do is showcase some of the posts the authors had contributed in the creation of The City as they were brainstorming ideas for his/her characters and narratives.
(Some of the content may not have made its way into the manuscript since this was during the brainstorming period.)
From author Gerald Coleman
I tried to tell her about The City. But she was too trusting. It’s always been that way ever since I met her at the Dril, down by the Platforms, you know, over in the Nine’s. I couldn’t believe she was there by herself. Something deep inside me told me this day was coming. But I thought – nah, that’s just my own cynicism talking. But I know The City. It’s all angles and sharp edges. There’s nothing soft about life in this place. Yeah, people talk about The Lush, but that’s a dream. The City is always watching. And man, it’s patient. But, the moment you slip it’s there. Not to catch you, but to devour you like it hasn’t eaten in weeks. I should’ve known falling in love was stupid. Not here, not in The City. Because once you show The City a hint of weakness, it’s coming for you. Now, she’s gone. They took her last night. Delve said they snatched her right off the street, in front of a zbonji hover truck. She loves gallic sauce on her munda. That was 2 hours ago. I almost killed him for waiting so long to tell me. Even though I know it’s stupid to think you can take something back from The City, I’m on the hunt now. Because even though The City took her, I’m going to get her back. Why? My name is Zel, I’m a Hell Hunter, and I love her.
From author Balogun Ojetade
The City is full of people who never get to speak to the dead. Speak WITH the dead, that is.
– Lazani Blaq, Body Banker
From author Kai Leakes
Where can I go? Where can I hide? All I do is run. Running has become so common that it scares me when there is a moment, no a fleeting second of peace.
From author Ced Pharaoh
From the base of sleepless nightmares
to the hallelujahs of heaven’s arch
lies in between
The Lives that dwell in the reality of
Around every corner
Under every keystroke
between spells of craft
are more questions
What is this place?
Where can a Soul go
to find refuge and security?
In a Crowd
Watched by Everyone
Fate is stingy
Destiny is rude
A wicked disposition.
And this is a good day…
in The City.
– Resident of The City.
From author Chanel Harry
This is the biggest nightclub here in the City, heck it’s the only nightclub. Everyone whose a partygoer comes here to let loose and shed their inhibitions. The music is dope, the DJ’s have the livest music. Each floor has it’s own theme. The owner though, I won’t talk about him. He does his business while I let people through the doors. One thing I heard about him is that he does business with the runners. I don’t know what but that’s the rumor. Probably not a rumor because I saw a couple of runners in his office. I don’t want to speak to much on him; he’s my boss and I need a job.
Wyse, The Bouncer. Club Ooze (Named after the drug).
From author Milton Davis
‘You just won’t go away will you? How do they watch us? We all have Tells, everyone of us. Not tails, Tells. Reach behind you head. Now touch the back of your neck. Right there, that’s where it is, or rather that’s where it starts. The old books…I mean the old vids say It used to implant them right after we were created. But It figured how to make it a part of us, just like your heart, you lungs, your brain. It automatically connects you to the Wave…and to The City. Can it be removed? Yeah. You can have it surgically removed, if you can find a Scalper brave enough to do it. But even the best Scalper can’t get it all. It grows back. But you can Purge it. Purging will scour your brain of every bit of the Tell. If you survive it, you’ll most likely go crazy. Most do. Those that don’t become Runners. But then most folks think Runners are crazy, just controlled crazy. Now that’s it. No more questions. You’re going to get us snatched.’
-Knowledge Lateef. Street Priest.
From author Natiq Jalil
To murder all of those who murdered me was a simple thing. Especially with Them at my back. But, to add insult to injury, that required a plan. And I had one.
I first had to stop by The River. Make a withdrawal, so to speak.
Before I was killed, I’d used The River as my own personal banking system. That’s where I kept the dirt on the scum in high society that my family catered to. My mother was a master of the high society social circuits. Politicians and corporate heads, well-to-do families, they all came to her when their influence wasn’t enough. She used her smiles and beauty like a sword. And I was her constant companion, learning all that she had to teach.
But where my mother was light, I was her shadow. By the time I was ten, I’d already learned how I could help her every endeavor reach fruition. I started with kids my age. The sons and daughters of the rich and powerful. I’d drive them into corners that they’d have to stain themselves to escape. I forced them to commit crimes that could ruin their families. Then, I kept their secrets. I became their best friend in the worst way. Almost brings a smile to my face.
Then, there was my father.
My father was famous…
He’d led the Culling that took place 20 years ago. With him at the head, thousands of Believers across 30 wards were slaughtered. Over a thousand by his own hands. He’d become a legend that night. That monster under the bed and in the shadows that never went away, but was never there when you turned on the lights.
The Sun Tower was the epicenter of a night of death like no one had ever witnessed before. Not that anyone really remembers anything before then, anyway. All anyone remembers anymore is The City, and the infectious fear that invaded even the wards that were untouched by the Culling. That was the birth of the taboo that no one escapes, except through death.
My father raised me to believe that The City was everything. He’d risen to heights that caused envy in those around him by brutality and cold calculation. It was because of his brutal nature that he’d been given command of The Left Hand, the group that watched and dealt swift “justice” to those whose who dreamed of escape. Those who hoped. I am definitely my father’s son.
With the death of my father and myself, The Left Hand was dissolved and They began to fuel the fear that kept The City breathing. Funny how the politicians and corporate heads can’t even imagine that They are in my hands. And that They are coming for the light.
They’ve pissed me off. I’ve been pissed for five years, now. And it’s about time that these bitches realize.
~Ososi~ on the way to The River
From K. Ceres Wright
Rain pattered the empty street, almost washing away the plumes of fetid odor from the piles of trash that heralded the unresolved garbage collector’s strike. Despite the rain, the smell rose up like thin tentacles to the upper floors of the Four Seasons building, which had to open its windows to the night because the air conditioning was off—a result of the City’s electricity rationing. As an organic building, the Four Seasons itself decided when to turn off people’s air and water—when it had the electricity to do so. Sometimes residents loudly cursed the building’s decisions, their yelling echoing in the hallway, but they could do nothing to reverse the decision. Some said the building was going insane, turning on the heat in 90-degree weather, or turning off the hot water when it was 20 degrees, but I knew better. She—I called it a she—was punishing wayward parents and cheating spouses with her own brand of justice. People were just too stupid, or stubborn, to figure it out.
My name is Concordat. Formally, a concordat is an agreement between the Holy See and some sovereign government relating to matters of mutual interest. But the Holy See has abandoned its True Purpose, so I took it upon myself to carry it out. I seek the lost, the bedraggled, the poor, the forgotten, and the lame, and make sure nobody f*cks with them. Cuz that’s what the rich and powerful do. F*ck over everyone who’s not in their circle in order to maintain the status quo.
But I’m sick of the status quo. And I’m about to f*ck with it.
From author Gene Peterson
Another shift, another mess. You would think with half the nastiness that goes down in the low levels, where the Sun Towers light doesn’t reach eyes, you would think that something as…bloodless as this would be a relief but…it’s not.
Ward Law Detective in Command, Naj Rhodes. Deep below
From author Keith Gaston
A glint from the ceiling lights reflected off the dark spherical visors as he stepped out of the shadows to reveal himself to the four patrons sitting at the table. Wearing black from head to toe, the stranger looked totally out of place in the bright cyber café. Cladded in a Stetson hat, long leather trench coat, armor-plated vest, an utility belt draped around his waist equipped to the hilt with gadgets, and an assault rifle slung over his right shoulder; he knew he made an impression on folks. But what stood out most about him was the full face mask with mirror lenses. When people gazed into those glass eyes of his, all they could perceive were their own stares. The effect chilled most and he reveled in knowing that.
So now that you’ve had a taste of The City, pack your mental bags, jump on the mothership and head into The City anthology for the ride of your life.
Welcome to… The CITY
September 22, 2015
Somewhere in this universe exists The City.
It’s sprawling, cavernous, mazelike… a riot of bio-organic steel superstructure, plasticrete roadways, neon lights and digital…virtual madness.
Its streets are filled with throngs of tricked out urban adventurers, mutated, cybernetic bullies and scheming would be emperors all in a game of techno-cat and cyber-mouse.
Yet The City itself is…alive.
It moves and plays in the same game as its inhabitants. It Watches and changes the game board as it sees fit.
It maintains control.
Classic cyberpunk right?
Yet the denizens of The City are Funkateers!
Still the loners struggling against the BIG CONTROL, still the cyber hopping, data stealing hackers living as digital rats in a virtual world yet these players have steel hearts forged from the trials of the diaspora. Funkateers have found their way to cyberpunk……check that;CyberFUNK!
Cyberpunk has always had a cool, urban vibe to it. As it’s tapped into a vision of a multi-cultural future though, the African American perspective has often fallen flat. As a fan of all things science fiction I felt the gap even as I noticed the urban landscape was a familiar one.
So why not close the gap?
A little while ago the “Hardest Working Man in Spec Fiction”; Milton Davis posted a tempting writing prompt…as he’s prone to do:
‘The City. No one knows how it began or when it will end. No one knows how we came to be here, 20 millions souls, 1500 different species all crammed together in plascrete and biosteel. No one’s been in or out of the city in 20 centuries. Some have their theories why, some don’t care. But no matter who you are, or what you are, you have a story, don’t you? The trick is finding someone that cares to listen…’ –Milton Davis.
And quickly there came a rush of equally tantalizing responses. Speculative fiction authors from across the diaspora began dropping equally tantalizing dark cyber vignettes onto the pages of The State of Black Science fiction. Even better, these creators linked their techno-noir visions by referencing each other’s creations.
I couldn’t help but to join the fun…:
Yea…I been up the wall…up and over.
Up past the shell heads…past the tweekers…past the wild girls and past the Blue Authority.
Up through Angel Bay with the haughty golden kids and the richy riches…
Higher than the Sweepers and farther than runners go…
High enough to look down on the Sun Tower and the carrier ships…
Past the smog where even the drones don’t go.
Got to the top…the wide scarred metal and crossed the antennae fields, the dish lake and looked over beyond and up above.
You know what I saw?
Kit Henson, Henson Repairs. Looking up
Soon an anthology was announced…The City…and the vignettes bloomed into the beginning of something special. There’s a good mix of veteran writers and new among the voices telling tales from The City!
B. Sharise Moore,
K. Ceres Wright
and of course myself; Howard Night.
The City is availible right now for pre-order in KINDLE format on AmazonHERE!
And will be availible for print September 25th! Also on Amazon!
Here are links to blogs by other Cityzens:
It began as a random thought in the middle of the day. I was sitting at my desk during lunch when words popped into my head.
‘The City. No one knows how it began or when it will end. No one knows how we came to be here, 20 millions souls, 1500 different species all crammed together in plascrete and biosteel. No one’s been in or out of the city in 20 centuries. Some have their theories why, some don’t care. But no matter who you are, or what you are, you have a story, don’t you? The trick is finding someone that cares to listen…’
As I normally do I posted the statement on The State of Black Science Fiction Facebook page. What happened next is an example of why I love writing so much. A writing improv session began, with different writers adding words to the narrative and supporting those words with artwork. At some point it was inevitable, The City would become an anthology.
Balogun Ojetade (http://chroniclesofharriet.com/) gathered the thoughts then organized them into a manifesto, creating an outline of the city and it’s wide range of characters. We shared the document with everyone then put out the call. In the beginning I worked to make the stories follow a specific path, but then I decided to drop that idea. I wanted to keep the same jazz-like improvisational vibe we experienced at SOBSF. So I took the stories as they came, accepting every story as the writer submitted them. Every story. Some writers collaborated, joining the stories of their characters, some wrote stories about the same characters. The result is an anthology containing a wide variety of interesting stories that stretch the boundaries of what some people call Afrofuturism, but what we choose to call Cyberfunk.
But it doesn’t stop there. The City is a multi-sensory experience. Edison Moody and Natiq Jalil added their amazing artistic skills to the project, creating amazing images for the anthology. Otis Galloway, a DJ from the UK inspired by the improv session, created mixtapes reflecting the moods and emotion of this mysterious urban space. It’s a project unlike any I’ve worked on and it’s a project that you’ll enjoy experiencing. For the next week you’ll read about the development of The City from its ‘Cityzens,’ the artists that have brought this world to life. Get ready. The City will be available as an e-book via Amazon, Barnes and Noble (Nook) and Kobo on September 25th and as a paperback at MVmedia (www.mvmediaatl.com) and wherever books are sold by October 15th. Welcome to The City. I hope you enjoy your stay.