Monday, December 31, 2012

AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers

I constantly hunt for collections of speculative short stories featuring themes and characters with an Africa flavor. I was excited to discover AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers edited by Ivor W. Hartmann.  AfroSF presents 22 noteworthy and emerging authors who are Africans living on the continent and throughout the world. I have read or been involved with other sci-fi collections such as Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction (Black Science Fiction Society); Dark Matter: Reading the Bones edited by Sheree R. Thomas; and The Darker Mask: Heroes from the Shadows edited by Gary Phillips and Christopher Chambers. I've published my own anthology (AFRO Sci-Fi) that features my stories. I like sci-fi anthologies, a lot. 

AfroSF as with all anthologies has literary high plateaus, mediocre valleys and dismal pits. Most readers will find at least one or two stories that they will thoroughly enjoy and be enlightened by and perhaps even be moved emotionally to tears. There are midrange stories that despite flaws are still worth the time to read and ponder.  And, some stories will make you wonder, how in heavens did the manuscript get past the editors.  

My biggest concern is the price of the e-book: I paid a whopping $9.99 for the Kindle edition! In reality, this is far too much money for a digital volume of this scope (apparently, the U.S. Justice Department agrees with me). However, my curiosity overcame my fiscal sensibilities.  I wanted to read purely “African” science fiction; and embrace the hopes, fears and view-of-the-future by writers who intimately are aware of the 54 individual nations and thousands of social cultures in Africa.

“Home Affairs” by Sarah Lotz is set in an African dystopian where robots are the face of the government that most people interact with. A slight computer error can cause a catastrophic loss of your personal and national identity. It is a thought-provoking piece that is probably closer to reality than we would like to admit. “The Rare Earth” by Biram Mboob is an excellent piece set in a future Africa ruthlessly controlled by global corporations, hi-tech gangs, and a self-proclaimed messiah who uses stolen technology to produce religious miracles. 

There are other stories offering killer drones, spaceships, political and technological conflict that I found interesting. However, many of the contributors are young writers and not conversant with concepts such as FTL and other sci-fi hardware. For instance, traveling to the edge of the Earth solar system in a chemical-powered rocket would take more than a few months such as depicted in "Heresy" by Mandisi Nkomo. The NASA Voyager space crafts, the fastest human-made machines ever, have been traveling for more than three decades just to reach the fringes of the solar system boundaries. The science in science fiction should be plausible or at least current with existing tech. 

The real power of AfroSF flows from the exploration of everyday human problems in futuristic settings. Situations involve oppressive government, newly incurable diseases, innovative expressions of sexuality, foreign nations occupying huge tracts of native lands, corporate greed, global climate change and religious fanaticism. These are relevant issues for Africans today and tomorrow. Many of the writers in AfroSF strove to investigate the crucial element of sci-fi by asking, “What if Africa was . . .?”

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sci-Fi Can Close the Black Tech Gap

The Great Recession is fading into the pages of history,  mainstream America is rising from the ashes. However, the revival of the Black community will be a much more difficult task; full recovery may depend upon science fiction.


The growth of our economy is directly related to technological innovation.  For example, the Internet has turned barefooted entrepreneurs into overnight billionaires. E-commerce is booming. Smartphones and "apps" are transforming the way we communicate, sell and buy. More astounding inventions are soon to come.  What was fantasy yesterday is becoming science fact, today. Autonomous cars will replace taxi drivers. Factories will be completely controlled by robots. The tourist industry will be literary out of this world. Home schooling will include getting a university degree while sitting on the edge of your sofa bed. We will have to adapt daily if we want to thrive in the 21st century. But where do we get the tools to rebuild an entire community in this new age?  We can start by reading more science fiction.


I and many of my Black Science Fiction Society colleagues are seeing an impressive surge among African Americans who are buying sci-fi (also called speculative fiction) paperbacks and e-books.  Speculative fiction brings a sense of wonder and motivation to young and old readers. Sci-fi celebrates the successes of Black astronauts, scientists, engineers and innovators engrossed in 21st century activities.  Spec-Fic can provide a practical path to new career choices, and help to close any tech gap that might threaten the Black community. In the chapters of any well-conceived speculative fiction tale are visions of prosperity and personal fulfillment that Black populaces can eagerly embrace.


Recently reelected President Obama acknowledges that the dynamics of America have changed. Employment opportunities that dried up during the Great Recession are gone forever. The World Future Society likewise predicts that, "Many recently lost jobs may never come back. Rather than worry about unemployment, however, tomorrow’s workers will focus on developing a variety of skills that could keep them working productively and continuously, whether they have jobs or not." Science fiction stories are a treasure chest of ideas to enhance our lifestyles.


Urban novels and hip hop fiction gave the publishing industry profitable inroads to literary enthusiasts of African heritage. It helped to ignite a reading frenzy. Booksellers and public libraries stocked their shelves and databases with publications that offered gritty tales of dark mean streets filled with outrageous, streetwise gangsters and sly, mini-skirted vixens. But another wave is on the horizon; a rising tide of titles that offer hi-tech space ships, super soldiers, and savvy world geniuses.

These fantasies can become realities with a little hard work. 



Buy more Black Sci-Fi. It will change your life.

Sunday, November 11, 2012




Available for .99 cents at Amazon and  Smashwords. (I will have to raise the price soon.) I welcome any comments. Thanks

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Am An AFROFuturist

I am an AFROFuturist. And, I boldly state that I make my own definitions. I can define myself and the conditions that I thrive in.  It does not bother me if  other people describe the term differently or take offense at what I choose to believe and promote. In fact, I welcome and embrace the diversity of definitions.

I am an AFROFuturist.  Don't label me as a Moslem, Hindu, Jew, Christian or Atheist. Organized belief systems that are rigid and unable to adapt can be  dangerous and lead us to the path of extinction. Ask T-Rex. However, AFROFuturists can open our minds to new paths of survival and life satisfaction and the perpetuation of our kind. Therefore, the AFROFuturistic vision is wide and welcomes multiple interpretations and new pathways of thought. It is not imprisoned by words or canvas or song or movement.

As an AFROFuturist I believe that racism is insanity.  Social classes are a wicked illusion. We all are born penniless and at the end of our lives leave accumulated riches behind for others to fight over. Our true wealth are the contributions that we offered to society during our sojourn that will hopefully enrich the lives of others. We are all one race, one species, one culture, subject to the whims of a Universe that could eradicate us all in a bright moment. No one survives a Super Nova. It merely recreates us into new forms to start over again. But until that moment we must strive to be the best we can.

I am an AFROFuturist. This is what I believe:

1) We must mold a future that embraces all of us
2) Education and learning is "cradle to grave" and critical to our survival
3) Our greatest wealth resides in the people who have the least
4) We have the knowledge and the power to protect the planet and all the creatures that live on it
5) God is not above us, God grows within us, if we allow

I am an AFROFuturist. Join me!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Say Good-Bye To Television

Since the addition of color to TV screens -- moving from stark black and white into "Wizard of Oz" RGB reality  -- there have been no real innovations (IMHO) in on-the-air TV.  From the 1950s to now,  traditional  programming hasn't deviated far from talent shows,  celebrity interviews, game shows, candidly  raw video and nightly news featuring square jaw commentators (you can't  view edgy comedy on broadcast TV or lengthy reporting on current events as well as other innovative  programming --SNL is a rare exception).

In the heyday of TV rabbit ears, there were only 4 maybe 6 channels to watch in each city. In smaller markets, there were only 2 or 3 choices to tune into.

Today, Old Style Television technologies are waving good-bye. They are cartoon caricatures buried face deep in smoking mud pits on the banks of steaming rivers while green forests burn into gray  ashes. The sky boils with red cinders of new entrepreneurial   start-ups roaring into the marketplace. The ground shakes, opening deep fissures from whence there is no return. Survival depends upon the ability to adapt to changing conditions and to fly nimbly within a shifting social environment. If you cannot adapt, you die. Many TV executives and producers have leaped antenna first into the communications oblivion; refusing to accept the obvious. Others have grown new wings.

Today, many young people don't buy TVs; instead, they opt for powerful laptops, slick tablets or the latest smart phones to view content that is important to them. People can roam freely around the world for knowledge as well as interact with the creators of that content.

The wide, world, internet  strives to reach and offer its wares to every human being in every  corner of the planet. This expanding digital medium offers millions of channels to view and learn from. Anyone can be the writer,  producer, host, camera person, reporter, animator or focus group. This is good.

But this is the Stafford Battle Blog; how does has this  tirade affect Black people? 

For more than 50 years,  television has mostly  portrayed  white males, doing white male things, while excluding  everybody else. (One programming exception was "I Love Lucy" which  featured an interracial relationship between Lucy and Ricky. Later, this situation became extreme taboo on American communications networks.) In the 21st Century, people of color can produce his or her or their own particular programming to promote important messages. These netcasts can cover the world and beyond.

Old Style Television has sunk into the void of ancient history. We as African Americans are rising to  express our views and concerns using a new method of global communications, that no one can take from us, if we fight for the right to speak out.

As  T-Rex decays into dust, new forms of life must emerge.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Bad Turn to the Right

I disagree with President Barack H Obama for many reasons. We spend too much money and forfeit too many lives on imperialist conquests overseas in places where the US flag doesn't belong. During Obama's reign, major banks and corporations continue to cheat and steal every penny they can just to make a few CEO's hyper-rich.  The justice system has all but declared open warfare on black men -- jails are crowded with African-Americans who couldn't afford good lawyers or pay to find fair and impartial judges. The Planet earth's environment is swirling down the toilet while we continue to poison the air, rape the land, and build walled mansions for the one percenters.

Of course, I am not the leader of the still most prosperous nation on the planet.  I don't have to live under a microscope while every poop and splash I make is  dissected and analyzed. I don't have to compromise my morals just to allow a tiny glimmer of  sanity to shine and perhaps light a path to a better world. I am not the commander-in-chief of a gigantic military comprised of loyal men and women who only seek to serve their country while risking their lives.

Yes, even though I may disagree with many of President Obama's policies, I am truly horrified by what the conservative right is doing.  It is so blatant, I get chills. Republicans seek to steal this country blind by fixing the game. People will be denied their right to vote. Only the poor and middle class will pay taxes. America will get involved in even more useless wars.  Women will lose their right to govern their own body. More prisons will be built to lock up  more black men and woman. The legal system will harshly punish anyone who makes less than a million dollars. Social security, healthcare, employment insurance will be on the auction block -- sold to the highest corporate bidder.

That  is the type of country that the political right wants. They don't care about people. The political right wingers are mostly rich  and white and male with the right connections and no conscious or caring for anyone not in their social class. The only hope to stop their madness is our power to get involve and to  protest and  to boycott and  to vote. But don't blindly vote for the reelection of President Obama because he is the only choice.  Let everyone running for office  know that you are voting for specific causes such as:
  • everybody pays their fair share of taxes including churches; 
  • school teachers are more important than basketball players; 
  • the earth is our only home and we need to protect it, vigorously; 
  • how we elect our public servants is desperately flawed and corrupt; 
  • we must stop the flood of money purchasing our mayors, senators and judges;
  • we must respect religious freedom including the freedom to NOT believe;
  • guns must be tightly regulated--gun offenders must be treated harshly;
  • build fewer prisons and fund more community colleges; and
  • open a diagloue where all people can discuss their problems and find solutions to help us all.

 Also, lighten up. I may disagree with Obama but in my heart  of hearts, I hope that Obama's heart is in the right place even if his head may be on a slightly different plane.


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jesus on a Dinosaur

Frankly, other than for funerals or weddings, I don't go to church. I have many friends and family who are avid church goers. I love them and wish them well while politely turning down their requests to join them for worship services. Church is not always bad, it is just not right for me.  I believe that some churches actually benefit our communities. Many church leaders are sincere and hardworking souls.  They put people first and religion second and politics a distant third. If you took away the holy books, these people would still do good for the world. They would feed the hungry, help heal the sick, and prepare a better future for our children.

However, there is an aspect  of religion that truly frightens me. Fanaticism exists in all organized movements and there is too much evil in our various religions. I define "evil" as hatred against our fellow beings and the planet. There are people who  rabidly adhere to the notion that their god is the only god and their beliefs are the only beliefs that people should follow. They will kill and destroy for that belief. I doubt that God really cares which day we go to church or how much money we donate to the preacher or which president we vote for. 

Yet despite these ills, most disturbing to me is the lack of intellectual curiosity that conflicts with established doctrine. There is a  movement in America that promotes "anti-thought" and downgraded education.  Dystopia is a word that science fiction writers would use to describe what may be happening to our world. (From my friend Wiki-- Dystopia:  a society, generally of a speculative future, characterized by negative, anti-utopian elements, varying from environmental to political and social issues.) 

Evil cannot overwhelm us if we are aware of it and take action. We need to expose the greedy charlatans in our churches, news media, congresses, and businesses.  The world is not flat (but the Universe could be flat).  Education from elementary to post collegiate should be free to all people (pay teachers more money).  All religions have some good and some bad elements. Jesus never rode a dinosaur because the earth is more than 5,000 years old. Evolution is real and we are still learning to cope with our existence on a planet that is heating up as a result of our activities.

Creationist Museum: http://creationmuseum.org/

The Ark: http://arkencounter.com/

Interfaith Alliance: http://www.interfaithalliance.org/

Reason and Science: http://richarddawkins.net/

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Celebrations



In case you have been hiding under a rock, NASA and the United States of America have landed another robot on Mars.

 Is this a big event?

Yes!

Contrary to the misconceptions promoted by the political right, NASA is alive and doing well, and setting the organization's sights on higher goals. Almost every nation has a satellite or access to a satellite in low Earth orbit. Only the U.S.A. has a SUV cruising on the surface of Mars. Several countries are attempting to get back to the Moon. American spacecrafts have exited the solar system (any moment now) on their way to the stars.

There are oceans larger than the Pacific on bodies around the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. NASA and its partners have plans to "Go Fishing" there. And,  later, maybe capture an asteroid or two in the Asteroid Belt.

How does all this effect the price of a price of a dozen of eggs? $2.5 billion which includes spacecraft development, science investigations, and the cost of launch and operations has been injected into our economy. This is not money squandered in some rich playboy's offshore bank account. These are salaries paid to thousands of workers who made NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission possible.  Landing on Mars allows people on Earth to buy cereal and orange  juice and gasoline and  tuition to college for sons and daughters.

That is a good reason to celebrate. 

See NASA at: http://www.nasa.gov



Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Starship Africa




An African American woman is making plans to travel to the distant stars and go where no man or woman has gone before.

The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to receive seed funding to form 100 Year Starship (100YSS), an independent, non-governmental, long-term initiative which will ensure that the capabilities for human interstellar flight exist as soon as possible, and definitely within the next 100 years. The winning 100YSS proposal, “An Inclusive, Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth and Beyond,” was created by Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence with team membersIcarus Interstellar and the Foundation for Enterprise Development.

Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison will lead the global multi-partner organization. Dr. Jemison, the world’s first woman of color to travel in space (1992′s Space Shuttle Endeavour), brings to her leadership role her vast experience as an engineer, physician, professor, former Peace Corps medical officer, and entrepreneur. Known for achieving the improbable, Dr. Jemison also brings a spirit of audacity, innovation and inclusion to 100YSS.

“Yes, it can be done. Our current technology arc is sufficient,” says Dr. Jemison. ”100 Year Starship is about building the tools we need to travel to another star system in the next hundred years. We’re embarking on a journey across time and space. If my language is dramatic, it is because this project is monumental. This is a global aspiration. And each step of the way, its progress will benefit life on earth. Our team is both invigorated and sobered by the confidence DARPA has in us to start an independent, private initiative to help make interstellar travel a reality.”

100 Year Starship will bring in experts from myriad fields to help achieve its goal - utilizing not only scientists, engineers, doctors, technologists, researchers, sociologists and computer experts, but also architects, writers, artists, entertainers, and leaders in government, business, economics, ethics and public policy. 100YSS will also collaborate with existing space exploration and advocacy efforts from both private enterprise and the government.

In its first year, 100YSS will seek investors, establish membership opportunities, encourage public participation in research projects, and develop the visions for interstellar exploration. A 100 Year Starship Public Symposium will be held in Houston September 13-16, 2012, inaugurating what will be an annual event open to scientific papers, engineering challenges, philosophical and socio-cultural considerations, economic incentives, application of space technologies to improve life on earth, imaginative exploration of the stumbling blocks and opportunities to the stars, and broad public involvement.

The 100 Year Starship also will include a scientific research institute, The Way whose major emphasis will be speculative, long-term science and technology.

Alongside the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, a non–]profit organization that promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) awareness and achievement, the principal 100 Year Starship team members are:Icarus Interstellar, a non-profit research and development organization dedicated to the research that will enable interstellar flight; and the Foundation for Enterprise Development centered on governance, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and R&D based organizational planning, management, and strategic planning. The SETI Institute, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to astronomy, life sciences, education, and public outreach, will hold a permanent seat on the 100YSS Advisory Council.
To sign up for e-mail alerts from 100 Year Starship or learn more about the 100YSS Public Symposium visitinfo@100YSS.org . Follow 100 Year Starship on Twitter (@100YSS). Contact 100 Year Starship at info@100YSS.org.

http://100yss.org/ -- The 100 Year Starship Website

Friday, July 27, 2012

Africa's New Mega City




Nigeria has ambitious plans to build a futuristic  community on land reclaimed from the Atlantic ocean.Within Lagos with a population of more than 10 million residents, Eko Atlantic City is literally rising up out of the waves. Daily, giant dredgers from China pump 400,000 tons of sand into a space between the shore and giant sea wall constructed of granite boulders. Reportedly, a project this size has never been seen in West Africa before. The result could be a modern, gleaming city that would turn the Wizard of Oz green with envy.

This oil-rich country may have big ambitions along with its big population of mostly poor people. Lagos with the addition of Eko Atlantic could become Africa's model mega-city. The builders and private investors seek to create a clean city with reliable power, sanitation, rapid transportation, financial and entertainment districts along with housing for hundreds of thousands of residents. This could bring jobs, education and healthcare for many citizens in the country. However, every big  urban renewal project has its big problems.

Construction of Eko Atlantic may be the cause of flooding in  sections of Lago's older slums. In news reports, some local citizens wonder if they will get a piece of the hi-tech addition to Lagos or simply be pushed away into new ghettos elsewhere and out of sight. Already, government forces have been destroying floating shacks with apparently no compensation to the inhabitants.

This brings to surface the clammy question: "Who will live in Eko Atlantic? Who will benefit from its luxuries and lifestyle elegance?" Nigeria has a very, very tiny super rich upper class, while the majority of the country is waist deep in poo and poverty. Crime and Internet scams are the norm. In Eko Atlanta not only would there be a wall to hold back the raging Atlantic surf; ordinary people who are merely seeking a day-to-day survival, may be prevented from entering and not allowed to walk the wide boulevards and  enjoy tea at an al fresco cafe under brilliant blue African skies. Rich foreigners  from the east and west stand to make a lot of money as well as own substantial real estate in  "walled"  communities that cater  to their affluent expectations.


But there is also a bright side. Eko Atlantic is still seeking investors and innovators. There are many African Americans who have the wealth and consciousness to influence this project; perhaps pool resources to build neighborhoods within Eko Atlantic. Schools and night clubs will be needed. Small consulting firms could thrive on the crumbs that the supercorps leave on the table.

Eko Atlantic is still in a larval form. This is an opportunity, now. African's new mega city could use guidance.



http://www.ekoatlantic.com/index.htm -- Eko Altanta, a new place to live and work

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eko_Atlantic_City -- Wikipedia is always a good place to start

http://www.citiesalliance.org/ -- The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development.

http://www.cwcnic.com  -- 4th Nigerian Infrastructure & Construction Exhibition




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Visitas



After several years, I decided it was time to change my Web appearance. Actually, the decision was forced upon me when my long-time hosting service decided to up their fees. So, goodbye, and hello to the new me on line.

My views and opinions are wide and varied. I consider myself a writer and futurist, mostly; and citizen of the world whenever i find the time. Therefore, the following are the websites that I will be building to accommodate my ambitions:
  • sbattle.com is where I will be blogging; daily!
  • staffordbattle.com will be the home of my writing endeavors. Sample of my stories as well as links to my online bookstores (Amazon and Lulu).
  • AfricanAmericanScienceFiction.com will focus on the sci-fi genre with an African flavor
  • Nubianfantastic.com offers a peek into the world of sword and soul, black steampunk, horror, and fantasy
  • AfroSciFi.net is current events, interviews, special announcements and social networking.