Sunday, December 29, 2013

Choosing A Future

  

Utopian and Dystopian Fiction in the African Diasporia

Yea! it is the year 2014. When I was a kid, I was sure that by the year 2000 we would all be living in the future -- like the Jetsons and their flying cars.  To my knowledge, however, the Jetsons never portrayed a single non-white character. Robots and space aliens were fine, but to offer an Asian or African person seems to have been forbidden by the Hanna-Barbera crew who created this cartoon predicting the future.

I don't want to discuss racist cartoonists. It would take too long.  But I can offer observations that anyone can  explore using "The Google".  I will probably offer a more detailed discussion at the African American Science Fiction website.

The Jetson's world was presented  as a utopia for  American style Western Capitalism. But first, let's steal some common text from Wikipedia:

The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal society, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction (sometimes referred to as apocalyptic literature) is the opposite: creation of an utterly horrible or degraded society that is generally headed to an irreversible oblivion, or dystopia. Many novels combine both, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. 

In AFROCentric speculative fiction, there are  examples of "good world" and "bad world." I will mention just a few, but I welcome comments regarding Black utopias and dystopias especially as protrayed in films such as Pumzi by Wanuri Kahiu.

Octavia Butler gained fame by writing fiction where Black people prospered and suffered in various aspects of an alternative world.  Her "Parable" novels showed us how Black people living in a totally dysfunctional society used their wits and courage to survive and build a new future.

In "Steamfunk",  a derivative of Steampunk,  Black characters dominate and offer visions of  ex-slaves controlling the South of the United States after its Civil War.  Of course, Blacks had to defend against  crazy white people who sought to reclaim lost territory.

Black people were  the global leaders in  Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart by Steven Barnes. In those novels, Africans  colonized the Americas and created a formidable empire.

In the United States of Africa written by Abdourahman A. Waberi the fortunes of the world were reversed. A stream of  white humanity flows from the slums of America and the squalor of Europe, to by seeking entrance into the United States of Africa, a land of opportunity and prosperity.

George S. Schuyler dreamed of a world where white rulers were kicked out of Africa, an utopia for Black people was created and  Europe attacked by Africa in his compilation of serial stories called Black Empire.

Ask yourself,  how do people of African descent envision the future: A)  Utopia where everything is perfect and every elected president is of African descent;  B) Dystopia where evil and poverty reign and the Klan controls the voting boths;  or C) a mashup of both?

Your answer may depend upon the following:
  • are you sleeping on the streets or in a car bouncing between homeless shelters -- do you use the Internet at a public library for 10 minutes a session to look for jobs; 
  • are you are living in a house you purchased in a middle-class neighborhood that you are struggling maintain and keep creditors at bay --  occasionally you delay a payment on the water or electric bill to buy meds; 
  • or do you have mansions at the beach and on mountains as well as downtown condominiums  on different continents and never had a hungry day in your life because you have a personal jet to take you to any restaurant in the world for a private table at lunchtime. 
In fiction, Black writers expand perceptions,  encourage us to consider what type of world we want to live in. Speculative fictions inspires us to build tools and community to better our society by presenting the negative and the positive.

However, here I want to say, we can create the world we live in or want to live in -- some are good,  some are bad. We have the ability to choose.  If we make a bad choice, we must live with the consequences.





 




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why Africa Must Go to the Moon


There are many reasons why the nations of Africa should set aside their religious conflicts,  invite the African Diaspora to return home,  create a common currency and go to the Moon. India just launched a probe to Mars. The Chinese are planning a space station and an effort to put an installation for humans on the Moon. The Western powers are retooling to reach out to the distant moons of Jupiter and Saturn. There is even talk of colonizing Venus and building cloud cities. The Japanese seek to go to Earth's moon and  build a power station to beam electricity back to our planet. International corporations have formed collaborations to go into deep space and capture asteroids that can be mined for metals and minerals as well as precious water valuable for fuel and breathing.

Space agencies exist on every continent except Antarctica. However, if there is a race to the Moon, or any moon, sadly, Africa is sitting on the bleachers in the cheap seats watching other players commit to winning on the playing field. But that could change dramatically, once  Black people are inspired to setting higher goals in today's rapidly evolving global society.

There is an entire solar system within our grasp to explore and exploit (hopefully, there will be no intelligent life that we can abuse). Incredible possibilities exist. But how do we influence subsistence farmers, fishermen, bus drivers, students, housewives, and dictators to focus on the big bright orb that we see almost every night.

We can use science fiction to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to set their sights on a lofty goal. We need stories. We need movies. We need music and art. An effort to establish a base on the moon would create millions of jobs (or at least thousands). The technologies developed would greatly benefit all people. We are talking more than just making space juice such as Tang. But we have to inspire people to think bigger-- there is more than one moon, there is more than one dream.

This is the breakdown of planets with moons (but subject to change as  humans stretch out into their local solar neighborhood).

Mercury and Venus-0
Earth-1
Mars-2
Jupiter-63
Saturn-60
Uranus-27
Neptune-13

Pluto which has been demoted from full planet status to dwarf planet has five moons. And Pluto sits on the edge of the solar system where billions of bodies possessing the riches of the universe orbit the sun.

Ganymede circling Jupiter is the largest moon in the solar system whereas our Moon is only the fifth largest. Several other moons may have buried under miles of ice, liquid oceans bigger than anything we see on earth.  Some moons are volcanic. Some have huge seas of liquid methane.

So, why should Africa go to the Moon or travel to  any of the moons that this solar system is blessed with?  Resources are the answer. Africa has most of the mineral resources that the space-faring nations are desperate for. However, those resource are finite and more difficult to obtain each year. Also, there are critical environmental concerns. We have to plan for our future. We must not foul our nest. We have to take flight.

Africa must go to the moon, if for nothing else than to improve living conditions that people have today. Building a technology for a grand goal, means having more schools and encouraging people  to invent and play a significant role in the space race. This also means increased incomes, infrastructure development, innovation in food and shelter as well as a commitment to do things more efficiently without endangering our health or ruining our landscapes.

Africa needs to go to the moon to earn its rightful place in the modern world -- graduating from a developing economy and becoming a full partner among the superpowers  (a feat that India, China and Japan have accomplished).

A shout-out has to go to a Black Science Fiction book: Discovery which is the first installment of the Darkside Trilogy by William Hayashi.  The Darkside Universe is a speculative world which tells the tale of what happens in the United Sates of America when the country discovers that African Americans have been secretly living on the backside of the moon since before Neil Armstrong arrived. (Purchase the book at Amazon.)

I haven't read or reviewed it yet, but we need more tales like this to help Africa go to the moon.



Monday, October 28, 2013

Defining the Black Superhero

As more African Americans attend science fiction and comic book conventions, they encounter discussions about race and culture in speculative fiction. This occurs during panel presentations,  banter at hotel bars or  conversation in a crowded elevator. And, often, as people introduce themselves,  sooner or later  the representative black person (which is usually me) will get asked, “What do you do?”

It’s a harmless question that could lead to a good networking opportunity. You never know when you might bump into publishers looking for new talent. Therefore, in such a situation I  respond, “I write African and African American science fiction.” I always expect the silence and wait patiently for the next obvious question.

“What makes a Black superhero different from a white one?”  This is a juicy topic among  attendees  dressed as Teenage Ninja Turtles or Star Wars Storm Troopers or scantily clad warrior princesses.

By habit, I respond depending upon my mood. I have the option to snidely quip that’s how the author wrote the story. But that’s a lame reply and these people paid good money to converse, exchange ideas and to exercise their escapism muscles. If the sobriety and intelligence of the audience is of a certain level, I respond like this: “Afrocentric characters are governed by their origins and their cultural alliances. Typically, a Black super hero or heroine was born or created in Africa or an African community that could be located anywhere in this world or an alternative universe. However, we should always be careful to never assign physical characteristics such as skin color or fashion sense as adequate qualifiers for reasons that I later will explain. If surrounded by an Africa-like setting, the super being initially will demonstrate an allegiance to protect and serve Black people -- an environment they feel most closely associated with, naturally. However, as their purpose and abilities expand, they will eventually deem it important to use their powers to help everyone regardless of race or culture. Let me explain."

“One of my favorite comic book characters is Storm. Storm a.k.a  Ororo Monroe, is blue-eyed with white flowing hair and was born in New York City. But also she is a descendant of an ancient line of African priestesses, all of whom have the potential to wield magic and control the weather as well as fly. As a young girl, Ororo is ignorant of her gifts. She travels to Africa, suffers many tragedies and finds herself  homeless and without parents. Eventually, she survives and crosses the desert to find her ancient homeland. There, she is nurtured and groomed to take full advantage of her powers. She uses her super abilities to protect her village and the continent. As she grows, she takes on the task to protect the entire planet by joining and leading the X-Men.”

I like to keep my momentum, so I usually jump quickly into my next point.

“My most favorite Black speculative fictional character is Doro from Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed and the Pattern Master books. Doro originates in Africa as a demon who can possess bodies, killing the original host. At first, Doro is insane, mindlessly wandering from body to body killing thousands of people. Eventually, he does gain mental control and carefully selects who he kills and who he shelters. By this time, the slave trade is in full swing, and Doro is busy protecting and preparing to move his most cherished people to America, where he feels they will be safer. Physically, Doro can be anybody. Yet, his protects his own people and eventually expands to protect others regardless of their race or culture. Granted, he also feeds on people regardless of race or culture. He is a flawed hero, but he is an AFROcentric super being.  But let me offer my final supposition."

“Consider this:  Does Tarzan qualify as a Black superhero? When he was an infant, he drops into Africa,  his parents die and he is adopted by the African environment.  In Africa, he matures and uses his great strength to fight evil and help the weak. This usually involves beating the snot out of greedy white Europeans who were harassing Africans.  In some stories, Tarzan forms close alliances with the African chiefs  and  becomes a hero to the people. Before you decide also ponder this: what other hero fell from the sky and became completely absorbed and revered  by the native people who took him in? Superman, of course. If you peel back the surface layers, you can see that Superman is not a Caucasian American; he technically is not even human even though he looks like a human. Again, physical appearances can be deceiving. The Man of Steel is an illegal space alien who can lift an aircraft carrier. In fact, in some versions of the Superman myth, he crash lands in  Stalinist Russia where he becomes the people’s champion who fights the decadency of the Western nations.   I wonder what might have happened if the baby Kal-El had landed in 18th Century South Africa and been raised by Emperor Shaka Zulu? But I digress. . ."  At this point, I can allow others to chime in. My primary  point is made.

My brief comments are usually accepted well, but sometimes my statements are like pouring good Jamaican Rum onto a camp fire. However, it is all good intellectual fun and people get excited when there is a controversy to promote.  It is time for me to back out of the conversation and make a exit to my room, allowing the debate to continue without me. There, I can relax, pop open a beer and power-up Netflix. During my spare time,  I like to search for lost episodes of “Astroboy” who happens to be my favorite Asian superhero.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Black Science Fiction

2013 October is Black Speculative Fiction Month!


You should celebrate by supporting a black author, today.  Buy a book and write a review -- be honest. The AFROFuturist movement is growing. It starts with writers but includes artists, filmmakers, musicians, and any creative person who peers into the future. People of color are creating a new destiny combining science fiction with science fact. 

We are changing education which doesn't stop because of age.  It is easier to become a rich and prestigious scientist than an NFL star. Black sci-fi inspires people to do more than throw and catch a ball. This is a life-long process that we continue until the grave.

Black Science Fiction is taking off like a rocket. Sci-fi, Sword & Soul, Steamfunk, Weird Black West  are sexy and intriguing.  We are forced to look deep into our souls. We are all African.  When we dream big, we create fantastic structures. We build faster-than-light spaceships. We can capture and use the energy of galaxies. We can heal humankind. Black spec fiction expands our imaginations and make dreams reality.

For more information go to Black Speculative Fiction Month:


Happy Black Science Fiction Month!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Architects of AFROFuturism: An Online Course

AFROFuturism Can Change Your World, Today!


We can experience AFROFuturism in literature, graphics arts, animation, film, dance and music. It is a vision of the future where people of color play an important role for the survival of humanity.

AFROFuturism is more than speculative fiction. We read stories about the fantastic not only painted in the distant future of star ships and galactic civilizations; there are also heroic tales from our histories as civilization began in African or industrialization and steam power gave rise to urban societies. Sword and Soul, Steamfunk and AFRO Sci-Fi are just a few of the emerging genres that embace AFROFuturism.

Many historians believe that both modern fiction and the Industrial Revolution began in the mid 19th Century. The first AFROFuturists were writing at that time.  Overall  literacy was on the rise (especially among the Black communities who had a desperate thirst for reading skills), and technology allowed the mass production of printed materials in the form of pamphlets, newspapers, magazines and books.

During the time of the Civil War, Black people were writing speculative fiction. Martin R. Delany, a physician, black nationalist,  army officer, journalist, radical and courtroom  judge wrote speculative fiction. In his novel Blake or the Huts of America, Delany envisioned a world where one Black man started a revolution.

What happened then is happening now. Today, we have new scientific wonders such as the internet and colonization of the Moon and Mars. Workers are challenging the global corporate system and its ties to politicians.Writers are offering instructional fiction to make us more aware and prepared to challenge, survive and even prosper in the "new" future.

For those of us who enjoy reading or hope to profit from  writing speculative fiction with an Afrocentric  flavor, an online course called: Architects of AFROFuturism will be available soon. We will closely examine five Architects of AFROFuturism.

Enrollment will be limited. Don't hesitate join us.

If this is your first online course, you are in for a treat. Your commitment is only  8  to 12 hours each week; most of your efforts will be reading and writing brief essays of 400 words or less. You are required to interact with other students who may reside anywhere in the world.  The course is designed to be inspirational as well as enlightening and educational. Quizzes are short. Your final grade will include scores on assessments, timely submission of written assignments, and participation in discussion.

A Certificate of Completion will be issued to those who satisfy the requirements of the course.

When you complete this course you will be better able to:

    • Compare the American protest movements of the 19th Century Progressive Era with the worldwide 21st Century Occupy Wall Street actions
    • Examine how new technology can radically change a society
    • Analyze the rise and fall of a powerful leader whose blind ambition results in the destruction of his own people
    • Explain the  benefits and flaws of Blacks going back to Africa or staying in America
    • Understand how a clandestine revolution can overthrow a racist and corrupt political system

    For more information, send me an email at sbattle@sbattle.com .


    Friday, April 19, 2013

    Exploring Science Fiction via Cousera




    I discovered the book  Little Brother by Cory Doctorow online at Coursera. This was a fantastic read even though it was my least favorite genre Young Adult (YA), and Black people were not the central focus. The author offers a tale of how San Francisco teenagers battle a corrupt U.S. government that illegally has kidnapped and tortured American citizens after a terrorist bombing. I am reading the sequel, Homeland,  now. (Both books are available free on the Internet).

    I must thank Coursera for forcing me to step outside of my comfort zone. And, explore the legacy of science fiction in Western literature.This has expanded my understanding of speculative fiction, and I believe this will make me a better writer.

    According to the website,  Coursera is a social entrepreneurship collective that partners with the top universities around the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. They envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Talented professors teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.

    The Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  started January 22, 2013, and ended on April 9, 2013 (another session starts soon). We read books and short stories.  I delved into fantasy, fairy tale, and science fiction written by many different authors from the 1800s to present day. There was a lot of discussion among people in different nations, who spoke different languages and had various cultural backgrounds.

    The course required that students submit reviews of their readings as well as  analyze what other students had written. Each week, I reviewed five essays and received up to five reviews of what I had written about each assignment. The rating scale was from 1 (the lowest ranking) to 3 (the most highly regarded). I never got a 6, but I did receive many positive comments and candid advice about my writing.

    Our teacher was Eric S. Rabkin. Each week after we submitted our essays and reviews of our fellow students, Rabkin posted short video lectures about the works we had just read. Each video was a lesson about a specific aspect of our reading. This was enlightening and encouraging for anyone considering writing sci-fi for a living.

    I had the pleasure of discovering the original Frankenstein, Dracula,  Invisible Man, John Carter of Mars and  others. I was immersed in great (and not so great) literature written by masters of the art. We have been told, that to be a good writer, you have to be a voracious reader. 

    Also,  in the course I was happy to see that speculative fiction is a global event. It involves many different aspects of what the future could be.  African, Asian, European and other ethnic/geographic writers have their own views of the future and how we all will play a role in it.  According to the New York Times, "Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are often free, non-degree programs that have been drawing top professors. Some courses may attract nearly a 100,000 participants."

    Links to my essays and  peer reviewers from Coursera can be found at staffordbattle.com

    Sunday, March 31, 2013

    No More Comic Books



    I dislike the term "Comic Book".  There is nothing funny about a zombie ripping out a man's intestines or a gifted human with extraordinary abilities pushing a blazing comet  away from earth thus preventing total destruction of our civilization. These are all fantasy experiences that  thrill our imaginations. We will  not laugh; we will gape in horror and expectation  as if we are on a roller coaster ride at the crest of a rise and begin the rush downwards.

    We should  call comic books Illustrated Speculative Fiction or Exciting Graphic Tales. These are  stories that entertain and education. There should be no more comic books. Instead there should be illustrated spec fiction that offers space operas, romance, mystery, sword and soul, steam funk  and much more.

    Graphic tales are a billion dollar industry on a global stage. Black creators need to be willing to redesign how their works are promoted to consumers.

    I want no more comic books. No more Yuk, Yuk. I want images brought to life with stories that examine the extreme possibilities in our lives. Bring on the  dystopias and how we can avoid them. Bring on the alien invasions that we can defeat by combining our resources. Bring me worlds were every human being is successful and happy if we are willing to defend our rights and engage new ideas.  We can  better our lives if we dream big. We must write big; but no more artificial laugh tracks.

    Give me Uhuru big breasted, bare legs with her eyes flashing fire and her smile enticing.  She is s genius. I want a new world to conquer.  I am not laughing. I am serious. Together, we can transform the universe.

    The goal of all Speculative Fiction is to enlighten and inspire as well as entertain and educate. This is not comic or funny. This is serious.


    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    African Diaspora Speculative Fiction Renaissance

    The African Diaspora Speculative Fiction Renaissance is happening now, at this very moment as you read this post. The year 2013 offers Steamfunk, Sword and Soul, AFRO Futurism, Black Sci-fi, AFRO Sci-fi, and many other genres in literature, graphic arts, film, animation and music.   

    There is an uprising among smart, innovative people. They represent many cultures and experiences. A tangible revolution is being lead by those who resent and rebel against the publishing, music and film making industry that has been too long controlled by narrow-minded bean counters who are dedicated to social programming and marketing for corporate profits.  

    Spiderman, Superman, Batman reboots threaten to overwhelm the creative landscape. Star Wars, Star Trek, Star Gate have been endlessly recycled into an entertainment mush.  Dr. Who is now "who" really cares -- there will never be a nonwhite or female Dr. Who (although, the Dr. Who franchise should be praised for presenting nonwhite characters in supporting roles since the 1960s).

    The Internet and e-books explosion has made us a truly global society.  And like the universal "Big Bang", many new centers of thought are coalescing, swirling together and birthing new bright lights. 

    Writers from Africa, Europe, Asia, urban USA are emerging as spheres of influence and inspiration.

    Black Science Fiction SocietyThe Black Science Fiction Society turned five-years-old on March 8, 2013. For many aspiring and established African Diaspora Speculative creators, this is a much celebrated event.  The BSFS has more than 3,000 members and is growing. It has spawned or influenced anthologies, short films, graphic arts, comics and fandom. Likewise, the Black Sci-Fi.com another coalition has offered news, interviews and commentary on the current state of African American Science Fiction. The Carl Brandon Society promotes multicultural representation in speculative fiction. There are many, many other online communities that promote Afro Futurism, African American Science Fiction, Black Sci-fi and "the other" in speculative arts -- please use Google to help push-up their rankings.

    If you could hop into the time machine that you hid in the rear of your garage or closet and set the dials back to 2008, what would you tell your past self?  "Self," you could say, "Write a new speculative short story every month, and twice a year self-publish an e-book."   That  productivity would be a valuable asset, today. Many fans are seeking  Imaro, Mamba Queen, Black Panther, Static Shock, Brotherman, Changa and other characters of color for their Kindles, Nooks and I-Pads.

    Hop back into your time machine and go into the future to the year 2018.  Look around and ask yourself what was the result of the African Diaspora Spec Fiction Renaissance?  Have most screen actors been replaced by digital software. Is music truly  free--we only pay for concerts and t-shirts. PCs should be nearly obsolete; most everyday devices should have the processing power of the Apollo Lunar space craft. Is everyone will digitally connected via eyewear. Will virtual reality allowing smell, touch and taste along with visual stimulation, offer exotic new literary arts.

    The world will be smaller but exploration of our solar system will vastly expand our view of the universe back to its beginnings. Our creative artists will drink deeply from this river of knowledge. Our stories will take us to the edge of creation and beyond.

    Back into the time machine!

    It is March 2013, we can learn from the past and influence the future by participating in the African Diaspora Speculative Fiction Renaissance and shaping the course of our world, now.

    In 2015, we can take the next step forward.

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013

    African Diaspora Speculative Fiction & Arts

    In the 1930s, there was the Harlem Renaissance. On March 23, 2013, we celebrate AFRO  Fantastic Arts. Afrofuturism fueled by African Diaspora Speculative Fiction and other progressive artistic ventures  are being popularized. Newly recognized  writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians and other creative minds are rising in AFRO Futurism.  This month, we honor and remember Octavia Butler.

    WHEN: March 21, 2013

    WHERE: Spelman College

    Cosby Building Lobby and Auditorium
    Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
    Pioneers in black speculative fiction will gather at Spelman College, Thursday, March 21, 2013, to celebrate the legacy of science fiction novelist Octavia E. Butler at “Black to the Future: the Octavia E. Butler Celebration of the Fantastic Arts.”  This is Tananarive Due’s culminating event as the 2012-2013 William and Camille Hanks Cosby Chair in the Humanities.  


    The half-day event includes:

    A Black science fiction short film festival
    A performance paper at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, “Planet Rock: Techno, House Music & Afrofuturism”
    A lobby art exhibition
    A student staged reading
    A  panel of writers:  Steven Barnes, Samuel R. Delany, Tananarive Due, Jewelle Gomez, Nalo Hopkinson, Brandon Massey, Nisi Shawl and Sheree RenĂ©e Thomas.
    The event will be live streamed on the Spelman College website: www.spelman.edu

    Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), who won a MacArthur Genius Grant as well as Hugo and Nebula awards, was a pioneer and one of the nation’s most beloved standard bearers in the realm of social science fiction. Her novels, which include Kindred, Patternmaster and Parable of the Sower, are well-researched and deeply thoughtful meditations on power dynamics and community building between colliding populations of humans, mentally enhanced humans, and alien species. Her strong, complex heroines have resonated with readers for decades.


    Look for:
    • Sword and Soul
    • SteamFunk
    • African Gothic Horror
    • AFRO Sci-Fi 
    • Jazz Space Opera
    • Dark Detective

    Monday, January 21, 2013

    The State of AFRO Sci-Fi at Arisia 2013


    Part One

    I have returned from Arisia 2013. There is a lot to reveal, examine, and extract, therefore, I will offer my experiences to you in digestible e-chunks.

    Arisia 2010 in Boston was my first con 4 years ago. Since then, I have attended other cons  in Atlanta, Georgia (Dragoncon & ONYXCON) and all the way to Madison, Wisconsin (Wiscon) as well as other places in-between. There are hundreds of Cons celebrating science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, urban faeries and so forth every year. Millions of  fans attend cons.  People come in costume (The Weeping Angels and Star Wars Storm Troopers are always a big hit as well as anything Dr. Who).  People also come to talk and learn. There are many, many panels and presentations  on sci-fi/comic cultural icons such as which Green Lantern was best -- Hal Jordan or Jon Stewart -- or who was the best Star Fleet Captain -- Sisko or Kirk. There are conversations on the use of  solar energy or practical travel to another star system.  The politics and economics of science and fiction may take center stage. Writers, artists, editors,  publishers and educators gather to compare notes, plan and build new relationships as well as sign contracts and build agreements to promote science and technology in our schools.

    Cultural Diversity was a key word  spoken often at Arisia. Writers and readers sought to explore and expand the presence of  "the other" character  in the books, movies and TV shows that offer science fiction and fantasy. It was agreed that human society must become more inclusive. Big name authors, small press publishers, indie writers discussed  the new trends in speculative fiction to satisfy the desires of a wider audience yet make a reasonable return to sustain this effort.

    Arisia 2013 honorees were Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes -- both extraordinary speculative fiction authors, Hollywood film writers, educators, mentors and spouses. The Carl Brandon Society also was out in force as convention panelists, audience participants, late night session moderators, and greeters in jovial hotel party suites.

    But before, I reveal more of my journey ot Arisia 2013, we must pause for a word from our sponsor -- me.

    "As a member of the Carl Brandon Society, I wholly support the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship fundraiser.  Everyone who appreciates the works of Octavia should donate to Carl Brandon and in appreciation receive the new ebook Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars Edited by Nisi Shaw . Click here to get information on buying the book. "  -- Stafford L Battle"

    Now back to my blog: 

    Arisia 2013 has come and gone.  The weather was icy cold but the spirits were warm and sometimes very heated. Andrea and Steve locked horns for a blazing moment when the discussion of Sci-fi vs  Fantasy came up. What exactly is culture fail?  Are Zombies the end of the world?  What do you expect from a sword wielding, sexy grandmother? If you missed the pillow fights and rabid debates this time, you can get involved next year. Shields Up! Launch the photon torpedoes!  Arisia 2014 will be in Boston, Massachusetts,  January 17 - 20, 2014.


    Part Two: The State of AFRO Sci-Fi at Arisia 2013 -- Barnes and Due

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    Meet You At Arisia

    Hundreds of speculation fiction conventions known as "Cons"  occur every year in the U.S. and around the world. You should plan to attend at least one. You will not regret it. In January, I will be in Boston, briefly.


    Note: when I say "speculative fiction" I include science fiction, comic books, AFRO sci-fi, Hollywood movies, TV shows, roadside faeries, love-sick vampires,  steam punk, sword and soul, horror and everything else that involves out of the normal experience in fictional entertainment.

    Cons are like flavors of ice cream: you will like some and some you may be less fond of  but it is always an experience. There is a  speculative fiction convention for every lifestyle  and every age.  In January, 2013, I will be seen at Arisia, a  con in Boston, Massachusetts.

    I've attended Arisia for several years. In fact, it was my first con. I've  seen the same short Batman guy every year (he's kinda of kooool). The Carl Brandon Society always has a great gathering. And, the green, toxic  beverage they serve at the Klingon party gives me delightfully fuzzy memories and just a mild hangover. People who attend represent all ages and races and economic strata. They are  open-minded, willing to express themselves and fun to be around. There is lots of fab art, hot discussion, new people to meet -- and did I mention the parties?  I always laugh too hard and learn much more than I expected and make connections that I hope will further my writing career.

    This Arisia takes place January 18-21, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts. I will Blog about the major events and points of interests via several of my websites (I lose count, Google me or send email to sbattle@sbattle.com --  I promise to respond).

    Tananarive Due was at Arisia 2011 to collect a Carl Brandon Award for her story "Ghost Summer" in the anthology "Ancestors". We enjoyed her energy and enthusiasm so much that Arisia wanted her to come back.  Her husband, Steven Barnes, is better known in science fiction circles, starting with Dream Park (with Larry Niven) and continuing on to write many more books as well as television screenplays and novelizations. Barnes is also a martial arts expert and a writing coach. Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes have collaborated with Blair Underwood on the Tennyson Hardwick mystery series.

    So each month, I will endeavor to post my thoughts on the Speculative Cons of the month. Even if you missed the event, you can always plan for next year. Go! But be wary of the Romulan Ale.