THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY BLACK PEOPLE
For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of what is now called Steampunk – a mash-up of fantasy and science fiction that embraces a fantastical past while incorporating a spirit of progress, exploration and do-it-yourself ingenuity.
Always a voracious reader, I devoured Jules Verne’s novels – From the Earth to the Moon; 20,000 Leagues under the Sea; andAround the World in 80 Days. One of my childhood rituals was to sit at the feet of my mother and, together, we would watch Wild, Wild West. My mother, a huge fan of westerns (she has probably seen every western ever made in English…yes, really) and comedic spy stories (Get Smart and I Spy are her favorites) was in heaven.
In my preteens, I was the first of my friends to break away from Dungeons and Dragons in search of a game that allowed me to create a world more like that ofWild, Wild West, in which espionage, steam power, trains and amazing gadgets were some of the tropes. I could not find such a game, so I included these elements in the TSR game Boot Hill (also created by Gary Gygax, the creator of D&D) and it quickly became a hit with my friends.
As an adult, when I decided to write my first novel I knew three things – I wanted the hero to be Harriet Tubman; I wanted Harriet to be an ass-kicking monster-hunter and freedom fighter; and I wanted the story to include amazing gadgets and over-the-top villains a la Wild, Wild West. Thus, the beginnings ofMoses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman took form in my mind. Years later, I sent the first book in the series to independent publisher, Mocha Memoirs Press. The Editor-In-Chief of the company, Nicole Kurtz, wrote me saying they loved the story and were looking for more Steampunk stories like mine. “Steampunk?” I immediately hopped online and began my search and found a wealth of information on the movement.
My next search was Black authors of Steampunk, which did not yield much, however it did take me to an article written by an incredible writer by the name of Jha – who I later discovered is one of the leading authorities on Steampunk, Jaymee Goh – whose informative and inspiring work helped me to find other Steampunk People of Color. You should read her article – The Intersection of Race and Steampunk: Colonialism’s After-Effects & Other Stories, from a Steampunk of Colour’s Perspective [Essay] – athttp://www.racialicious.com/2009/06/24/the-intersection-of-race-and....
Shortly after finding the article by Jah, I joined Black Science Fiction Society. On http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/, I found other writers of African descent who write Steampunk. I was so happy I was not alone and that I could read works of Steampunk that included heroes who look like me.
Since that time, I have developed friendships and working relationships with most of the Black authors who write Steampunk and – through the genius and diligence of author Milton Davis, we will all contribute to the soon-to-be released anthology, Steamfunk.
A few Black authors of Steampunk have been gracious enough to provide me with interviews, which I would like to share with you. I am sure they will inspire you as they have inspired me. Each one, teach one.
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