Animals in Science Fiction: The Newest Nonhumans on the Block


My decision to write about shape shifters and animals—especially werewolves— was first met with shock…by me. When I was growing up, and until say the last ten or so years, the cast of animals in science fiction/fantasy was pretty limited. You had your choice of evil and doomed or tragic and doomed. Either way somebody, usually your animal, was doomed.

Remember the “salt monster” from the original Star Trek series? It was a beast with no other desire than to assume the shapes of the crew—like a deadly chameleon. All the better to suck the salt from your body until you’re dead. That was pretty much the fare of traditional SF films and books.

Whenever I sat down to watch a werewolf film, I already knew the beginning and the end. I already knew the skinny. It definitely wasn’t cheerful. Some poor man or woman got bitten or scratched and went through a period of: “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” Then eventually, like The American Werewolf In London, they all turned into hairy, psycho killers and proceeded to murder anyone unlucky enough to get in their way—including their own family members. That was the traditional SF nonhuman. That was his or her fate.

So why would I chose such a tragic protagonist? Now the plot, as they say, thickens. There is a nontraditional SF animal, oftentimes also a shape shifter, that has made his/her way into the SF/fantasy genre. These new animals or shape shifters can be loosely grouped into two categories: a thinking being that thwarts the heroine or hero, or one that helps them on their journey.

In The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, a science fiction/horror odyssey, there is a whole host of supernatural creatures: werewolves, were-goats, lizards… some good, some malevolent, but all with human intellect—a sharp break from the traditional werewolf formula. In fact, “Wolf,” a gentle, werewolf is pivotal to the hero’s success. When Wolf runs with the moon, he too becomes a killing machine, losing his human ability to think and reason. Yet Wolf’s humanity, unlike that of his literary forefathers, conquers this brutal calling.

But animals such as the talking familiars of A. Jarrell’s Detecting Magic With Dick Hunter,
and the magical crow of Balogun Ojetade’s Once Upon a Time in Afrika showcase animals that completely belong to a new breed of SF/Fantasy animals.

In Detecting Magic… the animals guide and assist the hero in his quest—they in fact are essential to his success.

In Once Upon a Time In Afrika a magical bird, or a creature that looks like a bird, the “Crow,” gives the hero and heroine direction. In both cases these are thinking creatures. Gone is the mindless beast controlled by his or her transition into an animal.

Which brings me back to my original question: why would I choose to write about werewolves? Frankly, as I discovered, they fascinate me—always have—along with other shape shifting folk, like vampires. And because historically, in films and books, they’ve always been the underdogs: the unfortunate man or woman who was infected, suffered, killed and came to a horrible end. The underdog, the oppressed, the abused, the victim, who by the power of their spirit rises to become a heroine, has always been near and dear to my heart.

Another one of my motivations, is that in animals we glimpse one of the most glorious aspects of life. They will fight to death to protect those they love. They never kill for pleasure or greed. And the wolf is among the most noble, and beautiful creatures to walk the earth. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from these “cousins?”

The shape shifters, Karla, Joseph and others, that I’ve brought to life in my Immortal series, in the alternate world of “Tundra,” are definitely nontraditional. They are humans, whose birthright forces them to become more. Not because they were bitten or scratched, but because they are Immortal Other, entrusted with the survival of their world.
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Immortal

They challenge the power structure of their planet imposed by a sorcerer, who also happens to be a megalomaniac. Not fearlessly (For who among us is fearless?) but with great courage, drawing upon their bestial natures to fight and protect their planet. There is eroticism. What is life without love? Violence, for the Others are nothing if not revolutionary. And growth. If you live you evolve. Or you stagnant and die. There is whole cast of preternatural humans and daemons in the Immortal series—some good, some evil—and all with their own agenda (whether working for themselves or some other entity) for who will rule Tundra.

Immortal II: The Time of Legend

Indeed, the world of science fiction animals is no longer a realm of star crossed creatures. No longer are werewolves and other meta-humans ruled by harsh literary plots, their bloody death predetermined by their nature. This new world is rich and multi-layered. Shape shifters are free to think, live and love—both as humans and animals—to chose their own path, whether benevolent or evil.

And this brave new world is where I’ve found my writing home.

Immortal III: Stealer of Souls <

Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds


The Switch II: Clockwork (includes The Switch 1 and II)

Cover art and design for Immortal III, Immortal IV and The Switch II: Clockwork by Quinton Veal.

Valjeanne Jeffers is an artist, poet and the author of The Immortal and The Switch series. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Genesis: Science Fiction Magazine, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear (in press), Possibilites (coming in September to Smashwords) Steamfunk!Anthology (in press). Valjeanne’s novels can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Nubian Bookstore, Morrow GA, and Eljay’s Used Books Bookstore, Pittsburgh PA.
You can also preview or purchase her novels at: http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com

The Switch II: Clockwork (excerpt)

The_Switch_II_Cover_for_KindleBookCoverPreviewtheswitch

~Book 1:The Switch~
~Prologue~

Z100 stood on the tube platform waiting for the next car. She was dressed in a one-piece, white jumpsuit and thigh-high boots: standard dress for the upper city. Pods only seated three to a car, and were propelled by compressed air through tunnels that webbed across Tyrol. Access was granted through palm recognition scanners.
On her left, a Latino couple waited for the car. The man was dressed in a derby hat and striped pants with suspenders; the woman wore a bustier, and skirt with petticoats. Their musty smell reached her, and she wrinkled her nose in disgust.
At least these cars are self-cleaning.
An egg-shaped pod slid to a stop in front of her. She pressed her palm against the scanner and then shot an icy glance at the couple.
They looked away. They knew better than to try to ride with her. Under dwellers were not permitted to socialize with city residents, and only ventured above ground to work. They would wait for the next car.
The hatch door lifted and she stepped inside, sitting on a cushion beside the three-inch window. The pod sped off, and Z100 gazed out the window: the rounded towers of York were a blur of beige and white. In the distance, she glimpsed the tripod mansion of the supreme leader.
The car reached her platform. Z100 stepped out of the transport tube and climbed into a waiting hover craft.
“Where to, ma’am?” a mechanical voice asked.
“Mulberry 5000.” The hover craft zoomed forward.
In minutes, Z100 had climbed out on her porch that stood miles above ground. She stood at the door of her oval-shaped condo, and placed her palm against the flat box beside the door. A laser strip slid down her palm.
There was a brief hum. “Welcome home,” her house announced.
The clear hatch lifted and she stepped inside. Z100 walked up the floating staircase to her bedroom, and undressed in front of her mirror, turning to the side so she could admire her implants.
Her honey-brown skin and thick, bobbed hair were natural. But her green eyes and full lips had cost a pretty credit—as had her 38 C breasts. Naked, Z100 twisted again to admire her waist and rounded hips, also natural, then slipped on the kimono lying across the bed.
Adjacent to the king-size bed, was a picture window with a stunning view. She walked over to it and stood for a moment looking out over the city’s multicolored lights.
“You look beautiful, Ms. Z100,” the house said in a baritone male voice, “as always. What would like for dinner?”
“Broiled fish with sea salt, green salad and white wine.”
“No dessert?”
“No.”
“Very good.”
Z100 walked down the stairs into her living room. Across from the futon and coffee table were three opaque closets. An android stood inside each one, clothed only in white trousers.
She lingered before them, choosing a dinner date. She decided on the third one, Jason, a robot with chocolate skin, exquisitely defined muscles and a nappy cap of hair.
Z100 punched in the definition codes on the curved stand beside the closet: Dinner in 20 minutes. Dress: casual. Language…
At this she hesitated. English tapes sounded so flat lately. But other dialects were worse. The tapes were recorded by under dwellers who were paid only a fraction of a credit for each one. So they were stepping on them—using the original track to produce five, even ten, more tapes.
They were given an upgrade today, but it probably won’t make any difference. To hell with it. She typed in: Language: English.
She pushed set and the android stepped jerkily out of the closet, walked past her and up the stairs. From his chip, he knew to pull male clothing from her closet and dress.
Minutes later, Jason came down the stairs and sat in the dining room alcove. Another robot began to set the table. The second one had a head with only the semblance of a nose and mouth. Beneath its pink shoulders were a metal torso and limbs.
At times, Z100 longed for a real man, but she’d never mate.
In the twenty-fifth century doing so was dangerous.
Her line of work made it even more deadly.
Tyrolean law said that women and darker peoples were second-class citizens. Women of color had the lowest rungs on this ladder. Poor whites were also assigned lower class citizenship.
Once a woman married, all of her credits became her husband’s. And forced marriages, as well as the murders of newly wedded women, were not uncommon.
Z100 had been a key player in the war that unseated the first rulers, catapulting her to the top class. Because of her role in the coup d’état she, and a handful of other female spies, were immune to these laws.
But if she were to marry this would change. Even taking a lover was risky. She’d heard of wealthy women drugged by men they were sleeping with, waking up to find themselves married. And penniless.
The overthrow of the old regime had created a class of ultra-wealthy Tyroleans. The rest became under dwellers —those who lived under the city and earned only enough for food, shelter and oxygen; like her housekeeper Simone2.
And because Z had helped to overthrow the old world, because she worked as a spy to make sure nothing changed, she was hated. She had enemies everywhere—men and women who’d cheerfully murder her to bring down the society she’d helped create.
Z100 sauntered over to her futon, sat down and pushed a button on the underside of the end table next to the couch. The top of the table flipped over, revealing the keyboard hidden underneath. She twirled the dial of her wristband to release a disc and slid it into the front of the keyboard.
Z100 tapped the play key. A holograph of a thirtyish black man appeared. This was H36 a lawyer suspected of being sympathetic to the rebels. As she looked on, the man stepped from behind his desk to meet with a client.
She sighed. God, he’s boring. She forced herself to watch for another twenty minutes. He’s clean.
Z reached over and pushed the next button on her keyboard. The image vanished and another holograph took its place: this one of an older white man. Like the target before him, T40 was dressed in tunic and slacks. But he wasn’t alone.
Z’s lips curled up in a tiny smile. This ought to be good.
She pushed pause, got up and went into the kitchen, detouring around her android butler to pour a glass of wine, then made herself comfortable on the futon once more.
As she looked on, the target unzipped his jumpsuit and pushed it down. His blond companion sauntered over to his desk, and slipped off her pants. She straddled him, curling an arm about his neck. With her other hand she unzipped her tunic to bare her plump breasts. Moans of pleasure filled Z100’s apartment.
Z100 watched them, arousal spreading down her pelvis. She cut the tape off, got up and poured herself another glass of wine. She’d planted the tiny cameras in the men’s offices. They were later retrieved by spies posing as under dweller janitors.
I should send him a holograph thanking him. I bet the rest of the tapes are nowhere near this interesting. He’s clean too. Nobody cares about him knocking off a piece of tail in his office.
“Dinner’s ready, Ms. Z100,” the house announced.
She smirked. Time for my date. She pushed the button on the underside of the desk, hiding the console. You couldn’t be too careful.
She walked over to the alcove and sat down facing Jason. The robot butler sat the plates in front of them, then two glasses for more wine. The android wouldn’t eat of course, but it would spoil the mood to have an empty place sitting in front of him.
Z100 smiled, her teeth flashing against her honey-brown skin. Her smile activated his AI chip, cuing Jason to respond to dinner conversation.
Jason blinked and shifted in his chair. “Good evening, Z100,” he said in a rich baritone. “You look lovely tonight.”
Boy, he’s good! This is one of the best I’ve heard! She made a mental note to buy from the same shop when his tape wore out.
How was your day?” she asked.
His lips spread in an amazingly human smile. “I missed you…I thought about you all day.”
Her question had stimulated a second response chip. Different questions triggered different menus. But he was still a robot—still chemically treated human skin stretched over plastic limbs.
Gazing at his ebony face, Z100 pushed herself to forget this reality and embrace the fantasy.
“We’re finishing up the senators’ profiles for the next election,” Jason went on. “But it’s all for show. They aren’t going anywhere. Citizens aren’t going to vote—not in this century.”
The android was hardwired to “believe” he was a politician. Candidates, including the supreme leader, weren’t voted in. They were appointed to lifetime terms.
Very realistic dialogue, thought Z, I am so loving this tape! Outloud she said: “You better watch your back— the rebels are waiting for a chance to gun you down.”
He flashed his gorgeous smile again. “We got enough snipers on the payroll to handle anything they throw at us. How was your day?”
Z100 gulped her wine. She felt giddy, reckless. And his brown eyes were so intense.
“How about my life story instead?” she blurted, her eyes hard and bright. “Once upon a time there was a little girl working as a courier for the most powerful man in Tyrol. Don3000 the supreme leader.”
“She was screwing him too, so she had access to his most private files. She plotted with his enemies to have him and the heads of state killed and replaced with look-a-likes.”
Z giggled hysterically. “The imposters pushed through laws to have senators appointed to lifetime terms. Then they shifted credits to a lucky few and the little girl — that would be me — became rich beyond her wildest dreams!”
“I’m still a courier. But now I’m a courier of death. One word from me,” she popped her fingers, “and that’s it. And because I’m so well liked, at the end of the day I get to eat—and screw—an android. No real man, no real love for me. Not ever. Not if I want to keep my head attached to my shoulders.”
“There endth my story.” She took another sip of her wine. What’s wrong with me? I must be drunk!
Copyright 2012 Valjeanne Jeffers all rights reserved

The Switch II: Clockwork includes books 1 and 2 and is now available!
Contact me here for purchase.
Also available at amazon and barnes and noble

What is Steampunk?


This is the definition of Steampunk, as defined by wikipedia: “Steampunk is a genre which came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or “Wild West”-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art…”

So that’s the textbook definition of steampunk; sort of. It didn’t just come into being—it’s been around for a while. Think Adam Ant. Sherlock Holmes. And the movie Time After Time (based on H.G. Well’s The Time Machine).

But for some reason it’s wildly popular today, in fiction and in film. Why? I have my theories. One of which is that when something’s hot, opportunists tend to jump on board and squeeze that something like a lemon. But a less cynical reason (after all that’s not why I love the genre, or my fellow BSFS writers) is that steampunk is an island of fantasy— of escape— within our technological, very stressful 21th century. Just like every other type of speculative fiction. And a way of making one’s own personal statement.

Someone on a steampunk blog, described it as “poorly defined.” Really? Seriously? How about open to experimentation and imagination. Just like every other SF sub-genre. None of them is rigid. None are set in stone.

When it comes to steampunk, just like horror, SF, fantasy… there’s no wrong way to do it. The writer just needs to make sure he or she includes steampunk elements, make your rules, and write a story that will knock the reader out of their socks. I’d also humbly suggest asking yourself what does steampunk mean to you?

For me it symbolizes freedom. Groovy, funky freedom. Freedom from repression and/or an attempt to free oneself.

I’ll post a couple of excerpts and I’ll invite everyone to do the same. Along with a simple answer to this question: what does steampunk mean to you?

Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds
“You called me ‘Karla.’ Why? That’s not my name. I’m Sonya. Where did you come from?”

His eyes searched her face. “I don’t know.”

Karla… The name was like a caress. It reminded him of a song—the words forgotten, but the melody etched upon his heart.

Joseph tore his eyes away from her and scanned the bedroom. To his right was a high bed with a canopy. A wardrobe sat beside it. Across from him, stood a vanity table and mirror. Filigreed lamps were arranged here and there about the room.

The furniture spoke to him of antiquity—of an older, bygone age. Yet above the vanity hung a triangular clock, full of visible cogs and dials and encased in metal. It was ticking loudly.

The Copper man looked behind him, at the tall mirror encased in a delicately carved frame.

“I think…I think I came from inside your mirror.”

Her eyes shot to the glass, and a curious mixture of fear and longing played over her face.

“From my mirror?” He nodded. “Ho-how did you do that?”

How indeed? “I’m not sure.”

The Switch II: Clockwork

Going below ground was more than leaving the upper city. It was like entering another world. Skylights were carved into the metal, for natural light, to keep under city dwellers from going blind.

Yet it was always gloomy, and the steam used to power their machinery created a perpetual fog. All refuse was recycled through pipes attached to brick walls along the alleyways that carried the waste farther below. The smell clung to the under dwellers skin and clothing.

Yet for all this, the underground had it charms. Cobblestone lanes adorned by streetlights ran the length of the under city. Wooden shops and flats overlaid with brass lined the avenues. In the distance, a clock tower chimed.

The people were known for their outrageous gear. As part of their rebellion, they refused to dress like those who oppressed them.

As the fugitives reached the street, a steam-powered auto puttered along the stones, its motor clearly visible in front. On the left a couple strolled past, the man dressed in knickers and stockings; the woman in a form-fitting dress with a bustle and pill box hat.

To their right, an old man carrying a walking stick stood before a haberdashery. He had a salt-and-pepper, handlebar mustache; and wore a red jacket with tails, and pants with suspenders.

Behind them came the running steps of the constables.

The old man stepped in front of the fugitives, as if to block their path, and tapped the stones with his stick.

The stones slid back, revealing a steam-powered elevator; it rose to the street…

Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers 2012 all rights reserved.
Alright now that’s my take 🙂 Sisters and Brothers what say you…?

The Immortal saga and The Switch II: Clockwork is available at amazon, barnes and noble or contact the author at sister24moon@gmail.com

The Switch II: Clockwork…Coming this Spring!


The black-garbed officials soared toward their company hub, their jet-blasters strapped to their backs–flying past the clear tunnels that webbed across the city. York’s beige and white towers were framed by the night sky.
Kilo, the pudgy constable on the right, dipped expertly to avoid a hover craft. “What did you think of her?”
“Who? Ms. high class, stick up her a** Z100?” Dazz asked. He was a thin, swarthy man.
Although there was a quarter mile between them, connection chips in their helmets made their speech clear and sharp.
“No your mother. Yeah, Z.”
Dazz smirked. “Watch your mouth about dear, old mum you putz. I think she’s a sexy b**** who ought to be taught some manners. I’d like to teach her naked; preferably on her hands and knees in handcuffs.”
Kilo chuckled. “Okay, if you’re done with your fantasy, I meant what did you think of her story?”
“It doesn’t matter what I think,” there was a shrug in Dazz’s voice. “She’s powerful enough to have us demoted—she could have our badges if she wanted to.”
“When we get back to the hub, let’s file a report.”
“Hell no.” Dazz said emphatically. “I don’t care if she’s building a bomb in her bathroom. It’s not worth me risking my job over.”
“Look, we can file a curiosity report without taking any heat. It’ll probably be ignored anyway. But just in case something is wrong, we’ll be in the clear. We might even get a promotion…I’d love to see her knocked off her high horse.”
Dazz snickered. “And on all fours?”
“You got it.”
Cover art by Quinton Veal
Copyright 2012 all rights reserved

I’ll release my steampunk/SF novel The Switch II: Clockwork this Spring. It will include the original story as a prologue and the sequel as a full-length novel. Stay tuned :)!

The State of Black SF: Giveaway number 2


It’s about that time again… time for the second giveaway which will end on February 27 🙂 Me and my awesome, blogging SF family of writers will all be participating. This time I’ll be giving away one copy of my Immortal novel series — the winner gets to choose which one!
To enter the giveaway contest:
Post a comment on my weekly discussion here at https://valjeanne.wordpress.com

Tweet Tweet about any one of my novels or short fiction with my twitter handle @Tehotep

Post comments on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Valjeanne-Jeffers-Immortal-Novels/113750871991936

And without further ado here are some glorious pics and excerpts from my upcoming novels Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch II: Clockwork. Both are steampunk SF and will be released this Spring!


Immortal IV by Valjeanne Jeffers/Cover art Quinton Veal
(excerpt)

****moved through patchy woods. The Topaz breezes had begun to blow, and he was cold and hungry. He thought longingly of his comfortable little hideaway, that he’d spent so much time putting together.

I had jars of food. . . blankets . . . Stop thinking about it! There’s no way you can go back—not now.

He didn’t know how far he’d traveled, but he figured he was on the Southern side of Downtown. He’d traveled roughly five miles from where he’d killed ***.

**** wanted to travel deeper into forest, to move further from the scene of the crime. But the blond man didn’t trust his sense of direction; not enough to try to find his way through dense forest.

And he was so hungry.

I could wind up lost, wandering around in circles and still come out at the same end. . . I’ll find someone’s garbage can, and dig through it.

He just couldn’t face another night of hunger. He just couldn’t.

Inching closer, **** peered through the trees. He was facing the backstreets of a neighborhood; a poor one from the looks of it, the houses ramshackle with peeling paint. Wooden trash-bins were clearly visible beside the houses. Ahead the street dipped into a steep hill.

With any luck I can at least find a half-eaten sandwich. The possibility made his mouth water.

**** crept out of the forest, and walked over to the first bin. The streets were deserted, which meant he’d at least timed his excursion right. It was after curfew.

He snatched the top of the bin, and pawed through the refuse. Damn!

There was nothing in the bin even remotely edible. Looking around, he scurried to the next house, and opened the can.

A loud creak cut through the silence.

**** whipped his head to the right to see the bronze and flesh man, wearing goggles and a helmet. The android’s right arm ended in a contraption of bolts and gears. He was straddling a robotic bird.

He leaped back. The trash-bin exploded. . .

“VIOLATION!”

**** landed on his back—scrapping his elbows. He scuttled away, then flipped over making it to his feet just as the second explosion split the air—so close it singed his hair.

The rider took aim again. “VIOLATION! You will be eliminated!”

**** raced toward the woods.

“VIOLATION!”

As he reached the tip of the forest a primal instinct told him to jump. Incredibly—for a moment— he was airborne.

Fire exploded under him. He fell hard through the trees. . . and came down on his ankle. His anklebone popped. . .the blond man crawled forward.

**** risked a glance over his shoulder. Looking confused, the rider had stopped the trees.

He won’t fire. He’d set the whole forest ablaze.

“Violation!” The robot took a tentative step forward, the stopped. “Intruder trapped in woods. . . request backup!”

**** struggled to his feet, tried to put weight on his ankle. . . and bit his lip to keep from screaming in pain.

He couldn’t go into the city to search for food. He was cold. Hungry. Now he was injured. The blond man let out a sob of rage. . .

Another cold night. Another night of hunger.

He fell to his knees.

The werewolf felt his change coming.

He welcomed it.

Hair crawled greedily along the length of his body. His nails blackened, lengthened and grew razor sharp. His eyes turned yellow, burning now with a savage intelligence…
Copyright 2012 all rights reserved


The Switch II: Clockwork by Valjeanne Jeffers/cover art Quinton Veal(excerpt)
The black-garbed officials soared toward their company hub, their jet-blasters strapped to their backs; flying past the clear tunnels that webbed across the city. York’s beige and white towers were framed by the night sky.
Kilo, the pudgy constable on the right, dipped expertly to avoid a hover craft. “What did you think of her?”

“Who? Ms. high class, stick up her ass Z100?” Dazz asked. He was a thin, swarthy man.

Although there was a quarter mile between them, connection chips in their helmets made their speech clear and sharp.

“No your mother. Yeah, Z.”

Dazz smirked. “Watch your mouth about dear, old mum you putz. I think she’s a sexy b**** who ought to be taught some manners. I’d like to teach her naked; preferably on her hands and knees in handcuffs.”

Kilo chuckled. “Okay, if you’re done with your fantasy, I meant what did you think of her story?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” there was a shrug in Dazz’s voice. “She’s powerful enough to have us demoted—she could have our badges if she wanted to.”

“When we get back to the hub, let’s file a report.”

“Hell no.” Dazz said emphatically. “I don’t care if she’s building a bomb in her bathroom. It’s not worth me risking my job over…”
Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers 2012 all rights reserved

I’ll be keeping track of the names of participating readers and will select and announce the first winner on February 27, 2012, as will the other participating authors. Their webs address are included in my blogroll and right here:

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 blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website http://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: http://www.mvmediaatl.com/Wagadu/ and http://www.wagadu.ning.com.

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author—DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: http://authordjadja.wordpress.com/ , http://www.renpetscifi.com or on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo .

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.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: https://valjeanne.wordpress.com , http://wwwsistermoon.blogspot.com/ and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com/

Thaddeus Howze, Author – is a veteran of the IT and Communications industry with over 26 years of experience retooling computers to best serve human needs. Unknown to humanity, our computers have another agenda. Thaddeus recently released his first collection of short stories, Hayward Reach. In a coded format, he has secretly informed Humanity of the impending computerized apocalypse. You can read parts of the code here: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.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 is available in print or immediate download on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other booksellers. The Breaking Free theme song created 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/

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

The State of Black SF 2012: Why I love Steampunk

I love fantasy. I know fantasy/SF is pretty popular these days, but I fell in love long before the genre became the “flyest kid at the school.” There’s just something wonderful about escaping into a world (whether through reading or writing) that’s so different from everyday mundane reality― a reality of responsibilities and bills― into a dimension where you still have the same crap to deal with. . . but now you can became a creature with preternatural strength. How cool is that? It gives you a decided edge over everyday reality, or at the very least makes it more interesting.

I wrote my first novel, Immortal, with these thoughts in mind. The beginning of Immortal was the story of a young woman, Karla, living on the planet Tundra. Karla has ordinary, everyday struggles. But she has a little―no a big―edge. Immortal weaves a tale of portals. Time travel. Werewolves. Daemons. By the time Immortal III is thrown into the mix, vampires have joined the plot. Tell me, what’s not to love? Fantasy also lends itself incredibly well to “what if?” scenarios. As in: what if there was no racism? What if there was no poverty? What if folks came together and decided to change the world. . .?

For those of you who haven’t guessed it yet, I also like to mix genres. In fact, that’s the other thing I love so much about fantasy; it blends so easily with other genres, like horror and science fiction. But if fantasy is my first love, I’d have to say steampunk is my second.

From the outrageous clothing. . . bustles, corsets and knickers, to the outrageous machinery. . . airships, steam-trains, muskets. This is a genre I just can’t stay away from. Steampunk is a glorious mixture of other fantasy/SF genres. And the settings and plots reflect this― plots set in the post-civil war. Victorian England. Post-Apocalyptic America. Or a futuristic world, as in my steampunk story: The Switch II: Clockwork.
Steampunk, like any other fantasy subgenre is also anybody’s game when it comes to “what if?” plots, settings and costumes. Which of course is why I’m so head over heels in love with it.

Some of the best steampunk I’ve read this year, includes other fiction by Black writers such as: The Chronicles of Harriet by Balogun http://www.mochamemoirspress.com
and The Delivery by Milton Davis http://www.scribd.com/doc/76098823/The-Delivery

I’ll drop the sequel to the The Switch,The Switch II: Clockwork in Spring 2011, by steam train of course 🙂 Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds will also hit the shelves in Spring 2012. This is the conclusion to my Immortal saga, and wouldn’t you guess? Immortal IV also has a steampunk theme.

And check out my awesome fellow writers and what flavor of fiction they love on my blogroll. In 2012 I want to see more fantasy/steamfunk offerings by fabulous writers of color. I fully expect that I will.

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 blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com/ or her website http://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: http://www.mvmediaatl.com and http://www.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.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:https://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.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 song created 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