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Archive for February, 2015

Gundam Build Try Fighters Episode 20 Unbreakable Heart

SPOILER

 

“Jun! Will I see you again? Jun…”

“Don’t worry. You’ll meet again for sure. Because your fist has engraved itself in his heart.”

Aww, so sweet. The Japanese. If only we could emulate them. If only we Americans could learn the secret of punching our affection into people, then maybe we’d have fewer enemies and more friends.

o.0 What?

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Fantasy, science fiction and steampunk author Brandon Black is the editor of New Orleans By Gaslight, a first of its kind anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy poetry and fiction set in Victorian-era New Orleans. Brandon is also the web content manager for the Week in Geek, New Orleans’ favourite fantasy and science fiction themed radio talk show, every Saturday at 1 pm CST on WGSO 990 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.

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A Convention in the Dreamtime

Dreamcon 2015 Report

So — I’m dreaming. And in this dream, I’m at a science fiction convention.

And it’s not just any science fiction convention, it’s a science fiction convention in the Dreamtime. It’s like a Worldcon but none of the usual limits of time and space apply. It’s a Dreamcon and all the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers and editors throughout time are there, dead and alive. So there’s Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback and Mary Shelley and Kurt Vonnegut and Ellen Datlow and Arthur C. Clarke and Lee Martindale and Darko Suvin and Larry Niven and Jeff Vandermeer and Frederick Pohl and H. G. Wells and John M. Ford and Robert E. Howard and Samuel Delany and all the rest are there. And there are even gods in attendance. Hypnos and Hades are at this con. Apollo’s in the back trying to make time with both Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler at the same time. Well, He’s trying anyway. Even Harlan Ellison is there — but he only thinks he’s a god. *rim shot* Yep, Harlan Ellison. And me. Me.

I’m the noob, of course. And I’ve been totally gushing over Jack Vance but he’s taken it in good stride. I’m hardly the first guy who showed up at Dreamcon and went all fanboy over his favourite author, you know? Neil Gaiman’s still in the back chatting with Shakespeare after all.

So I get back from a couple of panels and everyone’s sitting in a circle. I see the god Ptah and Ptah lifts a goblet made of stars in my direction. I, wide-eyed, nod respectfully. Seated next to Ptah is Harlan Ellison who calls out to Shakespeare and Gaiman to come join the group or get a room.

Hey, we were all thinking it.

I find an open seat between Hypnos (who, the night before, DJ’ed the most amazing trance techno rave I’ve ever seen) and Frederik Pohl and sit down. Everyone starts taking turns swapping jokes. And they start off with, “stop me if you’ve heard this joke.”

And these jokes — these jokes are amazing, like beyond hilarious, mostly because a lot of these guys are writers, great writers, mind you, and dead, so they’ve had a long time to work on their material. So someone, I can’t remember who, starts telling this joke.

There’s this high school in the South and it’s terribly old-fashioned and the only activities the girls are allowed are cheerleading and home ec basically. So after years and years and years, they finally elect a girl President of the Student Council and she’s going to give the Homecoming speech and it’s half time at the big game and the new student council president comes down from the bleachers and she sets one foot, I mean, one single solitary foot onto the football field and dies instantly. And then, the night after her funeral, she rises from the dead in the cemetery and says…

And that’s when I woke up.

All I can assume is that Hypnos stopped whoever was telling that joke because he’d already heard it.

And now, I’ll never hear the end of that joke. Well, maybe next year.

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Fantasy, science fiction and steampunk author Brandon Black is the editor of New Orleans By Gaslight, a first of its kind anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy poetry and fiction set in Victorian-era New Orleans. Brandon is also the web content manager for the Week in Geek, New Orleans’ favourite fantasy and science fiction themed radio talk show, every Saturday at 1 pm CST on WGSO 990 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.


Danger 5

From author Jay Wilburn, “Go to Netflix. Find Danger 5. Put on the first episode.”

DO IT NOW.


How Lovecraft Caused My Downfall

I’ve written, to date, eight steampunk short stories. And when I wrote those stories, I had no plan or intention for them to be consistent with each other. This was something I had learned from H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft didn’t write his stories to be consistent with each other — he wasn’t deliberately crafting an internally consistent universe. In his mind, he was creating a playground for himself and his fellow authors to explore different ideas and concepts. And he was selling stories, and those stories might wind up in this magazine or the other and he had no thought that someone would one day hunt them all down and expect them to make sense compared to one another.

And so I followed suit. To date, I’ve published three of my eight steampunk stories, one in Dreams of Steam III and the other two in New Orleans By Gaslight. Two of the other five are being considered by editors as we speak and a third, “Camryn Bey and the Yeti from Mars,” will be published in Cairo By Gaslight. So it never made any sense to me that I should bend over backwards to keep this detail consistent with that detail in some other story. After all, there’s no reason to suspect that should I get a story published in some magazine that anyone at all will also have read my stories from New Orleans By Gaslight and absolutely no reason to think that even if they should, that they would one day ask me why some idea introduced in a story in New Orleans By Gaslight didn’t match how I treated some subject in a story placed with a magazine. No. The logical thing to do was to focus on each story as its own story and to make it the best story it could possibly be and not to worry about the details falling between them.

I’m talking about details like there being no radio in “The Gift” and radio being existent in “Camryn Bey and the Yeti from Mars.” Similarly the lack of commonplace lift engines in “Camryn Bey” but not in “The Gift.” “Camryn Bey and the Yeti from Mars” will be in the upcoming anthology Cairo By Gaslight, and while there’s every reason to suspect that many of the readers we gained from New Orleans By Gaslight will also pick up Cairo, there’s no reason to think anyone would expect the two stories to be set in the same fictional universe.

And that’s how I operated until last December. Last December at the first Geekonomicon, Allan Gilbreath introduced me to Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Productions. Tommy told me the best way to promote a novel — I’m working on my first novel by the way — is to release a series of short stories set in that fictional universe. I listened. I nodded. I got home. I panicked.

None of my stories were written with an eye towards consistency with the others. I could and would write new stories but even then, the question would be which stories should the new stories be consistent with?

I drew up a quick list of the steampunk stories I’d written so far:

“Time and the Wrinkled Prostitute”

“Songs of the Divine Pulsation”

“The Gift”

“Blood, Steam, and Iron”

“The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon”

“All Aboard The Storyville Express”

“Camryn Bey and the Yeti from Mars”

“The Sublimity Chair”

Without giving away any spoilers, “Time and the Wrinkled Prostitute,” “The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon,” “Camryn Bey and the Yeti from Mars,” and “The Sublimity Chair” each dealt with plot points, story concepts or ideas that I didn’t envision to be in keeping with my imagined steampunk universe, the setting I was sketching out for my novel. So they had to go off to their own separate universes. Giving it some thought, I could see no reason that they couldn’t share a universe and so my second steampunk universe was born.

Well then, what stories did I see in keeping with the universe I was building? “Songs of the Divine Pulsation” and “The Gift” were both stories that fit that universe precisely. They were the stories I was writing when I laid the foundation for my steampunk universe. And that both stories had been published together in New Orleans By Gaslight was a plus in that I could reasonably assume anyone who’d read one of the two would have read the other. Also, New Orleans By Gaslight was my biggest foray into steampunk to date. So it would be great if readers from that anthology came along to read my first novel as well.

“All Aboard The Storyville Express” was expressly written to be part of its own universe, a steampunk dystopia. My mainline steampunk universe is intended to be a lot more upbeat and positive. “All Aboard The Storyville Express” was written as a one-off, a stand-alone story that now that it was done, I had no intention to come back to. However, my beta readers told me in no uncertain terms that that would not be tolerated. So — I sat down and thought about how I would expand it and ideas did start flooding in and I decided to craft a series of short stories about the character. “Blood, Steam, and Iron” was another dystopia story I’d written as a complete one-off but looking back at it, there was no reason that the dystopia it portrayed and the dystopia of “All Aboard The Storyville Express” couldn’t be the same dystopia and viewed in that light, “Blood, Steam, and Iron” revealed important details about the history of that world. And so, now I had three steampunk universes.

Of course, three steampunk universes for a new author seems like two steampunk universes too many but that problem is easily solved by holding the stories from the other two universes back until there are enough of them to fill an anthology. Or at least, I’m hoping that’s how it will all work out. Wish me luck.

* * *

Fantasy, science fiction and steampunk author Brandon Black is the editor of New Orleans By Gaslight, a first of its kind anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy poetry and fiction set in Victorian-era New Orleans. Brandon is also the web content manager for the Week in Geek, New Orleans’ favourite fantasy and science fiction themed radio talk show, every Saturday at 1 pm CST on WGSO 990 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.


Shakespeare and the New Steampunk Aesthetic

I posted Shakespeare’s Sonnet 127 to my facebook page and my friend, Eva Caye, thought it was one of mine. It’s great work to be sure, but it’s not my great work. When I said that to her, she said I needed to label it because “here I was thinking you took steampunk to this whole celestial literary level!!!”

So now I have a new goal — to take steampunk to a whole new celestial literary level.

Here’s the sonnet by the way:
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name.
But now is black beauty’s successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame.
For since each hand hath put on nature’s pow’r,
Fairing the foul with art’s false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bow’r,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress’ eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland’ring creation with a false esteem.
Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.
— William Shakespeare (Sonnet 127)

I posted it to my facebook page because one of the ongoing themes of my work is to re-engineer Western imperialist colour symbolism and fight the idea that “Black = Bad/Evil.” Black means rich depth, beauty, and mystery to me and that’s something I try to convey in my work.

And in trying to promote that, I’ve gained a whole new goal for my work — to bring steampunk to a whole new celestial literary level.

How am I going to accomplish that?

I’ve no idea.

I’ll take suggestions. Really.


Fifty Shades of Trek

In the 23rd century…

There had been many changes since the strange anomalous wormhole that had delivered Brenton Brown from the 21st century to the 23rd. Not the least of which was that 23rd century medical science had delivered unto Brenton the rock hard manly physique that he always deserved in life but had never had owing to a glandular thing that was totally not his fault. Since arriving in what was to him, the future, Brenton had saved the Enterprise twice and been given a field commission as a lieutenant in Starfleet.

Brenton lay in Uhura’s bed as she sultrily licked the chiseled pectorals of his mahogany chest like a cat in heat. She leaned her head back, shaking her hair loose from its usual bee-hive confinement.

“Oh God, Brenton. Never did I think to know such divine sexual fulfillment, nor did I think I would ever find myself in the arms of a man more manly than James Tiberius Kirk. With the Captain lost in time, we would never have survived the Tholian attacks without you, Brenton. Spock was right to make you Tactical Officer.”

“It was only logical,” Brenton smirked.

“Yes, what with the skills you learned back in Earth’s savage 21st century — an age when people played wargames for entertainment,” Uhura said.

“It is true. I never expected the skills I learned playing children’s games would find such deadly utility nor that they would make me the galaxy’s most astute space warfare commander. But enough of such, let us return to the first topic: that of lovemaking…”

Brenton took Uhura into his brawny arms and as her ruby lips met his own chocolate visage, their tongues began to weave the savage dance of the Orion Animal Women in each other’s mouths.

“Oh yes! Take me Brenton! Hammer my innermost feminine recesses with the hard, glossy photon torpedo of your love!” Uhura cried.

Brenton smiled. “It would be my honor and my pleasure to take you to the highest heights of sexual ecstasy for as long as you could possibly desire.”

“Oh Brenton…” Uhura sighed.

Uhura mounted Brenton’s iron rod and rode her strapping black stallion until finally, sweating and panting from their mutual exhaustion and mind-numbing pleasure, his photon torpedo exploded in her warp core, unleashing a thousand points of light…


Not-so-still life with cat

I am fading.
My eyes flutter closed.
She places a paw, gently, on my knee to wake me.
I open my eyes.
She yawns at me.
I nearly lose my shit.
“You woke me just to yawn at me!?”
I pet her.
She trots off.