The official website of Brandon Black.

Living in New Orleans

Interview with local author Christian Martin

I’ve got a special treat for you all today — an interview with cyberpunk author Christian Martin — the creative genius behind the Static Breaker series. Static Breaker is described as “a series of episodic short stories set in a near-future China. It is updated every other week.” Enjoy!

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Why did you choose cyberpunk as the genre for your web series?

Popular technology and its effect on society have always fascinated me. I’ve seen drastic changes in technology and how people use it just in my lifetime, so I can’t help but speculate on what the future might bring. I also feel a connection to roguish characters, people on the edge of society who often have more style than sense.

What are your thoughts on writing a web series?

I’ve always loved episodic storytelling, so it fits me well. It’s a great form that seems largely unutilized. I wish it was explored more by professional authors.

Where do you see cyberpunk going in the near future?

We’ve got supercomputers that fit in our pockets, drones flying overhead, and frickin’ virtual reality headsets in our living rooms. It occurred to me that I could write a legit cyberpunk story without making up a single piece of fictional technology. But if we’ve come this far, where does the genre go? I’ve thought about that a lot.

Regarding technology, Augmented Reality is fascinating. I think AR glasses are going to revolutionize the way we interact with technology – and they’re not far off – so cyberpunk writers can’t ignore them. There’s also wireless charging, flexible screens, self-driving cars, and a million other amazing things on the horizon.

Regarding the themes and settings of the genre, I think we’re moving away from the dark, hopeless dystopias of classic cyberpunk. Now that we live with all this technology, we’re not so afraid of it. The negative aspects of how technology can be misused are much more subtle than we once expected. I actually believe that advanced technology pushes different parts of civilization further toward dystopia and utopia simultaneously. We’ve got better access to knowledge and a much broader ability to communicate with one another – but also must deal with things like Big Data, state-sponsored hacking, and mass surveillance. I think new cyberpunk must deal with this duality.

Is cyberpunk your favourite genre and if not, what is? Why is that your favourite genre?

Cyberpunk is actually a close second behind space opera for me. Space opera is so cool because it lets me extrapolate tech and society crazy far, to the nth degree. It also allows me to experiment with concepts from theoretical physics – a field of science I’ve always been obsessed with.

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I go through books slowly, but I’m always reading something. My top two favorite authors are Eric Nylund and Alastair Reynolds.

For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

Real paper books all the way. I own a Kindle but haven’t used it in over a year.

What book/s are you reading at present?

Whew, there’s a few of them. I usually read 3 to 4 at a time. I’ve actually been reading more non-fiction stuff lately. I’m nearly done with Tony Robins’ Money: Mastering the Game and still working through Mastery by Robert Greene. The novel I’m reading at the moment is Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. I’m also a few stories deep into an anthology called The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures edited by Sean Wallace.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

As far as Static Breaker goes, I just edit each episode myself. The idea behind the series is to have fairly straight-forward chunks that I can shoot out quickly. Now, whether it actually works that way is another issue.

For short stories, I give copies to my friends and my writing group for feedback. I plan on doing the same with the novel I’m writing.

What is your favourite positive saying?

“Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.” – Pablo Picasso

What is your favourite book and why?

Oh man, I’m so excited to answer this question. My favorite book is A Game of Universe by Eric Nylund. It’s a book from the 90s that I bet few people have ever heard of. Nylund mixes fantasy and science fiction in a wonderfully colorful way.

What’s your favourite cyberpunk book and why?

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. I like it because it’s not your classic dark cyberpunk. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely some messed up stuff in it, but it has a much brighter tone and is more realistic in relation to modern technology.

What’s your favourite film and why?

The Fifth Element! No matter how many times I’ve seen it, that movie still brings a smile to my face. The writing is great. The costumes are great. The art direction is great. The music is great. The performances are great. Everything mixes together perfectly to create a really vivid universe.

What is your favourite cyberpunk film and why?

Hackers! Ha, just kidding. Let me throw you a curveball with this one – Digimon: The Movie. Yes, that is my real answer. The first half of the movie is one of my most favorite things ever. Some goofy teenagers frantically meet at each other’s houses in order to fight against a digital monster that’s infecting the internet.

[WARNING: Spoilers Ahead]

The heroes end up defeating the monster by recruiting the kids of the world to basically DDoS it into submission. They send so many messages to the thing at once that it ends up freezing long enough to get blasted into oblivion. Amazing, right?

Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

I’d like to have a few traditionally published books out at that point. And some comics. Maybe a film or two produced from screenplays I wrote. Am I being overly ambitious? GOOD.

Overly Ambitious is my middle name.

I have very odd parents.

What are you working on at the moment?

Finishing Static Breaker Book 1. I’ve worked on the series intermittently over several years, and it’s about time I give it the full attention it deserves. I’m posting one episode every two weeks now – no matter what – until it’s done.

If you’d like to read it – and you should – check out www.staticbreaker.com.

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A new voice in the field of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy fiction, New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His most recent story, “The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon,” was published in Dark Oak Press’ Capes and Clockwork II, edited by Alan Lewis. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Oak Press’ Dreams of Steam III and Seventh Star Press’ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. Brandon lives with his guardian and protector, Battle-cat Princess Kaleidoscope, in his home town of New Orleans, Louisiana. Find out more about Brandon’s work at http://www.brandonblackonline.com.
All text copyright Brandon Black 2016.

 

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CONtraflow Panels

I will be attending the CONtraflow convention this weekend, Friday, September 30th, through Sunday, October 2nd at the Airport Hilton.

My panels:

Getting Started As an Editor. Learn how to get into the profession of bringing out the best in writers’ work.
Ben Bova, Toni Weisskopf, Brandon Black (moderator)
Friday, 7pm, Panel Room 4

The Five Colors of Mana as a Philosophical System. A look at the five colors of mana in the game Magic: The Gathering as a philosophical system replacing the D&D alignment system as a means of describing a character’s personality, ideology and goals.
Brandon Black
Saturday, 11am, Panel Room 3

Making the Move from Fan Fiction to Original Fiction. Panelists discuss how to go from cover artist to writing stories based on your own ideas.
Brandon Black, Jim Gavin, Chris Hayes
Saturday, 7pm, Panel Room 1

Cultural Appropriation or Building Diversity: An Exploration Of Issues Involving Real World Cultures In Fantasy and Science Fiction. Panelists take an extended look at the challenges of promoting diversity. (80 Minutes)
Kirsten Corby, Chris Hayes, Louise Herring-Jones, Kimberly Richardson, Eris Walsh, Vas
Littlecrow Wotjanowicz, Brandon Black (moderator)
Sunday, 11am, Event One

So You’ve Written A Novel, Now What? The panelists discuss how to find to prepare your manuscript for submission, whether an agent is right for you, and how to find the right publisher.
Trisha Baker, John Hartness, Toni Weisskopf, Brandon Black (moderator)
Sunday, 3pm, Panel Room 1

Steampunk panels:

How Can Steampunk Grow As A Genre? The term “steampunk” first appeared in the late 1980’s, although of course the precursors of the sub-genre go back much further. With the steam explosion in the 21st Century, the panelists discuss where it can from here.
J L Mulvihill, Stephanie Osborn, Kimberly Richardson
Friday, 7pm, Panel Room 2

I, Steampunk. An introduction on the wide and wacky world of Steampunk involving the literary,
cinematic and cultural sources of the movement. In addition the crew of the Adventurers League of G.E.A.R.S. Will attempt to dispel many long standing rumors and myths about steampunk and the culture that surrounds it.
League of GEARS
Friday 4pm, Panel Room 4

Quack Medicine. A discussion of the continuing profession of quackery and pseudo-science in the medical field, from its early routes with snake oil salesmen to more modern issues.
League of GEARS
Saturday, 9pm, Panel Room 1

Steampunk Props and Costumes. Members of the Adventurers League of G.E.A.R.S. will regal you with tales of daring do deep within thrift shops, trash bins and strange basement shops as they inform you just how reasonably you can assemble your first Steampunk costume. Topics will include upcycling, custom fabrication and thrift store treasure mining, even if you’re not a Steampunk some of the techniques and concepts discussed here are useful to the generalized costuming trade.
League of GEARS
Saturday, 11am, Panel Room 4

Victorian Dance Class. If you’ve ever wondered what the appropriate dances would be for a Steampunk Cotillion, concert or tea dance, your curiosity will be satisfied here.
Rebecca Smith
Saturday, 8pm, Panel Room 2

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New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black is the editor of the By Gaslight steampunk anthology series. He has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Oak Press’ Dreams of Steam III and Seventh Star Press’ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. Brandon has just published a short anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fiction short stories entitled Mechanical Tales and is working on completing his first novel. His most recent story “The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon,” has been published in Capes and Clockwork 2.
All text copyright Brandon Black 2016.

Hags can be lesbian too

Despite everyone with a webcam recording their group playing D&D, there aren’t too many groups actually worth watching. I had the great pleasure of watching such a group play live last night at +1 Gaming.
At one point, our heroes were planning on assaulting a windmill thought to be occupied by a hag covey. They listed their options:
1. “Go in guns blazing,” as they put it.
2. Use stealth and reconnoiter the place before doing anything.
3. Attempt to negotiate with the hags to see if they had any of the artifacts the players were looking for and if they would part with them willingly in trade.
I pointed out they had a fourth option: Take the male character with the highest charisma, strip him naked, cover him in honey and throw him to the hags and loot the place while they were distracted.
A female player immediately objected saying, “That’s so heterocentric!”
I lost it and died laughing — her objection was not to my plan to sacrifice one of the party — her objection was that no women were being considered for the plate!
Honestly, though, it would be hilarious for them to toss in some poor dude and for the hags to toss him right back out again and point to one of the girls in the party and say, “You can keep him! We want her!”
I guess I’ll have to try to be less heteronormative in my thinking.
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New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black is the editor of the By Gaslight steampunk anthology series. He has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Oak Press’ Dreams of Steam III and Seventh Star Press’ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. Brandon has just published a short anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fiction short stories entitled Mechanical Tales and is working on completing his first novel. His most recent story “The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon,” has been published in Capes and Clockwork 2.
All text copyright Brandon Black 2016.

Cairo By Gaslight Reading/Book Signing

The East Bank Regional Library is throwing a book signing/book reading party for our latest steampunk and gaslamp fantasy anthology, Cairo By Gaslight on May 18th at 7 pm.

We invite you to attend.

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New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black is the editor of the By Gaslight steampunk anthology series. He has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Oak Press’ Dreams of Steam III and Seventh Star Press’ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. Brandon has just published a short anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fiction short stories entitled Mechanical Tales and is working on completing his first novel, I Was A Teenage Air Pirate.
All text copyright Brandon Black 2016.