The official website of Brandon Black.

New Orleans

The End

It has snowed in Louisiana. Casualty reports are not yet in but estimates are projected to be in the thousands. A once vibrant and vital ecology referred to in the past as the Sportsman’s Paradise has suffered a blow from which it will not soon recover, if ever. The frictionless sheet of pale doom blanketing the state has paralyzed local police and fire departments and the governor has declared a state of martial law. Most Louisianians remain trapped in their homes, huddling with their loved ones and awaiting the cold embrace of death. The National Guard has been mobilized but the sheer number of people needing assistance guarantees they will be swamped before the rescue attempts even begin. This is most likely our last report. May God watch over you and yours better than He has looked after the once great state of Louisiana. Remember us. Farewell.

***

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 original text copyright Brandon Black 2017.
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Gary Joseph Bourgeois (1953 – 2017)

Gary Bourgeois has passed. Gary was a fellow New Orleanian sf and fantasy writer. His work was a foundation on which I built two steampunk fiction anthologies. I had planned to ask him to write the introduction to the third. When I felt the need to step back from the role of facilitator for the New Orleans Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Group, it was Gary who took up the slack and provided focus and organization to that group.

Gary Bourgeois was particularly proficient with the long story. It was my hope that, over time, we would refine the form and format of the long story together with other New Orleans sf and fantasy writers so that one day there would a type of long story in the sixteen thousand word range that would be known as the Bourgeois.

My upcoming projects may be more focused on the novel than short or long stories for the near future but work towards a regional variant of the long story continues to be part of my dreams as a writer.

Goodbye, Gary. I hope you reached whatever afterlife you sought and that your gods continue to watch over your soul. Blessed be.

***

Gary’s obituary from the newspaper:

Gary Joseph Bourgeois, age 64, went to heaven on Thursday, October 19, 2017. He died 6 months after diagnosed with bladder cancer. He was the husband of 41 years to Deborah Campos Bourgeois. He was the son of the late Harold and Lois Bourgeois, oldest brother to Michael Bourgeois (Marilyn), Philip Bourgeois (Carlen), the late Robert Bourgeois, Ann Bourgeois Schmidt (Scott), cousin to Will Dermady (Julie), and uncle to Moira, Erin and Tommy. Treasured brother-in-law to Rhonda Campos.

He retired from Entergy Nuclear and Jefferson Parish Westwego Library. He graduated from UNO, and he led the fiction writers West Bank group at the Westwego Library, and the science fiction writers group at the East Bank regional Library. Writing and mentoring others were his passion. Every member of his group was prized. He wanted to encourage everyone to succeed. He was published in short story form and placed in a writing contest. Rescuing, loving and caring for over 100 cats in his lifetime demonstrated his endless compassion.

He leaves behind a large feline family, two in particular; Jolson and Pogo, in heaven now, will be the first to welcome him. Gary’s every day was spent centered in kindness. He was never judgmental to others, always caring for other people’s feelings. A more loving husband does not exist. Our years together will never be enough.

Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the Celebration of Life on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at the Garden of Memories Funeral Home, 4900 Airline Drive, Metairie, LA from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm. In Lieu of flowers, donations to Jefferson Parish Friends of the Library and Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) may be made in his name. Online condolences may be offered at www.gardenofmemoriesmetairie.com. The family would like to express their sincere thanks to the Ochsner Oncology, Cardiology, and Chemotherapy Infusion Clinic physicians, all nursing and support staff and especially cardiology nurse Raj for the outstanding care and comfort provided.

Published in TheNewOrleansAdvocate.com from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25, 2017

***

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 original text copyright Brandon Black 2017.

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

* * *
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.

* * *

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.

 


DANGER: EROTICA!

This post contains a scene of explicit sex. You have been warned.

This is a scene from the cutting room floor if you will from my story “Songs of the Divine Pulsation,” a steampunk erotica story I published in New Orleans By Gaslight. This scene wound up being cut from that story after David Ducorbier, local celebrity and man about town, physically lifted up the pages with this scene on it from my story and dropped them to the floor as being non-essential to the plot. I agreed with him then and when I returned to “Songs,” to add back in some of the material I had cut from it, this scene remained on the cutting room floor. That said, I still think it has some lovely writing.

Dave said I just want to get it on with Marie Laveau. He may be right about that.

The scene involves one of the main characters of “Songs of the Divine Pulsation,” a young black man named Evan who has a great deal of mystic potential and has elected to study under the New Orleans sorceress Sabine rather than with the voudouns of the city.

Evan and Marie

by Brandon Black

Evan gathered tools and supplies from his basement lair to take back to Sabine’s workshop. He placed the metal implements in a large bag for the trip. A knocking sounded on the door and Evan went to answer. The open door revealed none other than Marie Laveau.

Evan stood, silent, in surprise for a moment.

“Hello again,” Marie said.

“Hello,” Evan said with a nod, clearly wondering what this was about.

“I wanted to talk with you again about studying at our temple,” Marie said.

“Why are you so interested in me?” Evan asked. “Or is it that you just can’t stand to see me trained by Sabine because I’m black and she isn’t?”

“It is about Sabine. But it’s not entirely about race. It’s more about the fact that she does nothing with her power. I serve the lwa, I serve the community. People like you and I are rare. Everyone has the basic potential to serve the spirits but only a handful of people are strong enough to be adept at it. I just hate the thought of someone like you, someone who could be a houngan, a strong one, and a real asset to this community, going down her road and never doing any good for anyone.”

“I see,” Evan said.

“I just want you to see what we have to offer. Come to the peristyle and see what we do. It may interest you.”

“I’d like that. When?”

“Why not right now? We’re having a ritual tonight. Come to the salon. My peristyle, my temple, is out back. Come see how your ancestors served the spirits.”

“Let’s go,” Evan said with a nod.

Marie led Evan through the streets of New Orleans to one of the older neighbourhoods and a lovely, if modest, house with a building in back. The pair of them went up the stairs and into the house. Each and every room of the house held a small shrine, some just small tables with a cloth and statuettes and offerings but others the size of large dressers and covered in an array of exotic objects, incense holders, candles and candle holders, statuettes and figurines, carvings of snakes, skulls and sundry other mystic symbols all festooned with swirling pictographs and painting. Cigars, cigarettes, candies, flowers, coins, dollar bills and glasses and bottles of rum were left in offering on the various altars all over Marie’s home. Adjacent to the master bedroom, was the house’s temple room, painted entirely in black, with a main central altar and two sub-altars in the corners, more elaborate than anything he had seen in the house before.

“This was our main temple before we built the peristyle in back. We still hold certain special rituals here.” Marie led him back into the master bedroom and they sat down. “So, what do you think?”

“I am impressed. And curious. I want to learn more about what it is you do.” Evan said.

Marie smiled, triumphant.

“But,” Evan continued. “I’m happy learning from Sabine and Vespers. I’ve learned a lot and I know there’s more, much more, to learn. I’m not ready to give it up.”

“What has she taught you?” Marie asked.

“How to marshal and gather the forces of my body and spirit, how to commune with the Divine Presence,” Evan said. “She’s shown me things I never thought were even possible. I won’t turn my back on her or her teachings.”

“So, show me.”

“What?” He asked.

“Show me what you’ve learned,” she said.

“Are you sure?” Evan asked.

“Yes. Show me what you’ve learned,” Marie said.

“All right,” Evan smiled and began to unbutton his shirt.

“What are you, ” began Marie but Evan simply lifted his index finger gesturing for her to wait a moment and finished opening his shirt. He lifted a hand towards her and waited. She offered him her hand in return and he placed it flat over his heart, enfolded his hands over hers and closed his eyes.

In his mind’s eye, he gathered himself and his flows in his heart chakra, felt the probing, questing essence of Marie’s life force from her hand, felt it interweaving with his own flow. His eyes were closed but he knew when she felt the connection too when he felt the gentle shudder of surprise trickle down her fingertips.

Evan opened his eyes and smiled and drew Marie close; she spoke no word of restraint, made no move of resistance. She pulled the shirt from him and cast it to the floor. Evan brushed his lips gently against hers, his mouth open, exhaling gently across her lips before drawing her into a warm kiss. As their lips met and Marie’s hands began to rove across the warm flesh of his naked, muscled chest, she reached down to unbuckle his belt. Evan kicked off his shoes and let his pants and underwear fall to the floor. He began to disrobe her, helping her out of her dress. Evan knelt before her and removed the dress and allowed her to slip out of her shoes, one at a time, placing them together besides the dress. He then stood as she turned around and he began to unlace her corset, his fingers working quickly and nimbly as it too then fell to the floor. Marie lifted her hair with both hands as he undid the drawstring on her chemise and lifted it over her head. The garment removed, she shook her head, letting her long, luxurious hair fall gracefully about her neck and shoulders. Finally, he turned her around and reaching for the drawstring on her waist, undid and slid down her bloomers, his fingers sliding gracefully down the curving flesh of her backside, and pulled her bloomers to the floor as she stepped out of them.

The resplendent form of her nude body before him, her pert, shapely breasts and erect nipples, her generous and supple curves revealed before him clad only in her soft, immaculate mocha skin, Evan felt his manhood stirring and taking her hand in his, he led her to the bed and wordlessly bid her to lay down, which she did.

He placed his palm flat over her sex not in contact with her skin but an inch or so away from her.

“Close your eyes. Move your pelvis forward slightly in time with your breath. Breathe in, breathe out, draw full and complete breaths from your diaphragm, ” he drew a fingertip across the curve of her stomach. “Let your belly and your pelvis rise and fall as you breathe, that’s it, now imagine as you do so, that your drawing your breath through your flower, inhaling and exhaling prana, or life force. In, out, in, out.”

Evan straddled the edge of the bed and leaned down and kissed her gently across the lips, keeping a hand on her rising and falling belly.

“In, out.”

He kissed her on her throat and opened his mouth slightly to exhale across her skin as he drew his lips gracefully down the curve of her slender neck. Marie trembled.

“In, out.”

Evan kissed and suckled at Marie’s breasts, cupping her breast delicately with his right hand and drawing his thumb across her erect nipple. He drew two deep breaths in time with hers, exhaling across the nipple of one breast while fondling the other with his right hand.

“In and out. In and out.”

He began to plant gentle kisses down the warm curve of her belly and then drew his thumb across the soft sable fur of her womanhood once, twice.

“In, and out.” Evan exhaled across her pearl in time with her inhalation before placing his mouth to her flower. He licked, delicately, up and down the curve of her petals before kissing her on her feminine bud. He flicked his tongue in sensuous curving patterns across her bud while pushing two fingers into her warm, wet and inviting womanhood.

Evan moved his tongue in swirling patterns across her delicate, delectable flesh, drawing across the petals of her feminine flower, kissing her on the inner thigh, before returning to tease and entice her pearl. Marie rolled her hips gently from side to side in a rocking motion and moaned with pleasure.

He turned her over and worked two fingers of his left hand slowly into her sex, which was wet and pliant. Marie moaned louder as he pushed deeper into her and deeper. With his right hand, he drew his fingertips up along her backbone from the base of her spine towards her head, lifting his fingers from her to start again at the base of the spine tracing upwards.

“The kundalini, the primary motive force of the body, resides in the base of the spine. All these techniques are eventually aimed at liberating that force, freeing it to flow unchecked upwards through the chakras of the body towards the top of the head, the crown. The goal is expansion of consciousness through the union of the body’s vital flows. One with body and mind, one with the universe.”

The echoing sound of mighty drums rolled outwards from the peristyle as the evening’s ritual began. As the servants of the lwa, clad in white, danced their way around the circle in celebration of spirits ancient, African and powerful, Marie and Evan made love in time with the pulsating, pounding beat roiling from the temple.

Evan removed his fingers from her flower and anointed his shaft with her juices. Evan lifted her buttocks until she was up on her knees and he moved in behind her. Rubbing himself from the tip of his shaft to its base, he placed his other hand on her beautiful, curvy behind. Then, wordlessly, he spread her buttocks apart with his hands and gripping her tightly, pulled her into him, thrusting forward into her. Marie let out a sudden cry of surprise and then whimpered, shuddering, as he thrust deeper inside.

Evan pulled her hips into his in time with the drumming, the deep chocolate tones of his own skin against the lighter mocha of her soft, curvaceous derrière. He thrust into her over and over plumbing the deep recesses of her full, supple buttocks, again and again and again.

When Marie came, it was with the force of a thunderbolt and every muscle in Evan’s body went rigid as he climaxed and he felt the two of them speared through, transfixed, by the black current of the void flowing through them both.

That indescribably long moment passed, both their bodies went limp and the two of them collapsed together in a heap of spent, sweating flesh.

Evan rolled off of Marie and still panting for breath, looked her deep in the eyes and smiled.

Marie smiled back at him. “Well, that was something.”

Hearing the ongoing ritual in the peristyle behind Marie’s salon, the two dressed quickly, Marie handing Evan a shirt and trousers both made of white cotton as was the custom for worshippers to wear within the confines of the peristyle. Clad for ritual, the two joined the other celebrants, taking their place in the circle and dancing to celebrate the ancestral spirits of their common homeland.

Sweat pouring down their faces, drummers strummed their hands across their doumbeks attaining trance weaving a staccato lattice of sound as men and women partook of the long-standing communion of the Cosmic Dance, each one unique dancing as their hearts and spirits directed yet at one with the circle of rhythm and life all around them.

* * *

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 Thursday at 6 pm CST on FOX Sports 1280 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.
All content copyright © Brandon Black


Atlantis Falling

My friend, Kirsten M. Corby, author and New Orleans librarian, has started a new blog in which she will discuss writing. You can find it at: http://www.atlantisfalling.net.

Kirsten also recently had a short story published in Dirty Magick: New Orleans.

Kirsten is a wonderful author, and I highly recommend her work.

* * *

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.


Getting Paid To Tell Wholesale Lies

I find myself becoming a professional teller of lies. In a way, that’s what every fiction writer is but it’s a bit more problematic as a steampunk author. I tell lies about history, about religion, about politics, about technology, pretty much about everything. And, I have to admit, that sometimes, just sometimes, it gives me pause.

One of the things I’d like to promote in my fiction is size acceptance. It isn’t something I’ve done that directly yet. I have a tendency to use the word “voluptuous” when describing my main female characters perhaps a bit more than I should. Some of the women in my writing circle balked at a description of a female character as being buxom and voluptuous. But that’s neither here nor there.

I have a small collection of vintage photographs from Storyville. From those who don’t know, Storyville was New Orleans’ red-light district in the Victorian-era. These photos don’t involve much nudity and are fairly tasteful.

I happened upon a similar vintage photo of a big girl from the same era. She’s clad in a one-piece garment and the photo would fit in very easily with the Storyville photos although it isn’t one. I smirked and thought of including it if I ever decided to post said Storyville pics to give the impression that this large woman was also a Storyville sex worker. I wouldn’t dream of doing this with someone still alive or someone whom I thought her immediate family might still be alive but this isn’t the case.

So is it wrong? Or rather, would it be wrong? The issue of putting someone forward as being a prostitute when she wasn’t aside; would it be okay to attempt to further size acceptance through such a ruse?

I don’t know. But it made me think of the one really problematic big lie in my work so far. In my story “Songs of the Divine Pulsation,” I largely co-opted tantra and tantric ritual for my own purposes. I started to do a little research and then I put that notion aside and went whole hog into using the buzzword of “tantra” to put forward my own ideas about sex and mysticism. And yes, I do know the words “cultural appropriation” and while I do admit to using the word “problematic” a lot to describe this, I don’t feel guilty about it.

My justification is simple: I write steampunk. If you wouldn’t read one of my stories and bring it to your high school history class to prove to your history teacher that she’s wrong — if you wouldn’t read one of my stories and bring it to your high school physics teacher to prove that she’s wrong — why would you think to bring it to tell your religion teacher she’s wrong about tantra?

Or put another way, if you get your ideas about tantra or any other religious path from a steampunk story, you kinda get what you deserve.

At this point, I have to bring up a friend of mine who was pulled aside by a co-worker who quietly and cautiously asked him if Abraham Lincoln really was a vampire hunter. I’m serious. That happened. She said she hadn’t believed vampires were real up to that point but she heard about the book and the movie and so she figured she might be wrong.

When you’re finished laughing — I’ll wait, it took me a while too — you can share with me an acknowledgement of the awesome power of books. There are people, there may always be people, for whom the simple fact of words being in print in a hard-cover book is some proof of their validity, no matter how ridiculous.

So do I bear some responsibility to convey truth? Hell no. I acknowledge, freely and readily, the awesome power of books and the imagination but my job is to tell lies and if the flying battleships in the 1800s didn’t convince you of that, you just weren’t paying attention.

* * *

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.