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Reviews!

Reviews, reviews, reviews! We need reviews!

If you’ve read Cairo By Gaslight, why not post a review on Amazon.com?

If you’ve read Capes and Clockwork 2, why not post a review?

And if you haven’t read them, pick up a copy and read them today! I’d very much appreciate it.

Cheers,

Brandon

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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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The Good News About Thor

In these times of economic woe and political uncertainty, many people have decided there is nothing to believe in. But we know that there is. Faith is its own reward and those who bask in the waters of faith will know its blessings. Yes, friend, I’m talking about the Good News about Thor.

Thor is a loving, accepting God who doesn’t judge Humanity like many false icons. Thor understands the Middle Path of moderation between self-righteous total abstinence and wanton self-indulgence and has tasted the refreshing sweetness of fine ale, the saltiness of a good piece of roast pork and knows the lusty pleasures of the soft and supple arms of Valkyries, mortal women and Goddesses alike. Thor understands and accepts human frailties for what they are, often the source of our greatest strengths and triumphs. He understands and pulls to His hairy bosom all those who try to do what is best in life, not just for themselves but for their friends and loved ones, even strangers; for Thor is ever a friend to Midgard and all those who dwell within.

Render unto Thor your prayers and He will hear and answer them. Thor will not turn a deaf ear to you nor ask you to bear more than your fair share. Thor will ever stand with you in adversity as befitting a true and proper patron God. Thor loves and understands you and even now, is willing to guide you in the kind of moral and proper life you need to live in order to cross the Rainbow Bridge to Asgard.

Thor rewards all who, in this Yuletide season, choose to honor the ancient pagan ways and bring within their households the Yule log and mistletoe as did the ancient druids of Ireland and the pagans of Anglo-Saxon England. Thor looks kindly upon all those who do adorn their homes in this time of year with a shining star, the five-fold pentagram traced across the night sky by the planet Venus, eternal symbol of the Goddess of fertility and sensuality. For in such ways are the ancient Gods celebrated even unto this day.

Send to this every good hearted person you know and care about. Thor is willing to come into their lives today.

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New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Master’s 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 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.

Day of Doom

The Cubs win the World Series after one hundred and eight years.

Chicago burns in an orgy of celebratory destruction.

Tearing out the foundations of the city and killing thousands, the wave of joyous annihilation continues unabated towards the Chicago suburbs.

A reluctant President Obama gives the order to incinerate Chicago with thermonuclear weapons in order to stop the emanation of bliss from destroying the entire North American continent.

A single MIRV ICBM loaded with a payload of twenty thermonuclear warheads blankets the entire Chicago metroplex region with radioactive flaming death from the sky.

The ever-widening circle of orgiastic ruin is stopped in its tracks and a terrified administration can breathe once more. The task of explaining the need to use thermonuclear weapons on American soil is a daunting one but at least the country has been saved, or so the administration believes.

What too few humans realize is that it is already too late.

The stars have changed. The Old Ones have returned.

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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.

Email Difficulties

Some of you have mentioned having trouble reaching the Black Tome Books email box in order to send in your submissions for Paris By Gaslight. Please remember you can always send them to my usual email address or even via message on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/brandonblack.author

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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.

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.

Sexualization and the charge thereof

I had the pleasure of reading through an early draft of a friend’s story that he’s preparing as a submission to an anthology I’m editing. He introduced a trope that is usually associated with fan service but did so in a way that “took the high road” and did not sexualize a very often sexualized trope. And I’m cool with that.

I think it’s the word “sexualize” that I’m not cool with.

I had been posting some fantasy pictures to my D&D party’s online facebook group until two of the members objected. To make a long story short, I think (they weren’t very clear about their objections and I was too annoyed to ask for specifics) they objected to the female characters in the depictions being sexually attractive. The term “sexualized women” was mentioned.

I don’t get this term. It implies that something has been done to the women, or the pictures, or both, that wasn’t inherent to either the women or the pictures beforehand. The pictures I shared were of two models, both women who had arranged for someone to take pictures of them in cosplay, all on their own. These were not women who had been hired to wear skimpy costumes for the sake of pleasing men. These were women who chose to portray themselves in fantasy costumes for their own pleasure and that of those they shared their pictures with. And I, for one, don’t see that as a crime, and certainly not a sin.

I don’t see a sin with males enjoying pictures of attractive females or heroes getting it on with sexy princesses and that sort of thing in stories. Rather than remove descriptions and situations of women in sexual roles in fiction, I’d like to just adjust the balance and make sure that there’s more beefcake to balance the cheesecake. I’d like to make sure there’s as many heroines getting it on with sexy princes they’ve saved as heroes with alien princesses. The old Frank Frazetta paintings had as much half-naked Conan-type barbarian men as half-naked fantasy women, you know? That’s what I think would be fair. Fantasy is called fantasy for a reason.

Usually when I say that, someone lifts their nose and gets all snooty and says something to the effect of “fantasy doesn’t need naked women to be successful.” I agree. But I like naked women and I don’t have a problem saying so. What’s wrong with finding beauty in the human form? What’s wrong with enjoying sex? Fantasy is entertainment and I’d rather have more entertainment than less.

So — anyway — while I won’t ask the author of the story in question to change his work (I’m really biting my tongue not to mention specifics but I don’t want to give away spoilers), it’s his choice and I respect that. Besides, he is a really good writer and there are other aspects to fantasy writing than naked sweaty people.

I’ll just be sure to add more naked sweaty people to my own work, so prudes of the world be warned.

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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.