The official website of Brandon Black.

Posts tagged “science fiction

Black Tome Books Update

Both The Other World and Paris By Gaslight will be published in 2017 some time about the middle of the year. They will definitely be on the shelves before this year’s CONtraflow. No final decisions have been made yet as to which stories and poems will be included but everyone selected will be informed when the time comes.

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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 2017.

 

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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.

 


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.

Updates

The copies of Cairo By Gaslight for the May 18th Book Signing/Book Reading have been ordered and are on the way to the library. Contributing authors present at the ceremony will receive their contributor’s copies then and the rest will receive theirs in the mail shortly after.

We have two new calls for submissions. Our next steampunk/gaslamp fantasy anthology, Paris By Gaslight, is being opened to submissions of poetry and fiction. The Other World is being re-opened in the hopes of fleshing the book out more. Submissions of urban fantasy (19th – 21st centuries) involving the Fey are requested, both poetry and fiction.

Projected date of publication for both books is January 2017.

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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.

In Praise Of Flash Fiction, Sort Of

I don’t care for flash fiction most of the time. The shorter the story, the harder it is to do world-building.

But that’s one of the reasons why from time to time, I try my hand at flash fiction. Flash fiction requires you to imply a lot of your world-building, to find the key details that may not directly spell out the history and politics of your world but do at least convey something of the core vibe of the fictional setting in question.

Writing a story of less than fifteen hundred words, forces a writer to identify what the core idea of the story is and what’s at the heart of what you want to convey to the reader. To put it simply, it’s very good practice. I may not ever be the best flash fiction author in the world but I’ll make use of the limitations of flash fiction to hone my work.

I think it’s also why I hear from time to time that the best form for science fiction is the novella, not the short story. The novella gives the author more time, more room to develop a setting and for that setting to have its interactions with plot and character. I also suspect that involved, intricate worldbuilding is behind fantasy’s penchant for multi-book series of epic novels.

Speculative fiction is the genre of ideas. The idea is the thing. And an immersive setting allows for an idea or a set of ideas to work their way through everything, the plot, the characters, it enables a branching interlocking network of ideas to be developed and interact with one another, an alternate world with an alternate perspective to look upon our own reality. Is the way we’ve been doing things all the time the only way? Are there better ways to do things? Worse ways? What would be some of the circumstances if society functioned differently?

Any tool that helps you to explore and develop those ideas better is worthwhile to the emerging speculative fiction author and so I wholeheartedly advocate the occasional foray into writing flash fiction even if the stories produced aren’t one’s best work.

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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.

 


More interviews! More articles!

Press coverage of New Orleans By Gaslight and Cairo By Gaslight has been very favorable! I’ve only just now uploaded links to all the different interviews and articles covering the anthologies.

Check it out!

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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. You can find out more about Brandon and his work at his website at brandonblackonline.com.

Introduction to Cairo By Gaslight

Introduction

by Brandon Black

Let us begin with the matter of why an editor living in New Orleans should commission an anthology of stories set in Cairo, Egypt.

At thirty degrees North latitude, Cairo is, if not a twin of New Orleans, She is at least a sister city. Like New Orleans, She is a major international port, an exotic destination for travellers from the world over and a cultural centre for all the many varied peoples around Her. She is a hinge, a nexus, a centre for trade and communication connecting Europe and Africa with Judea and Arabia, the Mediterranean and Turkey. If New Orleans is the City of Sensual Delights, then Cairo is the City of Intrigues, although She certainly isn’t any slouch in the sensual delights department Herself. As New Orleans is fed by the winding waters of the Mississippi, the longest river in North America, so is Cairo watered by the sacred flow of the Nile, longest river in the world. And like New Orleans, Cairo is a city called home by many people of varied and different complexions.

Cairo is a city of minarets and mysteries, of travellers and their tales and of journeys begun and journeys ended. Cairo sings of a fabled past where Pharaohs built magnificent edifices such as the Great Pyramids, unmatched statuary like the Great Sphinx and one of the first advanced civilizations on Earth at a time when Western Europeans had not yet managed the written word. Egyptian civilization was literally made fertile by the Nile, nurtured and nursed by it, its sacred waters providing the agricultural foundation that would lead to empire. And like New Orleans, Cairo is a gate and home to powerful gods and ancient spirits birthed in Mother Africa. Founded with the planet Mars rising, the oldest name for Cairo is Khere-Ohe, “the Place of Combat,” as legend proclaims it the site for a cataclysmic battle between Horus, God of the Sun and Sutekh the Destroyer.

But all that is in the world we know. This Cairo is different. This City of a Thousand Minarets dwells in a world where Napoleon led his troops through Her streets mounted on a clockwork steed and the Battle of the Nile was fought between airships. This Cairo is one of an infinite progression of Cairos, all seen through the lens of steampunk fiction. Steampunk makes an ancient and exotic locale all the more ancient, and certainly, all the more exotic. Floating temples drift lazily overhead, exchanging places throughout the city in an architectural ballet. Elaborate palaces filled with untold riches are populated by the rulers of the city, be they Sultans, Ottoman governors, British Lords, Mohammedan caliphs or French airship admirals. This Cairo is not only home and port of call to steamships travelling up and down the Nile’s waters, but her towers are home or at least, a temporary roost, for airships travelling to and from India, Ethiopia, Capetown, Cameroon, Singapore and far Cathay.

Muskets fire and scimitars clash with swords as Muslims and Crusaders battle in the streets. Cannons bellow and blaze as airships barrage one another in the skies. Filigreed brass men, forged in the coal-fired furnaces of Ottoman Turkey, prove their worth on the battlefield as noble houses clash to see who will rule the Sultanate, and Imams struggle desperately to regain lost power after a resurgent cult of Bast sweeps the ancient Goddess back into favour. Egyptian mechanical cavalry ride out to do battle with Ethiopian steam oliphaunts in a clash between the two growing empires.

Among these infinite alternate Cairos are ones where the Khedive of Egypt threw off the yokes of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire to join with the great air pirate tribes of North Africa and turn Cairo in a Mecca for air piracy. Sky smugglers traffic both in the new mechanised wonders of the Age of Steam and in talismans and artefacts of unknown and unfathomable mystic power from antiquity. Other Cairos see a long and bitter cold war between Britain and France turn Egypt into the front line of a European proxy war. Further afield lay Cairos that witness the struggles between Carthage and Rome reach all the way into the nineteenth century.

The streets and alleyways are thick with spies and secrets abound, though their veracity cannot be proven. Darkling whispers and shadowed cries of passion are as much Her traffic and Her trade as any pallet of Egyptian cotton or sack of sugared dates. The City of Intrigues stands as She always has, a monument steeped in secrecy and sin, and to all who walk Her streets, encountering Her wonders and delights, Her dangers and Her heartaches, in time, She provides answers to queries both spoken aloud and unuttered, but makes no promises as to whether or not one will find the answers satisfying or even if they will lead one only deeper into mystery.

Cheers,

Brandon Black

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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.